February 2001 // Volume 39 // Number 1

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Editor's Page

Editor's Page


The Challenge of Extension Scholarship
Norman, Charles L.
Board members of the Journal of Extension (JOE) are rethinking and reconsidering the journal's criteria, standards, and level of rigor, taking advantage of recent efforts to redefine scholarship for Extension. We believe this is necessary if JOE is to continue to meet the needs of Extension professionals and to demonstrate our relevance to both higher education and the public.

Keeping a Traditional Program-Delivery Method in an "E" World
Simeral, Kenneth D.
Advances in communication technology have changed how agents deliver programs and work with clientele. The electronic world makes it very easy for educational information to be delivered quickly and efficiently. These advances must be regarded as program-delivery improvements. However, communication technology has also reduced the amount of face-to-face, personal contact with and among clientele, which used to be a hallmark of Extension work. Can we keep the face-to-face benefits while going forward in an "e" world?

Feature Articles

Computer Anxiety Levels of Virginia Extension Personnel
Martin, Brenda L.; Stewart, Daisy L.; Hillison, John
Virginia Cooperative Extension personnel were surveyed to determine their level of computer anxiety and the computer applications they used. A total of 402 persons completed Oetting's Computer Anxiety Scale and additional items. The use of step-wise regression determined that time spent using a computer, age, and years of employment were significant, but accounted for only 17% of the variance in anxiety. The results of this study provide information that will be useful to Extension educators in providing improved pre-service and in-service education for Extension personnel. These improvements can result in decreased anxiety in using computers and better service to clientele.

Identification of Volunteer Screening Practices for Selected Ohio Youth Organizations
Schmiesing, Ryan J.: Henderson, Jan
This qualitative study identified volunteer screening practices for selected Ohio youth organizations. Programs were selected based on current volunteer screening in place and involvement of adult volunteers giving leadership to youth-focused programs. Eight volunteer coordinators were interviewed using an interview schedule focused on program screening procedures, liability issues, and volunteer responsibilities. Use of selected screening devices, specific volunteer screening policies, and potential volunteer non-acceptance and liability issues were identified as overall patterns from the data. The researcher concluded that screening procedures are being implemented but that additional focus on consistent policies, implementation of advanced screening devices, and strengthening of current practices should be addressed.

EDUFAIM: A Successful Program Helping Empower Rural Families Toward Self-Reliance
Duncan, Stephen F.; Dunnagan, Tim; Christopher, Suzanne; Paul, Lynn
In this article we briefly describe the development, implementation, and preliminary evaluation of EDUFAIM: Educating Families to Achieve Independence in Montana as a model for statewide integration of efforts to help families dependent on public assistance move toward a more self-supporting lifestyle. The project is deemed by collaborators an integral part of their efforts to help families achieve self-sufficiency, and it has been dubbed a "model of collaboration." It is hoped that this model will be helpful to other states engaged in self-reliance education.

Individual Development Accounts: The Path to a Dream
McKenna, Judy; Owen, Alma; Blansett, Catherine
Low-income workers can increase their financial security by increasing their asset base. Individual Development Accounts (IDAs) match participant savings for preagreed upon goals such as home ownership, education, and small businesses. IDA program evaluation found that half of the participants saved at least 80% of the maximum amount allowed. Extension educators have an opportunity to incorporate IDAs into poverty-reduction strategies in their counties. They can also provide financial education as a means to help families set and sustain long-term financial goals and plans.

Research in Brief

Teenagers as Teachers Programs: Ten Essential Elements
Lee, Faye C. H.; Murdock, Shelley
Teenagers teaching younger children can be beneficial to both the children whom they teach and the teens themselves. This qualitative study identified current practices in 14 teens as teachers programs that contribute to positive outcomes for teenaged teachers and the children. Using in-depth individual and group interviews, this study found that complex planning and skilled implementation are requisite in programs with positive outcomes. A dedicated adult who supported teens was found to be the most critical element in successful programs. Other essential elements included active recruitment strategies and a strong curriculum.

Effect of Nutrition Education by Paraprofessionals on Dietary Intake, Maternal Weight Gain, and Infant Birth Weight in Pregnant Native American and Caucasian Adolescents
Hermann, Janice; Williams, Glenna; Hunt, Donna
Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program, in cooperation with the Chickasaw Nation and Choctaw Nation WIC programs, implemented and evaluated a nutrition education program for pregnant adolescents. Program evaluation investigated the effects of nutrition education by paraprofessionals on dietary intake, maternal weight gain, and infant birth weight in pregnant Native American and Caucasian adolescents. Nutrition education by paraprofessionals was effective in improving adolescents' dietary intake, maternal weight gain, and infant birth weight. The decreased rate of low birth weight infants among participants represents a saving of $297,500 in medical costs during the first year of life.

Competencies Needed to be Successful County Agents and County Supervisors
Cooper, Anita W.; Graham, Donna L.
This study describes the competencies that county agents and county supervisors in Arkansas believe are important for future success. Participants identified 57 core competencies, with character traits being the top-rated items. Having a farm background and 4-H experience were not ranked as highly important. The competency area Faculty/Staff Relations was rated as the most important for both agents and supervisors. Management Skills were ranked more important for supervisors, while Public Relations and Work Habits were rated more important for agents. Training should be provided to increase agent and supervisor competencies in those areas identified as very important.

Ideas at Work

Urban Integrated Pest Management Training for Retail Store Employees
Cecil, Kyle; Czapar, George
A pilot training program in pest management and proper pesticide use was initiated in Illinois for retail and garden center employees by University of Illinois Extension. Primary instructors for the workshop included Integrated Pest Management and Horticulture educators. Because retail stores that sell pesticides are an important source of information for the homeowner, one method of transferring integrated pest management (IPM) strategies to the urban audience is to provide specialized training to retail store employees. In general, the current level of employee pest management training in retail stores that sell pesticides appears limited. This audience, however, seems very receptive to increasing the expertise of their employees, with the primary goal of improved customer service.

Tools of the Trade

Building Working Relationships in Agricultural Marketing
Kraenzel, David G.
As Extension educators shift in new directions to meet challenges of the brand new millennium, the human resources aspect of our learning partnerships gains in importance. The call is for educational leadership in introducing useful frameworks and models that center on building relationships in agricultural marketing. Three key questions frame our view of the future when we begin to focus more clearly on issues of relationship building. What is the future direction affecting Extension teaching and learning leadership? What are the new educational leadership challenges we face? What are effective educational leadership strategies we may consider in meeting these new challenges?

How to Write Low Literacy Materials
Miller, Juanita E.
This article is a tool for professionals and paraprofessionals who write educational materials for low literacy audiences. The article includes quick tips and a test that measure the reading level of printed materials. The author also points the reader to examples that are easily accessible and can be used when writing for low literacy audiences.

Classes on the Internet: A "How to" Guide
Klotzbach-Shimomura, Kathleen; O'Neill, Barbara; Huntzinger, Gary
Presenting PowerPoint slides on the Internet let Extension educators reach a widespread and time-stressed audience 24/7. This article explains the software needed, gives some pointers on developing such a presentation, and describes some examples from Rutgers Cooperative Extension.

Field Tours--An Old Tool That Can Still Work
Hawkins, Stephen E.; Southard, Ben
Field tours and workshops continue to be useful tools in Extension education. But holding such events requires careful planning and follow-up to make a successful experience for all involved: planners, presenters, and participants. The authors developed a simple timeline and checklist to help keep the organizers on track.

Questionnaires for Evaluating On-Farm Field Days
Shepard, Robin
On-farm field days are a traditional educational tool used by Cooperative Extension Agricultural Agents/Educators. The field day is generally a day-long event held at a local cooperating farm and typically includes demonstrations of specific management practices. One of the most common ways to evaluate the impact of on-farm field days is with a post-event questionnaire. But the most challenging aspect of evaluating the field day is determining what to measure. Field day questionnaires often attempt to do too much. This article presents three straight-forward categories of questions as well as suggestions for questionnaire design and delivery.

Calibration of Boom Sprayers Using Charts to Reduce Math Calculations
Beard, F. Richard; Deer, Howard
The calibration of boom sprayers, although not difficult, is often neglected by producers. This article explains procedures for calibrating boom sprayers using charts and techniques rather than math calculations. It provides Extension educators with information they can use to give producers a quick and easy way to regularly calibrate their spray equipment.