October 2018 // Volume 56 // Number 6
Efficient Use of JOE Author Resources and October JOE Highlights
In the "Efficient Use of JOE Author Resources" section of the Editor's Page, I suggest a system for using the author materials provided on the JOE website that will help prospective authors feel less daunted by them. In "October JOE Highlights," I focus on some weighty questions that are answered in this issue of the journal.
Addressing Declining Rural Communities Through Youth Entrepreneurship Education
Population decline, outmigration of youths, and dwindling job prospects have challenged the vitality of rural economies in the United States for decades. Previous rural youth programs have been criticized for failing to address the social underpinnings of flight, attend to the unique features of rural contexts, and encourage youths to develop a sense of connection to opportunities within their local communities. This article provides recommendations for Extension personnel on rural youth entrepreneurship education. Recommendations relate to gaps in entrepreneurship programs in rural communities, a focus on technology and innovation, and 4-H as an ideal setting for experiential entrepreneurship education.
Participate in the JOE Discussion Forum on “Addressing Declining Rural Communities Through Youth Entrepreneurship Education”
Ideas at Work
Online Leadership Short Course for County Extension Directors
Engaging the Extension workforce in professional development is critical for learning, behavior change, and continued development. However, county Extension directors find it difficult to juggle the various demands on their time, including the need to develop the leadership competencies required to be successful in their roles. Online leadership training is one option that can be used to address this time demand faced by Extension leaders and provide an avenue for developing leadership capacity. We discuss the design and implementation of the 10-week online Leadership Short Course for county Extension directors and the reactions of participants.
Educators Teach Effective Hand Washing with a Simplified Method
We conducted a study to determine the effectiveness of a 30-min hand-washing instruction among youths in kindergarten through fifth grade. Two months after implementing the instruction, we gathered survey data to assess knowledge gained and student behaviors. Results revealed that high proportions of youths in kindergarten through second grade (n = 90) were able to recognize various situations requiring hand washing and that majorities of youths in third grade through fifth grade (n = 172) tended to wash their hands at relevant times (e.g., after using the bathroom). Overall, we concluded that youths taught a 30-min hand-washing lesson reduced microbial counts on washed hands, maintained knowledge, and made positive behavior changes.
Using a Translational Process to Apply Latino Youth Development Research Findings in Practice
Translating research into practice is a cornerstone for Extension programs. We developed an intentional and collaborative translational process for converting evidence-based knowledge from Latino youth development literature into Extension practice. The process resulted in internal audience–specific fact sheets summarizing research findings as sustainable strategies for increasing Latino youth participation and engagement in Extension programming. Our systematic approach can be useful for supporting a culture of innovation and collaboration. Through use of our method, numerous organizational benefits were realized, suggesting that the process has positive implications for Extension programs across the nation.
4-H Community Clubs and the Challenge of Inclusion: The Isleton Experience
In California, where 54% of students in kindergarten through grade 12 are Latino, only 21% of 4-H community club members fit this demographic. Consequently, California 4-H is focused on developing Latino membership. This article describes lessons we learned while developing and delivering a project targeting inclusion of Latino youths in an established 4-H community club.
Making eXtreme Counselors: A State 4-H Camp Counselor Workshop
Making eXtreme Counselors (MXC) is a statewide 4-H camp counselor training workshop. This training brings teens throughout Ohio together to help prepare them to serve as camp counselors in their own counties. Specific competencies are targeted each year on a rotational basis. The training allows youths to learn not only from a variety of 4-H professionals but also through peer-to-peer sharing and interactions. Evaluation results from participants and the professionals who work with them include high ratings of the program and positive comments. In addition, the results indicate that participants transfer their learning from the training to their performance as camp counselors.
Investing in 4-H Volunteers Through State Leadership Forums
State volunteer forums can be an invaluable resource for providing opportunities for volunteer training on positive youth development. Some western states have experienced decreasing attendance and have questioned the practicality of hosting such forums. In this article, we showcase successes that one western state has experienced as a result of implementing innovative approaches. An online survey of participants showed increased capacity of volunteers to lead 4-H programs. Additionally, we outline implications for Extension professionals to inform their efforts to achieve successful volunteer forums.
Fulfilling Needs in County 4-H Programs with Volunteer Facilitation Coaches
University of Idaho Extension 4-H professionals have learned to work with volunteers in new ways to expand capacity and continue to build the quality of the 4-H program in Idaho. This article identifies how defining new position descriptions for volunteer facilitation coaches addressed two program needs, expanded capacity, and provided a higher quality experience for new 4-H families. If Extension staff invest time in selecting, training, and mentoring volunteer facilitation coaches, other volunteers are better able to fulfill important roles related to meeting specific needs of the 4-H program.
Youths Learn Responsible Use of Credit Cards
The need for youth credit card education is clear given the many statistics indicating increasing credit card debt and an overall scarcity of credit card education targeting youths. The Teen$ Credit Card simulation program offers youths an opportunity to experience "owning" a credit card, using it, and realizing the consequences of carrying a high balance from month to month. Participants have a chance to discover the benefits and detriments of using a credit card in a safe environment before potentially making mistakes in real life. University of Idaho Extension educators have presented this program to over 550 youths in a variety of settings, with evaluation results indicating self-assessed increases in knowledge and planned positive behavior changes.
Tools of the Trade
Grazing Demonstration Plots Help Managers Understand Grazing Concepts
Grazing management concepts can be hard for learners to grasp in a classroom setting. A grazing demonstration plot is a useful field tool that Extension professionals can implement to visually illustrate how various grazing regimes affect grass health and yields. Specifically, the educator can show how forage harvest timing, frequency, and intensity affect aboveground plant biomass production. A grazing demonstration plot has become a tool of the trade for a small number of Extension professionals in Colorado's Front Range. As a result, land managers in the area have been better able to evaluate how to meet their own needs while considering the importance of addressing environmental impacts and stewarding the land for future generations.
Start-to-Finish Techniques Regarding the Practicalities of Producing Purposeful and Impactful Webinars
Webinar production has steadily increased as a preferred method of information delivery for Extension professionals. Our objective with this article is to offer practical guidance from Utah State University (USU) Forestry Extension and the eXtension Foundation that can help others generate impactful webinar programs. From January 2016 to August 2018, USU and eXtension were involved in the production of a combined total of over 300 webinars. We used the resulting knowledge to create a set of practical guidelines to assist other professionals interested in producing and delivering effective webinars.
A Framework for Developing Multiyear Conferences on Current Societal Issues
This article describes how Extension professionals and university faculty collaborated on the planning, implementation, and evaluation of a conference to address a key societal issue. Needs assessment and evaluation results are presented as well as an explanation of how results were used in planning future conferences. With limited Extension budgets and personnel, partnering among Extension specialists, university faculty, and experts in relevant topics is a valuable and efficient way to provide the most impact for a community. Developing multiyear conferences to address significant societal issues may be a new way to increase Extension's impact.
A Unique Marketing Education Tool: The Marketing in a New Era Simulation Game
This article describes a novel grain marketing simulation game called Marketing in a New Era (MINE) that was developed for use in Extension producer meetings and other educational settings. Key benefits of MINE are that users can personalize the game's marketing simulation environment by incorporating information specific to their operations or regions, users receive immediate feedback about their marketing simulation performance, and users can engage in numerous marketing simulations within a short time period.
Social Network Analysis: A Methodology for Exploring Diversity and Reach Among Extension Programs and Stakeholders
Social network analysis (SNA) is a methodology that provides complementary visual and statistical components for analyzing the traits and relationships of actors in a network. We conducted a study to develop a whole-network map of programs and their stakeholders to understand the diversity and reach of Extension programs in Pennsylvania. We concluded that the Penn State Extension network is widely distributed and has extensive reach in the community and that there exist a few program clusters (programs serving common stakeholders) and isolates (niche programs). Overall, SNA has much to offer in fostering understanding of the outreach of Extension and various outcomes of Extension programs.
Readying Extension for the Systematic Analysis of Large Qualitative Data Sets
Land-grant Extension institutions face increasing expectations to use data to communicate value and drive program and organizational development. In this article, we introduce the University of Wisconsin–Extension Data Jam Initiative, an integrated qualitative software, methods, and data analysis curriculum. The Data Jam Initiative is an evaluation capacity building framework for collaborative, mentorship-based analysis sessions across an institution and across disciplines. Through sharing exemplar applications of this curriculum, we illustrate how the Data Jam Initiative prepares Extension institutions for using qualitative data in service of communication to stakeholders, program development, and organizational growth.
A Marketing Standpoint: What Marketers Can Teach Extension Professionals About Internet-Based Media
Extension audiences are turning to Internet-based media for information Extension professionals traditionally have provided them. In a qualitative study, we sought to relate the Internet-based media strategies of marketing professionals to the needs of Extension professionals to increase Extension professionals' success in using Internet-based media. Extension professionals can more effectively engage modern Extension audiences by implementing four strategies: knowing the research, knowing what makes audiences tick, making changes based on measurable data, and increasing the effectiveness of Internet-based media efforts.
Examining the Entrepreneurial Leadership Propensities of Extension Educators
Innovation and entrepreneurship are integral to the development and vitality of contemporary communities and economies. Accordingly, entrepreneurial leadership is directly relevant to the Extension education mission. Yet research examining the entrepreneurial leadership propensities of Extension educators is scant. We applied a survey design to analyze the entrepreneurial leadership propensities of Extension educators throughout Arizona using two constructs: innovation and entrepreneurial strategy. The data revealed modest levels of entrepreneurial leadership propensities across the sample. Recommendations aimed at enhancing the entrepreneurial leadership propensities of Extension educators are provided.
Strategies for Enhancing University Extension's Role as an Agricultural Information Source
In this article, we identify factors contributing to the low use of Extension as an information source for farm management decisions and make recommendations for how to increase use of Extension in the context of midwestern row crop agriculture. Results from our mixed-methods analysis show that conservative recommendations, declines in public funding, and the perception of "cutting-edge" private sector information contribute to low use of Extension. We recommend changes to Extension at system and ground levels that could potentially increase its use among farmers. As many of the issues facing farmers and Extension span the nation, our findings and recommendations likely apply to a number of geographic and agricultural contexts.
Research in Brief
Impact of a Professional Development Experience Focused on Extension Educators as Change Agents
Extension educators should think of themselves as change agents, yet many act as information dispensers. Accordingly, we sought to determine whether we could change perceptions of county Extension educators in Oklahoma regarding their function as change agents. Educators participated in a two-part (two-treatment) professional development experience involving a workshop and a computer simulation. The experience was grounded in Rogers's diffusion of innovations theory and addressed nine established Extension educator change-agent roles. Participants ranked the importance of the roles prior to the experience and again following each treatment. Their perceptions changed regarding only the "Alternative Delivery Systems" role. We explore the imperative to improve Extension agents' understanding of how to be change agents.
The Graduate Extension Scholars Program: Professional Development to Connect Research and Education
The Graduate Extension Scholars program represents a novel approach that brings together graduate students, 4-H agents, and secondary agriculture teachers in an educational resource development project. We conducted process evaluation research based on program goals for the pilot implementation year using participant interviews and program artifacts. Program participants reported an overall positive experience and identified new programming and partnerships that would not have been possible without involvement in the program. Goals were enacted to varying degrees, with challenges occurring related to collaborative planning, educational module development, and building of partnerships between Extension and school-based educators. Recommendations for Extension program development are identified.
The Importance of Evaluating Long-Term Impacts: Utah Master Naturalist Program as a Case Study
Understanding long-term impacts is essential to knowing whether an Extension program is achieving its goals. I describe a process for long-term program evaluation, using evaluation of the Utah Master Naturalist Program (UMNP) as a successful example. Surveys revealed that the UMNP had impacts on participants up to 10 years after program completion. The UMNP is achieving its goal of promoting stewardship through fostering a deeper connection to nature, encouraging lifelong learning, increasing stewardship feelings and activities, and providing effective professional development. Further long-term evaluation efforts will focus on quantifying behavior change. Overall, the UMNP evaluation process and results underscore the criticality of conducting long-term evaluation to understand lasting impacts of Extension programs.
Needs Assessment Regarding Online Training for Paraprofessionals in the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program
We conducted a needs assessment prior to development of an online training for paraprofessionals in the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program. Through interviews with Extension professionals and paraprofessionals from three Extension regions, we determined characteristics of paraprofessionals' existing training environments and the paraprofessionals' characteristics as learners. Interviewees supported the development and implementation of an online training and identified benefits related to online training. Paraprofessionals expressed preference for a video-based rather than text-based format and wanted the training to complement not replace face-to-face training. Our findings may be useful in supporting the development of effective online training that meets the needs of other Extension initiatives.
Assessing the Potential of Increasing Promotoras in Extension: Hispanic Balanced Living with Diabetes
A sustainable Extension model for promoting health and managing lifestyle-related chronic diseases in Hispanic populations would help mitigate health disparities in Hispanic communities. Hispanic Balanced Living with Diabetes (HBLD) is a type 2 diabetes lifestyle management program that we tested in Virginia. Through postintervention focus group discussions, we assessed barriers faced by Hispanics when accessing health care services, satisfaction with HBLD, and feasibility of training members of the Hispanic community to become promotoras, individuals who help facilitate adoption of healthful behaviors. Incorporating native Spanish speakers as educators and promotoras will ensure culturally relevant delivery of lifestyle modification programs, accurate communication of information, and development of trust with participants.
Evaluating Impacts of Five Years of Beginning Farmer Webinar Training
The Michigan State University Extension Beginning Farmer Webinar Series has been implemented statewide since 2012. For the period 2012–2016, 63 webinars were provided to 607 participants. Regular evaluation efforts capture impact data from participants 6 to 10 months after they complete the series. However, to determine longer range impacts of the program, we developed a follow-up online evaluation and distributed it via email invitation to 2012–2016 participants for whom contact information was available. The evaluation results indicate an encouraging level of impact with regard to knowledge retained, farm practices changed, and positive economic metrics such as new farm start-ups and new jobs.
Shaping Soil Watershed Stewardship Through Combined Producer and Influencer Education: A Pilot Program
Changes in land use from grassland to row crop agriculture may contribute to environmental degradation. Outreach efforts on this topic have largely targeted producers, but interactions with "influencers" may affect producers' conservation decisions. Consequently, we conducted a pilot implementation of a 1-day workshop for both producers and influencers on soil health and its impact on watersheds. We measured producers' knowledge gains and all participants' satisfaction with the workshop content and instruction. We also collected information from all participants regarding their past, present, and potential future use of or recommendations for using conservation practices. Our results may be useful for improving future workshop offerings and other initiatives intended to connect producers and influencers in learning.
Use of "the Guidelines" for Financial Record Keeping by Kentucky Small- and Mid-Scale Farmers
We describe awareness of the Financial Guidelines for Agricultural Producers ("the Guidelines") and illustrate their use on Kentucky small and mid-size farms. Using survey data we collected in 2016 from 103 farms, we found that 89% of the small- and mid-scale farmers who responded were unaware of the Guidelines and, therefore, did not follow them. Additionally, 75% of the farmers used a single-entry cash-basis accounting system. We consequently suggest the implementation of awareness campaigns, educational strategies, and technical assistance to increase farmers' awareness and usage rates with regard to the Guidelines. We also suggest that there is a need for training on double-entry accrual accounting techniques.
Relationship of Adult and Child Dietary Intakes in Michigan and Implications for Programming Region-Wide
Healthful dietary intakes are crucial for stemming the current childhood obesity epidemic. We examined the dietary intakes of 392 Michigan children aged 1–12 years. About 70% and 58% of children ate fruits and vegetables, respectively, each day; 26% drank sugar-sweetened beverages; and 31% ate with a television on. Children's vegetable intakes were significantly and moderately correlated with their parents' vegetable intakes (r = .34–.38), but their fruit intakes were more related to their grandparents' fruit intakes (r = .31). Due to the relative representativeness of our sample and similarities in eating patterns across the region, Extension professionals may consider our study findings when designing tailored nutrition education programs for families in the midwestern United States.