December 2018 // Volume 56 // Number 7
Classroom Use of JOE Author Resources and Content and December JOE Highlights
Building on a topic from the October 2018 Editor's Page, I provide ideas for implementing JOE author materials, as well as JOE articles, with university students in the section "Classroom Use of JOE Author Resources and Content." "December JOE Highlights" focuses on articles that bolster Extension's contributions to solving weighty societal issues and articles emphasizing methods for intensifying or expanding Extension's impact.
Developing a Socio-Ecological Approach to Extension Natural Resources Programming
This article proposes the concept of socio-ecology as a natural resources programming model in Extension. After a brief review of the concept, I link it with the original vision of Extension and more recent Extension scholarship that addresses the human–environment conundrum. I then suggest socio-ecology as both a guide for programming and a vision for directing Extension leadership in developing a path forward for sustainable, and just, natural resources allocation and use.
Participate in the JOE Discussion Forum on “Developing a Socio-Ecological Approach to Extension Natural Resources Programming”
Ensuring Food Safety as Demand for Improved Food System Efficiency Increases
Food security and safety issues have been central to Extension programming since its inception, but emerging concerns over the issues of food waste and system inefficiency have brought new challenges to the forefront. Social change ideas related to reducing food waste include use of secondary quality produce, date label elimination, repurposing of food scraps, and donation and gleaning of food. Implementation of these ideas often intersects with issues of food safety. Therefore, it is incumbent on Extension professionals nationwide to consider how best to use content and expertise to address modern food security, food waste, and food safety challenges.
Participate in the JOE Discussion Forum on “Ensuring Food Safety as Demand for Improved Food System Efficiency Increases”
Ideas at Work
Collaborative Community Engagement: Experiential Learning Opportunities for College Students via Extension
Extension is known for developing practical applications through research and demonstration of new and improved practices that positively affect end users. However, Extension has much to offer to all learners, including matriculated students, through experiential learning opportunities. A successful multidisciplinary effort involved students, faculty, and stakeholders in engaging communities as equal partners in determining issues and developing solutions. The students (many for the first time) experienced firsthand the power of engaging with communities and being a part of solutions. Engagement is fully realized and most successful when reciprocity is an everyday practice.
Role of Extension in Improving the School Food Environment
University of Minnesota (UMN) Extension has assisted schools in making policy, systems, and environmental (PSE) changes to improve the school food environment. UMN Extension's involvement in the Project breakFAST program demonstrates how Extension can provide training and technical assistance to support school staff in making PSE changes that improve teens' access to school breakfast. Intervention schools increased participation in school breakfast by 56%, whereas comparison schools increased participation by only 7%. Background on and details of the project will be useful to others in Extension interested in assisting schools in implementing PSE changes.
Teaching Suicide Prevention Is Positive Youth Development
Youths trained in intervention skills can help stop a suicide through effective communication and an empathetic response. Extension professionals and community partners developed a layered approach to teaching suicide intervention skills, involving school staff, other community-based adults, and youths in a consistent community training process. According to postprogram retrospective surveys and changes in Youth Risk Behavior Survey trends, communities can reduce the risk of suicide, especially among young people, by implementing the approach.
Pest: A Method for Quickly Detecting Invasive Insects Introduced into an Area
Agricultural regions are under constant threat of attack from invasive species. Washington State University Skagit County Extension encourages agents to use the pest methodology as a guide for ensuring that nonnative insects are quickly detected once introduced into their counties. The key components of this approach include working together with the public, ensuring education of Extension agents and other interested parties, obtaining support through funding and collaborations, and implementing a rigorous trapping protocol. The pest approach was used in capturing the first specimens of the brown marmorated stink bug, Halyomorpha halys (Stål), in Skagit County.
Rich Opportunities from Collaboration with a State Housing Finance Agency
A partnership between Ohio State University Extension and the Ohio Housing Finance Agency blends effective community outreach with rigorous research. Community outreach of the partners ranges from home buyer education to foreclosure prevention in Ohio. Research projects of the partnership target program design, pilot testing, and evaluation. The partnership thrives through the common goal of advancing the financial health and welfare of low-income individuals and families in Ohio. The Ohio example provides encouragement for other state Extension services to collaborate on statewide housing and community development opportunities with state housing finance agencies.
The National Extension Oil and Gas Initiative
The national Extension oil and gas initiative centers on a network of Extension educators working on or interested in oil and gas development, a communications strategy that allows network members to exchange Extension information, a comprehensive inventory of Extension activities and resources, and national meetings at which network members can identify and share resources and optimal ways to engage constituents. Our work suggests that the need for relevant training and programming will continue as Extension faculty anticipate increased community demands surrounding oil and gas development. The network is open to all Extension faculty interested in the topic of oil and gas programming in communities.
Model Integrated Pest Management Program Delivery for Community Gardeners
The growth of community gardens has created new opportunities for urban Extension personnel at a time when staffing resources continue to decline. To serve the integrated pest management (IPM) needs of community gardening populations, Extension educators in two urban counties developed an on-site program involving a demonstration kit and planning protocol that Extension educators, program staff, and master gardener volunteers can use to teach IPM. The program provides practical, research-based information to community gardeners, allows Extension to maintain a presence in urban centers, and provides outreach to audiences who may not have used Extension resources historically.
Development of a Food Safety Training for a Prison Farm: Challenges and Solutions
Workers on prison farms in the United States commonly grow produce and row crops and raise livestock. Teaching good agricultural practices to prisoners and prison staff increases the safety of the food produced and reduces the likelihood of an illness outbreak. We developed a food safety curriculum for use on prison farms in Iowa. In developing the curriculum, we encountered many challenges that resulted in modifications in the content and delivery method. We present the content of the curriculum and provide educators with a better understanding of challenges and potential solutions related to working with prison farms.
Tools of the Trade
Intercept Surveys: An Overlooked Method for Data Collection
Intercept surveys are a tool Extension educators can use to capture local data quickly and with minimal cost. We used intercept surveys at city farmers' markets to test the efficacy of food safety signage. From our experience with the intercept survey process, we identified a set of best practices that can benefit other Extension educators interested in developing and implementing this type of research.
Small Science: A Tool and Tips for Converting Food Science Demonstrations into Public Inquiry Experiences
Small-scale science activities provide an opportunity for engagement of diverse, large audiences at settings such as 4-H fairs. We present practical information for implementation of small-scale food science experiences in the Extension education context. Our focus is description of a tool for adaptation of activities for inquiry-based learning and tips for miniaturization of activities to save on costs and resources.
VEB-econ: An Outreach Tool for Designing Vegetative Environmental Buffers
Vegetative environmental buffers, or VEBs, are rows of trees and shrubs purposefully planted to mitigate livestock odor. In this article, we present VEB-econ, a free-to-use geographic information system–based decision support tool Extension professionals can implement when working with livestock producers in designing site-specific VEBs. A soil database links tree and shrub species recommendations to soil-based suitability guidelines. VEB-econ estimates annualized cost for tree establishment and management and opportunity costs and factors in potential Natural Resources Conservation Service cost-share payments. Additionally, VEB-econ can be used to design field windbreaks. VEB-econ is designed specifically to be useful to Extension professionals and other air quality stakeholders.
The Investment Risk Tolerance Assessment: A Resource for Extension Educators
This article provides a brief review of investment risk tolerance, clarifications of terms used to describe risk attitudes, and a description of an online tool, the Investment Risk Tolerance Assessment (IRTA). The IRTA is a research-based tool that provides a score indicating a personalized analysis of a user's willingness to take financial risk. Extension educators can add value to the lives of their clientele by providing assistance in assessing risk tolerance in a valid and reliable manner. For this reason, the IRTA should be a useful addition to Extension educators' toolboxes.
Plickers for Success: A Technological Tool for Advancement in Data Collection
Extension faculty and staff are constantly planning, implementing, and evaluating programming efforts. Data from participants are needed for assessing changes in knowledge, attitude, and behavior through summative and formative evaluation. However, collecting these data can be time-consuming and hard to achieve. A technological tool called Plickers makes data collection quicker and easier. The electronic application can be implemented in Extension settings through the use of a smart device to set up classes, add participants, build surveys, and export data.
Improving Climate Literacy within Extension by Understanding Diverse Climate-Related Informational Needs
Increasing literacy among Extension professionals in every sector regarding potential regional impacts and adaptation strategies related to climate change is key to producing high-quality relevant programs addressing climate-related risks. Professionals in the forestry, agriculture, livestock, and coastal resources sectors attended the Southeast Region Extension Climate Academy in fall 2014. Participant surveys and interviews suggested that some of the agents most confused about climate change gained the most from the workshop. Further, focusing on region- and sector-specific information made climate change relevant to participants who were initially uninterested in addressing the topic.
Women Leaders in Agriculture: Data-Driven Recommendations for Action and Perspectives on Furthering the Conversation
The presence of women in positions of power in the agriculture industry is lacking. This article highlights findings generated from the 2016 Southern Region Women's Agricultural Leadership Summit attended by women from 13 southern states. The research revealed that women working in Extension should (a) formally connect with leadership mentors, (b) envision themselves in leadership roles, and (c) support one another as they work to lead in the agriculture industry. To further the conversation, we provide recommendations that are inherent in the data and intended to assist early-career women professionals as well as middle managers and administrators who desire to advance women's leadership development in Extension.
FOOD: A Multicomponent Local Food System Assessment Tool
Our goal with this article is to present a visual aid and tool for assessing local food systems. We propose that local food systems comprise four essential components represented by the acronym FOOD: in(F)rastructure, pr(O1)duction, (O2)rganizations, and (D)emand. The FOOD assessment tool provides a visual overview of the statuses of these four essential components relative to a particular food system. It is also useful for comparing one food system to another or for tracking changes over time. Availability of the tool has important implications for U.S. Extension professionals across a variety of disciplines with regard to connecting individual components within local food systems.
Rethinking Service: Visual Arts at the Land-Grant University and in Extension Programming
In 2014, land-grant institutions observed the centenary of the Smith-Lever Act, which established the Cooperative Extension program. Traditionally, Cooperative Extension has engaged in and disseminated findings from research in areas such as agricultural sciences and public policy, but rarely the visual arts, despite the prevalence of visual arts departments at land-grant institutions. Faculty in the Department of Visual Arts at North Dakota State University (NDSU) desired to know whether there was potential for collaboration with NDSU Extension. This article addresses findings from the resulting survey-based study and the implications of those findings.
Promoting Transformative Learning: Extension Partnerships Focused on an Ethic of Caring
Extension is known for creating educational environments conducive to the transformative learning required for people to change their perspectives and make better decisions in their lives. However, creating such environments is not easy. The complex Extension context often produces barriers to including program components that support transformative learning. Extension partnerships with nonprofits, government units, and businesses can reduce these barriers and enhance the potential for transformative learning by fostering caring program environments. A partnership between Extension and United Way exemplifies one model for developing programs focused on creating caring educational environments that encourage and sustain transformative learning.
Research in Brief
Determining What Growers Need to Comply with the Food Safety Modernization Act Produce Safety Rule
Extension educators have been enlisted to assist farmers in meeting requirements of the Food Safety Modernization Act Produce Safety Rule (PSR). Although food safety is a familiar topic for Extension educators, helping farmers learn how to prepare for PSR regulations is new. In this article, we describe a needs assessment conducted in the north central United States according to a modified Delphi approach. Results revealed unique characteristics of farmers in the region, least understood components of the PSR, preferences regarding educational tools, and the need for materials for varied audiences. Our process can be adapted for the purpose of determining how to assist growers in other regions in complying with the PSR.
Resident Perceptions of a Proposed Environmental Education Center and Demonstration Farm
To gauge community support for a proposed environmental education center and demonstration farm, we surveyed 514 local residents. Our intent was to assess community members' support for the project and relevant programming interests and to determine the roles that level of community satisfaction, perceived economic impact, and demographics played with regard to project support. We found that most community members supported the development and that levels of community satisfaction, perceptions of economic impact, background, gender, and age were significantly associated with level of support. Our research also revealed that community members were most interested in programs about nature and growing and preserving food and were not interested in technology-based programming.
What Influences Whether Family Forest Owners Participate in Outreach Campaigns?
We used an experimental design to analyze factors affecting participation rates for family forest owner outreach campaigns. Through logistic regression, we assessed the participation rates as a function of campaign and landowner attributes. Participation rates ranged from 3% to 14%. Owners offered a publication were on average 4.3 times more likely to participate than those offered a forester visit. Owners with a college degree were on average 1.5 times more likely to participate than those with lower levels of formal education. Extension and other outreach professionals can use knowledge of these factors to design more effective outreach campaigns.
A Multiyear Evaluation of the NaturePalooza Science Festival
We undertook a multiyear evaluation of the NaturePalooza Science Festival, an annual public event designed to increase science literacy and sustainability behavior, to measure impacts. Surveys conducted at the 2014 and 2015 events and 6 months after the 2015 event showed that 77%, 92%, and 100% of respondents, respectively, learned new information. In 2014 and 2015, 85% and 68% of respondents, respectively, intended to change at least one behavior. Additionally, in the 2015 on-site and follow-up surveys, 66% and 62% of respondents, respectively, reported implementing sustainability behaviors. These findings demonstrate that such events can have a positive, measurable impact on visitors' science literacy and sustainability behaviors.
Good Agricultural Practices Training for Limited-Resource Produce Growers and Extension Educators
We delivered to growers and Extension educators a workshop addressing good agricultural practices (GAP) for produce safety. To assess the workshop's effects as applicable to behavioral intervention theory, we studied past behaviors, behavioral intentions, and changes in knowledge. Workshop participants had been aware of but did not fully understand certain GAP, such as implementing written food safety plans; after the workshop, both groups reported improved understanding of various concepts. Producers were mixed regarding intent to make GAP-related changes after workshop participation, whereas the educators overall were likely to make changes related to teaching GAP. We concluded that producers need more training on GAP and Extension educators should develop programs accordingly.