Fall 1993 // Volume 31 // Number 3
Although you'll find a variety of articles in this issue, their underlying theme seems strikingly similar. It's simply that from the survival of the Extension System to individual educational programs, the attitudes of our clientele, publics, and Extension staff are critical. To ignore attitudes will be perilous; to understand them will surely help Extension become a more responsive and effective organization.
Public Forest Stewardship Ethic
The national Forest Stewardship Program offers Extension professionals an opportunity to interact with a largely untapped audience, eight million people strong, that's becoming increasingly important. These people own the nonindustrial private forests. Pennsylvania's Forest Stewardship program demonstrates the essential role Extension philosophy and practice can play in implementing natural resources programming.
Rural Water Quality Database
The primary goal of the project described in this article was to create an ongoing water quality database for private drinking water supplies in New York State and to make sure of a statewide educational program to collect the data. A secondary goal was to develop this educational program so rural residents could increase their knowledge of water supply management and Extension field staff could use it as an opportunity to coordinate local efforts on water issues.
Beyond the Expert Helping Model
In addressing issues faced by families at risk, an empowerment model, as illustrated by the Family Ties project, provides an important alternative to the expert model. By fostering a collegial group through which family and community issues can be addressed, the empowerment model provides a means of addressing the powerlessness and hopelessness experienced by many families. The challenge to Extension is to explore this model and others in an effort to identify effective ways of providing outreach services to families at risk in the coming century.
From Single to Multicounty Programming Units
In 1986, Nebraska Cooperative Extension administrators started exploring methods to gain greater efficiency, yet still serve Nebraskans with quality education and programs. This exploration resulted in developing multicounty Extension programming units (EPUs) to replace single-county programs. Multicounty programming units allows Extension to better meet the needs of current clientele. While a major reorganization is never easy, making such a transition may be necessary for Extension's continued viability as a provider of informal adult education.
Evaluating Issues Programming
This study of the perceptions of faculty and local leaders who had participated in Parish Advisory Councils and issues task forces was conducted to help LCES draw conclusions about the utility of the issues programming process. Lessons learned from the issues programming experience in Louisiana, as expressed by agents and leaders, provide useful insights into cautions, strengths, and weaknesses that should be considered in future issues programming efforts.
Are Youth at Risk?
In public discussion of today's youth problems, balance and context has vanished. As a result, youth policy and programming are increasingly divorced from research findings, historical lessons and common sense. Many of us in Extension youth development education have simply repeated the popular myths circulating in the media about "at-risk" youth without questioning their basis or using research to help us more accurately discern the situation of today's youth. It's time to change from a deficit focus on liabilities to concentrate on building strengths in youth programs. We need to concentrate our efforts away from just "fixing" problem kids and toward efforts for creating positive opportunities to develop youth potential.
Contrasting Viewpoints About Controversial Issues
Controversial issues are inherently explosive and can be a breeding ground for decision making based on emotional responses. How can education best be provided in these situations without becoming part of the controversy? The contrasting viewpoints method provides an educational tool that offers thorough investigation of value judgments and belief structures while simultaneously presenting the evidence involved in the controversy.
To The Point
Facing the Image Deficit
...reputation is sound performance well communicated to, and appreciated by, influential audiences. We're doing great things. Our deficit is in how we tell people about it. Not enough of the right people know we're doing the right things.
It's Time to Tell the Extension Story
We must be willing to commit to getting the message out. The message we send can portray an organization that's relevant, responsive, and visionary, or one that's viewed as unresponsive and outdated. We can frame the message, but clientele, decision makers, and the general public will form the image.
Survival Depends on Reaching Influential Audiences
Image has two components: awareness and favorability. A lingering attitude exists among some faculty members, administrators, and land-grant communicators against marketing their organizations and especially against image building. ...survival depends on reaching those "influential audiences."
Impacts of Extension Privatization
Is it finally time for attention to be turned from the focus on privatization toward the value and importance that have come to be associated with the small-farm enterprise? Certainly, it's not too soon to examine the implications of Extension privatization in the international arena for the future of farming and agricultural development worldwide.
Extension Work by Contract: A Proposal
A new strategy is needed to enhance Extension specialists' opportunities for promotion and tenure, upgrade their stature in the department, ensure department chair support, and maintain flexibility for emerging issues. One approach would be to contract with departments for specialists' services for a specified percent and period of time.
Double Standard for Youth Involvement
True youth-adult partnerships exist when the contributions of young people are seen as having value in the present, and not as practice for adulthood. Such a partnership acknowledges that decision-making roles can be shared by young people and adults. Often, subscribing to and practicing such a philosophy will mean significant shifts must be made in our beliefs and assumptions about youth in general.
Ideas at Work
Targeted Newsletter for Gardeners
Since retail nurseries and garden centers are considered a prime source of information by the public, the horticulture agents in the metropolitan Cleveland area produce a high-quality, two-color, professionally printed gardening newsletter and distribute it through these outlets.
Using Correspondence Study
Time spent developing either face-to-face or correspondence-based inservices may not differ significantly. However, correspondence-based instruction offers the potential to involve graduate students and Extension support personnel in new ways. From the specialist's perspective, this educational method allowed him to provide agents with the most up-to-date information, yet maximized their flexibility in its study and use.
University Coursework for Farmers
Production agriculture has become increasingly complicated. Therefore, farmers today must develop greater depths of knowledge. To provide this opportunity, I initiated an agreement with the regional campus coordinator for continuing education to offer a series of courses appropriate for area farmers. Cooperation between local Extension, the regional campus, College of Agriculture faculty, and local clientele has been the key to the success of this continuing education program.
Juvenile Court Parenting Program
The program objectives were to increase the knowledge of effective parenting practices for parents whose children had been charged with unruly behavior and to reduce the number of repeat "unruly" offenders seen by Juvenile Court. The impact of the juvenile court parenting program has been outstanding.
Teaching Parenting at McDonald's
A fast food restaurant can be a source of information for busy people as well as a source of a quick meal. The owner/operator of four McDonald's restaurants agreed to participate in the project in April 1988. Single-concept cards that parents could read quickly and then take home for later referral were prepared by Extension staff, printed by McDonald's, and put in kids' meals. With the increase of parents in the workforce, providing concise parent education in a produce purchased for children has proven to be effective and efficient.
Wheel-O-Risk: Farming for Peanuts
The "Wheel-O-Risk" display was designed and used to introduce urban residents to risk and decision making in agriculture. Playing the Wheel-O-Risk is a long way from being a real farm decision maker, but like the activities of petting a lamb or pig, this exercise in risky decision making can be educational and entertaining for nonfarm audiences.
Research in Brief
Profile of Farm Technology Adopters
To enhance their effectiveness as change agents, practitioners must understand the unique characteristics that describe the nature of their clientele. This research produced five categories of adopters based on innovativeness: laggards, late and early majority adopters, early adopters and innovators. Effective change agents can use the information from this study to target both cooperators and collaborators, as well as prospective clientele, who may not have been previously identified.
How Do You Feel About Teaching Money Matters?
Although the agents perceived all seven areas of financial management were important, it appears they're equipped to help households and families only in the areas of financial planning and credit. Agents believed they were insufficiently prepared to teach in the areas of retirement, insurance, estate planning, investments, and legal issues. The perception of insufficient knowledge and ability in these five areas suggests that inservice education could help Pennsylvania agents develop the needed skills to teach limited-resource families.