August 2002 // Volume 40 // Number 4

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Editor's Page

Editor's Page
"JOE Top 50" describes a new feature of our Web site that will let you know which articles get the most attention from readers. "August 2002 JOE" just "scratches the surface" of a great issue.


What Is Old Is New Again: Cooperative Extension's Role in Democracy Building Through Civic Engagement
Kelsey, Kathleen Dodge
The early history of the Cooperative Extension Service is rich with examples of the agent's role in building democracy among the citizenry of a young nation. However, the cold war shifted the focus of the public university toward the practice of one-way dissemination of research-based knowledge from the professor to the farmer and homemaker. As public funding continues to diminish for higher education, self-reflection suggests that Extension return to its original focus of building democracy through civic engagement. Suggestions for practice include valuing local knowledge and empowering citizens to solve their problems through action research projects.

Birth to Three: Extension's Role in the Early Years
Shaklee, Harriet
Recent research about brain development in infants and young children has raised public awareness about the importance of the early years, but there is little consensus about what those findings mean for policy and practice. Extension's community-based network, well-trained staff, strong community ties, and links to campus-based resources make it uniquely positioned to help families, communities, and states develop sound research-based responses to ensure a strong start for their youngest citizens.

Feature Articles

Citizens Developing a Voice at the Table: A Story of Educational Organizing in Contemporary Extension Work
Peters, Scott J.
Diffusing and helping people to apply "science-based" information have long been viewed as the core tasks of Extension educators and specialists. But Extension work also includes a tradition of educational organizing that develops leadership, builds civic capacity, and facilitates learning through bringing people and resources together to identify, deliberate about, and act on important public issues and problems. This article draws from a "practice story" in contemporary Extension work in order to shed light on the dimensions and significance of educational organizing in today's world.

Health Professions and Cooperative Extension: An Emerging Partnership
Condo, Erin P.; Martin, Kenneth E.
This article reports on the effectiveness of the project "Health Professions and Cooperative Extension: An Emerging Partnership" in providing community-based learning experiences for health professions students and in enhancing efforts of Extension. The grant project was awarded to seven health professions students in four states. Evaluation of final student reports and interviews of administrators, specialists, and county agents were conducted to determine the extent of service-learning benefits to the student, partnership development in communities, and benefits to Extension. Despite the challenges to implementing this project for the first time, students, communities, and Extension benefited greatly.

The Integration of Research and Extension: A Preliminary Study
Gould, Rebecca; Ham, George
How are Research and Extension integrated in land-grant systems throughout the United States? This question was answered by Directors of Agriculture Experiment Stations and Cooperative Extension who completed an online survey. Ninety-two individuals responded to the survey; 53% were with AES, and 47% were with CES. Interaction tended to occur through joint appointments and cohousing of faculty. Best-integrated practices revolved around a commodity or specific issue such as water quality. Funding was a common catalyst for collaboration in the form of competitive RFPs, internal grants, or special accounts.

Needs Assessment Surveys: Do They Predict Attendance at Continuing Education Workshops?
Malmsheimer, Robert W.; Germain, René H.
Extension educators regularly conduct needs assessment surveys to identify their clients' education preferences. This study compared data from a continuing education needs assessment survey of NYS forest resource managers with attendance records from workshops to learn if survey respondents attended programs that they indicated a preference for. Our findings suggest that, although educators can rely on these surveys to assess program feasibility, only a small percentage of survey respondents who indicate an interest in a topic will actually attend a program on that topic. Our results illustrate why educators should consider using additional tools to assess their clients' education needs.

Managing for Sustainable Agriculture
Harrison, John D.
The article presents the Agriculture Environmental Management System (AEMS) as a model for the integration of voluntary agriculture environmental management systems into agriculture production operations. The model can serve as guidance for Extension personnel as they assist operators in focusing on continual improvement of their enterprises' interactions with air, water and land resources; pollution prevention; effective compliance management; and owner/operator involvement, using ISO 14001 standard as a baseline.

More Than Cows & Cooking: Newest Research Shows the Impact of 4-H
Astroth, Kirk A.; Haynes, George W.
This article reports on a statewide survey of students' use of out-of-school time conducted in 21 Montana counties. Only 17% of youth reported that they are not involved in out-of-school activities. Active students are more likely to lead healthier and happier lives than non-active youth. 4-H participants are less likely to shoplift or steal, smoke cigarettes, ride in a car with someone who has been drinking, or damage property for the fun of it. These participants are also more likely to develop self-confidence, social competence, and practical skills; to take on community leadership roles; and to feel more accepted and listened to by adults.

Ohio 4-H Youth Development Extension Agents' Use of Volunteer Screening Tools
McNeely, Niki Nestor; Schmiesing, Ryan J.; King, Jeff; Kleon, Sara
While volunteers are needed for youth development programs, it is imperative that a sound selection process is in place so that the most appropriate individuals are selected to work with young people. The article outlines the results of a research project undertaken to describe the current use of volunteer selection tools with the Ohio 4-H Youth Development program. The authors describe the level of use of specific selection tools and the extent to which specific volunteers are screened prior to placement. The authors offer recommendations and implications applicable to any Extension program using volunteers to deliver programs to vulnerable audiences.

Farm Production Analysis Training for Small Farmers
Hanson, Gregory D.; Parsons, Robert L.; Chess, William J.; Balliet, Kenneth L.
A partnership between Penn State Cooperative Extension and the Farm Service Agency has developed a successful production training program for more than 367 farmers. Farmers received training in producing planning and budgets, partial budgeting, and livestock and agronomic basics. Significant gains in knowledge occurred in multi-year planning, enterprise budgeting, and use of the Penn State Agronomy Guide. Designing workshop material for low-producing farmers proved difficult because most participants, while finding the topics helpful, also found the material too advanced. Future focus will encourage greater involvement with private-sector institutions and coordination between production and management Extension specialists.

Research in Brief

Working with Rural Employers: An Interagency Partnership
Bowman, Sally R.; Manoogian, Margaret; Driscoll, Debra Minar
Extension professionals are uniquely positioned to help employers understand the needs of families with limited resources and to assist employers in finding ways to hire and retain employees. Oregon State University Extension Service, in conjunction with county partners, organized an employer development program in a small rural community. A large employer event was organized to learn employer needs and create effective partnerships. Through focus group and participant evaluations, employers identified hiring and retention challenges and outlined needed support and services. A program description, reported outcomes, and current ongoing activities will aid other Extension professionals in implementing similar programs.

Gauging Perceptions of Farm Programs
Mark, Darrell R.; Daniel, M. Scott; Parcell, Joseph L.
As the 2002 Farm Security and Rural Investment Act (FSRI) is implemented and producers and others in agribusiness more fully understand its impacts on agriculture, it will be increasingly important to monitor their perceptions of FSRI. We present survey results from Kansans who attended an annual Extension conference regarding their attitudes towards the Federal Agricultural Improvement and Reform Act (FAIR). Results indicate that respondents generally had positive views of FAIR and were favorable to retaining some elements of FAIR in new agricultural policy. Extension educators have the responsibility to compile similar information during the crop years covered under FSRI.

Food Safety for Healthy Missouri Families: Evaluation of Program Effectiveness
Comer, Marcus M.
Millions of American families are affected annually by food-borne illnesses. Many of the problems in food safety education are related to the general paucity of agricultural awareness. Food safety information often does not reach segments of the population where poverty is rampant and the need is greatest. The study reported here sought to determine the level of understanding about food safety among inner-city Missouri youth participating in a 4-week summer program. Pre-tests revealed that the youth were not knowledgeable about food safety and agricultural issues. Post-test results showed dramatic changes in beliefs. However, topics such as irradiation, eating raw cookie dough, and perceptions related to grocery stores showed little change.

Meeting the Graduate Education Needs of Minnesota Extension Educators
Chairs, Mary J.; McDonald, Barbara J.; Shroyer, Peg; Urbanski, Becky; Vertin, Diane
The study reported here examined the perceptions of Minnesota Extension Educators regarding their participation in a M.Ed. cohort program provided by the University of Minnesota-Duluth via distance learning. The study examined how a cohort experience affected the students' leadership skills and abilities and their personal growth and the effectiveness of the cohort model as a collaborative vehicle for earning a graduate degree. A cross-sectional survey was electronically administered to the target population of Minnesota Extension Educators. The results showed that the M.Ed. cohort model was successful and is promising as a learning method for adult learners.

What Personally Attracts Volunteers to the Master Gardener Program?
Rohs, Frederick R.; Stribling, Jonathan H.; Westerfield, Robert R.
The study reported here sought to determine what personally attracts volunteers to the Master Gardener program. An instrument was constructed, pilot-tested, validated, and mailed to Master Gardener volunteers. The instrument sought information regarding social background factors of Master Gardeners and their responses regarding 19 personal benefits of the Master Gardener program. Respondents were classified into two groups based on various social background factors, and their responses were compared. Results indicated that persons with different backgrounds rated several personal benefits differently. Data also indicated a positive relationship between volunteer retention and perceived rating on the personal benefits scale.

Ideas at Work

Linking Strategic Thinking and Project Planning: The Oregon State University Extension Forestry Experience
Reichenbach, Mike; Simon-Brown, Viviane
Using an enhanced project planning process, Extension forestry faculty at the Oregon State University strategically allocate Extension educator staff time to educational program development. An internal review of this process was conducted. The integrated process resulted in better linkages between program planning and strategic planning and improved working relationships within the Extension team and generated new ideas for educational programs. As a result, the Oregon State University Extension Forestry Team is better able to focus efforts of campus and county Extension forestry faculty on projects that meet needs identified in an outreach and Extension education strategic plan.

What Incarcerated Youth Say Would Help Them Succeed: Can Extension Play a Role?
Killian, Eric; Brown, Randy; Evans, William
As the number of incarcerated youth increases, there is a great need for a variety of programming approaches aimed at helping these youth succeed. The purpose of the study reported here was to assess incarcerated youths' opinions of effective programming approaches for both inside and outside the detention system. A sample of incarcerated youth (n=197) responded to a survey designed to assess perceptions of the overall facilities, staff, and future programming. Based on youth perceptions of what programs and activities they thought would help them succeed, there are several areas where Extension professionals can provide essential programming and collaborative support.

Junior Pork Day--A Family Experience
Rusk, Clinton P.; Egger, Tracie; Machtmes, Krisanna; Richert, Brian T.
Junior Pork Day is a special 1-day workshop held annually at Purdue University to provide new 4-H swine members and their parents with current information and hands-on learning to spark their interest in the swine industry. During this educational workshop, participants rotate individually through a series of stations that test their skills in the areas of swine evaluation, parts identification, and other areas of the swine industry. One hundred percent of the parents responding to an evaluation survey indicated that Junior Pork Day had been helpful to their youth and that they personally benefited from attending the program, as well.

Adventure Programming Is an Interactive Way to Improve Leadership Skills for Junior Fair Board Members
Penrose, Christopher D.; Montgomery, Pamela M.
Adventure Programming Initiatives can provide an option for training Junior Fair Board members to become better leaders through having them actively participate in the learning process. Sequenced team building initiatives can develop trust, communication, problem-solving, and leadership skills. Fair involvement and the initiatives helped build these skills and many others in a fun-filled way.

Secure Seat (SM): A Safe and Systematic Approach to Teaching Riding
Greene, Elizabeth A.; Dawson, Jana Z.
Secure SeatSM is a skill-driven system for teaching riding that can be used to teach any type of horse and rider combination to work together in a comfortable, safe, and efficient manner. It provides an effective method for achieving and maintaining balance with the horse and thereby provides a more willing and comfortable mount. Extension educators in 4-H and other program areas who are involved with rider training should investigate this teaching system.

A Web-Based Cotton Harvesting Cost Calculator
Nelson, Jeannie; Misra, Sukant; Devegowda, Amar; Reeves, Jeanne
The Cotton Harvesting Cost Calculator (CHCC) is a Web-based program designed and developed to provide cotton producers with a user-friendly means to estimate the harvesting cost associated with a specific harvesting equipment configuration. CHCC calculates the average harvesting cost for a specific cotton stripper or picker harvesting equipment configuration, as well as compares costs of alternative harvesting equipment configurations. The data generated by the CHCC are basically all that are needed for the user to make an informed decision on how to optimize his or her cotton harvesting operation. CHCC is a valuable tool Extension staff can use as they work with cotton producers to help them improve their bottom line.

Tools of the Trade

Working at Home When You Have No Choice: Personal Experiences and Advice
O'Neill, Barbara
What if you couldn't get to your Extension office for several months because of damage, construction work, or simple inaccessibility? Could you function productively and continue to serve your clientele? In the wake of the events of September 11 and periodic high-profile natural disasters, this is not an idle question. This article addresses ways to prepare to productively work at home when it is not being done by choice, but out of necessity. The author shares 10 suggestions based on her personal experiences and those of colleagues.

Sound Internal Communication Is Crucial in a Crisis Situation
McAllister, Dave; Hilt, Marci
Before the events of September 11, 2001, a crisis had predictable elements. Now, the scope has vastly broadened. Top managers, including those in Extension, need to develop a well thought-out workplace crisis response plan, including where employees should go and what they should do. Managers need to communicate with their employees quickly and follow up with e-mails and small group meetings. Critical data must be backed up and secure. It is also important to convey accurate facts to the media, educate the media about how to cover your organization in the aftermath of a crisis, and monitor their accuracy.

Making Program Choices When Resources Are Limited: Using a Self-Assessment Tool with Stakeholders
Diem, Keith G.
Scarce resources require tough choices. A simple evaluation tool can help with the decision-making process. A rating sheet containing 25 criteria for assessing the value of an Extension program can be given to a representative group of stakeholders to rate individual programs. The goal is to maximize a program's strengths and minimize its weaknesses. The best use of this tool may be the open discussion that it promotes while raising clientele groups' awareness of the need to offer the most valuable programs that serve the maximum number of people. Keeping clientele part of the decision-making process also helps keep the agent out of hot water.

Producing Customized County Reports the Easy Way
Griesel, Janet; Leatherman, John
Have you ever wanted to create reports for a number of locations using the same layout and background information but location-specific data? Traditionally, doing so was a difficult, time-consuming, and error-prone process. Today's technology, however, makes it easier than ever before. This article describes how linking data in Excel spreadsheets to Word documents allowed the authors to create customized Situation and Trends reports for each of the 105 Kansas counties.

Summer "Hands-On" Pesticide Re-Certification
Schumacher, Stephen; Landefeld, Mark
Do farmers prefer winter classroom meetings or summer, outdoor, "hands-on" training? Recently, some ANR agents in Ohio decided a "hands-on" teaching method was needed to assist farmers, helping them better understanding issues surrounding pesticide use. A summer "hands-on" training opportunity was provided as an alternative to winter classroom meetings. A survey was developed to compare this "hands-on" educational method to traditional winter meetings, and an 80% response rate was achieved. The summer "hands-on" meeting, on a Likert-type scale, rated 4.70. Extension agents in this East district cluster also prefer summer training to winter re-certification meetings.

The Teachable Moment: A SIDS Training Model for Child Care Providers
Malley, Cathy
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) remains the leading cause of death for infants in the United States, with a disproportionate number of deaths occurring in child care settings. This article describes a collaborative effort to teach child care providers about SIDS. The success of these workshops was partially because of the timing. They were held 3 months after a Connecticut Superior Court found a child care provider liable in a SIDS death of a 2 1/2-month-old infant. It is a reminder that Extension educators are in a perfect position to provide SIDS training and that program timing is critical.