April 2017 // Volume 55 // Number 2
JOE Website Updates and April JOE Highlights
To provide clearer information about JOE and facilitate the process of publishing in JOE, I have revamped aspects of the JOE website. I describe the changes in "JOE Website Updates," the opening section of the Editor's Page. Articles in this issue address both fundamentals and contemporary realities of Extension work, and I preview some of these offerings in "April JOE."
The Need for Evidence-Based Outreach in the Current Food Safety Regulatory Landscape
As the most comprehensive legislation related to safety of U.S. agricultural production and food manufacturing in more than 70 years, the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) aims to ensure safety of domestic and imported foods by shifting the focus of producers, processors, and federal regulatory agencies from response to prevention. Considering the diversity of industries in need of FSMA outreach and technical assistance, land-grant institutions and Extension are presented with a challenge and historic opportunity. Systematic and evidence-based needs assessment would enable Extension educators to efficiently triage resources to assist the most vulnerable Extension stakeholders.
Participate in the JOE Discussion Forum on "The Need for Evidence-Based Outreach in the Current Food Safety Regulatory Landscape"
Ideas at Work
Do You YouTube? The Power of Brief Educational Videos for Extension
The growth of online video provides a tremendous opportunity for Extension professionals to expand the reach of educational content. Through repurposing existing content, we at the University of Minnesota Extension Children, Youth, and Family Consortium created several brief educational videos that address pressing challenges for children and families. YouTube analytics indicate that our shorter videos are more often viewed, shared, and liked by our viewers than our full-length seminar videos are. Since we began creating these videos, we have doubled our number of YouTube channel subscribers and likes and increased our video view count over 180%. Online video is a promising way for Extension professionals to extend their reach to a global audience.
Strengthening Families Through a Re-envisioned Approach to Fatherhood Education
Fatherhood education has the potential to affect not only fathers' nurturant behaviors but also multiple dimensions of family life. The weGrill program blends fatherhood, youth development, and nutrition education, with food grilling as the focal activity. Grounded in multiple learning theories, the program helps fathers and their adolescent children learn broadly about family life topics, planning for the future, and nutrition and healthful food behaviors. The program represents a re-envisioned approach to fatherhood education.
Fork2Farmer: Enabling Success of Small Farms Through Partnerships with Well-Known Chefs and the Tourism Sector
A team of economic development, local foods, and tourism specialists from North Carolina Cooperative Extension is pursuing an initiative titled Fork2Farmer. The goal is to increase visits to local farms and diversify farm income by leveraging the high visibility of well-known farm-to-table chefs who support local small farms. To do this, those involved in the initiative are (a) producing and disseminating short videos about collaborative relationships between chefs and the farmers who supply their restaurants and (b) developing educational programs to facilitate agritourism microentrepreneurship and to nurture and leverage farmers' partnerships with chefs.
Expanding Global Mindedness Through a 4-H International Village
With expanding global interdependence, it is vital that 4-H youths learn more about the ever-increasing diverse cultures in their own communities as well as expand their global mindedness and understanding of globalization. The 4-H International Village (a) offers a comfortable yet engaging avenue for youths to expand their knowledge of and interest in foreign cultures and (b) increases their interest in participating in student exchange or study abroad programs. In this article, we provide the outline for conducting a 4-H International Village and describe the initial impact of the program.
Choose and Tell Cards: A 4-H Cloverbud Resource for Promoting Public Speaking and Life Skills
Choose and Tell is a curriculum for 4-H Cloverbud members that introduces them to public speaking and life skill enhancement (communication and social interaction). Choose and Tell consists of activity cards analogous to a deck of cards. Activity card titles include Wash and Comb Your Hair, Plant a Seed, and Floss Your Teeth. The activities are fun and engaging and involve 4-H Cloverbuds practicing demonstrations and illustrated talks in a group setting. The activities are designed as a springboard for advisors to help 4-H Cloverbuds gain confidence in speaking and sharing in front of other youths.
A Practical Method for Collecting Social Media Campaign Metrics
Today's Extension professionals are tasked with more work and fewer resources. Integrating social media campaigns into outreach efforts can be an efficient way to meet work demands. If resources go toward social media, a practical method for collecting metrics is needed. Collecting metrics adds one more task to the workloads of Extension professionals and their partners. Can metrics be collected in an efficient and effective long-term manner even when partners are involved? We propose a practical method for collecting social media communication campaign metrics that is easy to implement and allows for measuring engagement of users over time.
Tools of the Trade
Shark Bite Meetings for Creative Program Planning
The strength of Cooperative Extension lies in the breadth of knowledge and experience of its faculty and staff. Yet those working in Extension can get so bogged down by the weight of this knowledge and become so focused on details, ownership, and process that it can be hard to respond to emerging needs or work effectively as a group. "Shark bite" meetings limit the time demands typically associated with face-to-face, agenda-based meetings while maximizing the creativity and involvement of collaborating participants. Adding structure to fast-paced, collaborative, program-centered meetings allows participants to efficiently brainstorm, consider workload and program fit, and assign roles and outcomes, working toward the ultimate goal of building innovative programs that address emergent issues.
Empirical Questionnaire Methods for Fund-Raising Campaign Preparedness in Extension
Amid waning public financial support for Extension program offerings, highly strategic and professional fund-raising practices are necessary for gaining momentum among private philanthropists and closing the fiscal gap. University of Missouri Extension conducted a precampaign survey that invited feedback from stakeholders to inform Extension leadership on how to execute fund-raising initiatives tailored to the audience. As a result, University of Missouri Extension is better positioned to serve the needs of its constituents by recruiting significant private financial support according to donors' unique interests.
Twitter Chats: Connect, Foster, and Engage Internal Extension Networks
The eXtension Educational Technology Learning Network (EdTechLN) has found Twitter to be an effective form of informal communication for routinely engaging network members. Twitter chats provide Extension professionals an opportunity to reach and engage one other. As the EdTechLN's experimentation with Twitter chats has demonstrated, the use of this technology can be a worthwhile method of engagement if suitable for the intended audience.
Healthful Homes for Urban Youths and Families
The concept of a healthful home offers the basis for a comprehensive approach to addressing the well-established relationship between health and housing. Many environmental health hazards found in homes—such as lead, mold, environmental tobacco smoke, and pesticides—can be reduced or eliminated through the use of scientifically validated (yet sometimes quite simple) interventions that improve health outcomes for residents. A team from the University of Connecticut's Department of Extension developed an effective curriculum for teaching urban 4-H youth leaders, youths, and others in their communities about the importance of healthful homes and practical ways of improving home environments.
Fitbit and Fitabase Technology: Tracking and Evaluating Youth Physical Activity
With the health of today's youth a national priority, professionals need tools for accurately assessing activity patterns and motivating behavior change. Fitness technology may be a promising tool for promoting positive behavior change. The afterschool program WeCook: Fun with Food and Fitness focused on improving food preparation skills, nutrition knowledge, and physical activity levels of youths. As part of the program assessment, each participant wore a Fitbit near the beginning and end of the program. Fitabase, an online research platform, was used for aggregating and analyzing data. We discuss a model for incorporating these technologies.
Crowdfunding in Extension: Leveraging Relationships to Offset Declines in Traditional Funding
Crowdfunding is a new tool available for Extension professionals and their clients to use to creatively offset the abatement of traditional funding sources. A fund-raising campaign can be set up in minutes, as demonstrated by the work of the 4-H members profiled in this article. Whether there is a need for new equipment or added help for a special event or some other financial requirement, crowdfunding can be a proactive way to ask people for financial assistance. Moreover, crowdfunding can provide validation for ideas; on the other hand, if funds fail to come in, it may be time to conclude an endeavor.
Improving the Impact of Extension Through the Use of Anticipation Guides
In this article, we present the anticipation guide as a tool for preparing Extension audiences to learn the main points of Extension materials. Anticipation guides improve learner comprehension by appealing to an individual's natural curiosity and helping the individual focus on key ideas. Anticipation guides can be used with all types of Extension materials and across all Extension programs. We describe how to create anticipation guides for use with Extension materials and explain how to use them effectively and easily. We also provide examples of anticipation guides based on various Extension topics.
Tools for Using Citizen Science in Environmental, Agricultural, and Natural Resources Extension Programs
Citizen science is quickly becoming a valuable tool in the Extension professional's tool kit. This is the case whether you are a 4-H agent looking to involve youth in agriscience and agriculture-related science, technology, engineering, and math experiential learning activities or an agriculture and natural resources agent seeking to help stakeholders in your county or scientific community connect to address issues. This article outlines a number of existing resources within and outside Extension to support agents, professional researchers, and communities in coming together to understand, and ultimately improve, the state of their environment.
Measuring Economic Impact Through Adoption: A Study of the Multi-County New Landowners Educational Series
The Multi-County New Landowners Educational Series is an Extension education program offered in Austin, Colorado, Fayette, and Washington Counties in Texas. We sent an online survey to past participants of the program (those who participated between 2006 and 2010; N = 162). Findings revealed significant adoption of several best management practices that resulted in perceived increases in value per acre of participants' properties, with the grand mean increase being $26.57 per acre. The data we collected illustrate the need for continued evaluation of the economic impact of Extension programs. In addition to discussing our methodology and findings, we identify opportunities and challenges related to documenting such impact.
Demonstrating Impact Through Replicable Analysis: Implications of an Evaluation of Arkansas's Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program
The evaluation described in this article focused on the effectiveness of Arkansas's Extension-based Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) but demonstrates an analytic approach that may be useful across Extension programs. We analyzed data from 1,810 Arkansas EFNEP participants' entry and exit Behavior Checklists to assess reliability of the checklist tool and explore behavior changes. The results demonstrate continued effectiveness of Arkansas EFNEP in delivering impactful health-related programming. Details of our process may provide direction for program leaders in determining which programmatic areas need attention to improve outcomes and in identifying best practices within particular program areas.
Participatory Evaluation and Learning: A Case Example Involving Ripple Effects Mapping of a Tourism Assessment Program
Engaging communities through research-based participatory evaluation and learning methods can be rewarding for both a community and Extension. A case study of a community tourism development program evaluation shows how participatory evaluation and learning can be mutually reinforcing activities. Many communities value the opportunity to reflect on progress made toward development goals and efforts that help accomplish these goals. Application of select evaluation and teaching tools helps stakeholders in a community refine definitions of success. By adopting the methods outlined in this article, Extension educators and program evaluators can deepen their engagement with partner communities in a variety of realms.
Defining and Developing Curricula in the Context of Cooperative Extension
Effective curricula are considered to be the cornerstone of successful programming in Extension. However, there is no universal operationalized definition of the term curriculum as it applies to Extension. Additionally, the development of curricula requires a systematic process that takes into account numerous factors. We provide an operational definition of curriculum by describing the parts of a curriculum, discussing the organization of those elements, and recommending theoretical frameworks that complement the learn-by-doing approach used in Extension. We also describe strategies to guide curriculum development, adaptation, and evaluation that will help advance the potential of Extension curricula to achieve their intended outcomes.
Evaluation of an Extension-Delivered Resource for Accelerating Progress in Childhood Obesity Prevention: The BEPA-Toolkit
The Balanced Energy Physical Activity Toolkit, or the BEPA-Toolkit, supports physical activity (PA) programming via Extension in elementary schools. In a pilot study, we evaluated the effectiveness of the BEPA-Toolkit as used by teachers through Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education partnerships. We surveyed teachers (n = 57) regarding their use of the kit and examined associations between teacher use of the kit and objectively measured PA of students (n = 1,103). Over 80% of responders reported that the BEPA-Toolkit provided additional opportunities for PA, and children regularly exposed to the kit were more active than those having less exposure to it. The BEPA-Toolkit may support PA opportunities in underresourced school settings.
Research in Brief
Using Egocentric Networks to Illustrate Information Seeking and Sharing by Alfalfa Farmers in Wyoming
We explored using farmers' egocentric (personal) networks to understand how they seek farming advice and how their advice networks map onto their friendship networks. We examined results from a survey of alfalfa farmers (n = 634) in Wyoming. Farmers reported seeking advice from neighbors and fellow farmers, and most indicated that these people are also their friends. In this article, we outline the procedure for collecting egocentric network data and report some of our results from using this tool. We conclude by illustrating the utility of acquiring egocentric network information for Extension professionals across domains, contending that such information can facilitate Extension program and technology implementation and information sharing with the public.
Changes in the Use of Precision Farming Information Sources Among Cotton Farmers and Implications for Extension
Using information from precision farmer surveys conducted in the southern United States in 2005 and 2013, we evaluated changes in the use of precision farming information sources among cotton producers. Although Extension remains an important source for producers interested in precision farming information, the percentage of cotton producers using Extension to obtain precision farming information has decreased over time. Results from our study should motivate Extension professionals to re-evaluate the precision farming information they provide to producers and the practices they use to provide such information in efforts to maintain Extension's importance as an information source.
Show Me the Money: Impact of County Funding on Retention Rates for Extension Educators
Extension administrators contemplating the challenge of employee turnover should consider potential motivation factors. Through the lens of Herzberg's motivation-hygiene theory, we explored the relationship between financial uncertainty and employee turnover in Ohio State University Extension. The Human Resources department and Business Office of the university's College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences provided raw data sets for the 2005–2014 study period. Through regression analyses and the use of descriptive statistics, we clarified aspects of the relationship between county funding challenges and employee turnover. Extension administration needs to proactively strengthen county funding streams and reduce the impact of funding disruptions to lessen the potential of employee turnover.
Multiple-Methods Needs Assessment of California 4-H Science Education Programming
The California 4-H Science Leadership Team conducted a statewide assessment to evaluate the needs of county-based 4-H programs related to the key areas of the 4-H Science Initiative: program development and design, professional development, curricula, evaluation, partnerships, and fund development. The use of multiple qualitative data sources proved effective in identifying needs and gaps. Integrated findings provided evidence of institutionalization of 4-H Science; the assessment also revealed gaps that represent opportunities for future efforts and directions. Needs identified included intentional and systematic science programming, effective program models, professional development for staff, and consistency in messaging and branding.
Extension Wellness Ambassadors: Individual Effects of Participation in a Health-Focused Master Volunteer Program
We present findings from a pilot implementation of the Extension Wellness Ambassador Program, a health-focused master volunteer program, and briefly describe the program approach and purpose. Program participants received 40 hr of training and completed assessments of self-efficacy, physical activity, and functional fitness at baseline and 3-month follow-up. Paired-samples t-tests showed significant positive changes in mean for general self-efficacy, self-efficacy for practicing health behaviors, physical activity, and nearly all functional fitness measures. Our findings demonstrate that participation in a health-focused master volunteer program can positively influence participants' lifestyle behaviors as they work to improve health and quality of life in their communities.
A National Perspective on Women Owning Woodlands (WOW) Networks
This article provides a national overview of women owning woodlands (WOW) networks and the barriers and successes they encounter. Qualitative interview data with key network leaders were used for increasing understanding of how these networks operate. Network leaders were all connected professionally, and all successful WOW networks involved partnerships between universities and local or regional nonprofits and state agencies. WOW networks face recruitment challenges similar to those faced by woodland owner associations, but Extension efforts and peer-to-peer learning opportunities can lead to comfortable and welcoming environments in which women can learn more about their woodland management options.
Determinants of Downtown Image and Retail Patronage: A Case of Fargo, North Dakota
We sought to identify determinants of downtown image and retail patronage, which contribute to tourism development in small and mid-sized communities. The purpose of our research was twofold: (a) to understand how visitors perceive the business mix, safety, and atmosphere of the Fargo, North Dakota, downtown and (b) to identify what factors influence their perceptions of the downtown and patronage of the downtown retail businesses. A total of 155 visitors to Fargo's downtown participated in our survey. Although we investigated one specific downtown, our findings may be relevant to Extension professionals in other small and mid-sized cities.