December 2010 // Volume 48 // Number 6
Web Capping & Single Spaces Only
In "Web Capping & Single Spaces Only," I indulge in a little editor venting, discussing two subjects that may seem trivial but aren't. In "December JOE," I mention just five of 30 fine articles, calling your attention to the many articles on the important topic of evaluation and to one on the equally important topic of branding.
From What to How: Targeting Specific Factors That Influence Outcomes
Camp research conducted by Extension provides ample empirical evidence that the camp experience contributes to healthy child development. National and state outcomes resources have emerged allowing Extension educators to target youth outcomes at camp. Although the emphasis on outcomes has been important and productive, the time has come to focus not only on specific youth outcomes but also on the antecedents of change. Such a focus would allow Extension to identify specific camp program components that make positive youth outcomes more likely. Extension educators are challenged to consider antecedents of change in future camp research and evaluation projects.
Participate in the JOE Discussion Forum on "From What to How: Targeting Specific Factors That Influence Outcomes"
Evaluating Multiple Prevention Programs: Methods, Results, and Lessons Learned
Extension faculty and agents/educators are increasingly collaborating with local and state agencies to provide and evaluate multiple, distinct programs, yet there is limited information about measuring outcomes and combining results across similar program types. This article explicates the methods and outcomes of a state-level evaluation of approximately 200 individual programs across eight program types. A three-tiered approach was devised and implemented with a collaborative, iterative approach to assess the extent to which common program objectives were met. Results provided evidence of efficacy and impact, and offered tools for diverse stakeholders. Lessons learned and implications for Extension professionals are offered.
An Educational Evaluation of Web-Based Forestry Education
Online forestry education can serve large populations of woodland owners and managers. Cornell University's ForestConnect program initiated the nation's first woodlot management educational webinar series. We conducted an educational evaluation to determine: (1) the educational impact of the ForestConnect Webinar series, (2) the involvement of new audience members, (3) the advantages and disadvantages of distance learning in natural resources education, and (4) the kinds of online resources and digital technology registrants use. Results from a web survey (N=1,099) show that most webinars reach new audience members and that participants seek additional information as a result of viewing the webinar.
Self-Evaluation of a Statewide Conservation Planning Program: Perceptions of an Extension Partner
Statewide organizations should use expert information gathered from their personnel to evaluate methods for reaching goals and objectives. As Extension personnel continue to partner on natural resource programs with other state and federal entities, they can improve information dissemination by learning about the conservation planning process. The study reported here was a statewide program evaluation of Natural Resource Conservation Service personnel and their opinions regarding conservation planning, incentive programs, and farmers' reasons for not adopting conservation programs. We recommend that Extension agencies study the perceptions and activities of partner entities that rely on them for information, materials, and programs.
Practical Application of Theory-Driven Intervention to Extension Programming
For education to be effective, educators need to understand pertinent theories concerning behavior change and to apply them in programming. The study reported here sought to determine if the Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB) could be used to design, implement, and evaluate a brief educational session. Results show a significant increase in participants' intentions in six areas and should be encouraging to educators who need to show impact but do not always have the advantage of delivering and evaluating a series of programming. The study serves as a model for educators to show impact despite a low intervention dose.
Professional Preparation Systems for Parenting Educators: Identification, Perceived Value, and Demand for a National Credential
The study reported here examined professional preparation systems (PPS) for parenting educators via an online survey of 324 Extension Specialists and members of the National Parenting Education Network (NPEN) and Certified Family Life Educator (CFLE) listservs. Eighty-one PPS of six general types were identified. Curriculum-specific training and university degrees were perceived as contributing more to parenting educator knowledge and skills than to professional identity, but the reverse was true for state-based credentials/certificates, state-based licenses, and a national parenting education credential. Eighty-six percent of respondents were somewhat likely or highly likely to pursue a national parenting education credential if one were developed.
Profiling Community Gardeners
A profile of participants in an Extension urban community gardening program reveals that the program is successful in bringing together a large number of people from diverse income and age groups. Community gardening contributes to a change in diet among 3/f4 of both new and continuing gardeners. Time spent in the garden per week is a function of number of years in the program, income, diet, whether the gardener donates produce to charity, and time taken to respond to the survey. Inclusion of the latter variable provided for control of potential non-response bias.
The End of the Beginning and the Beginning of the End: The Decline of Public Agricultural Extension in Ontario
Canadian Extension has reached a critical point: the last 20 years have seen drastic reduction in governmental agricultural Extension services in Ontario. This article proposes that the breakdown of the Canadian Extension system has been the result of a variety of factors. The situation in Ontario suggests that Extension in the United States needs to recreate itself: it must address the changing profile of rural residents, shift program foci and delivery models, document and promote its benefits, redefine its contribution to the research system, (re)train Extension experts, use technology creatively, and maintain field staff to protects its role in rural development.
Introducing Extension/Outreach Education in Tajikistan
University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) and Khujand branch of the Technological University of Tajikistan (KbTUT) collaborated on the development of an Extension/outreach program in Tajikistan. Fifteen KbTUT administrators, faculty, and students from textiles, food science, and management engaged in training sessions at UNL on entrepreneurship, adult education techniques, and up-to-date teaching methods. Extension philosophy was integrated into each individualized learning plan. Through the newly established KbTUT Entrepreneur Center and Textile Museum, UNL faculty introduced and illustrated a community outreach model. KbTUT faculty taught Extension/outreach workshops and used their new knowledge to revise or develop new university courses with up-to-date teaching methods.
Branding the Land Grant University: Stakeholders' Awareness and Perceptions of the Tripartite Mission
Several land-grant institutions have adopted a name to encompass the teaching, research, and Extension components of the university, creating a brand identity for those public services. But, in the mind of stakeholders, has the connection between the tripartite mission and the brand name been made? The study reported here sought to determine agricultural producers' and community leaders' awareness and perceptions of the mission of a land-grant institution. Both groups were informed and held positive views about the research, education, and Extension activities of the university, but, unaided, did not connect these activities with the brand name.
Research in Brief
Mentoring Community Economic Development in Idaho
This article presents an example of how Idaho Extension personnel have used regional economic tools to educate stakeholders from contrasting regions about the contributions of different sectors to their regional economies, how the sectors are interrelated, and how economic multipliers express attributes of each region. The discussions between communities of practice in contrasting regions were promoted to explore the benefits of the knowledge exchange. This mentoring approach changed the understanding and perceptions of the regional economies of participating community development practitioners of the regional economies. The approach should be promoted for wider dissemination.
Ethnic Crop Opportunities for Growers on the East Coast: A Demand Assessment
We examined the potential for expansion of production of ethnic crops on the U.S. East Coast by commercial farmers from a market-first and economic perspective based on consumer demand. A survey of consumers from four ethnic groups showed that the ethnic crops in greatest demand are as follows: Chinese—Baby Pak Choy, Oriental Eggplant, and Smooth Luffa; Asian Indians—Bottle Gourd, Indian Eggplant, and Bitter Melon; Mexicans—Chili Jalapeno and Tomatillo; Hispanic—Aji Dulce, Batata, and Pepinillo/Bitter gourd. Results of the study have important implications to assist local growers in deciding to produce ethnic crops.
Mapping Food Stores & People at Risk for Food Insecurity in Lewiston, Maine
Food insecurity threatens health. To understand how food store location contributes to food insecurity in Lewiston, Maine, we visited all city food stores, determined availability and cost of healthy food in each, and mapped the stores against residence locations of at-risk groups (households with a single-parent, without a car, or with income <150% poverty). We found a higher cost of food at the closest store and more stores within 1 km selling soda and beer predicted for areas with high percent of each at-risk group. Thus, the location of food stores may contribute to food insecurity in Lewiston, Maine.
Educational Value of Horsemanship Clinics to Youth and Adult Riders
Surveys evaluating the Texas AgriLife Extension Summer Horsemanship School Program were gathered from the summers of 2006 through 2009. Data indicate a high percentage of individuals expressed improved knowledge about horse awareness and training, and greater thinking skills were developed after participating in a clinic. Positive responses indicate improved riding confidence, more overall competence, and enjoyment from working with horses. Furthermore, improvements were seen for the majority of riders in the areas of safety, effective riding, and equipment selection. Clinic participants experienced significant learning; thus, indicating that knowledge can be increased through participation in short horsemanship clinics.
Advantages of Gardening as a Form of Physical Activity in an After-School Program
Children who normally abstain from physical activity may view gardening as a viable non-competitive alternative. The study reported here evaluated the effect of an Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service after-school gardening program on self-reported physical activity level of children in 3rd through 5th grade using the ACTIVITY self-report instrument. The ACTIVITY instrument described and demonstrated three physical activity levels; non-moving, moving, and fast-moving. A significant difference between pre- and post-test scores of children's self-reported physical activity level was observed. The results of the study indicate gardening was an effective non-competitive way to increase children's self-reported physical activity level in an after-school setting.
The Influence of Different Tomato Varieties on Acidity as It Relates to Home Canning
Tomatoes are a popular vegetable for home canning. USDA Guidelines recommend lemon juice or citric acid be added to home-canned tomatoes to increase acidity. In 2007 and 2008, we grew and tested the pH of 15 tomato varieties. Three of the heirloom varieties had statistically lower acidity than the hybrid used as a standard for comparison. Canning tomatoes generally involves using different tomato varieties at various stages of ripening. Although some control of acidity can be exercised by variety selection, Extension agents should encourage those involved in home canning to follow USDA guidelines regardless of the tomato varieties used.
Increased Carrying Capacity with Perennial Forage Kochia
Carrying capacity can be increased on grass-dominated rangeland pastures by including perennial forage kochia (Kochia prostrata) as one of the plant components. The objectives of the study reported here were to compare the differences of traditional winter pastures versus pastures with forage kochia. Forage quality, production, and availability data were collected from pastures in Tooele County, Utah. Forage quality, production, availability, and carrying capacity were greater in pastures with forage kochia. Livestock winter grazing in the Great Basin is challenging for many reasons. Extension's role in assisting others to find solutions is as pertinent today as it has ever been.
Ideas at Work
Turning an Extension Aide into an Extension Agent
For any organization to remain sustainable, a renewable source of faculty and staff needs to be available. The Extension Internship Program for Juniors and Seniors in High School is a new tool for recruiting and developing new Extension agents. Students get "hands on" experience working in an Extension office and earn college credit while in high school.
Electronic Integrated Pest Management Program: An Educational Resource for Extension and Agricultural Producers
As agricultural operations expand and diversify, there is increasing demand for education on pest management tools that can expedite decision-making and improve production practices. The Electronic Integrated Pest Management Program (EIPMP) provides an innovative idea for an up-to-date pest management information database contained on a compact disc (CD) useful for Extension practitioners and agricultural producers in any location. The EIPMP CD innovation is a key beginning to consolidating the vast amount of IPM information that currently exists into a user-friendly format and can be used as a foundation for further expansion.
CalfScience: Extension Education at Many Levels
The issue of antimicrobial resistance in food animal agriculture was addressed by conducting clinical trials to assess alternatives to antimicrobials in dairy calf-raising and developing outreach to three different audiences. Current research was integrated into Extension programs for calf-raisers, animal science and veterinary students, and food animal veterinarians. A complex issue such as resistance in bacteria from the use of antimicrobials in food animal agriculture requires an integrated approach—from the science to its translation to judicious drug use on-farm but also a wide reach, to multiple audiences.
Forgotten Highways: The Next Economic Development Opportunity?
Good but little-used non-Interstate ("UNterstate") highways can bring economic development to bypassed rural areas that attract neither industry nor tourists if travelers can be induced to use them for longer trips. Today these routes offer little-appreciated advantages compared with both flying and Interstate Highway travel that can be marketed to travelers. Enterprising Extension agents are well positioned to have major roles in launching and managing UNterstate Highway marketing programs.
A New Extension Model: The Memorial Middle School Agricultural Extension and Education Center
The Memorial Middle School Agricultural Extension and Education Center is a new model for Extension. The center applies the Cooperative Extension Service System philosophy and mission to developing public education-based programs. Programming primarily serves middle school students and teachers through agricultural and natural resource science education. Programming efforts provide students with knowledge-based information that is high in content, context, and engagement. This approach serves center goals to cultivate young scientists through hands-on activities, improve student performance through research, and develop a center relevant to the local community agriculture and natural resource needs.
Tools of the Trade
Viewing Bennett's Hierarchy from a Different Lens: Implications for Extension Program Evaluation
This article describes the use of Bennett's hierarchy in Extension program evaluation over the last 35 years. The authors discuss how the hierarchy can be linked to assess program outcomes and related costs for each level of the hierarchy and conclude that as one moves up the hierarchy, the evidence of program impact is stronger. The authors suggest a four-step framework for identifying costs for each type of outcomes—short, intermediate, and long term.
"I don't know" and Multiple Choice Analysis of Pre- and Post-Tests
Evaluation is an essential component of any Extension education program. One tool, the pre- and post-test, provides measurable evaluation data. Yet often the answer "I don't know" or all possible answers to a multiple choice question are not included in the repeated measure analysis. Because more than two answers are offered, the test of marginal homogeneity repeated measure analysis should be used, which takes into account all response sets when comparing a participant's pre- and post-test answers. This article provides an example of conducting and interpreting the test of marginal homogeneity.
A Method for Collaborative Assessment of Fish Consumption Risks and Benefits
Conflicting media messages about the health benefits of eating fish have increased during the past decade. Mercury concentrations in fish continue to be documented, while nutritionists promote the benefits of eating fish high in omega-3 fatty acids. A simple, low-cost method to assess consumption patterns by anglers was developed in collaboration with a mercury chemist and state wildlife officials. This information will help Extension professionals develop and deliver research-based recommendations about the risks and benefits of eating fish while incorporating local fish advisories.
Practical Tips for Pesticide Education
Extension can provide factual information to assist clients in understanding products that are and are not considered pesticides. This article describes how to interpret whether or not a product is a pesticide based on intent of the manufacturer and product claims. Finally, a handout is presented for Extension personnel to use when introducing the concept of pesticide education. Extension personnel can provide leadership to the issue of pesticide education, as well as decouple the terms "toxicity" and "pesticide."
Operation Cleansweep in Florida: Extension's Role in an Environmentally Friendly Program Opportunity
Operation Cleansweep is a free pesticide disposal program that has operated in Florida since 1995. The program is open to commercial facilities, including agricultural production establishments, golf course operators, and pest control companies. Since its inception, the program has had more than 1,700 participants and collected more than 1,000,000 pounds of unused pesticides. University of Florida Extension's role with the program has been to serve as a member of the steering committee and promote and market Operation Cleansweep through normal Extension channels.
Habitat-Based Management Planning for Land Stewards
We offer a habitat-based management planning tool as the critical next step, after acquisition, in sustaining the ecological value of conservation lands, including a methodology for the identification of common habitats. Many land trusts and municipalities have acquired large portfolios of properties that are now permanently protected. Even though the land is protected from future development, surrounding land use pressures, invasive species, and other factors may cause drastic changes to these properties. Management of these areas is often necessary to sustain or improve particular habitats or to manage for specific species.
Equivalence: A Crucial Financial Concept for Extension, Consumer, and Investor Education
Equivalence is a fundamental concept that is the basis of personal financial planning. Any Extension consumer financial education program would need the concept to explain financial products that involve a series of payments over some length of time (pensions, fixed annuities, and mortgages). A table of annuity factors is presented that can be used in financial planning situations to explain the impact of interest rate and time length on the cash received from these financial products. A set of examples is included to illustrate use of the table.
Keys to Successful Mentoring Relationships
Mentoring is an effective method of helping inexperienced individuals develop and progress in their profession. Extension staff have many opportunities to mentor volunteers and other community partners. The keys to establishing a successful mentoring relationship include creating a relationship of trust, clearly defining roles and responsibilities, establishing short- and long-term goals, using open and supportive communication, and collaboratively solving problems.