Summer 1992 // Volume 30 // Number 2

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Editor's Page

This edition of the Journal deals with two areas of major concern for Extension: urban programming and youth at risk.

Redefining Extension

This edition of the Journal deals with two areas of major concern for Extension: urban programming and youth at risk. These topics have been the subject of numerous Extension conferences, training sessions, and heated conversations over coffee. Clearly, Extension has and will continue to work in urban areas and with at-risk youth. What controversy swirls around these subjects seems to be a matter of degree. It hinges on whether Extension will fully embrace and garner resources for urban and at-risk youth activities and whether that will jeopardize or enhance traditional programming. For an organization that has historically defined itself in terms of the audiences it addresses and the location of those audiences, this is a period of redefinition.

Rural, Urban, or Both?

In the To the Point section, we hear the arguments against an emphasis on rural and agricultural Extension from three respected professionals. At the same time, each builds a case for both strong urban and rural programs based on the interconnectedness of clientele. These authors maintain that issues-based programming offers Extension the opportunity to bridge differences between urban and rural populations.

Two feature articles address the pragmatics of urban programming. In one, we learn about the process of assessing what urban dwellers want to know about wildlife as a basis for expanding a program that had previously been directed toward rural landowners and hunters. Another article reports on a survey of urban county faculty and administrators to identify their special concerns and needs in carrying out effective Extension programs.

Challenges and Experiences in Youth-at-Risk Programming

The special section begins with an article that identifies challenges for the Extension organization, especially its youth workers, in providing youth-at-risk programming. This is followed by three features describing successful programming efforts in the areas of drug education, delinquency prevention, and health awareness. The Forum section also includes a commentary about what Extension has done and can do for at-risk youth. The author, a doctoral student in agriculture, applies the principles of Booker T. Washington and his own experience in 4-H to endorse community-oriented, self- help programs.

Beyond Definitions and Themes

What I hope you notice most about this issue is the crossover between the boundaries of definition and theme. For example, an article on training agents for diabetes education shows both rural and urban impacts. Another feature describes how drug education applies to the entire population, including elderly rural women and at-risk teens. We note at-risk youth come from all locations and backgrounds. Perhaps most importantly, the articles on technology adoption and teaching agricultural producers are right at home alongside those focusing on urban programs. In the process of redefining the boundaries of audiences and locations, we're discovering that the diversity of Extension programs contributes to, rather that detracts from, our commonality of purpose.