April 2012 // Volume 50 // Number 2
The JOE Review Process
In "The JOE Review Process" I explain the JOE review process, obviously, including my initial peer review of all submissions and the double-blind review many submissions also undergo, and describe the valuable role played by Manuscript FastTrack (MFT). In "April JOE" I talk about the three Commentaries in the issue, an article making the point that more of us should be documenting long-term impacts, and two complementary article pairs.
Extension's Future: Time for Disruptive Innovation
Extension has been considered change averse by some scholars and practitioners, and they claim this inhibits organizational growth and relevance. Pockets of individuals and teams across the nation have worked independently as entrepreneurs to enhance Extension's relevance by introducing organizational processes and programs that greatly differ from past practices. However, every Extension system, team, and worker has a role to play in the disruptive innovation process. This may include exploring, implementing, or evaluating disruptive organizational innovations, or removing barriers, resourcing, or supporting a culture of innovation to enhance relevance and sustainability.
Participate in the JOE Discussion Forum on "Extension's Future: Time for Disruptive Innovation"
Extension Through a New Lens: Creativity and Innovation Now and for the Future
"How can Extension thrive, not just survive?" This question, posited by the 2010 Extension Committee on Organization and Policy (p.1), echoes the literature addressing change within Extension. In this literature, prominent themes emerge reflecting the need for an organizational cultural transformation, aligned with an opportunity for creativity and innovation. Today's rapidly changing social and economic environments oblige Extension to re-conceive the future through creative thinking and innovative action to reduce barriers to success. Embracing the process of creativity and innovation in our everyday organizational practice will unlock a vast number of new opportunities for Extension.
Participate in the JOE Discussion Forum on "Extension Through a New Lens: Creativity and Innovation Now and for the Future"
Don't Get Rode Hard and Put Away Wet
Back in the old days, some folks reckoned an equine was just a disposable tool to get their jobs done. They might ride a horse hard, so it was sweaty, panting, and broken down. When done they would throw it out to pasture without proper grooming. This is probably the origin of the expression to "get rode hard and put away wet." As Extension professionals, we have to take care of ourselves to gallop the whole race and don't let 'em ride us hard and put us away wet.
Participate in the JOE Discussion Forum on "Don't Get Rode Hard and Put Away Wet"
Evidence of Impact: Examination of Evaluation Studies Published in the Journal of Extension
Research was conducted to explore the level of evidence of impact collected through program evaluation (outcome studies) by Extension as published in JOE. Articles reviewed were those listed under the headings of "Feature Articles" and "Research in Brief" in 5-year increments (1965-69, 1975-79, 1985-89, 1995-99, and 2005-09). The design used a form of quantitative content analysis. The data indicate that 88.5% of the articles documented evidence above the level of participation and that almost two-thirds were measuring outcomes; however, only 5.6% documented long-term outcomes. The findings have implications for improving Extension's public value through documented evidence of impact.
Context Matters: The Importance of Local Culture in Community Participation
Encouraging members of the public to get engaged in local decision-making is a key role of Extension educators. The study reported here explores whether local context influences which individuals choose to attend public meetings about the community and the environment. The study surveyed meeting attendees and non-meeting attendees in three contextually different counties in Northern Indiana. Findings are that determinants of participation are different in all three of these counties, suggesting that context is much more important in explaining participation than was earlier thought. Therefore, it is critically important that Extension personnel be able to understand the local context.
Identifying the Factors Influencing Professional Volunteer Leadership in the National Association of Extension 4-H Agents
Many Extension professional associations have had trouble getting members to participate in national leadership opportunities. The study reported here examined the perception of members of a national Extension professional organization (NAE4-HA) regarding specific leadership actions. It found the single act of taking on a leadership position alters individuals' perceptions of leadership, directly driving their desires to be involved or not. Creating a sense of belonging and inclusiveness with the general membership can greatly improve the quality of the leadership experiences these individuals have, reinforcing their desire to affiliate and identify with being part of an association at the national level.
County Clustering for the California 4-H Youth Development Program: Impacts and Lessons Learned
In response to budgetary constraints, a new staffing structure, the Pilot Leadership Plan, was proposed for California's 4-H Youth Development Program. County clusters were formed, each led by a coordinator. The plan was piloted for 2 years to provide insight into how county clustering could support Extension staff to increase and enhance program consistency and administrative efficiency. This article highlights key activities and innovations, impacts for staff and programming, and lessons learned in piloting a new staffing structure.
4-H Participation and Science Interest in Youth
The study reported here investigated the impacts of participation in 4-H on young people's interest and participation in science. Survey data were collected from relatively large and ethnically diverse samples of elementary and high school-aged students in California. Results indicated that although elementary-grade 4-H members are not more interested in science than other youth, by high school, participation in 4-H is associated with a greater number of science classes and higher-level science coursework. These results suggest that the 4-H program may have the ability to influence science interest and participation in the long term among its members.
Diabetes Cooking Schools Improve Knowledge and Skills in Making Healthful Food Choices
Rates of type 2 diabetes are increasing nationally and in New Mexico, particularly in ethnic minorities. A key self-care area with challenging barriers is healthy eating. The New Mexico Cooperative Extension Service conducts diabetes cooking schools statewide together with community health providers. The study reported here determined if this education was effective in people with type 2 diabetes and their family members. Self-report surveys showed that knowledge and behaviors significantly improved (p<0.05) following participation in cooking schools in all ethnic groups, both genders, and a wide range of ages. Hands-on cooking schools are an effective method for diabetes education.
Assessing Rural Coalitions That Address Safety and Health Issues
Community coalitions can help national organizations meet their objectives. Farm Safety 4 Just Kids depends on coalitions of local people to deliver farm safety and health educational programs to children and their families. These coalitions are called chapters. An evaluation was developed to identify individual coalition's strengths and weaknesses. Ten FS4JK chapter locations conducted a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) and community focus groups to identify what strategies could be incorporated to improve each coalition's functionality. The findings will help strengthen program delivery, which will guide the national organization toward a more effective support system.
Iowa Consumer Trends and Participation in Agritourism Activities
As the agritourism industry grows and develops in Iowa, it is important to identify the knowledge and participation levels of prospective agritourism consumers. This article focuses on current consumer trends and participation levels in Iowa agritourism activities. The results revealed a majority of Iowans believe they have at least some understanding of agriculture and food production and have participated in agritourism activities, but were relatively unfamiliar with agricultural-related tourism terms. The results can be used by Extension educators, state agricultural and economic development organizations, and the agritourism owner/operator to create a consumer profile and understand their prospective audiences.
Factors Associated with Behavioral Compliance to Prevent the Spread of Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia
This article examines the relationship between awareness, knowledge, and motivations in adopting behaviors that prevent the spread of Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) such as Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia (VHS) among boaters and anglers who are a primary mechanism by which VHS can spread degrading water quality and fisheries. Although previous Extension efforts have focused on imparting knowledge to change environmental behaviors, results of the study reported in this article suggest that awareness and intrinsic motivation to protect the environment play a stronger role in adopting behaviors to prevent the spread of VHS. Implications for Extension professionals outreach efforts are discussed.
Extension Leads Multi-Agency Team in Suppressing a Pest in the West
Team leadership by Extension personnel in coordinating regulatory efforts, research, and farmer education culminated in rapid suppression of the cereal leaf beetle pest in the West. The Western Cereal Leaf Beetle Team, consisting of 37 federal, state, and university personnel from seven states and two Canadian Provinces, tracked the pest, assessed its economic impact, and implemented a biological control program. They were successful largely due to the simultaneous education of growers on biological control and pesticide use. Program success followed Extension's commitment to an integrated approach, communication, and rapid dissemination of results between team members and the grower community.
Research in Brief
Measuring the Impacts of a Volunteer-Based Community Development Program in Developing Volunteers' Leadership Skills
This article summarizes the results of an evaluation of the impacts of a community development program to develop leadership skills in its adult volunteers. The evaluation featured 20 questions about leadership skills learned as a result of volunteer experiences. Data analysis strategies beyond a simple means ranking resulted in evidence indicating that the variable on personal time management skills is strongly correlated with other important leadership skills that community development volunteers learned. Therefore, as Extension professionals design training programs for community development volunteers, it is recommended that they focus efforts on developing personal time management skills as a major component.
North Central Region 4-H Volunteers: Documenting Their Contributions and Volunteer Development
Documenting volunteer contributions strengthens Extension partnerships with volunteers. A team of North Central Region 4-H volunteer specialists collaborated to conduct a study of 4-H volunteer contributions and impacts related to working with youth within the 4-H program. Over three thousand (3,332) 4-H volunteers from throughout the 12-state North Central Region completed the survey. Volunteers are critical partners to the success of 4-H, making it possible for millions of young people to have access to 4-H programs.
Local Government Leadership Education: Measuring the Impact of Leadership Skill Development on Public Officials
Many Extension leadership development programs have been evaluated for effectiveness. Little literature exists focusing on the evaluation of leadership development programs involving elected and appointed local officials. This article describes an annual program involving elected and appointed local officials and shares quantitative and qualitative evaluation data collected over the past 10 years. Findings indicate participants have increased their understanding of key local government leadership dimensions. Increased levels of confidence, broadened perspectives, and an increased sense of empathy were common themes present in the qualitative analysis.
Local Foods in Maryland Schools and Implications for Extension: Findings from Schools and Farmers
This article describes results from a study examining the supply chain for local foods in Maryland school meals, the barriers and opportunities for increasing local foods in schools, and the development of Extension efforts to meet the needs identified. Interviews and surveys were administered with stakeholders, including farmers and food service directors. The results suggest that outreach regarding public schools should focus on the farm level, while efforts for private schools should focus on both the schools and the farm level and facilitating networking between the two.
Priority Drinking Water Issues in Hawaii
Information that can be used to develop relevant drinking water Extension programs for Hawaii residents was collected in a 2010 survey. The major findings were: (1) over 85% of survey respondents feel that their home drinking water is safe for consumption, (2) 84% obtain their drinking water from public water suppliers while 12.2% rely on bottled water, (3) 72% are satisfied with their drinking water, and (4) drinking water quality is not uniform across the state as significant numbers of Maui residents either use bottled water or are dissatisfied with one of more aspects of their potable water.
Use of Visuals for Food Safety Education of Spanish-Speaking Foodservice Workers: A Case Study in Iowa
Providing food safety training to an audience whose native language is not English is always a challenge. In the study reported here, minimal-text visuals in Spanish were used to train Hispanic foodservice workers about proper handwashing technique and glove use based on the 2005 Food Code requirements. Overall, results indicated that visuals influenced participant knowledge about proper handwashing and proper glove use as evidenced by increased knowledge scores. Extension personnel can use visuals to train a wide variety of audiences about food safety, nutrition, occupational safety, and other topics.
Reusable Learning Objects Enhanced Master Goat Producers' Learning
Literature suggests Extension agents should be more proficient in delivering educational programs to enhance learning. This article reports on an innovative delivery method with a robust learning theory for constructing learning objectives. The reported here examined an approach used to improve learning in the Master Goat Producer program. The population (N = 96) was four Master Goat Producer classes from two states. Respondents demonstrated they learned and could practically apply the information. If agents attain different approaches to improve clientele learning, it may enhance Extension agents as educators and better assist Extension in accomplishing its organizational objectives.
Ideas at Work
Volunteer Middle Managers: Human Resources That Extend Programmatic Outreach
Extension professionals must be able to give volunteers programmatic ownership, resources, and the education needed to complete tasks. However, resources such as time and money are limited, especially in economic downtimes, making it even more necessary to look at creative ways to bridge the gap between what programs and services can and should be delivered. Therefore, a middle manager program was developed as a tool to more effectively involve volunteer leaders and assist Extension professionals. Eight position descriptions and corresponding planning aids were developed, in addition to an agent strategy to aid Extension professionals in implementing the middle manager program.
Pest Scene Investigators: A Peer-Learning Effort to Improve Forest Health in Oregon
Pest Scene Investigators is a new Oregon State University Extension education program designed to provide current Master Woodland Managers with specialized knowledge and skills in forest health assessment, diagnosis, and management. Seventy-nine volunteers participated in this pilot program from 2008-2010. The program effectively changed participant behavior on their own properties, with over 80% having thinned, planted alternative species, or assessed their land for forest pests and disease. However, participants showed little interest or confidence in helping other landowners or in doing forest health education. The program will re-tool to incorporate increased support and collaboration to increase confidence in providing volunteer service.
Increasing Income for Rangeland Cattle Ranchers: The San Juan Ranch Horse Series
The San Juan Ranch Horse Series (SJRHS) is a program that was implemented in rural Utah to help ranchers with a downward spiraling horse market, provide education about equine management, and economically benefit local communities. The SJRHS has been successful in all three components of its mission.
Traumatic Brain Injury: Exploring the Role of Cooperative Extension in Kansas Communities
TBIoptions helps survivors of traumatic brain injury and their families identify, locate, and contact helpful organizations in their local communities to promote successful living. This article discusses the role of county agents in the program and the support offered by community partners. Results of pre- and post-surveys for both groups are reported. The research provides information regarding changes in knowledge and noteworthy outcomes for participating agents and community partners. Through engagement in the issue of traumatic brain injury, Extension is better positioned to meet the needs of survivors, family members, and caregivers within Kansas.
Produce Your Own: A Community Gardening Program
Many County Extension offices offer an adult Master Gardener Program, which includes advanced gardening training, short courses, newsletters, and conferences. However, with the comprehensive training provided comes a large time commitment. The Produce Your Own program was created to introduce adults to gardening in a similar manner, but with shorter, less demanding, and less technical sessions. The outreach program consisted of a series of four interactive sessions focused on plot design, crop selection, garden maintenance, harvesting, and preserving. The content can be adapted in many ways for adults, seniors, youth, and other audiences, which allows Extension to reach larger audiences.
Starting a Robotics Program in Your County
This article provides information on how to begin, locate resources for, and recruit volunteers to support a robotics program targeted at middle school youth. It also presents options for program delivery (volunteer-driven and staff-supported, or staff-driven) and evaluation.
Tools of the Trade
Removing the Tension from Extension
Job burnout and stress begin with day-to-day frustrations, roadblocks, and unmet expectations. These can transform job satisfaction and, ultimately, career choices, affecting the quality of programs, expense to universities, and relationships with the community. A series of innovative statewide workshops involving 97 agents and Extension directors from 100 counties in North Carolina answered the question "There's got to be a better way to . . . " with overarching themes including: invest in yourself and your career; focus, delegate, organize, network, shine, and be efficient.
Analyzing Likert Data
This article provides information for Extension professionals on the correct analysis of Likert data. The analyses of Likert-type and Likert scale data require unique data analysis procedures, and as a result, misuses and/or mistakes often occur. This article discusses the differences between Likert-type and Likert scale data and provides recommendations for descriptive statistics to be used during the analysis. Once a researcher understands the difference between Likert-type and Likert scale data, the decision on appropriate statistical procedures will be apparent.
Have It Their Way: Creating Personalized Online Challenges to Motivate Learners
This article describes the development and evaluation of an online health and personal finance behavior change challenge that can be adapted for other Extension subject matter areas. The Small Steps to Health and Wealth™ Challenge is a behaviorally focused activity in which registered users self-report health and financial behaviors and receive feedback about their progress compared to other program participants. Ten daily practices are included, with 10 points awarded for each. Findings from two pilot tests in which participants were provided an opportunity to substitute their own daily challenge activities for those that were pre-selected by program sponsors are discussed.
Jump for the Clouds: An Innovative Strategy Connecting Youth to Communities
Many communities are searching for ways to help youth identify successful career options and strengthen the local economy. Based in a rural community that reflects Maine's decline in jobs in manufacturing and natural resource-based industries, the project described here provided youth with an opportunity to increase their aspirations by interviewing local businesses. DVDs created from these interviews share the entrepreneurial information obtained with other youth. By seeing their peers in the leadership role of interviewers, youth may be encouraged to connect with businesses and services in their communities.
Experiential Cooking Programs for Low-Income Adults: Strategies for Success
Experiential cooking classes for low-income adults can help improve healthy nutrition behaviors. However, nutrition educators and Extension professionals can face challenges in successful implementation of these programs such as difficulties recruiting and retaining participants. Drawing upon lessons learned from a cooking intervention with low-income adults, this article highlights three key strategies for educators to increase program success with low-income adults. These strategies focus on the need for adequate time and facilities as well as identifying GED programs as potential partners for recruiting and retaining adult participants.
EFNEP and SNAP-Ed Initial Paraprofessional Training Materials and Methods
Western Region EFNEP coordinators were frustrated by the apparent lack of materials available for training newly hired paraprofessional nutrition educators. An on-line survey was distributed to all EFNEP and SNAP-Ed state coordinators seeking details about initial training and available materials and requesting copies of materials for review. Results indicated diversity in training methodologies reflecting individual states' needs. Using a comprehensive document developed by the Western Region, eight states' initial training materials have been reviewed. Three reviews are posted on the EFNEP Coordinator's website hosted by Purdue University and provide a new training resource for EFNEP and SNAP-Ed program coordinators.
Vitamin D: How to Translate the Science of the New Dietary Reference Intakes for This Complex Vitamin—More Is Not Always Better!
Vitamin D has long been known for its role in bone health. Before the recent Institute of Medicine (IOM) guidelines, there were conflicting messages about its other benefits. The IOM experts' exhaustive review of the evidence maintained the importance of calcium and vitamin D in promoting bone growth and maintenance. New Daily Reference Intakes were recommended. The report indicated that individuals seem to get meaningful amounts of vitamin D from sun exposure. Higher levels were not shown to provide a greater benefit. Extension professionals have the capacity to train professionals and consumers about the new vitamin D reference intakes.
Multi-Agency Team Uses University Archival Tool to Conserve Vital Project Information
The Western Cereal Leaf Beetle Team culminated a successful integrated pest management project on the cereal leaf beetle (CLB) by archiving their materials at http://clbarchive.wsu.edu in an open, digital repository hosted by Washington State University (WSU) Research Exchange. This archive enables researchers to store materials under a stable, searchable URL that is found easily by online search engines. Materials stored may be added or removed to maintain relevance, and file formats may be updated as software changes over time. Creative Commons licensing of the archive enables researchers to use these materials freely, with credit given to the authors.
Poultry House Depreciation Tool
This article describes a poultry house depreciation decision tool designed for use by Extension educators, accountants, lenders, and contract poultry growers. The majority of production and marketing decisions are made by the vertically integrated firm, but the contract poultry grower has three options for depreciation expenses related to construction of the poultry house, which can improve cash flow. The software tool described here allows contract poultry growers to estimate changes in taxable income arising from contract poultry production from each option the Internal Revenue Service provides for single-purpose agriculture structures. It is available to interested users in a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet.
Scholarship Unbound: Assessing Service as Scholarship for Promotion and Tenure—A Book Review
KerryAnn O'Meara studied the practices of promotion and tenure committees assessing school of education faculty from four universities that used service as scholarship work as a component of the review process. Learning from the promotion and tenure committee members, higher education administrators, and candidates for promotion/tenure, O'Meara outlines some common themes in using service as scholarship for academic advancement. Understanding these expectations can help Extension professionals in charting and conducting their service as scholarship work.