February 1996 // Volume 34 // Number 1

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Citizen Diplomacy Efforts Should Precede Policy Formation on Sustainable Agriculture
Score, Michael
This commentary considers the absence of international and cross-cultural dialogue on development of sustainable agricultural policies and practices. The author calls for establishment of citizen diplomacy initiatives through the land- grant universities. Recent reports from conferences and studies on sustainable development are cited. Grass-roots deliberation of issues will prove useful in development of trade agreements. This dialogue also has potential for increasing community agency in international farm systems.

Feature Articles

New National Program Information System for Cooperative Extension: Lessons from Experience
Bennett, Claude
National Extension program information systems focused on Federal needs have been plagued by severe data acquisition problems. These problems may re-occur in a new national program information system which is to include Extension. This new system is being developed in response to the Government Performance and Results Act. To overcome potential data acquisition problems, state and Federal program staffs must collaborate in building mutually relevant, valid, complete, databases for national Extension programs. Under existing institutional arrangements, program staffs in states will engage in such collaboration to the extent that indicator data for the national program information system are useful for state and local program planning, budgeting, management, and marketing. Nine steps are recommended to improve program effectiveness, management of program delivery, and program accountability, which are purposes of the Government Performance and Results Act.

Cutting Evaluation Costs by Reducing Sample Size
Verma, Satish Burnett, Michael F.
If sample size can be reduced without undermining validity of results, then the cost of evaluating Extension programs can be reduced. To test this hypothesis, three sample sizes at 1%, 3%, and 5% margins of error were drawn from the data of two doctoral dissertations. Comparison of the three sample sizes showed that evaluations with a descriptive purpose could drop sample size from a 1% to a 5% error margin, while evaluations with a comparative purpose could reduce sample size from 1% to 3% error margin without affecting validity of the results. As a result, it is conservatively estimated that the cost of data gathering and entry for a mail survey could be substantially reduced from $1,116 (1% error) to $348 (3% error) or $100 (5% error).

The On-Going Farm Crisis: Extension Leadership in Rural Communities
Williams, Roger T.
While much has been written about the farm crisis of the 1980s, very little attention has been given to the on-going farm crisis of the 1990s. This article focuses on the on-going farm crisis, highlights data from a survey of Wisconsin farm families, and outlines interventions that will help Extension agents address the situation. The interventions outlined in the article can help Extension agents overcome the perception that Extension only works with the most successful farmers in the county.

Promoting Programs in Aging Through Interdisciplinary Collaboration
Duncan, Stephen F., Ph.D. Foster, Ralph, M.S.
This article describes the formation and work of an interdisciplinary aging team (IAT). As an example of the team's effort, the article describes how the popular Senior Series program was adapted to meet the needs of limited resource seniors, in response to a needs assessment conducted at five senior centers. Findings suggested the need to expand certain Senior Series program guides and/or add new ones. Written materials were added/adapted and training was held. It is evident that lowering disciplinary and organizational barriers and working together to target materials is a more effective way to meet the educational needs or seniors.

Research in Brief

Evaluating Community Leadership Programs
Earnest, Garee W., Ph.D.
This two year research study assessed the impact of seven Ohio community leadership programs on participants' leadership skills and their respective communities. Pre and post assessments, face-to-face interviews, and focus group interviews were used to collect data. Participants significantly increased their leadership skills and reported the most common benefits were: increased community networking; improved ability to interact with people; increased self-confidence; and increased understanding of civic responsibility. Recommendations for leadership programs include incorporating curriculum application of leadership skills in addition to community awareness; additional programming for alumni; designing a two phase program; and conducting educational workshops for program directors.

Extension Agents' Use of Information Sources
Radhakrishna, Rama B. Thomson, Joan S.
This article describes the extent of information use by Extension agents in the United States. A random sample of 191 agents responded to a three-part questionnaire. The major findings were: (a) Extension agents need an item for information the same day to answer a client's inquiry; and (b) agents frequently communicate with a number of information sources--clients, other agents, Extension specialists, local news agencies, and local business organizations. Significant differences were found between demographic characteristics (age, gender, education level, and primary are of program responsibility) and information sources used. Staff development and Extension information services should use these findings to make informed decisions regarding production of educational materials.

Improving Consumer Understanding of Product Grade Names
James, Barbara H. James, Randall E.
This article examines a progressive three step method (focus groups, survey instrument development, and consumer survey) Extension professionals can use to assist commodity groups develop consumer understandable grade names for their products. The example used in this article is maple syrup. The three step method was used to develop a new set of grade names which describe the color and flavor of maple syrup. To date, the industry has not formally adopted the new grade name system, but individual producers and retailers are adding the names to their package label to better communicate with consumers and market their product.

Ideas at Work

Use of "Hard Talk" to Evaluate Grant Proposals
Score, Michael
This article discusses application of Kettering's Hard Talk process to selection of grant proposals within CES. Comparison is made between organized and disorganized selection processes. In addition to streamlining site visits, use of a tool such as Hard Talk also improved working relationships between local applicants and the project management team overseeing distribution of resources. The author calls for further research comparing Hard Talk to traditional approaches to resource distribution in Extension programming.

No-Till Yield Contest Demonstrates Environmental Stewardship
Barker, F. John Miller, David P.
Yield contests have been used as an educational method to teach production methods, but recognition for participants is usually based on the highest yield. The Knox County Conservation Yield Contest began in 1979 to promote no-till production practices and is still being conducted. Data collected over the fifteen year period (1979-1993) show that contest participants have reduced their use of fertilizers, insecticides, and herbicides while still achieving above-average yields. This yield contest has demonstrated that improved management of chemical inputs can help crop producers become more environmentally conscious while maintaining yields.

Ohio 4-H Teen Community Leadership: Teens Teaching Youth and Adults
Rinehart, Susan, Ph.D. Kleon, Scott
This article describes the Ohio 4-H Teen Community Leadership College. This program has given teens extensive training in leadership skills that they are using to teach other youth and adults. The teen teachers are having a great impact in their schools and communities by teaching leadership skills and fulfilling leadership roles. The Ohio 4-H Teen Community Leadership College is an excellent example of a train-the-trainer program.

Conducting Evaluations Through Collaborative Efforts
Verma, Satish Burns, Alvin C.
This example of collaborative evaluation of an extension program by academic units in a land grant university shows how tangible mutual benefits were gained, including sharing of resources, building collegial relationships, and conducting an objective study.

Extension Teaching Youth Child Care and Business Skills
James, Barbara H. Wolford, Gwen Estey, Amy Jelley, Kathy Cropper, Rebecca
This article describes how a study-by-mail course was used as the delivery method to provide youth with training on starting their own babysitting business. The six-part course assisted 11 to 14 year olds in learning child development and small business skills through planned activities and exercises. Activity forms which were returned to the agents encouraged completion and assisted agents in evaluating the course. This method represents an alternative to ongoing babysitting education classes and can also be considered for supplementing established child development and small business educational programming.

Tools of the Trade

How and Where Communities Can Begin to Address Youth Violence: A Resource Manual
Fisher, Susanne G.
This article reviews the new resource manual, "How and Where Communities Can Begin to Address Youth Violence," compiled by Laurel Dean. The manual is designed for use by a broad range of organizations and professionals in designing strategies to address youth violence.

The High School Financial Planning Program
Keil, Beverly J. Kelbaugh, Beverly M.
"The High School Financial Planning Program" is a complete teaching curriculum provided free of charge to trained teachers. Extension Educators can provide inservice training to high school teachers and community resource persons to utilize the program. The goal of the program is to encourage students to understand personal finances, to give students exercises and activities to help them learn to manage money effectively, and to ultimately reduce the rate of bankruptcy.

Training Teachers: A Harvest of Theory and Practice
Riehl, Peggy
This practical and fascinating book provides teaching strategies consistent with the issues related to adult learning. It nudges the reader to see more than "facts" which must be "transferred" to learners. Written for trainers in the early childhood field, the "harvest" metaphors used throughout this work might make adult education seem alive for colleagues in agriculture-related fields. Cross-discipline discussion on the ways of teaching and learning included in this book might help Extension explore new ways of conducting adult education.