June 2017 // Volume 55 // Number 3
Considering Audience and June JOE Highlights
In the "Considering Audience" section of this Editor's Page, I explain the difference between the intended audiences for two types of JOE articles: Feature and Research in Brief. I also focus on the concept of audience in "June JOE Highlights," where I preview several offerings in the issue that directly or indirectly address the importance of Extension audiences.
Engagement of Health Volunteers: A Promising Approach for Meeting Community Needs
Extension has entered an era of unprecedented opportunity to affect family and community health. Taking action will challenge Extension to shift the way programs are delivered, engage a volunteer corps as partners, and value empowering others to address community challenges with their own solutions. This article describes a promising approach for expanding Extension's reach by engaging health-focused volunteers through the Extension Wellness Ambassador Program, where volunteers direct their efforts toward community projects they feel inspired by and compelled to address. Additionally, the article includes recommendations for building a health-focused volunteer corps within Extension.
Participate in the JOE Discussion Forum on “Engagement of Health Volunteers: A Promising Approach for Meeting Community Needs”
Ideas at Work
An Extension Application of the RE-AIM Evaluation Framework
RE-AIM is an evaluation framework that has been widely used by public health professionals for over 15 years and is well documented in public health literature. RE-AIM evaluates health promotion programs on five dimensions—reach, effectiveness, adoption, implementation, and maintenance. Although some Extension professionals have used the framework, it has been undocumented in Extension literature. To encourage wider use of RE-AIM in Extension, we briefly describe the framework and present an application of it to a two-state, grant-funded 4-H Healthy Living program. We conclude by identifying benefits of more widespread use of RE-AIM within Extension.
The 2015 North-Central Idaho Wildfire Season: Impetus for Innovative Disaster Response Programming
The extent and severity of wildfires in western states have increased to record levels in recent years. Now more than ever, Extension can play an important role in wildfire risk reduction and recovery. Extension's response to unprecedented incidents surrounding severe wildfires in Idaho in 2015 included interagency coordination and information sharing in addition to outreach with affected landowners. The approach garnered substantial recognition and could serve as a model for responding to this increasingly common natural disaster, as well as to other types of disasters.
A Framework for the Evaluation of Large-Scale Regional Conservation and Management Strategies
The success of complex, regional strategies depends on the ability to evaluate the process of implementation as well as progress toward achieving intended outcomes. The Southeast Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy and the Comprehensive Strategy for Prescribed Fire to Restore Longleaf Pine in the Southeast United States are examples of regional strategies that require extensive efforts across a large landscape. This article presents a framework developed by North Carolina State University Extension Forestry for evaluating these types of regional strategies so that informed recommendations for resource allocation, new program development, and strategic collaboration can be made.
The Great Lakes School of Turfgrass Science: A Nine-State Online Collaboration to Improve the Turfgrass Short Course
Increasing costs and decreasing numbers of university Extension faculty have made it difficult to provide quality turfgrass short course education. In response, faculty from nine institutions collaborated to develop the Great Lakes School of Turfgrass Science. This 12-week online course provides students with unique learning experiences through a combination of assigned readings, quizzes, lectures, and live instructor discussion. Student attendance increased and costs decreased relative to traditional in-person short courses. Additionally, student feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. These results demonstrate that online courses such as this can provide an effective and flexible source of knowledge that meets the busy schedules of students and instructors.
Building and Managing Makerspaces in Extension
As traditional face-to-face Extension office interactions are supplanted by online education options, the makerspace offers a venue for authentic engagement between Extension and the community. In makerspaces, learners make and learn from one another in a cooperative learning environment. Through involvement in the maker movement, Extension has an opportunity to apply the skills and knowledge of land-grant educators and Extension volunteers in a new and meaningful way. Creating and supporting makerspaces will increase Extension's visibility and allow for the delivery of content to a new audience. Such efforts will assist Extension in staying relevant in the 21st century.
The Seed to Supper Program and Its Effect on Low-Income Beginning Gardeners in Oregon
Extension and community partner organizations work together to address complex problems such as food insecurity. One effort showing high levels of success in Oregon is the Seed to Supper program. This classroom-based beginning gardening curriculum targets low-income adults. Program participants indicated reducing their grocery bills as a result of growing their own food and eating more fruits and vegetables than usual during the growing season. Additionally, the program has increased participant awareness that Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits can be used to purchase seeds or transplants. The curriculum is available on request for use by other state Extension offices.
Small-Scale Farmers Supplying Produce Commercially: Five Issues and Associated Buyer Questions and Implications for Extension
To assist a cooperative of small-scale farmers in selling produce to a commercial buyer, Extension personnel translated industry standards for supply into practices suitable for such producers. This multiyear effort led to identification of five relevant issues: capability, quality, food safety, consistency, and sustainability. The commercial buyer questions behind these issues are presented, and the implications for Extension assistance in terms of training, technical support, and resources used are discussed.
Demonstration-Based Education Generates Behavior Change Related to Conservation Practices
Getting agricultural producers to make changes to their operations is difficult, especially related to complex systems such as the water cycle on managed agricultural lands. We surveyed participants who had watched a rainfall simulator demonstration during the summer of 2015. Results indicate that the demonstration was effective in providing educational outreach on the impact of the water cycle and prompting the adoption of conservation practices and monitoring techniques among producers. The study reinforces the importance in conservation education of learning experiences involving simulation, observation, and group discussion. Our findings may be applicable not only to Extension professionals working with agricultural producers but also to those involved in encouraging conservation practices among other audiences.
Beyond Lemonade Stands to Main Street Business Development: A Youth Entrepreneurship Curriculum
Entrepreneurship is widely recognized as a driver of rural economic growth and community vitality. Nebraska Extension personnel developed a youth entrepreneurship curriculum—EntrepreneurShip Investigation (ESI)—for middle and high school students. This curriculum has been used at 4-H summer camps, for formal classroom and out-of-school instruction, and in additional educational environments. A preliminary survey of ESI program participants and educators showed positive entrepreneurship learning, attitudes toward business creation, and plans for further relevant educational pursuits. These results suggest that the ESI curriculum produces positive entrepreneurship outcomes for youths and identify the need for further research into the efficacy of the curriculum.
Tools of the Trade
Teaching or Facilitating Learning? Selecting the Optimal Approach for Your Educational Objectives and Audience
Both teaching and facilitation are effective instructional techniques, but each is appropriate for unique educational objectives and scenarios. This article briefly distinguishes between teaching and facilitative techniques and provides guidelines for choosing the better method for a particular educational scenario.
UserTesting.com: A Tool for Usability Testing of Online Resources
Extension educators are increasingly using online resources in their program design and delivery. Usability testing is essential for ensuring that these resources are relevant and useful to learners. On the basis of our experiences with iteratively developing products using a testing service called UserTesting, we promote the use of fee-based online usability testing services as an easy and efficient method for improving online resources. We present steps for conducting usability testing and recommendations for best practices. This approach has implications for Extension educators, administrators, and program evaluators who design and evaluate educational programming that involves web or online resources.
Using Geospatial Analysis to Align Little Free Library Locations with Community Literacy Needs
We used geospatial analysis tools to develop community maps depicting fourth-grade reading proficiency test scores and locations of facilities offering public access to reading materials (i.e., public libraries, elementary schools, and Little Free Libraries). The maps visually highlighted areas with struggling readers and areas without adequate public access to reading materials, providing information useful for executing a strategic response to literacy issues. Community development Extension professionals can use geospatial analysis to educate, inform, and create targeted actions related to a range of social issues. Applying geospatial analysis can make data more engaging, understandable, and impactful and can assist communities in seeing the bigger picture of an issue.
A Conversation Tool for Assessing a Food Pantry's Readiness to Address Diet-Related Chronic Diseases
Food insecurity is associated with diabetes and other chronic diseases. Individuals who experience food insecurity may use coping skills to avoid hunger, including eating unhealthful foods and binging when food is abundant, two practices that are often detrimental to prevention or management of chronic diseases. Food pantries, especially those using the Rainbow of Colors Choice Food Pantry System, are potential settings for providing nutrition education, healthful foods, and screenings to help individuals prevent or manage their chronic diseases. This article describes a conversation guide Extension professionals can use to assist food pantry personnel in identifying and implementing strategies for addressing chronic diseases.
Maximizing Use of an Extension Beef Cattle Data Set: Part 1—Calving Distribution
Previously, we created a 20-year data set, CHAPS20Y, from historical data generated by Cow Herd Appraisal Performance Software, a beef management program. In this article, we describe CHAPS20Y calving distributions, including yearly means and 20-year averages. Yearly mean calving distributions are consistent over the 20-year period, but yearly herd minimum and maximum values vary greatly. Herd-to-herd differences in nutrition, breed, environment, and management may explain this variation. We used CHAPS20Y as a tool for understanding calving distribution and increasing the Extension knowledge base. Extension professionals can use this knowledge to help beef producers set and achieve their herd management goals.
Two Key Aspects of Maintaining Professionalism During a Conflict
Rational detachment and effective communication are tools Extension professionals can use to increase their effectiveness at handling agitated individuals in conflict situations, such as those that can occur during certain 4-H events. If you need to enhance your ability to defuse conflicts, understanding these skills is an important step. You can learn to handle conflicts effectively and professionally without becoming angry or responding improperly. Rationally detaching from altercations can help you gain credibility and, thus, make your points more profoundly. Also, by using a three-pronged approach to communication—incorporating appropriate body language, tone of voice, and empathic words—you can gain control of potentially explosive situations rather than try to control those involved.
A Strategic Plan for Introducing, Implementing, Managing, and Monitoring an Urban Extension Platform
Florida's Strategic Plan for Extension in Metropolitan Regions reflects an adaptive management approach to the state's urban Extension mission within the context of establishing essential elements, performance indicators, key outcomes, and suggested alternatives for action. Extension leadership has adopted the strategic plan, and implementation efforts are under way. The successful future of urban Extension in Florida lies in fully embracing and monitoring the plan and recommendations therein. In this article, we describe the course of developing the strategic plan, which included the use of a modified Delphi process and a strategic adaptive management format. We encourage others to adapt our methods to develop plans to meet their specific needs and desired outcomes.
Using Social Marketing to Engage Extension Audiences: Lessons from an Effort Targeting Woodland Owners
Social marketing involves applying traditional commercial marketing techniques to public good outcomes. We share findings from use of this approach in reaching woodland owners to promote sustainable forestry in southwest Wisconsin. We experimentally tested three direct mail campaigns. Each included two offers—a free handbook and a free forester visit, but the campaigns varied in terms of landowner segments and marketing messages. Key results across the campaigns include consistent performance of the offers (handbook 17%–19%, forester visit 3%–5%) but varied effects of segment and message. Our results suggest that social marketing can pay dividends in reaching landowners and, potentially, other Extension clientele, but there is more to learn.
Redefining the Concept of Learning in Cooperative Extension
For Extension educational programs to meet the educational needs of today's youths, families, and communities, Extension needs to expand "what counts" as learning. The purpose of this article is to define learning in the context of Extension. We summarize key aspects of the educational research literature by comparing two prevailing metaphors for learning: acquisition and participation. On the basis of the two metaphors, we developed a definition of learning, and we discuss the related implications for program and curriculum development, pedagogy, professional development, and assessment of learning.
Research in Brief
Increasing Invasive Plant Pest Early Detection Through Interagency First Detector Education
The Collaborative and Enhanced First Detector Training program has expanded invasive species detection efforts by teaching participants to scout for, identify, and submit suspect exotic species samples. Workshops were delivered to agriculture professionals, master gardeners, and other Extension audiences. Topics included introduction pathways, regulatory agency procedures, identification of invasive pests or pathogens, monitoring procedures, and sample submission. Survey data indicated the intent of participants to augment detection efforts and the efficacy of Extension workshops in improving participants' perceptions of government agencies. Respondents perceived increases in knowledge related to particular invasive species, identification of potential future invaders, and sample submission. Other implications related to Extension programming on invasive species education are discussed.
A Salamander Tale: Effective Exhibits and Attitude Change
Little information exists regarding intention behind the design and development of Extension outreach and educational exhibits. An evaluation of response to the exhibit A Salamander Tale indicates that the methods used to develop the exhibit resulted in an effective way to present information to an adult audience. Survey questions were based on research literature on attitudinal learning, especially literature discussing cognitive, affective, and behavioral learning components. Of 409 survey respondents, 69% or more reported positive changes in attitude about eastern hellbender salamanders and their habitats. Perhaps most important to hellbender conservation efforts, 73% of survey respondents claimed they would change their behavior and 70% claimed they would tell others what they learned from the exhibit.
Different Definitions and Great Expectations: Farmers' Market Consumers and Local Foods
Farmers' markets and local foods are popular among today's consumers. Despite this popularity, researchers have only begun to fully understand the farmers' market consumer. The study discussed in this article involved a sample of 485 farmers' market consumers from across the United States and was designed to provide a better understanding of how farmers' market consumers define the term local food and what characteristics these consumers expect from local foods. Differences among the definitions and characteristics relative to demographic variables were explored. The article concludes with marketing considerations for producers and market managers and implications for Extension professionals.
Understanding Residential Irrigation Users to Target Water Conservation Extension Programs
Water scarcity is one of the most important current issues, and Extension can play a role in helping people conserve water in the home landscape. Residential irrigation users make up an important target audience. The study reported here showed that residential irrigators are different from the general public in important ways. Home irrigation users value clean water more, value plentiful water less, and perceive stronger positive governmental support for water conservation. Extension professionals can target programs to this critical audience by partnering with governmental organizations and working to help home irrigation users understand the impacts of irrigation practices on both water quantity and water quality.
Using Public Opinions of Water Quality to Provide Direction for Extension
Extension educators can help the public learn about critical issues that contribute to existing problems in communities. Water is just such an issue in Florida—in fact, water is the top issue in Florida. The purpose of the study reported in this article was to identify Florida residents' opinions about clean water and their preferred modes of learning about water quality. Findings relate to how information about water quality should be transferred to the public and can guide the development of Extension programming.
Extension's Efforts to Help Kids Be SAFE: Evaluation of a Statewide Bullying Prevention Program
The evaluation reported in this article examined the effectiveness of a statewide bullying prevention program, Be SAFE. Be SAFE involves use of a positive youth development approach to influence peer groups rather than individual bullies or victims. Through the use of pre- and postprogram questionnaires, we found increases in youths' knowledge of how to help someone being bullied and how to be an ally. We found that grade level was associated with youths' knowledge gains across the lessons. The findings from the evaluation can be important for those interested in understanding the impacts of Be SAFE or applying bullying prevention efforts in general.
The Impact of a Campus-Based 4-H Summer Conference Program on Youth Thriving
In 2014 the Oregon 4-H program adopted a new program model to describe and evaluate the impact of 4-H on youths. The model is based on promoting thriving in young people, with an emphasis on high program quality. This article discusses the impact on thriving in 378 youth participants of the 4-H Summer Conference (4-HSC) program. The results of the study conducted provide preliminary support for the validity of the program model as well as the impact of the 4-HSC program on participants. Additionally, the study has implications for the use of program models in translating research into practice across Extension programs.
Using Demographic Survey Results to Target Master Gardener Volunteer Recruitment
We conducted a survey of Iowa master gardener volunteers to identify demographics of program participants. Majorities of respondents were female, 50 years old or older, and college educated, similar to participants in previous master gardener studies. Highly engaged older individuals may not be able to continue to participate at their current levels into the future. Consequently, recruitment and retention of younger and/or more diverse participants would be beneficial to sustaining the program and maintaining long-term community connections. Identifying the demographics of volunteers allows program coordinators to focus future recruitment and retention efforts. Additionally, implications of the study may be applicable to volunteer coordinators in other states.