April 2019 // Volume 57 // Number 2
Encouraging Citation Through Clear Writing and April JOE Highlights
In "Encouraging Citation Through Clear Writing," I offer a new, critical, and evidence-based incentive to encourage prospective JOE authors to work toward crafting the most effective manuscripts they can. In "April JOE Highlights," I focus on articles in this issue surrounding the theme of new ways of thinking in and about Extension.
Engage the Future: The New Extension Learners
Extension has the opportunity to establish itself as a leader in meeting the changing needs of a new generation of learners. With more than a century's experience in developing and delivering successful programs in communities, Extension can equally succeed in leading the land-grant university system in expanding involvement in five critical areas of education today: degree completion and learner success, community and economic development, engagement of underserved populations, engagement of the newest members of the workforce, and promotion of experiential learning. This commentary identifies and reflects the collective views of 26 administrators who participated in an event designed to vision Extension's expanding role in the 21st century.
Participate in the JOE Discussion Forum on “Engage the Future: The New Extension Learners”
Leveraging Cooperative Extension's Competitive Advantages for Success in 2019 and Beyond
Many academic institutions of higher education are experiencing fluctuating or declining levels of public support and funding. One approach to framing potential solutions is identifying the competitive advantages academic institutions have in the marketplace. The advantages for Extension can be described in the context of increasing effectiveness, efficiency, and long-term impact. As an organization, we can focus on 10 competitive advantages related to brand, product, impact, leveraged resources, relevance, objectivity, approach, networks, trust, and unique expertise. The future success of Extension will require that we capitalize on these competitive advantages in visionary and innovative ways to maintain our niche in the marketplace.
Participate in the JOE Discussion Forum on “Leveraging Cooperative Extension's Competitive Advantages for Success in 2019 and Beyond”
Extension's Role in the United States' Campaign to Reduce Food Waste
Extension can play a role in the United States' campaign to reduce consumer food waste by 2030. Food waste exists alongside food insecurity and affects individual households, agriculture, and the environment. Addressing food waste through a food systems approach requires involvement from Extension experts in family and consumer sciences, agriculture, environmental health, community development, policy, research, and education. Understanding the magnitude of and reasons for consumer food waste in the United States helps educators address this complex issue. By changing how people think about and manage food and food waste, Extension can have a significant impact on future generations.
Participate in the JOE Discussion Forum on “Extension's Role in the United States' Campaign to Reduce Food Waste”
Ideas at Work
Engaging College Students in Experiential Learning Opportunities within Extension
Providing experiential learning opportunities within Extension for college students generates benefits for multiple parties. As two campus-based faculty and two Extension county-based faculty who have collaborated to increase public health student engagement through endeavors within Extension, we have gained perspective on this topic. We describe a continuum of relevant experiential learning options, from classroom experiences through full internships. We also provide input on associated best practices. Extension faculty across the nation are encouraged to use and adapt these tools to ensure success in offering experiential learning opportunities to college students.
Effective Engagement with Latino Youths and Communities
California's 4-H Youth Development Program adopted an asset-based and systematic community development approach to studying successful Latino-serving youth development programs. This effort included a scan of Latino engagement resources and Latino-serving youth development settings as well as key informant interviews. Beyond generating important data, the research process itself facilitated impactful Latino community outreach, relationship building, and engagement, suggesting multiple potential benefits to using a community development approach in research.
Tools of the Trade
Beyond Evaluation: Using the RE-AIM Framework for Program Planning in Extension
Extension professionals need to apply sound frameworks to program planning and evaluation in order to demonstrate strong population health impact and value. Pragmatic application of the RE-AIM (reach, effectiveness, adoption, implementation, maintenance) framework addresses the "who, what, when, where, how, and why" of a program's implementation. This article suggests pragmatic questions and example applications for each of the RE-AIM dimensions specifically for Extension professionals. This adapted RE-AIM tool can help Extension practitioners in all disciplines better plan and evaluate their programs and demonstrate the public value of Extension.
Recruitment and Onboarding Resources for Extension in the West
Recruitment and retention of competent Extension professionals is a priority for ensuring that Extension remains relevant in communities. Extension program leaders in the West have developed an online resource to support recruiting and onboarding of new Extension professionals. Components of the resource include summaries and short videos featuring Extension professionals from throughout the region discussing Extension work, Extension's history, community relationships, professional expectations, and program assessment. These elements are intended to support each state's recruiting and mentoring programs and to foster a more cohesive approach across Extension for recruitment, onboarding, retention, and program assessment.
(Mis)Communicating with Geographic Information System Mapping: Part 1—Choosing Unit of Representation
Extension professionals are increasingly using geographic information system (GIS) technology to develop and inform programs and services. In this article, we use a mapping exercise to demonstrate how the unit of data can be applied and inadvertently misrepresented in GIS mapping. We contrast the use of counts, percentages, and location quotients with the same data and the resulting divergence in maps. The discussion addresses ideal circumstances for using each unit of data. Overall, the article illustrates the need for Extension professionals to be cognizant of the benefits and limitations of various units of data to avoid miscommunication when using GIS mapping.
(Mis)Communicating with Geographic Information System Mapping: Part 2—Determining Data Cutoffs
The increasing use of geographic information system (GIS) technology in various fields suggests the need for professionals, including those in Extension, to be mindful of communicating data accurately and effectively. This article examines approaches to creating classes or groupings within data as well as the weaknesses of each approach. Data break units discussed in the article include equal intervals, quantiles, and units resulting from natural breaks. Ideal situations for each type of data break are presented. The article emphasizes the need for Extension professionals to consider the effects of data grouping to avoid miscommunication when using GIS mapping.
Interactive Online Tool for Educating the Public About Landscape Conservation
Landscape-scale conservation planning performed in a systematic and transparent manner is becoming more common as it is increasingly evident that ecological processes are being affected at large spatial scales. The Appalachian Landscape Conservation Cooperative undertook a 15-state landscape conservation planning project, resulting in a landscape conservation design called NatureScape. To facilitate NatureScape's implementation by groups and individuals participating in on-the-ground landscape conservation, we developed an online decision support tool. This tool has the potential to assist Extension services in delivering research-based information to varied stakeholders as they make land use decisions.
Regional Conservation Partnership Program: A Tool for Natural Resources Management Across Watersheds
This article introduces the Regional Conservation Partnership Program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service. The program encourages partnerships among Extension professionals, conservation agency representatives, and farmers that focus on addressing natural resources concerns through the development and implementation of regional watershed plans. These plans assist farmers in practicing sustainable crop and animal production methods. Extension professionals will find the program useful as a tool for building collaborations at watershed and regional scales to promote agricultural production practices that enhance natural resources conservation.
Ten Tools for Creating Attention-Getting Social Media Messages
It is not enough to simply post text in social media messages. Tweets with images garner three times more engagement, such as through likes, retweets, follows, clicks, and comments. Social media messages without accompanying visuals are a missed opportunity. This article describes 10 simple tools and accompanying techniques for creating attractive graphics and videos for use with social media: Canva, Paint, Piktochart, grayed out images, hand-drawn sketches, stock images, personal photos, PicCollage, GIFs, and Boomerang. Visuals should be copyright free and fit the content of a post. Time can be saved through repurposing existing images and videos for use in social media content.
Wooden Planks: A Tool for Youth Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math Exploration
Wooden planks are a tool for developing youth skills through science, technology, engineering, and math exploration. These are small planks that can be stacked to create complex structures as youths explore math and physical relationships in an applied context. Building with wooden planks also cultivates planning, reasoning, and team skills as youths design and build structures. We developed an event in which adult and youth teams competed to build structures from wooden planks. Our Building Challenge proved to be effective in cultivating youth–adult engagement and expanding Extension's reach to new audiences while also raising funds for youth programs.
Using an Innovative Multiple-Methods Approach to Evaluate Extension Conferences
Engaging attendees of a 4-H volunteer conference in a multiple-methods approach to conference evaluation met the needs of our conference planning team by resulting in diverse opportunities for determining impact, assessing satisfaction, and understanding conference participants' experiences. The multiple-methods approach also appealed to conference participants by providing them with a variety of ways to share input and reflection while building a sense of community and belonging. Every participant was involved in multiple assessment strategies. We received both quantitative and qualitative data for assessing conference success and gathered impact data by using multiple creative evaluation tools.
Building a Rural Library Hotspot Lending Program: Results from a One-Year Pilot
In today's society, individuals and households without reliable Internet connections are increasingly at risk of facing significant disadvantages. This article describes an Extension-led pilot project in Oklahoma centered on addressing this issue through the establishment of a hotspot lending program in four rural libraries. Through the program, libraries allow patrons to "check out the Internet" by providing cellular-based hotspots that connect to a user's smartphone, tablet, or laptop. Feedback from librarians and 297 survey respondents suggests that the program is highly popular and is reaching the target audience. Conclusions on barriers faced and suggestions for best practices, including the role Extension can play, are provided.
Successful Collaborations Between Extension and Nonprofits: Factors Contributing to Effective Alliances
There are many potential advantages to collaborations between Extension and nonprofit organizations; however, it is unclear what factors contribute to a successful collaboration. We used an exploratory cross-comparative case study design to analyze four cases of highly successful Extension/nonprofit collaborations in one area in Florida. Using both deductive and inductive analysis processes, we identified several factors that contributed to the success of these partnerships: alignment of goals, longevity, informal adaptable partnering, relevant Extension agent background, delegation of tasks, marketability and fun, and relationship building. Exploration of these factors can inform future studies and has immediate, practical implications for Extension agents.
Research in Brief
Tailoring Extension Efforts for Promotion of Diversified Crop Rotation Systems
We conducted a survey in the northern Great Plains to better understand farmer-preferred learning sources and formats, influential factors, and challenges related to adoption of diversified crop rotation systems. University Extension was ranked as the second most preferred learning source, lagging only behind other farmers. Most farmers listed short seminars and Extension fact sheets as their most preferred learning formats, and most viewed crop productivity and soil health as the most influential factors for new-practice adoption. Our findings can help Extension educators better facilitate future adoption of diversified cropping systems as a conservation practice.
Assessing the Social Media Use and Needs of Small Rural Retailers: Implications for Extension Program Support
To assess small rural retailers' use of social media and the role of social media in their business sustainability, we conducted focus group interviews with small business owners/managers from rural communities in a midwestern state. Participants revealed strong interest in social media, especially for use in sales and marketing. However, their engagement in social media was limited due to lack of knowledge and resources (i.e., time, human resources, financial resources, effectiveness measurement) related to developing and updating content. On the basis of these findings, we examine implications for Extension professionals and outreach educators regarding social media needs and programming for small rural businesses.
Economic and Fiscal Impacts of Refugees in Central Iowa: Opportunities for University Extension
An increasing refugee population has led to scrutiny of the effects of refugees in the United States. One way to assess effects is through studying economic and fiscal impacts. We used an input–output framework and refugee employment and wage data to estimate the short-term economic and fiscal impacts, both indirect and induced effects, of refugees living in central Iowa. Findings suggest that the employment and income multiplier effects are significant, although short-term fiscal impacts are negative. The study provides an objective assessment of an important and understudied group in central Iowa and could have relevance nationwide, including for Extension practitioners in developing or strengthening programming or contributing to policy formulation.
Long-Term Behavior Change of Participants in a Northeast Nutrition Education Program
Limited data exist on the self-reported retention of core educational concepts by Maine Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) participants. We assessed the effectiveness of the program by comparing participants' responses on an EFNEP checklist completed before starting the program, immediately after the program, and 6 months after graduation. Results indicate that participants maintained certain positive behaviors. Frequencies with which participants shopped with a grocery list and used the Nutrition Facts label to make food choices increased after education, and those behaviors persisted long-term. Room for improvement also exists. The findings have implications for future program planning.
Providing Nutrition Education at a Food Pantry Affects Food-Related Behavior of Participants
We investigated effects of nutrition education provided to food pantry clients by trained volunteers. Specifically, we assessed effects on food security, nutrition practices, and food safety by examining the food pantry clients' intent to use beneficial kitchen practices and self-reported behavior following the education. Participants who engaged in at least one educational lesson completed an intent survey after the education. After the 4-month period during which the lessons were provided, participants and members of a comparison group completed retrospective questionnaires. Participants reported both high intent to use resources and behavior change (p ≤ .05). Offering nutrition education in food pantries is useful for participants and constitutes worthwhile Extension programming.
Comparing Farm Financial Performance Across Local Foods Market Channels
Financial performance benchmarks were estimated on the basis of samples of successful Northeast fruit and vegetable producers classified by primary local foods market channel. Comparisons across farm stores, large urban farmers' markets, and intermediated market channels were conducted for the purpose of identifying key differences in human and financial resource requirements. The benchmarks provide data useful for assisting individual farmers in assessing their performances and new and beginning farmers in identifying appropriate market channels for their businesses. Additionally, the benchmarks provide a rich source of information for use by Extension educators in developing programming around local foods marketing opportunities and business planning.
Informing Business-Related Educational Needs Through Facilitated Roundtable Discussions with Forest Landowners and Service Providers
Following a daylong symposium featuring tax-oriented presentations, attendees participated in facilitated roundtable discussions centered on identification of educational needs and challenges associated with the symposium subject matter. Participants discussed their educational needs; challenges related to local, state, and federal tax laws; and recommendations for policy changes. Qualitative data gathered from participants will inform future educational programming and guide discussions about potential policy changes.
Using Time to Assess Extension Exhibits
In addition to other evaluation methods, the amount of time visitors spend at an exhibit may indicate visitors' level of interest and engagement with the exhibit content. We describe methods from the museum field where time is used as a measurement of exhibit effectiveness and discuss findings from a study in which we used time to evaluate an Extension exhibit. This information has implications for Extension professionals interested in using time as a method of evaluating visitors' level of interest and engagement in their exhibits.
On-Farm Validation of a Liquid Semen Vaginal Artificial Insemination Protocol in Hair Sheep
A low-input and simple liquid semen vaginal artificial insemination (AI) protocol developed at Virginia State University was evaluated on four commercial small farms during the peak of the breeding season. Pregnancy rates of 20%–70% were achieved. These results suggest that use of the described AI protocol would provide an effective means of enhancing the genetic potential of herds and maximizing profits for small-scale sheep producers. Cooperative Extension personnel can promote the use of liquid semen vaginal AI as a practical and effective tool for genetic improvement and facilitate its use among interested farmers.
Developing a Master Food Volunteer Continuing Education Program: A Model for Volunteer Capacity Building
We developed a master food volunteer (MFV) continuing education program (CEP) for MFVs assisting Extension agents with a diabetes self-management program. Our development process included two phases of pilot testing. First, seasoned MFVs tested and provided formative feedback on the first iteration of the MFV CEP modules. After revising the modules in response to their feedback, we evaluated program effectiveness by comparing pretraining/posttraining score change between MFVs who had completed the training (intervention group) and those who had not (comparison group). All test scores increased for intervention group members, whereas half declined for comparison group members. Our process of developing enhanced education to address program-specific volunteer capacity building has broad applicability.