February 2018 // Volume 56 // Number 1
JOE by the Numbers, Trending Articles, and February JOE Highlights
As is tradition for the first edition of JOE each year, I open the Editor’s Page with the section “JOE by the Numbers,” where I report JOE acceptance rate, author, and readership data. The “Trending Articles” section draws attention to a new element on the JOE home page. And in “February JOE,” I preview articles exploring Extension’s role in facilitating gender equality, strategies for managing challenges internal to Extension, and other important subject matter.
The Event Horizon for the Horizon Report: Inclusivity in Extension Programs
The Horizon Report for Cooperative Extension calls for Extension professionals to incorporate emergent technologies into programming; however, adoption and use of such technologies can be hampered due to critical diversity issues in the science, technology, engineering, and math industries. For Extension professionals to capitalize on the Horizon Report recommendations, we must embrace the report's call to action while also having an action plan for diversity and inclusivity. The challenge for Extension professionals goes beyond capitalizing on new technology trends; it has a broad scope and necessitates our considering critical issues surrounding those trends.
Participate in the JOE Discussion Forum on “The Event Horizon for the Horizon Report: Inclusivity in Extension Programs”
Ideas at Work
Developing and Managing an Advisory Board to Support Extension-Based Centers and Other Programs
Subject matter centers—which emphasize time-bound, externally funded, deliverable-driven projects and teams that engage new stakeholders—are becoming more common in Extension. An important element of such a center is an effective advisory board. This article presents a multifaceted process undertaken by the William D. Ruckelshaus Center as an example of the successful development and use of an Extension-based subject matter center advisory board. Extension-based centers, and other Extension offices and programs, can adapt the practices described to their own situations and tap the expertise and influence of leaders in their areas to address challenges and expand their capabilities, insight, and reach.
Old-Fashioned Bus Trips: New Age Professional Development
Two 4-H Camp–related bus tours offered new nontraditional professional development (PD) experiences that better align Extension's PD opportunities with the organization's experiential education pedagogy. Creating quality PD opportunities for employees is important because such experiences can affect overall work performance, community connections, and employee retention. Trip results showed that 100% of the participants agreed or strongly agreed that they built stronger relationships with Ohio 4-H colleagues and gained programming ideas during the PD experience.
Mobile Pyrolysis for Hazardous Fuels Reduction and Biochar Production in Western Forests
Mobile pyrolysis is a novel approach to fuels reduction. In this article, we address the experiences of the Utah Biomass Resources Group in developing mobile pyrolysis technologies and generating the products derived from pyrolysis of woody biomass—biochar, bio-oil, and syngas. We describe development of a mobile pyrolysis platform for biomass conversion demonstration, its use in a series of demonstrations conducted in several western states, and the usefulness of the resulting products. Additionally, we discuss our outreach and communication efforts to date and speculate on the future of the technology.
Tools of the Trade
Using Simulated Farm Case Studies to Teach Financial and Risk Management Concepts
Two simulated farm case studies provide a means for teaching financial and risk management strategies to western Kentucky grain farmers. Aggregate financial data for 227 grain farms define the case studies, which illustrate how cost and debt affect cash flow and working capital over a 5-year period. Responding to the case studies, farmers were able to discuss these financial concepts in a group setting among competitor neighbors without revealing personal business information. The use of composite financial data engaged the farmers and allowed for improved discussion on risk management products and the potential to protect working capital over multiple years. Extension professionals can apply the methods described.
Evaluation Checklists for Agritourism and Direct Marketing Operations: Farmer and Extension Resources
The Rutgers Agritourism Training Team created a series of checklists designed for agritourism and direct marketing operators as part of an educational curriculum. Checklists were specifically crafted for farmer self-assessment or for evaluation in cooperation with Extension professionals. A primary training goal was to aid farmers with identifying operational improvements and adopting best practices in the areas of farm safety and liability management. Checklist topics included general farm safety conditions, animal safety protocols, emergency response procedures, liability management, employee training and management, food safety, and parking and traffic management. The ultimate goal was to improve farm visitor safety.
Assessing Instructional Sensitivity Using the Pre-Post Difference Index: A Nontechnical Tool for Extension Educators
This article provides an illustrative description of the pre-post difference index (PPDI), a simple, nontechnical yet robust tool for examining the instructional sensitivity of assessment items. Extension educators often design pretest-posttest instruments to assess the impact of their curricula on participants' knowledge and understanding of the concepts taught. Although the use of pretests and posttests is common in Extension evaluation, the validity and reliability of these tests are rarely reported or discussed, mostly due to many Extension educators' limited knowledge of various statistical methods. The PPDI method described in this article should be a useful addition to Extension educators' evaluation toolboxes.
Best Practices for Establishing Positive 4-H Youth Development Programming in Urban At-Risk Communities
Urban, and primarily Latino, youths have traditionally been an underserved audience for the 4-H program due to language barriers, transportation issues, and lack of history with, knowledge of, and trust in the program. By developing strategies to assess community needs, develop community partnerships and collaborations, and address issues of trust and cultural barriers, Extension can establish programs in these communities that not only are successful but also become sustainable. We share lessons learned and best practices that can serve as tools in developing and maintaining such programs.
A Framework for Success: The Importance of Board Member Orientation
Volunteer groups such as master gardeners, watershed stewards, beach watchers, and 4-H councils are a tremendous asset to the university extension system, making it possible to greatly expand the reach and depth of Extension programming. Often these groups are overseen and advised by a volunteer board of directors. Conducting a simple board orientation is an effort that can increase the groups' effectiveness. An Extension professional, using basic facilitation skills, can lead a board through six topics of discussion, with the intended outcome being a more effective board. Extension professionals facilitate meetings regularly, so by simply adding this important educational endeavor to routine work, they can increase Extension's impact.
VoiceThread: A Useful Program Evaluation Tool
With today's technology, Extension professionals have a variety of tools available for program evaluation. This article describes an innovative platform called VoiceThread that has been used in many classrooms but also is useful for conducting virtual focus group research. I explain how this tool can be used to collect qualitative participant feedback and provide insight on the benefits and challenges of implementing the VoiceThread platform for program evaluation purposes.
Use of Prezi Software to Support and Expand Extension Outreach and Education
Working with innovative technologies helps Extension professionals promote, enhance, and expand outreach. Innovative software, for example, can support educators in creating presentations that better accommodate various types of learners and appeal to new audiences. This article highlights one such technology: Prezi. Prezi is a free software system Extension professionals can use to develop fresh and effective presentations. Prezi allows for the delivery of information in an easy-to-understand and eye-catching format and is appropriate for use in both traditional in-person and online Extension programming.
Political Ambition: Where Are All the Women?
Why do so few women hold elected office on local government bodies? The answer to this question encompasses a combination of barriers to running for office. The research discussed in this article involved two surveys conducted in Wisconsin. The findings indicate that in addition to systemic barriers, such as time away from work, many women are hesitant to serve on local governing bodies for other reasons, including concerns related to confidence and potentially inaccurate perceptions. This cautiousness was not as evident in male potential candidates. Understanding the barriers women face may inform how Extension educators work to address skewed compositions of local governing bodies as part of capacity-building efforts.
Identifying Needs and Implementing Organizational Change to Improve Retention of Early-Career Agents
Retention of agents is important for the growth and stability of Cooperative Extension. A study of early-career agents in Virginia Cooperative Extension identified specific areas in which organizational change could be made to improve agent fit in the organization and long-term retention. As a result, numerous changes have been made, particularly associated with existing agents but also in work with prospective agents. Although this article relates specifically to Virginia, the challenges and solutions identified may be relevant to other programs and to national professional development organizations.
Using an Engaged Scholarship Symposium to Change Perceptions: Evaluation Results
Engaged scholarship (ES) entails a symbiotic relationship between the community and the university. This article reports results from an evaluation of an ES symposium Eastern Carolina University held to increase awareness of ES as a means for integrating research, teaching, and service and to potentially change unfavorable perceptions about ES through education and testimonials. After the symposium, participants were more likely to suggest that the university should put more weight on ES. On the basis of our findings, we believe that a symposium designed to encourage open dialogue among faculty, administrators, and Extension professionals can lead to increased awareness of and changes in attitudes toward ES.
Creating and Implementing Diverse Development Strategies to Support Extension Centers and Programs
Declining government funding for higher education requires colleges and universities to seek alternative revenue streams, including through philanthropic fund-raising. Extension-based subject matter centers and other programs can benefit from the thoughtful supplementation of traditional revenue sources with individual, corporate, and private foundation philanthropy. In this article, we examine funding strategies identified in existing Extension literature and then describe the development strategy created for the William D. Ruckelshaus Center as a case study, emphasizing the importance of strong board leadership and cultivation of a diverse mix of income streams.
Development and Evaluation of a Parent-Engagement Curriculum to Connect Latino Families and Schools
Parent–school engagement is a contributor to student achievement, but few relevant programs exist for immigrant Latino families. This article describes the design, pilot implementation, and evaluation of a parent-engagement Extension program, developed and implemented in Spanish. The purpose of the program is to help parents develop and/or strengthen their relationships with school staff and teachers, build skills in navigating the U.S. school system, and increase their self-efficacy for supporting their children's success in school. Development of the program curriculum comprised a participatory approach that involved input from cultural guides and focus group sessions conducted in Spanish. Evaluation results indicate positive changes related to most program goals and increased parent–school engagement.
Feasibility of Implementing a School Nutrition Intervention That Addresses Policies, Systems, and Environment
We conducted a process evaluation of the Shaping Healthy Choices Program, a multicomponent school-based nutrition program, when implemented in partnership with University of California (UC) CalFresh and UC Cooperative Extension (UCCE). There were positive impacts on participating students, but results varied across counties, possibly due to variation in fidelity to the curriculum and implementation of program components. Our evaluation identified the strength of UCCE in delivering nutrition education and a need for additional support and training for building capacity to effect change in school policies, systems, and environment. Because educators throughout Extension are working to integrate programs addressing policies, systems, and environment, our results may have applicability in other Extension programs.
Foundations and Applications of Theory in the First Impressions Program
The First Impressions program was designed to help communities learn about their strengths and shortcomings through the "fresh eyes" of first-time visitors. This Extension-led community assessment program has been implemented in over 500 communities since the 1990s, yet scant literature exists regarding the program's theoretical foundations or best practices for implementation or evaluation. To address increasing interest in the program among Extension professionals nationwide, we aim to encourage new scholarship regarding the program's use and impacts by providing an overview of how the program works; a discussion of theoretical foundations of the program from geography, urban planning, and psychology literature; and suggestions for improving program efficacy.
Building Capacity within Extension to Address Animal Agriculture in a Changing Climate
The Animal Agriculture in a Changing Climate project was formed to build capacity among Extension professionals and other livestock advisors to address climate change issues. We offer a case study of how a small team can build national capacity for new topics. We used a coordinated multiregional approach to leverage national efforts applied to locally relevant climatology, production systems, and climate issues. Key insights on overcoming challenges centered on (a) engaging audiences with local, historical trends and agricultural impacts, (b) beginning with adaptation, rather than mitigation of climate change, and (c) providing strategies for effectively communicating science during controversy. Program participants found the project valuable and substantially increased their ability and motivation to apply climate science.
Building the Foundation for a Health Education Program for Rural Older Adults
We explored rural older adults’ perceptions of health to inform health promotion program development, using social marketing as our framework. Participants in seven focus groups viewed independence and holistic health as indicators of health and identified healthful eating and physical activity as actions to promote health. Barriers to these actions included physical limitations, social factors, financial considerations, motivation issues, and information confusion. Participants desired education that improves knowledge and skills, provides socialization opportunities, and occurs in familiar, affordable locations. Our findings can be useful to others developing health programming for rural-residing older adults. Also, we show that applying social marketing principles during formative assessment can be helpful in tailoring programs to audience interests and concerns.
4-S Positive Youth Development in Latin America: Professional Schools in Costa Rica
As youth development programs established in the United States expand globally, researchers must evaluate their impacts in diverse contexts. The work described in this article established a baseline for assessing the impact of a 4-S youth program at professional technical high schools in Costa Rica. The 4-S program is equivalent to 4-H in English-speaking countries. Results indicate that members of the 4-S program exhibited significantly higher levels of positive youth development than youths in the comparison group (p < .001). We consider how these findings speak to the importance of promoting programs such as 4-S, and we conclude by discussing the implications of this work for practitioners.
Research in Brief
Core Competencies for Successful Watershed Management Practitioners
We surveyed participants from three watershed leadership education programs to identify competencies critical to successful watershed management. Participants rated 26 competency areas identified from literature and watershed education curricula for extent of criticality and listed additional competencies needed for successful watershed management. On the basis of those ratings and listings, we propose that competency in the following areas is required: establishing and maintaining partnerships/collaborating, outreach and communication, project and organizational management, landowner interaction/interpersonal skills, facilitative leadership, and, possibly, developing and maintaining a vision for the future. Our findings have implications for designing professional development activities and developing position descriptions for hiring watershed leaders.
Urban Extension's New Nontraditional Offering: Parent-Child Reading Enhancement Program
Urbanization is causing a major shift in Extension's programming throughout the United States. We present results of a nontraditional urban program (the Parent-Child Reading Enhancement Program) that is being implemented by Alabama Cooperative Extension System's Urban Affairs and New Nontraditional Programs unit. Findings suggest that this Extension program is successful in increasing urban parents' knowledge and skills related to enhancing their children's reading ability. Implications for urban Extension are discussed.
Educational Preferences of West Virginia's Female Woodland Owners
The growing cadre of women woodland owners within the general landowner population will increasingly direct decisions on how woodland properties are managed for timber, wildlife, recreation, and water. In the past, women woodland owners have been underserved with regard to their educational needs. Using a mail-based questionnaire and tax records, we surveyed woodland owners in four West Virginia counties to explore differences in educational preferences between female and male woodland owners. We found differences associated with several woodland-related topics of interest and seminar attributes.
Addressing the Community Impact of Forced Pooling on Local Drilling Decisions
Increased unconventional oil and gas development has created concerns about property right issues and land degradation problems for many U.S. landowners. Many states allow "forced pooling," which forces landowners to lease their lands to an operator, even if the owner disagrees, when a threshold is reached. Extension professionals need to provide relevant information to decision makers and other local stakeholders on the effects of forced pooling. This article examines how forced pooling laws can affect local voice. Findings suggest that the holders of decision-making power at the local level differ according to the forced pooling thresholds used.
Assisting Mid-Atlantic Wine Industry Stakeholders in Developing Consumer-Centric Marketing Strategies: Internet Survey Results
Two Internet surveys were administered to wine consumers in New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. Purchasing frequencies, consumption occasions, and sources used to learn about wine were documented. National data are readily available; however, the study discussed in this article focused on Mid-Atlantic consumers, whose behaviors and attitudes were not well understood. These data provide Extension personnel in the region with the ability to better inform industry members about their clientele and help them develop marketing strategies that appeal to local wine drinkers.
Meeting Couple and Coparenting Relationship Needs of Foster Caregivers: Perceptions of Georgia Child Welfare County Directors
Foster caregivers face many unique challenges that may cause strain on their couple/coparenting relationships. Though foster caregivers receive training to help them navigate certain challenges of fostering, there is a lack of resources dedicated to supporting their couple/coparenting relationships. In the study described in this article, we examined the perceptions of Georgia Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS) county directors regarding potential effects of providing healthy marriage and relationship education (HMRE) to foster caregivers. Findings suggest that DFCS directors are in favor of providing HMRE to foster parents but that barriers to doing so must be addressed.