August 2009 // Volume 47 // Number 4
Answer the "So What?" Question for Extension
"Answer the 'So What?' Question for Extension" explains that, if you're writing for JOE, you must do just that. "August JOE" highlights three interesting articles and mentions the topics of many more.
4-H—Going Beyond Life Skill Development
The investment of tax dollars means 4-H must distinguish itself from its youth-development peers. Such an argument can be developed by examining organizational research, the historical contributions and tradition of 4-H, and the contributions of the modern 4-H program. Although the context of 4-H has broadened beyond food production, it continues to contribute positively to the development of the U.S. economy. Extension's challenge is to prove 4-H's worth by demonstrating a clear return-on-investment to stakeholders. Doing so may be exactly what is required to justify the continuation of public funds.
Participate in the JOE Discussion Forum on “4-H—Going Beyond Life Skill Development”
Ideas at Work
A Successful Strategy for Initiating Hispanic 4-H Clubs
In 2004, a pilot summer literacy program gave Hispanic students the opportunity to improve their English reading and writing skills in a non-threatening and creative environment. The program included service-learning projects and interaction with local veterans. By the end of the summer, the group had evolved into the first Hispanic 4-H club in South Carolina. It was still active nearly 4 years later. Several students from the original program have been involved in organizing the 2007 offering of the now-annual summer literacy program. Such a program can be replicated in any location where there is a willing and creative core of planners and supporters.
The Youth Farmstand: A Model Program for Workforce Preparedness, Lifeskills Education, and Economic Development
Youth farmstands effectively integrate three responsibilities of Cooperative Extension—serving the agricultural community, helping youth through 4-H, and providing nutrition education through family and community health sciences. In addition, youth farmstands support many community initiatives and, by nature, form diverse and productive partnerships and collaborations. This article shows how a youth farmstand project addresses many local needs, including food security and economic and community development. For youth, it offers workplace preparedness, lifeskills training, and community service opportunities, as well as improved nutrition and health. Farmers also benefit through new retail outlets for their products, with limited labor investments.
Crop-O-Rama: Exposing Youth to Educational and Career Opportunities in Agriculture
Crop-O-Rama is an educational event for 4-H and FFA students in high school or middle school. Participants compete as individuals or in teams in agricultural competitions including crop weed and seed identification, soils judging and land use, an agronomic quiz bowl, a "heroes in agriculture" speech and essay contest, and "science in agriculture" educational exhibits. The purpose is to expose youth to educational and professional opportunities in agriculture. An emphasis is placed on recruiting contest judges and helpers currently employed in various sectors of agri-business to interact with participants regarding educational and employment opportunities in agriculture.
What's Black and White and Goes "Vroom, Vroom"? An Innovative Teaching Site
Using old school buses retrofitted into mobile classrooms and painted on the outside to resemble black and white Holstein cows, the Classroom on Wheels (COW) buses "vroom" around the Las Vegas valley offering parenting and preschool programs to at-risk families taught by Extension professionals. Many families lack the resources and transportation to drive their children to and from a preschool, so the COW buses deliver the preschool to the families.
Engaging Citizens to Urban Nutrient Planning of Lawns within a Nutrient Sensitive Watershed
Simple and concise urban lawn nutrient management plans can be successfully implemented to combat eutrophication of lakes and streams. Soil test values from 540 lawns near Springfield, Missouri found that 51% of the samples tested above optimum levels for available phosphorus, especially where lawns were more than 20 years old. Urban nutrient management plans that contain the type, quantity, and timing of soil amendments assist homeowners in the selection of appropriate fertilizer choices from local retailers. Watershed stakeholders will adopt urban lawn nutrient management practices if Extension programs make a clear link between nutrient management and water quality.
Pacific Northwest Pest Management Workgroup: Leveraging Partnerships Across Large Geographic Regions
Faced with promoting integrated pest management (IPM) and coordinating scarce resources over an area of 1.04 million square miles, Pacific Northwest states chose to form a geographically based workgroup rather than the traditional discipline-based or single crop-based workgroup. By sharing resources, we have maximized expertise and minimized duplication of effort. Over a 6-year period, workgroup outcomes indicate that in similar circumstances this option can produce a strong and productive coalition serving Extension clientele.
Developing an Innovative Team Approach to Address a Newly Introduced Disease of Soybeans in the United States
Asian soybean rust (ASR) was first detected in the continental United States in 2004. In response to this threat the Alabama Cooperative Extension System Field Crops Team developed an innovative approach to minimize losses from this new disease. The approach combined standard Extension methods with a statewide disease monitoring system combined with a national Web-based information network. The system allowed growers to apply fungicides only when necessary to prevent losses from ASR. In 2006 it was estimated that the program saved soybean farmers in Alabama over $2.5 million in fungicide costs. The program resulted in similar cost savings in 2007.
Tools of the Trade
Using Appreciative Inquiry to Advance Extension
The Appreciative Inquiry philosophy challenges conventional problem solving methods of managing change. The Extension profession could benefit from utilizing this approach because organizations grow in the direction on which they focus and around the questions that they repeatedly ask. The principles of Appreciative Inquiry are applied using the 4-D cycle (Discover, Dream, Design, and Destiny). This article is written to be a practical approach on how to capitalize on the positive and to help create a positive environment for growth and development of Extension personnel and programs.
Planning Aids: Tools to Ensure Volunteer and Event Successes
A collection of "Volunteer Planning Aids" was developed to assist agents and volunteers in completing and conducting programs, events and activities. Planning Aids include step-by-step instructions with a timeline for each program, event, or activity. Extension professionals may download and tailor the generic Planning Aids to fit local needs. While Planning Aids may also be helpful to Extension professionals, their greatest value is in guiding volunteers successfully through complex or multi-faceted tasks. Constant supervision becomes unnecessary, and orienting volunteers to the full scope of their positions is easier when Volunteer Planning Aids are utilized.
Web Soil Survey: A New Horizon in the Use of Site-Specific Soil Data
The USDA-NRCS Web Soil Survey (WSS) is a new electronic version of the Soil Survey that includes soils of all 50 states with the same great content but in a searchable, interactive format that is quick and efficient to use. Once you have found the site-specific soil information you need, WSS provides you a checklist to select the categories of information you want to develop into a professional-looking printable map and report that can also be saved in Adobe Acrobat (.pdf) format. This article shows you where to access the WSS on the Internet and how to get started.
Financial Incentive Programs for Non-Industrial Private Forest Owners Web Site
A Web site that lists forestry and conservation financial incentive programs available to non-industrial private forest owners is described. Federal, state, and private sources are included, and the listing is on a state-by-state basis. The site is interactive and very easy to use. All the federal USDA and Department of Interior programs, state cost-share and assistance programs, forest industry landowner assistance programs, and other private programs are included. It is an ideal tool for an Extension agent who is posed the question, "Which forestry incentive or assistance programs are available in my specific geographic area?"
Implementing Water Conservation Education for University Campus Facilities and Grounds Managers
A workshop was held to assist Georgia's public universities to reduce water use. The workshop targeted university campus facilities and grounds managers. University water use ranges from outdoor irrigation of ornamental displays and sports fields, to housing facilities, to complex laboratory systems. Extension specialists worked with the Department of Natural Resources and the University System of Georgia Board of Regents to develop workshop content and identify potential attendees. The workshop emphasized the use of the water audits as a planning tool and case studies.
Extension, the Land-Grant Mission, and Civic Agriculture: Cultivating Change
Criticisms claiming the land-grant system has failed its mission and recent restructuring in the food system have together challenged the role played by Extension. This article explores whether a framework of southeast Michigan's Food System Economic Partnership (FSEP) fosters civic participation in the agrifood re-localization movement. Employing a case study approach, we discuss this framework and provide an overview of Extension educator involvement. Our case study indicates that the FSEP structure enables Extension professionals to expand their repertoire of community interaction models and engage citizens as agrifood citizens and leaders in order to move towards sustainable development.
How Do We Know if Our Contests Are "Fair"?
Adults are often forthright with their concerns about the fairness of contests. In the case study reported here, clients were upset about the Master Showmanship Contest and whether "goat members always win." I predicted that, in a fair contest, winning should be independent of project area and used empirical tests to show that it is. I also measured the perceptions of two additional groups of stakeholders in the contest: youth participants and judges. The results indicate that perceptions can differ drastically from actuality, which has ramifications for 4-H and all areas of Extension work that rely on client input.
Latino Farmers in Missouri: Risks, Services, and Implications for Extension
Latinos are the fastest growing ethnic group of farm owner/operators in Missouri and the United States. Their lives as farmers demonstrate a familiar and inspiring story: the pursuit of the American dream. We examine the growing reality of Latino-owned farms in Missouri through four in-depth personal interviews with Latino dairy and cattle producers to assess their situation and the challenges they face when entering and operating a farm. The interviews covered their farming operations, risk tolerance, access to financial services, and use of other services. Based on our findings, we offer recommendations for Extension on working with them.
Child Maltreatment Reporting Beliefs and Practices of University of Wisconsin Cooperative Extension Family Living Educators
This article reports results of a statewide survey to assess the knowledge of child abuse and neglect, reporting beliefs, and practices of Extension educators. The study identified populations defined as high risk for child maltreatment with whom educators work. Extension educators are in a critical position to identify and report situations where maltreatment may have occurred. However, survey respondents were not confident they could recognize indicators of maltreatment, and they exhibited confusion about reporting responsibilities and procedures. Recommendations are made for annual child maltreatment education, educational resources, and development of child maltreatment reporting policy and procedures within Cooperative Extension.
Take Care of Your Health! An Extension Program to Prevent Diabetes
Although the prevalence of diabetes has risen in the general population, ethnic disparities in health are also increasing. The University of California Cooperative Extension worked with Latino and African American adults to develop diabetes prevention programs that motivate people to be proactive about their health, improve cooking practices and eating patterns, and be more physically active. The program, team-taught by Extension and health care professionals, involved three, 2-hour sessions with hands-on cooking. Participants (n=60) reported significant changes in food-related barriers and behaviors. Extension and health entities can complement each other in diabetes prevention efforts that target high-risk communities.
A Recipe for Creating a Web-Based Virtual Community
The Internet has fundamentally changed the way people communicate, creating a means to reach vast audiences. Generally, on-line communication can be informational, transactional, and/or communicational. The Internet can also facilitate complex technical information sharing. Transmission of ideas and information in an on-line mode is rapid and available regardless of how geographically dispersed people may be. In other words, unlike physical communities, on-line communities do not require spatial proximity for members. In this article, we break down the general steps required to ideate, create, and launch a successful on-line generic Internet-based community.
Using a BMP Auction as a Tool for the Implementation of Conservation Practices
Compensating producers through conservation programs for best management practice (BMP) adoption has had notable success to date; however, there are still many producers that choose not to participate in conservation programs and/or decide not to implement BMPs. How can Extension professionals and conservationists better promote and encourage BMP adoption and conservation program participation? This paper offers insight into methods, results, and lessons learned from an innovative watershed approach piloted in an east-central Kansas watershed with a focus on providing guidance to other Extension professionals interested in conducting a similar type of project.
Wisconsin's Plastic Valley Association: A Cluster Based Development Strategy
Cluster-based development has become an important strategy for states and localities interested in promoting regional development. This strategy involves supporting a geographically close collection of similar or related firms. In this article, we examine some of the successes and problems faced in promoting a plastics cluster in Wisconsin. This case study demonstrates the importance of the role of public sector organizations in initiating and facilitating clusters but the need for the private sector to take ownership in the program. We conclude with some specific recommendations for professionals involved in cluster-based initiatives.
Research in Brief
Catalyzing Transformation: Conditions in Extension Educational Environments that Promote Change
Extension faculty and administrators have suggested Cooperative Extension's goal and niche is transformative education—to bring about deep change in individuals, families, and communities. However even though transformative learning appears to be a desirable approach to Extension education, few scholars and practitioners have examined the conditions in Extension learning environments that promote transformation. In fact, Extension agents and faculty ask what they can do to increase the likelihood their work will result in transformation. The research reported here explored conditions that catalyze transformation in two Extension educational contexts: 1) Cornell Cooperative Extension agent/specialist work teams and 2) Virginia 4-H Camps.
Knowledge Levels Regarding the Concept of Community Food Security Among Florida Extension Agents
This article describes a study that focused on Florida Extension agents' levels of knowledge regarding community food security. We distributed a standardized knowledge test to all Extension agents in Florida. The results revealed that Florida Extension agents have a wide range of knowledge levels regarding this concept. Agents have statistically significant differences in knowledge levels among Extension districts and time spent with their county. In order to better meet clientele needs, we recommend agent training and education on the concept of community food security and localized community assessments to identify stakeholders' community food security issues.
Who Attends the Extension Family Nutrition Program in a Rural State, and What Are the Preferences of Its Diverse Clientele?
The study reported here identified participation rates in FNP, preferred delivery methods, and most convenient days and times for trainings. Data were collected using a survey distributed to Food Stamp participants at Social Services offices. The participation rate in FNP was 13.9%. FNP participants are predominately female, never married, unemployed, and moderately educated. The top preferred delivery methods included recipes or cookbooks and videos. Respondents indicated afternoons, once a month is the best time for training. These results can help FNP educators improve services provided to participants, resulting in increased knowledge and changed behaviors of participants.
Teaching Kids What to Eat Where They Eat: Developing and Pilot Testing the Nutrition Education in Foodservice Toolkit
School foodservice offers an ideal yet underutilized setting for experiential learning around food for children and for engaging parents in modeling healthy eating at home. The goal of the Nutrition Education in School Foodservice project was to take advantage of the potential of school foodservice settings to positively influence children's eating—both at school and at home. A toolkit was designed and pilot-tested for use in elementary schools, particularly those serving low-income populations. Providing foodservice staff with training and materials was instrumental in promoting the use of the foodservice setting for nutrition education.
Perceived Educational Value of Two Teaching Approaches for Improving Knowledge of Youth Leaders and Team Coaches
Surveys were completed by equine leaders/coaches to measure changes in perceived judging competency and to assess if a judging Web site and an on-line resource are effective teaching aids. Results found that participants felt more knowledgeable about performance horse classes and better understood proper format, organization, and presentation of oral reasons. Data indicate that the information presented to participants in the workshop and Web site was informative, significantly increasing participants' understanding of judging procedures, and, in turn, presented an easily accessible way to potentially improve the competency of coaches and the ability of the youth they instruct.
Animal Identification and Beef Quality Assurance Topics Offered in Combined Workshops to Increase Effectiveness and Participation
Nineteen workshops conducted by University of Idaho Extension and industry organizations combined the topics of Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) and the National Animal Identification System (NAIS) to increase workshop attendance and participation. Voluntary certification/re-certification in the Idaho BQA Program and on-site NAIS premises registration were provided at no cost. Of 641 attendees, 86.1% became BQA Certified and 73.9% completed a written evaluation. Using a 5-point Likert-type scale (1 = never, 5 = always), 29.7% indicated that they always followed BQA guidelines prior to the workshop, while 58.6% indicated that they will always follow BQA guidelines due to the workshop.
North Central Piedmont North Carolina Tobacco Producers' Views Towards The Federal Tobacco Quota Buyout
The study reported here sought to determine North Carolina tobacco producers' perceptions of the current and future state of the tobacco industry. Findings indicate that North Carolina tobacco producers were concerned about the future of the tobacco industry. Respondents agreed that a federal tobacco quota buyout was needed to increase the price competitiveness of United States tobacco as well as the United States' share of the global tobacco market. Respondents also found production controls and FDA regulation over the manufacturing and consumer levels of the industry to be beneficial. The changing tobacco industry will need new educational programming from Extension.
Adoption of Environmental Landscape Practices—Characteristics of Extension Clientele
Extension programs emphasizing environmental landscape practices have emerged across the nation. A questionnaire, mailed to former attendees of environmental landscape management workshops, gathered information on demographics and landscape behaviour related to six landscape practices. The demographic profile of the typical participant in the study reported here is described, and the relationships that emerged between demographic variables and adoption of landscape practices are discussed. Implications for Extension programming are suggested.