December 2009 // Volume 47 // Number 6
Help JOE Articles Keep Speaking
"Help JOE Articles Keep Speaking" highlights an article from our rich past that's particularly pertinent to Extension today and offers readers the opportunity to nominate other pertinent JOE articles. "December JOE" calls your attention to articles that continue discussion on two recurring themes, Extension scholarship and IRBs, and flags a number of other interesting articles in an interesting issue.
The Scholarship of Extension: Practical Ways for Extension Professionals to Share Impact
Traditionally, scholarship in Extension has been defined by the same parameters as those in academia. Primarily, research conducted, journal articles published, presentations at state and national meetings, and grant dollars funded. It is, therefore, difficult for Extension professionals, particularly field staff, to be rewarded for scholarly efforts. This article redefines the scholarship of Extension as "creative intellectual works that are validated by peers and communicated." Six types of scholarship for Extension are identified. To integrate scholarship into Extension activities, devote time during program planning to practicing scholarship and communicating results and impacts.
Participate in the JOE Discussion Forum on “The Scholarship of Extension: Practical Ways for Extension Professionals to Share Impact”
Ideas at Work
Program Update: Multi-State Extension Conference Addresses Food Diversity from Farm to Table
In 2005 and 2006, The Ohio State University Extension, University of Kentucky, Kentucky State University, and Purdue University Cooperative Extension Services developed and coordinated two conferences addressing food diversity from farm to table. The overall goal of the conferences was to foster a tri-state network of multi-disciplinary approaches to meet the needs of diverse audiences related to food. Self-reported email evaluation surveys suggested that conference goals and objectives were achieved. Future diversity trainings should continue to be multidisciplinary and should seek to attract others working in non-extension roles.
Educating Limited Acreage Producers Using Web-Based Technology
Collaborative learning Internet courses provide a means of disseminating information to limited acreage producers. Three multi-disciplinary subject curriculums were assimilated into an e-learning platform. Incorporating student online discussion completed the collaborative learning process. With development complete and classes currently being offered, a model is established for Extension programs nationwide.
Turfgrass Industry Practitioners and the Pesticide Label
A seminar for green industry professionals was used to conduct a survey on the use and perception of the pesticide label. The audience was composed of those in lawn care/grounds maintenance, golf course turfgrass management, and other areas (e.g., sports turf, parks and recreation, etc.). Overall, turfgrass professionals among all three industry segments are well-informed of their responsibilities for the legal and safe use of pesticides, although industry personnel could improve their practice of keeping up with pesticide label changes and revisions.
Improving The Landscape Design Skills of North Carolina Green Industry Professionals
A 2-day hands-on landscape design workshop was presented to landscape design professionals in the North Carolina green industry who had never received formal training in the design process. All attendees were satisfied, significantly increased their knowledge of landscape design, and adopted key strategies for improving their designs and design skills.
A Regional Multicultural Approach to Sustaining Wild Rice
Outreach programming can often involve issues that have complex multicultural and regional dimensions. Those dimensions, while challenging, can represent important opportunities. This article describes the methods and outcomes associated with integrating multicultural and regional perspectives into efforts to sustain wild rice in the Upper Great Lakes Region. The outcomes highlight the importance of utilizing multicultural approaches, addressing issues at appropriate scales, and enabling diverse partnerships. This project underscores the importance of integrating multicultural and regional perspectives into appropriate outreach programming.
Tools of the Trade
What Cooperative Extension Professionals Need to Know About Institutional Review Boards: Working with Youth
University Institutional Review Boards (IRB) carry the responsibility of reviewing and approving all research protocols involving human subjects. As Extension professionals prepare to assess the effectiveness of 4-H and other Extension youth programs, they should be aware of the general requirements imposed by IRBs and particularly of the special requirements for research involving youth. In this article, we outline the IRB requirements often applied to youth research and provide tips for Extension professionals involved in such projects.
Experiential Learning and Cooperative Extension: Partners in Non-Formal Education for a Century and Beyond
How often do Extension educators—those doing the planning, educating, and evaluating of Extension programming—pause to consider their role in the learning process? Joplin's (1981) model defining experiential learning should serve as a guide for educators planning Extension programs. Reflection is a key piece of the experiential learning process that is often ignored due to an overwhelming effort to have participants complete a program evaluation. By using the experiential learning model as a guide, Extension educators can be sure to incorporate this critical component into the program lesson.
Creating an External Funding Strategy: How to Thrive
Seeking external funding for Extension programs is an important investment in our future. Integral assets to Extension agents as they seek external funding are: understanding the relevance of their programming to the community, ensuring their reliability to conduct successful programming, and having the ability to communicate impact to stakeholders. An external funding strategy allows agents to speak their needs in the language of funders. Through this article, agents can examine strategic questions and logical reasoning and the theory behind them to refine an external funding proposal plan. The packaging checklist will ensure that each proposal is compiled for success!
The Focus Group as a Demonstration Technique
Focus group interviews are research techniques, and demonstration projects are Extension techniques. Our title is a little misleading; we are merely proposing that many aspects of focus groups can be used to strengthen demonstrations. We describe a focus group field forestry interview that was described by participants as an outstanding demonstration. This was surprising because our project had no demonstration objective. We discuss four aspects of focus group methodology that might be incorporated into demonstrations in order to enhance educational effectiveness: group dynamics, reversed information flow, enhanced networking opportunity, and increased variables in demonstrations to facilitate more discussion.
Expanded Information Delivery Using the World Wide Web
Web posting of program agendas and presentations has proven successful for increasing contacts and providing timely information. Web posting of program agendas can aid clients in forward planning and encourage attendance. Web posting of conference presentations can help clients who were not able to attend the program and increase exposure to a wider audience. Software for tracking Web page activity provides data for reporting and a measure of value to clients.
Extending Expertise Through Conference Calls and Blogging
Due to the limited number of apple IPM consultants in Wisconsin and the high cost of hiring consultants, few Wisconsin apple growers have been able to take advantage of professional consultant expertise in implementing IPM on their orchards. To address this need, the Eco-Apple Project launched a blog in 2006 and free weekly conference calls with an apple IPM consultant in 2007. We found that the combined package of Web and telephone communications had a low cost relative to one-on-one service, gave growers a chance to learn from each other, saved the IPM consultant time, and was useful to growers.
City Fresh: A Local Collaboration for Food Equity
To address limited access to fresh fruits and vegetables in urban neighborhoods, a collaborative of grass-roots organizations designed City Fresh—a sustainable local food system creating new market opportunities for urban and rural growers and promoting access to and consumption of healthy foods by low-income Cleveland residents. Fresh produce is marketed through a network of Fresh Stops that obtain produce from farmers within a 70-mile radius of the city and from urban growers who are trained through the program. Evaluation results indicate increase in participation rates; growth in urban agriculture; and increase in consumption of fruits and vegetables by participants.
Who Shops at the Market? Using Consumer Surveys to Grow Farmers' Markets: Findings from a Regional Market in Northwestern Vermont
This article presents findings from a consumer survey conducted in 2006 and 2007 at two locations of a regional farmers' market in northwestern Vermont. Consumer survey data is used to learn more about consumer preferences and solicit feedback for vendors. Data collected profiled consumers who attended the market, effective advertising techniques, planned spending, and interaction between markets. This information is valuable to markets seeking to understand their consumers and maximize efforts invested in advertising and community outreach. It provides guidance to Extension agencies seeking to develop networks of regional farmers' markets, particularly with respect to managing competition among markets.
Understanding What Rocks Their World: Motivational Factors of Rural Volunteers
In almost any setting we can think of in 21st Century America, it is not unusual to have representatives from four different generations living and working side-by-side. This fact, and a declining rural population, is forcing Extension agents everywhere to struggle to find and engage new volunteers in county programming. Extension professionals are searching for new ways to recruit and retain volunteers from all generations. The research reported here considered both motivational and hygienic motivational factors associated with volunteerism across a number of generational cohorts during an 18-month leadership development project.
Community Voices—A Leadership Program Making a Difference in Rural Underserved Counties in North Carolina
Leadership is critically important to rural communities. The study reported here compared the leadership practices of leaders who are graduates of Community Voices Leadership Development for Community Decision Making (CV), a leadership program, to leaders who did not participate in the program. A telephone survey, which included questions from a modified version of the Leadership Practices Inventory (Kouzes & Posner, 1993), was used to collect the data. The study provides evidence that the CV program implemented in rural underserved counties in North Carolina is making a difference in the practices of rural leaders who have undergone the training.
Exploring the Positive Impact of 4-H Camp on Youth: Identifying Differences Based on a Camper's Gender, Years of Attendance, and Age
When substantiating the positive impacts youth attain through the 4-H camping experience, it is important to consider influencing variables. The findings of the research project reported here show that, from a parent/guardian's perspective, youth gain multiple benefits from 4-H camp experiences in the areas of leadership, character development, self-esteem, decision-making skills, independent living skills, and citizenship. Beyond showing that 4-H camp has positive impacts for youth, the study reveals the degree to which these improvements are dependent on a camper's gender, years of camp experience, and age.
The Consumer Education Program for Residential Energy Efficiency
Rising energy prices resulting from global increases in energy demand highlight the importance of energy efficiency. The Consumer Education Program for Residential Energy Efficiency is an educational effort conducted in partnership with Cornell Cooperative Extension and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority. This article describes program strategies and impacts and features efforts county Extension educators have implemented to engage adults and youth in learning practical aspects of energy efficiency. Extension's historical role in developing effective educational programs at critical periods in U.S. history is discussed, and a national approach for education on residential energy efficiency is recommended.
Bioenergy from Woody Biomass, Potential for Economic Development, and the Need for Extension
This article reviews the economic impacts of woody biomass utilization for bioenergy development and the role of Extension. Woody biomass is an alternative to reduce foreign oil dependency and mitigate greenhouse emissions. It is renewable, abundant, and can be virtually produced everywhere. Studies suggest that recovery of woody biomass, construction, and operation of biofuels or biopower facilities are a reliable source of employment generation and bring additional income to local communities. Extension should focus on the analysis of areas with the greater potential (e.g., feedstock, infrastructure, and labor availability) to promote sustainable woody biomass utilization.
Examining Information Search Strategies of Ohio Farmers
As information becomes more ubiquitous than ever before, understanding the what, how, and why of farmers' information search strategies becomes more important to Extension professionals. Based on a mail survey of farmers in Ohio, the study reported here examined farmers' informational needs and identified factors that influence farmers' information choices. Specifically, the results highlight the differences in farmers' search strategies regarding type, amount, and sources of information. Findings show farmers practiced high-, moderate-, and low-search strategies to stay current on topics important to their farm business. The implications for Extension professionals are discussed.
Research in Brief
An Examination of the Impact of Organizational Restructuring on Identification Within Extension
Many Extension organizations enjoy strong Organizational Identification (OI) among personnel. But organizational change may negatively influence identification, and many Extension organizations have been changing the way they serve their publics. To examine the impact of change on OI, we compared Extension personnel's OI scores following a major restructuring to OI scores gathered during a period of relative stability reported in previous research from another Extension organization. Findings indicated that OI scores were slightly lower following restructuring; however, the pattern of scores across four targets (Extension, program area, counties, and centers) remained constant, suggesting personnel will rarely identify with mid-level targets.
Challenges, Alternatives, and Educational Strategies in Reaching Limited Income Audiences
Delivering effective Extension programs to limited income audiences is a challenging task because of the many barriers associated with their living conditions. This study explored how EFNEP program assistants reach this audience effectively. A focus group interview was conducted with a selected group of experienced program assistants to identify challenges, alternatives, and effective educational strategies they use to reach limited income audiences. Findings of the study revealed that there are unique challenges, alternatives, and educational strategies in reaching limited audiences effectively. The recommendations in this article should be helpful in designing and delivering Effective extension programs for limited income audiences.
Survey of Former IDA Program Participants: How Do They Fare?
While a number of studies have examined the savings performance of participants in the Individual Development Account (IDA) program, research about long-term program outcomes is limited. To fill this void, we present findings of a survey of IDA participants' asset holdings after they left the IDA program. Results document that those who successfully complete the IDA program report higher levels of asset ownership after completing the program, compared to those dropping out of the program prematurely. This supports the view that IDA programs affect the dispositions and behaviors necessary to successfully maintain a home, complete post-secondary education, and establish a small business.
4-H Youth Worker Characteristics: Comparisons with Workers from Other Youth-Serving Organizations
Participation in 4-H has been linked to a variety of positive youth outcomes. Yet little is known about the youth workers responsible for the implementation of these programs. Using survey data collected from a national sample, the study reported here examined the characteristics of 4-H workers and youth workers from other organizations. Analyses revealed both the strengths of 4-H workers and the challenges they may face in expanding and promoting programming. Recommendations are offered to ensure the continued development and success of 4-H programs.
Promoting Alternative Enterprises: Assessing Farmers' Needs in Research, Education, and Extension
Small farms represent a significant proportion of the total U.S farms, and current trends in agriculture pose new challenges for their viability and survival. To meet such challenges, there is a need for introducing high-value non-traditional alternative enterprises. The study reported here explored goat, organic, and mushroom farming as potential alternative enterprises. Several focus group meetings were conducted in Tennessee and North Carolina to identify priority areas for future research, education, and outreach activities. The results from the study should contribute significantly to promoting and creating niche markets for proposed alternative enterprises among small farmers.
Comparison of Water Quality Program Efforts for Non-Governmental Organizations Within Northern Gulf of Mexico Watersheds
Non-governmental organizations concerned with water quality issues within the Northern Gulf of Mexico were surveyed to compare their program differences. The objectives of the study were to determine the extent of water quality programs and priority program emphasis for non-governmental organizations in the Northern Gulf of Mexico. The study utilized a methodology that identified the program elements of four different watersheds in four southeastern states. The results demonstrate that evaluating non-governmental program efforts in a region reveals targeted priorities that may help to define future program needs.
Factors Affecting Wisconsin Feeder Calf Prices at a Local Livestock Market
Increasingly available information is illustrating the value of management on feeder cattle prices. Information from more than 2,000 lots was collected from a single market facility in western Wisconsin from 2004 through 2006 to examine factors affecting feeder cattle prices. Factors such as weight, breed, haircoat color, sex, lot size, and management practices commonly associated with preconditioning programs are found to affect feeder cattle prices in a market where dairy calves are predominate. This information provides support for implementation of a statewide preconditioning program.
On-Farm Mortality Composting in Washington State: Outreach and Producer Survey
The WSU On-Farm Mortality Composting Project of the Biologically Intensive and Organic Agriculture (BIOAg) Program demonstrated on-farm mortality composting as an effective disposal option for routine livestock mortalities. To evaluate the impacts of the project and determine the direction of future research and outreach, Washington dairy producers currently composting farm mortalities were surveyed. Their most important sources of initial information about mortality composting were other farmers and neighbors, magazines and newspapers, and local conservation districts. Future information was preferred from a Web site and university Extension bulletin, not classes or seminars. Composting reduced mortality disposal costs for 92% of these operations.