June 2015 // Volume 53 // Number 3
Extension & Heading Hierarchy
In "Extension & Heading Hierarchy," I explain that it's JOE style to capitalize the first letter of Extension and that CES is not used. I also explain that you shouldn't have only a single subheading in a larger section That's not good style—in JOE or anywhere. In "June JOE," I talk about the two Commentaries in the issue and point out that the topics of April's two Commentaries are addressed in four articles in June.
A Call to Embrace Program Innovation
To remain vital, it is critical for Extension to embrace the innovation at the core of our birth and success. In this article, we define Extension program innovation as driven by the productive tensions among three core program planning practices: design, construction, and evaluation. Through daily, interactive tinkering in these three practices, staff strive toward stronger program impact and creatively respond to opportunities or challenges. We discuss how an innovation approach to program planning is well suited to address three contemporary Extension program development issues. We also discuss implications of innovation research to improve Extension program planning.
Participate in the JOE Discussion Forum on “A Call to Embrace Program Innovation”
Injecting Extension into the American Zeitgeist
Extension is a product of times past and needs to be updated and upgraded for today's world. "Zeitgeist" is a German term that encompasses the moral, cultural, and intellectual climate that exists within a certain time and place. Defining how this relates to Extension is not easy. Extension should examine popular culture and realize that story-driven and relatable visual media, such as television and film, are what capture the public interest. Extension must tap into that to assimilate with the younger demographics. Ultimately, we in Extension are responsible for telling and being the heroes of our own story.
Participate in the JOE Discussion Forum on “Injecting Extension into the American Zeitgeist”
Ideas at Work
Building Sustainability in Gas- and Oil-Producing Communities
Extension can play a significant role in addressing the rapid development and associated impacts that can occur in oil- and gas- producing communities. Through quantitative longitudinal analysis and research-based sustainable planning, Extension can assist rural communities in Ohio to be better equipped to maximize resources, manage change, and make informed decisions affecting their residents. This article provides a framework for an effective program focused on shale development planning and offers a context for massive change taking place in rural communities across the nation.
Using Maps in Web Analytics to Evaluate the Impact of Web-Based Extension Programs
Maps can be a valuable addition to the Web analytics toolbox for Extension programs that use the Web to disseminate information. Extension professionals use Web analytics tools to evaluate program impacts. Maps add a unique perspective through visualization and analysis of geographic patterns and their relationships to other variables. Maps can help assess whether program goals are being met and lead to better understanding of the roadblocks to effective online information delivery. This article shows how maps can be generated using free Geographic Information System software, using the website of the Wisconsin State Cartographer's Office as a case study.
Using Evaluation to Guide and Validate Improvements to the Utah Master Naturalist Program
Integrating evaluation into an Extension program offers multiple opportunities to understand program success through achieving program goals and objectives, delivering programming using the most effective techniques, and refining program audiences. It is less common that evaluation is used to guide and validate the effectiveness of program revision. Early evaluation results from Utah Master Naturalist Watersheds classes were used to make specific, targeted program revisions, and significant increases in recent evaluation results validated that the revisions were successful. Using evaluation in this way conserves time, effort, and resources, and helps achieve a high level of program success expected from Extension professionals.
Southwest Border Food Safety and Defense Center: Creative Ideas for Promoting Food Safety and Food Protection
Foodborne illness has a significant impact on public health and consumer confidence in the U.S. The Southwest Border Food Safety and Defense Center was established to provide educational programs, trainings, and workshops to address the health and well-being of consumers as it relates to food safety and food protection. A partnership between New Mexico Cooperative Extension, the New Mexico Department of Agriculture, and the New Mexico Department of Homeland Security, the Center is the only facility of its kind in the U.S. This article describes its role and highlights the methods used to reach residents in a largely rural state.
Empowering Youth to Take Charge of School Wellness
Youth Advisory Councils (YACs) ensure that students are represented in school wellness discussions. YACs empower students to present ideas, insights, and input on nutrition and physical activity; work alongside peers to assess wellness needs; and develop recommendations for enhancing/expanding the school wellness environment. YACs provide a platform for students to make positive impacts on their school's wellness policy. The YAC described in this article provided recommendations to increase fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy foods on the cafeteria menu; expand opportunities for physical activity; and enhance the school lunch experience in the cafeteria.
Hands-On Training Emphasized in the Oregon Master Beekeeper Program
Honey bee colony declines have garnered immense public interest, and consequently there is a significant demand for the dissemination of apicultural information. The Oregon Master Beekeeper Program was developed in response to this increased interest in bees and beekeeping and a demand for a credible educational program for new beekeepers. The program focuses on hands-on training by matching students with volunteer mentors. Upon completion of the beginning (Apprentice) level, trained students may enroll in the advanced (Journey) level. This program has gained popularity and strives to educate beekeepers to promote sustainable beekeeping in the Pacific Northwest.
Tools of the Trade
Strategic Directions for Extension Health and Wellness Programs
The new Cooperative Extension National Framework for Health and Wellness is a tool to help Extension systematically address the programmatic area of health and wellness at the individual, community, environmental, and policy levels. Key strategies of the framework tool are provided and suggestions for ways that Extension can use this framework tool to respond to the needs are proposed.
You and Health Insurance: Making a Smart Choice for Farm Families
This article describes and encourages use of a curriculum that was developed for Extension educators to provide farm families with information about the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the procedure to become certified to use it. It also describes features of the ACA and unique challenges and opportunities that this law provides to farm families, including the employer mandate and an ability to earn income-based tax subsidies and expanded Medicaid coverage without application of an asset test.
The Oil and Gas Boom: Basic Information About Oil and Gas Activities for Extension Professionals
This article provides basic information for Extension professionals about oil and gas exploration and extraction. Information about hydraulic fracturing, land application of drilling mud, potential community outcomes, and Extension education opportunities are discussed. Family and Consumer Sciences (FCS), Community and Rural Development, and Agriculture Extension state and field staff can use this basic information to help plan successful programming. The issues associated with oil and gas activity have potential impacts on audiences of Extension education. A companion article frames these topics as a public issue for Extension.
Promoting Behavior Change Using Social Norms: Applying a Community Based Social Marketing Tool to Extension Programming
Most educational programs are designed to produce lower level outcomes, and Extension educators are challenged to produce behavior change in target audiences. Social norms are a very powerful proven tool for encouraging sustainable behavior change among Extension's target audiences. Minor modifications to program content to demonstrate the practice of specific behaviors by target audience members' peers compared to others can make a big difference. It is advisable that Extension educators use a combination of descriptive and injunctive norms. Social norms should be applied more frequently by Extension educators in their programs to produce desired behavior change among target audiences.
TechXcite: Discover Engineering—A New STEM Curriculum
TechXcite is an engineering-focused, discovery-based after-school science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) program. The free curriculum is downloadable from http://techxcite.pratt.duke.edu/ and is comprised of eight Modules, each with four to five 45-minute activities that exercise the science and math learned in school by using engineering principles to build products or learn processes that improve the quality of life. Ninety-eight percent of TechXcite instructors indicated that students learned and demonstrated improved competence in science and engineering. TechXcite Modules include building prosthetic arms, infrared remote controls, solar-powered cars, harvesting rain water, and imaging biological systems.
Using Google Trends for Search Engine Optimization of Extension Internet Content
Google Trends can be a useful tool for Extension professionals in determining online interest in search terms. By knowing this information, online Extension content can be tailored to attract increased Internet traffic from search engines. An example comparison of "cattle nutrition' and similar search terms shows widely varying search interest amongst these terms in the United States from 2011 through 2014. Differences in search term popularity among locations and over time are also worth noting. This demonstrates the importance of making informed wording choices that consider search engine optimization when preparing Extension content for online distribution.
VetPestX: Finally! An Online, Searchable, Pesticide Label Database Just for Pests of Animals
Almost all online pesticide databases contain crop-specific product labels; very few include products labeled for animal use. A single online location for veterinary pesticide labels was needed. Led by Alec Gerry of the University of California at Riverside (UCR), veterinary entomologists from California, Washington, New Mexico, and Oklahoma contributed information on animal pesticide products registered in five western states (CA, WA, OR, ID, NM) and OK to a new, online, searchable, veterinary pesticide labels database named VetPestX, developed and maintained on UC Riverside's website. Animal producers and owners requesting pesticide information to manage pests are now routinely directed to VetPestX.
On-Line Pesticide Training with Narrated PowerPoint Presentations
UMaine Cooperative Extension is the primary educational delivery organization for pesticide recertification credits in Maine. Shrinking budgets and staff numbers are making traditional face-to-face delivery increasingly difficult to maintain. To address this issue, on-line pesticide applicator recertification training credits were developed. The on-line training is more flexible than traditional face-to-face delivery while maintaining the learning experience. Staff developed programs for web delivery, narrated the programs, and uploaded them. Clients purchased and took tests to obtain pesticide recertification credit. Steady increase in purchased tests from 2010 through 2014 verifies the acceptance by clients.
Estrus Synchronization Planner Spreadsheet Helps Beef Producers Implement Artificial Insemination Programs
A survey was developed to assess use of the Estrus Synchronization Planner and familiarity of beef artificial insemination users with recommended protocols. A link to an online survey was sent to individuals who had downloaded the tool. More than 97% of respondents were familiar with the recommended protocols, and 85% used these recommendations to select a protocol. A majority of users agreed that the tool was reaching education and facilitation goals. Feedback from the survey will be used to improve future versions. Additional promotion and Extension training materials are needed to increase use of the tool.
The Rise: Creativity, the Gift of Failure and the Search for Mastery—A Book Review
Sara Lewis's The Rise: Creativity, the Gift of Failure and the Search for Mastery will have you reflecting and reassessing experiences around failure and reevaluating volunteer training. The book gives us a look at how creativity, persistence, and failure combine to help a person master concepts, skills, and/or processes. Sarah Lewis, on the faculty of the Yale School of Art, was named to O, The Oprah Magazine's 2010 "O Power List." Her book is an intellectually challenging read. Upon completion, you have personally gone through the search for mastery concepts outlined in the bool.
Opportunities for Extension: Linking Health Insurance and Farm Viability
Extension has a crucial role to play in educating Americans about their new choices under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). Health insurance is a cross-cutting issue that touches on multiple Extension program areas. This article draws on national survey research and interviews with farmers at the rural-urban-interface conducted prior to the ACA to consider the potential influence of the ACA on the food and agriculture sector and the role of both Agriculture and Consumer and Family Science Extension programing in assisting farmers with ACA reforms.
Determining Extension's Role in Controversial Issues: Content, Process, Neither, or Both?
Controversial issues offer Extension faculty opportunities to facilitate community dialogue and apply conflict resolution strategies to help communities achieve higher ground. Handled appropriately, the long-term benefits to the community, the Extension organization, and the faculty member of facilitating public issues outweigh the costs. This article explores Extension's place in facilitating public issues dialogue and provides an initial first step in the decision-making process regarding what Extension's role should be. An approach is proposed that can help faculty decide whether to respond to an issue with content, process, or a more comprehensive approach.
Evidence-Based Programming Within Cooperative Extension: How Can We Maintain Program Fidelity While Adapting to Meet Local Needs?
In this article, we describe how the recent movement towards evidence-based programming has impacted Extension. We review how the emphasis on implementing such programs with strict fidelity to an underlying program model may be at odds with Extension's strong history of adapting programming to meet the unique needs of children, youth, families, and communities. We describe several techniques that Extension professionals can use to balance program fidelity and adaptability. We suggest that Extension stakeholders may be best served when we tailor certain aspects of interventions without changing the intervention's core components that are responsible for positive outcomes.
Program Development from Start-to-Finish: A Case Study of the Healthy Relationship and Marriage Education Training Project
What goes into designing and implementing a successful program? How do both research and practice inform program development? In this article, the process through which a federally funded training curriculum was developed and piloted tested is described. Using a logic model framework, important lessons learned are shared in defining the situation, identifying and maximizing inputs, clarifying and tracking outputs, and documenting and reporting outcomes.
Common Evaluation Tools Across Multi-State Programs: A Study of Parenting Education and Youth Engagement Programs in Children, Youth, and Families At-Risk
Community-based education programs must demonstrate effectiveness to various funding sources. The pilot study reported here (funded by CYFAR, NIFA, USDA award #2008-41520-04810) had the goal of determining if state level programs with varied curriculum could use a common evaluation tool to demonstrate efficacy. Results in parenting and youth engagement indicated that with effort to select valid and reliable measures, it is possible to use common measure across curricula. Lessons learned including evaluating goodness of fit are discussed in regards to the process of conducting common measures evaluations.
Extension Agent Knowledge and Programming Behaviors Regarding Healthy Lifestyles Education in Georgia
Healthy lifestyles education (HLE) is defined as nutrition and physical activity education aimed at controlling or preventing serious health issues. The purpose of the study reported here was to determine knowledge and behaviors of Extension Family and Consumer Sciences (FACS) and 4-H agents concerning HLE. Eighty-five and 86% of FACS and 4-H agents, respectively, were likely to address HLE if high-quality curriculum/materials were available. Barriers related to implementing HLE were: communicating with parents; parents' lack of interest; and lack of curriculum resources. All agents, regardless of programming responsibility, should model healthy lifestyles behaviors to be effective change agents.
Organizational Values in Ohio State University Extension: Employee Perceptions of Value and Evidence in Practice
As Extension's leaders prepare to move Extension into the future, they are obliged to take stock of the underlying internal forces that have the power to alter the manner and extent to which the mission is accomplished. Individually and organizationally held values are primary factors driving these forces. Acknowledging and understanding these values helps Extension leaders better understand tendencies toward resistance to change and aid in assessing the alignment of what exists with what could be. This article shares results from an Extension organizational values assessment and examine implications for the Extension system.
The Effects of Age, Gender, and 4-H Involvement on Life Skill Development
The study reported here examined the effects of age, gender, and 4-H involvement in clubs on life skill development of youth ages eight to 18 over a 12-month period. Regression analyses found age, gender, and 4-H involvement significantly influenced life skill development. Results found that females have higher levels of competencies in life skills at the start of the program and were more likely to change in these areas during the year than their male counterparts. This suggests changes in program designs may be needed to better engage, retain, and affect males in life skill development.
Grower Communication Networks: Information Sources for Organic Farmers
This article reports on a study to determine which information sources organic growers use to inform farming practices by conducting in-depth semi-structured interviews with 23 organic farmers across 17 North Carolina counties. Effective information sources included: networking, agricultural organizations, universities, conferences, Extension, Web resources, personal experience, books, organic buyers/certifiers, and consultants. Results suggest that grower-to-grower networking is a highly effective information-seeking behavior for organic growers. Recommendations for Extension personnel include reshaping educational programing for organic growers to include peer-to-peer information sharing, as well as increased investment to graduate and undergraduate programs that train future Extension agents in organic production approaches.
Managing Dynamics of Power and Learning in Community Development: A Case Study of Iowan Farmers in Uganda
Extension professionals facilitate community development through the strategic manipulation of learning and power in peer-to-peer learning partnerships. We discuss the relationship between empowerment and power, highlight relevant literature on the difficulties power presents to learning and the efficacy of service learning tools to facilitate mutual learning and present original findings from our research on an international development partnership in which Extension professionals had partial success in creating opportunities for mutually empowering learning among farmers from Iowa and Uganda. We recommend that Extension professionals encourage learning across power gradients by providing opportunities for informal conversations and encouraging reflection by participants.
Research in Brief
Exploring Community Partnerships in Agricultural and Extension Education
The descriptive study reported here sought to discover how Extension and agricultural education programs develop and use community partnerships to enhance educational programming. The population was a census of all New Mexico Extension agents and agricultural education teachers. Agents partnered with 57 different agencies/organization and teachers with 44 different groups. Agents were more likely to share programming efforts and resources, and serve on advisory committees. Teachers were more likely to share resources and programming efforts. More strengths than limitations were identified by both groups as reasons to collaborate. Both groups strongly agreed that sharing time and expertise can benefit programs.
Examining the Impact of Community Size on the Retention of County Extension Agents
The study reported here examined job embeddedness, employee retention, and community size among Extension agents in a two-state study. Statistically significant differences in job embeddedness by community size were present. Analysis of the Variance (ANOVA) showed that five of six job embeddedness components were significantly different based on community size. Extension agents working in the most rural and most urban communities indicated the lowest levels of job embeddedness.
Knowledge and Use of Integrated Pest Management by Underserved Producers in Missouri and the Role of Extension
In Missouri, Plain producers (groups of conservative Anabaptist faith, including the Amish and Mennonites) are one type of underserved audience that has found a niche in vegetable production. The study reported here investigated the level of knowledge and use of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) gained over a 3-year period following implementation of Extension activities by the University of Missouri and Lincoln University, the two Missouri land-grant universities. Results indicate that Extension plays an important role in the observed increased use of IPM by the target audience and highlight the need to continue using traditional methods (e.g., printed documents, one-on-one interactions).
Examination of Attitude and Interest Measures for 4-H Science Evaluation
Science education research has demonstrated the influence of affect on learning. The National 4-H Science Logic Model outlines outcomes from youth participation in 4-H science programs, which includes attitude and interest outcomes. The associated measure, the National 4-H Science Common Measure, assesses these attitude constructs and not other affective factors. Tie study reported here sought to determine whether additional affective constructs were separate from the general constructs assessed on the Common Measure. We found the additional measures have good reliability and moderate correlations among the outcomes, suggesting the new measures assess different constructs than currently assessed by the Common Measure.
Improving Healthy Living Youth Development Program Outreach in Extension: Lessons Learned from the 4-H Health Rocks! Program
This article discusses a qualitative evaluation of the Florida 4-H Health Rocks! program aimed at youth alcohol, tobacco, and other drug use prevention. A questionnaire was distributed to Extension professionals across Florida to gain insight into the strengths and barriers they faced with programming. Programmatic strengths included targeting a significant issue, using experiential activities, building life skills, and emphasizing youth-adult partnerships. Major programmatic barriers included time constraints, unsuccessful recruitment of volunteers, and an inability to fulfill implementation requirements. Specific recommendations are proposed to Extension professionals in order to improve overall Extension programming.
Would Consumers Purchase a Wider Variety of Produce and Products at West Virginia Farmers' Markets if They Were Available?
This article examines whether or non-consumers would purchase different produce and products if they were available at farmers' markets in West Virginia? A statewide, multi-year research project has generated data to answer this question. Surveys were administered to indicate what consumers are purchasing at West Virginia farmers' markets and what they would like to purchase. Additional information was gathered to show public perceptions of the markets, consumer shopping habits, and reasons for not shopping at the market. Results show that there is consumer demand for a wider variety of produce at West Virginia farmers' markets.