August 1997 // Volume 35 // Number 4 // Tools of the Trade // 4TOT3

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Book Review: Two New Extension Publications

A comparative review of two recent publications about Cooperative Extension is shared. The publications are Education Through Cooperative Extension, published in 1997 and Agricultural Extension, published in 1996. The comparison takes the reader through each publication and discusses possible uses.

Christy E. Kohler
Youth Program Coordinator
Internet address:

Jan Scholl
Associate Professor
Internet address:
Agricultural and Extension Education
The Pennsylvania State University
University Park, Pennsylvania

Two new publications focusing on Extension education have been published in the past few months:

Seevers, B., Graham, D., Gamon, J., Conklin, N. (1997). Education through Cooperative Extension, New York: Delmar. ($47.95)

van den Ban, A. & Hawkins, H. (1996) Agricultural Extension (Second edition). Ames: Iowa State Press ($25.95)

"Education Through Cooperative Extension" was written by a team of Extension educators and specialists from New Mexico, Arkansas, Iowa, and Ohio who have had county as well as state Extension experience.

"Agricultural Extension" is the second edition of a book by the same title originally published in 1988. The authors each have considerable experience in international settings as well as training in the United States. The book focuses on agriculture and provides information from authors all over the globe.

"Cooperative Extension" is much more of a hands-on guide than "Agricultural Extension," pulling together information from a variety of sources about the history of Extension in the United States and its programs, initiatives, and goals.

Common to both books are chapters on Extension methods, program planning, and evaluation as well as an extensive glossary.

The authors of "Cooperative Extension" provide an introductory text with a broad overview of educational processes in this non-formal educational program. They take Extension from the philosophy and mission of the organization through the societal and internal forces influencing recent and future changes. The book contains hundreds of references, detailed models and comparison charts. How-to's for setting up nominal group process, focus groups, concept mapping, and Delphi and other techniques are included in a step-by-step approach. Each chapter is well outlined, providing background information, a substantive summary, discussion questions, and references.

An added bonus is its extensive appendix that provides the original and amended Smith Lever Act, a chronological legislative history of the U.S. Cooperative Extension Service and land-grant university system, a profile of Extension staff hired from 1914- 1994, a list of the 105 land-grant colleges and universities and their locations (including the 1994 additions), and an organizational chart of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Information on international Extension is provided in a separate chapter, rather than throughout the text. The focus in this chapter is on models of Extension work in other countries. In describing Cooperative Extension's history, the authors include a quote from Strausberg (1989), "We do not want science floating in the skies; we want to bring it down and hitch it to our plows." And so, the authors also bring the educational processes needed for successful Extension programming to a practical level.

"Cooperative Extension", however, does not contain much information on career aspects, such as why people get involved in Extension work. Perhaps some mention could be made of its collegiality and its lore, such as, initiation ceremonies (Montana), and its humor (You know you're in Extension when...North Carolina.)

Many photos and charts are provided, but a picture of the National 4-H Center or the birthplace of the 4-H pledge, which is an actual historic site in Clarion, Iowa, might have been included. It also seems unusual that the authors did not include the 4-H motto (Make the Best Better) or the 4-H slogan (Learn by Doing) or talk about the early significance of training youth so they will in turn have influence on education within the family. A sample time-line might also be of use to newer workers.

Recent innovations, such as the 4-H PRK (Professional, research, knowledge) base, are highlighted, and yet no mention is made of the national jury process and curriculum consortium, which is changing the way many states are developing, selecting, and revising 4-H project materials in this youth program.

The book perhaps should have included information on such resources as the Extension Review, the 4-H Leader Magazine (historical), the Directory of Cooperative Extension Agents, and summary (abstracts) of research in Extension (Mississippi State). But these are minor considerations given the wealth of the book's information.

"Agricultural Extension" is well outlined, although much of the text describes the interaction between the Extension agent and the farmer. Most citations are from researchers in countries other than the U.S. The book is largely theoretical, but more "how-to's" are provided on writing and presenting information, including a comparison chart of group discussion vs. the lecture method.

A noted disadvantage is the section on women in agriculture, which indicates problems of being a woman farmer and Extension agent. This section would be markedly improved by sharing experiences of successful women and providing tips for women to use in the field. Though the authors attempt to be balanced in their perspectives of women, the book includes some sentences and examples, even within their context, that could be interpreted negatively by women and possibly promote discrimination. For example, "Many of the less innovative farmers, and especially many women, will come to a play, but would not come to hear a talk" (p. 67). Perhaps women in agricultural Extension is an area in need of further research. Another disadvantage is the lack of information included about programs for youth in agricultural Extension.

"Education Through Cooperative Extension" would be an extremely useful text for the university classroom, an in-service guide for new employees who wish to know more about Extension, and a handbook for agents who want to brush up on what they already know about Extension methods.

"Agricultural Extension" (second edition) is likely to be of greatest interest to agriculturists, especially those who work in other countries. Ideally, however, Extension offices, university libraries, and classrooms around the globe could benefit from investing in both books.


Strausberg, F. (1989) A century of research: Centennial history of Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station. Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station: 9.