October 2011 // Volume 49 // Number 5
Articles Do Not Unfold Over Time
"Articles Do Not Unfold Over Time" discusses the all-too-common error of using the future tense to describe an article's contents. "October JOE" highlights a just few of the notable articles in the October issue, including two from fellow professional communicators.
Plagiarism Within Extension: Origin and Current Effects
Extension publication editors from around the United States are finding cases of plagiarism within manuscripts that Extension educators submit as new public education materials. When editors confront such educators with the problem, some don't understand it as such, rationalizing that reproducing published information for a new purpose qualifies as authorship and a legitimate method for fulfilling their Extension job duties. This article describes potential repercussions of such assumptions, underlying reasons for the problem, and solutions.
Participate in the JOE Discussion Forum on “Plagiarism Within Extension: Origin and Current Effects”
Herd-Health Programs for Limited-Resource Farmers: Prevention Versus Treatment
In recognition of the changing influences on animal health, Extension professionals are charged with the responsibility of delivering educational programs to our limited resources farmers on the importance of herd health. Herd-health programs must be designed and implemented with the help of an Extension veterinarian to provide routine, planned procedures that will prevent or minimize on farm diseases. There is a necessity for Extension professionals to get involved in educating our small farmers on the importance of animal health to enable them to maximize opportunities to participate in new markets for agriculture products.
Participate in the JOE Discussion Forum on “Herd-Health Programs for Limited-Resource Farmers: Prevention Versus Treatment”
Ideas at Work
Snacks in the Stacks: Teaching Youth Nutrition in a Public Library
Teens in limited-resource communities face challenges to healthy eating. Many youths lack food preparation skills and have limited access to ingredients needed to prepare healthy foods at home. University of Maryland Extension offered healthy food preparation lessons to teen participants of a popular weekly electronic gaming program in a Baltimore County public library. Teens reported asking their caregivers to purchase the ingredients and have prepared the Fun Food Fest recipes at home. The recipes do not use an oven or stove top and can be readily used by Extension professionals in a variety of nontraditional educational settings.
Influence of 4-H Horse Project Involvement on Development of Life Skills
Four-H horse project members who competed in non-riding horse contests were surveyed to evaluate the influence of their horse project participation on life-skill development. Contests in which youth competed included Horse Bowl, Demonstrations, Public Speaking, and Art. Youth indicated a positive influence on both life-skill development and horse knowledge. Eighty-six percent indicated they strongly to moderately agreed their life skills were enhanced. Youth participating in these types of projects utilized the horse as a tool to increase their science-based knowledge combined with life-skill enhancement to make them more productive young people.
Youth GIS Partnerships in Action: Alert, Evacuate, and Shelter
Across the state of Oklahoma, teams of youth and adults have formed to use Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to help prepare their communities for potential emergencies. Oklahoma 4-H teams have selected projects ranging from locating storm sirens to distributing emergency maps. Each of these teams has partnered with a local EMS agency to address a community need while developing their geospatial skills. When conducting 4-H GIS, two goals should be kept in mind: public service and youth development. Partnerships are important to the success of youth and GIS. This program would not be as successful and effective without these partnerships.
Reading the Farm-Training Agricultural Professionals in Whole Farm Analysis for Sustainable Agriculture
Reading the Farm is a 2- to 3-day professional development program that brings together agricultural service providers from a range of agencies, with various expertise and levels of experience, to explore whole-farm systems and sustainability through in-depth study of two case-study farms. Over 90% of past participants reported that the program has helped them be more effective service providers. In this article, we describe the program and draw on our experiences in three states to provide recommendations for future implementation of the program.
Tools of the Trade
Publications Highlight Science Communication Research for Busy Professionals
Professionals, such as Extension personnel, who communicate with a range of non-specialists about scientific or technical information face particular challenges. A common goal of all such professionals is to effect at least some change in their audiences' understanding and perhaps in their actions. A key challenge for many of these professionals is a lack of familiarity with research relating to communicating and making decisions about scientific and technical topics. Public Science Communication Research and Practice, a series of publications from Oregon State University, is designed to identify, distill, and highlight useful social science research to help professionals communicate more effectively.
The Wolfpack Leadership Academy: Providing Leadership Development for the Newest Members of the Extension Family
The need for leadership is evident in today's society. More and more, educational responsibilities are being turned over to local governments and community organizations like Extension. This increased responsibility equates to a need for all Extension educators to assume positions of leadership, if indeed they are to succeed in this increasingly competitive environment. The Wolfpack Leadership Academy will provide the opportunity for early career agents to attend a targeted, purposeful, intense leadership development academy designed to engage them in learning and applying the skills needed for future job success.
Disengaging a Volunteer: What to Do When Supervision Fails
Eventually, most Extension professionals will need to disengage a volunteer. The decision to disengage a volunteer should be a last resort. Disengagement is an admission that volunteer supervision has failed. Useful alternatives to and steps in avoiding volunteer disengagement are provided. A systematic approach for disengaging volunteers is presented.
Teaching the Special Needs Learner: When Words Are Not Enough
Extension educators and volunteers provide programs to people of all ages and abilities. This includes individuals with developmental disabilities. Individuals with autism and other developmental disabilities often have difficulty communicating verbally but have strong visual learning skills. This article describes the importance of using visual tools in Extension programs and provides models using the software application Boardmaker®. Visual supports increase communication and learning and help to ensure that content matter is accessible to all audiences.
Cultural Relevance and Working with Inner City Youth Populations to Achieve Civic Engagement
This article helps Extension professionals consider the cultural relevant needs of inner city residents in hopes of achieving ongoing civic engagement and appropriate program activities in these communities. Having a deep understanding of how the various dimensions of marginalized community life among inner city populations affect participation in organized civic activities is necessary for Extension professionals who seek to increase civic engagement capacity among inner city populations. Bridging the unexplored geographical differences of urban vs. suburban Extension will help to achieve successful youth engagement work in America's inner city communities.
Basic Training: A 1-Day Education Module for New Clientele in the Turf Industry
It is important that Extension education programs be directed at clientele new to the turfgrass industry. A 1-day Basic Training: Turf Management seminar was created in 2006 to provide education to those new to the turfgrass industry. The seminar covered the basics of turfgrass management including growth, physiology, fertilization, cultural practices, and pest management. Education was provided to 537 clientele with this program during its first 4 years, indicating the popularity of this 1-day training module. Ninety-five percent of attendees indicated that they felt better equipped to do their job after attending the seminar.
Simple Statistics for Correlating Survey Responses
The rank-sum test is a non-parametric hypothesis test that can be used to determine if there is a statistically significant association between categorical survey responses provided for two different survey questions. The use of this test is appropriate even when survey sample size is small. The rank-sum test is most useful when the goal is to determine whether two groups of respondents differ in their average response to a particular survey question for which response categories are logically ordered according to magnitude (e.g., Likert-scale responses).
Training Organizations in Use of a Modified Stream Visual Assessment Protocol
The Stream Visual Assessment Protocol (SVAP) was evaluated as a means to increase watershed surveys in New Jersey. Groups were trained in an SVAP modified for New Jersey streams. Participants in three training workshops were surveyed to determine the usefulness of SVAP as a cost-effective method to evaluate watershed health. Many respondents found that the workshops were helpful due to the "hands-on" aspect and the combination of classroom and field components to the training. Additional technical support and follow up to the trainings was essential to achieve the program's objective of getting additional groups collecting information on watershed health.
Website Usage Information for Evaluating Beef Cattle Extension Programming
A beef cattle Extension website was evaluated over a 4-year period using Web analytics software to determine usage trends, assess website quality and areas where improvements were needed, and identify beef cattle Extension programming interest among clientele. Website pageviews peaked at times when the website was an integral component of an Extension program, and seasonal trends in viewing were observed. Indicators of website quality were favorable relative to the entire Extension website for the state. The information obtained from this analysis was utilized to improve the website and beef cattle Extension programming efforts.
Interactive Whiteboards: A New Tool for Extension Education
Use of interactive whiteboards (IWBs) in school classrooms and conference rooms is increasing. To evaluate the effectiveness of IWBs as a tool for Extension education, two groups of 3rd and 4th grade Minnesota students (n=325) were taught nutrition using traditional methods or IWBs. Significant increases in knowledge and behavior were observed in both groups after the lessons, with no differences observed between groups. Teachers and Extension staff were generally positive about using IWBs to teach nutrition. The results indicate IWBs can be effective when used for Extension nutrition education in schools.
A Snapshot of Organizational Climate: Perceptions of Extension Faculty
This article provides a snapshot of the perceptions of workplace climate of Extension faculty at a land-grant, research-high activity university, compared with the perceptions of non-Extension faculty at the same university. An online survey was conducted with a validated instrument. The response rate for university faculty was 44% (968); the response rate for Extension was 77% (126). Perceptions of the workplace climate were in the high-to-moderate range. Extension faculty appeared to view campus climate more favorably than traditional faculty. This article calls attention to the benefits of assessing an organization's climate.
Necessary Pre-Entry Competencies as Perceived by Florida Extension Agents
It is important to focus attention on the pre-entry competencies of new organization members and to identify the competencies needed by Extension agents to determine adequate education curricula and training, and to improve retention. Current professional development models disregard the competencies needed by agents entering Extension. This article describes Florida Extension agents' perceptions of necessary pre-entry competencies. The most necessary competencies reported by respondents were: self-management, program development process, communication skills, interpersonal skills, technical/subject matter expertise, and teaching skills. UF/IFAS Extension administrators and personnel should build upon the competencies new Extension agents possess when entering Extension.
Strategic Partnerships That Strengthen Extension's Community-Based Entrepreneurship Programs: An Example from Maine
This article explains how Extension can enhance and expand its nationwide community-based entrepreneurship programs by developing strategic partnerships with other organizations to create highly effective educational programs for rural entrepreneurs. The activities and impacts of the Down East Micro-Enterprise Network (DEMN), an alliance of three organizations with economic development missions in Maine, is used to showcase effective strategies that identify, create, and sustain strategic partnerships; build on their strengths; and overcome potential challenges. This Extension project was part of a statewide effort in Maine to build and strengthen networks of business service providers and improve service delivery to Maine's entrepreneurs.
Building Community-University Partnerships by Listening, Learning, and Responding
University of Minnesota Extension is expanding work in Indian country by building community-university partnerships through a methodology of listening by gathering data in Indian country; learning by creating opportunities for professional development; and responding by building trusting relationships, resulting in more educators working in partnership with Indian communities. Extension educators who seek a mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge and resources with community partners are more likely to address the interests of the community in an appropriate and sustainable manner. Outcomes achieved are attributed to mutual respect for the strengths of each partner and the joint identification of opportunities, solutions, and success.
Intention to Consume Fruits and Vegetables Is Not a Proxy for Intake in Low-Income Women from Pennsylvania
Intention as an outcome measure for fruit and vegetable nutrition education interventions in low-income women was assessed through dietary assessment 3 weeks after a fruit and vegetable intervention in a federally funded program. Amount and variety of intake were compared to intentions expressed immediately following intervention. Findings suggested intentions did not approximate self-reported intake. For example, of 85 women indicating little baseline fruit variety, 47 intended to increase variety following the intervention; only two met the anticipated improvement. In all, only 25 participants met one or more intentions to improve intake. Implications for measuring intention and assessing outcomes are discussed.
Assessing Face Validity of a Physical Activity Questionnaire for Spanish-Speaking Women in California
To create a culturally appropriate assessment, the study reported here developed and evaluated the face validity of a visually enhanced Spanish-language physical activity questionnaire. A professional translated the English version of the International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ), and an expert panel subsequently reviewed it. Photos of individuals engaged in physical activity behaviors were added. Cognitive interviews were completed with low-income Spanish-speaking women in California (n=20). Questionnaire text was modified and then reviewed by translation experts (n=7). With a high readability score of 98, the questionnaire demonstrates adequate face validity and is ready for further validation.
Meeting the Needs of National Guard and Reserve Families: The Vital Role of Extension
National Guard and Reserve soldiers and their families face unique challenges related to deployment and reintegration. This article considers the distinct role Extension can play in supporting these families and their communities. Using Michigan as a case example, the study employed representative data from the State of the State Survey to explore residents' perceptions of the family-related issues and post-deployment needs of Michigan National Guard and Reserve soldiers and their families. Findings suggest that Extension can assist National Guard and Reserve families by preparing communities to respond to deployment, providing direct supports to families, and providing information to policy makers.
4-H Women and Their Horses: An Extraordinary Relationship with an Extraordinary Animal
There is minimal research on the large animal-human companionship bond. The purposes of the phenomenological study reported here were to identify the meaning of the relationship between women and their horses and the impact on their adult lives of the human-horse bond. Analysis is based on in-depth interviews with five adult 4-H alumni horsewomen. The meaning of the relationship was a deeply emotional response to a reciprocal relationship between women and their horses. The central finding was the role of the horse in providing needed social support for the women to meet the challenges of life on an everyday basis.
Developing Culturally Responsive Youth Workers
Culturally Responsive Youth Work: The Journey Matters is based on the theory that when knowledge and skills are found within the lived experiences and cultural contexts of youth, they are more meaningful and more engaging and are learned more easily (Gay, 2000). The program was evaluated using a retrospective pre-then-post test evaluation and showed significant increases in participants' awareness, knowledge, and skills. Interviews conducted 9 months after the training revealed that most had used the training material but cited the need for more ongoing support, tools, and resources. Recommendations are offered for building culturally responsive youth professionals.
The Effects of Florida Master Gardener Characteristics and Motivations on Program Participation
Master Gardeners are very important in helping Extension deliver horticultural information to local citizens. The theoretical framework of the study reported here was based on Houle's Typology. The purpose was to develop an understanding of adult motivations to participate in the Florida Master Gardener program. The sampled population was 613 adult Master Gardeners, with a total response rate of 86.78%. Participants felt a Competence-related Curiosity had "much influence" on their participation in Master Gardeners. Developing an understanding of adult motivational orientations will assist practitioners to alter the program to best meet the needs of Master Gardener participants.
Research in Brief
Reasons for Volunteering as a Mississippi Master Gardener
The purpose of the study reported here was to describe current Master Gardener perceptions of the Mississippi Master Gardener program. Participation was voluntary, and the participants were chosen through a computerized random sampling, with a total of 233 completing the online survey. Motivation was described through six functions: Understanding, Values, Enhancement, Protect, Social, and Career. Results showed that Master Gardeners' highest ranked reasons for volunteering were related to the Understanding, Values, and Enhancement functions. They volunteered to learn more about horticulture and to help others. This will assist County Directors and Master Gardener groups in recruiting and retaining Master Gardener volunteers.
Assessment and Evaluation of the Utah Master Naturalist Program: Implications for Targeting Audiences
The Utah Master Naturalist Program trains citizens who provide education, outreach, and service to promote citizen stewardship of natural resources within their communities. In 2007-2008, the Watersheds module of the program was evaluated for program success, and participant knowledge was assessed. Assessment and evaluation results indicated that amateur naturalists learned more during the course of the program and also consistently evaluated the program more positively than professional naturalists. These results were used to adjust the target audience in order to maximize learning, program success, and marketing effectiveness.
Evaluating Peer Impacts of a Master Forest Owner Volunteer Program
The study reported here evaluated the outcomes of the New York Master Forest Owner Program by measuring both internal volunteer impacts as well as volunteer impacts on woodland owners visited through the program. Internal impacts allowed volunteers to manage their own properties better, promote forest stewardship in their community, and take on increased leadership roles. External impacts resulted in increased information-seeking and goal-setting behaviors as well as on the ground management activities. The results from the surveys demonstrate that local peer-to-peer programs can positively influence woodland owners in their communities as well empower the volunteers themselves.
The Impact of Social Support on Perceived Control Among Older Adults: Building Blocks of Empowerment
This article examines the impact of social support on older adults' perceived sense of control and resultant feelings of empowerment. A consistent theme of empowerment is the idea of personal control. Using hierarchical multiple regression, results of a randomly dialed telephone survey of rural older adults (n=404) revealed that social support was a significant predictor of perceived sense of control. Other factors, including health, functional abilities, and resources were not significant predictors. Community educational programming that focuses on ways to engage elder support networks may also foster a perceived sense of control, further facilitating feelings of empowerment among older adults.
Assessing the Need for the Development of Standardized Life Skills Measures
Youth practitioners often select life skills as intentionally targeted program outcomes. While research findings suggest the efficacy of program experiences to positively influence a variety of life skills, it remains difficult to compare these findings due to measurement incongruities. Individual life skills (e.g., leadership, decision making, etc.) often lack standardized conceptualizations and measurement approaches. The purpose of the study reported here was to gather data about practitioners' perceptions of those life skill domains most in need of measurement development. Based on the results of the study, 10 life skill sub-domains are recommended for future measurement development efforts.
The Impact of SNAP-ED and EFNEP on Program Graduates 6 Months After Graduation
Research was conducted to determine if graduates from either the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program-Education or Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program maintained behavioral changes 6 months after completing the program. Staff asked graduates to complete a 10- or 15-question behavior checklist that was identical to the entry and exit survey completed by clients. Thirteen of the 15 behavior questions were significantly improved from pre to post as well as pre to follow-up (p<0.001). Results of the study reported here support that clients who participate in nutrition education programs can retain their behavior change at least 6 months post-graduation.
Developing GAP Training for Growers: Perspectives from Pennsylvania Supermarkets
Major supermarket chains increasingly are requiring their produce suppliers to provide evidence of compliance with on-farm food safety standards, known as Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs). To develop a relevant GAP training curriculum that meets the needs of Pennsylvania growers, supermarkets that operate in the state were surveyed to determine their food safety policies and practices that will impact local produce growers. As supermarket food safety policies become more stringent, Extension can serve a valuable role in helping growers meet new food safety documentation challenges and in facilitating communication about the needs and interests of growers, supermarkets, and consumers.