October 2013 // Volume 51 // Number 5
From JOE Reviewers
In "From JOE Reviewers" I share a salutary reminder for authors and a helpful tip for teachers from two excellent JOE reviewers. In "October JOE" I call attention to just seven of the 36 good articles in the issue, including two Commentaries discussing eXtension.
A View of Digital Scholarship in Extension
Methods for Extension personnel to engage clientele are developing rapidly. Social media and online content are used by eXtension members to generate information and deliver it quickly. These methods are found useful by information consumers; however, many universities fail to adequately address them in the promotion and tenure process. Engaged eXtension members understand the importance of using digital methods, yet career value of the effort is unclear. This ambiguity has caused participation issues within eXtension Communities of Practice. A new examination of how Extension content is valued by the consumer and by colleagues within the academic arena is warranted.
Participate in the JOE Discussion Forum on “A View of Digital Scholarship in Extension”
A Return to the Basics: The Solution for eXtension
Engagement must be the overarching goal of the land-grant system. eXtension continues to have phenomenal potential to allow new and expanded audiences access to Extension expertise and solutions, and be a driver of expanding engagement in the land-grant system, but stakeholders are asking difficult questions. If successful, eXtension could transform and expand the land-grant engagement mission. But eXtension's success is not assured. This Commentary, endorsed by a dozen Extension leaders nationwide, provides specific suggestions for how eXtension can survive and lead that transformation.
Participate in the JOE Discussion Forum on “A Return to the Basics: The Solution for eXtension”
Ideas at Work
Coaching: A Tool for Extension Professionals
Coaching as an approach to improving people's lives is based on a positive relationship and the philosophy that the learner is responsible for their own change. In a coach approach, the educator serves as a coach; a person to help the client succeed by "challenging and supporting a person or a team to develop ways of thinking, ways of being and ways of learning" (Berg & Karlsen, 2007). This article suggests the need for extension education to embrace the philosophy and practice of coaching as an approach to meeting the educational needs of the clients served.
Using a Hybrid Approach for a Leadership Cohort Program
Because information technology continues to change rapidly, Extension is challenged with learning and using technology appropriately. We assert Extension cannot shy away from the challenges but must embrace technology because audiences and external forces demand it. A hybrid, or blended, format of a leadership cohort program was offered to public health employees in Minnesota. The rationale was to address: shrinking budgets, learners' desire for reduced time away from work, and both learners' and educators' desire for reduced travel time. Choosing this novel approach increased Extension's outreach. Here I summarize the benefits of a hybrid leadership program offering in Minnesota.
The Family-Environment Connection: Filling a Nationwide Program Gap
Since its inception, Extension has focused on helping individuals, families, and communities change economic, environmental, and social conditions. Over the organization's history, environmental condition change programming has been mostly the purview of natural resource educators and less often conducted by family and consumer science professionals. There is no evidence of a comprehensive approach to environmental education in Extension linked to family development. In addition, no evidence was found of any Extension educators conducting environmental education with the family unit as the audience. The Family-Environment Connection initiative created by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach aims to fill this gap.
From Garden to Recipient: A Direct Approach to Nutrition Education
Maine Harvest for Hunger (MHH) involves Master Gardeners in food security through participation in gleaning and gardening projects that benefit food pantries. A statewide survey (Murphy, 2011a) indicates many food pantries face increased demand but are unable to distribute all of the donated produce. The MHH program in Oxford County is designed to provide vegetables and nutrition education directly to people with limited access to fresh produce. Participant survey results show this method is successful. Over 90% of respondents indicated their diets and knowledge of nutrition have improved somewhat to greatly and over 70% have made significant behavior changes.
Summer Youth Forestry Institute
The Summer Youth Forestry Institute (SYFI) was developed to inspire youth through experiential learning opportunities and early work experience in the field of natural resources. Declining enrollments in forestry and other natural resource careers has made it necessary to actively engage youth and provide them with exposure to careers in these fields. The 2011 SYFI combined Extension Forestry and 4-H objectives by providing both youth development and forest management skills through a paid internship, targeting rural high school students in Snohomish County, WA.
Extension Learning Exchange: Lessons from Nicaragua
There is a clear need to support global professional development, international education, and collaborative learning opportunities in Extension. The program described here established an international learning exchange in Nicaragua to lead to global professional development and future international collaboration. The primary lessons and outcomes include first-hand experience of how rural outreach/Extension agencies in a foreign culture address similar issues, development of a multi-disciplined Extension educator network, opportunities for information sharing with U.S./ Nicaraguan colleagues, and realization of the role Extension educators play as global citizens to develop innovative Extension programs within a global context. Implications for future exchanges are discussed.
Tools of the Trade
Cate-Nelson Analysis for Bivariate Data Using R-project
In Extension, it is helpful to be able to analyze data in simple and innovative ways that produce easily interpretable results. Cate-Nelson analysis is a simple way to divide bivariate data into two populations to emphasize the relationship between the x variable and y variable. While a Cate-Nelson analysis could be performed by manually calculating iterative Sums of Squares to determine the best fit, this process could be partially automated with the included SAS code. Alternatively, the included R-project code automatically completes the analysis, outputs the relevant statistics, and produces the relevant plots.
The American Community Survey: Resources for the Occasional Data User
The American Community Survey provides detailed demographic data on local communities and populations. While the American Community Survey provides data useful for Extension, the data are more complicated, users must understand data reliability, and many resources are designed to help the regular, not the occasional, user. The Kentucky: By The Numbers program focuses on increasing the skills and abilities of Extension audiences to access and use secondary data. As part of this larger focus, a series of easy-to-read and easy-to-reference resources have been developed to assist the occasional user to effectively and accurately use data from the American Community Survey.
Application of Item Analysis to Assess Multiple-Choice Examinations in the Mississippi Master Cattle Producer Program
Item analysis can serve as a useful tool in improving multiple-choice questions used in Extension programming. It can identify gaps between instruction and assessment. An item analysis of Mississippi Master Cattle Producer program multiple-choice examination responses was performed to determine the difficulty of individual examinations, assess the effectiveness of distractors for individual items, and identify specific topics appropriate for placing further educational emphasis. Specific problems with items and distractors with examinations were identified and slated for revision. The item analysis results were then combined with program participant feedback to provide further insight into the instructional needs of Extension clientele.
Developing a Customized GIS-Based Spatial Statistics Tool: An Application to Emergency Planning and Response
Increased access to geographic information systems (GIS) technology has expanded the tools available to support Extension programming. However, working with large spatial datasets can still be difficult for less experienced users. GIS software allows the use of custom script programs and toolboxes to expedite and simplify data analysis. This article demonstrates the use of a customized GIS-based spatial statistics tool in an emergency planning and response context. In our example, we use the tool to tabulate population statistics within a user-defined area around several supermarkets made inoperable due to flooding.
Photo-Guided Tracing: A Low-Cost Method for Monitoring Targeted Plant Species
This article describes a method of producing accurate and relatively inexpensive maps of plant distribution, used here for mapping Arundo donax in a riparian ecosystem as part of an Extension outreach and community development effort. This produced a verifiable map of the plant's distribution over 16 km for approximately $3,000. This method had modest requirements for technical skills and equipment, and produced reference imagery that could be archived for later review. This made long-term monitoring more feasible to the community and provided Extension staff opportunities for training and public education.
Effective Use of Facebook for Extension Professionals
As the use of social media increases, Extension is challenged to stay relevant with cliental by using digital tools. This article illustrates how Facebook can be part of Extension's repertoire of methods for communication, program implementation, education, and marketing. This allows professionals to build social networking capacity with their cliental online and transfer that social capital to the off-line world. The capacity of Facebook users to develop Groups and Pages allows those with specific interests to connect for education, sharing, and socialization. Extension professionals should consider the opportunities provided by Facebook and how it can affect their program delivery.
Measuring Light with Useful Tools
Lighting, a necessary part of our home and work environment, is often considered as an afterthought. This article describes tools that Extension educators (Agriculture, Family and Consumer Sciences, and 4-H) can use to measure light levels. 4-H youth may also participate. These tools include light meters and Illuminating Engineering Society (IES) standards. Using the tools as described is new and innovative programming, as it is unlikely that educators or youth have measured light levels before and compared them to industry standards.
A Tool Kit for Building Life Skills Using Experiential Education and Games
The development of life skills in youth is a common goal of youth programs. The new research on positive youth development highlights intentional development of these skills. However, with the differences in skill levels of staff and volunteers, training is a challenge. By providing flexible tools training for all can occur in one session, and new skills are learned. The highlighted tool kit can be a guide for Extension professionals to create tool kits that work for their population. They are designed to be small and fit in a pocket, thus increasing the chance that they will be used.
Using Current Resources to Implement Wellness Programming for Preschoolers
Currently, there is a nationwide effort to include preschool-aged children in wellness efforts for the prevention of obesity. National resources include guidelines, best practices, and tip sheets to assist in the implementation of these interventions. The Let's Move! Child Care Checklist is a resource that can be used to assess the level at which early care sites (ECS) are meeting recommendations, and a number of preschool-specific curricula exist to consider for implementation. Extension educators are well positioned to provide wellness interventions that can work towards meeting current standards for ECS.
Experts, Extension, and Democracy: A Prospectus for a New Urban Grant
Modern democracy cannot survive without effective citizen participation. The complexity of modern post-industrial life, unfortunately, is an impediment to participation. A new urban grant might be our best hope to enable real citizen participation in modern urban America, but Extension professionals would have to reach deep into our own past to resurrect a participatory ethos and even farther into early American history for models of civic professionalism. A new urban grant would expand well beyond agriculture and embrace the recent calls for an "energy grant," a climate Extension service, and a hazard mitigation Extension service, among others.
Examining Extension's Capacity in Community Resource and Economic Development: Viewpoints of Extension Administrators on the Role of Community Resource and Economic Development in the Extension Portfolio
The survey-based research reported here offers insights on community, resource, and economic development (CRED) Extension programming at the national and regional level. The results present a national picture of CRED programming, research, and potential future programming opportunities that Extension could capitalize on. The research shows that CRED resources are primarily being allocated to regional or campus-based personnel, with fewer county-based positions. It provides information for CRED Extension professionals and administrators useful in identifying potential program weaknesses, strengths, and potential opportunities, while enabling them to better articulate the value of CRED Extension programming in an age of budgetary constraints and competition.
An Integrated Approach to Supplying the Local Table: Perceptions of Consumers, Producers, and Restaurateurs
The Local Table project compared results from parallel surveys of consumers and restaurateurs regarding local food purchasing and use. Results were also compared with producers' perception of, capacity for and participation in direct marketing through local venues, on-farm outlets, and restaurants. The surveys found consumers' and restaurateurs' most common expectations of local foods are that they be environmentally safe and sustainably produced and distributed—all socially-conscious reasons for their purchases. The study informs Extension educators by providing a snapshot of supply and demand for local food products across three distinct groups—producers, restaurateurs and consumers.
Perceived Benefits and Barriers to Local Food Procurement in Publicly Funded Institutions
Community-Based Social Marketing is presented as a technique to add to Extension's community economic development toolbox by examining perceived benefits and barriers to local food procurement at publicly funded institutions. Data were gathered through 86 in-person interviews with representatives across the supply chain. The findings revealed that supporting the local economy and freshness were two benefits common across the supply chain. Distribution, supply, price, and habit were common barriers. Benefit-barrier analysis can aid Extension professionals in providing context, teaching business skills, recognizing opportunities, shaping institutional structures, accessing markets, and informing the development of Communities of Practice.
Using Role-Play to Enhance Foodborne Illness Crisis Management Capacity in the Produce Industry
Foodborne illness outbreaks have measurable public health effects and often lead to negative produce industry impacts. Reducing loss following a crisis event requires a management plan, although many fresh produce industry members don't have one. Evidence-based workshops using a role-play simulated outbreak were delivered to impact crisis management preparation. A self-reported pre-assessment demonstrated that 21% of participants had a crisis management plan in place prior to attendance, with 79% who employed GAPs. Following the role-play scenario, there was a significant increase in participants' perception of the likelihood of microbial contamination with their product and an increase in crisis planning activities.
Planning Across Generations: Helping Family Landowners Maintain Their Ties to the Land
Many land-owning families face the difficult challenge of maintaining their property in family ownership, an issue deserving greater attention among Extension educators. In the longitudinal study reported here we assessed the effectiveness of an educational program in helping family woodland owners prepare to pass land on to the next generation and found an impact on participants' reported behavior. About 18-months after the Ties to the Land workshop, 71% of respondents reported taking at least one succession planning action as a result their participation.
Affecting Community Change: Involving Pro Bono Professionals as Extension Volunteers
Pro bono volunteers provide an effective means for Extension professionals to expand limited financial and human resources. Volunteers recruited from business settings can provide skills, abilities, expertise, leadership, and resources to Extension programs. Allowing professional volunteers to meet their desired leadership goals while simultaneously meeting the desired outcome of the Extension program requires effective communication with the corporation as well as the pro bono volunteer. To develop a pro bono volunteer program, Extension professionals should: identify shared outcomes; build collaboration; and effectively communicate how pro bono service provides an opportunity to achieve goals while meeting programming outcomes.
Extension's Capacity to Deliver Quality Early Childhood Professional Development
In recent years much attention has focused on the role of enhancing a teacher's professional knowledge and skills in helping to improve the quality of early care experiences for young children birth-5. In the study reported here, an environmental scan of the early childhood professional development programs offered within the Extension system was conducted to identify the programs' content, delivery, scope, evaluation, and partners. Results indicate that Extension has been a player in providing professional development opportunities for early childhood professionals and with a focused effort in streamlining the current resources has the capacity to become a leader in this field.
The Prize Is Healthy Eyes: Using Games to Educate About Diabetic Retinopathy
This article describes a program for prevention of diabetic retinopathy (DR) that was designed for Extension in collaboration with optometrists. The program was created to increase knowledge and awareness about risk factors for DR and included a game and take-home materials. Participants were asked to play a game similar to Wheel of Fortune. A total of 89% of questions were answered correctly. A telephone survey was used to track retention of knowledge and revealed that participants had used increased knowledge to make positive lifestyle changes. Of individuals who participated in the interactive game, measurable improvements in knowledge and awareness occurred.
Bringing the DuPont Profitability Model to Extension
This article discusses a financial training program used by Deere and Company for almost 10 years. The objective is to describe the program and to discuss a pre-test/post-test methodology to test the effectiveness of a program for possible duplication by Extension. Results show that participants significantly improved from the pre-test to the post-test regardless of participants' demographics, which is critical to stakeholders to maintain funding. However, from an application standpoint there was still room for improvement. The article discusses several ways for Extension agents to overcome this.
Research in Brief
Measuring Agricultural Paradigmatic Preferences: The Redevelopment of an Instrument to Determine Individual and Collective Preferences—A Pilot Study
Sustainable agriculture is an area that is gaining momentum. Extension agents are expected to teach production methods that include sustainable agriculture, yet little is known regarding how Extension agents feel about this agricultural paradigm. The research reported here sought to further develop an instrument that could quantitatively measure Extension faculty members' agricultural paradigms and be used as a program-planning tool that serves to support the identification of educational program needs. The pilot study offers a valid and reliable instrument useful to both Extension agents and administration in measuring individuals' agricultural paradigms.
Assessing the Utility of the Nominal Group Technique as a Consensus-Building Tool in Extension-Led Avian Influenza Response Planning
The intent of the project described was to apply the Nominal Group Technique (NGT) to achieve a consensus on Avian Influenza (AI) planning in Northeastern Ohio. Nominal Group Technique is a process first developed by Delbecq, Vande Ven, and Gustafsen (1975) to allow all participants to have an equal say in an open forum setting. A very diverse group of experts were gathered to determine direction for regional AI response planning. The findings of the study indicate that the NGT is an appropriate technique for planning for the emergency management of an AI outbreak in a defined geographical area.
Use of Pictorial Evaluations to Measure Knowledge Gained by Hispanic Landscape Workers Receiving Safety Training
Landscape work is dangerous. In the Southeast, Hispanic workers predominate in landscape industries. The incidence of functional illiteracy in this group of workers is high. A pictorial knowledge-based evaluation instrument was developed to measure the effectiveness of the trainings. No reading skills were required to take the evaluation. The evaluation instrument was not sensitive enough to measure knowledge gain as a result of the training quantitatively but has application as a strong review and discussion tool and could be used for group evaluations to collect qualitative data.
Perceived Barriers to Savings Among Low- to Moderate-Income Households That Do Not Save Regularly
The study reported here examined the differences in barriers to savings among low- to moderate-income households who do not save regularly. Characteristics associated with individuals who perceived they could and could not save included age, presence of child under 18years of age, and gender. Having no money left over, being late on bills and/or credit card payments, being under- or unemployed and having been affected by a natural disaster were associated with perception of whether one could save. Recommendations for Extension educators working with limited resource audiences are suggested.
Comprehensive Land Use Planning in Exurban Communities: A Case Study from Ohio
Comprehensive land use planning at the county level has been a focus of a good deal of public attention in the U.S. in the post-World War II era. Because Extension is typically very active at the county level and provides substantial expertise on land use at the university level, it has long played a significant role in the planning process. This article reports the findings of a survey among residents of an exurban community on land use designed to obtain public opinion prior to the update of a comprehensive plan, contributing a sense of public inclusion to the process.
Characteristics of Non-Industrial Private Forest Owners Interested in Managing Their Land for Nontimber Forest Products
Non-industrial private forest owners in 16 states were surveyed about their interest in learning about managing their land for nontimber forest products. T-tests of means, Mann-Whitney U-tests, and cross-tabulations identified land tenure, resource management, and socio-demographic characteristics associated with interest in nontimber forest products. Our results indicate that landowners likely to be interested in managing for NTFPs are those who have more formal education, are active forest managers, have greater access to forested land, and prior experience or familiarity with nontimber forest products.
Understanding the Knowledge and Use of Experiential Learning Within Pennsylvania 4-H Clubs
Experiential learning is incorporated into the National 4-H curriculum. However, the state 4-H staff in Pennsylvania is unsure of the current knowledge and use of experiential learning within the local 4-H clubs. An online survey was distributed to Extension educators and volunteer leaders within Pennsylvania to assess the current knowledge and use of experiential learning in the state. After reviewing the results of the study, it is recommended that additional training and resources be made available to local volunteer leaders.
Testing the Use of Natural Schoolyards to Develop Stewardship Attitudes in Students
The study reported here measured the impact of natural schoolyards, within the science curriculum, on middle school students' environmental attitudes. It was expected that students engaged in such a curriculum would show increased pro-environmental attitudes and behaviors. Participants were 7th-grade students in Madison, WI. A modified form of the validated short-form Measurement of Ecological Attitudes survey (Maloney & Ward, 1975) was used in a pre-test/post-test format to measure changes in students' environmental attitudes. No gains were found between pre- and post-test scores. Implications for natural schoolyard curriculum design and research, and possible outdoor Environmental Education (EE) partnership with Extension are discussed.
Comparing Three Different Methods for Assessing Corn Silage Density
Silage density is negatively correlated with dry matter losses in storage and has been used as an Extension evaluation tool to assess ensiling management practices on farms. We compared three methods for estimating silage density on 18 farms. Core sampling is the standard method, while the calculator and feed-out methods are new alternative methods. Core sampling results were highly correlated with the calculator method but not with the feed-out method. Core sampling and the calculator method are recommended tools for estimating storage dry matter losses and evaluating alternative ensiling management practices by Extension faculty, producers, and other users.