August 2009 // Volume 47 // Number 4
Answer the "So What?" Question for Extension
"Answer the 'So What?" Question for Extension" explains that, if you're writing for JOE, you must do just that. "August JOE" highlights three interesting articles and mentions the topics of many more.
4-H—Going Beyond Life Skill Development
The investment of tax dollars means 4-H must distinguish itself from its youth-development peers. Such an argument can be developed by examining organizational research, the historical contributions and tradition of 4-H, and the contributions of the modern 4-H program. Although the context of 4-H has broadened beyond food production, it continues to contribute positively to the development of the U.S. economy. Extension's challenge is to prove 4-H's worth by demonstrating a clear return-on-investment to stakeholders. Doing so may be exactly what is required to justify the continuation of public funds.
Participate in the JOE Discussion Forum on "4-H—Going Beyond Life Skill Development"
Extension, the Land-Grant Mission, and Civic Agriculture: Cultivating Change
Criticisms claiming the land-grant system has failed its mission and recent restructuring in the food system have together challenged the role played by Extension. This article explores whether a framework of southeast Michigan's Food System Economic Partnership (FSEP) fosters civic participation in the agrifood re-localization movement. Employing a case study approach, we discuss this framework and provide an overview of Extension educator involvement. Our case study indicates that the FSEP structure enables Extension professionals to expand their repertoire of community interaction models and engage citizens as agrifood citizens and leaders in order to move towards sustainable development.
How Do We Know if Our Contests Are "Fair"?
Adults are often forthright with their
concerns about the fairness of contests. In the case study reported
here, clients were upset about the Master Showmanship Contest and
whether "goat members always win." I predicted that, in a
fair contest, winning should be independent of project area and used
empirical tests to show that it is. I also measured the perceptions
of two additional groups of stakeholders in the contest: youth
participants and judges. The results indicate that perceptions can
differ drastically from actuality, which has ramifications for 4-H
and all areas of Extension work that rely on client input.
Latino Farmers in Missouri: Risks, Services, and Implications for Extension
Latinos are the fastest growing ethnic group of farm owner/operators in Missouri and the United States. Their lives as farmers demonstrate a familiar and inspiring story: the pursuit of the American dream. We examine the growing reality of Latino-owned farms in Missouri through four in-depth personal interviews with Latino dairy and cattle producers to assess their situation and the challenges they face when entering and operating a farm. The interviews covered their farming operations, risk tolerance, access to financial services, and use of other services. Based on our findings, we offer recommendations for Extension on working with them.
Child Maltreatment Reporting Beliefs and Practices of University of Wisconsin Cooperative Extension Family Living Educators
This article reports results of a statewide
survey to assess the knowledge of child abuse and neglect, reporting
beliefs, and practices of Extension educators. The study identified
populations defined as high risk for child maltreatment with whom
educators work. Extension educators are in a critical position to
identify and report situations where maltreatment may have occurred.
However, survey respondents were not confident they could recognize
indicators of maltreatment, and they exhibited confusion about
reporting responsibilities and procedures. Recommendations are made
for annual child maltreatment education, educational resources, and
development of child maltreatment reporting policy and procedures
within Cooperative Extension.
Take Care of Your Health! An Extension Program to Prevent Diabetes
Although the prevalence of diabetes has risen
in the general population, ethnic disparities in health are also
increasing. The University of California Cooperative Extension worked
with Latino and African American adults to develop diabetes
prevention programs that motivate people to be proactive about their
health, improve cooking practices and eating patterns, and be more
physically active. The program, team-taught by Extension and health
care professionals, involved three, 2-hour sessions with hands-on
cooking. Participants (n=60) reported significant changes in
food-related barriers and behaviors. Extension and health entities
can complement each other in diabetes prevention efforts that target
A Recipe for Creating a Web-Based Virtual Community
The Internet has fundamentally changed the
way people communicate, creating a means to reach vast audiences.
Generally, on-line communication can be informational, transactional,
and/or communicational. The Internet can also facilitate complex
technical information sharing. Transmission of ideas and information
in an on-line mode is rapid and available regardless of how
geographically dispersed people may be. In other words, unlike
physical communities, on-line communities do not require spatial
proximity for members. In this article, we break down the general
steps required to ideate, create, and launch a successful on-line
generic Internet-based community.
Using a BMP Auction as a Tool for the Implementation of Conservation Practices
Compensating producers through conservation
programs for best management practice (BMP) adoption has had notable
success to date; however, there are still many producers that choose
not to participate in conservation programs and/or decide not to
implement BMPs. How can Extension professionals and conservationists
better promote and encourage BMP adoption and conservation program
participation? This paper offers insight into methods, results, and
lessons learned from an innovative watershed approach piloted in an
east-central Kansas watershed with a focus on providing guidance to
other Extension professionals interested in conducting a similar type
Wisconsin's Plastic Valley Association: A Cluster Based Development Strategy
has become an important strategy for states and localities interested
in promoting regional development. This
strategy involves supporting a geographically close collection of
similar or related firms. In this article, we examine some of the
successes and problems faced in promoting a plastics cluster in
Wisconsin. This case study demonstrates the importance of the role of
public sector organizations in initiating and facilitating clusters
but the need for the private sector to take ownership in the program.
We conclude with some specific recommendations for professionals
involved in cluster-based initiatives.
Research in Brief
Catalyzing Transformation: Conditions in Extension Educational Environments that Promote Change
Extension faculty and administrators have
suggested Cooperative Extension's goal and niche is transformative
education—to bring about deep change in individuals, families, and
communities. However even though transformative learning appears to
be a desirable approach to Extension education, few scholars and
practitioners have examined the conditions in Extension learning
environments that promote transformation. In fact, Extension agents
and faculty ask what they can do to increase the likelihood their
work will result in transformation. The research reported here
explored conditions that catalyze transformation in two Extension
educational contexts: 1) Cornell Cooperative Extension
agent/specialist work teams and 2) Virginia 4-H Camps.
Knowledge Levels Regarding the Concept of Community Food Security Among Florida Extension Agents
This article describes a study that focused
on Florida Extension agents' levels of knowledge regarding community
food security. We distributed a standardized knowledge test to all
Extension agents in Florida. The results revealed that Florida
Extension agents have a wide range of knowledge levels regarding this
concept. Agents have statistically significant differences in
knowledge levels among Extension districts and time spent with their
county. In order to better meet clientele needs, we recommend agent
training and education on the concept of community food security and
localized community assessments to identify stakeholders' community
food security issues.
Who Attends the Extension Family Nutrition Program in a Rural State, and What Are the Preferences of Its Diverse Clientele?
The study reported here identified
participation rates in FNP, preferred delivery methods, and most
convenient days and times for trainings. Data were collected using a
survey distributed to Food Stamp participants at Social Services
offices. The participation rate in FNP was 13.9%. FNP participants
are predominately female, never married, unemployed, and moderately
educated. The top preferred delivery methods included recipes or
cookbooks and videos. Respondents indicated afternoons, once a month
is the best time for training. These results can help FNP educators
improve services provided to participants, resulting in increased
knowledge and changed behaviors of participants.
Teaching Kids What to Eat Where They Eat: Developing and Pilot Testing the Nutrition Education in Foodservice Toolkit
School foodservice offers an ideal yet
underutilized setting for experiential learning around food for
children and for engaging parents in modeling healthy eating at home.
The goal of the Nutrition Education in School Foodservice project was
to take advantage of the potential of school foodservice settings to
positively influence children's eating—both at school and at home.
A toolkit was designed and pilot-tested for use in elementary
schools, particularly those serving low-income populations. Providing
foodservice staff with training and materials was instrumental in
promoting the use of the foodservice setting for nutrition education.
Perceived Educational Value of Two Teaching Approaches for Improving Knowledge of Youth Leaders and Team Coaches
Surveys were completed by equine
leaders/coaches to measure changes in perceived judging competency
and to assess if a judging Web site and an on-line resource are
effective teaching aids. Results found that participants felt more
knowledgeable about performance horse classes and better understood
proper format, organization, and presentation of oral reasons. Data
indicate that the information presented to participants in the
workshop and Web site was informative, significantly increasing
participants' understanding of judging procedures, and, in turn,
presented an easily accessible way to potentially improve the
competency of coaches and the ability of the youth they instruct.
Animal Identification and Beef Quality Assurance Topics Offered in Combined Workshops to Increase Effectiveness and Participation
Nineteen workshops conducted by University of
Idaho Extension and industry organizations combined the topics of
Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) and the National Animal Identification
System (NAIS) to increase workshop attendance and participation.
Voluntary certification/re-certification in the Idaho BQA Program and
on-site NAIS premises registration were provided at no cost. Of 641
attendees, 86.1% became BQA Certified and 73.9% completed a written
evaluation. Using a 5-point Likert-type scale (1 = never, 5 =
always), 29.7% indicated that they always followed BQA guidelines
prior to the workshop, while 58.6% indicated that they will always
follow BQA guidelines due to the workshop.
North Central Piedmont North Carolina Tobacco Producers' Views Towards The Federal Tobacco Quota Buyout
The study reported here sought to determine
North Carolina tobacco producers' perceptions of the current and
future state of the tobacco industry. Findings indicate that North
Carolina tobacco producers were concerned about the future of the
tobacco industry. Respondents agreed that a federal tobacco quota
buyout was needed to increase the price competitiveness of United
States tobacco as well as the United States' share of the global
tobacco market. Respondents also found production controls and FDA
regulation over the manufacturing and consumer levels of the industry
to be beneficial. The changing tobacco industry will need new
educational programming from Extension.
Adoption of Environmental Landscape Practices—Characteristics of Extension Clientele
emphasizing environmental landscape
practices have emerged across the nation. A questionnaire, mailed to
former attendees of environmental landscape management workshops,
gathered information on demographics and landscape behaviour related
to six landscape practices. The demographic profile of the typical
participant in the study reported here is described, and the
relationships that emerged between demographic variables and adoption
of landscape practices are discussed. Implications for
Extension programming are suggested.
Ideas at Work
A Successful Strategy for Initiating Hispanic 4-H Clubs
In 2004, a pilot summer literacy program gave
Hispanic students the opportunity to improve their English reading
and writing skills in a non-threatening and creative environment. The
program included service-learning projects and interaction with local
veterans. By the end of the summer, the group had evolved into the
first Hispanic 4-H club in South Carolina. It was still active nearly
4 years later. Several students from the original program have been
involved in organizing the 2007 offering of the now-annual summer
literacy program. Such a program can be replicated in any location
where there is a willing and creative core of planners and
The Youth Farmstand: A Model Program for Workforce Preparedness, Lifeskills Education, and Economic Development
Youth farmstands effectively integrate three
responsibilities of Cooperative Extension—serving the agricultural
community, helping youth through 4-H, and providing nutrition
education through family and community health sciences. In addition,
youth farmstands support many community initiatives and, by nature,
form diverse and productive partnerships and collaborations. This
article shows how a youth farmstand project addresses many local
needs, including food security and economic and community
development. For youth, it offers workplace preparedness, lifeskills
training, and community service opportunities, as well as improved
nutrition and health. Farmers also benefit through new retail outlets
for their products, with limited labor investments.
Crop-O-Rama: Exposing Youth to Educational and Career Opportunities in Agriculture
Crop-O-Rama is an educational event for 4-H
and FFA students in high school or middle school. Participants
compete as individuals or in teams in agricultural competitions
including crop weed and seed identification, soils judging and land
use, an agronomic quiz bowl, a "heroes in agriculture"
speech and essay contest, and "science in agriculture"
educational exhibits. The purpose is to expose youth to educational
and professional opportunities in agriculture. An emphasis is placed
on recruiting contest judges and helpers currently employed in
various sectors of agri-business to interact with participants
regarding educational and employment opportunities in agriculture.
What's Black and White and Goes "Vroom, Vroom"? An Innovative Teaching Site
Using old school buses retrofitted into
mobile classrooms and painted on the outside to resemble black and
white Holstein cows, the Classroom on Wheels (COW) buses "vroom"
around the Las Vegas valley offering parenting and preschool programs
to at-risk families taught by Extension professionals. Many families
lack the resources and transportation to drive their children to and
from a preschool, so the COW buses deliver the preschool to the
Engaging Citizens to Urban Nutrient Planning of Lawns within a Nutrient Sensitive Watershed
Simple and concise urban lawn nutrient
management plans can be successfully implemented to combat
eutrophication of lakes and streams. Soil test
values from 540 lawns near Springfield, Missouri found that 51% of
the samples tested above optimum levels for available phosphorus,
especially where lawns were more than 20 years old. Urban nutrient
management plans that contain the type, quantity, and timing of soil
amendments assist homeowners in the selection of appropriate
fertilizer choices from local retailers. Watershed stakeholders will
adopt urban lawn nutrient management practices if Extension programs
make a clear link between nutrient management and water quality.
Pacific Northwest Pest Management Workgroup: Leveraging Partnerships Across Large Geographic Regions
Faced with promoting integrated pest
management (IPM) and coordinating scarce resources over an area of
1.04 million square miles, Pacific Northwest states chose to form a
geographically based workgroup rather than the traditional
discipline-based or single crop-based workgroup. By sharing
resources, we have maximized expertise and minimized duplication of
effort. Over a 6-year period, workgroup outcomes indicate that in
similar circumstances this option can produce a strong and productive
coalition serving Extension clientele.
Developing an Innovative Team Approach to Address a Newly Introduced Disease of Soybeans in the United States
Asian soybean rust (ASR) was first detected
in the continental United States in 2004. In response to this threat
the Alabama Cooperative Extension System Field Crops Team developed
an innovative approach to minimize losses from this new disease. The
approach combined standard Extension methods with a statewide disease
monitoring system combined with a national Web-based information
network. The system allowed growers to apply fungicides only when
necessary to prevent losses from ASR. In 2006 it was estimated that
the program saved soybean farmers in Alabama over $2.5 million in
fungicide costs. The program resulted in similar cost savings in
Tools of the Trade
Using Appreciative Inquiry to Advance Extension
The Appreciative Inquiry philosophy
challenges conventional problem solving methods of managing change.
The Extension profession could benefit from utilizing this approach
because organizations grow in the direction on which they focus and
around the questions that they repeatedly ask. The principles of
Appreciative Inquiry are applied using the 4-D cycle (Discover,
Dream, Design, and Destiny). This article is written to be a
practical approach on how to capitalize on the positive and to help
create a positive environment for growth and development of Extension
personnel and programs.
Planning Aids: Tools to Ensure Volunteer and Event Successes
A collection of "Volunteer Planning
Aids" was developed to assist agents and volunteers in
completing and conducting programs, events and activities. Planning
Aids include step-by-step instructions with a timeline for each
program, event, or activity. Extension professionals may download and
tailor the generic Planning Aids to fit local needs. While Planning
Aids may also be helpful to Extension professionals, their greatest
value is in guiding volunteers successfully through complex or
multi-faceted tasks. Constant supervision becomes unnecessary, and
orienting volunteers to the full scope of their positions is easier
when Volunteer Planning Aids are utilized.
Web Soil Survey: A New Horizon in the Use of Site-Specific Soil Data
The USDA-NRCS Web Soil Survey (WSS) is
a new electronic version of the Soil Survey that includes
soils of all 50 states with the same great content but in a
searchable, interactive format that is quick and efficient to use.
Once you have found the site-specific soil information you need, WSS
provides you a checklist to select the categories of information you
want to develop into a professional-looking printable map and report
that can also be saved in Adobe Acrobat (.pdf) format. This article
shows you where to access the WSS on the Internet and how to get
Financial Incentive Programs for Non-Industrial Private Forest Owners Web Site
A Web site that lists forestry and
conservation financial incentive programs available to non-industrial
private forest owners is described. Federal, state, and private
sources are included, and the listing is on a state-by-state basis.
The site is interactive and very easy to use. All the federal USDA
and Department of Interior programs, state cost-share and assistance
programs, forest industry landowner assistance programs, and other
private programs are included. It is an ideal tool for an Extension
agent who is posed the question, "Which forestry incentive or
assistance programs are available in my specific geographic area?"
Implementing Water Conservation Education for University Campus Facilities and Grounds Managers
A workshop was held to assist Georgia's
public universities to reduce water use. The workshop targeted
university campus facilities and grounds managers. University water
use ranges from outdoor irrigation of ornamental displays and sports
fields, to housing facilities, to complex laboratory systems.
Extension specialists worked with the Department of Natural Resources
and the University System of Georgia Board of Regents to develop
workshop content and identify potential attendees. The workshop
emphasized the use of the water audits as a planning tool and case