Spring 1992 // Volume 30 // Number 1

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Editor's Page

Editor's Page
We call them "users, "clientele," "audiences," or "learners." People, and their needs, are the rationale for the Extension System's existence. So it seems appropriate to begin 1992, and the 30th year of publication for the Journal with a focus on clientele.

Commentary





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Feature Articles

Surveying Client Satisfaction
Warnock, Peter
By involving clientele and vounteers in program evaluation, they were able to speak from firsthand experience about the effectiveness of Extension information transfer in Florida. Volunteers and clients are unquestionably more credible in justifying this work than employees on the payroll. ...a client satisfaction survey is easily justified because we don't want the phone to stop ringing and the doors to remain closed. Extension must continue to serve clients seeking timely information during their most teachable moment.

Teaching Clientele What or How To Think
Jones, Jo
Teaching learners to think critically has become an important educational goal in our rapidly changing society. As adult educators, we must begin to view Extension teaching in the context of how it contributes to the information and process skills needed by clientele for critical thinking. If Extension is to continue as a viable adult education organization, it must meet the educational challenge of incorporating critical thinking skills into the current curriculum.

Understanding Clientele Differences
McKenna, Judy Martin, Dorothy
As Extension moves toward the 21st century, we're asked to evaluate our role in educating the public. By combining our existing strengths of information, skill-building, and research-based choices with a thorough understanding of people, we can offer a comprehensive approach with a variety of opportunities for people to make changes that truly enrich their lives.

Selecting Advisory Council Members
Black, Donald C. Howe, Gerald W. Howell, David L. Bedker, Patricia
If Extension is to embark on new programming initiatives, it should also embark on a new selection process for council members. The process should ensure that all sectors of the local society are represented. The council should also do an internal needs assessment to determine what's missing and recruit to fill the identified gaps.

Evaluating County Clustering
Hutchins, Gregory K.
Extension is being asked to address a variety of complex human problems not limited by county boundaries. Addressing these problems typically requires many areas of expertise that can't be found among agents in a single county office. This scenario has given rise to the concept of county clustering, an Extension staffing and programming model that brings together multicounty teams of Extension agents to address complex, large-scale problems.

Database Information for Small Organizations
DePaulo, Peter J.
Where are our best customers located? How has our town's population been changing? What new businesses can we attract to our downtown? How have some rural communities managed to revitalize their economies? What segments of our state's farm economy have been relatively strong? Does our region need more services for pregnant teenagers, homeless families, the impoverished elderly, or other at-risk groups? This article describes a demonstration program in which information to help answer such questions is provided through Extension. The information is based on secondary data-records and statistics already gathered into databases by organizations such as the Census Bureau and Dun & Bradstreet.

Risk Management Education
Buzby, Jean c. Skees, Jerry R. Benson, Fred J.
This study demonstrated that agents are comfortable with many of the basic strategies farmers use for risk management. However, agents feel the least qualified to offer educational programs on the future markets and crop insurance. Both of these strategies should become more important as recent changes in U.S. agricultural policy, such as the move to flexible base in the 1990 Farm Bill, increase the risk for crop farmers.

Successful Mentoring for New Agents
Zimmer, Bruce P. Smith, Keith L.
New personnel are interested in building mentoring relationships that will benefit them personally and professionally, while gaining knowledge about the Extension organization. The mentor brings to the relationship expertise, ideas, feedback, and friendship. With proper guidance, structure, and encouragement, a successful mentoring system can be established and maintained. The key to success may ultimately be the selection and training of mentors who are willing to commit the time necessary to build an open and trusting relationship.

Letters to the Editor

Land-Grant Mission Revisited
Ban, A. W. van den

To The Point

Seeking a Mature Relationship with Agriculture
Bloome, Peter D.
In the 1990s, it will be more difficult to defend the delivery of firm-specific management information to large commercial farms as being of primarily public benefit. The public isn't inclined to pay Extension to compete, either with the private sector or with other agencies. Extension must help commercial agriculture recognize and use its own capacity to sponsor the applied research and Extension activities of primary benefit to itself.

Mature Relationship Requires Shifting Resources
McDowell, George R.
Extension must continue to "wholesale" its information products as new entrants in the farm information market become active. Unfortunately, farmers often look to Extension to be advocates for them in the public policy process. [A mature relationship] implies a major shift of resources away from commercial agriculture to be able to compete in the political marketplace for continued public dollars.

The Challenge Within
Smith, Orrin E.
The issues are no longer just production efficiency, rather they're an increasingly complex matrix often referred to as sustainability. ...issues-based education requires flexibility in bringing together faculty resources that will challenge our traditional departmental and college "boxes."

International

Information Without the Transfer-A Common Problem?
Hartley, Ross Hayman, Peter
Information transfer in Australian agriculture is undergoing a radical rethink. Our experiences with the legume kit suggest the need to redesign media mixes for more effective information transfer, with less emphasis on paper-based methods, and more on audiocassettes or videotape, and presumably other technologies as well.

Forum

Facing Up to AIDS
Hare, Jan
Home economics has traditionally concerned itself with the well-being of families. Such concern and commitment have guided Extension home economists into politically charged and vitally significant arenas, including that of social policy. Within that arena, home economists seek to influence public policy so it fortifies families and enhances their durability. In the development of policies that buffer families against the impact of AIDS, however, Extension home economics is visibly absent.

Is Extension Ready for Food Safety Education in the '90s?
Barton, Jo Anne Barbeau, William E.
Food safety will likely continue to be a major concern during the 1990s. It's important Extension has some overall plan of action to deal with this issue. Effective food safety programming at all levels requires input from a number of disciplines, some of which may not be represented on every Extension faculty. Thus, individual states need to work closely and coordinate with one another and their federal counterparts on food safety issues. Only by such concerted action will Extension be adequately prepared to confront this scientifically complex issue.

Ideas at Work

Screening Youth Volunteers
Hiller, Janet H.
Until recently, being an interested, warm body was the main criteria for accepting an adult as a volunteer in Extension 4-H youth development programs. In Fall 1989, Washington State Cooperative Extension implemented a more stringent volunteer screening process. Washington is in the second year of using a statewide screening process and firmly believes that having an Extension volunteer screening process says that Extension cares about the safety of the children and youth participating in its programs.

Empowering Clientele in Transition
Broshar, Don
In the '80s, many rural Iowans found their lives confusing and difficult to manage. A variety of factors related to the farm crisis caused individuals and families to experience changes they'd never anticipated. These difficult economic and emotional transitions caused feelings of pain, isolation, alienation, helplessness, and powerlessness. Iowa State University Extension began to address these needs through a series of programs.

Writing for Professional Journals
O'Neill, Barbara M. Helsel, Zane R.
To help faculty with journal writing, a one-day inservice education program, "Writing Skills for Professional Journals," was conducted by two widely published faculty members. The objectives were to teach participants the techniques of journal writing and give them a hands-on writing experience as a base to build on for future publication.

Starting New Producer Organizations
Lichtkoppler, Frank R. Passewitz, Gregory R.
By offering leadership and organizational expertise to new producer groups, Extension staff can help agricultural enterprises in their states.

Improving Self-Esteem
Lockard, Julia A.
A College Days program sponsored by the Cooperative Extension Service, University of Maryland System (MCES) offered Extension faculty an opportunity to educate people about improving self-esteem. The "Focus on You" emphasis had a positive impact on the lives of the participants.

Research in Brief

Learning Styles of 4-H Members
Rollins, Timothy J. Scholl, Jan F.
Are 4-H members "learning to do" at the expense of "learning to think?" Intervention strategies and methods to promote critical thinking, problem solving, and decision-making are needed, especially as 4-H moves toward more science- and technology-based curriculum. Inservice education of agents should include cognitive development-teaching "how to think"-to leaders and teachers. We can teach 4-H members how to use their cognitive abilities, one of the most basic life skills.

Nutrition Information Needs and Sources
Peisher, Ann v. Harrison, Judy A.
To provide successful programming, Extension educators must develop useful messages and choose the appropriate channels for reaching a target audience. Georgia Extension nutrition and health specialists surveyed adults to determine the types of nutrition information they're interested in and identify the sources used to obtain this information.

Community-Based, Food Safety Survey
Gilmore, Gary D. Meehan-Strub, Mary Mormann, Douglas
The survey yielded valuable insights about people's food safety concerns, along with insights into their preferences for education and information. As a result of these findings, the committee chose to conduct programming through regional media sources to address major consumer concerns and to produce a series of radio public service announcements widely aired throughout the county. Other committee food safety projects included providing a resource directory and training for food service workers. Extension's role in food safety education can be enhanced by collaborating with community-based agencies and organizations to survey and respond to consumers' concerns.

Ten-Year Comparison of Extension Use
Jacob, Steven G. Willits, Fern K. Crider, Donald M.
The availability of data from two statewide Pennsylvania surveys, conducted a decade apart, provided a recent assessment of changes in the number and characteristics of households using Pennsylvania Extension. Respondents were asked whether, during the preceeding two years, any member of the household had participated in or received information from Cooperative Extension in each of four programming areas.

Tools of the Trade

Using the Rural Information Center
Goodwin, Jeff
An extensive source of information available to Extension workers and clientele is only a phone call away. The Rural Information Center (RIC) is a joint project of the Extension Service and the National Agricultural Library. It's designed to provide information and referral services to local government officials, businesses, community organizations, Extension faculty, and citizens working to maintain the viability of America's rural areas.

Focus Groups-A Needs Assessment Tool
Gamon, Julia A.
Focus groups are useful for identifying needs and constraints that might be missed through other methods of assessment. Potential programs for new clientele can be revised before expensive mistakes are made. The focus of existing programs can be re-directed. Recruitment strategies may be adjusted to better meet the interests of potential volunteers.