June 2010 // Volume 48 // Number 3
Article(s) & Research
"Article(s) & Research" acknowledges (but doesn't accept) some reasons for "double dipping" and discusses ethical ways of getting more than one article from the same research. And "June JOE" highlights too few of the articles in a rich issue.
Educators or Facilitators? Clarifying Extension's Role in the Emerging Local Food Systems Movement
With the recent growth of the local food systems movement, OSU Extension formed a new statewide team. In the process, Extension program delivery systems were explored contrasting traditional program delivery (historically rooted in a teacher-clientele, information transfer, demonstration methodology) vs. a community capacity-building facilitation process. This seemingly marginal distinction raised questions with deeper implications for Extension's outreach and engagement process. In brief, how can Extension fill the gap between community-expressed needs and the traditional framework of delivery? Should Extension help communities fulfill their goals and objectives by acting as facilitators, co-conveners, and true partners, rather than simply as educators?
Participate in the JOE Discussion Forum on "Educators or Facilitators? Clarifying Extension's Role in the Emerging Local Food Systems Movement"
Education in the Face of Controversy: When Water and Politics Mix
Is public education possible in an environment of extreme controversy? This article relates the experience of a team of Extension and Experiment Station faculty involved in publishing a report related to a water conflict in Oregon and California. We outline the steps we took and key contributors to success, while suggesting improvements in the process. We highlight the importance of the following: (1) accuracy and quality, (2) processes to ensure balance, (3) public input, (4) participation by communications professionals, (5) careful planning for publication release, and (6) efforts to manage relations with interest groups.
Assessing Awareness of Water Quality: Comparing Convenience and Random Samples
It is increasingly recognized that knowledge of the target audience can strengthen education and outreach programs. The study described here explores whether the method of collecting data from a target audience influences results. Using data for the same questions collected at a county fair, through the Internet, in a mail survey, and in a phone survey, our findings indicate that data collected through convenience surveys are not representative of the larger population. An implication of this finding is that organizations conducting surveys need to clearly define their goals for the survey data before choosing a method of survey delivery.
Online Project Mapping with Researcher Community Input
This article introduces open access Web mapping services as an efficient tool for disseminating research information and delivering Extension services. Two potential functionalities for Web mapping application are demonstrated. The first function represents a new community-driven data collection process where Web maps are at the heart of the process. The other function is a typical Web search application for Extension services. A practical evaluation of the introduced services to input and disseminate spatially georeferenced information is demonstrated. Issues such as user authentication, community definition, implementation, and user interface design are discussed.
The First 4 Years of a Warmwater Recreational Pond Management Web Site in Arkansas
A farm pond management Web site in Arkansas was evaluated over the first 4 years of implementation in order to 1) examine usage trends, and 2) characterize clientele visiting the Web site. The Web site tallied over 30,000 visits. April and May were the peak months of activity, and surges in use followed promotional activities. Pond management characteristics of respondents to an online survey and implications to Extension education are presented. Overall, the Web site was effective in communicating to stakeholders and may be a preferred alternative to traditional Extension media.
Engaging the Engagers: Implications for the Improvement of Extension Work Design
County Extension agents from the Midwest were surveyed on a variety of psychological variables. Differences among agents in the fields of Family and Consumer Science (FCS), Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR), and 4H Youth Development (4HYD) were examined as well as differences among highly and lesser engaged agents. Results showed that FCS agents had higher levels of dedication, absorption, and work-family facilitation. ANR agents reported greater work-role salience than other areas and lower family-role salience. Highly engaged agents reported experiencing greater work-family facilitation, positive affectivity, and psychological capital. Implications for design and management of Extension work are discussed.
Measuring Outcomes of Extension Conferences: A Case Study of the National Extension Tourism Conference
What is the value of participation in national Extension conferences? As travel funds for Extension educators remain in short supply and conference sponsors demand measurable outcomes, research is needed to document impacts of national conferences on Extension programming. Using the 2006 National Extension Tourism Conference as a case study, we conducted an evaluation on-site and 6 months after the conference. Results indicate that 92% of respondents had improved their Extension programs as a direct result of the conference. Findings from the study suggest that impacts are substantial and that supporting national conferences is a worthwhile investment by Extension.
Public Perceptions of Using Woody Biomass as a Renewable Energy Source
Woody biomass is an energy source that may play a significant role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. One barrier to using wood for energy is public perceptions. This article describes the results of a needs assessment survey that was used to develop a public outreach program. Survey responses from 298 residents of Alachua County, Florida suggest that respondents do not know about using wood for energy, are willing to be engaged in the decision-making process, and are generally in favor of using waste wood as an energy source. Respondents are most concerned about sustaining nearby forests and air quality.
Research in Brief
Farmer, Agent, and Specialist Perspectives on Preferences for Learning Among Today's Farmers
Few studies have examined the types of educational delivery methods preferred by farmers (Eckert & Bell, 2005; Eckert & Bell, 2006). The research project reported here explored the preferred learning methods of farmers in Louisiana, Tennessee, and Virginia. Data on learning methods collected directly from farmers were compared with preferred teaching methods of Extension agents and specialists. The findings should shape agent and specialist perspectives on appropriate educational delivery methods when educating farmers and working towards farmer adoption of new practices.
Agricultural Extension Agents' Perceptions of Effective Teaching Strategies for Adult Learners in the Master Beef Producer Program
The purpose of the study reported here was to explore and describe how Extension agents selected teaching strategies for adult audiences. Andragogy is hypotheses concerning the attributes of adult learners (Knowles, Swanson, & Holton III, 2005). Extension agents responsible for teaching the Master Beef Producer (MBP) program were purposively selected for this study. Using qualitative research, results of the study show that county agricultural Extension agents felt hands-on instruction was the most effective teaching strategy for cattlemen. This article highlights the need for Extension to provide potential and current agents with formal education and professional development in andragogy.
Participants' Attitudes, Opinions, and Beliefs of a Physical Activity Program in West Virginia
The qualitative study reported here assessed participants' attitudes, opinions, and beliefs concerning the West Virginia University Extension Service Active for Life Program (AfLP). Three focus groups were conducted to elicit participants' perceptions of the AfLP. Key themes identified by 19 participants included motivating factors, inhibiting factors, and change recommendations. With the qualitative evaluation, we verified the positive influence of the AfLP on community-dwelling adults in West Virginia. Our findings were consistent with those of other studies on community-based exercise programs. Other Extension Services may use this information to adopt the AfLP and increase access to physical activity programs for older adults.
Engaging Latino Audiences in Out-of-School Programs About Science
Under-represented groups such as Latinos lack sufficient voice in important conversations about science topics. Yet we know that Latinos are under-represented in the profession. One path to careers in science is through early exposure during youth. This article describes research to identify how to engage Latino groups in science programs, such as Extension-sponsored youth programs. Based on focus groups with Latino parents in two communities, we examine interest levels, barriers to participation, and preferences for program formats. The results have implications for organizations that seek to engage more Latinos in their science programs.
Assessing Ground Safety Knowledge of North Carolina 4-H Horse Program Participants
The study reported here sought to benchmark current levels of horse ground safety among participants in the North Carolina 4-H Horse Program. By understanding current levels of horse ground safety, programming can be developed to increase safety in this sport. Sixty-three horse camp participants were assessed on the safety skills in four separate areas: leading safety, stall safety, grooming safety, and total safety score. Camp participants posted the highest scores on stall safety and the lowest scores on leading safety. Further research is needed to pinpoint other safety areas that are often neglected in horse and other livestock events.
An Ecological Risk/Protective Factor Approach to Understanding Depressive Symptoms in Adolescents
We applied an ecological multiple risk/protective factor model to study factors related to depressive symptoms among adolescents. Participants were 39,740 adolescents who self-reported risk factors, protective factors, and depressive symptoms on a school-based survey. Results indicate that an index of multiple risk was related to increased depressive symptoms. Two hypothesized protective factors moderated the effects of the risk index; four other hypothesized protective factors were directly related to lower levels of depressive symptomatology. These findings suggest that prevention strategies for externalizing behaviors currently used in Extension programs might be able to be extended to address depressive symptoms.
Education Needs of Michigan Farmers
In 2008 MSU Extension evaluated their program to identify the major areas of educational need for Michigan farmers and agribusiness operators. Surveys were mailed to a stratified random sample from Michigan Agricultural Statistics Service records of dairy, livestock, swine, cash crops, fruit, vegetable, and nursery/greenhouse producers. Findings show that marketing of agricultural products and agrichemical use were continuing areas of educational need for Michigan farmers. Respondents also indicated need for more educational materials in the areas of farm management, production skills, environmental issues, sustainable agriculture, biotechnology, and small farm management.
Ideas at Work
A Checklist for Interdisciplinary Teams When Planning Issues-Based Programs
A quick glance of the Extension literature will reflect a resurgence of interest and focus on integrated (interdisciplinary) issues-based programming. However, the development of methods, tools, and techniques for developing integrated issues-based programs has not kept pace. This article presents a checklist to aid interdisciplinary Extension teams through the basic steps involved in planning integrated issues-based programs.
Participatory Evaluation with Youth Leads to Community Action Project
4-H has long emphasized the importance of civic engagement and community service for positive youth development. One pathway to this ideal is youth action research and evaluation. This article demonstrates how participatory youth research and evaluation can lead to the successful implementation of community action projects. It describes the curriculum contents of Participatory Evaluation with Youth: Building Skills for Youth Community Action (Arnold &Wells, 2007), provides an example of one team's journey from training to a completed community action project, and offer tips for successfully implementing community action projects.
Environmental Project Provides Work Experience for Rural Youth
Bootstraps is a 12-week program designed for rural youth, ages 18-21, who are not working and not in school. The program goal is for participants to develop skills and motivation to find meaningful work, which is accomplished through a combination of classroom learning and practical fieldwork. The environmental fieldwork on public lands, funded by the Bureau of Land Management, provides the venue for these disenfranchised youth to change their attitudes and values about work. This article highlights the participants' developing self-awareness in light of program goals.
Virginia's Link to Education About Forestry (LEAF) Program
Virginia's LEAF Program incorporates educational opportunities with heritage experiences and technology to advance forestry education in the Commonwealth. Statewide heritage-based outdoor classrooms use an integrated outdoor learning system to provide both formal and informal education. Online learning modules are coupled with the classrooms to provide forestry education for various stakeholders. The LEAF Program's ultimate goal is to provide compelling and convenient services for those presently involved in forestry education, while also increasing the visibility and appreciation of forestry among the general public.
Advancing Technology: GPS and GIS Outreach Training for Agricultural Producers
The use of the Global Positioning System (GPS) and Global Information Systems (GIS) has made significant impacts on agricultural production practices. However, constant changes in the technologies require continuing educational updates. The outreach program described here introduces the operation, use, and applications of GPS receivers and GIS software valuable to agriculture. Extension professionals can use this program to improve producers' knowledge and skills for implementation on personal operations. A successful program will provide producers and agribusinesses with a management tool that positively impacts the efficiency, productivity, and effectiveness of agricultural operations.
An Email Model to Answer Consumer Questions During Times of Staff Shortages
UMaine Extension has increased the capacity of county offices to respond to consumer questions about nutrition, food safety, and food preservation by using an email group. Faculty, support staff, and clients reported high levels of satisfaction. Eighty-two percent reported the information received influenced their actions, while 50% believed the information helped reduce their risk for food borne illness. Those looking for ways to rapidly address consumer questions from counties where there is lack of expertise in specific program areas may want to consider using this model.
Kite Aerial Photography as a Tool for Remote Sensing
As humans, we perform remote sensing nearly all the time. This is because we acquire most of our information about our surroundings through the senses of sight and hearing. Whether viewed by the unenhanced eye or a military satellite, remote sensing is observing objects from a distance. With our current technology, remote sensing has become a part of daily activities. A relatively inexpensive and practical method to have a firsthand experience with collecting remotely sensed data is kite aerial photography (KAP). KAP can be used as a geospatial tool to teach youth and adults about remote sensing.
Tools of the Trade
Developing Economic Assessments in Response to Natural Disasters: A Strategic Plan for Executing Extension's Mission
Extension is uniquely situated given its geographic dispersion and technical expertise to assess economic damage caused by natural disasters. Given the short time frame generally associated with these requests, however, many assessments are often conducted on an ad hoc basis. However, when natural disasters of the size and scope of the hurricanes experienced in Louisiana in 2008, a more strategic approach is warranted. Effective coordination of Extension resources along with the appropriate use of published data are often critical for a focused effort that is conducted in a timely fashion.
The Volunteer Recognition Program Model: Providing Volunteer Recognition Throughout the Year
The Volunteer Recognition Model was developed as a tool for Extension agents and volunteer administrators to use in designing their own comprehensive volunteer recognition program. The model uses both extrinsic and intrinsic recognition throughout the entire program year. Recognition is vital to sustaining volunteers in the roles in which they serve, and it encourages volunteers to expand responsibilities into other areas. This model provides diverse methods of recognizing volunteers on all levels, regardless of their motivation for service.
Evaluating for Impact: Professional Development Educational Content Delivery Through Learning Communities
The National 4-H Council Learning Priorities team developed educational content for professional development to increase evaluation capacity and evaluation skills for 4-H educators. Extension specialists in Oregon, Vermont, and Virginia piloted Evaluating for Impact curriculum through learning communities. Lessons learned from the pilot project include the overall success of content in increasing individual participant evaluation skills, reflection on the comprehensive and academically rigorous nature of the curriculum, a need for an experienced evaluator to lead the circles, and an ability to customize the curriculum to the evaluation levels of participants.
The Latest Take on Utilization-Focused Evaluation
This book review of Michael Quinn Patton's (2008) Utilization-Focused Evaluation, 4th Edition, discusses a book detailing the importance of creating evaluations with the end user in mind. It focuses on what has changed through the last three revisions of the book, the strengths and weaknesses of the current edition, and how the book is currently being used to enhance Extension work.
Rural Coverage Bias in Online Surveys?: Evidence from Oklahoma Water Managers
We investigated whether an online survey format would achieve adequate response rates among rural water system managers. Although Internet/email access across rural Oklahoma is limited, we found that water managers generally had Internet access and were willing to take an online survey. In particular, rural water managers were more willing to participate in the survey, and a higher percentage of rural managers than urban managers preferred the online version of the survey. Rural managers also had a much higher response rate. This suggests that online surveys are a useful tool for gathering critical information from at least some rural populations.
Integrating the County Extension Web Site with On-Farm Data Collection
Integrating the county Extension Web site with on-farm research can be an effective tool for the diffusion of information and technology. Using the county Extension Web site to relay information to on-farm research participants increases the participants' exposure to other information and programs available through the county Extension Web site.
Getting Acquainted with Free Software
Free software applications are available for most computing tasks. This article presents three examples of free software and describes how they could be useful to an Extension educator. The applications discussed in this article are Freemind, Doodle, and KPlato Project Management. Freemind is a concept-mapping tool. Doodle makes online polling easy, especially for scheduling events with multiple people. KPlato Project Management allows users to create and manage project plans. By using at least one of the three software applications discussed here, Extension educators should be encouraged to explore other free applications.
Wheat Stocker Decision Tools
Dual purpose winter wheat is common in the U.S. southern plains. Wheat forage is grazed by stocker calves from late fall to mid winter. After maturity, wheat grain is harvested. This production system has a number of critical decision points. We discuss three new software tools available to Extension educators and wheat stocker producers to aid in estimating stocker returns, assess the economically-optimal gender and weight combination for stockers, and determine the optimal date for terminating the grazing phase of this system.
Best Management Practices for Beginning Farmer Support
Many beginning farmers have little previous contact with Extension, yet they will comprise an important part of our future base of support. We present those educational activities directed toward beginning farmers that represent high impact, outcome-based Extension programming, given an educator's time limitations. This checklist of insights will provide educators with a clearer sense of how they can most effectively spend their beginning farmer support time. The lists are divided into workshop strategies and one-on-one strategies.
Keys for Small Ruminant Producers Purchasing and Raising Goats and Sheep
This article provides key information that Extension professionals can use to prepare potential producers and current producers raising goats and sheep, and those who are expanding their enterprises. Extension professionals can help small ruminant producers to be more aware of the fact that the quality of the animals they begin with or acquire will affect their ability to impact production and marketing of animal-derived foods and products. Working with Extension professionals, these producers can make important early decisions that will have long-term effects on their ability to develop, maintain, and expand their enterprises while producing high-quality products demanded by consumers.