August 2011 // Volume 49 // Number 4
JOE on Track
"JOE on Track" announces some exciting news about the system for assigning reviewers and tracking reviews that JOE just started using. "August JOE" highlights just some of the 31 articles in another jam-packed issue.
Extension's Role in Urban Education: Why Aren't We Involved?
With education failing nationwide and economic restraints affecting both rural and urban educational institutions, Extension should be taking a more aggressive stance instead of operating in what has now become the way of Extension and "collecting numbers." Why isn't Extension more visible in the urban populations that reside in our own backyards? This article is a cry out for a clear understanding of where Extension is in today's world and how we must change to survive and flourish amidst changing cultures.
Participate in the JOE Discussion Forum on “Extension's Role in Urban Education: Why Aren't We Involved?”
Ideas at Work
Bringing Carnaval Drum and Dance Traditions into 4-H Programming for Latino Youth
4-H Bloco Drum and Dance is an afterschool program that teaches adolescents drumming, dancing, and theater arts in the rich traditions of Brazilian Carnaval. Teens learn to express themselves in a variety of modalities and perform at community events. The program was developed by a community coalition that included 4-H, other youth programs, and the school district. Most program participants are Latino, high-risk youth. Program evaluation revealed that 4-H Bloco has positive impacts with regard to cultural appreciation, gang-related attitudes and awareness, health awareness, exercise, and nutrition. Bloco demonstrates the value of culturally relevant arts education in Extension youth programming.
Making Youth Gardens Grow with Captured Rainwater . . . and Video
In the arid Southwest, water is a limiting resource. Rainwater harvesting is garnering favor, but many are unaware of the myriad uses for that water. Access to fresh, healthy food is also limited in many rural counties because the arid climate makes farming conditions difficult. Teaching youth gardening with rainwater increases the accessibility of local food and the importance of capturing water that might go unused. A series of videos made in youth and adult partnerships provides a tutorial for project duplication worldwide.
Getting to Know the Economy in Your Community: Automated Social Accounting
In response to the demand for economic base assessments in different counties and small regions, an automated social accounting matrix (ASAM) was developed through a fruitful collaboration between graduate students and Extension faculty. ASAM uses direct or customized secondary information from IMPLAN to estimate the economic contributions of different sectors and their economic multipliers. Tabular and graphic results can be rapidly customized for discussions in communities of practice. ASAM is a tool that can foster teachable moments.
Development and Assessment of an Emergency Responder Horse Handling Training Program in Virginia
With approximately 9.2 million horses in the United States, there should be adequate training for emergency personnel who may respond to an event involving horses. A training program combining theoretical and practical instruction was developed to familiarize emergency responders with horse behavior, first-aid, and safe handling techniques. Surveys evaluated participant experience and comfort level, as well as perceived value and effectiveness of the program. Over 94% reported an increased confidence handling horses and over 78% learned "a lot" about topics covered. Single day training programs appear to be effective in improving knowledge and confidence in horse handling in emergency responders.
Tools of the Trade
Are You Ready to Be an Administrator? A Self-Assessment to Help You Manage Expectations When Assuming a New Role
As a county Extension educator is successful and matures, it is natural for him or her to seek advancement to an administrative position. However, such a role likely has more complex duties related to managing people than the faculty member may have experienced or been trained to address in his or her program assignment. This article outlines some of the differences in duties and perspective that may be encountered when changing from a program-driven faculty member position to one with administrative leadership duties in the form of a self-assessment that may help determine whether you're ready to serve in an administrative role.
Action Learning—An Experiential Tool for Solving Organizational Issues
Action Learning can be effectively used in both large and small businesses and organizations by employees, stakeholders, or volunteers through this "learning by doing" approach to evaluate an issue or issues of importance to the organization. First developed in the 1940s, Action Learning has increasingly been used as a method to explore questions that often go unanswered in day-to-day organizational life through the use of reflective listening and insightful questioning.
Making Your Online Video Viral
Online video venues, such as YouTube, make it possible to upload a video and make it available globally. The key to a successful video is the number of "views" it receives from the broad community. This article identifies a number of tips for the user to follow to help make an online video "viral," or widely viewed.
Quick and Easy: Use Screen Capture Software to Train and Communicate
Screen capture (screen cast) software can be used to develop short videos for training purposes. Developing videos is quick and easy. This article describes how these videos are used as tools to reinforce face-to-face and interactive TV curriculum training in a nutrition education program. Advantages of developing these videos are shared. Suggestions for how these videos can be used in other ways are offered.
Use Automated Phone Calls to Relay Extension Educational Messages
West Virginia University (WVU) Extension agents expanded a community-based program for older adults by adding an automated phone call component. Senior participants who attended one or more Taking Charge of Your Health and Safety programs elected to receive follow-up health tips by phone. The automated calls were an efficient, cost-effective, and popular way to relay research-based health information. Automated calls may be useful with a variety of programs across many disciplines.
ReliaBalance™: A Financial Management Technique Designed to Encourage More Informed Daily Financial Decisions
Maintaining relevance is a priority for Extension. Financial management is a relevant issue for many people. Because many financial management programs are designed by institutions that benefit financially from the programs, unbiased information can be difficult to find. Extension is uniquely positioned to provide unbiased financial management education. ReliaBalance™ provides solutions to the budgeting and credit card management challenges of daily financial management. Because daily financial management is the foundation for other financial management decisions, the system provides Extension educators a vehicle for implementing a financial management program.
Simple Retirement Plan Options for Small Agricultural and Forestry Operations
Many family farm and forests are small operations with just a few employees. Retaining these employees can be difficult, and a retirement package can make a big difference in employee job satisfaction. Extension professionals ought to be aware of several simple individual retirement account options available that minimize administrative costs and paperwork. The advantages of tax deferral in retirement planning are explained. The simplified employee pension (SEP) individual retirement arrangement (IRA) and the SIMPLE IRA are described. Examples are provided of typical savings from these programs and sources for additional information are identified.
Assisting with Ecological Land Planning: Introducing the Conservation Subdivision Ecological Design and Site Assessment Toolkit
Geospatial tools can be helpful in the practice of land use and environmental planning. This article introduces an easy-to-use and cost-free geospatial toolkit that was created to help with the ecological design and evaluation of (open space) conservation subdivision proposals. The article describes the ecological design and site assessment functions and discusses how Extension educators might use it to help planning-related professionals conduct ecological planning in their communities.
Three Simple Hands-On Soil Exercises Extension Professionals Can Incorporate into Natural Sciences Curriculum
The importance of healthy soil and of conveying the importance of soils starts by conveying a few basic concepts of soil science cannot be overstated. This article provides three hands-on exercises Extension professionals can add to natural resources or Master Gardener education curricula. These natural sciences exercises are easy to prepare for the instructor and accurately reflect behavior of soil in situ. These exercises are designed for classroom use, but they can be used concurrently with field training. These exercises are appropriate for both youth and adult audiences.
Review of Healthy, Happy Families
The number of obese children has nearly tripled in the past 30 years. Research has identified a clear connection between parental income, education, ethnicity, and the risk for obesity. Recent research demonstrates that parenting style may also impact the ability to establish healthy eating environments. This article reviews a program, currently being piloted, that integrates parenting and nutrition—Healthy, Happy Families.
Best Management Practices for a Successful Transition into an Administrative Role
Many successful county Extension educators aspire to "higher" positions in administration, such as a county director, regional director, etc. However, such administrative roles likely have more complex duties related to managing people and teams than faculty have experienced in their program assignment. This article provides essential management concepts and techniques to help faculty gain perspective and build a foundation for success in transitioning to an administrative assignment. Best management practices are shared that can significantly improve administrators' leadership skills and the likelihood of success in managing faculty and staff to maintain a productive, positive, and supportive office environment.
Lessons from Outstanding County Agents
This article examines outstanding agents, based on a qualitative survey of 10 successful agents from Colorado, Idaho, Wyoming, and Oregon. Interviewees completed a four-question survey about their perceptions about why they are successful, including their own behavior, their clientele, and the resources available to them from the county and state. Extension leadership can make agents more successful if they are mentored by successful agents, are provided resources, including research, and given flexibility. Agents can help their cause if they have a strong work ethic, are knowledgeable, build strong relationships in their territory, and deliver information in a timely manner.
Plant Scientists and the Productivity Effects of Extension Appointments
This article analyzes the primary scholarship activities of agricultural college plant science faculty with and without Extension appointments using survey data from all 1862 land-grant institutions. The evidence suggests that differences between Extension professors and others without Extension appointments are small for minor Extension appointments, but show significant and increasing tradeoffs between Extension and research outputs above a 35-50% Extension appointment. The evidence is suggestive of the potential for gains from exploiting complementarities between Extension and research rather than from pursuing high levels of specialization. The work concludes with implications for the role of state specialists in Extension.
Findings of 4-H Impact Studies in Six Western States
Between 2000 and 2007, six western states conducted individual impact studies using public school youth in grades five, seven, and nine. Common areas of study included: risk behaviors, leadership positions held, helping others, close relationships with adults, self-identity, character, self-confidence, and empowerment. The purpose of the study was to illustrate the impact that participating in 4-H had on youth in six western states. Youth who were self-reported members of 4-H were compared to youth who were not members. The data show that participation in the 4-H Youth Development Program made a positive difference in the lives of those surveyed.
Improving Measurement of the EFNEP Outcomes Using Factor Analysis of the Behavior Checklist
This article advances the literature on assessment of EFNEP's effectiveness. Factor analysis of Behavior Checklist items were performed to arrive at a parsimonious set of constructs used to assess the effects of program attributes on participants' behavior change. Based on the data from Michigan EFNEP, the use of constructs demonstrated a robust method of assessing program effectiveness. The greatest behavior changes were with participants taught by program assistants with fewer than 2, 2-5, or more than 15 years of experience. Hispanic participants reported higher levels of behavior changes, as did participants who received EFNEP curriculum in a one-on-one setting.
Predicting Intent to Install a Rain Garden to Protect a Local Lake: An Application of the Theory of Planned Behavior
Many lakes are degraded by urban stormwater runoff. One way to reduce these impacts is installing rain gardens that absorb water running off impervious surfaces. The study reported here explored how the Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB) can be used to inform storm water management outreach campaigns. Regression analyses of survey data were used to inform how Extension natural resource educators can more effectively encourage people to install rain gardens. Attitudes toward rain gardens and subjective norms were positively associated with behavioral intent. Perceived behavioral control was not significantly associated with behavioral intent. Implications for Extension educators are discussed.
A User Evaluation of a Decision-Support System: The Community Assessment Model for Odor Dispersion (CAM)
This article introduces to the agricultural Extension community a decision-support system—the Community Assessment Model for Odor Dispersion (CAM)—that is helping Iowa swine producers minimize potential odor conflict. Additionally, we share our rationale and approach to evaluating both CAM and its outreach approach. CAM accounts for local conditions and helps producers assess odor risk from new facilities. Based on a user survey, 75% of producers rated CAM as "useful" to "very useful" in decision-making. Results suggest that CAM has passed the primary test of applied science as measured by usefulness to producers in making better decisions.
Impact of Crop Management Diagnostic Clinics on Advisors' Recommendations and Producer Practices
Adoption resulting from University of Nebraska-Lincoln Crop Management Diagnostic Clinic (CMDC) field days was evaluated using an on-line survey. Respondents reported significant gains in skills because of CMDC, but the gains were similar across skill areas. Adoption was affected by compatibility with the cropping system, relative advantage, complexity, and trialability of practices. Diagnostic skill was stronger for more observable and frequently occurring problems. Hands-on exercises and talking to agricultural professionals were more effective learning methods compared with radio or television messages. Satisfaction with the current CMDC format was high, but bringing in more outside resource people was suggested.
Perceptions of Missouri 4-H Youth Development Personnel Regarding Interorganizational Cooperative Behavior
Perceptions of 4-H youth development personnel regarding interorganizational cooperation were studied between the perceived and desired levels of cooperative activities between 4-H youth development personnel and secondary agriculture teachers. Results indicated that 4-H youth development personnel wanted higher levels of coordinated efforts between the organizations and to utilize the resources provided by secondary agriculture teachers. Despite the desire of 4-H youth development personnel to participate in interorganizational cooperation, their perceived level of cooperation was lower than that of their desired level.
Financial Management and Relationship Skills Education: Gauging Consumer Interest and Delivery Preferences
The study reported here explored level of interest and preferred delivery method of Extension programming related to financial management and relationship skills education. These two subjects comprise areas of Extension that often receive less recognition but appear as pertinent issues in the lives of many individuals. Using a diverse sample of 512 residents from the state of Georgia, findings from the study indicate high levels of interest for receiving information in both program areas. Additionally, findings highlight how delivery method preferences depend on both the particular audience and particular content areas.
Research in Brief
Development and Evaluation of an On-Line Educational Module for Volunteer Leaders on Bio-Security in Washington State 4-H Livestock Projects
A module on disease prevention was created for 4-H volunteer leaders who work with livestock projects in Washington to better prepare them to teach youth about bio-security and its importance in 4-H livestock projects. Evaluation of the module and usage statistics since the module's debut were collected and evaluated. The module increases awareness of disease prevention and provides practical approaches to implementation of bio-security, but is underused by the target audience, possibly due to leaders' lack of computer access, time, or awareness of the module. Promotion of the module and incentives must be explored to increase module usage.
Relationships Between 4-H Volunteer Leader Competencies and Skills Youth Learn in 4-H Programs
This article examined the relationships between 4-H volunteer leader competencies and skills youth learn in 4-H. Using a descriptive-correlational research, the study reported found significant relationships between leadership competencies and skills youth learn in 4-H. Regression analysis revealed that two variables—skills and belonging—explained 28.1% of the variance in youth life skills, suggesting that when volunteer leaders make kids feel welcome and important to the 4-H program and demonstrate importance of life skills, then youth learn life skills relative to communications, decision making, goal setting, and relationship building.
An Evaluation of Partners in Parenting: A Parent Education Curriculum Implemented by County Extension Agents in Colorado
The study reported here evaluated the efficacy of Partners in Parenting (PIP), which, in collaboration with Colorado State University Extension, was implemented in seven counties across Colorado. A total of 54 parents took part in the study. A pretest/posttest design was used to assess short-term changes in parenting practices, parental attitudes, and parental stress following intervention. After PIP, parents demonstrated improvement in basic elements of parent-child relationships and parenting attitudes and skills. These promising results warrant further investigation into the benefits of parent education programs implemented by Extension agencies in the communities they serve.
Extension Educators' Perceptions of the Local Food System
Extension educators in three Northeastern states were surveyed about their perspectives on 21 LFS topics. Educators identified all 21 topics to be important. Principal factor analysis was carried out to identify factors that underlie the importance of these issues. Five factors—food access, food system viability, localization of food systems, food safety and land use—accounted for 60.61% of the total variance. Educators' areas of primary program responsibility, gender, and previous participation in LFS activities revealed significant differences across the importance placed on the factors, suggesting that individual perspectives and professional responsibilities influence an educator's commitment to LFS engagement.
Information Needs of Agricultural Consultants in Ohio
The research reported here aimed to better further a better understanding of Ohio agricultural consultants' information needs and use. Our sample represented private consultants from organizations of different sizes and types servicing various segments of the agricultural sector. Findings of an online survey show that a high demand exists for information related to crops and environment/conservation subject-matter areas. Agribusiness/economics information also ranked high in importance. Respondents were familiar with the services Ohio State University Extension provided and reported to frequently use Extension information. Most popular were print publications and electronic newsletters followed by visits to Extension websites.
Detergent Considerations for Consumers: Laundering in Hard Water—How Much Extra Detergent Is Required?
Laundering is a complex process, and detergents have changed considerably over the last 20 years. The research reported will be of benefit to both Extension educators and teachers in advising people with whom they work on choices between different types of laundry detergents when it comes to laundering. Liquid detergents washed equally well in both soft and hard water. Powdered detergents were better than liquids in soft water. Water hardness affected powdered detergents, and, depending on the detergent type, 10-15% to > 30% extra detergent was needed to obtain a result similar to that of soft water.