February 2013 // Volume 51 // Number 1
JOE By the Numbers 2012
In "JOE by the Numbers 2012" I report on the 2012 submission and readership rates and announce JOE's current acceptance rate: 27.8%. I also highlight the Top 50 Most Read Articles lists, pointing out that several entries were published in 1984. (All JOE articles still "live" and can still "speak" to us.) "February JOE" makes note of the Commentary, whose author asks for feedback; two articles that describe model Extension efforts; and three that discuss engaging our audiences.
Many programs in Extension deal with sensitive issues; however, one issue that seems to be comfortably omitted is sexuality education. How can Extension address this issue? This article highlights existing sensitive issues already addressed in Extension programs and offers a challenge to examine the situation for the benefit of individuals, families and communities.
Participate in the JOE Discussion Forum on “Sextension?”
Ideas at Work
Nature's Notebook and Extension: Engaging Citizen-Scientists and 4-H Youth to Observe a Changing Environment
Extension, with its access to long-term volunteers, has the unique ability to teach citizen scientists about the connection between climate variability and the resulting effects on plants, animals, and thus, humans. The USA National Phenology Network's Nature's Notebook on-line program provides a science learning tool for Extension's Master Gardener, Master Naturalist, and Master Water Steward training programs, engaging volunteers to contribute to a scientifically rigorous data resource. We give examples of how Extension programs in Arizona, Florida, and Maine are currently incorporating Nature's Notebook, and encourage use of the program in other Extension locations.
The Data Party: Involving Stakeholders in Meaningful Data Analysis
A hallmark of Extension includes the involvement of stakeholders in research and program needs assessment, design, implementation, evaluation, and reporting. A data party can be used to enhance this stakeholder involvement specifically in data analysis. This type of event can not only increase client participation in Extension programming and research but also enhance community buy-in, reinforce human and community development, and provide more authentic data interpretation.
Using Social Media to Involve the Public in Wildlife Research—the SNAMP Fisher Sock Collection Drive
The University of California Cooperative Extension used social media to solicit donations to support research on the Pacific fisher, a rare forest-dwelling weasel, conducted by UC scientists. The social media campaign included blog and Facebook postings, news releases, and tweets requesting donations of single socks. Socks were donated from around the state and nation, with 82% coming from urban areas. The drive was successful at securing resources to support wildlife research while at the same time extending outreach to new non-local audiences. The major challenge was developing the local logistical support to deal with the overwhelming influx of donations.
Real, Fast, Feedback
To better comprehend the needs of your clientele and colleagues, it is essential to use survey website applications. Doing so will help you become more efficient in obtaining constructive, timely feedback in order to adjust programming, therefore optimizing the impacts of Extension activities. Citing the most influential survey experts both in and out of the field of Extension, this article explains how to get started creating successful online surveys. I urge all Extension educators to make use of online survey tools and take advantage of this developing technology.
HALTER: : Using HorseQuest as a Training Tool
Youth organizations, such as 4-H, need dedicated, knowledgeable adult volunteer leaders. Oftentimes, adults are intimidated to work with youth, either because of questionable understanding of youngsters or due to limited subject knowledge. This is particularly true with volunteers for youth horse organizations. The eXtension HorseQuest CoP (Community of Practice) recognized the need to improve the comfort level and competence of youth horse organization volunteers. Members of the CoP created HALTER, the Horse Adult Leader Training and Education Resource, to address both the youth development training aspects as well as the horse knowledge needs of adult volunteers working with youth organizations.
Using Non-Extension Volunteering as an Experiential Learning Activity for Extension Professionals
Extension professionals can gain much-needed competencies in volunteer administration through experiential learning by participating in volunteer activities. Experiential learning is a means of behavior change that allows the individual learner to reflect on, abstract, and apply their experiences to new situations. This article expands on Boyd's list of methods for overcoming barriers to developing competencies in volunteer administration. Extension professionals can participate in experiential learning on demand and for little to no cost, while also creating public value.
4-H ChickQuest: Connecting Agri-Science with STEM Standards in Urban Schools
While young students are more capable of scientific inquiry than previously believed, elementary school teachers are often inexperienced in and lack confidence with teaching science. ChickQuest is a 4-H-created embryology curriculum for third-graders that meets Ohio state science standards, teaches STEM skills, and promotes ongoing interaction with the experiment. Extension educators work closely with teachers to provide logistical and content support, decreasing any anxiety associated with having eggs and live animals in the classroom. This article explores the experience of third-grade teachers in a large, urban school district that implemented the ChickQuest curriculum. Implications for Extension educators are identified.
Real Forestry for Real Estate
Virginia is poised to see an unprecedented change in forest land ownership. To provide new landowners with information on sustainable forest management, we developed a two-part program, Real Forestry for Real Estate. First, we assembled New Landowner Packets, which contain a variety of sustainable forest management resources. Second, two continuing education classes will provide real estate professionals with an understanding of the importance of forestry and tools which can help them better appreciate the properties they are selling. The courses will be used to recruit real estate professionals to be disseminators of the information packets to rural land clients.
A Collaborative Bovine Artificial Insemination Short Course for Students Attending a Caribbean Veterinary School
Artificial insemination (AI) of cattle is a critical career skill for veterinarians interested in food animal practice. Consequently, Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine Student Chapter of the American Association of Bovine Practitioners, Select Sires, and University of Idaho Extension have partnered to offer an intensive 2-day course to provide AI training to students attending the Caribbean veterinary school. This collaborative effort includes a unique cost-sharing arrangement that ensures students attending the geographically remote veterinary school receive the educational opportunity to increase their knowledge and develop the skill of performing AI in cattle.
Tools of the Trade
Mobile Applications for Participatory Science
Citizen science, participatory research, and volunteer monitoring all describe research where data are collected by non-professional collaborators. These approaches can allow for research to be conducted at spatial and temporal scales unfeasible for professionals, especially in current budget climates. Mobile computing apps for data collection, training, and analysis can greatly enhance participatory science.
Assessment of Beef Cattle Extension Publication Use via Internet Download Monitoring
Publication download monitoring allows Extension professionals the ability to determine client interests. Downloads from a beef cattle Extension website were monitored from January 1, 2010 to September 1, 2011. Trends in Internet download monitoring of the MSUcares site were assessed. Basic beef cattle production publications were most downloaded. Beef cattle reproduction was identified as a key topic area of interest to website users. Popularity of Spanish language publications indicated an increased need for Spanish language translations Extension publications. This information provides a basis for developing future publications, trainings, and Web-based resources that are most in demand by clientele.
Database Application for a Youth Market Livestock Production Education Program
This article offers an example of a database designed to support teaching animal production and husbandry skills in county youth livestock programs. The system was used to manage production goals, animal growth and carcass data, photos and other imagery, and participant records. These were used to produce a variety of customized reports to help guide leaders and members through the project animal selection and management process and evaluate progress over time. The chief advantage of the system is in its utility in reducing the effort required to perform the many communication and information-sharing tasks that were necessary for success.
Collaborative Public Management as a Hunger Prevention Strategy
Collaboration between public and private partners in the food assistance network is critical to reducing hunger. Access to safe, nutritious, and affordable food is a public health concern best addressed through a multi-sector, multi-prong approach. Extension programs across the United States provide community-based responses to hunger and can use their considerable resources to partner with governmental and nonprofit actors to boost participation in federally funded nutrition assistance programs to take full advantage of the dollars already appropriated for hunger relief and to generate economic benefits for communities at large.
Starting a Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program: Information for Starting This Program at a Farmers Market
Farmers markets are important market places offering healthy food sources that can become more accessible for low-income consumers by incorporating Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) to facilitate the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) (Morales, 2011). We reviewed e-mails sent to the second author via the Farmers Market Coalition Listserv and found that many market managers have questions regarding starting this program. In the process, we found that many questions were asked multiple times, indicating the need for the type of technical assistance provided by Extension professionals. Extension agents can use this information to integrate SNAP into new and existing markets.
Teaching Financial Literacy Across the Generations
This article describes a tool developed by educators of the University of Minnesota Extension and University of Wisconsin Cooperative Extension to assist professionals as they plan financial education for participants. In today's changing economy, financial education is essential throughout one's life cycle. By understanding learner attributes, educators can create motivating learning environments and seek appropriate teaching methods to capture participant attention. Multi-generational complications may arise as people view and communicate about money differently. The financial literacy grid was developed to examine generational characteristics, life cycle tasks, financial concepts, and appropriate teaching techniques to meet learner needs.
Contributions of Youth Engagement to the Development of Social Capital Through Community Mapping
The Multi-State North Central Extension Research Activity (NCERA), Contributions of 4-H Participation to the Development of Social Capital, identified a strategy to pilot a research method that incorporates an inquiry-based approach to understanding community level impact of youth programs. This article focuses on how youth engagement educators can use this strategy to engage youth and to understand the impact of youth engagement on community change work.
Volunteer Position Descriptions: Tools for Generating Members, Volunteers, and Leaders in Extension
Successful organizations involve members, volunteers, and leaders who engage their talents and interests. Members, volunteers, and leaders all have important roles in the organization and are dependent upon each other to fulfill their roles. Community involvement is necessary for an organization to achieve its mission, vision, and purpose. The mission, vision, and purpose are identified through a needs assessment. After assessing needs and developing position descriptions, potential members, volunteers ,or leaders are identified and recruited. Individual interests, knowledge, skills, and backgrounds are explored through the selection and screening processes. Selection is based upon the individual's ability to perform the task.
New Best Management for Phosphorus in the Water
Phosphorus (P) is a macronutrient required by all life forms. P occurs in the environment naturally and may be introduced during farming and household activities in the form of fertilizers. Extension can play a critical role in helping to reduce commercial and household impacts of excess P in soils. Agents can help clients using education and introducing them to best management practices, including a phosphorus removal structure. It is a passive filtration system that removes P from runoff and drainage ditches before it reaches sensitive water bodies.
A National Perspective on the Current Evaluation Activities in Extension
In order to enhance Extension evaluation efforts it is important to understand current practices. The study reported here researched the evaluation behaviors of county-based Extension professionals. Extension professionals from eight states (n = 1,173) responded to a survey regarding their evaluation data collection, analysis, and reporting methods while evaluating their "best" Extension program. The majority used post-tests at the conclusion of their educational activities and reported the actual numbers of respondents. Few respondents collected data representing behavior change. To improve, Extension professionals need to gain evaluation skills and work together to develop strong evaluations that measure change over time.
Multiple Year Extension Program Outcomes & Impacts Through Evaluation
Dwindling public funding as well as greater competition for grant dollars create a challenge for Extension. For Extension to remain a financially viable organization, educators have to be able to produce substantive, measurable program outcomes and impacts. Evaluative data can inform program development and delivery, and helps administrators report how funding is being allocated and the result of that allocation. Evaluative data can be shared with the public and other stakeholders as a means of garnering organizational support. The objective of this article is to highlight a multi-phase, multiple program year evaluation process resulting in substantive program outcomes and impacts.
Measuring Quality of Life: A Case Study of Agritourism in the Northeast
Evaluation of Extension programs is critical for accountability and improved program effectiveness. However, measuring outcomes remains a challenge for many types of programs, especially those that aim to improve the quality of life of participants. The study reported here examined changes in quality of life indicators as part of a measure of farm viability. Farmers participated in agritourism trainings in the Northeast, and impacts of the trainings were evaluated through an Internet survey 1 year later. The index developed to measure quality of life for the agritourism program may be adapted for evaluation of a wide variety of Extension programs.
The PNW Model: Lessons from Extension's Most Successful Regional Publishing Program
The Extension services of Washington State University, Oregon State University, and the University of Idaho established Pacific Northwest Extension Publishing (PNW Publishing) in 1946 as a mechanism of regional cooperation and cost savings. Other regions followed suit in the decades that followed. Today, PNW Publishing is the last standing regional publishing cooperative in Extension. This article identifies factors that have contributed to the success of PNW Publishing and offers lessons that can be applied to other multi-state cooperative efforts in today's Extension environment.
The Healthy Homes Partnership: A Cooperative Extension Model
This article highlights the accomplishments of the Healthy Homes Partnership, which recently celebrated its 10th anniversary. Since the program began in 1999, funds totaling $2.7 million have been distributed to 34 states and Virgin Islands Extension programs through a competitive process. Extension professionals have used the funds as seed grants to conduct research, create programming materials, and foster relationships with stakeholders. The Partnership is a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) supported U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) national outreach program.
Intergenerational Panels at Centennial Events: Stimulating Discussion About Continuity and Change in the 4-H Program
This article introduces an intergenerational strategy for organizations planning centennial celebratory events. The methods and findings from the 4-H through the Generations session conducted at the joint 4-H Leadership Conference and 4-H Leaders Forum to celebrate the Pennsylvania 4-H Centennial are reported. Youth and adult participants shared their views, experiences, and hopes for 4-H via panel presentations and small group discussions. An analysis of themes introduced by the panelists and conference participants suggested that this approach can be effective in raising awareness of past accomplishments and current challenges and in stimulating conversation about future directions for the 4-H organization.
Needs and Perceptions of Cooperative Extension Educators Serving Latino Populations in the South
A survey of 982 Extension educators from 12 southern states provides a snapshot of their experiences working with Latino communities. The objective of this article was to gather data regarding Extension educators' desire and perceived ability to work with the new Latino audiences in their communities and inform the development of cultural competency training. The rapid growth of the Hispanic population in rural communities in the South has left many Extension offices ill prepared to meet these new clients' needs. Suggestions for helping Extension educators develop effective partnerships and provide bilingual services are discussed.
Financial Coaching's Potential for Enhancing Family Financial Security
Financial coaching is an emerging complement to financial education and counseling. As defined in this article, financial coaching is a process whereby participants set goals, commit to taking certain actions by specific dates, and are then held accountable by the coach. In this way, financial coaching is designed to help participants bridge the all-too-common gap between knowledge and intentions on the one hand and lasting behavior change on the other. After introducing the financial coaching process, this article highlights recent Extension coaching initiatives and overviews findings from survey data from coaching trainings and a coaching partnership with Head Start.
Estimating Local Food Capacity in Publicly Funded Institutions
This article presents three approaches to estimate the size of the publicly funded institutional marketplace to determine what opportunities exist for local farmers and fishers. First, we found that estimates from national foodservice sales statistics over-estimate local capacity opportunities. Second, analyzing budgets of publicly funded institutions for foodservice expenditures proved more difficult than anticipated. Third, a consumption production model from data provided by the institutions and comparing it to production statistics enabled us to estimate local capacity in publicly funded institutions for specific commodities. The consumption production model provided the most useful estimates for Extension and government decision makers.
Assessing the Educational Needs of Urban Gardeners and Farmers on the Subject of Soil Contamination
Participation in urban agriculture is growing throughout the United States; however, potential soil contaminants in urban environments present challenges. Individuals in direct contact with urban soil should be aware of urban soil quality and soil contamination issues to minimize environmental and human health risks. The study reported here assessed the needs of urban gardeners and farmers throughout the United States with respect to soil contamination. Our results suggest that urban gardeners and farmers need and want information and guidance on best management practices for safely growing food crops on mildly contaminated urban soils.
Research in Brief
Evaluating the Effectiveness of a Sustainable Living Education Program
The Climate Masters at Home program was modeled after Extension "master" classes with the aim of increasing individuals' energy and resource saving behaviors. This article explores the impact of the program on participants' behavior, attitudes, and knowledge over several years of implementation. Data sources include survey results from participants and control groups, as well as utility data for a subset of participants. The research shows participants making significant changes across a variety of behaviors, integrating climate change into their decision making process, and cutting their electricity use by 12 to 14%.
Problems Impacting Extension Program Quality at the County Level: Results from an Analysis of County Program Reviews Conducted in Florida
Needs assessments are an important tool for informing organizational development efforts in Extension. The purpose of the study reported here was to identify problems faced by county units within UF/IFAS Extension during county program reviews. The findings were drawn from the reports created after five county units experienced program reviews in 2011. External problems with the potential to affect program quality were more numerous than internal problems. The persistent and widespread nature—beyond the counties studied—of the identified problems should create a sense of urgency within the Extension system to develop innovative and collaborative solutions.
"Let's Talk": Collaboration Between Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Personnel and Teachers
Interactive meetings between New Mexico Family and Consumer Sciences (FCS) teachers and Extension personnel (county Home Economics agents and state FCS specialists) were conducted to promote collaboration between the two parties. Based on pre- and post-meeting surveys, both parties showed similarities in almost all perceptions and expectations concerning collaboration. Teachers expressed significantly stronger wishes for collaborations on presentations and service projects and in the areas of Food Technology and Clothing, Fashion and Textiles in the pre-survey. Significant differences were not evident in the post-survey, indicating the contribution of the meetings in bringing these groups together on attitudes towards collaboration.
Current Practices for Training Staff to Accommodate Youth with Special Health Care Needs in the 4-H Camp Setting
The theory of inclusion is the foundation for the study reported here; inclusion is a focus not only of formal education, but also of nonformal educational settings such as 4-H. Ideally, 4-H camps are designed to serve youth of all backgrounds and abilities. By accommodating youth with special health care needs, 4-H camps are effectively meeting the standards of the IDEA Act and the theory of inclusion. Results include current practices, strengths, weaknesses, and the comparison of such practices at 4-H and ACA camps. Camps are encouraged to use the conclusions from the study in planning and improvement efforts.
Trajectories of Positive and Negative Behavior During Participation in Equine Facilitated Learning Program for Horse-Novice Youth
To explore the efficacy of equine programming to support positive behavioral development of horse-novice youth, researchers examined trajectories of behavioral change of 5-8th grade students as they participate in an equine facilitated learning program. Behaviors were rated and analyzed to examine group trajectories of change. Results indicated significant increases and decreases in mean levels of participants' positive and negative behaviors respectively (M pos = 17.13, p = .000; M neg = 4.76 ; p = .005). Additionally, researchers describe how program principles can be incorporated into 4-H curricula, expanding positive youth development opportunities for horse-novice and horse-experienced youth.
Assessing Extension's Ability to Promote Family Forests as a Woody Biomass Feedstock in the Northeast United States
The study reported here surveyed Extension educators' awareness and knowledge of woody biomass energy and assessed their desire and ability to reach out to family forest owners—a critical feedstock source. The results indicate Extension educators are aware of the potential of woody biomass to serve as a renewable source of energy. Respondents representing forestry/natural resources disciplines registered higher awareness and willingness to diffuse scores than agriculture, horticulture, and community development educators. The study provides a baseline measurement of awareness and knowledge of woody biomass as an energy source, and desire to promote forest management for woody biomass to FFO.
Current and Future Water Availability: Public Opinion in the Southern United States
We examine public opinions about future water availability using results of a survey conducted in 2008 – 2010 in nine southern states. Because a large percentage of respondents in Florida, Georgia, and Texas were concerned with water availability, and many in Tennessee believed a prolonged drought was likely, residents of these states may be more responsive to water conservation educational programs. To increase public awareness about water issues, Extension should tailor educational programs to new state residents and those with lower educational levels. Extension programs focusing on global warming impacts on water resources can have high effects in Arkansas and Oklahoma.