December 2019 // Volume 57 // Number 6
Transmitting Passion and December JOE Highlights
When scholarly writing seems like a chore, academic authors may be motivated by approaching the task from a place of passion. I address this concept in the opening section of this Editor's Page. In the "December JOE Highlights" section, I carry the notion forward by spotlighting articles in the issue that not only communicate the work underlying the written words but also convey the passion the authors applied to that work.
Creating Inclusive Extension Programs
To develop more inclusive programs, Extension professionals should attend to self-awareness, communication, and program structure. We suggest engaging in reflection and examining word choices and program decisions to make programs more welcoming to all members of the communities we serve. Extension professionals should incorporate these practices in their work to meet the needs of increasingly diverse communities.
Participate in the JOE Discussion Forum on “Creating Inclusive Extension Programs”
Ideas at Work
Preparing Extension Educators for Community-Based Research and Grant Partnerships
Two trainings to prepare Extension educators for research and grant partnerships were designed, implemented, and evaluated. These trainings further national goals to address health disparities, gain partnerships in the health care sector, and support health extension. The workshop Are You Research Ready? prepares Extension educators to participate in community-based human health research. Evaluations indicated that attendees gained a self-assessment of research readiness and felt more confident to position themselves for grants. Program evaluations also showed that educators needed additional training on how to create partnerships. A second workshop, Are You Partnership Ready?, addresses this need, increasing participants' confidence and skills for engaging in research projects and building partnerships.
Creating a Suicide Prevention Program for Farmers and Farmworkers
In 2018 the Washington State legislature passed Substitute House Bill 2671 to address suicide in the agriculture industry, and Washington State University Skagit County Extension was selected by the Washington State Department of Health to develop a suicide prevention pilot program for farmers and farmworkers. In the initial stage from March to September 2019, program efforts included collaborating with suicide prevention and behavioral health experts, building institutional capacity (bilingual English–Spanish material and website creation), and leveraging the Extension platform. We provide a roadmap for other Extension entities looking to create suicide prevention programs.
Addressing the Opioid Epidemic: Defining Cooperative Extension's Role
The PReventing Opioid Misuse In the SouthEast (PROMISE) Initiative team conducted a needs assessment to explore Mississippians' perceptions of the emerging issue of opioid misuse and to identify ways Extension professionals can assist in opioid misuse prevention. In this article, we describe the assessment process that included a series of community forums and a statewide electronic survey. Additionally, we explain how we used the assessment findings to define participants' involvement in opioid misuse prevention and to develop messages to be disseminated by Extension professionals. Information presented here may be of use to Extension personnel in other states interested in engaging in opioid misuse prevention.
Senior Access Points: Increasing Awareness of Aging-Related Resources
As the United States' population ages, connecting older adults to supportive resources is more important than ever. Colorado State University Extension has played a central role in implementing Senior Access Points, a program that delivers community outreach and education regarding aging-related resources available to older adults and caregivers. This article outlines four key components of development of the program: building a website, producing outreach materials, training volunteer ambassadors, and establishing a county-wide, coordinated outreach effort designed to break down resource access barriers. With outreach strategies tested and established in one county, the program is now being replicated by Extension professionals across Colorado.
Go Among the People: Travel as Nontraditional Professional Development
Extension agents obtain professional development (PD) through a variety of means, some of which have been critiqued as lacking in creativity or involvement of experiential learning approaches. As Extension engages in reinvention and reimaging in response to competition in the information marketplace, direct and candid connections with a changing clientele are essential. In this article, I propose the value of travel as a form of nontraditional PD, present an approach to manufacturing relevant encounters, and include a case study to illustrate the application of this approach. Nontraditional PD allows professionals to creatively adapt programming to community need and character.
Back to the Basics: Are Traditional Educational Methods Still Effective in a High-Tech World?
Although Extension educators have harnessed the power of technology as an important vehicle for conveying research-based content, it is important that the power of traditional educational methods not be overlooked. These traditional methods remain ideas that work, have worked, and continue to work even today. In this article, we spotlight these traditional ideas by presenting a social marketing campaign that engages limited-resource audiences via themed print educational materials—posters, brochures, and bookmarks. Evaluation results indicate that the campaign has been successful in engaging the target audience and motivating them regarding the adoption of healthful behavior changes.
Demonstrating the Public Value of Extension Forestry Programming Through Benefit Transfer Analysis
Cooperative Extension produces public value through educational programming that benefits the greater community. Forests provide numerous valuable benefits to society through the provision of ecosystem services. Cooperative Extension educational programming positively affects forest owners, who, in turn, conduct actions that enhance ecosystem services. An understudied relationship exists between Cooperative Extension and ecosystem services that can be drawn on to document Extension's public value. Applying ecosystem services values to Extension natural resources–related programmatic outcomes through benefit transfer provides an avenue through which Extension can potentially make significant advancements in monetizing its public value.
Tools of the Trade
Tools for a Statewide Performance Appraisal System for Extension Professionals
In response to research demonstrating that Tennessee Extension agents desired a performance appraisal system that better reflected their jobs and provided for appraisers' professional development, a committee of University of Tennessee and Tennessee State University personnel undertook a 2-year initiative to revise the performance appraisal system. The committee produced a performance appraisal form and a performance appraisal rubric delineating performance factors, criteria, and performance-level descriptions; a comprehensive appraisal guide; and case studies and training guides for Extension professionals to use in learning about effective performance appraisal. Extension professionals conducting similar efforts in other states may benefit from using these tools.
#PassTheMicYouth Multimedia Program: Setting the Stage to Amplify Youth Voices
The #PassTheMicYouth multimedia program is a youth-centered, youth-led podcast and blog that amplifies the voices and lived experiences of young people across social identity groups. Grounded in a positive youth development framework and informed by a critical pedagogical tradition, #PassTheMicYouth shines a spotlight on sociopolitical issues important to young people and provides a platform that supports creativity and candor. Archived podcast episodes and blog posts are accompanied by lesson plans Extension professionals and other educators can use to promote dialogue and critical reflection among youth and adult audiences. This article introduces the #PassTheMicYouth program and examines potential applications for youth-serving professionals.
Paving the Way: A Plan for Tackling Urban Forestry Challenges and Gaining Public Support
The benefits of urban trees are well known; however, tree roots often damage sidewalks, requiring root cutting, tree removal, and sidewalk replacement. We used alternative materials that allowed for tree retention and sidewalk replacement at two sites in northern Utah. From these projects, we developed a plan to help Extension professionals build support for novel urban forestry techniques and tools by forming collaborative partnerships, conducting public and professional outreach, and evaluating public opinions through the use of drop-off/pick-up surveys. Our project highlights the importance of having a proactive outreach plan when conducting Extension programming that involves new practices and products.
Veg Out! Use of an Infomercial-Style Format in a Produce Awareness Program
Veg Out! is an infomercial-style produce awareness session. We use image-focused rather than content-focused slides to highlight the health benefits associated with produce consumption. This image-focused approach is helping participants become more familiar with produce serving sizes and increasing the likelihood of their consuming more produce. Our findings suggest that an image-focused education session is an effective strategy for promoting familiarity with the topic being presented and increasing the likelihood of behavior change.
Narrative Analysis Research: A Tool for Extension Educators
Within the qualitative research community, narrative analysis research is a common method that is used to better understand a person's experiences or a collective experience. The use of narratives in Extension has been limited. Extension professionals primarily have used narratives as tools for conveying the value of Extension programs or, more recently, as one aspect of a broader program evaluation effort. This article focuses on benefits of narrative analysis research and its potential for practical application by those in Extension.
Embracing Diversity and Inclusion: An Organizational Change Model to Increase Intercultural Competence
Professionals in Extension who develop intercultural competence are better prepared to meet the needs of multicultural populations. This article addresses University of California Extension's formation of an intercultural competence professional development initiative. We describe our use of an integrated conceptual framework that includes Hammer's Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI) and Kotter's eight-step organizational change process to institutionalize the initiative. IDI pretest and posttest results indicate that California 4-H professionals are more culturally competent. The impact of the initiative also is reflected in the significant growth (151% increase) in Latino youth participation in 4-H. We provide recommendations for replicating our effort.
An Analysis of Aging-Related Needs and Programming Across the Extension North Central Region
As the U.S. population ages, Extension's need for associated organizational readiness increases. We conducted a needs assessment with a sample of 1,028 Extension professionals in the Extension North Central Region (NCR) to identify the current scope of aging-related community needs. Health care, chronic disease prevention and management, housing, and transportation emerged from qualitative analysis as top aging-related needs. A rank-order analysis identified finances, healthy aging, and aging-friendly communities as chief community concerns. Additionally, the NCR Extension professionals indicated the importance of resources and programs and need for community capacity building related to aging issues, regardless of their programming area and/or responsibilities.
Community Climate Conversations: Engaging and Empowering Local Action in a Changing World
We examined how the Twin Ports Climate Conversations (TPCC), a community-based climate communication project, is influencing local climate awareness and response. A survey of TPCC participants and subsequent roundtable discussion event were used to explore program impacts, outcomes, and future directions. Results showed that the TPCC project has been effective at increasing awareness and facilitating contacts and may be leading to actions that range from information sharing to personal behavioral changes. Future directions include engaging new audiences and promoting more on-the-ground climate action. TPCC can serve as a model to help other communities start cross-sectoral climate conversations.
Thinking Globally About Universities and Extension: The Convergence of University-Based and Centralized Extension Systems in China
The U.S. university-based extension system model has been successful nationally, but not adopted globally. Various historical factors rendered the U.S. system a less attractive option for emerging post-WWII nations. However, current changes in education and extension landscapes are creating new opportunities for the globalization of U.S. Extension. Specifically, both the U.S. and Chinese extension systems now face the common challenge of delivering meaningful university-based extension under shifting conditions. This commonality creates opportunities for exploring long-term, synergistic university-based extension systems and potentially achieving associated benefits worldwide.
The Military Families Learning Network: A Model for Extension-Based Virtual Learning Communities
This article provides an overview of Extension's Military Families Learning Network. The network is an example of Extension's commitment to building virtual learning networks in the support of targeted professional and lay audiences. The network uses well-established and emergent pedagogical approaches focusing on adult-centered learning while employing state-of-the-art online learning technologies. We present a four-dimensional model of learning activities to illustrate how the network offers different options for and approaches to adult-centered learning and training. The Military Families Learning Network can serve as a model for broader adoption of such entities across the Extension community.
Animal Disaster Training: Assessing Disaster Preparedness and Perceptions of Responders
Extension has an important role in addressing animal issues in communities. An evaluation of animal disaster preparedness and perceptions of participants in a large-animal emergency training course was conducted through precourse and postcourse surveys, and survey data from first responders were compared to those of other participants. Few participants had personal disaster plans that included animals. After taking the course, participants demonstrated greater appreciation for collaborating agencies and better recognition of the importance of animal handling, animal behavior, and animal first aid/triage. Overall, participants identified equipment safety and personal protective equipment as the most important topics for which training is needed. Implications for Extension disaster management education programs exist.
Research in Brief
Responding to Crisis: Farmer Mental Health Programs in the Extension North Central Region
A number of current events are exacerbating farm stress. Extension and farm organizations have mobilized responses to an emerging mental health crisis among farmers. To evaluate these responses, we conducted an online scan of resources to present a baseline typology of current mental health programs and response efforts in the 12-state Extension North Central Region. We classified responses by type of program, target audience, and delivery format. We identified the need to train mental health counselors and state suicide hotline responders on farm issues and farm culture.
"I Wish I Had Known"—Understanding Barriers to Accessing Aging-Related Resources
There is a growing imperative to ensure that aging-related resources and information are accessible to older adults and caregivers as the population ages. Extension can play an important role in associated education and outreach. We report on the results of a community assessment conducted in Larimer County, Colorado, that addressed barriers to information access. The results of our assessment demonstrated that many people were not finding the right entry point to access the services they needed. These findings inform strategies being applied in Senior Access Points of Larimer County, a program that encompasses a coordinated, county-wide outreach campaign.
Sowing Seeds of Evaluation: A Pilot Study Measuring Master Gardener Program Public Benefit
We conducted an evaluation pilot study to measure the influence of the statewide University of California Master Gardener Program on participants who attended its public education events. We discuss (a) steps for developing a statewide evaluation and (b) findings from the event follow-up survey we used to evaluate public education participants' self-reported behavior changes. Our findings suggest that volunteer-led public education events resulted in participants improving science-based gardening practices. Our approach has implications for other states' Extension programs; sharing program evaluation measurement strategies and data across states can facilitate better communicating Extension's benefit to the public, thereby addressing a need identified in the literature.
Identifying Barriers to Forage Innovation: Native Grasses and Producer Knowledge
Adoption of native warm-season grasses (NWSGs) in the tall fescue belt is limited despite studies documenting the potential contribution of these forages to profitable beef production. On the basis of two surveys conducted in Tennessee, a survey of beef producers and a survey of agricultural professionals, we evaluated perceptions of NWSG forages and how those perceptions could influence their adoption. Although agricultural professionals were more familiar with NWSGs than producers, both populations had limited knowledge regarding these forages, indicating that additional Extension education is needed. Our results provide useful guidance for developing NWSG forage educational programs for producers and agricultural professionals.
Barriers to and Strategies for Engaging Extension Educators in Family Caregiver Education
Oklahoma Extension educators encountered barriers related to trainings and program delivery for a caregiver education program produced by Oklahoma State University Extension. Oklahoma family and consumer sciences educators were interviewed about perceived barriers to attending trainings and delivering the program. Findings indicated that staff shortages, program prioritization, challenges in developing an audience, and communication issues with the program team made it difficult for educators to engage with the program. Strategies for improvement based on the findings were devised.
Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Agent Receptiveness to Innovative Caregiving Programming
Communities can adapt to residents' needs through innovative citizen-led initiatives. Extension can facilitate these innovation initiatives, but are Extension agents always receptive to such change? We conducted a study to examine the association between organizational change and personal factors and Extension family and consumer sciences agents' innovativeness regarding caregiving programming. Respondents rated their receptiveness to change and answered questions regarding psychosocial health factors. We found that years in current position, leadership self-efficacy, interoffice support, and social support were significant predictors of innovativeness. Results suggest that personal factors rather than organizational change factors may be the more crucial mechanisms for driving agents' innovativeness.
How the Woodland Stick Benefits Oregon Family Forestland Owners and Extension Volunteers
We revised the Oregon State University (OSU) Woodland Stick to aid master woodland manager volunteers in advising their peers on land management decisions. The Woodland Stick has been used as an educational and measurement tool by OSU and other university Extension programs for many years, but little information is known about its impact. We surveyed users of the Woodland Stick and found that 48% use the tool at least once a year. Landowners who use the Woodland Stick find it simple to use and appreciate its low cost. Using the various features of the stick helps advance landowners toward successful woodland management.
Landowner and Natural Resources Professional Perceptions of Silvopasture in Central and North-Central Minnesota
Silvopasture is an agroforestry practice that combines trees, forage, and livestock in an intensively managed system. We surveyed landowners and natural resources professionals in Minnesota to determine their perceptions of silvopasture. Although most respondents had heard of silvopasture, few knew a lot about it. We concluded that there is a need for more educational programming that expands the knowledge of and provides technical assistance to landowners and natural resources professionals who want to add silvopasture to their management toolboxes.