August 2013 // Volume 51 // Number 4
Help for JOE Authors Gets Help
In "Help for JOE Authors Gets Help," I call attention to the new and improved Help for JOE Authors page. In "August JOE," I highlight articles dealing with diversity, rural women, the Great Recession, and geospatial and other kinds of technology being used to enhance Extension programing.
4-H as a Catalyst to Enhance Quality of Life for Hispanic Individuals
Improving the quality of life for all Americans by increasing economic opportunities is essential to maintaining a highly competitive agricultural system in a global economy. Because Hispanic individuals are one of the fastest growing groups of Americans, traditional youth development programs must begin to focus more on Hispanic youth development. This article outlines how 4-H Programs can serve as a catalyst to enhance quality of life for Hispanic youth and citizens in general.
Participate in the JOE Discussion Forum on "4-H as a Catalyst to Enhance Quality of Life for Hispanic Individuals"
Ideas at Work
Using Automated Blogging for Creation and Delivery of Topic-Centric News
Every day, news relevant to Extension clientele is posted to the Internet from a variety of sources such as the popular press, scientific journals, and government agency press releases. In order to stay current with the information being published, an end-user must be following all of the possible sources of information. That task can be intimidating and impractical. The development and publication of an automated news-indexing blog provides readers with a single source for daily, even hourly, updates of current events related to a specific topic.
Mobilizing Members, Volunteers, and Leaders in Extension: The Call to Action
Mobilizing members, volunteers, and leaders is the all-important component of a volunteer program and consists of three steps, including engage, motivate, and supervise. Providing service to an organization cannot occur without engaging its volunteers and leaders. Engaging in the performance of tasks and roles too quickly will generally result in frustration, poor performance, and a poor retention rate. Administrators of volunteer programs should understand the motives that contribute to beginning, continuing, and discontinuing volunteer service. During the supervising phase, Extension professionals and volunteer administrators determine how well the volunteer is using the available resources to perform the assigned task.
Tying the Design of Your Camp Staff Training to the Delivery of Desired Youth Outcomes
As experience camp directors, we've seen the challenges faced by young camp counselors and inexperienced staff. Evaluations from staff at many camps motivated us to help our people be more effective with their campers. In response we created a comprehensive camp staff training. Lessons showed staff what we wanted them to do and say as they worked with campers. A key element of the training program was daily staff professional development sessions throughout camp. Evaluation results for both staff and campers show that intentional training on staff skills and behaviors supported the camp in achieving its identified youth development outcomes.
The Virginia Geocoin Adventure: An Experiential Geospatial Learning Activity
Geospatial technologies have become increasingly prevalent across our society. Educators at all levels have expressed a need for additional resources that can be easily adopted to support geospatial literacy and state standards of learning, while enhancing the overall learning experience. The Virginia Geocoin Adventure supports the needs of 4-H groups and other educators, by providing a low-cost and user-friendly entry point to expose students to geospatial tools, such as GPS receivers, geographic viewers, and basic remote sensing techniques.
Increasing the Healthiness of Consumers Through Farmers Markets
As health and wellness issues in the U.S. continue to rise, Extension workers are presented with an opportunity to use nontraditional methods to support public health. Farmers markets serve many goals, the most important of which revolves around individual and community health. They are among popular tools for supporting public health by making healthy food readily available, thus treating obesity and reinforcing the idea of good nutrition. The number of farmers markets in the U.S. continues to grow, and this steady increase demands that Extension, planning, and other policy professionals understand the various individual and public health goals they achieve.
Use of Program Theory in a Nutrition Program for Grandchildren and Grandparents
Grandparents University ® (GPU) is a 2-day campus-based nutrition education program for grandparents and grandchildren based on constructs from Social Cognitive Theory and the Theory of Planned Behavior. This article describes how program theory was used to develop a working model, design activities, and select outcome measures of a 2-day nutrition program at GPU 2010 that fostered behavioral intention among intergenerational participants to eat more fruits and vegetables and become more physically active.
Tools of the Trade
Using iPads as a Data Collection Tool in Extension Programming Evaluation
Program evaluation is an important part of Extension, especially with the increased emphasis on metrics and accountability. Agents are often the point persons for evaluation data collection, and Web-based surveys are a commonly used tool. The iPad tablet with Internet access has the potential to be an effective survey tool. iPads were field tested at a grazing conference to assess their efficacy as a data collection tool. Participants with prior iPad experience found them easy to use, while some novice users had difficulty completing the survey. The high mobility of the iPads was a distinct advantage over laptops.
"Reduce" Your Work Load, "Re-Use" Existing Extension Print Materials, and "Recycle" to New Digital Platforms
This article provides information and guidance on how to take traditional means of communication and information sharing and repurpose and digitize that content for the Internet and posting on social media sites. Suggestions and templates are provided from primary to secondary format development and how to then take those formats and adapt them to the Internet. Case studies and examples are also cited that highlight successful adaptation of materials and presentations to maximize programming efforts without adding to the workload.
Avian Influenza Biosecurity: Filling the Gaps with Non-Traditional Education
Outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza have become endemic, crippling trade and livelihood for many, and in rare cases, resulting in human fatalities. It is imperative that up-to-date education and training in accessible and interactive formats be available to key target audiences like poultry producers, backyard flock owners, and emergency responders. Online tools such as Moodle™, Second Life™, and Facebook are excellent resources for Extension educators and have been implemented in the arsenal of the avian influenza biosecurity program. However, each online tool has its pros and cons, and Extension educators must use the best tool for each target audience.
Segmentation of Email Systems Benefits You and Your Clientele
Using commercial email services to segment email lists allows Extension to customize information according to clientele interests. Our email system has 42 segments, allowing us to be very specific in choosing who receives the information we send out. It also allows clientele to manage their information according to their needs. There are some challenges, such as not being able to send attachments, but overall these systems can makes delivery of information more efficient and effective, and less expensive than printed media.
No More Missing LEGO Parts: A Simple Inventory System that Works!
In this article, we show a method for organizing the LEGO WeDo Robotics Set. The system is proving to greatly decrease the time needed for inventorying parts and storing and transporting LEGO sets, saving youth time in finding parts for the various builds and keeping the hair on leader's heads ☺.
The Maine Garlic Project: A Participatory Research and Education Program
Participatory research is a useful technique for collecting basic data over a large geographic area. Garlic production was chosen as a participatory research study focus in Maine. Project participants (285) received bulbs to plant, monitored their crop, and reported data online. Participants received a monthly educational newsletter to improve their garlic production and maintain interest in the project. The project introduced many new gardeners to growing garlic for the first time. Participants overwhelmingly reported they shared the information they learned and that they plan to continue to grow garlic. The successful project benefited Maine growers and Extension staff.
Home Food Preservation Training for Extension Educators
During times of economic downturn, there has been an increased interest in home food preservation. As the primary resource for current research-based recommendations, a team of Extension Family and Consumer Sciences educators with specialization in food safety and food preservation responded to this demand by developing a standardized food preservation curriculum to provide programming. The curriculum was used to train Extension Family and Consumer Sciences educators so they could meet the current need of home food preservation requests for programming at the county level.
4-H Tractor Operator Program Teaches Employability Skills and Safety to Youth
For Michigan State University Extension, the Berrien County 4-H Tractor Operator Program has provided tractor safety education to teens for over 30 years. The certification training satisfies current requirements for operation of a 20 PTO HP or greater agricultural tractor by 14- and 15-year-old youth employed on property not owned, leased, or operated by a parent or legal guardian. Parents say the program, enhanced by the Gearing Up for Safety curriculum, allows youth to operate equipment legally, be employable, and increases self-confidence, emergency preparedness skills, and knowledge.
Seafood Safety During an Oil Spill and the Sniff Test
A simple, rapid test has proven effective for screening seafood for petrochemical taint after an oil spill. This test was widely used after the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The test was the screening tool at the point of harvest in order to determine if there was obvious oil contamination of the seafood. The test is sensitive to human detection at a level of over 100 times the level of concern for napthalenes in the BP oil spill. Examples lay personnel and media can relate to their personal experience are effective for explaining scientific analytical test procedures.
Diversity Inclusion in 4-H Youth Programs: Examining the Perceptions Among West Virginia 4-H Youth Professionals
The study reported here sought to examine the perceptions of 4-H youth professionals towards diversity inclusion in 4-H youth programs. A majority of professionals positively reported that there are benefits for youth of color and youth with disabilities in 4-H youth programs. Respondents indicated that the lack of information about 4-H youth programs was the biggest barrier to diversity-inclusive 4-H programs. As demographic populations shift, 4-H programs must continue to implement inclusive programs and assess current programs to ensure that historically marginalized groups are being encouraged to join.
Strength Training Improves Body Image and Physical Activity Behaviors Among Midlife and Older Rural Women
The effect of strength training on body image is understudied. The Strong Women Program, a 10-week, twice weekly strength-training program, was provided by Extension agents to 341 older rural women (62±12 years); changes in body image and other psychosocial variables were evaluated. Paired-sample t-test analyses were conducted to assess mean differences pre- to post-program. Strength training was associated with significant improvements in several dimensions of body image, health-related quality of life, and physical activity behaviors, satisfaction, and comfort among rural aging women—an often underserved population that stands to benefit considerably from similar programs.
Using Clicker Technology with Rural, Low-Income Mothers: Collecting Sensitive Data Anonymously
As part of a multi-state study on health message development, a group of family researchers, Extension faculty, and a learning technologist used audience-response systems, or "clickers," to display and record focus group participants' responses to questions. This article describes how the authors used clicker technology in focus group settings, clicker training for facilitators, and lessons learned. The clicker technique is useful to collect local and personal data anonymously in group settings for program evaluation purposes. Implications for future research and Extension education are discussed.
The Effectiveness of Distance Education, Using Blended Method of Delivery for Limited-Resource Audiences in the Nutrition Education Program
The study reported here sought to determine if the use of distance education lessons for teaching limited resource participants in a nutrition education program (NEP) is as effective as face-to-face methodology. One hundred and six participants were in the experimental group. Data was gathered at entry and examined behavior change, nutrient intake change, and self-efficacy. Results demonstrated that the participants made positive behavior changes, improved nutrient intake, and increased in self-efficacy as a result of the distance lessons. It was found that the use of distance education is an acceptable option when common barriers to face-to-face learning exist.
GIS in Public Planning Agencies: Extension Opportunities
This article examines opportunities for Extension professionals regarding GIS functions relevant to planning and applicable for public agencies. The study uses data from two surveys examining perspectives of professionals in Wisconsin's public planning agencies and educators from University of Wisconsin-Extension. The results show that the use of GIS in public planning agencies is mostly limited to routine and administrative tasks rather than more advanced functions of analysis, modeling, and alternative scenario evaluation. Extension educators and specialists could play a critical role, especially by providing training opportunities, in helping these agencies use GIS more effectively.
A Study of Extension Professionals Preferences and Perceptions of Usefulness and Level of Comfort with Blogs as an Informal Professional Development Tool
The use of blogs for informal professional development is a growing phenomenon in higher education. The purpose of the study reported here was to describe Extension faculty's preferences for and perceptions of using an online, particularly social media, environment for professional development. The LSU AgCenter Organization Development and Evaluation unit conducted an 18-week pilot study to determine the feasibility of this delivery method with field and state faculty. Results indicate that blogs are underutilized because of the newness of the technology but possess potential as a delivery method.
Job Embeddedness Theory: Can It Help Explain Employee Retention Among Extension Agents?
The study reported here examined Job Embeddedness theory, as introduced by Mitchell, Holtom, Lee, Sablynski, and Erez (2001), which offers a method of discovering why people stay in an organization. Extension agents in two states (N=454) reported significantly different levels of job embeddedness during the study period. Regression analyses showed that job embeddedness was significantly correlated with and predicted unique variance in intent to stay.
Developing Business Continuity Plans for County Extension Offices: The Ohio Approach
In a world where disasters can strike at any time and at any magnitude, it is important for Extension organizations to be resilient and assist their community through localized crises. Preparedness at the organizational level has a relational effect to the amount of support available to communities at their hour of need. When county Extension offices are prepared and have protocols in place to allow them to rebound quickly, office personnel are better equipped to facilitate and respond to recovery needs. This article presents Ohio's commitment to ensure emergency preparedness of its Extension county offices using business continuity plans.
Family Communication and Multigenerational Learning in an Intergenerational Land Transfer Class
Recognizing intergenerational differences sets the stage for sharing and learning across the generations. An intergenerational land transfer education class was designed to engage families around the issue of parcelization and development of forested lands. A post-class survey of the Intergenerational Land Transfer class was used to evaluate outcomes. Recognizing intergenerational differences in learning was found to be important in catalyzing family discussion and protect working forestlands. This article provides an example of a multi-generational approach to teaching. This approach has implications for program areas beyond agriculture and forestry.
Unlocking Public Value: An Evaluation of the Impact of Missouri's Great Northwest Day at the Capitol Program
The study reported here is an evaluation of the public value of a regional public policy engagement program. Data were obtained through surveys and document analysis. The study observed peer-learning and networking opportunities as some of the most impactful elements of GNWD at the Capitol in creating public value. Building coalitions of interest among diverse sectors of the population strengthens the development of public value. For Extension, these findings suggest that programming that focuses on collaborative efforts holds promise for sustaining communities. Extension can be the glue that permeates professional/sectoral boundaries and bonds the different fields together.
The Impacts of the Great Recession on State Natural Resource Extension Programs
The Great Recession contributed to major budget cuts for natural resource Extension programs in the United States. Despite the potentially large cuts, their impacts and how Extension has adapted their programs have not been evaluated. We begin addressing these needs with surveys of Association of Natural Resource Extension Professionals members and State Extension Service Administrators in 2011. Results indicate that Extension programs have adapted to cuts by increasing reliance on grants, fees, and partnerships. We suggest the need to better understand the implications of cuts for natural resource Extension and its customers.
Research in Brief
Do Job Satisfaction and Commitment to the Organization Matter When It Comes to Retaining Employees?
Reducing employee turnover through retention practices is an area of great interest to employers. Extension has experienced the loss of many county agents due to resignation and also retirement incentives. Prior research suggests a linkage of factors that can predict the likelihood of employees' intention to quit. The study included 480 Extension agents with less than 6 years of employment, representing 12 states in the southern United States. Findings indicate significant relationships between employee job satisfaction, organizational commitment, and intention to quit.
The Role of Internships in Raising Undergraduates' Awareness and Perception of Extension
Extension does not often reach out to undergraduates at their home institutions. Doing so might help Extension reach new audiences; leverage scarce resources; provide meaningful, community-based work experience; and perhaps recruit another generation of Extension professionals. We surveyed students who had completed internships with Extension programs to understand their motivations and to gauge impacts of their internships. Students' understanding of Extension increased exponentially over the course of their internships. They were highly motivated by having a paid work experience that allowed for making professional contacts. Survey feedback will be used to improve, coordinate and expand student opportunities in Extension.
A Comparison of Recreational- and Intermediate Survey-Grade GPS Units for Importing Data into GIS Software Packages
Global positioning systems (GPS) and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) have become common tools for Extension professionals. These systems vary in terms of accuracy and cost. GPS ranges from recreational-quality to survey-quality, with intermediate levels in between. As the user moves from recreational-quality to survey-quality, both accuracy and cost increase. We compare a recreational GPS unit (Garmin) and importing data into Google Earth software and an intermediate survey-grade GPS unit (Trimble Juno) and importing data into ArcMap GIS software. These represent two of the most common GIS choices available to natural resource professionals. Cost effectiveness will depend on accuracy requirements.
Extent of Agroforestry Extension Programs in the United States
An email survey of Extension professionals across the United States was carried out in 2011 to learn about agroforestry Extension programs. The most common agroforestry practices were riparian buffers, windbreaks, and forest farming. Programs provided some degree of effectiveness and success, but numerous obstacles to more widespread adoption were noted. Critical factors include an appreciation of interest in agroforestry, availability of markets and resources such as personnel and funding, having a dedicated program within each state, and having an active schedule of trainings, demonstrations, and other educational opportunities. Extension is in a unique position to facilitate promotion of agroforestry.
West Virginia Woodland Welcome Wagon: Design, Implementation, and Evaluation in Three Priority Areas
The majority of West Virginia's forested land is owned by private family forest owners. It is essential that natural resources professionals work with and support these individuals as they establish their ideal woodlands and sustain ecosystem services, which are at risk from parcelization and fragmentation. The West Virginia Woodland Welcome Wagon was carried out in three priority areas to connect new landowners with natural resources professionals. Over the course of 6 months, absentee landowners, landowners with fewer than 50 acres, and those interested in socializing with other woodland owners were found to be more likely to participate in the project.
Improving the Effectiveness of an Online Fitness Program: The Walk Georgia Experience
Many Extension programs are addressing the obesity issue through on-line physical activity programs. Using data from the Walk Georgia program at the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension, two regression analyses were conducted to determine the characteristics of those who under-utilize the program and what factors influence how effectively a county recruits participants. The results of the data analysis show that Extension must develop incentives to motivate those who participate less, such as women, minorities, and those with lower incomes and less education and enlist volunteers and other community leaders to recruit more participants.
Evaluation of HACCP Training Under the Grade "A" Dairy HACCP Core Curriculum
Learning outcomes of two training programs using the National Conference on Interstate Milk Shipments (NCIMS) HACCP core curriculum were evaluated using a post-program questionnaire to assess participant reaction; a pre-/post-test to measure learning; and a follow-up survey to determine utilization of training information. Overall responses indicated that program materials and instruction were of value in meeting HACCP training needs; that overall participant knowledge improved; and knowledge gained was used in review and modification of dairy plant HACCP systems by survey respondents. The NCIMS core curriculum as a standardized HACCP training program meets the needs of the dairy industry.
Effectiveness of the 4-H Program as Perceived by Parents of 4-H Participants
The study reported here examined the effectiveness of 4-H program as perceived by parents of program participants. Descriptive-correlational design was employed, with data collected using a mail survey. Parents perceived 4-H as an effective organization in teaching life skills to youth. Significant relationships were found between parents' skills and skills youth learn in 4-H. Two variables—skills and belonging—explained 28.8% of the variance in youth life skills, suggesting that when parents view that their child's participation in 4-H is important and help demonstrate importance of life skills, then youth learn needed life skills—communications, decision making, and goal setting.