April 2015 // Volume 53 // Number 2
JOE Style on Journal Names & Tables
In "JOE Style on Journal Names & Table," I tell you why you should not abbreviate journal names and why your tables must have both columns and rows. In "April JOE," I highlight 10 of the articles in the April issue on subjects ranging from energy and health care to public value, ripple effect mapping, and designing effective outreach publications.
The Role of Extension in Energy Education
Access to clean, abundant, reliable domestic energy sources continues to be a primary national concern. Vast natural resources and open spaces position rural communities across the U.S. to play a central role in future energy development. Issues related to energy development are often emotionally charged, with the potential for conflict. Extension must embrace the conflict and react to the needs of our clientele by providing information to inform decisions and strengthen communities. Looking forward to the next 100 years, it is time for Extension to adapt and mobilize research and educational programming to address critical energy issues facing our nation.
Participate in the JOE Discussion Forum on "The Role of Extension in Energy Education"
Farmers and Health Care Reform: A Challenge and Opportunity for Extension
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) presents both opportunities and challenges for farmers. There is a great deal of variation in how states are implementing the ACA, which creates confusion for individuals and businesses trying to understand and evaluate health insurance options. To assist farmers and farm workers with navigating ACA reforms, Extension can work across program areas and leverage their network of farm technical assistance providers and non-profits to enhance outreach and program efforts. Extension tax schools and wider adoption of the Smart Choice Health Insurance - Farm Families can expand the portfolio of tools available for working with farmers.
Participate in the JOE Discussion Forum on "Farmers and Health Care Reform: A Challenge and Opportunity for Extension"
Ideas at Work
Long-Term Health Care Planning: A Subset of Farm Transition Programming
Farm transition programming has been a valuable addition to Extension programming efforts. An often overlooked subset of farm transition programming is a discussion regarding long-term health care planning. Research supports the need for long-term health care planning. The probability of having some sort of long-term health care issue in one's lifetime is high. This includes a large percentage of people under the age of 65. Health care costs, including long-term care, are increasing at alarming rates. These costs can potentially cripple a farm business financially as well as impede the transition of the business to the next generation.
The Systematic Screening and Assessment Method: An Introduction and Application
The Systematic Screening and Assessment method (SSA) could be a useful approach to identifying Extension programs being implemented, to describing the nature of those programs, and to highlighting those that have proven effective. After a general discussion of SSA, we provide an application of SSA as recently used to identify 4-H Healthy Living programs with evidence of improving diet; physical activity; and alcohol, tobacco, and other drug use prevention outcomes. Our goal is to increase awareness about SSA and to demonstrate that it can be used to expand the knowledge and reach of Extension programs with evidence of impact.
Using Evaluations to Identify and Eliminate a Barrier to Invasive Weed Control
Evaluation is an important component of educational programming. An example of how evaluation is used to assess need, identify barriers, and guide program development is presented. Impact evaluations from a yearlong project to teach landowners about invasive weed identification and control indicated one of the barriers to implementing knowledge was a lack of access to invasive species control tools. Knowledge of this barrier enabled community organizers to guide the development of a community herbicide shed (CHS). Evaluations of landowners who used the CHS show that the CHS effectively changed the knowledge, attitudes, and practices of all participants.
Development of a Florida Seafood Program Using a Multi-Disciplinary Team
The seafood industry in Florida is complex, with more than 80 varieties of Florida seafood commodities and an increasing number of imported products. This variety increases consumer confusion, especially with the growing concern about the origin, sustainability, and safety of seafood products. The objective of the Florida Seafood At Your Fingertips program is to provide Florida Extension agents with updated, science-based information regarding seafood, which will result in increased consumer awareness and consumption. Combining a survey instrument, curriculum modules, public displays, and a mobile application with the teaching expertise of Extension has allowed this program to reach consumers throughout Florida.
Council of Presidents: A Multifaceted Idea for 4-H
Communication between 4-H professionals and the youth they work with is an important part of a successful 4-H program. By creating a Council of Presidents comprised of officers of all the clubs in your county, you can increase communication while assuring your program addresses all four essential elements. The Council is also as a vehicle for teaching leadership, Parliamentary Procedures, and problem-solving skills using experiential adventure activities. I have found when youth are given tools and information through interactive and engaging activities, the tools and information are recalled and implemented in their club setting.
Developing a Mobile Extension Course for Youth Livestock Producers
The 4-H Livestock Quality Assurance course is a mobile Extension course for youth and youth leaders. In 3 years of implementation, over 6,600 participants from 16 states have learned about good production practices for animal agriculture through the innovative online Nebraska Livestock Quality Assurance course. By evaluating the needs of our youth and capitalizing upon content area experts from across the state, we are able to provide the best content to all youth, 24X7.
Tools of the Trade
Using Ripple Effect Mapping to Evaluate Program Impact: Choosing or Combining the Methods That Work Best for You
A mind mapping approach to evaluation called Ripple Effects Mapping (REM) has been developed and used by a number of Extension faculty across the country recently. This article describes three approaches to REM, as well as key differences and similarities. The authors, each from different land-grant institutions, believe REM is an effective way to document direct and indirect impacts of community development programs while providing an opportunity for reflection and inspiration to program participants.
Reliability Analysis of Money Habitudes
Use of the Money Habitudes exercise has gained popularity among various financial professionals. This article reports on the reliability of this resource. A survey administered to young adults at a western state university was conducted, and each Habitude or "domain" was analyzed using Cronbach's alpha procedures. Results showed all six domains had acceptable levels of reliability. Family finance and consumer science Extension agents can feel confident in using the Money Habitudes tool with individuals and couples.
Design Clarity in Public Outreach Documents: A Guidebook for a First Detector Volunteer Network
We established a first detectors network by inviting woodland owners to monitor for invasive pests on their property as volunteers. Accessible outreach materials are necessary to communicate volunteer responsibilities. A professional graphic design firm provided a series of design and layout techniques, including font size, font style, spacing, color palette, backgrounds, and figures, that improved our instructional guidebook. The guidebook was received positively in anonymous volunteer evaluations and in face-to-face discussion. The techniques may be useful in the development of materials for other outreach programs.
Know Your Audience, Ask Your Audience
This article describes the process used to develop an award-winning series of 27 well water Tip Sheets for Rhode Island private well owners. Our multi-agency team worked to develop the series by: 1) Combining our knowledge of the audience with scientific, writing, and design expertise and teamwork; 2) Applying principles of risk communication and plain language; and 3) Asking for and using audience input at multiple stages. Our commitment to know and learn from our audience and incorporate their suggestions into the final product required extra planning, time, and money, but made a difference in the final quality of the materials.
Early Detection Rapid Response Program Targets New Noxious Weed Species in Washington State
Early detection, rapid response is a critical component of invasive plant management. It can be challenging, however, to detect new invaders before they become established if landowners cannot identify species of concern. In order to increase awareness, eye-catching postcards were developed in Washington State as part of a noxious weed educational campaign. Plant identification, potential impacts, and current distributions are provided in a simple format for easy information consumption. Postcards are distributed across the state at various venues, thereby increasing the general public's exposure to little known but high risk species.
Captivate Your Audience by Turning PowerPoint Presentations into Interactive E-Learning Content
Adobe® Captivate software provides educators with a tool to create interactive distance learning modules. This article describes how Adobe® Captivate was used to increase engagement of volunteer learners. An Adobe® Captivate module was created for the University of Idaho Master Gardener program to educate and test new Master Gardener volunteers on the pesticide policy of the University of Idaho. The data collected from the online course demonstrated that it was an effective and time-efficient way to educate volunteers. Hosting the course in a learning management system, such as eXtension.org Moodle campus, also provided the necessary university documentation for volunteer training.
Social Media Tools for the Extension Toolbox
Social media can be a powerful tool for communities to use to connect to their citizens. This article outlines various free social media tools available to communities to better connect with their citizens. The descriptions of these tools will help Extension workers and communities to learn which social media outlet will best work for their community, how they can be used to reach out to citizens, and how they can be used to gather data about the community.
Sequential Online Wellness Programming Is an Effective Strategy to Promote Behavior Change
The growing number of United States youth and adults categorized as overweight or obese illustrates a need for research-based family wellness interventions. Sequential, online, Extension-delivered family wellness interventions offer a time- and cost-effective approach for both participants and Extension educators. The 6-week, online Healthy Families Challenge (HFC) resulted in increased daily fruit and vegetable servings and leisure-time physical activity. These findings suggest that an Extension-delivered, sequential, online family wellness program is an effective education strategy.
What Is Your Library Worth? Extension Uses Public Value Workshops in Communities
Public libraries are seeing flat or reduced funding even as demands for new services are increasing. Facing an identical problem, Extension developed a program to identify the indirect benefits to non-participants of Extension programs in order to encourage their public funding support. This educational approach was customized to public libraries and piloted with 15 libraries. Evaluations demonstrated that the approach was popular and effective in changing local practices. Strategies are shared for customizing Extension's public value program so that any public program can articulate short private and public value statements.
Exploring Organizational Factors Related to Extension Employee Burnout
Employee burnout is a costly organizational issue with multiple negative impacts. The purpose of the descriptive study reported here was to explore organizational factors related to agent burnout within Colorado State University Extension. An online survey of county/area Extension professionals was conducted to measure perceptions of various organizational factors that may contribute to burnout. Several factors were identified as areas in need of attention, including systems, work unit climate, individual needs and values, and the external environment. Colorado State University Extension has already begun the process of using the results to make organizational improvements, which may ultimately reduce burnout.
Landowners, Bioenergy, and Extension Strategies
Given increased energy demand from alternative sources, wood-based bioenergy is receiving significant policy and research attention in the United States. Many private forest landowners, who are the likely feedstock suppliers for wood-based bioenergy, however, are not completely aware of its opportunities and potential positive and negative impacts. This article, therefore, reviews the existing work on status of biomass availability and landowner motivations for supplying biomass for wood-based bioenergy industry. Some educational needs of landowners and the potential role of Extension professionals are highlighted.
An Extension Case Study in Institutional Innovation: Microfinance Intermediary Formation
An institutional innovation process led by Extension created a statewide microfinance intermediary. The intermediary provides business technical assistance and microloans to entrepreneurs having difficulty securing conventional credit but having workable business plans. The process included (1) gathering indicators of a problem; (2) formation of a steering committee of relevant interests to study the concerns; (3) a search for alternative solutions and assessment of probable consequences; and (4) emergence of an institutional strategy for addressing gaps. A business plan was implemented over 5 years. The collaboration created new opportunities on multiple levels for Extension problem-solving impacts and outcomes.
IT Workforce Development: A Family and Consumer Sciences Community Capacity Model
This article examines Extension professionals building community capacity in 10 counties across five Appalachian states in response to the talent crisis in the United States information technology (IT) workforce. The goal has been to transfer IT knowledge and create a supportive environment to foster interest in IT careers among underserved girls in Appalachian communities. The project, funded by the National Science Foundation, incorporates the example of Family and Consumer Sciences agents modeling the structure of Extension. Extension professionals can use this model to pioneer workforce development and community change initiatives.
Promoting Economic Development with Tourism in Rural Communities: Destination Image and Motivation to Return or Recommend
Improving tourism is one means Extension professionals and other community stakeholders can use to build rural economic resiliency. The research reported in this article evaluates what motivates tourists to visit and how they perceive of Wisconsin's Kickapoo Valley as a destination. Data are drawn from surveys collected from out-of-town visitors. Results show the motivation to find excitement and adventure, the perception that the area is clean and hospitable, and whether visitors have been to the area more than once significantly affect their likelihood of returning to or recommending the area. Recommendations for how Extension professionals might use these findings are discussed.
Managing Good and Bad Times: Extension Risk-Management Pilot Evaluation
Research on farmers and ranchers has highlighted the detrimental effects of contextual stressors on family systems, as well as assessed risk management strategies on effectively reducing these stressors. In order to investigate the usefulness of these risk management strategies, we assessed 41 participants' changes who participated in a pilot interdisciplinary Extension program, Managing Good and Bad Times: How Can Your Family Be More Resilient? Using the double ABCX family stress model and descriptive analyses, results showed increased awareness of the risks and stressors in their lives and improved attitudes and behaviors to manage economic and human risks.
Cook Like a Chef 1- and 4-Week Camp Models
Children participating in cooking classes gain confidence in their abilities to prepare food. If children are to make informed, healthy, food ingredient and cooking method choices, they need to be equipped with these necessary skills, as well as with nutrition competence. Extension programs that incorporate nutrition and hands-on cooking can present a challenge; yet with tools and support this mission can be accomplished with ease and finesse.
Can an Immersion in Wellness Camp Influence Youth Health Behaviors?
Summer 4-H camps present an untapped opportunity for advancement of mission mandates. The project reported here immersed campers in healthy living experiential learning. The goal was to improve self-efficacy and health behaviors related to nutrition and physical activity. Data was collected from enrolled campers through multiple survey tools. A total of 74 campers completed baseline surveys during summer 2012; 6-month follow-up rate was 72%. Camp improved intervention campers' nutrition knowledge (p<0.10) and home food environment (p<0.05). Results suggest experiential learning/immersion opportunities in nutrition, culinary, and gardening may encourage positive health behaviors and influence the home food environment.
Using Search Engine Optimization Techniques to Enhance the Visibility of Web-Based Extension Fact Sheets
To compete in today's online environment, Extension needs to increase its visibility through search engine results. The study reported here evaluated the impact of using Search Engine Optimization (SEO) techniques on six Web-based Extension Nutrition and Health fact sheets by examining data pre- and post-fact sheet revision from Google Analytics and rankings on Google results page. Comparing Pageviews data pre-and post-revision, the Pageviews for all six fact sheets increased, ranging from 101% to 281%, over a 3-month timeframe. Application of SEO techniques to Extension publications has the potential to increase the visibility of Extension's credible and research-based information.
Research in Brief
Rural Health Care Information Access and the Use of the Internet: Opportunity for University Extension
The Internet has potential for improving health information delivery and strengthening connections between rural populations and local health service providers. An exploratory case study six rural health care markets in Kansas showed that about 70% of adults use the Internet, with substantial use for accessing health information. While there are statistical differences for general Internet use based on socio-economic characteristics, these "digital divides" are not so apparent in relation to Internet usage for health-related information. The study opens opportunities for Extension to include Internet usage as an added dimension to programs to aid in community and economic development.
Process Monitoring Evaluation of an Online Program for Parents
We conducted a process monitoring evaluation of the electronic delivery system of Just in Time Parenting (JITP), an age-paced newsletter for parents, to evaluate program implementation. A visitor-tracking website statistics program (Google Analytics) revealed the number of visitors, geographic location in which they accessed newsletters, and how visitors got to the site. A commercial email marking platform (Bronto) revealed the number of confirmed subscribers, the states in which they lived, and the number of subscribers who opened the emails and clicked on the link to read the newsletters. Implications center on areas for improvement for JITP and online program improvement.
National 4-H Common Measures: Initial Evaluation from California 4-H
Evaluation is a key component to learning about the effectiveness of a program. This article provides descriptive statistics of the newly developed National 4-H Common Measures (science, healthy living, citizenship, and youth development) based on data from 721 California 4-H youth. The measures were evaluated for their reliability and validity of individual items and overall measures using exploratory factor analysis. The measures overall appear to assess what they are intended to assess, but there are several methodological issues, such as cross-loading items and low variance. Recommendations for scale refinement and modifications are made.
Extension Professionals and Sustainability Practices: Are We Walking Our Talk?
Today more than ever, Extension is scrutinized and evaluated for its value and relevance to the public. This report summarizes a 2010 online survey conducted by members of the National Network for Sustainable Living Education (NNSLE) to assess the sustainability mindset of Extension employees. It assessed employee behaviors, motivations, and impediments—at work and at home—in five categories. Most notably, Extension employees are avid resource conservation practitioners who are strongly influenced by saving time and money. The findings provide a platform for sustainability education in Extension offices to promote transformative institutional and community change.
Rain Barrel Owners as a Piece of the Water Conservation Puzzle: Segmenting Extension Audiences Using Their Landscape Water Conservation Practices
Rain barrel owners may represent a target audience with whom Extension agents could engage in specific ways. The study reported here identifies unique attributes of rain barrel owners and may help develop programming to decrease residential water use. Clientele of a county Extension agent were surveyed about landscaping and water conservation efforts. Rain barrel owners reported performing significantly more water conservation behaviors, both outdoors and indoors, than those without a rain barrel. We conclude rain barrel ownership is related to additional water conservation behaviors in this audience. Implications for Extension programming, delivery strategy, and future research are discussed.
Persistence Wins: Long-Term Agricultural Conservation Outreach Pays Off
This article discusses the lesson learned from an Extension, state, and federal agency coordinated water quality project that was formally started in 1995. In the project, educational programing was provided, high risk areas were identified, and BMPs were implemented on these areas. The net result of BMP implementation was a 38% improvement in South Dakota Bad River water quality. This improvement was attributed to Extension and others providing leadership on: 1) the development of local learning communities and 2) identification and implementing BMP's in high risk areas. This work demonstrates that Extension can make a difference.
Farmer Responses to Resistance Issues in Corn Rootworm to Bt Corn: Qualitative Analysis of Focus Groups
Western corn rootworm is an important corn pest in the U.S. Some farmers noted unexpected corn rootworm injury of transgenic hybrids as early as 2008; however, the full extent of product performance is still not fully understood. We conducted telephone focus groups with farmers in 2013 to gain their perspective of current and future issues for corn rootworm. Respondents were surprised how quickly corn rootworm injury escalated in their fields and were disappointed with incorrect diagnoses from consultants and seed companies. Most participating farmers saw university Extension as an unbiased source of information.
Survey of Pest Management Practices on Washington Dairy Farms
Washington state dairy producers were surveyed to determine pest and parasite prevalence and range of current pest management strategies. Nearly all respondents reported treating their cattle or premises for flies, while 62% reported treating their animals for external parasites. Use of pyrethroid and pyrethrins insecticides was common throughout the state. Results indicated that use of non-chemical options to control flies are commonly used by Washington dairy producers and may have become more widespread since the late 1990s. Extension professionals could improve outreach education to dairies by partnering with farm supply stores, veterinarians, and feed distributors.
Effectiveness of Nutrient Management Plans on Vermont Dairy Farms
A nutrient management plan (NMP) is a tool that helps livestock farmers optimize crop nutrient use. A survey of Vermont dairy farmers was conducted to learn about farmers' implementation of and perceptions about the effects of NMPs. Results showed that 46% of the 301 respondents had NMPs, particularly large and medium size operations. The majority followed the plans most of the time (barring weather and other constraints). The study revealed that NMPs affected total perceived fertilizer use and adoption of conservation practices. It showed that the person(s) updating the NMP affected the frequency to which the plan's recommendations were consulted.