October 2014 // Volume 52 // Number 5
JOE Editor RFP In "JOE Editor RFP," I call attention to the Request for Proposals that Extension Journal, Inc. has issued for providing editorial services for the Journal of Extension starting January 1, 2016, and urge interested parties to respond. In "October JOE," I highlight the three Commentaries, including the fifth Commentary JOE is publishing this year to commemorate the Smith-Lever Act Centennial, and 10 articles on things digital.
In "JOE Editor RFP," I call attention to the Request for Proposals that Extension Journal, Inc. has issued for providing editorial services for the Journal of Extension starting January 1, 2016, and urge interested parties to respond. In "October JOE," I highlight the three Commentaries, including the fifth Commentary JOE is publishing this year to commemorate the Smith-Lever Act Centennial, and 10 articles on things digital.
Extension Community Development: Building Strong, Vibrant Communities
Extension community development (CD) became part of the work of the Cooperative Extension Service in the mid-1950s, but the seeds of the CD program were planted with the release of the Country Life Commission in 1909. This article traces a brief history of Extension CD, along with the current priorities of this program area. Key issues that the Extension system and the CD program must address in the years ahead are discussed, as well.
Participate in the JOE Discussion Forum on "Extension Community Development: Building Strong, Vibrant Communities"
Making a Dollar per Square Foot: Dream or Reality?
Small farmers often rely on Extension for farm management practices to increase their farm income. This article presents an attempt by Virginia State University Extension to demonstrate to small-scale farmers strategies for increasing farm income. It is called the 43560 initiative, and it evaluates the notion that a farmer can make a dollar per square foot. We initiate a discussion on this notion and its challenges.
Participate in the JOE Discussion Forum on "Making a Dollar per Square Foot: Dream or Reality?"
The Use of Digital Technology in Extension
This Commentary describes how andragogy has evolved with the emergence of digital technology. The information can be used by Extension educators to merge technology with traditional adult education theory. Knowles' assumptions of adult learners are discussed as they relate to an online learning environment. The role of Extension educators as facilitators of self-directed learning via the Internet is of specific interest to field specialists.
Participate in the JOE Discussion Forum on "The Use of Digital Technology in Extension"
Ideas at Work
Pinterest for Parent Education
As more parents are using the Internet to answer their questions, Extension needs to provide practical, research-based resources in an accessible format. Pinterest is a platform that can be used by Extension educators to provide continued education and make reputable resources more discoverable for parents. Based on Knowles adult learning theory and user demographics, University of Minnesota Extension Center for Family Development (ECFD) started a successful Pinterest pilot in August 2013. From this experience, we have provided recommendations successfully developing and maintaining a Pinterest page for educational purposes that can be used by other Extension educators in their work.
Crowdsourcing Rural Data Collection
The rise of geospatial information on popular websites and its comparative lack in rural areas prompted the pilot project described here to apply crowdsourcing techniques to community mapping. The 3-month project yielded many valuable lessons to apply to future endeavors, but did not yield enough point-of-interest (POI) data to merit an analysis of its accuracy. Results were disappointing in that few POIs were collected, despite participants' initial enthusiasm and hours of training. Key questions for the future are the following. Is it feasible to sustain volunteer-based community mapping efforts in rural areas? And, if so, what kind of incentives should be offered?
The Impact of Tour-Based Diversity Programming on County Extension Personnel and Programs
This article explores the effect that planning and conducting an intensive multi-day, tour-based diversity workshop can have on the professional development and Extension work of the county Extension educators involved. Survey data was collected from the county Extension educators who planned workshops throughout Idaho. Educators reported that the process of hosting the workshop led to significant advances in their professional development, strengthened relationships with underserved groups, and facilitated greater inclusiveness in Extension programming. Planning and conducting intense training programs can be an effective way to promote more tailored and appropriate Extension responses to a community's distinct issues.
Are You Ready to Flip? A New Approach to Staff Development
A modified flipped classroom model was used to present content on the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) to Community Nutrition Educators (CNEs). CNEs read the DGA prior to discussions at staff meetings. The purpose of the readings and discussions was to increase knowledge of the DGA and offer strategies for applying these concepts professionally and personally. Ninety-two percent agreed or strongly agreed the readings and discussions were relevant to their work and life. This modified flipped classroom process enhances CNE understanding and application of new information. Current staff development opportunities now include this modified flipped classroom model.
Bridging Formal and Informal Learning Environments
Out-of-school time programs that provide science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) educational content are promising approaches to develop skills and abilities in students. These programs may potentially inspire students with engaging hands-on, minds-on activities that encourages their natural curiosity around STEM content areas. However, it is also important to align out-of-school time learning activities with what is being taught in the formal classroom so that the experiences are congruent. Two examples of congruent programs are described in this article.
Companion Animal and Wildlife Career Day Improves Career Understanding and Likelihood of Pursuing College Degree in Related Field
Five Companion Animal and Wildlife Career Days were hosted at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The career days focused on career preparation and opportunities for students within the areas of Animal Science and Fisheries and Wildlife. The career days were during school days and included hands on laboratories, a career panel, and opportunities for high school students to interact with current university undergraduate students. Of the students surveyed, many agreed that they were interested in a career in a related field, were more aware of career choices, and may attend the university after completion of the career day.
Urban Youth Develop Life Skills Raising Livestock
Youth living within city limits often have limited opportunity to raise livestock and miss out on a valuable life skill development experience. 4-H Extension educators and community leaders in two southeast Idaho counties worked together developed an Urban Youth Livestock program called Cattle Kids. Through the program, city kids raised 30-day old calves for 10 weeks at their county fairgrounds. They gained hands-on experience during a 3-month period through participation in the comprehensive educational program focused on general calf care and nutrition. Youth and their parents developed life skills and increased knowledge through participation in the project.
Developing Commercial Identities to Raise Awareness of Local Seafood
The North Carolina commercial fishing industry is in decline despite a rising demand for local seafood. To increase market awareness and sales, citizens in six coastal counties branded their seafood to help consumers select local over imports, when given a choice. Educational materials and websites were developed to help consumers learn the seasonality and the characteristics of fresh, local products. Consumers surveyed said brands would help them identify the seafood harvested by local fishermen. They also indicated seasonality and quality charts would help them choose seafood in season and discern the freshness of local commodities.
Identifying Soybean Yield-Limiting Factors in Ohio
A process to identify soybean yield-limiting factors in Ohio with a team of farmers and Extension personnel was developed. The project uses farmer knowledge to identify sampling points in fields. Extension personnel collect soil, plant, and pest data throughout the growing season. Samples are sent to the Columbus campus of The Ohio State University for analysis. Upon completion of this multi-year project, multivariate statistics will be used to identify yield-limiting factors on a regional and statewide basis. Once yield-limiting factors are identified, Extension programming and field research will be developed to address the yield limitations.
Tools of the Trade
Evaluating the Impact of Cooperative Extension Outreach via Twitter
Twitter is increasingly being used by Extension educators as a teaching and program-marketing tool. It is not enough, however, to simply use Twitter to disseminate information. Steps must be taken to evaluate program impact with quantitative and qualitative data. This article described the following Twitter evaluation metrics: unique hashtags, clicks on unique links, online surveys of professionals and their followers, pre- and post-project Klout scores, and TweetReach reports. A triangulated evaluation combining several of these metrics can provide substantial evidence of program effectiveness.
Save Time and Increase Social Media Reach by Using IFTTT-If This, Then That
Extension educators, staff, and specialists are finding that social media tools such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and blogs are powerful ways to disseminate educational content, announce events, and promote Extension services. The challenge to using all of these various tools is the lack of time. Tools such as IFTTT (If This, Then That) can help to automate the distribution and collection of important content. This article discusses how to use IFTTT and offers suggestions for its use.
Google Search Mastery Techniques
Knowledge is no longer something we possess, it's now something we access. The Internet requires highly developed skills to access and interpret information. Relevant information is not the same as specific information. Previous articles in this series outlined basic search skills and operators that improve the relevancy of search results. Knowing how to formulate a specific query that will return a specific answer is critical in the 21st century. Expanding your understanding of Google Search and applying the search techniques in this article will serve you in your consumption and dissemination of content as an Extension professional.
The Cooperative Extension System's Use of USDA's Online Food and Physical Activity Tracker–SuperTracker
Nutrition professionals within the Cooperative Extension system use the USDA's interactive online tool SuperTracker, which is designed to help individuals track diet and physical activity (PA) to apply healthy eating patterns and improve PA. An investigation of all 50 states' Extension websites and interviews of Extension of educators revealed that SuperTracker information was posted at state or county level Extension websites. SuperTracker is being used for nutrition workshop, nutrition educators' training, weight management, and PA planning and assessment in community based programs.
Utility of On-Farm Research Reports
The Ohio State University Agronomic Crops Team has published peer-reviewed on-farm research reports since 1997, with 10 years as an on-line publication. With 367 reports published to date, the Team reviewed the value and use of the material. Seven categories account for 74% of the reports, with fertility management the largest group. While some reports get widespread attention, this is often due to state specialist recognition. More needs to be done to promote the research results and the potential of the website to growers, industry, and other university users.
Controlling Survey Response Error in a Mail Survey of Dairy Farmers: A Case Report
Survey results are often presented with minimal description of how survey error was controlled. The objective of this article is to help survey developers and survey data interpreters (1) better understand the sources of survey error and (2) consider these sources of error when developing or reading a description of a survey's methodology. The subject of this article is a survey mailed to Vermont dairy farmers to assess farm characteristics relevant to the potential spread of disease among farms. Sources of error and how they were addressed in this survey are presented.
An International Short Course for Training Professionals as Effective Science Communicators
Scholars have recognized a need for educational programs that prepare scientists, Extension practitioners, and other stakeholders to communicate science effectively. Such programs have the potential to increase public awareness and aid policy development. Having recognized this need, faculty at Michigan State University (MSU) developed an "international short course in science and technology communication" that was offered at MSU from 2010 to 2012. This article provides an overview of the design, implementation, and impact assessment of the course. We also share lessons learnt from this program and provide suggestions for other similar programs.
Conducting a Statewide Dual-Purpose Program for Pesticide Applicators and County Extension Agents
The University of Florida Cooperative Extension conducted a statewide program with a dual role during 2013 and 2014 to enhance efficiency. The program provided in-service training to county Extension agents and provided continuing education to meet requirements needed by licensed pesticide applicators. Using Polycom distance technology, the event was hosted by various county Extension offices and Research and Education Centers. Pre- and post-test results indicate that participants increased their knowledge. A survey administered showed a positive perception of the value and satisfaction with such a program and helped to identify future programming needs.
Comparison of the LEGO Mindstorms NXT and EV3 Robotics Education Platforms
The release of the latest LEGO Mindstorms EV3 robotics platform in September 2013 has provided a dilemma for many youth robotics leaders. There is a need to understand the differences in the Mindstorms NXT and EV3 in order to make future robotics purchases. In this article the differences are identified regarding software, hardware, sensors, the brick, and resources. Through situational advice, recommendations are given to study the comparison chart and review finances to make an educated decision about which kit will meet programmatic needs and ensure a successful purchase.
Acquisition, Custody, and Storage of Firearms Used in 4-H Shooting Sports Programs
Shooting sports has been a 4-H program offering since the 1930's. Tragic events related to the use of firearms as weapons have caused public and private entities to evaluate and consider the appropriateness of youth access to and usage of firearms. 4-H educators have the primary responsibility for managing the risk associated with shooting sports programs. All 4-H educators should follow protocols for the acquisition, custody, and storage of firearms. In Oregon, 4-H educators and volunteers must follow an Oregon-centric risk management plan. This Tools of the Trade article focuses on Oregon's precautionary system used to administer its 4-H Shooting Sports Program.
Over the Hurdles: Barriers to Social Media Use in Extension Offices
The research reported here explored the perceived barriers to social media use by Extension educators. Using a sequential mixed method approach, the research was composed of two parts. The qualitative study used interview data (n=27) from Wisconsin and New York Extension educators. The quantitative study gathered data from surveying Extension offices in New York State (n=42). We argue that key barriers to adoption of social media as an outreach platform include perceptions around time and control. Ultimately, we recommend that Extension educators receive focused, hands-on training to more efficiently and effectively use social media for education and outreach efforts.
Benchmarking Professional Development Practices Across Youth-Serving Organizations: Implications for Extension
Examining traditional and contemporary professional development practices of youth-serving organizations can inform practices across Extension, particularly in light of the barriers that have been noted for effectively developing the professional competencies of Extension educators. With professional development systems changing quickly, particularly through online education and blended learning opportunities, benchmarks need to guide new research around best practices in professional development. Although many program providers have not established benchmarks for professional development, a few cases exist. This article examines the current state of professional development practices of youth-serving organizations and offers recommendations for improving Extension professional development practices.
The New Agent: A Qualitative Study to Strategically Adapt New Agent Professional Development
The qualitative study reported here assessed the needs of agents related to new agent professional development to improve the current model. Agents who participated in new agent professional development within the last 5 years were selected to participate in focus groups to determine concerns and continued needs. Agents enjoyed networking and struggled with the time away from their home counties. Recommendations for improvement include integrating the idea of pre-entry competencies, developing online new agent professional development sessions, introducing new agents to existing communities of practice, developing new communities of practice, and developing more resources for new agents.
Improving Participation of Non-Traditional Extension Audiences: The Empower Ocala Garden Project
Marion County Extension created the Empower Ocala Garden project to increase participation among low-income minority populations and address "food desert" conditions around its office. The project built trusting relationships, created a community garden for 12 households, and provided bi-weekly garden skills trainings. Participation, attitudinal changes, and knowledge gains were evaluated using pre- and post-project questionnaires. On average participants attended 53.4% of sessions. Attitudes improved by 9.82% across four gardening-related indicators, while knowledge increased by 19.57% across eight indicators. Overall, the project successfully engaged new clients, positively changed attitudes and knowledge, and may benefit other Extension professionals serving these audiences.
Bringing Savings Opportunities to Public Elementary School Children in Resource-Limited, Rural Communities
This article describes the community organizing role of an Extension educator and a research faculty to enable young children in a resource-limited community to start savings accounts and to save regularly through a school-based savings effort. The study explored whether children from low-income communities are capable of saving money regularly when parts of a community system can be brought together to support a savings effort. When barriers are removed and enabling factors put in place, young children are capable of saving regularly and achieving their savings goal. Implications for university and community partner collaborations are discussed.
Research in Brief
Prevalence and Effectiveness of Technology Use Among Family & Consumer Sciences Agents
Extension agents are encouraged to use new technologies to reach and teach their clientele. To uncover the prevalence and effectiveness of technology use, a survey was conducted among family and consumer sciences agents in the southern region of the United States. The results show that there is not much deviation from PowerPoint presentations, though some additional multimedia is incorporated. Barriers and advantages of using educational technology are discussed.
Extension Clientele Preferences: Accessing Research-Based Information Online
Research has indicated there are a number of benefits to Extension educators in delivering educational program and content through distance technology methods. However, Extension educators are commonly apprehensive about this transition due to assumptions made about their clientele, because little research has been conducted to examine clients' preference for engaging in Extension educational programs. The research reported in this article examined clientele's preferences in how they access Extension research-based information, particularly when compared to traditional methods of delivering educational programs. The reported results support the movement of using distance technology methods to disseminate educational programs based on client's preferences.
Job Satisfaction in the North Dakota State University Extension Service
Retirement rates are on the increase. Levels of job satisfaction and changing demographics raise concerns about attrition in the North Dakota State University Extension Service system. The study reported here examined data provided from the Minnesota Satisfaction Questionnaire and a demographics questionnaire to describe the overall job satisfaction of employees in the North Dakota State University Extension Service as well as their satisfaction based on the 20 job satisfaction scales of the MSQ. Determining levels of satisfaction, especially in relation to specific aspects of the job, is a necessary priority in recruiting and retaining new employees.
Understanding the Role of Culture and Heritage in Community Festivals: An Importance-Performance Analysis
Festivals can support local communities by bringing in unique visitors who will inject new revenue into the economy. Continued evaluation of festivals is necessary to ensure they are meeting customer expectations, which will generate positive word-of-mouth advertising and repeat visitation. The research reported here used an importance-performance analysis to evaluate a regional festival in South Carolina. Particular attention was paid to the importance of the cultural aspects of the festival. Based on a survey of 212 festival attendees, several recommendations are made to festival planners. Results indicate that cultural aspects of the festival were not very important to attendees.
Factors Influencing Latino Participation in Community-Based Diabetes Education
An Extension diabetes program (DP) was revised for Latinos; however, participation was limited. Factors influencing low participation rates were examined. Five Latinos interested in the DP participated in a focus group discussion. Transcripts were analyzed for themes. Preferred education programs were multi-session, local, group classes led by an engaging teacher during the summer. Participants learned of the DP through friends and Extension; preferred marketing strategies were Spanish radio, local health clinics, and Spanish-print media. Attendance barriers included scheduling conflicts. Limited use of culturally preferred marketing and scheduling conflicts were likely barriers. Culturally appropriate programs should use culturally preferred marketing strategies to be successful.
How Knowledge, Experience, and Educational Level Influence the Use of Informal and Formal Sources of Home Canning Information
In the research study reported here, West Virginia University Extension educators surveyed the public about their current canning knowledge and practices in 2010. The results showed that educational background and canning experience were the most important factors in understanding how clients seek canning information and the degree to which they preserve foods safely. Home canners primarily use family members as first sources of canning information and consider Extension one of the less important sources of information. Improved marketing efforts are needed to increase canners' understanding of the importance of formal canning sources, especially those offered by Extension programs.
Assessment of the Adoption of Agroforestry Technologies by Limited-Resource Farmers in North Carolina
Agroforestry is a natural resource management system that integrates trees, forages, and livestock. The study reported here was conducted to determine farmers' knowledge about and willingness to adopt agroforestry technologies in North Carolina. The study reported participants were primarily older, male farmers, suggesting the need to attract more females and younger individuals to adopt agroforestry technologies. The increasing number of diversified farm operators presents a new audience for Extension educators to offer programs to improve limited-resource farmers' livelihood. The study recommends Extension training programs and information centers for farmers who need skills and knowledge to manage agroforestry technologies.
Impact of 4-H on Alumni's Community Involvement
The quantitative, non-experimental descriptive study reported here sought to measure how being alumni of the Texas 4-H and Youth Development Program influenced their decisions toward community involvement and leadership positions within communities. Former Texas 4-H alumni at least 18 years of age were the assessable population. The study confirms former 4-Hers are using what they learned in the 4-H program by staying involved in their community organizations and holding leadership positions. Organizations listed at the top by most volunteers included: 4-H Volunteer, Church Organization, and Fair Board/Livestock Association/Group. Leadership positions most frequently held include president and secretary.