October 2009 // Volume 47 // Number 5
JOE Tips from VCE
"JOE Tips from VCE" comes courtesy of colleagues from Virginia Cooperative Extension. "October JOE" mentions just some of the articles in what I call a "rich, rich issue," including a lot of articles that feature technology—and a lot that don't.
Program Integrity: A Powerful Organizing Construct or Just More Jargon?
This article describes the conception and application of program integrity as a framework for communicating and reinforcing the importance of intentional program development and as an integrating theme for program development curricula. We suggest it provides a motivational factor often missing from curricula. The working definition of program integrity was developed drawing elements from instructional design, ethics, and public accountability.
Participate in the JOE Discussion Forum on "Program Integrity: A Powerful Organizing Construct or Just More Jargon?"
Ideas at Work
Outreach to the Woody Biomass Industry in Minnesota
Minnesota has aggressive state policies to encourage renewable energy production. Biomass is a renewable energy source with great potential in Minnesota. We developed an Extension program that provided outreach to each link in the supply chain: landowners, land managers, loggers, and energy-intensive businesses. The content generally included information on markets, site and ecological impacts, and available resources. As a part of the outreach to energy-intensive businesses, we developed a GIS resource assessment tool and conducted an up-to-date harvest residue assessment for the state. We are happy to be able to provide this kind of support to a fledgling industry.
Energy Education Ideas that Work
Due to rising fuel prices, energy conservation is an area of considerable importance to consumers and researchers in the United States. This article discusses methods that North Carolina's E-Conservation Program uses to reach and teach consumers about energy efficiency and conservation. This growing energy conservation initiative is the result of partnerships between the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service, leading energy authorities, and local extension agents across the state.
Visualizing and Querying Community Survey Data with Google Maps®
This article describes how an online survey was enhanced using Google Maps® to visualize public concerns regarding a community's water/sewer quality while revealing patterns that could indicate a potential source of the identified problems. Online surveys have become part of the standard toolkit for many County Extension Offices; however, these tools are limited when it comes to surveys involving geospatial information. Through a few simple steps when developing the survey, collected data can be converted for use in a GIS or online geospatial viewer.
Addressing Ethnic Change in the Northern Gulf of Mexico Seafood Industry
Language and cultural barriers have prevented Extension from effectively engaging Vietnamese-Americans within the Gulf of Mexico fishing industry. A partnership formed with other agencies facing similar problems that allows for hiring appropriate staff seems to be a good solution. Experience has shown what works and what doesn't when engaging this particular constituency.
Training Teenagers as Food and Fitness Ambassadors for Out-of-School Programs
Using the Get Moving — Get Healthy with New Jersey 4-H (GMGH) curriculum, Mercer County 4-H recruited, trained, and supported 20 teenagers as Food and Fitness Ambassadors for out-of-school time programs. This article outlines the GMGH curriculum, the 13-hour Food and Fitness Ambassador training retreat, and the implementation of six GMGH events for collaborating after-school and summer day camp programs in Trenton, New Jersey.
Integrating Economics, Management, and Human Relationship Issues into Training for Successful Farm Family Businesses
Farm family businesses are not immune to troublesome family dynamics as they make decisions around production, management, and marketing issues. A project funded by the USDA Risk Management Agency in Kansas has pulled together an interdisciplinary team to holistically address farm family business challenges in both conventional and specialty operations. Farmer-to-farmer mentoring, farm family individualized coaching sessions, farm family and agricultural advisor training, and a Web presence are the project delivery options. The project team shares the lessons they have learned after 4 years of program implementation.
Old-School Extension Programming: A Simple User Survey Provides the Impetus to a New and Successful Regional Program Opportunity
A 2004 needs assessment survey of licensed pesticide applicators in Florida identified a need for a regional training opportunity in the southeastern U.S. A 1½-day program was held in northwest Florida during fall, 2007, attracting pesticide applicators from six states seeking continuing education units. Surveys of participants indicated that the presented information was relevant to their work, new information was gained, and the training opportunity should be offered on a regular basis in the future. Participants also responded positively regarding informal evening socials held during the event for networking with presenters and industry representatives.
Tools of the Trade
Suggestions for Data Collection at Outdoor Recreation Sites
Survey research relies on sampling techniques that require data collectors to ask potential respondents to participate in their studies. This type of data collection occurs primarily through the mediums of mailed cover letters, telephone solicitation, email requests, Web sites, and face-to-face encounters. The purpose of this data collection guide is to provide direct, practical ideas for collecting survey data at recreation sites. A theoretical background provides a framework that is followed by specific suggestions for gaining the cooperation of respondents and collecting survey data.
The Death of the Professor: Dialogue Education's Learning Focus
Are your learners happy with their experiences in your workshops and classes? Are they learning? The Dialogue Education approach is a unique way of designing educational experiences for Extension audiences. It was developed by Professor Jane Vella and inspired by the works of Paolo Freire, Malcolm Knowles, Kurt Lewin, and others pioneers of adult education. Design questions focus on the needs of the learners and promote dialogue among participants. Principles such as safety, respect, immediacy, and sound relationships enhance learning. Extension educators can structure specific learning tasks that allow learners to connect new information to their lives in meaningful ways.
The Conservation Reserve Program: A Tool for Public Participation in Biodiversity Management and Conservation
This article introduces Extension professionals to the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Farm Service Agency. CRP allows agricultural landowners to receive rental and incentive payments for entering into resource-conserving land cover contracts of between 10 and 15 years in duration. CRP is a mutually beneficial manner in which the agricultural public can contribute to the maintenance and conservation of our nation's biodiversity. Extension professionals may find CRP helpful in improving the quality of crop acreages and pasturelands within a particular jurisdiction and reclaiming agricultural land lost to soil erosion or invasive cover species.
A Review of Children in the Middle: Divorce Education for Parents
This article reviews Children in the Middle: Divorce Education for Parents on the extent to which the materials are research based and empirically validated as well as whether the program meets the needs of divorcing families, especially children, as identified in the research literature. The need for divorce education is summarized using empirical research. A program description reveals the program contents and typical administration of Children in the Middle. Empirical research supporting Children in the Middle is provided to highlight program effectiveness. Children in the Middle may be a valuable tool for Cooperative Extension to implement in counties where divorce education is needed.
De-Stress Your County Fair—Let Technology Do the Work!
4-H agents face increasing demands to support traditional 4-H programs while adding new programming for new audiences. Without increased funding to hire additional staff, it becomes essential to streamline the facilitation of activities. To address this situation, the Union County 4-H program implemented fair management software to create efficiencies in the facilitation of the 4-H county fair and regional livestock show. The new software has reduced staff labor by over 60%, reduced pre-show preparation by 34%, and improved problem solving and increased accuracy.
Using Bubble Plots to Aid in Extension Program Planning
Mailing lists are an excellent method for sending information to clientele about research, field days, or upcoming educational events. The objective of the project described here was to determine if bubble plot mapping could be used to analyze a mailing list to maximize the impact of future educational programs. Latitude, longitude, city, and the number of clientele in each city were used to create a bubble plot with overlays of Arkansas boundaries. The bubble plot overlay provides an easy way to interpret the mailing list, which aids in selecting locations to plan future events in areas where clientele impact will be greatest.
Creating the eXtension Family Caregiving Community of Practice
The Family Caregiving Community of Practice, part of eXtension, provides a national one-stop site for Extension's caregiving educational resources. The developmental process of this community's creation is discussed within the "expansive learning" framework. Negatively, community members found too much emphasis on process and a lack of criteria for academic credit. Positively, they experienced increased knowledge, improved networking, and innovation. Recommendations for others creating communities are to: 1) promote the benefits of networking; 2) seek out others with similar passions; 3) provide graduated opportunities for learning; 4) help members transition from an individual perspective; and 5) provide systems for academic recognition.
Extension Educators Can Use Internet GIS and Related Technologies
A variety of Internet GIS tools can support Extension's educational programming focused on land use planning and related issues. According to our Web-based survey, Extension educators have a high degree of interest in Internet GIS and related technologies, but limited exposure to or experience with these resources. Our experience suggests that workshops, supported with printed materials and Internet resources, appear effective in helping educators use these tools. Most educators have access to limited support services. Using these technologies requires a broad understanding of many different and disparate concepts, but many contemporary tools are designed to minimize this concern.
Google Earth Dissemination of Soil Survey Derived Interpretations for Land Use Planning
The Cooperative Extension Service could help individuals and communities make more informed decisions regarding residential development by providing soil survey-derived land use assessment data through Google Earth, a popular Web-based map viewer. This article describes how existing data sets can be more readily visualized with commercially available Internet software and provides examples of how these maps can be interpreted for land use assessment. Finally, the opportunities and constraints of using Google Earth as a tool for disseminating land use planning information are described.
Information Use and Delivery Preferences Among Small-Acreage Owners in Areas of Rapid Exurban Population Growth
Small-acreage landowners are a challenging audience for Extension because they can differ from traditional clientele in knowledge levels, management goals, and information use. To reach this growing audience, it is important to understand the information-use patterns and delivery preferences of this clientele. We surveyed small-acreage owners in four Utah locations chosen to represent a range of physical environments, exurban growth patterns, and land-use histories. While response patterns differed among regions, most respondents relied on social contacts for information more than on Extension. In contrast to previous studies, they showed a strong preference for Web-based information.
Building Public Issues Education Capacity to Address Health and Wellness: Recommendations from a Survey of Extension Professionals
A national Web-based survey administered through the University of Maryland assessed Cooperative Extension's involvement in public policy education specific to health and wellness. Respondents included Family Consumer Sciences administrators, faculty, and staff. The majority of respondents agreed that public policy education was within the scope of their responsibilities, critical to their programs, and helpful in raising citizens' interest and commitment to healthier communities. However, public policy education efforts would benefit from a more integrated approach across the national Extension system in terms of policy focus and Extension professionals' roles and level of involvement.
Social Networking Among Youth: How Is 4-H Represented?
Social networking is very popular among youth as Web sites on which to "hang out" and network with friends. With the many concerns about privacy and appropriateness of what youth do on these sites, it is important to understand how 4-H members are representing themselves and 4-H on the pages they post. It is also important to understand how educators are engaging and promoting programs on such sites. The study reported here used content analysis to determine what 4-H and Extension pages and groups on these sites look like and what they contain. Recommendations are made for researchers and educators.
An Assessment of 4-H Volunteer Experience: Implications for Building Positive Youth Development Capacity
This article explores the important role that volunteers play in the effective delivery of Extension programs. Using an example of positive youth development (PYD) theory from 4-H, the article shows how the success of programs is dependent on volunteer training and support. The article reviews the management, competency, motivation, and satisfaction needs of volunteers and presents results from a statewide study of 4-H volunteers. Four critical areas of volunteer support are explored in light of the study findings: (1) volunteer training and support; (2) sustaining volunteers; (3) volunteer recognition; and (4) program monitoring and evaluation.
Communication Barriers to Family Farm Succession Planning
Many farm families fail to take succession planning actions even when information is available on the tax, business organization, and investment aspects of this process. In semi-structured interviews conducted with multi-generational members of nine small farm families in Pennsylvania, most respondents attributed a high level of importance to succession planning, but conceded that they had not done enough planning. Passive communication styles, unresolved issues, and uncertainty in their lives were inhibiting factors. Rather than rely on a "wait and see" approach, it helps to be inclusive of younger generations in key discussions and decisions about the future of the farm.
Research in Brief
"Co-opetition?" Can It Exist between Extension and Agricultural Education?—A Study on Interdisciplinary Cooperation
Interdisciplinary cooperation was explored between agriculture teachers and Extension educators in a northeastern state. A researcher-designed questionnaire that focused on three factors—perceptions toward interdisciplinary cooperation, behavioral intentions, and individual cooperative experiences—was used to determine the current cooperative environment. Results indicated that even though agriculture teachers and Extension educators appeared to have similar ideas involving personal perceptions, motivations, and experiences regarding cooperation, much less cooperation is occurring than is ideal. Recommendations include joint preparation for teachers and educators, pre-service and in-service incorporation of various facets of cooperation, and assembling an integrated discussion group where future interdisciplinary associations could be discussed.
Activities That Promote Wellness for Older Adults in Rural Communities
Growing interest in healthier aging coincides with the comprehensive whole person wellness model that includes physical, emotional, spiritual, intellectual, occupational, and social dimensions. The study reported here examined current activities for older adults in rural community centers via a mail survey sent to the directors of Oklahoma community centers. To follow up, site visits to the centers and interviews with the directors were conducted. Findings indicated that 16% of the centers offered activities for all six dimensions and that older adults generated many activities. To accommodate activities in a rural community center, programs for these diverse activities must be addressed.
County-Level Extension Leadership: Understanding Volunteer Board Member Motivation
This article examines the motivation of Extension volunteers to serve on county-level boards. A survey was administered to board members to gain understanding of their perceptions of motivation and overall board effectiveness. As supported by prior research, volunteer leaders were motivated by the community-related aspects of their service. Additionally, the study reported here found that most respondents had prior board experience. However, less than a fourth of the survey participants were willing to commit to new roles as part of their board service. The article offers suggestions on board member recruitment and engagement methods for county Extension staff.
A Focused Interview Study of 4-H Volunteer Performance Appraisals
This article describes a focused interview study used to identify effective volunteer performance appraisal criteria from the perspective of the volunteer, including methods, approaches used, purpose of performance reviews, and criteria. Participants in the study were recruited from among the certified 4-H volunteers enrolled in the Arizona 4-H Youth Development Program. The article provides a method that can be used to identify trends, concerns, and potential outcomes of 4-H volunteer performance appraisals.
A Descriptive Analysis of the Perceptions of North Carolina 4-H Agents Toward Minority Youth Participation in Agricultural-Related Activities
An analysis of the perceptions of North Carolina 4-H Extension personnel regarding minority youth participation in agriculture-related activities was conducted. Based on the data collected, the researchers found that 4-H agricultural programs were not fully meeting the needs of a growing diverse population. There is a strong need to improve agricultural program participation in order to increase recruitment and retention strategies for minority youth in relation to 4-H agricultural based activities.
Ecological Principles—A Unifying Theme in Environmental Education
Using ecological principles to form the basis of a succinct list of general environmental education (EE) standards will bring unity and strength to EE. Environmental education literature supports the importance of understanding general ecological principles, and general ecological concepts are prevalent in both widely used and locally adapted EE programs. In addition, an understanding of general ecological principles is included in both NSES (National Science Education Standards) and NAAEE Guidelines for Excellence. This article presents an analysis of the frequency of ecological references in several EE programs and discusses the implications of general ecological principles as a common thread in EE.
Identifying Farmers' Interest in Growing Switchgrass for Bioenergy in Southern Virginia
Several factors are generating interest in growing switchgrass for energy. To understand farmers' perspectives on possible switchgrass cultivation, Cooperative Extension conducted a survey in south-central and southwestern Virginia. The survey found that 66% of respondents had heard of using switchgrass for bioenergy, yet only 43% indicated they would be interested in cultivating switchgrass even if the enterprise were profitable. Reluctance to consider growing a potentially profitable crop is likely due to an underdeveloped market and lack of familiarity with switchgrass culture. The results indicate an important role for Extension in conveying technical information to producers as biofuel markets develop.