April 2001 // Volume 39 // Number 2

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Editor's Page

Editor's Page


Budget Cutbacks: Some Strategies for Deans, Directors, and the Staff They Lead
Acker, Duane
The economic slow-down that began in 2000 doesn't show signs of abatement. Personnel, equipment, and operating cost increases continue. To maintain or enhance program and staff effectiveness, program cutbacks will likely be required in many organizations. Such cutbacks are not easy, but they are doable. This article outlines a 10-step strategy, based on budget cutback experiences of the author and on principles of human emotion and behavior. It emphasizes timely facing of reality, steps in allocations and decision-making, and the positive outcomes that can result.

Feature Articles

Collaboratively Evaluating Cooperative Extension Educational Interventions
Webb, Debb; Murphy, Dennis J.; Kiernan, Nancy Ellen
Can university researchers and county agents successfully work together to complete experimental program evaluation? The rigors of experimental evaluation and time and workload pressures on county agents are possible impediments that may undermine enthusiasm and good intentions at the start of any project. This article examines the experiences of researchers and agents in a major safety education intervention project in Pennsylvania. Specific lessons were learned for future evaluation research projects. Overall, results suggest that Cooperative Extension can successfully meet the challenge of formal program evaluation when university researchers and county agents work together.

Public Education, Mapping, and Early Action to Control Russian Knapweed in Southeastern Arizona
McReynolds, Kim H.; Howery, Larry D.
Russian knapweed has been problematic in the Northern U.S. for decades, but only recently found in Southeastern Arizona. Due to its aggressive nature and threat to ecological and agricultural values, a working group was formed to address the problem. A plan of action was developed and implemented. The objectives of the project reported in this article were to: 1) develop a public outreach program to increase awareness of noxious weed impacts, 2) use GPS and GIS technology to map Russian knapweed infestations, and 3) use mapping data to plan and coordinate an integrated management strategy in Cochise County, Arizona. Due to these efforts, Russian knapweed infestations have been reduced and continue to be monitored and treated using an integrated management approach.

Rural Cooperative Housing for Older Adults: An Emerging Challenge for Extension Educators
Nolan, Jill Eversole; Blaine, Thomas W.
As the American population continues to age, identifying alternative housing options for older Americans, particularly those who wish to remain in rural communities, will pose a challenge to families and community leaders. This article presents findings of a survey of residents of seven rural housing cooperatives oriented toward serving older residents. The results reveal that residents were influenced to move to the cooperatives primarily by considerations involving ease of home maintenance and a desire to remain in their communities. The findings also demonstrate that residents believe that living in cooperative housing has had a positive influence on their quality of life. Extension educators should consider prioritizing educational efforts to teach clientele about rural cooperative housing.

Effectiveness of Quality Assurance Training for Youth
Nold, Rosie; Hanson, Dana
To teach youth the significance of providing a wholesome meat product to consumers, a quality assurance program for youth audiences was designed. Objectives were to introduce the responsibilities associated with food animal production and to teach skills necessary to produce safe and wholesome food. Interactive lessons on animal management techniques and practice in ethical decision-making related to food animal production were included. Conclusions were that participants gained skills in animal management techniques and the youths' opinions about consumer expectations were positively influenced. Furthermore, the program provided a successful model for including character education with subject matter education.

Edible Connections: A Model to Facilitate Citizen Dialogue and Build Community Collaboration
Thomson, Joan S.; Abel, Jennifer L.; Maretzki, Audrey N.
Edible Connections Changing the way we talk about food, farm, and community is a model that was created to facilitate dialogue on the local food system by involving those whose lives and livelihood are influenced by food. The authors outline the model and offer examples of how it has been used. They also detail how it can benefit Extension educators by enhancing work and community collaboration across Extension's program areas. The authors offer resources to help communities around the country apply the model to their specific situations.

Research in Brief

An Examination of the Relationships Between the Alabama Cooperative Extension System Assessment Center Ratings and Subsequent County Agent-Coordinators' Job Performance Ratings
Rice, D. Ray
The objectives of the reported study were to determine the predictability of the Alabama Cooperative Extension System (ACES) Assessment Center for County Agent-Coordinator (CAC) candidates based on the performance appraisal ratings of CACs for the first 3 years after being promoted to the position. It considered the relationship between individual skill variables and the overall rating received in the Assessment Center. The findings revealed that the Assessment Center did predict CACs' performance at the .05 level of significance. All 12 of the skill variables, with the exception of assertiveness (9.0879 level), were significant in predicting the overall rating. This study confirms the importance of assessment centers as an evaluative and predictive element of the promotion process.

Understanding Cancer Risk Among Extension Professionals: A Program Development Perspective
Dresbach, Sereana Howard
The study reported here was predicated on the belief that it is necessary to assess the knowledge level of cancer risk among Extension professionals before programming can be developed as part of the overall educational mission. Extension professionals significantly increased their knowledge level of cancer risk through a pre-test assessment, application of a non-invasive educational intervention, and a post-test follow-up among a random sample of Ohio State University Extension personnel. In the areas of emerging research related to cancer risk, Extension professionals significantly increased their correct response percentage with the intervention. To fully incorporate cancer risk information into Extension education programming, it is essential that Extension professionals are up-to-date in non-traditional, as well as traditional arenas.

Utah Extension Educators' Perceived Satisfaction with and Needs for Agricultural Health and Safety Information
Webster, Jill; Rogers, David L.; Mariger, Stanley L.
The reported descriptive study surveyed the perceptions of Utah Extension personnel on their satisfaction with, and need for, agricultural health and safety information for their clients. The data was developed from a self-administered questionnaire mailed to a census of Utah Extension agents and administrators. The results of the survey indicated that Extension's needs for agricultural health and safety information are not being fully met. In addition, the respondents to the survey indicated that the need for information targeting youth was a greater need than information targeting adults. The results also indicated that the agricultural health and safety needs of minorities were much like those of non-minorities, but that an effort should be made to produce information in Spanish.

Effective Motivators for Master Volunteer Program Development
Wolford, Marjorie; Cox, Kathryn; Culp, III, Ken
Master volunteers provide critical links between clientele and Extension professionals through active partnerships. What motivates them to become involved and stay involved? Descriptive and correlational research data were statistically analyzed from a stratified random sample of 288 Ohio State University Extension master volunteers. Responses from a 28-item mailed questionnaire revealed that achievement was rated as the most important motive for beginning service as a master volunteer. As they continued to volunteer, affiliation became the most important motive. Intrinsic forms of recognition (e.g., receiving compliments) were rated most important. The results are useful for current and future volunteer program development.

An Examination of Customer Satisfaction in the Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service
Rennekamp, Roger A.; Warner, Paul D.; Nall, Martha A.; Jacobs, Charlene; Maurer, Richard C.
In response to a growing trend to base funding decisions on customer satisfaction scores, the Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service commissioned a study to examine the degree to which it was meeting the needs of Kentuckians. Overall, results were very positive, with more than 90% saying that Extension was a good investment of public funds. The organization received high scores for program quality and customer service, but it scored slightly lower on relevance and usefulness. Infrequent users rated Extension to be less relevant and useful than did frequent users.

Predictors of Women's Success in Achieving Senior-Level Administrative Positions in CSREES
Mayer, Lucille C.
The purpose of the study reported here was to examine the career paths of women directors in the Cooperative State Research Extension Education Service (CSREES) to determine what factors enabled them to rise to the directorship and what factors impeded them along the way. The design employed was a multiple case study, a field study within the Naturalistic Inquiry paradigm. Four major themes that influenced the attainment of executive positions by women in CSREES emerged from the data: organizational factors, building networks and relationships, recognizing opportunities, and gender.

Exploring the Potential of In-Service Training Through Distance Education
Kelsey, Timothy W.; Mincemoyer, Claudia C.
A survey of county Extension staff was used to explore the potential for using distance education technologies for in-service training. County staff cited time- or travel-related reasons as the most common factors preventing them from attending specific in-service programs within the past 12 months. Given a choice about where Extension in-services should be held, they preferred regional locations over any other, though they were receptive to having some county-level in-service programs delivered by distance education. As a result of the survey responses, in the fall of 1997, Penn State Cooperative Extension began a pilot program of quarterly satellite in-services.

Ideas at Work

Ideas to Assist Extension Field Professionals in Building Linkages and Alliances
Longo, Mary F.; Dresbach, Sereana Howard
Extension professionals are sometimes asked to provide education about policy issues, while the hidden agenda of a group is for the professional to advocate for a certain position. This interrelationship of issues and the demand for educational delivery have created a conducive environment for building strategic linkages and alliances. As part of the strategic plan of the Family and Consumer Sciences program of Ohio State University Extension, a series of tools and resources has been developed to assist Extension professionals in building effective linkages and alliances while not compromising their role in delivering research-based, unbiased information.

Developing the New York City Watershed Model Forests: Working Laboratories to Study and Demonstrate Sustainable Forestry
Germain, René H.; Schwartz, John J.; Parrish, Jamie
This article describes how the integration of scientific research, continuing education, and public outreach at the New York City (NYC) Watershed Model Forests presents an ideal opportunity for developing, monitoring, and demonstrating the principles of sustainable forestry in the context of a large-scale working landscape over broad temporal terms. As a long-term institutional resource for local stakeholders and others interested in the nation's highest profile watershed, the NYC Watershed Model Forests will provide unprecedented opportunities for these audiences to better understand and support the multiple values associated with their local natural resources.

Developing a Simple Four-Step Marketing Plan for Extension Programs
Nehiley, James M.
To develop an effective marketing plan, you must match the needs of the various audience subgroups with the attributes of whatever you are trying to promote. We are all familiar with the benefits of advertising, but advertising is only part of a promotional plan. The idea behind marketing is to lead the consumer through the four stages that lead to purchase: awareness, interest, knowledge, and behavior. To successfully do this, you must (1) conduct an audience inventory, (2) define your goals and specify your objectives, (3) decide on the nature of your message, and (4) decide on the appropriate media.

Charting a Course Through the Culture Storms: A Cautionary Tale
Brosnahan, Ann; Lee, Faye C.H.
In our increasingly multicultural national and global societies, teaching about multiculturalism remains controversial and challenging. Based on experiences working with California's diverse population and current research in intercultural understanding, the authors describe an interactive diversity-training workshop for professionals and volunteers who work with children and youth. The workshop includes current research about intercultural understanding, an exploration of American cultural assumptions, and an opportunity for participants to identify strategies to improve their intercultural interactions. The model is based on sound adult learning theory, focuses on our capabilities rather than deficits, emphasizes our similarities rather than differences, and employs an ecological conception of culture.

Gap Analysis: A Tool for Community Economic Development
Barta, Suzette D.; Woods, Mike D.
The Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service has responded to a need for reliable retail sales data and analysis through the use of a retail trends report or "gap analysis." This article describes the analysis and the impact of the gap analysis report on the communities that have used it in the last year. Emphasis is placed on describing the methodology. In an attempt to evaluate the usefulness of the information, a survey was conducted among users of the report. The results of the survey indicate that gap analysis has been quite useful to communities actively engaged in economic development.

Tomato IPM Field Demonstrations in Alabama
Sikora, Edward J.; Zehnder, Geoffrey W.; Kemble, Joseph M.; Goodman, Robert; Andrianifahanana, Mahefatiana; Bauske, Ellen M.; Murphy, John F.
The Alabama Tomato IPM Program was evaluated through several on-farm demonstrations. Our objective was to provide growers with a clear vision of the benefits of a tomato IPM program. The IPM program consisted of a biweekly insect/disease scouting service combined with a weather-based fungicide spray program. Growers saved $34.12/acre when using the IPM program due to a reduction in pesticide applications. Growers made four fewer insecticide and four fewer fungicide applications following the IPM program versus their conventional program. The participating growers were enthusiastic about the IPM program and requested availability of this approach on an annual basis.

Tools of the Trade

County Agent–A Book Review
Scholl, Jan
County Agent, a book published more than 30 years ago, tells the story of the trials, tribulations, and triumphs of home economics graduate Lisa Merrill, as she grows into her position as a "home demonstration agent" in a rural county in the Adirondacks. Although originally intended as a "career romance for young moderns," the is more interesting today for what it might tell us about the evolving image of Extension and of women in popular culture

First, Break All the Rules: What the World's Greatest Managers Do Differently–A Book Review
Peterson, Bob
First, Break All the Rules highlights the core characteristics of great managers and great work places. They are the culmination of two studies completed over a 20-year time frame by the Gallup Organization. During this study more than 400 companies were involved and more than 80,000 managers and more than one million employees were interviewed. This book will challenge 4-H Extension educators and other Extension educators to rethink how they manage volunteers.

Recommended Energy Studies in the Food Processing and Packaging Industry: Identifying Opportunities for Conservation and Efficiency
Barron, Felix; Burcham, Joel
The food processing industry provides about 60% of the foods consumed by U.S. households. The energy used to process these foods is a significant part of the total price. Energy conservation and efficiency studies are necessary, because these measures are not generally applied in a systematic manner by small food processors. Extension professionals, consultants, and small food processors should work together to study the use of energy in processing plants and to identify factors affecting process efficiency. These studies will result in the development of applicable educational materials, training workshops and ultimately cost savings.

Using Pre- and Post- Tests to Evaluate the Achievement of Short Course Learning Objectives
Cloughesy, Mike; Zahler, David; Rellergert, Mary
A week-long forestry workshop was designed in Oregon to help K-12 classroom teachers understand the management of forest resources and to share with them materials and activities they can use in their own classrooms. Although the workshop was deemed a success by both instructors and participants, there were no real measure of how well the workshops educational goals had been achieved. A new curriculum was developed with clearly defined learning objectives. Achievement of learning objectives was successfully shown using a pre-test and post-test.