August 2012 // Volume 50 // Number 4
Anonymity for Review
"Anonymity for Review" warns authors to be careful when they use "[state]" in their submissions to ensure anonymity and reminds them of instructions to remove hidden personal information from their files. "A Call for Papers from NACTA" shares a call for papers on "Globalization: Implications for teaching and learning in post-secondary agricultural education." "August JOE" points to five of 36 excellent articles in another great issue.
Extension Projects in Community Planning Classrooms
Using client-based Extension projects in university community planning studio courses is an expedient solution that matches needs with resources. However, the decision to partner should be based primarily on students achieving expected learning outcomes. Cautious Extension agents will rarely introduce students to wicked problems or expose students to the mechanics of project initiation, and yet this is exactly what community planning studios should be doing. This article offers recommendations to help determine the selection and structuring of Extension projects for use in the classroom.
Participate in the JOE Discussion Forum on “Extension Projects in Community Planning Classrooms”
Ideas at Work
Leveraging University Diversity to Reach Potential Immigrant Farmers
As new residents of the U.S., immigrants may have inadequate access to organizations that provide free technical support. These underrepresented populations may rely more on personal relationships for information. An Extension meeting was developed and implemented between two Extension specialists and nine immigrant community members interested in U.S. agriculture. The bridge between these two diverse groups was an international graduate student who had developed a relationship with the participants and had a similar cultural background. Following the meeting and Extension presentation, guidelines were identified that may prove useful to others wishing to implement this concept.
Expanding the Reach of Extension to Underserved Audiences Through Study Circles in Rural Idaho
Extension educators expanded the reach of their programming to underserved audiences through the implementation of Study Circles in rural Southern Idaho. Study Circles gave educators entry into communities by establishing relationships necessary for long-term change. Study Circle discussions in rural Southern Idaho led to stronger relationships among community members, religious organizations, civic groups, elected officials, youth, ethnic groups, and those of different socio-economic status. The Study Circle tool could be implemented in many venues, including leader's councils, advisory groups, stakeholder meetings, youth/adult partnerships, city and county government, and program development.
A Student and Teacher Watershed and Wetland Education Program: Extension to Promote Community Social-Ecological Resilience
A middle school student and teacher watershed education project supports a large wetland restoration effort. It provides community-based, science education for urban, low-income, multicultural 6th-9th grade students and their teachers. This is a bottom-up approach to extending information to the local community about the restoration. The project includes teacher workshops, teacher and student restoration/water quality fieldwork with expert guidance, scientist classroom visits, an essay contest, and research cruise. The project is an example of using place-based, participatory learning toward achieving social-ecological resilience. It is a student education project with broader, community-wide Extension goals.
Using Rain Gardens to Promote Service Learning and Climate Science Education with Urban Youth
The Jersey Roots, Global Reach 4-H Climate Science Program conducted in Camden, New Jersey introduces middle school students to the evidence, impacts, and potential solutions to climate change. For their service learning project, students installed two rain gardens at the school. Rain gardens are shallow landscaped depressions in the soil that can be installed at homes, parks, and schools and provide environmental benefits by filtrating stormwater runoff. Created using native plants, rain gardens are aesthetically pleasing and require minimal maintenance.
Louisiana 4-H Seeds of Service School Gardens: A Descriptive View
Louisiana 4-H Seeds of Service School Gardens, a K-12 Learn and Serve Grant program, provides a descriptive view of how school gardens along with classroom instruction link curriculum to outdoor classrooms. The purpose of the process evaluation was to describe curriculum implementation fidelity, reach of the gardening program to participants, use of garden product, program materials, and teacher characteristics, mediating intervention impact on study outcomes. Eighty-seven percent of classrooms planted vegetable gardens, with a focus on science and math, using the Junior Master Gardener™ curriculum. It was found that school gardens can be effective in supporting classroom curriculum.
The Minnesota Maple Series: Community-Generated Knowledge Delivered Through an Extension Website
Extension continuously seeks novel and effective approaches to outreach and education. The recent retirement of a longtime content specialist catalyzed members of University of Minnesota Extension's Forestry team to reflect on our instructional capacity (internal and external) and educational design in the realm of maple syrup production. We responded by developing an educational maple blog series that incorporated faculty and community expertise through a participatory, peer-to-peer approach. The blog series expanded and strengthened the state's maple knowledge network, met contributors' and users' content needs and expectations, influenced maple practices, and retained program flexibility for adaptation.
Tools of the Trade
The Handbook of Scholarly Writing and Publishing: A Review
The Handbook of Scholarly Writing and Publishing provides useful support to writers of scholarly manuscripts for publication, including information on contents of manuscripts, writing skills, and the scholarship process. As many Extension professionals are called on to publish, the book is highly recommended for those who need advice in getting started with the publishing process, especially for peer-reviewed journals.
Demographic Data for Effective Programming: An Update on Sources and Successful Practice
This article details recent changes in demographic data released by the US Census Bureau and the implications for use among Extension educators. We discuss updates to demographic data products and the keys for their successful use. Focus is on the American Community Survey (ACS). Users must adopt new practices to effectively use the ACS, which now provides the most current and reliable demographic data for communities in the United States.
Content Appraisal as a Method for Measuring the Effectiveness & Usability of Online Content
Content appraisal is a simple, qualitative system to identify modifications to make website material more useful to clientele. This system provides a comprehensive evaluation of content, focuses on content strategy, identifies weaknesses, and provides recommendations for improvement. The criteria examined included knowledge level, interrelatedness, relevance, usability, actionability, and differentiation. HorseQuest, a pioneer Community of Practice (CoP) for eXtension, was the first to apply a content appraisal process in an attempt to document the efficacy and impact of their web content. This appraisal system can be effectively used by other groups to help improve a website's usefulness to clientele.
Increasing Your Productivity with Web-Based Surveys
Web-based survey tools such as Survey Monkey can be used in many ways to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of Extension professionals. This article describes how Survey Monkey has been used at the state and county levels to collect community and internal staff information for the purposes of program planning, administration, evaluation and planning effective training.
Increasing Risk Awareness: The Coastal Community Resilience Index
As the number of people moving to the Gulf Coast increases, so does the risk of exposure to floods, hurricanes, and other storm-related events. In an effort to assist communities in preparing for future storm events, the Coastal Community Resilience Index was created. The end result is for communities to take actions to address the weaknesses they identify utilizing the CRI and for community decision-makers to be more informed on their community's level of risk, ultimately increasing their capability of responding to disasters.
Nonpoint Source Pollution Reduction in Coastal Communities: An Extension Service Guide to Stormwater Management Practices
Managing nonpoint source (NPS) pollution is a crucial aspect of maintaining coastal water quality and ensuring viable estuarine habitats. This article provides a primer on promoting sustainable stormwater management techniques in local government, in the interest of reducing the impact of nonpoint source pollution in coastal areas.
Understanding Native American Women's Views of Physical Activity to Inform Family-Based Program Development
A telephone interview was administered to explore perceptions of physical activity among Native American women with children residing in the household. Outdoor play, outdoor recreation, and sports were the most preferred physical activities. The findings are intended to provide Extension educators with insight that they can use when developing programs and materials aimed at increasing physical activity among diverse audiences, particularly Native American audiences.
Curriculum Helps Families Discuss and Plan for Future of Their Woodland or Farm
Succession planning is an important step for families owning woodlands and farms that wish to maintain the character of the land and continue the families' connection to it. We introduce Ties to the Land, an educational curriculum that helps families communicate more effectively about the fate of their land and how to transition to future managers.
Healthy Homes Tools
Extension is focusing on healthy homes programming. Extension educators are not qualified to diagnose consumers' medical problems as they relate to housing. We cannot give medical advice. Instead, we can help educate consumers about home conditions that may affect their well-being. Extension educators need appropriate healthy homes tools to facilitate this process. Two important tools include the Help Yourself to a Healthy Home booklet and the Quick environmental exposure and sensitivity inventory (QEESI©).
Evaluating Your Environmental Education Programs: A Workbook for Practitioners—A Book Review
This article reviews a practical, effective, and easy-to-use guide that can help you to evaluate education programs. The guide is particularly useful for those with little or no evaluation experience. Evaluating Your Environmental Education Programs: A Workbook for Practitioners guides you, step-by-step, through an evaluation process. The workbook provides a series of key concepts, examples, and exercises that allow you to build the necessary knowledge and skills to complete a program evaluation. The reviewer used the process and procedures form the workbook to assess an introductory Geographic Information System (GIS) training program.
Stories and Storytelling in Extension Work
Deep budget cuts, increased accountability, and the growth of anti-government and anti-intellectual sentiments place Extension systems in a defensive position. In response, we're engaging in organizational change exercises, restructuring, regionalizing, rewriting mission statements, and developing strategic plans. We're spending considerable time counting and measuring our efforts to defend the public impacts and value of our work. In this article we argue that we also need to become better storytellers by learning how to craft and strategically communicate stories that capture important truths about the public value, meaning, and significance of our work.
Taxonomy for Assessing Evaluation Competencies in Extension
Evaluation of public service programming is becoming increasingly important with current funding realities. The taxonomy of evaluation competencies compiled by Ghere et al. (2006) provided the starting place for Taxonomy for Assessing Evaluation Competencies in Extension. The Michigan State University Extension case study described here presents a field-tested and reliable survey to measure evaluation competencies of Extension professionals in three domains (situational analysis, systematic inquiry, and project management) as well as indicates opportunities for professional development training themes to enhance the evaluation competencies of Extension academic professionals.
Building Regional Networking Capacity Through Leadership Development: The Case of Leadership Northwest Missouri
Through a case study analysis of a regional leadership development program, this article describes the impact on individual and group leadership skills and how the skills are employed to benefit individual communities and the region as a whole. Data were obtained through surveys. Through cooperation and collaboration between and among leadership program graduates, leadership alumni, and other regional leaders, graduates grew personally and professionally, and built new networks that help them advance their communities and the region. The most significant implication for Extension from this study is the need to expand partnerships in order to better utilize resources.
Advancing Positive Youth Development: Perspectives of Youth as Researchers and Evaluators
This article describes the journey taken by a group of adolescents into the field and practice of youth-led research. The article gives voice to the growing number of youth participating in research and evaluation. The authors give authentic youth accounts of: (1) the process of becoming researchers and evaluators, (2) the benefits and challenges encountered as researchers and evaluators, (3) the community-based research they conducted, (4) the state and national recognition received as researchers and evaluators, (5) implications for practice and the future of youth-led research, and (6) steps necessary to move the field and study of youth-led research forward.
Fun with Foodella: A Pilot Study for Determining the Efficacy of a 2nd Grade Nutrition and Physical Activity Curriculum
Fun with Foodella is a nutrition and physical activity workbook designed for elementary-aged youth. The objective was to determine if the Fun with Foodella program increased participant preference for fruit, vegetables, low-fat dairy products, and physical activity. Four intervention (53 students) and four control (68 students) schools participated. Significant results within the intervention group included a positive preference change for cucumbers, celery, pineapple, flavored milk, cheese, yogurt, and physical activity. This pilot Foodella program, coordinated by Extension professionals, demonstrates that promoting nutrition education, taste testing and physical activity in second graders results in positive change.
Developing and Evaluating the Impact of an Extension-Based Train-the-Trainer Model for Effectively Disseminating Food Safety Education to Middle School Students
Adolescents are an understudied, but meaningful, population when it comes to food safety education. With the proliferation of pathogenic microbes and changes in eating habits of Americans, today's youth are more at risk of contracting a foodborne illness than previous generations. Hands On: Real World Lessons for Middle School Classrooms provides effective food safety education for adolescents. However, rapid expansion of the program created the need for a train-the-trainer model of professional development. The study reported here evaluated the efficacy of a train-the-trainer model. Results indicate that the model can effectively train classroom teachers to implement the Hands On program.
Delivering Programs at Worksites: Lessons Learned by Extension Educators
Worksite education has expanded to include informal education about self-help/family topics. Extension educators need information about how to access employee audiences and deliver programs in work settings. In a survey of NC Cooperative Extension Family and Consumer Sciences agents, 54 shared experiences and strategies for gaining the interest of employers, preparing for contingencies, and handling sensitive topics. Recommendations include identifying a key contact, previewing curricula with decision-makers, planning for variable audience size, and creating a climate of confidentiality and support. Taken collectively, these recommendations will assist Extension educators develop advance plans for worksite programming.
A Review and Critique of 16 Major Parent Education Programs
There are many parent education programs available for Extension professionals. How does a busy Extension professional decide which is best for his/her clients? This article provides a practical review and critique of 16 major parenting educational programs using three review criteria—program readiness, strength of scientific base, and empirical evidence of program effectiveness. Best programs included STAR Parenting, Strengthening Families Program for Parents and Youth 10-14, Systematic Training for Effective Parenting, and Triple P-Positive Parenting Program.
Landowners' Knowledge, Attitudes, and Aspirations Towards Woody Biomass Markets in North Carolina
Non-industrial private forest (NIPF) landowners are often not included in discussions of emerging woody biomass markets for energy, yet they will likely be principal suppliers of the resource. Surveys administered to 475 forest landowners before and after an Extension Forestry education program in 10 counties across North Carolina indicated that landowners have low knowledge levels of woody biomass. However, as a result of participating in the training, landowners increased knowledge, had more positive attitudes, and developed aspirations to harvest woody biomass on their land. Extension professionals can use our training model to develop similar woody biomass educational programs.
The Extension Service and Rural/Frontier Disaster Planning, Response, and Recovery
The purpose of the study reported here was to (a) determine the role of Extension in disaster response, (b) identify the information needs, and (c) disseminate education and training modules through the EDEN. Extension staff should know their county's emergency plan and the role identified for Extension. Extension staff should attend local emergency management meetings, be knowledgeable of local and state resources, and redirect citizen calls to agencies. Extension has a primary responsibility for providing the public with educational materials congruent with Extension's program areas. Topics were identified for disaster-related educational materials and new materials were developed.
Research in Brief
Barriers and Effective Educational Strategies to Develop Extension Agents' Professional Competencies
The study reported here determined the barriers and effective educational strategies to develop Extension agents' professional competencies. This was a descriptive survey research conducted with a random sample of Extension agents. Increased workload and lack of time and funding were identified as the most constraining barriers of Extension agents acquiring competencies. Extension agents identified the face-to-face small group training workshop as the most effective educational delivery method for acquiring desired Extension competencies. This implies the need for using small group face-to-face training programs close to the work place as a viable alternative for achieving desired results.
Using Common Evaluation Instruments Across Multi-State Community Programs: A Pilot Study
In times of diminishing resources to support community programs, it is critical that Extension make every effort to show impact as collectively as possible for the variety of programs being delivered in individual counties and communities. The pilot study reported here (funded by CYFAR, NIFA, USDA award #2008-41520-04810), focused on outcomes in youth citizenship programs in four states. Key factors to consider in the selection of common instruments include length, scope, and validation of instruments. The importance of dosage, specifically intensity and duration, are highlighted in relation to program outcomes.
From Translation to Cultural Responsiveness: A Garden Program's Evolution in Understanding Educators' Perceptions of Spanish-Language Resources
Addressing needs of the increasing Latino population in the United States necessitates adequate support and resources for Extension educators. Even if a program has identified the need for resources and programming, how does it determine the specifics of that need and better understand the perceptions of educators engaged in programming? What is the starting point? Cornell Garden-Based Learning delved into an initial exploration of these questions using a dual approach: assessing perceived needs of educators using an online survey and personal interviews. Here we offer our findings, a snapshot of the varied and complex perceptions held by NYS educators.
The Role of Extension Nutrition Education in Student Achievement of Nutrition Standards in Grades K - 3: A Descriptive Evaluation of a School-Based Program
This article reports the results of a descriptive evaluation of the impact of an in-school Extension nutrition education program in a small, very rural county. The evaluation focused on understanding the nature of the role the Extension educator plays in delivering nutrition education, the impact of the program on student learning and achievement of nutritional benchmarks, and the value of the collaboration between the schools and Extension. Results indicate that the Extension nutrition program is a valuable resource for schools in the county and that the program supports student achievement of nutrition education standards.
Development of a Team-Based On-Farm Learning Program While Challenging Soybean Growers to Increase Yield
Illinois soybean growers have not been satisfied with recent lagging yield trends. A yield "challenge" was created to blend the motivation and creativity of a yield contest with the learning power of teamwork and on-farm demonstration. In the initial year (2010), 123 on-farm side-by-side demonstration plots were located throughout the state; 81% of those locations showed increased soybean yields through additional management, and 55% of the experimental challenge plots were profitable. Participant surveys indicated that 92% learned a new production practice and that 69% would adopt experimental practices on more production acres the following year.
Assessment of Iowa Soybean Growers for Insect Pest Management Practices
In 2009, Iowa soybean growers were surveyed about current insect pest management practices. The purpose was to better understand how often growers were scouting and what they perceived as the primary pests in Iowa soybean. Soybean aphid is the primary pest throughout the state. There was a 1423% increase of insecticides applied to soybean since 2000. Respondents indicated they are regularly scouting for soybean insects to make treatment decisions. Iowa growers are getting pest management information via Extension and industry.
Extension's Guide to Sexed Semen: A Dairy Case Study
The dairy industry is constantly changing as new technologies requiring conscious management decisions are introduced. This case study analyzes the profitability of using sexed semen to attain a specific calf crop based on three scenarios. Market, management, and technology variables simulate changing conditions that affect the profitability of using sexed semen. The biggest impacts a producer can have on profitability using sexed semen is to manage their calf crop based on market prices and to employ strong management practices to achieve the best conception rates possible. With these guidelines, Extension can help managers achieve the best results.
Emergency Food Programs: Untapped Opportunities for Extension?
This article reports results from a questionnaire that assessed the frequency and type of nutrition questions asked at emergency food programs to determine if Extension professionals need to increase direct outreach efforts. Emergency food program workers (n=460) were recruited via mail to complete a self-administered survey. More than one-third (38.0%) of emergency food programs reported receiving nutrition questions from clients. The most common questions were related to what foods are best for medical conditions and how to cook foods provided. Untapped training opportunities by Extension professionals for emergency food program workers may exist as it relates to nutrition and health.
Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Programs and Taxpayer Actions to Improve Personal Finances
The income tax-filing process creates teachable moments for learning about taxes and other financial matters. Educators and volunteers from Penn State Cooperative Extension helped taxpayers file 2008 returns under Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA). Nearly 600 filers (588) completed and simultaneously received educational information about managing personal finances. This article describes the actions taxpayers took to improve their financial stability. Nearly half (48.8%) of the filers believed their understanding of taxes had increased a lot since having their taxes prepared by Penn State Cooperative Extension. Implications for Extension educators and program benefits for taxpayers and volunteers are suggested.