June 2016 // Volume 54 // Number 3
A Summer Reading Recommendation and June JOE Highlights
In the "Summer Reading" section of this Editor's Page, I recommend a great book for JOE authors. In "June JOE," I preview some of the issue's excellent content: articles that present ways to maximize the value of research endeavors; articles that discuss strategies for how Extension professionals can help one another grow professionally, increase productivity, and accept change; and articles that highlight Extension's relationship to some crucial societal issues.
Welcoming Immigrants: An Opportunity to Strengthen Rural Communities
Rural communities matter. Almost a quarter of the Midwest's population lives in rural communities, but emerging demographic patterns, including the increase of Latinos, are changing the landscapes of rural Midwestern communities. Often, the rise in the Latino population is the deciding factor between growth or decline for a rural community. This circumstance presents a unique opportunity for Extension professionals and communities to initiate best practices around community building and welcoming of newcomers, especially immigrants. We need to harness the strength of all rural residents to create vibrant, healthy, sustainable communities that are centers of creativity and innovation.
Participate in the JOE Discussion Forum on “Welcoming Immigrants: An Opportunity to Strengthen Rural Communities”
Ideas at Work
Creating Teams Increases Extension Educator Productivity
The Garden Team at Washington State University is a transdisciplinary group of faculty, staff, and students with expertise in applied plant and soil sciences and an interest in Extension education. The team's primary mission is to create current, relevant, and peer-reviewed materials as Extension publications for home gardeners. The average yearly Extension publication rate per member increased from 0.03 prior to team formation to 0.85 after team formation. An unexpected benefit emerged when team members acted cooperatively to submit successful competitive grants. These quantifiable measures of productivity benefit both the individual team members and the university in terms of overall competitiveness among land-grant institutions.
Cooking Healthy, Eating Smart: A Strategically Timed Formative Evaluation of a Community-Based Nutrition and Food Safety Program for Rural Older Adults
The use of focus groups to formatively evaluate community-based curricula after development and before pilot testing is not highlighted in the literature. In the study discussed in this article, research with four focus groups, composed of 46 women aged 65 years and older and belonging to eight South Carolina Family and Community Leaders clubs, was conducted to evaluate the Cooking Healthy, Eating Smart (CHES) curriculum. The CHES curriculum was tailored based on suggestions from the older adults. Extension professionals can better prepare a curriculum for pilot testing in the community by conducting a formative evaluation using focus groups with community members at this particular stage of development.
Implementing an Innovative Educational Program Delivery Strategy to Teach 2014 Farm Bill Changes to Ohio Farmers and Landowners
The timing and complexity of the 2014 Farm Bill required quick dissemination of technical information to allow participants to make decisions affecting risk management strategies for their farms. Using existing organizational structures and incorporating a team approach allowed Ohio State University Extension educators to successfully meet the educational needs of Ohio's farmers and landowners. Program success followed due to Extension's commitments to providing proper training, support, and reward to educators and to working cooperatively with external agencies to achieve the identified outcomes.
Minnesota 4-H Science of Agriculture Challenge: Infusing Agricultural Science and Engineering Concepts into 4-H Youth Development
Youth involved in 4-H projects have been engaged in science-related endeavors for years. Since 2006, 4-H has invested considerable resources in the advancement of science learning. The new Minnesota 4-H Science of Agriculture Challenge program challenges 4-H youth to work together to identify agriculture-related issues in their communities and to work with local experts, using scientific and engineering principles, to devise real solutions for those issues. The Minnesota 4-H Science of Agriculture Challenge program has the potential to change the way scientific and engineering principles are integrated into 4-H youth development programming.
Credit Score Millionaire: An Innovative Program Helps Diverse Audiences Build Strong Credit Scores
Local and statewide needs assessments resulted in an emerging priority to prepare teens to build strong credit scores and avoid some common missteps of establishing credit on reaching adulthood. The resulting Credit Score Millionaire program was developed through the use of innovative technologies and instructional design concepts to deliver face-to-face programming to nearly 2,000 participants and indirectly reach thousands more through online and train-the-trainer delivery methods. The objectives of the program were to promote low-cost/high-impact strategies for building strong personal credit. Participants have reported significant increases in understanding of personal credit scores and plans to improve credit-related decisions.
Tools of the Trade
The Extension Storyteller: Using Stories to Enhance Meaning and Catalyze Change
Many cultures share and pass on norms through storytelling. Extension as a culture also creates and shares stories to pass on history, provide information about Extension work and experiences, and develop the organization. However, Extension as a culture less frequently uses storytelling to enhance meaning and catalyze related change. This article provides a brief review of relevant literature on types of stories, purposes of storytelling, and effective storytelling techniques and describes qualities of successful stories. This information provides a basis for best practices that Extension professionals can apply when using storytelling to enhance meaning and catalyze change.
Awareness, Solidarity, and Action: An Educational Model
How Extension fosters social change and innovation can be improved through the use of theory-based educational models. Educational models can serve as foundations for the conceptual designs of educational interventions. I describe, using examples from my own work, one such model: the awareness, solidarity, and action model. This three-part model involves the participant's (a) becoming aware of a need for change, (b) developing solidarity with other participants around the actions to be taken, and (c) learning skills to enable action.
An Online Resource Site for Extension Master Gardener Coordinators
Developing an online resource site for Extension master gardener (EMG) coordinators is an ongoing project for Extension collaborators. Begun in 2014, the website includes peer-reviewed resources focused on best practices in volunteer management and program administration. The website is organized according to nine resource categories (e.g., program planning, engaging and teaching adults) and three resource types (i.e., readings, PowerPoint files, templates). In this article, we identify criteria used by peer reviewers and describe the processes for identifying potential resources, building site content, and making the website more accessible.
Promoting Nutrition and Wellness Statewide Through an Electronic Newsletter
The Words on Wellness (WOW) newsletter was designed as an electronic newsletter intended to provide research-based nutrition and wellness information to Iowans. An evaluation was conducted to assess to what extent the newsletter is being used by its readership and whether readers are making lifestyle changes as a result. Those who completed the online survey (n = 154) report making lifestyle changes and finding the information to be current, understandable, and relevant to their lives. These results indicate that the use of indirect nutrition and wellness educational materials (i.e., a newsletter) is effective in promoting research-based information that results in self-reported behavior change.
Maximizing Use of Extension Beef Cattle Benchmarks Data Derived from Cow Herd Appraisal Performance Software
One goal of Extension is to provide practical information that makes a difference to producers. Cow Herd Appraisal Performance Software (CHAPS) has provided beef producers with production benchmarks for 30 years, creating a large historical data set. Many such large data sets contain useful information but are underutilized. Our goal was to create a 20-year data set (CHAPS20Y) to examine trends in beef production from 1994 to 2013. In this article, we describe the CHAPS program and the process used to select herds for CHAPS20Y. We hope to publish additional related articles that will examine trends in calving distributions, reproduction, and growth and discuss implications for producers and Extension.
Key Resources for Creating Online Nutrition Education for Those Participating in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education
Internet-based nutrition education is becoming an important tool in serving the rural, low-income community, yet the task of creating such programming can be daunting. The authors describe the key resources used in developing an Internet-based nutrition education program for those participating in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education. Extension program providers wanting to create an online program may benefit from becoming familiar with the resources and ideas described in this article.
Safety in Aquaculture
In this article, occupational safety interventions for agriculture-related jobs, specifically in aquaculture, are reviewed. Maintaining quality of life and avoiding economic loss are two areas in which aquaculturists can benefit by incorporating safety protocols and interventions on their farms. The information in this article is based on farm safety issues the authors identified in Alabama, Idaho, Kentucky, Missouri, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and West Virginia (as well as in the United Kingdom). Extension professionals can use this information to advise farming clientele on safety measures that will increase their likelihood of avoiding injury.
Effectiveness of Webinars as Educational Tools to Address Horse Industry Issues
A series of six webinars was developed and presented as part of an eXtension HorseQuest/My Horse University online educational program funded by the USA Equestrian Trust. The webinars addressed topics consistent with the goal of improving equine health and management practices through dissemination to horse owners of relevant research findings on current horse industry issues. The webinars were presented and recorded and then archived to both eXtension.org/horses and myhorseuniversity.com. Data from a voluntary postwebinar survey showed that a viable tool was successfully created and used to disseminate current research-based information to the industry.
An Adolescent Nutrition Learning Model to Facilitate Behavior Change in Overweight Teens
Understanding the process by which adolescents learn about nutrition is necessary for developing tailored education that leads to sustainable behavior change. Teens aged 15–17 participating in an obesity prevention program were interviewed. From the data, three themes emerged and informed development of an adolescent nutrition learning model. The themes were (a) valuable nutrition information provided by a reputable source, (b) hands-on learning as a learning preference, and (c) the linking of concepts learned to behavior change. The adolescent nutrition learning model that resulted encapsulates obese adolescents' process for learning about nutrition to bring about behavior change and can be integrated into nutrition education programs and interventions.
Better Crunching: Recommendations for Multivariate Data Analysis Approaches for Program Impact Evaluations
Extension program evaluations often present opportunities to analyze data in multiple ways. This article suggests that program evaluations can involve more sophisticated data analysis approaches than are often used. On the basis of a hypothetical program scenario and corresponding data set, two approaches to testing for evidence of program impact are compared. These approaches are (a) a bivariate approach involving contingency table analysis (chi-square, Kendall's tau tests) and (b) a multivariate approach involving logistic regression. Both approaches address the primary evaluation questions, but the multivariate approach introduces additional variables, allowing for a more comprehensive understanding of program dynamics. Multivariate approaches can enhance insights about programs and increase opportunities for dissemination of research results.
Mentoring Adult Learners: Implications for Cooperative Extension as a Learning Organization
A comprehensive summary of the existing literature on mentoring of adult learners, in the context of the Cooperative Extension System as a learning organization, reveals that structured organizational mentoring is needed in Extension to prepare and develop individuals to be future leaders in the organization. Further inquiry is needed regarding Extension as a transformative learning organization, the role of mentees in Cooperative Extension as adult learners, training needed for veteran Extension agents to effectively serve as mentors, and orientation processes for new hires on making the most of the relationship with a mentor.
Delphi Survey of Needs for On-Farm Research: Forecasting Changes in a Farm Organization
The forecasting abilities of Delphi technique worked well when a farmer organization wanted to predict on-farm research topics for its farmer membership. This article provides evidence—after 10 years—that Delphi successfully predicted ideas for research that lasted long into the future, including a compelling unanticipated result that changed the face of the organization. Would you want to use a research tool that was this powerful in organizational settings? This article contains details about setting up, conducting, and interpreting the Delphi.
Rural Health Inequities and the Role of Cooperative Extension
Health inequities affect communities through adverse health outcomes, lost productivity, and increased health care costs. They arise from unequal distribution of social determinants of health—the conditions in which people are born and live. Health outcomes, tied to behaviors and health care, also are rooted in location and social status. Cooperative Extension provides culturally appropriate programs that touch the places where individuals and families live. A history of promoting democracy through education makes Extension uniquely positioned to address health inequities and foster greater equality among groups that experience hardships as a result of differences in social, economic, and environmental determinants of health.
Social Media as a Supplement to Face-to-Face Education: The Perspectives of Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program Paraprofessionals and Graduates
Using social media is an inexpensive, innovative approach to supplementing direct education provided by the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP). Focus group research was conducted with EFNEP paraprofessionals (n = 33) and participants (n = 39) to inform the development of a social media presence for the program. Although recommendations by EFNEP's social media committee focus on providing online articles, focus group results suggest that content should be presented as colorful pictures and videos, portraying recipes and nutrition tips. Also, the study highlights the importance of using engaging, colorful visuals when using social media as a form of indirect education.
Research in Brief
Fecal Coliform Concentrations in the Upper Cohansey River Watershed Predicted by Air Temperature, Discharge, and Land Use
The Upper Cohansey River Watershed in southwestern New Jersey has a history of being affected by fecal coliform bacteria (FC). A study was undertaken to investigate the environmental factors associated with FC concentration. For 44% of samples taken throughout the watershed in 2012–2013, FC concentration exceeded the benchmark value. FC levels were related to air temperature, river discharge, and land use in stream buffers. Human sources of FC had been eliminated following research results published in 2009. Results of the study reported in this article suggest the need to further investigate wildlife sources of FC and to implement additional mitigation actions.
Drawing On College Student Attitudes and Behaviors to Instigate Energy Efficiency Improvements in Rental Housing
Improving the energy efficiency of residential rental properties has been a priority of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County. However, traditional educational programming has had limited effectiveness due to a split incentive dynamic between landlords and tenants relative to property upgrades. We demonstrate that college students have broad interest in but limited knowledge of energy efficiency and are willing to pay a premium for relevant improvements. Our findings indicate that there is strong potential for Extension professionals to engage off-campus housing offices, students, and landlords in the development of modified leases and to facilitate educational programming that specifically addresses rental housing energy efficiency.
On-Farm Forest Income in the United States, 2003–2012: Thoughts for Extension Programming
Forest-based production on U.S. farms totaled $653.2 million in 2012, admittedly a small portion of total farm wealth. However, despite the effects of the recent economic downturn, on-farm forest product revenues still approached the gate value of North Carolina timber in 2012, which was $730.6 million. Providing the research-based information, technology transfer, and educational programs farmers need to manage trees to generate income while preserving the ecosystem in a manner that is socially acceptable requires a multidimensional approach by Extension specialists working across disciplines. Two examples of multidimensional approaches, one centered on audience segmentation for targeted outreach and the other on forest economic development, are proposed and discussed.
Value-Added Dairy Products from Grass-Based Dairy Farms: A Case Study in Vermont
On-farm processing of value-added dairy products can be a way for small dairy farms to diversify production and increase revenue. This article examines characteristics of three groups of Vermont farmers who have grass-based dairy farms—those producing value-added dairy products, those interested in such products, and those not interested in such products—and their needs for information and assistance. The three groups differ significantly relative to herd size, engagement in organic operation, land management, self-rated level of business success, and demographic factors, such as education. Topics for which information and assistance are needed include how to make and market value-added dairy products and how to finance such operations.
Factors Influencing Yield Management of Pinot Noir Vineyards in Oregon
Oregon's wine grape industry uses yield targets to achieve quality in Pinot Noir vineyards, and this practice has led to increases in cost of production. A multiapproach study was conducted to investigate how vineyard target yields are set, why yield thresholds exist, and who influences decisions related to vineyard target yields. Growers suspect that higher yields are possible without compromising quality, but they are unable to change yield targets due to winery and buyer decision making. To be effective in eliciting change and realizing impact, Extension educators need to do targeted outreach to buyers and wine makers in addition to growers and consider participatory research.
Assessing Growers' Challenges and Needs to Improve Wine Grape Production in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania wine grape growers were surveyed to obtain information on factors affecting varietal selection, challenges to production, and their perceptions of canopy management practices. Our survey revealed that participants perceived site as a key factor in varietal selection decisions and winter injury as the greatest challenge for their economic sustainability. Other issues limiting production and profitability were disease control, frost injury, and labor cost and availability. Participants recognized the importance of canopy management practices for reaching optimum wine quality but had concerns over the shortage and cost of labor to implement them. Mechanization of canopy management likely would increase adoption.
Evaluating the Georgia Master Naturalist Program
We evaluated the Georgia Master Naturalist Program using an online survey. Survey participation was voluntary, and the survey addressed areas such as satisfaction, volunteerism, and future training. The program received high scores from survey respondents. They appreciated training on native plants, environmental awareness, and ecological principles but were less interested in training on agriculture, recycling, and butterfly gardens. Most respondents (68%) did not volunteer relative to involvement in the program, and 32% did not want a volunteer requirement as part of the program. Obstacles to volunteering included lack of time and lack of nearby opportunities. A majority of respondents (54.9%) supported the idea of future advanced training opportunities.