June 2000 // Volume 38 // Number 3

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Editor's Page

Editor's Page


The Gift of a New Generation
Stehulak, Nancy G.
What have we given up with today's changes in hiring practices? Could it be possible that the American workplace could be more productive by encouraging families to be successful? One author presents her views on the separation of work and family and its impact on our new young professionals.

Feature Articles

Satellite Uplink vs. Videotape in Borrower Training
Hanson, Gregory D.; Parsons, Robert L.
Pennsylvania Extension educators adopted an innovative distance education workshop approach based upon satellite downlinks to Farm Service Agency borrowers for up to 26 locations in Northeast states (1995-99). After 2 years of training experience, the use of satellite downlinks was found to be associated with technical difficulties, rigid scheduling, and higher costs than permitted in a self-funded training program. Subsequently, satellite downlinks were eliminated in favor of pre-taping instructor presentations. However, a continuing problem with multi-year use of pre-taped videos is that they tend to soon become dated. For future distance education workshops, educator use of the Internet may soon provide a more flexible and cost-effective alternative to both satellite uplinks and pre-taped videos. Until that technology becomes widely available and familiar to Extension staff and their clientele, however, pre-taped videos will likely remain a mainstay.

Southern Extension Leadership Development: Leadership Development for a Learning Organization
Ladewig, Howard; Rohs, Frederick R.
Cooperative Extension Directors of the Southern Region sponsored the establishment of a professional development program that addresses collective leadership and institutional change. The purpose of this professional development program, the Southern Extension Leadership Development (SELD), is to enhance managerial capacity, communications, proficiency, and team skills. An objective assessment of SELD participants on 12 managerial competencies indicated a composite score at the 54th percentile. Participants scored highest on "Planning and Scheduling work" (62nd percentile). Competencies in which participants scored below the 50th percentile were "Listening and Organizing" (48th percentile) and "Thinking Clearly and Analytically" (42nd percentile). Participant pretest/posttest measures indicated significant increases in decision-making skills by participants. Extension staff attributed these increases to the SELD program.

The Cooperative Extension Service's Role in Running a Successful County Economic Development Program
Conglose, John B.
Through the years, the role of a county Cooperative Extension agent has changed somewhat. Originally dealing with agriculture and home economics education, Extension agents now get involved in managing economic development programs for counties. This article discusses the evolution of an extension agent's role in an assigned county from agriculture and home economics education to youth development and community economic development. Specifics are provided on one Community Economic Development Agent's role in filling the economic development programming needs in a rural North Central Ohio county.

Assessing Extension Educator Needs in New York to Address Natural Resource Issues for the New Millennium
Schneider, Rebecca L.; Smallidge, Peter J.
As the Northeastern landscape changes from agriculture dominated to forest dominated, Cooperative Extension needs to prepare itself for increased programming associated with natural resource management issues. An important first step is to document programming issues relevant to county needs and to assess topics not being considered. We documented programming priorities of county Extension educators with a mail survey and ranked topics based on their relevance to county needs and within the context of emerging natural resource issues. Water resource issues are well recognized and addressed, yet some forestry topics that significantly influence resource management and quality are not being considered.

Research in Brief

The Influence of Cellular Telephone Usage on the Perceived Role and Functions of County Agents
Clary, Jeffrey; White, Bonnie; Mullins, Greg
The purpose of this study was to determine if cellular telephones could help Extension agents become more effective in their work and thereby improve the quality of service while increasing contacts. A research instrument was developed to survey 218 county agents using cellular telephones in their work in Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, and Tennessee. Statistical analysis of the survey data revealed that the use of cellular telephones makes a positive difference in county agents' ability to perform their daily roles and functions. Although the use of cellular telephones did not reduce travel expenditures or miles driven, total contacts with clientele increased significantly.

Partnering with the Local Livestock Market in Educational Programs
Jenkins, Jamie H.; Newman, Michael E.; Castellaw, Jimmy C.; Lane, Clyde D., Jr.
This descriptive study evaluated Extension's program delivery methods used to partner with the educational efforts of the local livestock market in Fayette County, Tennessee. The teaching methods included: timely tips printed on the check stub, cards enclosed with the sale check, monthly educational programs, programs conducted on sale day, and Second Saturday cattle working program. The population for the study consisted of cattle producers who sold livestock at the local livestock center or who attended the educational programs. The sample of the 62 respondents surveyed revealed that the combination of programs offered influenced them to make changes in their production practices.

A Tool to Assess the Worth of a Youth Organization
Sarver, Daniel; Johnson, Earl; Verma, Satish
An instrument to assess how "worthy" or successful a youth organization is in enabling young people to develop as individuals and contribute to society was developed and tested. The instrument comprised 22 items constructed around the notions of youth's contribution to society, parental support of youth, and youth developmental needs. 4-H high school youth in one parish (county) in Louisiana agreed that the instrument items reflected the concept of a "worthy youth organization." They felt that their 4-H program was highly successful and, in fact, was significantly better than the benchmark on several items. The instrument could be used as an assessment tool for youth organizations and refinements made as more information is gathered.

Ideas at Work

Nebraska's Insurance Purchasing Group Project
Rider, Mary Ellen; Cordes, Sam
Health policy education is timely given the rapidly changing health care environment in the United States. The insurance purchasing group project was developed to inform Nebraskans of new legislation that might assist them in improving access to health care through the purchase of health insurance. It has been successful in more ways than initially planned. This article describes the project and processes used to implement the project.

Learning from Those Who Leave
Kutilek, Linda M.
Individual exit interviews have been conducted with employees voluntarily leaving Ohio State University Extension for the past two years. This is an organizational commitment to better understand what motivates staff to leave, with an expectation that the information gathered will improve recruitment efforts, hiring processes, staff development, supervisory practices, worker expectations, job satisfaction, and the organizational environment as it relates to diversity issues. The author shares information about the development of the survey instrument used, the data gathered, and implications of the findings. Information gathered from exit interviews may only lead to the development of more questions; however, they are questions that must be asked if Extension is to continue to recognize and meet the needs of staff members.

Tools of the Trade

Massachusetts Integrated Pest Management Guidelines: Crop-Specific Definitions
Hollingsworth, Craig S.; Coli, William M.
"The Massachusetts IPM Guidelines: Crop Specific Definitions" provide a method to measure the relative adoption of integrated pest management for 13 crops. The guidelines can be used as an educational tool that describes the scope and complexity of IPM; as a checklist for farmers to evaluate improve their management; or to verify and document that IPM is practiced on the farm. The 66-page publication is available for $6.00 from University of Massachusetts Extension or is available through a Website.

Getting the Most Out of Multiple Response Questions
Santos, J. Reynaldo A.
Multiple response questionnaire (MRQ) is commonly used in Extension surveys not only because of its simplicity but also because of its ability to capture respondents' views and attitudes to much pre-formatted information. This article discusses and illustrates the three ways by which information from an MRQ can be analyzed, its impact on the resulting summary tables, and its implication for the discussion and interpretation of survey results. It also underscores the importance of communicating with a data analyst during the questionnaire design phase of a survey.