June 2018 // Volume 56 // Number 3
Hooking the Reader and June JOE Highlights
In the first section of the Editor's Page, "Hooking the Reader," I provide strategies scholarly authors can use to prompt target audiences to read their work. My focus in "June JOE Highlights" is on articles in the issue devoted to the topic of scholarship and articles centered on newly developed tools or unexpected methods for improving Extension's impact.
Publishing in the Journal of Extension—A Place for All Authors
This commentary highlights the mission of the Journal of Extension as a scholarly space for Extension professionals to publish intellectual and creative work that enhances and advances the profession of Extension. I explore broadly the complex nature of the publishing process from the perspective of author, reviewer, and Extension Journal, Inc. (EJI) board member. I also focus on the ways in which the EJI board is working to streamline the publication process and suggest ways in which authors can contribute to the process through the careful preparation of high-quality manuscripts.
Participate in the JOE Discussion Forum on “Publishing in the Journal of Extension—A Place for All Authors”
Ideas at Work
Bringing Family Voice to Determinants of Health
The Family Leadership Training Institute (FLTI) is a program that can respond to data documenting the health of the nation. Participants engage in individual civic projects that align with social determinants of health and seek to ameliorate health inequities. They also discover and/or increase their civic engagement skills to more effectively take part in policy and implementation discussions and decisions. With roots in Colorado, FLTI continues to expand into rural and urban communities throughout the state. The curriculum has been translated into Spanish, and a two-generation pilot implementation has indicated promise for including youths in a parallel program. Documentation regarding program effectiveness suggests that others in Extension may benefit interested communities by assisting them in replicating FLTI.
Using Short, Silent "Data Story" Videos to Engage Contemporary Extension Audiences
Online video can be an effective way for Extension to share data stories. Short videos that convey their messages without sound can maximize impact on several social media sites, including Facebook and Twitter. A pilot video was produced in this style; shared on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube; and evaluated on the basis of the social media platforms' available metrics. To meet clientele where they are, Extension must stay up to date with the latest trends in online information sharing. This article addresses the rationale behind and techniques for creating short videos that communicate without sound.
Adding a "Youth Flavor" to Extension's Programs
Youths not only participate in Extension services but also can be equipped as facilitators to extend information about a critical topic to new audiences. Our interdisciplinary team of Extension professionals created a program to equip youths as peer educators, increase youths' awareness and understanding of a new topic (local foods), promote youths' positive development, and establish a model for involving teens in existing Extension programs. Other Extension professionals can use the program's model, amending the topic area as needed, to promote positive youth development outcomes while engaging youths in helping with Extension's mission.
The 4-H Cutting Board Challenge
Food-borne illness is a major public health concern in the United States. Proper food safety measures can greatly reduce the risk of food-borne illness. The 4-H Cutting Board Challenge is designed to give participants a hands-on learning experience related to food preparation and food safety procedures and an opportunity for team building and critical thinking. The objectives of the program include researching food preparation techniques, identifying common food pairings and recipes, learning to create a main dish and a dessert dish for evaluation, increasing knowledge of food safety procedures, and working in teams.
Food Preservation: Using Technology-Based Tools to Reach Diverse Audiences
Over the past 15 years, there has been a resurgence of public interest in home food preservation as well as development of new ways to access information. Ensuring that Extension educators and consumers have ready access to research-based information is essential to keeping food safe. This article describes how to disseminate information on safe home food preservation using a robust menu of technology-based tools. Extension educators are encouraged to use such an approach with their educational programs to continue to reach diverse audiences and stay relevant in this age of information technology while reducing death and illness associated with improperly preserved foods.
The Farmacy Garden: A Model Program for Expanding Services to Low-Income Families
Fruit and vegetable prescription, or FVRx, programs present an opportunity for expanding and promoting gardening projects, which are a mainstay of Extension programming. The Farmacy Garden, a collaboration of multiple local partners, provides a point of access for learning about and obtaining fresh fruits and vegetables and represents an integrated programming approach for increasing food security for low-income families. The garden serves as a living laboratory—a community venue for agricultural workshops and nutrition education and a space to pilot test additional programming. The Farmacy Garden is a replicable model for Extension professionals interested in leveraging local resources to expand programming and services.
Tools of the Trade
The Evolving Landscape of Academic Publishing: Essential Knowledge for Extension Scholars
Extension faculty participate actively in creating and disseminating research in the natural sciences, social sciences, and emerging field of implementation science. This article discusses several current trends in academic publishing of which Extension scholars need to be aware. These include the rise in the use of metrics to evaluate journals, the growing open-access movement in academic publishing, and the proliferation of sham or predatory journals that charge publication fees without providing meaningful review or academic rigor. An awareness of these trends and the capacity to deal with them effectively will enable Extension scholars to optimize their success in disseminating their creative scholarly contributions.
Assisting After Disaster: A Volunteer Management and Donations Management Training
Stakeholders in Mississippi perceived that Extension could lead volunteer management and donations management after a natural disaster. In response, Mississippi State University Extension professionals developed a training on volunteer management and donations management to supplement the existing Incident Management System/Incident Command System (ICS) curriculum. The training includes education on connecting volunteer management and donations management to local emergency planning, managing volunteers, managing goods and monetary donations, operating within ICS, and developing relationships between volunteer organizations and partners. The training has been pilot tested in Mississippi with promising preliminary results. Extension professionals elsewhere may benefit from similar trainings.
Addressing Retention in Youth Programs: A Survey for Understanding Families' Experiences
Research on retention in the 4-H youth development program has consistently shown that one of the primary indicators for youths' dropping out of 4-H is being a first-year member. Extension 4-H professionals from California, Idaho, Wyoming, and New Jersey formed a team to study this issue. Our team surveyed first-year members and their parents/guardians to better understand why youths were not reenrolling in 4-H after their first year. This article introduces the survey used to assess the first-year experience and intent to reenroll. We discuss the survey development process, survey testing, lessons learned, and conclusions related to its future use.
Applying the USA National Phenology Network's Growing Degree Day Maps in Making Management Decisions
The USA National Phenology Network generates daily growing degree day maps for the United States at fine spatial resolution (2.5–3.0 km) using a January 1 start date and two common base temperatures. Maps are available up to 6 days into the future and can be viewed and manipulated using an online visualization tool or downloaded as image or raster files. By exploring these maps through the visualization tool, it is possible to see how heat accumulation over the course of the year varies from average conditions and to anticipate when heat accumulation thresholds will be met.
Finding Publicly Available Data for Extension Planning and Programming: Developing Community Portraits
Although there have been calls for many years for Extension professionals to use secondary data in their work, finding appropriate data online can still be a challenge. With the multitude of data sources available online, it can be helpful to use the concept of developing a community portrait as the context for becoming proficient at locating secondary data. Once compiled, the data in a community portrait can have multiple uses. In this article, we provide direction for finding specific online data sources and using those sources to compile a community portrait, tips on using data websites, and a quick guide to help with locating data.
Planning Large Conferences: Tips and Tricks
Large conference planning requires a high degree of attention to detail as well as collaboration and coordination between the conference chair and committee chairs. Often, it is useful to learn directly from past conference chairs and to consider those elements that have worked well in the past or could be improved on. We present the lessons learned from planning the 2017 International Master Gardener Conference. This article may help others in organizations that are considering hosting large conferences.
Planning Tours as Part of a Professional Conference: Lessons Learned
Tours are often one of the most popular aspects of a large professional conference. However, tour planning can be time-consuming and overwhelming. We share the lessons we learned while planning 17 multiday, full-day, and half-day tours as part of the 2017 International Master Gardener Conference. We consider tour organization, pricing, site selection, and tour promotion, among other topics.
Needs Assessment for Informing Extension Professional Development Trainings on Teaching Adult Learners
As society becomes more information saturated, Extension must evaluate its educational programming and delivery methods used to facilitate adult learning. Extension professionals must have a comprehensive understanding of how adults learn. Accordingly, we conducted a needs assessment as a basis for providing professional development trainings focused on teaching adults. Our objective was to identify Extension professionals' professional development needs related to designing and facilitating programming based on andragogy. We developed a survey instrument that addressed andragogy-related topics and administered it to Extension professionals. The results indicated that professional development centered on andragogy was needed by and relevant to the study participants. We describe the study and resulting professional development training and provide associated recommendations that are applicable across Extension.
Capturing Outcomes Often Overlooked: A Pilot Evaluation of Florida Individual Contact Teaching
Extension provides personalized educational services collectively known as individual contact teaching (ICT), yet these services often are not evaluated. This article presents results from pilot testing of an approach for evaluating ICT. Extension representatives and clientele provided data on ICT events, primarily office consultations and landscape site visits. Most client respondents were very satisfied with the services received; had increased their knowledge, skills, and future preparedness to address the applicable issue; and had changed a behavior following the education. These positive findings reveal the importance of evaluating such services. Extension professionals are encouraged to use a personalized evaluation approach such as the one described to ensure that the collective value of ICT is captured.
Using Continuous Response Assessment to Evaluate the Effectiveness of Extension Education Products
The case study addressed in this article illustrates the value of continuous response measurement (CRM) for testing and refining messages produced for distribution to Extension audiences. We used CRM to evaluate the responses of Extension educators and Natural Resources Conservation Service technical service providers to a video describing greenhouse gas mitigation techniques. By using this assessment method, message producers can identify elements in a video that elicit strong positive or negative responses and then refine communication activities accordingly. Our study highlights the potential of CRM for informing how Extension education products and materials may be preevaluated to ensure more widespread acceptance and use of final versions by intended audiences.
Adapting Extension and Outreach Content to Audiences' Educational Interests
For various, largely unknown reasons, decision makers do not have equal interest in all Extension and outreach topics pertinent to a particular concept. This situation hampers Extension's ability to effectively deliver information and efficiently allocate limited resources. Using survey data, we identified heterogeneous preference for various topics related to the concept of woody bioenergy, our case study subject, and built profiles of forestland owners who expressed interest in topics that received above-average and below-average preference rates. Given our results, we argue for using this approach in objectively ranking audiences' educational interests in various forest and nonforest products and services and subsequently allocating time, space, and other Extension resources to the topics of interest.
On-Farm Food Loss: Farmer Perspectives on Food Waste
Although food waste is a widely discussed topic, most efforts have focused on consumers, with on-farm food loss receiving little attention. Our pilot study in California revealed the variability and complexity of reasons for on-farm food loss, many of which farmers cannot control. Interviewees spoke of market volatility and unpredictable weather as key contributors to loss, noting that much lost food is repurposed on-farm rather than ending up in a landfill. On the basis of our findings, we identify potential strategies for better aligning food recovery efforts with farmer limitations and needs and make suggestions for the role Extension can play in research and food recovery efforts.
Relevant Information Sources in the Vast and Complex Manure Nutrient Management Network
To understand and delineate pathways for effective information transfer among professional audiences in manure nutrient management, we deployed a survey, taken by 964 professionals, addressing workforce demographics, tasks performed, and information source relevance. Findings indicate that education of industry and the public is a widespread effort among the multiple organizations represented. The average relevance of different types of information sources was consistent across various organization types. Compared to mass media sources, information sources that were technical and individual- or group-oriented in nature were more relevant to respondents representing all organization types and levels of knowledge. Opportunities exist for translation of the findings presented to other networks of entities working toward common objectives.
Farmers' Trust in Sources of Production and Climate Information and Their Use of Technology
A regionally representative survey of 900 Inland Pacific Northwest farmers showed that farmers trust other farmers and agribusiness most for production management decisions but trust university Extension most for climate change information. Additionally, in responding to questions about use of the Internet and mobile applications for making farm management decisions, many farmers indicated that they use the Internet daily but mobile applications much less regularly to access farm-related information. These results suggest that university Extension personnel have an important role to play in informing farmers about climate change and can do so effectively by using certain digital tools alongside other more traditional avenues for information delivery.
Assessing Results of 4-H Mentoring with Native American First-Generation 4-H Youths
To reach first-generation Extension families and combat barriers faced by Native American youths, North Dakota State University Extension has been involved in the national mentoring program 4-H Youth and Families with Promise (YFP). In the program’s fourth year, we conducted ripple effect mapping to explore changes in the schools and communities where YFP was being implemented. Our findings indicate that as a result of relationships with mentors, youths gained positive life skills and critical workforce expertise that will assist them in attaining their education goals and securing career opportunities. Implications for Extension programming include the recommendation to conduct programs featuring opportunities for youth entrepreneurship and community involvement that reflect a community’s culture.
Research in Brief
Readiness of Congregate Nutrition Sites to Deliver Nutrition Education to Older Adults
Title III of the Older Americans Act requires congregate nutrition sites (CNSs) to provide nutrition education. In 2015, we assessed 19 CNSs in Appalachian South Carolina for nutrition education readiness. Nutrition education readiness and general education readiness were both low. Overall, the CNSs were not ready to deliver education interventions due to lack of training/education, funds, drivers, and communication technologies. Addressing these problems could improve the likelihood that education would be effective. The readiness concepts described here can be used by Extension educators to determine whether delivery sites are ready to effectively provide education programs.
Do Beef Production Conferences Affect Beef Producers' Perceptions of Applied Research and Extension Programs?
Decreased visibility and awareness of what Washington State University (WSU) was doing for the beef industry was a critical issue raised by beef industry leaders and WSU faculty. Statewide conferences have been used to distribute information to beef producers. However, these conferences require large commitments of labor, time, and financial resources, and it was not known whether they are effective given that so much information is easily obtained electronically. Therefore, we surveyed beef producers at WSU Beef Production Conferences in 2014 and 2016. Recommendations for improving translation of information include maintaining beef conferences, publishing more articles in beef trade magazines, and increasing information on WSU Internet sites. Applying similar activities elsewhere and with other agricultural producer audiences may prove useful.
Word Cloud Analysis of Early Adopter No-Till Farmer Interviews
We interviewed early adopter no-till farmers in the New England region to assess why they changed tillage practices and what the perceived advantages and disadvantages of doing so were. We then generated word clouds from answers to key interview questions to convey the farmers' experiences. Most of these innovators were influenced to convert to no-till by the success of other "exemplary" farmers. Advantages noted included reductions in production time and fuel use. The greatest perceived disadvantage was pest management issues caused by cover crop residues. Yield losses were not mentioned, and many of the farmers experienced increased yields. Our findings suggest that Extension staff can increase adoption of new production techniques by identifying and conveying experiences of key farmer leaders.
Perception of Food Safety Risk from Animal Contact Questionnaire for Extension Audiences
Animal contact in public settings for both leisure and work increases the odds of infectious diseases. This circumstance is exacerbated by inadequate understanding of the connection between exposure to animals and food safety risks. The purpose of our research was to develop a survey for assessing adults' perceptions of food safety risk from exposure to animals. Results of our study suggest that the survey has acceptable internal structure and reliability. It may prove useful to Extension professionals who are assessing the need for associated programming or seeking to track progress toward relevant outcomes.
Evaluating a Regional Administrative Model
Using a stratified random sample and real-time virtual focus group sessions, we evaluated the regional administrative model, addressing personnel supervision, program direction, financial management, and administrative leadership. We concluded that the regional administrative model remains a highly charged topic, there is no common understanding of "region," the efficiencies and effectiveness of county operations have improved, and minor differences exist among groups from areas with differing population densities only with regard to the topic of administrative leadership. Implications relate to using a mix of formal and informal communication approaches, avoiding the consequences of long-term environmental turbulence, vetting the model at all organizational levels, and pilot testing prior to statewide implementation.