October 2016 // Volume 54 // Number 5
The Case for First Person and October JOE Highlights
In the opening section of this Editor's Page, "The Case for First Person," I explain why authors should use first person—and its close relation, active voice—when describing their research in manuscripts submitted to JOE. In "October JOE," I highlight articles that explore future directions for Cooperative Extension as well as articles that offer solutions to challenges that exist right now.
The Future of Extension Leadership Is Soft Leadership
Over the next decade, if Extension can attract and retain young professionals, the current leadership will have the opportunity to select the most creative and bright among them to serve in leadership positions across the country. Extension needs a paradigm shift—the most influential leaders beat to a different drum. We must collectively adopt the leadership practices that work and stop doing things that do not add value. Future leaders must possess soft skills, be adept communicators, be proactive while quick to respond, and be willing to create a flattened organizational structure that encourages creativity and innovation from the bottom up.
Participate in the JOE Discussion Forum on “The Future of Extension Leadership Is Soft Leadership”
Ideas at Work
Locally Sourced Capital for Small Businesses in Rural Communities
Lack of adequate access to capital is a major barrier for rural entrepreneurs. Washington State University Extension and the Association of Washington Cities partnered to explore and test an innovative local investment approach that provides access to capital and engages the community in the success of individual businesses. The approach offers local residents the opportunity to invest in local businesses and entrepreneurs the opportunity to find funding through an alternative method. The pilot project engaged more than 26 investors in two communities and led to investment in multiple businesses.
Million Hearts: Key to Collaboration to Reduce Heart Disease
Extension has taught successful classes to address heart disease, yet heart disease remains the number one killer in the United States. The U.S. government's Million Hearts initiative seeks collaboration among colleges, local and state health departments, Extension and other organizations, and medical providers in imparting a consistent message when educating the public about heart disease. Extension plays a key role in conveying this message and promoting cultural adaptations related to food preferences and meal preparation that will help people make necessary behavior changes. Partnering around the same message could improve Extension's ability to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke in communities nationwide.
Enhancing Extension and Research Activities Through the Use of Web GIS
There have been numerous efforts aimed at improving geographic literacy in order to address societal challenges. Extension educators can use geographic information system (GIS) technology to help their clients cultivate spatial thinking skills and solve problems. Researchers can use it to model relationships and better answer questions. A program at Prairie View A&M University involves the use of virtual, field, and story map activities associated with Web GIS (online mapping) to expose participants to plant species identification and engage them in spatial thinking. We describe that program and demonstrate the utility of Web GIS as a tool for integrating experiential learning in agro-environmental sciences.
Marathon Month Promotes Healthful Lifestyles for Extension Employees
This article describes Marathon Month, a workplace wellness program for Extension employees. The program promoted physical activity by challenging employees to walk or run the length of a marathon (26.2 mi) or half marathon (13.1 mi) over the course of 1 month. Of the 317 participants, 90% achieved a self-set goal of completing a full or half marathon, and 31% reported losing weight, with an average weight loss of 4.2 lb per person. Another reported benefit was increased workplace camaraderie. A number of practical ideas, such as sending email reminders and using social media, are provided to facilitate replication in other states.
Tools of the Trade
Uncovering Transdisciplinary Team Project Outcomes Through Ripple Effect Mapping
The Garden Team at Washington State University is a transdisciplinary, geographically dispersed group of faculty and staff. As with many such teams, member retention requires effort, as busy individuals may not see the overall benefits of active team membership. Ripple effect mapping is a strategy that can illustrate the tangible and often unexpected results of virtual team efforts. Not only are the data-rich results useful to individuals during their annual reporting activities, they also serve to strengthen collegial ties and enhance esprit de corps.
Awards: Why You Want Them and How to Get Them
Awards are the most conventionally accepted method for proving to others that your work is necessary, complete, and effective. The key to winning awards is demonstrating that clients' needs, program objectives, and results are directly linked. Most awards require impact documentation, which is often challenging to generate. Yet impact documentation is necessary for others to be able to differentiate a poor program from a successful one. This article discusses the necessary elements of a quality Extension program and outlines a method of effectively crafting an associated award application.
Developing Interactive Website Charts for Extension Clientele by Using Google Docs
Interactive website charts can be used to engage stakeholders and help them understand and apply relevant data. We explain methods we used to create and implement interactive charts for online outreach so that other Extension personnel can use similar interactive tools with their clientele. We describe step by step and in detail how we made interactive graphs and embedded them in a website. We also explain why we chose to use Google Docs as the source for this effort. Our approach offers a useful way to disseminate beneficial information to Extension clients.
Discover 4-H Clubs: The Essential Resource for 4-H
Obstacles facing new 4-H volunteers include time constraints and difficulty finding project-specific information, resources, and opportunities available for club members. As a solution to these obstacles and an aid for assisting volunteers in becoming confident in delivering information to youth, content experts produced Discover 4-H Clubs, a collection of curriculum guides. Volunteers across the globe have taken advantage of this free online teaching tool. As new curriculum guides are developed, more information is made available to meet the needs of 4-H volunteers. In this article, implications for Extension are outlined, and a call to action is extended.
Teaching Record-Keeping Skills to 4-H Youths Through Experiential Learning Techniques
Teaching record keeping for breeding projects in a way that keeps youths engaged is a difficult task. The activity discussed in this article was used to teach 4-H participants the importance of record keeping by implementing the experiential learning model and without lecturing. A description of the activity, instructions and materials for the activity, and responses to the activity are presented.
Opportunities for and Barriers to Renewable Energy Outreach in Extension: A Mixed-Methods Needs Assessment
This article illuminates the far-reaching applications of renewable energy programming for Extension's rural and urban clientele. An online survey of attendees of the inaugural National Extension Energy Summit revealed the need for increased energy programming in Extension. Following survey analysis, focus group interviews were conducted at the National Extension Sustainability Summit to determine the best way to address the reported need for energy programming. The results provide readers with an understanding of how renewable energy programming can expand the role and relevancy of Extension in the 21st century.
Growing Our Own: A Longitudinal Evaluation of a Professional Development Program for Early-Career 4-H Professionals
We present the results of a longitudinal evaluation of the Western Region 4-H Institute, a 5-day training program designed to enhance the skill sets of early-career Extension professionals organized around the 4-H professional research, knowledge, and competencies model. Programs such as this often are assessed for their short-term relevance and effectiveness; we expanded the scope of our evaluation by following up with program participants 12 months after the program. Both short- and medium-term results indicated that networking and developing effective programs for youth were paramount for participants, suggesting the importance of providing professional development opportunities for early-career professionals.
Anger Management Program Participants Gain Behavioral Changes in Interpersonal Relationships
RELAX: Alternatives to Anger is an educational anger management program that helps adults understand and manage anger, develop communication skills, manage stress, and make positive behavioral changes in their interpersonal relationships. A sample of 1,168 evaluation surveys were collected from RELAX: Alternatives to Anger participants over 3 program years (2013–2015). A dependent t-test on the mean composite scores for the group and calculation of individual preprogram-to-postprogram change scores showed that the program was effective overall. The RELAX: Alternatives to Anger curriculum is appropriate for workplace wellness programs, Extension programming for audiences such as farm families and 4-H volunteers, and Extension staff professional development.
Use of an Integrated Pest Management Assessment Administered Through TurningPoint as an Educational, Needs Assessment, and Evaluation Tool
University of Minnesota educators use an integrated pest management (IPM) survey conducted during private pesticide applicator training as an educational, needs assessment, and evaluation tool. By incorporating the IPM Assessment, as the survey is called, into a widely attended program and using TurningPoint audience response devices, Extension educators can gather information from a significant number of farmers in a timely and efficient manner. Interspersing TurningPoint questions throughout presentations also increases audience engagement and overall quality of the training. For example, weed management programming efforts around herbicide-resistance management have been significantly influenced and enhanced by results of the IPM Assessment.
Evaluating Nutrition Education Programming by Using a Dietary Screener
Short dietary assessment instruments known as screeners have potential for use in evaluating nutrition education programming because detecting change in dietary intake can demonstrate movement toward program goals. Using screeners results in objective dietary intake data but involves less administrative time, training, and cost than other evaluation methods. This article describes use of the Block Screener for Fruits, Vegetables, and Fiber (BSFVF) as a pre- and posteducation evaluation tool for an Extension nutrition education program. Findings showed that graduates’ intakes of fruits, vegetables, fiber, and certain nutrients significantly increased. Implications related to use of the BSFVF for evaluation of routine Extension nutrition education programming are discussed.
Factors Related to Motivating Adult Somalis with Refugee Status to Volunteer for 4-H
Focus group interviews were held with adult Somali immigrants to assess their likelihood of volunteering for 4-H in Maine. This qualitative study was undertaken to identify best practices for engaging the growing Somali-Mainer population as a volunteer base. Results of the study demonstrate that Somali immigrant adults are willing to volunteer for 4-H when the outcome will be higher academic achievement for their children and when volunteering matches their cultural expectation of helping others. Additionally, Somali adults reported limitations related to their ability to volunteer, particularly language barriers and child-care commitments.
Evaluating the Feasibility of a Gardening and Nutrition Intervention with a Matched Contact-Control Physical Activity Intervention Targeting Youth
The study reported here involved Cooperative Extension as a key research partner and was guided by a community-based participatory research approach and a feasibility study framework. The research objective was to assess four indicators of feasibility (i.e., acceptability, demand, implementation, and limited-effectiveness) of a gardening and nutrition program delivered at three youth community sites as compared to a matched contact-control physical activity intervention delivered at three different youth community sites. Conducted in a medically underserved region, the mixed-methods, quasi-experimental study revealed numerous opportunities for and barriers to increasing youths' willingness to try fruits and vegetables and increasing physical activity among youths.
Research in Brief
Assessing Nature-Based Recreation to Support Economic Development and Environmental Sustainability Extension Programs
In support of community development, natural resource, and other Extension programs, the research reported here aimed to identify current and potential outdoor recreational opportunities in the St. Johns River Basin, an inland area in northeastern Florida. We identify the characteristics of the visitors participating in the recreational activities and discuss opportunities to enhance tourism experiences. Similar research can be implemented in other U.S. regions to document the benefits provided by water resources to local and regional economies.
Systematic Review of Physical Activity Objectives in Extension Strategic Plans: Findings and Implications for Improved Public Health Impact
Extension programming that incorporates both physical activity and dietary behaviors is necessary for the prevention of certain chronic diseases, including obesity. The purpose of the study presented here was to systematically identify the presence of physical activity objectives in the strategic plan for each Extension system in the United States. Few Extension systems (13) included physical activity in their strategic plans, yet lack of inclusion of physical activity in a strategic plan may limit the degree to which a system supports physical activity objectives and outcomes. As strategic plans lead to strategic thinking, the integration of physical activity objectives may improve the public health impact of Extension programming.
Examining eXtension: Diffusion, Disruption, and Adoption Among Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Professionals
As eXtension unveils its new membership model, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach must determine how best to support professionals and clientele using the technology. This article reports on a study that used the diffusion of innovations and disruptive innovation theories to assess Iowa Extension professionals' adoption and perceptions of eXtension. One quarter of Iowa Extension professionals had no knowledge of eXtension, and 25% of respondents reported using the technology. Respondents perceived that eXtension exhibits a relative advantage and some of the attributes—accessibility and capacity—needed to become a disruptive innovation. These findings provide a basis for studying disruptive innovations in Cooperative Extension.
Costs of Pastured Broiler Operations Based on Data from Small-Scale Farms
Many small-scale and limited-resource farmers use "hobby scale" technologies to produce food for home consumption and as a source of supplementary income. However, the economic potential of many of these technologies has not been investigated. Raising poultry on pasture is a relatively common small-scale technology for which there is sparse production and economics information based on actual-farm data. This article provides such information, based on data from farms in Kentucky. Analysis indicated that live broiler sales might be marginally profitable but that greater profit can be realized through sales of processed broilers at farmers' markets.
Evaluating an Integrated Nutrition and Parenting Education Program for Preschoolers and Their Parents
The main purpose of the study described in this article was to test the effectiveness of Little Books and Little Cooks, a 7-week integrated nutrition and parenting education intervention designed to improve eating habits of families, strengthen relationships between parents and their children, and improve preschoolers' cooking skills. Participant families showed promising change related to enhancing children's cooking skills, along with improved parent-child interactions, eating behaviors among children, and feeding practices of parents. These findings suggest that a multidisciplinary, integrated approach addressing both nutrition and parenting is an effective way to help parents guide their children toward healthful eating behaviors.
Assessment of the Impact of Viticulture Extension Programs in Virginia
The study discussed in this article assessed the impact of Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE) on the Virginia wine grape industry. An online survey was developed and administered to members of the Virginia Vineyards Association. The results indicate that the resources and recommendations VCE and Virginia Tech have provided have been beneficial to Virginia grape growers, although growers who operate larger farms, produce wine commercially, or have higher levels of viticulture training are less likely to benefit from the relevant programs. Growers operating near where the programs are often delivered and those with higher levels of experience have benefited the most.
Identifying Invasive Species Educational Needs in Florida: Opportunities for Extension
Florida's ecology has been adversely affected by invasive species. In Florida, a study was conducted to explore opportunities for Extension educators to contribute to combating the issue of invasive species. Florida residents' responses were captured through the use of an online public opinion survey. The findings revealed a need for invasive species education and respondent interest in learning about invasive species. Potential communication strategies Extension educators should use for invasive species programming also are discussed.
Effect of Dairy Beef Quality Assurance Training on Dairy Worker Knowledge and Welfare-Related Practices
A study was conducted to determine whether on-farm dairy beef quality assurance (BQA) training affected dairy worker knowledge of BQA and welfare-related practices. Dairy personnel who participated in the BQA training were administered an exam before and after the training to gauge the amount of knowledge gained. The average exam score was 21.0 points higher after the training, increasing from 54.4 to 75.4. Improvement in dairy worker knowledge suggests that BQA training programs have the potential to positively influence the dairy industry through the education of dairy owners and workers on BQA and welfare-related practices.
Master Gardener–Led Lessons Increase Knowledge in Gardening and Environmental Science for Iowa Summer Camp Youth
Gardening and nutrition lessons for children can affect knowledge, actions, and behaviors that support more healthful lifestyles. The objective of the study described in this article was to determine the effectiveness of a master gardener–led education program for youth at a week-long summer camp in Iowa. Garden knowledge was assessed via a pretest, a posttest, and a 6-month follow-up. Campers increased their garden knowledge after the week-long camp. In addition, a 6-month follow-up questionnaire was mailed to parents to obtain information about changes in participants' behaviors. More than 75% of parents noticed positive garden-related behavior changes in their children.
Slash and Learn: Revealing Stakeholder Knowledge, Support, and Preferred Communication Methods Relative to Wood-Based Biofuels Projects
The Northwest Advanced Renewables Alliance (NARA) is examining the feasibility of a woody biomass-to-biofuels supply chain in Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington. A part of the ongoing feasibility study involved conducting a survey of informed stakeholders on the use of woody biomass from forest residuals in producing sustainable bioenergy. Survey findings indicated that the more knowledgeable stakeholders considered themselves, the more supportive of biofuel-related activities they were. Also, survey respondents generally wanted to be able to obtain information on the topic on their own and at their own convenience, such as by accessing a website, and through face-to-face forums, where they could ask questions.