April 2000 // Volume 38 // Number 2

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Editor's Page

Editor's Page

Feature Articles

Simple, Low-Cost Data Collection Methods for Agricultural Field Studies
Koenig, Richard T.; Winger, Marlon; Kitchen, Boyd
Increasingly, county agents and other Extension field staff are required to publish in refereed journals as evidence of scholarly activity. Off-campus personnel, however, often have limited financial and equipment resources to collect quantitative data from field experiments. This article summarizes and cites relatively simple and inexpensive methods for collecting data from agricultural field studies. Methods involving on-farm testing, crop yield measurement, quality evaluations, weed control effectiveness, plant nutrient status, and other measures are described. In addition, original references where these methods were used to conduct research published in refereed journals are cited in an extensive bibliography.

Beyond Perception: A Pretest and Posttest Evaluation of a Regional Internet Extension Inservice Training
Lippert, Robert M.; Plank, Owen; Radhakrishna, Rama
An Internet inservice training titled "Soil Acidity and Liming" was offered to county Extension agents representing six states (Alabama, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia). A Web page was constructed with materials provided by several specialists, and Listserv questions received responses from nine specialists representing the six states. A pretest and posttest were submitted by the agents on-line, along with their responses to a brief questionnaire. The questionnaire responses show that most of the agents were very receptive to this method of inservice training. The pretest and posttest scores show that the training resulted in a significant increase in knowledge of the subject matter presented.

A Partnership for Health and Safety of Farm and Ranch Families
Boeckner,Linda S.; Gross, Gloria; Chaulk, Sue; Ramsey, Patricia; Ruff, Connie; Tando, Kathy
The development, activities, and outcomes of a rural community health partnership are described. The partnership was formed in a sparsely populated rural area that was federally designated as a primary care health professional shortage area (HPSA) and medically underserved area (MUA). High morbidity and mortality figures for farmers and ranchers indicated a need to address prevention steps. Several health service providers and educational institutions worked together to provide farm-ranch health and safety events that included health screening, educational seminars, and opportunities for immunizations. Through the years, participation by farm and ranch families in the health screening and educational activities has grown. Adjustments have been made by the planning partnership to better serve the needs of this clientele group.

Process and Reality: Working with a Local Watershed Organization to Develop a Restoration Effectiveness Monitoring Program
Harris, Richard R.; De Lasaux, Michael; Kocher, Susan
A structured decision-making process was used to help a local stakeholder group select a watershed for restoration effectiveness monitoring. The process did not go as planned but nevertheless yielded important results. These included an increased appreciation of divergent goals within the group, an understanding of the effects of scale on monitoring, and a proposal (now funded) for watershed trend monitoring. Professional judgment of stakeholders proved more important than quantitative analysis as a basis for watershed selection. As a result of this experience, a modified process for conducting similar work is proposed.

Research in Brief

Beneficial Science Teacher Training
Konen, Joseph; Horton, Robert L.
Extension trainers who serve teachers assist them greatly when they provide "hands-on" experiences. A "best practice" is having the teachers experience the same methods that they will use when teaching. Teachers were surveyed both before and after their training and also after they had taught the curriculum. They reported their feelings on three scales: Confidence, Interest, and Anxiety. This research shows that teacher anxiety decreased, curiosity increased, and their confidence grew as they participated in these training modules. Further research on the teachers' experiences when teaching the curricula would enable more effective support of teachers at that time.

Management Skills of County Extension Administrators: Are They Sufficient to Do the Job?
Haynes, Ph.D., Bill R.;
Do county Extension administrators possess the management skills to be successful in their role? This study examined 127 county Extension administrators from 22 states who had participated in an Extension assessment center designed to assess 15 supervisory/management competencies deemed necessary for success as an Extension administrator. The study found that the participants possessed average to very good management skills as observed during the assessment center process and that they undertook professional development and implemented behavioral changes as a result of the insight and feedback they received from their experience in the assessment center.

Oregon Extension Volunteers: Partners in Action
Braker, Marjorie J.; Leno, Janice R.; Pratt, Clara C.; Grobe, Deana
The survey assessed 969 Oregon Extension volunteers about their perception of benefits and costs of Extension volunteer work. Volunteers from all program areas and regions of the state were included. Volunteers reported personal benefits, including gains in knowledge, self-confidence, and interpersonal relationships. Community benefits were noted by more than one third of volunteers. Fewer volunteers noted economic benefits, but for those who did, these benefits were significant and included increased job skills and useful contacts. The costs of volunteering were perceived as low and centered on time demands. Implications of these findings for Extension programming and faculty roles are discussed.

An Evaluation of an Interdisciplinary Team Approach to Delivery of Childcare Provider Training
Peterson, Rick; Prillaman, Janet
An evaluation of an interdisciplinary team approach to the delivery of childcare provider training revealed that the team was successful in increasing participant knowledge in four key content areas of childcare. Participants increased their overall childcare knowledge by 29% from pre- to post-test. Paired t-test results on 16 separate tests representing 586 cases indicated that a statistically significant change at the .05 level occurred on all 16 content areas as a result of the educational intervention. The team approach, with its developed materials including pre- and post-test measures, can serve as a model for other collaborative efforts by Extension educators.

Ideas at Work

Maintaining the Relevance of an Extension Data Center
Santos, Jose Reynaldo A.; Mitchell, Diann M.
The proliferation of desktop computers and powerful analytical software has not eliminated the need for an extension data center (EDC). Instead, it is the evolution of those technologies that have served as a driving force for EDC to justify its existence by taking on diversified, new, proactive roles in supporting customers on several fronts. From pure data processing and statistical analysis, EDC's role has expanded to encompass software and Web technology training, graphics and text scanning, diskette duplication, network monitoring, and Web-content management. This article discusses how a small data center managed not only to avoid obsolescence but also to grow and cope with the increasing demand for support in various areas of computer technology.

The Multi-Cultural Center of Sioux Falls, South Dakota: Providing Opportunities for All People to Learn, Celebrate, and Share Through Cultural Experiences
Tentis, Dedra R.; Burton, Jr., John; Forinash, Barbara
Sioux Falls, South Dakota, has experienced a major population growth of immigrant and refugee families. New arrivals must meet the everyday challenges of daily survival in a culture for which they are not prepared. A task force was established in 1995, and out of this grew the concept of a Multi-Cultural Center. As part of the National Children, Youth and Families At Risk (CYFAR) Initiative, which was funded by USDA CSREES, the South Dakota State University Cooperative Extension Service (SDSU CES) partnered with the Multi-Cultural Center to address various cultural hurdles. This partnership has led to the successful implementation of many services and programs.

Tools of the Trade

Using the Internet as a Farm-Marketing Tool
Bamka, William J.
This article describes a program developed to instruct producers in the use of the Internet as a farm-marketing tool. A survey was sent to hay and straw producers requesting information about the types and seasonal availability of hay and straw produced. A database was compiled from the information, and a Web site was developed. The Web site, which has been extremely useful to local producers, also serves as a teaching aid for an Extension program on the use of the Internet in agriculture. The program presents information about Web sites, search engines, and the development of Web pages. The objective of the program is to introduce producers to the informational resources and marketing potential of the Internet. Part of the program entails the construction of a Web page using commercially available Web-page-development software.

Computer-Based Instruction: Getting Started in Freshwater Aquaculture
Swann, D. LaDon; Katz, Sharon; Merzdorf, Russ; Brown, Jane; Luba, Tom; Talbert, B. Allen
Computer-based instruction (CBI) has generated considerable interest among administrators, content specialists, and educators as a supplement or replacement to traditional methods of inservice training. In 1998 an aquaculture CBI project was developed as a training tutorial. The tutorial was developed using Macromedia Director and consists of CBI delivered on CD-ROM and a 208-page workbook. The CD-ROM consists of six sections containing 513 photographs, 160 illustrations, 52 animations, 22 digital video clips, and 215 audio files. The CBI was provided to every educator in Illinois and Indiana working within agriculture. Educators were receptive to the CBI and have used them to for inservice training.