August 2017 // Volume 55 // Number 4
Figure and Table Titles and August JOE Highlights
In the "Figure and Table Titles" section of this Editor's Page, I emphasize the importance of writing effective titles for graphic displays of data and provide strategies for doing so. And in "August JOE Highlights," I draw attention to this issue’s wide range of articles related to youth development programming and summarize other topics that are addressed.
The Role of Experienced Extension Educators in Attracting and Retaining New Educators
Experienced Extension educators can, and should, help attract and retain new Extension educators. When experienced educators engage with various groups or individuals, they should discuss careers in Extension and highlight the opportunities that are available to Extension educators. Additionally, as new educators are recruited and hired, experienced educators should mentor and encourage them, develop relationships with them, and convey the positive aspects of being an Extension educator. After all, experienced educators are in the best position to convince potential and new hires of the benefits of a successful and rewarding career in Extension.
Participate in the JOE Discussion Forum on "The Role of Experienced Extension Educators in Attracting and Retaining New Educators"
Psychology's Contributions to Extension: State of the Art and Calls to Action
Several psychosocial processes are embedded in the practice of extension. However, there is no Journal of Extension article that systematically addresses how psychology can contribute to the field. Research conducted recently in Latin America addresses this issue and is applicable to those working in U.S. Cooperative Extension. The aim of this article is to provide an overview of possible contributions psychology can make to U.S. Cooperative Extension. These contributions are presented in the context of seven aspects of extension practice that have strong psychological components. Calls to action are presented as well. Essentially, extension organizations need to acknowledge the potentiality of psychology and invite psychologists to be part of their programs and research.
Participate in the JOE Discussion Forum on "Psychology's Contributions to Extension: State of the Art and Calls to Action"
Ideas at Work
Unique Approach to Creating and Implementing a Social Media Strategic Plan
Social media is a valuable communication, outreach, and marketing tool, yet Extension educators often underutilize social media due to concerns related to lack of guidance and perceived risks. This article showcases a unique approach to creating a social media strategic plan that applies best practices from the field of marketing and addresses Extension educators' apprehensions about using social media. The development and implementation of a statewide plan provided opportunities for each Extension educator to support the plan in varying meaningful ways according to his or her time availability, interest, and comfort level.
Local Food Systems Course for Extension Educators in North Carolina: Summary of an Innovative Program
Interest in local foods began in the early 2000s and has grown substantially over the past decade and a half. Although Extension is addressing local food systems in many states, training and materials in this program area are nascent. To address this circumstance, we developed a graduate course on local food systems for Extension educators. Post-course evaluations indicate increased confidence and knowledge related to local food system facilitation, implementation, and evaluation. Students cited site tours and panel presentations as the most effective course aspects and suggested improving the course by adjusting content to account for varying levels of familiarity with local food systems.
Effective Chaperone Selection and Training for Enhanced Youth Experiences
This article identifies key strategies for selecting and training chaperones for youth programs. Although substantial research on volunteer core competencies and training exists, very little has been written to specifically address volunteers who serve in a chaperone capacity. We surveyed chaperones who had participated in an international youth development program to identify the most valuable personal characteristics of a successful chaperone and the most beneficial elements of a pre-event chaperone training program. The lists of these key characteristics and training topics can be used by Extension professionals in selecting chaperones and designing training opportunities for their own programs.
4-H Volunteer Continuing Education Academy
The 4-H Volunteer Continuing Education Academy was developed to provide 4-H club leaders a continuing education opportunity, to assist them in developing and enhancing the skills and knowledge necessary for their volunteer role, and to provide a means for 4-H livestock and horse club leaders to recertify. All participants reported satisfaction with the academy and indicated that they would attend again and would recruit other volunteers to participate. The academy can be replicated in many ways and introduced at any level to provide continuing education and volunteer support. This article describes the academy and provides information for those who may wish to implement a similar program.
Multiyear Succession and Estate Planning for Farm and Ranch Families
Farm succession and estate planning pose difficult challenges for farmers. Idaho farmers generally do not have a business succession plan or an estate plan. Due to the complexities of farm management, University of Idaho Extension personnel partnered with the Idaho Barley Commission and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Risk Management Agency to develop a novel multiyear educational program. This program focused on introducing farm families to succession, retirement planning, and tax management strategies and motivating them to build and implement relevant plans. Findings indicate that participants increased their knowledge of succession and estate planning and completed and implemented major aspects of their management plans.
Tools of the Trade
Public Value Posters: Conveying Societal Benefits of Extension Programs Through Evaluation Evidence
The public value poster session is a new tool for effectively demonstrating and reporting the public value of Extension programming. Akin to the research posters that have long played a critical role in the sharing of findings from academic studies, the public value poster provides a consistent format for conveying the benefits to society of Extension programs and resources. This article provides background on the creation of a public value poster rubric and the implementation of an inaugural public value poster session. This type of session holds enormous potential for building capacity to link program evaluation with public value messaging.
Nutrient Record Keeping . . . Yep, We've Got an App for That!
Technological advances continue to shape agriculture. Many farmers are now using mobile devices to manage their businesses and farming operations "from their shirt pockets." Concurrently, new regulations in Ohio involve a record-keeping requirement. In certain areas of the state, regulations pertaining to weather data and soil conditions restrict fertilizer and manure applications. To assist farmers in meeting these requirements, a multiagency group developed the Ohio Nutrient Management Record Keeper app. This app is available for iOS, Android, and web-based platforms.
Engaging Latino Communities from the Ground Up: Three Tools
California's 4-H Youth Development Program has adopted an asset-based community development approach to extending programming with Latino youths and families. This approach entails learning and relationship building with local Latino communities and building on untapped existing resources, such as Latino-serving organizations and networks. Here we present three tools developed to further the effort.
An Incremental Approach to Improving Evaluation Response Rates for Multiday Events
Online survey systems have improved evaluation costs and efficiencies but tend to result in lower response rates. We developed an incremental approach for online evaluation of multiday events. The incremental approach splits a complete evaluation into smaller sections and provides respondents access to both current and past sections. We selected two annual events (one national and one state-level) at which to evaluate the approach. Overall, evaluation response rates with the incremental approach averaged 45.9%, nearly double the 25.3% response rate that is typical with traditional online evaluations. Use of this incremental approach for online evaluation resulted in improved assessment of the respective events, suggesting its usefulness for future event evaluations.
Using Proprietary Databases to Overcome Data Suppression in Industry Cluster Analysis
Extension agents are frequently tasked with determining industry clusters that exist in a region to support economic development. However, data suppression issues recurrently prohibit a comprehensive understanding of heavily concentrated firms in a region, particularly in rural areas. This article discusses the use of North American Industry Classification System codes within the LexisNexis Academic database as a technique for locating data about specific firms and analyzing regional industry clusters. This approach provides a practical and cost-efficient method for Extension agents and other researchers and practitioners to identify clusters and gather firm information in small geographies throughout the United States.
Maximizing Use of an Extension Beef Cattle Data Set: Part 2—Reproductive Rates
Previously, we described CHAPS20Y, a historical data set, and trends in CHAPS20Y calving distributions. In this article, we describe reproductive rates, including total females exposed to bull(s), pregnancy, pregnancy loss, calving, calf death loss, weaning, culling, and replacement percentages. Yearly mean exposed females increased from 1994 through 2013, consistent with a greater replacement percentage versus culling percentage. Yearly mean reproductive percentages varied over time. Factors such as weather, body condition, temperament, nutrition, and health likely contributed to this variation. CHAPS20Y is a tool Extension professionals can use to understand beef reproductive rates and help producers set and achieve their herd management goals.
Master Volunteer Life Cycle: A Wide Angle Lens on the Volunteer Experience
Extension master volunteer programs, such as master naturalist and master gardener, often focus heavily on volunteer education. The model presented here describes the full life cycle of a master volunteer's experience in the program, putting education in the context of other essential program components. By zooming out to a wide-angle view of the master volunteer experience, the model provides guidance for improving the program by highlighting the many points in the cycle at which program managers can support volunteers so that they can be successful and sustain their volunteer service.
Using the Cultivating Learning with School Gardens Curriculum in Burundi, Africa
University faculty and Extension educators sought to use school gardens in Burundi, Africa, as a means of reducing food insecurity, teaching positive youth development, and increasing experiential learning for Burundian students. Washington State University personnel used videoconferencing to provide training to Burundian nongovernmental organization (NGO) staff on the Cultivating Learning with School Gardens curriculum. The NGO staff then trained teachers in pilot programs at four Burundian schools, where first harvests occurred in May 2016. An agricultural consultant also helped with the gardens. Suggestions for implementation of this school garden curriculum in other countries are provided.
Using Community Assessments to Improve 4-H Youth Development Programming Efforts
Understanding resources available in a community is essential before any 4-H youth development professional can begin addressing local needs. Conducting a community assessment generates valuable information about the unique components and resources of a specific community. This information then provides a foundation for identifying specific community needs and determining ways in which needs can be addressed through Extension-based programming.
Lessons Learned Developing an Extension-Based Training Program for Farm Labor Supervisors
This article outlines a four-step model for developing a training program for farm labor supervisors. The model draws on key lessons learned during the development of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Farm Labor Supervisor Training program. The program is designed to educate farm supervisors on farm labor laws and to support compliance with workplace regulations critical for the safety of farmworkers and the economic sustainability of agricultural industries. Attentive to building partnerships, assessing needs, tailoring the curriculum, and conducting evaluations, the model can be applied elsewhere to address the farm labor issues confronted by specialty crop growers in other states.
Preparing Students for Extension Careers and Expanding U.S. Extension Reach Through International Service Learning
As U.S. Extension broadens its reach around the globe, an increased need exists for Extension professionals who have not only technical knowledge but also the cultural competencies to apply that knowledge in international settings. We describe a course that provides students with the opportunity to develop skills needed for potential careers in Extension, especially those involving international focuses, while advancing U.S. Extension's international efforts. The course also may serve as a model for instructors wishing to integrate Extension concepts into their teaching of undergraduates, thereby preparing individuals to make immediate impacts in Extension careers.
Research in Brief
Perception of Current and Ideal Practices Related to Public Value in Extension
Extension professionals are increasingly encouraged to engage in practices that can advance the public value movement. It is unclear, however, whether recommended practices related to public value are being adopted. In 2014, 235 Extension professionals at Mississippi State University responded to an organizational capacity survey that included questions on public value practices. Research described here explored discrepancies between current and ideal public value practices among Extension professionals. Paired-samples t-tests revealed statistically significant discrepancies between current and ideal public value practices. The findings can inform efforts by Extension professionals seeking to increase awareness and practices related to public value.
Prevalent Approaches to Professional Development in State 4-H Programs
High-quality 4-H programming requires effective professional development of educators. Through a mixed-methods study, we explored professional development offered through state 4-H programs. Survey results revealed that both in-person and online delivery modes were used commonly for 4-H staff and adult volunteers; for teen volunteers, in-person delivery was most common. Additionally, most professional development efforts were characterized as episodic, expert-led, and group-based (traditional approaches); the least common approaches were described as ongoing, learner-centered, and group-based (reform-based approaches). Interview data supported survey findings. Traditional approaches to professional development are considered ineffective; thus, the implementation of more reform-based professional development opportunities is recommended.
Exploring Options for Local Foods Campaigns
"Buy local" campaigns educate consumers about local foods opportunities and have the potential to change consumer behavior by encouraging increased purchasing of local products. Initiatives nationwide strengthen communities through entrepreneurship. An analysis of buy local initiatives conducted through Extension, departments of agriculture and economic development, and nonprofit organizations around the country shed light on the structures of those initiatives and best management practices for communicating with target audiences. Program staff use a variety of communication tools, including social media, advertising, and events, to reach diverse community groups. Findings stimulate consideration of how Extension might build capacity of buy local programs through collaboration and communication efforts.
Food Safety Risks of Leafy Greens from Small-Acreage Farms in Minnesota
To focus future good agricultural practices (GAP) educational efforts, we surveyed leafy greens growers about their farming practices and measured microbial load on greens. Most survey respondents used potable water without added sanitizer for washing. Pathogenic bacterial levels were undetectable or low on farm and farmers' market samples. Coliform counts were in the normal range and were similar across farms and treatments. The microbial food safety risk from locally grown leafy greens appeared to be low. Therefore, future outreach efforts can focus on worker hygiene and cleanliness of farming operations, making GAP training less onerous for growers.
Preparing Youths for Careers in Agriculture Through State Crop Scouting Competitions
State crop scouting competitions (CSCs) promote agriculture by introducing youths in Indiana, Iowa, and Nebraska to various agricultural disciplines while focusing on integrated pest management (IPM). High school students compete as teams to address crop management issues at various stations. Each station is led by university representatives. Two surveys were conducted to determine the impacts of the competition on students. Results indicate that students improved in skills key to future careers and that they learned about aspects of IPM. CSCs can serve as models for states that wish to improve ties between university-based Extension specialists and state high schools.
Kansas Dairy Producers' Needs Survey: Reproductive Management on Kansas Dairy Farms
A section of the Kansas Dairy Producers' Needs Survey evaluated needs related to education on reproductive management and the most common reproductive management practices used on Kansas dairy farms. Of the 312 surveys mailed to dairy producers, 70 were returned fully completed. Results indicate that producers need education on the topic of reproduction and that reproductive management practices and herd sizes are related to where farms are located in the state. Consequently, future Extension reproductive management programming should reflect the diversity of Kansas's dairy industry. Moreover, the results presented align with earlier data from a nationwide survey and therefore may have applicability on a national scale.
Older Adults' Perceptions of Nutrition as Protective Against Detrimental Effects of Environmental Pollution
The aging process makes older adults vulnerable to the detrimental health effects of environmental contaminants. Our study assessed older adults' perceptions regarding diet as protective against environmental contaminants, levels of concern about exposure to environmental contaminants, and interest in learning about protective food-related strategies. A needs assessment to collect such information had not been conducted among older adults. Health fair survey results showed that respondents perceived diet as beneficial against contaminants, were concerned about health implications of exposure, and were interested in learning how to protect health through diet-related strategies. Results suggest that a nutrition-focused curriculum addressing how dietary strategies can help protect against environmental contaminants is needed for Extension professionals.
Factors Limiting Youth Participation in 4-H and Other Youth Development Programs in Underserved Communities
The purpose of the study described here was to identify factors limiting children's participation in youth development programs in underserved communities and ways to overcome those limitations. Findings are based on focus group interviews conducted with members of two underserved communities in North Carolina. Lack of awareness about the 4-H program, lack of affordability, program scheduling conflicts, lack of transportation, and felt exclusion were identified as the major limitations to children's participation in programs. Engaging with the community to win members' trust, informing the target audience of programming ahead of time, and making programs affordable are potential strategies for improving the situation.
Youths Perceive Some Improvement in Substance Abuse Prevention Knowledge, Skills, and Assets from Participation in 4-H Health Rocks!
The 4-H Health Rocks! curriculum aims to reduce use of tobacco, alcohol, and other drugs and promote healthful lifestyle choices among 8- to 14-year-old youths. A retrospective "post-then-pre" survey of Tennessee participants was aimed at describing the demographic characteristics of participants and investigating respondents' perceptions of program outcomes. Although positive, significant results in youths' perceived knowledge, skills, and assets were found, the majority of youths reported no change from before program participation to after program participation. Recommendations include addressing the need for additional research that aligns respondents' perceptions with program delivery settings and the need to explore different evaluation approaches.