February 2019 // Volume 57 // Number 1
JOE by the Numbers and February JOE Highlights
In "JOE by the Numbers," I provide the annual reporting of JOE author and readership data, which, as always, signify the journal's diverse nature. A concentration on youth permeates this issue of JOE, and in "February JOE Highlights," I touch on but a few of the topics addressed in the associated articles. Also in that section, I call attention to articles that, like the data in "JOE by the Numbers," underscore the wide-ranging emphases expressed in the pages of JOE.
How Important Is Rigor? A State Specialist's Take on 4-H Project Work
If 4-H'ers earn project recognition for things they do as a matter of course in their schools and with their families—things they would do whether or not they were 4-H members—then is 4-H really making a difference in their lives? I make a case for rigor and high expectations in 4-H project work and suggest that state Extension specialists, in their engagement in 4-H, have a unique opportunity to strengthen 4-H programming as a bridge to excellence in the academic and professional careers of its participants.
Participate in the JOE Discussion Forum on “How Important Is Rigor? A State Specialist's Take on 4-H Project Work”
4-H Members and Firearms: The Case for 4-H Shooting Sports
As events of human violence emerge on the national stage and as individuals raise concerns about youths having access to firearms, it is important that Extension professionals, land-grant university administrators, and university legal counsels understand the guiding principles of the 4-H Shooting Sports program. This commentary addresses 4-H Shooting Sports program priorities and program management, the program's safety record, and the rationale for introducing 4-H members to firearms. The article is not a defensive justification of the 4-H Shooting Sports program. Instead, it is a demonstration of the relevance and safety of a 4-H program area that reaches hundreds of thousands of young people each year.
Participate in the JOE Discussion Forum on “4-H Members and Firearms: The Case for 4-H Shooting Sports”
Ideas at Work
Integrating Watershed Management Across the Urban–Rural Interface: Opportunities for Extension Watershed Programs
Urban–rural partnerships are increasingly viewed as a critical component of efforts to improve water quality at the watershed scale. We present an opportunity for such partnerships, using an off-site best management practice (BMP) program developed between the City of Wichita and agricultural producers in the Little Arkansas River Watershed of south-central Kansas as an example. We highlight the critical role of Extension specialists in developing this and similar programs, the success of which hinges on targeted BMP implementation and relationships with agricultural producers.
Novel Use of Conceptual Change Framework Improves Video on Challenging Science Topic
Educational campaigns are more complicated when members of our audiences hold scientific misconceptions related to new technologies. Our prairie strips research and education team produced a brief, focused video aimed to dispel a misconception related to the effect of prairie strip plants' roots on agricultural drain tiles in the Midwest. Our "Field Tile Investigation" video was based on the conceptual change framework from science education and featured a discrepant event. The goal was to move farmers, landowners, and their advisors to an understanding of prairie strips that was more compatible with the scientific standard.
4-H at Work: Career Lessons Provide New Dimension to School Classrooms
Georgia 4-H has been partnering with public schools for over 100 years to provide youth development programming for elementary, middle, and high schools. In 2013, a new state accountability system required the addition of career exploration lessons in elementary schools. Georgia 4-H staff and faculty developed a career curriculum taught by county Extension agents in public school classrooms. This curriculum allowed Georgia 4-H to continue its historic partnership with Georgia public schools and assisted elementary schools in meeting new educational requirements. Evaluation data show that youth participants increased knowledge in respective career areas. State-standards-based 4-H career education delivered in classrooms and elsewhere can meet varied needs and yield valuable outcomes.
Systematic Approach to Meeting the Needs of School Garden Clients
Educators use school gardens to incorporate science, technology, engineering, and math programming into their curricula. Extension agents are called on to assist with planning and long-term support of these gardens, often working with educators who have no horticultural experience. University of Georgia Extension's school garden team created a multitiered approach to serving these gardeners while ensuring efficient use of Extension agents' time and resources. This approach includes a beginning-steps publication, hands-on garden training, and school garden associations. The result is more sustainable school gardens with limited frustration on the parts of school gardeners and Extension agents.
Using American Indian Legends to Teach Youths Financial Literacy: Innovative Approaches to Cultural Adaptation
In this article, we report on pilot implementation of a financial education program for American Indian (AI) youths. Our purpose is to share our experience engaging AI youths in a culturally relevant experience in which they learn financial education concepts. Specifically, we incorporated Ojibwe legends into lesson content to connect Ojibwe culture to the information being taught. We report a combination of quantitative survey data and qualitative observational notes that overall suggest evidence of success regarding effectively engaging AI youths in financial education. Our approach may be of particular interest to Extension educators working with youths from culturally underserved audiences.
Project Happy Apples: Assisting Backyard Growers in Codling Moth Management
Project Happy Apples began as an effort to assist backyard growers in managing codling moth in their fruit trees. We developed a process using emails and a web page to provide timely information related to the life cycle of codling moth and relevant integrated pest management (IPM) strategies. The content of our updates included pertinent photos, costs of tools, and suggested dates of action. Results from a survey of participants suggest that they were more confident, knowledgeable, and successful in using IPM strategies in their own backyards as a result of our project.
Edible Insect Workshop Engages Public in Sustainable Food Conversation
A 6-hr train-the-trainer workshop focused on introducing the concept that insects may play a significant role in food security as the world population is projected to exceed 9 billion people by the mid 21st century. Workshop topics including cultural, nutritional, culinary, and commercial aspects surrounding edible insects were presented and packaged into a formal curriculum for later use by the participants. A 12-item sensory evaluation of insect-fortified foods provided participants a tangible experience with product palatability. By the end of the workshop, participants had increased various dimensions of their knowledge about edible insects and reported a generally positive perception toward insect-based foods.
Tools of the Trade
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act: Impact and Options for Extension Professionals
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) will affect Cooperative Extension employees and their clientele starting with 2018 tax returns filed by mid April 2019. Some educators will teach or counsel their target audiences about income taxes, and all will either benefit overall from the TCJA or pay more federal income tax because of it. This article describes key features of the TCJA and the content and impact of a workplace seminar designed to help taxpayers take action in response to it. The article concludes with tax planning strategies to consider for adjusting personal finance decisions and work practices in response to the TCJA.
Excel-Based Computational Template for Irrigation Scheduling Using Dual Crop Coefficients
We developed an Excel-based computational template Extension educators can use to assist clientele with scheduling irrigation for efficient use of water. With the template, the user applies the dual crop coefficient method to calculate evaporation and transpiration rates separately, with the result being more accurate soil water tracking as compared to what occurs when a single crop coefficient is used. Crop water needs can be conveniently calculated on the basis of soil characteristics, crop growth stages, and weather information. Application examples demonstrate that the amount and frequency of irrigation should be adjusted according to soil texture. The template and application examples are available to Extension professionals as electronic supplementary material.
Volunteer Research and Knowledge Competency Codebook: A Tool for Identifying Volunteer Needs
Extension personnel are tasked with ensuring that 4-H volunteers have competencies identified in the Volunteer Research and Knowledge Competency (VRKC) Taxonomy, 4-H youth development's foundational volunteer skills framework. The VRKC Codebook is a qualitative analysis tool for accurately identifying VRKC-aligned needs expressed in volunteer needs assessment data. The codebook and accompanying guide were developed following a statewide volunteer needs assessment in which a need for VRKC-based evaluation tools emerged. 4-H educators can use the codebook and guide to efficiently detect areas of need that may otherwise be overlooked, empowering them to provide practical and impactful education and support systems better aligned with the unique research-based needs of their local volunteers.
Using Digital Picture Frames for Extension Displays
Digital picture frames can bring a different dimension to Extension educators' educational displays and enhance the experience of viewers. Moreover, by combining multiple digital displays with written materials, the educator can increase his or her ability to reach more people than what occurs when only a single tabletop display at one event is used. This article includes a description of the use of a digital picture frame for conveying information on native plants, considerations related to choosing a digital picture frame, and lessons learned for setting up such displays.
Positive Youth Development for Health: Extension's Readiness for Multilevel Public Health Approaches
Positive youth development for health is one of six priority areas identified in Cooperative Extension's National Framework for Health and Wellness. The objectives for this priority area target both individual- and community-level change. An assessment of Extension professionals' readiness to integrate community-level policy, systems, and environment change approaches into youth development efforts indicated various levels of familiarity with and willingness to implement multilevel strategies. Using these findings and the transtheoretical model as the organizing framework, we make recommendations for advancing Extension professionals' readiness to implement changes that make healthful options more available and accessible and help create a culture of youth health.
National Survey of Extension 4-H Professionals' Perceptions of Professional Development Factors
Our study describes factors that influence Extension 4-H professionals' likelihood of participating in a professional development experience. We used a work group–developed survey to measure the level of influence of nine factors. Through convenience sampling, we obtained 558 responses from 4-H professionals representing all regions of the country and multiple job roles. Cost, location, networking, personal needs, and time were strongly influential. Differences related to job role and years of job experience existed. Our major recommendation is that those creating professional development experiences for 4-H professionals consider both the major influential factors involved and factors of adult development, such as the need for self-directed learning.
Method for Monitoring Quality of Extension Programs: A Dashboard Construction Process
We describe a process for construction and use of a "dashboard" for monitoring the quality of in-person nonformal education programs. We followed the process to develop a 4-H special interest (SPIN) club dashboard, but the steps are applicable to any education program that includes instruction over multiple sessions. The dashboard construction process comprises selecting performance measures, choosing data collection strategies, designing the content and layout of the dashboard, collecting data, and populating the dashboard with performance metrics. Although these process steps are intuitive, specific decision options within each step can be complex. Our article includes discussion of these complexities in the context of our SPIN club application.
Research in Brief
4-H Health Ambassador Programs: A Survey of Organizational and Programmatic Aspects
The purpose of the study reported here was to gather information about the extent and scope of 4-H health ambassador programs. An online survey was sent to land-grant institution health contacts. Fifteen of the 36 individuals responding indicated that their states had such programs, and 13 completed the remainder of the survey questions. Commonalities occurred in the areas of application process, teaching role, and grant funding, but there existed considerable variation regarding other aspects of the programs, such as staffing, training, and curriculum. The survey results provide useful information and lessons learned for those interested in adopting 4-H health ambassador programming.
Development of an Artifact-Based Evaluation Framework for Assessing 4-H Learner Outcomes
Effective evaluation requires the selection of appropriate methods to balance rigor and feasibility. Evaluation methods involving surveys and interviews are familiar; lesser known are methods involving the use of participant-generated artifacts. In this article, I share my process for developing an evaluation framework to assess learning outcomes by using artifacts designed and built by young people in 4-H Junk Drawer Robotics programs. Findings demonstrated the potential value of using participant-generated artifacts for outcome evaluation. The process might be replicated in other Extension programs.
Financial Impact of Penn State Extension's Know Your Numbers Dairy Program
Dairy-related Extension programming is important in many states, but the economic impact of such programming has received little attention. We examined the impact of Know Your Numbers, an educational program offered by the Penn State Extension Dairy Team. Using follow-up evaluation data and the economic impact tool IMPLAN, we estimated that the program had a total financial impact of $9.5 million and an employment impact of 69 jobs in 2014. The overall financial impacts of the Dairy Team, given its abundance of other programming, likely are significantly higher. Our approach for estimating the economic impact of an Extension program can be used by others to understand and demonstrate the value of their work.
Building Success of Food Hubs Through Understanding of the Cooperative Experience
Food hubs represent a business model through which farmers can collectively market product to access new supply chains and buyers can efficiently access locally sourced foods. Many farmer marketing cooperatives fit within the food hub definition and have existed for decades. Accordingly, much can be learned from them to support food hub business planning efforts. We developed and synthesized case studies of three successful cooperatives in order to match key food hub operational challenges with recommended best management practices. Such information is useful for Extension education efforts supporting the development of economically viable food hub businesses.
E-Learning Nutrition Education Program for Low-Income Adults: Perspectives of Key Stakeholders
Through focus group interviews, we examined the perceptions of Extension peer nutrition educators (n = 6) and low-income adults (n = 8) regarding the feasibility of an e-learning nutrition education program, titled Food eTalk, tailored to Georgians eligible for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed). Findings indicated two themes: (a) Participants have regular smartphone-based Internet access, and nutrition education e-learning programs should be designed to match typical smartphone use patterns and (b) recommendations to increase Food eTalk engagement involve carefully selected content and consideration to mandate SNAP-Ed participation. These findings are informing user-centered development of Food eTalk and may be of use to others creating such programs.
An Extension Educator Perspective on Adverse Childhood Experiences
Research on adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) has garnered a great deal of attention and is increasingly used to demonstrate the negative impact of stressful and traumatic childhood experiences on psychological and physical health. ACEs have become a focus of local and state organizations and coalitions concerned about the well-being of children and their families, resulting in a growing number of Extension professionals becoming involved in these initiatives. In this article we provide an overview and analysis of seminal and more recent ACEs research and offer suggestions about where an understanding of and response to ACEs might fit into the work of Extension educators.
An Extension Educator Perspective on Trauma-Informed Care
Trauma-informed care has become a major priority in recent efforts to address trauma and stress in the lives of children, adults, and families. Interest in trauma-informed care among Extension professionals has grown over the past several years as Extension partners and other child- and family-serving organizations initiate trauma-informed care programs, trainings, and community-wide initiatives. In this article we present a literature review–based overview of trauma-informed care and examination of trauma-informed care principles and assumptions, and we consider implications for Extension professionals.
Advancing Use of Key Integrated Pest Management Practices in Schools
Since 2011, Oregon State University has conducted integrated pest management (IPM) training specific to public schools. School personnel receive onsite training on key IPM practices as well as associated materials. To determine which practices and materials school employees are using as a result of the program, we administered a survey to 2016 training attendees. We found that all returning attendees had been implementing practices and using materials as a result of the training. The most common practice was sealing holes to keep pests out. Additionally, the majority of respondents reported a reduction in pesticide use. Our approach may serve as a reference for Extension specialists in developing school IPM programs in other states.
Outcomes of a Multiyear Multicounty Marriage Celebration
Couples often seek marital education to strengthen their relationships. This article explores the program effectiveness of a multiyear, multicounty marriage enrichment event. Analysis of retrospective "pre-then-post" evaluations across 2 years of the event (N = 480 in 2015; N = 554 in 2016) suggests that participant knowledge increased but that middle-aged participants showed lower levels of perceived knowledge following program participation as compared to younger and older attendees. Future researchers may consider exploring the trend of younger and older audiences reporting higher levels of knowledge following such events. Overall, we determined that practitioners should consider date night events to be an effective channel for relationship education.
Extension Investing Resources for the Millennial Generation: An Exploratory Study
Millennials have different investing knowledge and behaviors than generations in the past. Moreover, as compared to baby boomers, millennials have more debt and less wealth to invest. We used current literature and information collected from Extension educators to explore the values, investing behaviors, learning styles, and loyalty attitudes of millennials. We also examined and evaluated investment resources that had been created or adapted by four Extension faculty members across the nation. A proposed framework with suggestions for future research is provided.
Gaps in Safe Food Handling Practices of Older Adults
We identified gaps in safe food handling practices that may be placing older adults at increased risk of food-borne illness. A convenience sample of 1,019 older adults completed the Food Safety Behavior Questionnaire. Majority groups among participants were those who were female, those who were White, and those who were widowed. Participants had lower adherences to safe practices related to temperature control, attention to sell-by/use-by dates on food packages, and cross-contamination. Adherences were significantly (p < .05) influenced by gender, race/ethnicity, age, marital status, and education. Our findings suggest the need for older adult–focused safe food handling education related to temperature control, product selection practices, and cross-contamination.