December 2015 // Volume 53 // Number 6
Help for JOE Authors Offers Just That
"Help for JOE Authors Offers Just That" urges authors to take advantage of the help on offer. I say "A Quick Goodbye." "December JOE" highlights just six articles in an outstanding issue.
Envisioning New Roles for Land-Grant University Extension: Lessons Learned from Climate Change Outreach in the Midwest
Recent surveys with farmers, Extension personnel, and agricultural advisors reveal interesting findings about climate change beliefs and who people trust for climate related information. Based on these results this article discusses a new direction for land-grant university Extension and research in addressing issues related to climate change and agriculture.
Participate in the JOE Discussion Forum on “Envisioning New Roles for Land-Grant University Extension: Lessons Learned from Climate Change Outreach in the Midwest”
Whither Leadership, Whither Extension?
Management and leadership in Extension have long been discussed. Leadership within Extension may not have evolved at the same rate as current issues. The current approach may not ensure success in future years. A new perspective on the current leadership approaches may be overdue. Leadership needs to go hand in hand with management, but one without the other rarely results in success. Weak or absent leadership forces the void to be filled by multiple individuals, leading to a lack of organizational cohesion. Worse yet, a dysfunctional organization may result. Many may have already recognized this and are leading from within.
Participate in the JOE Discussion Forum on “Whither Leadership, Whither Extension?”
Ideas at Work
The Youth Writers: Developing Curriculum for Their Peers
Curricula designed for youth are often lacking a young person's influence and perspective. In order to provide engaging, "fresh" materials for youth, 4-H professionals can recruit youth as curriculum writers. Youth are given an opportunity to form positive partnerships with adults, produce engaging and creative materials for their peers, and develop leadership skills. Positive youth development is promoted through youth-adult partnerships, involvement in decision making, and contributing to projects. A model for implementing a youth writers program is described in this article.
Exploring the Effectiveness of a Retreat Method for Extension Staff
The California 4-H Association hosted two retreats to support its members with goals of balancing professional development with intentional relationship building. Evaluations demonstrated that staff found the intentional balance of time spent in unstructured, semi-structured, and structured time offered opportunities to grow professionally while building relationships with peers. Follow-up surveys found that 4-H professionals strengthened their network of peers to rely on in their work. Future work for professional development may benefit from a social capital lens.
An Agent Allocation System for the West Virginia University Extension Service
Extension recognizes the importance of data in guiding programing decisions at the local level. However, allocating personnel resources and specializations at the state level is a more complex process. The West Virginia University Extension Service has adopted a data-driven process to determine the number, location, and specializations of county agents across the state. While local desires will always be part of the process, new metrics and methods encourage discussion and guide those decisions. The expected result is an improved matching of agents with local needs, thus improving the ability of Extension to fulfill its service mission statewide.
Systematic Approach to Food Safety Education on the Farm
Food safety education from farm to end user is essential in the mitigation of food safety concerns associated with fresh produce. Iowa State University developed a multi-disciplinary three-level sequential program ("Know," "Show," "Go") to provide a holistic approach to food safety education. This program provides knowledge on GAP (Know); guides development and documentation of food safety practices (Show); and aids in grower's readiness for third party auditing (Go). Evaluations suggest this program is effective in changing long term food safety knowledge, attitude, and behaviors. The multi-disciplinary sequential approach can be used by other Extension programs to reach.
Cooking Matters at the Store: A Case Study of Three Missouri Counties
Cooking Matters at the Store is a grocery store tour where participants learned about healthy eating and tips for saving money on food purchases. Participants learned how to read food labels, compare unit prices, find whole grains, and three ways to purchase produce. Evaluations revealed that participants planned to use the information they learned and enjoyed the tour. A partnership with a grocery store manager is vital for the success of the program. The program incentives and working with a store that serves limited-resource audiences helped reach the intended audience.
Tools of the Trade
Writing Panels Articulate Extension Public Value in the West
In every era, publically funded programs seek to document their value. During the centennial celebrations of Cooperative Extension's legislation and establishment, this cry for data became even louder and the demand more intense. The Western Extension Directors Association (WEDA) tasked their Western Region Program Leadership Committee (WRPLC) to determine common measures in hopes that 15 Western States could aggregate data and effectively present results of Extension's work to stakeholders. Panels of experts from western land-grant universities were convened for an orientation to public value and a 24-hour "lock down" writing session. This tool resulted in six formatted white papers.
Identifying Critical Thinking Styles to Enhance Volunteer Development
Diversity in learning options can increase efficacy of volunteer development systems. The University of Florida Critical Thinking Inventory (UFCTI) is designed to explicate an individual's critical thinking style based upon a continuum from Seeking Information to Engagement. Static and interpretive materials are best used with individuals of a Seeking Information style, while interactive elements are better suited for those preferring Engagement. Extension educators should consider measuring volunteer critical thinking styles using the UFCTI and then aligning programs with the needs of their learners. This article describes potential benefits and uses for the instrument and its relevancy to volunteerism in Extension.
Cost Effectiveness Ratio: Evaluation Tool for Comparing the Effectiveness of Similar Extension Programs
Extension educators have been challenged to be cost effective in their educational programming. The cost effectiveness ratio is a versatile evaluation indicator for Extension educators to compare the cost of achieving a unit of outcomes or educating a client in similar educational programs. This article describes the cost effectiveness ratio and its application in Extension. The major implications are 1) learning ways to reduce the cost of educational programming, 2) making Extension educators aware of the cost of educational programming and guiding ways to maximize the cost effectiveness, and 3) promoting pro-evaluation organizational culture.
Application of IMPLAN to Extension Programs: Economic Impacts of the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension SNAP-Ed Spending
Many Extension programs are turning to the input-output software IMPLAN to demonstrate economic impacts. IMPLAN is a powerful tool that can be used to estimate the total economic activity associated with an industry, event, or policy. One possible application, therefore, is to use program spending data to estimate the economic effects of Extension's presence in the region. Yet results should be interpreted with care because they can report gross‑rather than net—economic effects. This article provides an example of IMPLAN application by estimating the net change in state economic activity resulting from University of Arizona Cooperative Extension SNAP-Ed spending.
Use of Interactive Electronic Audience Response Tools (Clickers) to Evaluate Knowledge Gained in Extension Programming
Effectively measuring short-term impact, particularly a change in knowledge resulting from Extension programming, can prove to be challenging. Clicker-based technology, when used properly, is one alternative that may allow educators to better evaluate this aspect of the logic model. While the potential interface between clicker technology and Extension programming has been a topic of discussion, the successful use and stakeholder attitude towards such technology in an Extension setting is not well known. This article addresses this gap in understanding and provides an assessment of clicker use in Extension programming.
"Clickers" and HACCP: Educating a Diverse Food Industry Audience with Technology
Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP) is a systematic approach to food safety education for the food industry. To receive a HACCP certificate, participants must receive an 80% or higher on the final examination. Language barriers, educational levels, and age have been noted as primary reasoning's for not passing the final examination. Clicker technology has been shown to improve knowledge transfer to students in various classroom settings. Incorporation of mock final examination questions using Clickers into a traditional HACCP course has been shown in a small pilot study to increase the pass rate.
Helping Farmers Access Farmland: New Jersey's New Land Link Website
Access to land is a common obstacle for beginning farmers and established farmers seeking to expand their operations. Particularly in urban-influenced areas, leasing farmland is often more financially feasible than fee ownership. Locating available land or the right leasing situation, however, can be difficult. NJ Land Link (http://njlandlink.org) is a new interactive website created to improve access to farmland and farming opportunities in New Jersey. The website allows farmland owners to list characteristics of their properties and terms of availability (e.g., sale, lease). Individuals seeking farmland or farm work opportunities can post their farming goals, resource needs, and farming experience.
Infographics: An Innovative Tool to Capture Consumers" Attention
Using infographics as educational tools has emerged as a strategy to reach consumers in today's information-saturated environment. Through the use of engaging and informative graphics, educators can deliver meaningful messages tailored to targeted audiences. Varying types of effectively designed infographics can be used to capture the attention of consumers by: telling a story, clarifying complex information with evidence-based information or research findings, using innovative design, and reaching targeted audiences in easily accessible places. Combining innovative infographic design and targeted dissemination strategies, Extension educators can capture consumers' attention and deliver clear messages to improve communication with consumers.
Physical Activity: A Tool for Improving Health (Part 1—Biological Health Benefits)
Extension educators have been promoting and incorporating physical activities into their community-based programs and improving the health of individuals, particularly those with limited resources. This article is the first of a three-part series describing the benefits of physical activity for human health: 1) biological health benefits of physical activity, 2) mental health benefits of physical activity, and 3) recommended amounts of physical activity for optimal health. Each part of the series is designed to help Extension educators effectively integrate physical activity into community programs and motivate individuals to maintain an interest in being physically active during and after the program.
Opportunities and Best Practices to Support Sustainable Production for Small Growers and Post-Harvest Processors in Southern California
This article describes current practices and needs associated with water and gas conservation among Southern California greenhouse growers, Post-Harvest Processors (PHPs), and agricultural associations. Two communication forums were held with the goal of educating the local gas company and small growers and PHPs on the most compelling needs and best practices to support sustainability while improving profit. While some growers and PHPs have made significant investment in energy and water conservation advanced technologies, all participants expressed the desire to work with local utilities towards greater water and energy conservation opportunities that are customized to specific needs.
Extension Professionals and Community Coalitions: Professional Development Opportunities Related to Leadership and Policy, System, and Environment Change
Community coalitions play an important role in communitywide strategies to promote health and wellbeing, and Extension professionals may provide leadership, technical assistance, and other support to coalitions. Extension professionals across a Midwestern state were invited to participate in an online survey about their coalition involvement and related training needs. The results of the study reported here describe the nature of Extension professionals' work within community coalitions; identify gaps in knowledge particularly related to policy, system, and environment change (PSEC) strategies; and point to professional development opportunities that will improve Extension's ability to work effectively within community coalitions.
From Kickoff to Handoff: Coaching Teens to Tackle STEM Literacy
This article discusses how intensive, content-rich, multiple-day conferences for teams of youth and their adult coaches can be used to initiate the training and planning needed for teens to successfully serve as STEM teachers. The concepts are based on three 4-H "teens as teachers" projects that included 29-36.5 hour initial training conferences. Teenagers (173) completed pre/post surveys on STEM knowledge, skills, careers, resources, and teaching ability. The teenagers exhibited increases in these areas for all three conferences. The authors discuss the common elements of these conferences, provide implementation examples and suggest resources that support this type of training.
Best Practices in Community Garden Management to Address Participation, Water Access, and Outreach
As community gardens expand across the U.S., Extension professionals can support them not only in horticultural education but also in planning and organization. Knowledge of community garden management is helpful in this regard. Existing research focuses on outcomes and criteria for successful gardens, but is less clear about how community gardens work. We use ethnographic methods to examine community garden management in New Jersey. Spatial and social contexts shape key issues such as water access, participation, and horticultural techniques. Extension professionals can more effectively support community gardens by tailoring their advice to these contexts.
Incorporating Nutrition Education Classes into Food Pantry Settings: Lessons Learned in Design and Implementation
The project reported here evaluated the effectiveness of nutrition education at food pantries. We offer best practices for future Extension-based nutrition programming with this clientele. Three classes were offered at food pantries through the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP). Entry and exit surveys were collected for each series, including 24-hour food recalls. Seventy-three percent of participants reported an increase in vegetable consumption, and 82% reported positive changes in consumption of at least one food group. Nutrition education in food pantries is promising, particularly for Extension-led programs like SNAP-Ed and EFNEP, to address nutrition behaviors among food insecure populations.
Motivations of Volunteer Leaders in an Extension Exercise Program
This article describes findings from a qualitative study of volunteer leaders in the StrongWomen strength training program in Arkansas. The study explored reasons volunteers initially agreed to serve, perceptions of volunteer role, and motivations for continuing to lead strength training groups long-term. Findings suggest a combination of factors supporting volunteer engagement: personal benefit of program, desire to continue program combined with a personal invitation to volunteer extended by the agent, desire to support a co-leader, and exercise and social support needs met through volunteer service. Motivations of Extension health program volunteers are important to address to maximize program impact.
Colorado's AgrAbility Project's Effects on KASA and Practice Changes with Agricultural Producers and Professionals
Disability rates resulting from work-related injuries remain steadily high among farmers and ranchers. To address the gap in services within this population, USDA implemented AgrAbility nationally. Using part of Bennett's hierarchical model, the current study evaluated the KASA and practice change levels of 401 farmers and ranchers and compared them to the levels of 401 AgrAbility professionals who participated in Colorado AgrAbility Project workshops (1998-2013). Results indicated that although KASA and practice change levels decreased somewhat from immediately following the workshop to follow-up, 90%-98% of participants reported KASA improvements 4 months afterwards. Implications are discussed.
Zoonotic Diseases—Fostering Awareness in Critical Audiences
Zoonotic diseases are infectious diseases that are shared between humans and other vertebrate animals. Extension professionals often serve as consultants and educators to individuals at high risk of zoonotic diseases, such as participants in 4-H livestock projects. Effective education about zoonotic diseases begins with an awareness of the multitude of challenges that health care professionals face in diagnosing zoonotic disease. This review describes the factors that influence diagnosis of these diseases, as well as potential methods that the Extension professional can use to convert those challenges into effective educational messages.
Research in Brief
Understanding Public Engagement in Water Conservation Behaviors and Knowledge of Water Policy: Promising Hints for Extension
Sustaining water resources is a primary issue facing Florida Extension. The study reported here identified how experience with water issues and familiarity with water policies affected individuals' engagement in water conservation behaviors. A public opinion survey was conducted online to capture Florida residents' responses. The findings indicated experience with water issues and familiarity with water policies were predictors of individuals' engagement in civic water conservation behaviors. Given this, Extension educators developing programs and educational materials about water conservation behaviors should cover information related to water policies because participants will be more inclined to engage if they are familiar with policies.
Residents' Perceptions Toward Utility-Scale Wind Farm Development
Increased development of wind farms in the U.S. has fostered debates surrounding the siting and support for the projects. Prior research demonstrates the importance of understanding the attitudes and opinions of community members when developing projects. This article reviews a case study of an Ohio community that integrated a local survey to measure local knowledge, support, attitudes, and opinions of community residents on a proposed wind farm into the local conversation and decision-making. Ultimately the survey results informed local programming needs and an outreach and engagement strategy and provided elected officials data to guide informed decision making on the project.
Evaluating the Mentor-Mentee Relationship in the 4-H Tech Wizards Program
Youth rely on mentors to provide camaraderie, encouragement, and guidance. The authors asserted that the measurement of youth-mentor relationship would vastly improve the reaching effects of mentorship and expose areas of potential improvement. A questionnaire was given to youth at the beginning and end of a small group mentoring program. The Mentor-Youth Inventory survey exposed levels of emotional engagement, revealed satisfaction levels, and uncovered the breadth of relationships within the program. The study provides evidence that measuring and establishing a benchmark for the quality of youth-mentor relationships facilitates the opportunity to increase the value of small group mentoring in Extension.
Youth Representation on County Government Committees: Youth in Governance in Kenosha County, Wisconsin
The Kenosha County Youth In Governance program was created to build leadership skills and civic engagement opportunities for high school-aged students by placing two youth representatives on each of the Kenosha County Board of Supervisors standing committees. In reviewing data from 3 years of youth participants, the program was effective in increasing civic engagement and leadership skills of young people. Respondents reported specific increases in knowledge of county government, connection to community, empowerment, communication skills, and confidence. Effective program practices were also identified from reviewing statements made from youth participants.
Perspectives of Extension Agents and Farmers Toward Multifunctional Agriculture in the United States Corn Belt
We surveyed the perspectives of farmers, crop professionals, and Extension agents and found that they have positive perspectives concerning multifunctional agriculture, including a positive effect of a nearby prairie to cropland productivity. The survey was conducted in central Iowa and included individuals predominantly from Iowa involved in commodity research and production. Our results are preliminary and provide a baseline for further research into the perspectives of change agents in the U.S. Corn Belt. They also provide insight into similarities among key links in the diffusion of innovation chain.