December 2002 // Volume 40 // Number 6

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Editor's Page

Editor's Page
This month, I invite interested and qualified readers to help JOE and their colleagues by applying to become JOE peer reviewers. And I also talk about the three pairs of articles in the December issue that speak to each other as well as to us.

Feature Articles

Using Research Methods to Evaluate Your Extension Program
Diem, Keith G.
For Extension practitioners, research is typically considered an ominous practice reserved for ivory tower academics, and evaluation is nearly as mysterious. Therefore, Extension agents often shy away from using scientific methods to evaluate educational programs. However, research is simply a methodical way of finding answers to questions used to discover new information or prove scientific theories. And research methods can also be useful to effectively evaluate an educational program or its participants in the most objective way. This article presents an overview of research methods that Extension agents can use in program evaluation. It includes a bibliography of helpful resources.

Extension's Role in Responding to Community Crisis: Lessons from Klamath Falls, Oregon
Cartwright, Sharon; Case, Patricia; Gallagher, Tom; Hathaway, Ron
Extension has a long history of support for communities, primarily through programs such as agriculture and 4-H. When an entire community faces a crisis, however, the needs of the community can expand beyond the goals of a specific program. In the summer of 2001, Klamath Falls, Oregon experienced a crisis when a federal decision eliminated irrigation water to over 1200 families farming more than 220,000 acres. The Klamath County Extension Office recognized the role they could play and organized and facilitated three countywide meetings to identify needs and strategies for action. The actions that evolved from the meetings were substantial, and the Extension office learned several key lessons about responding to crisis.

Training 4-H Teen Facilitators in Inquiry-Based Science Methods: The Evaluation of a "Step-Up" Incremental Training Model
Smith, Martin H.; Enfield, Richard P.
A "Step-Up" Incremental Training Model for teen curriculum facilitators implementing inquiry-based science activities was designed and evaluated. This model involves a sequence of three training workshops that alternate with curriculum implementations. The model was evaluated using data from focus group interviews, surveys, and direct observations. Key elements in the model's design include: workshop organization; introductory session; multiple increments; effective modeling and practice; "safe" environment for reflection and review. The teens trained during the development of this model were effective in implementing curriculum activities with young children. The authors believe that this method would be transferable to other teen-led Extension programs.

Adult Volunteer Development: Addressing the Effectiveness of Training New 4-H Leaders
VanWinkle, Robin; Busler, Susan; Bowman, Sally R.; Manoogian, Margaret
4-H traditionally focuses on positive youth development, but adult volunteers are the mainstay of the programs. We evaluated the effectiveness of 4-H new leader education and its influence on the skill development of adult volunteer leaders. Using a retrospective pretest method, we found that participants in 4-H new leader training increased their knowledge and readiness to be 4-H leaders. Skills gained from new leader education were also being applied outside of the 4-H context. Planning and carrying out yearly club programs was identified as an area in which current training could be improved.

A Promising New Role for Extension Educators in a Dynamic Industry: The Cow Sense Project
Stup, Richard; Van Saun, Robert; Wolfgang, David
The environment for Extension is rapidly changing, but new opportunities are emerging. Extension can play a unique and important role in helping managers learn to consistently apply technical knowledge throughout their organizations. "Cow Sense" is a successful program that can serve as a model for progressive programming that combines technical knowledge with organizational development.

Why People Are Moving to Suburbia (and Beyond): Examining the Pull Factor in the Fox Valley
Koles, Michael; Muench, David
Communities across the United States are growing and changing at an unprecedented pace. The Fox Valley of Wisconsin is no exception to the rapid population growth and development that often occurs in an unplanned manner and evokes terms like "sprawl" and "leapfrog construction." The rapid suburban, exurban, and rural evolution is fueled not only by broad economic factors but also localized characteristics that push residents from the city and pull residents to suburbia. This article describes research that investigated the pull factors in six suburban Fox Valley, Wisconsin communities and discusses resulting implications for Extension programming.

Beyond Knowledge: Guidelines for Effective Health Promotion Messages
Gordon, Joye C.
Knowledge does not always result in the adoption of recommended behaviors that can prevent or detect illness. This article synthesizes the research of psychologists, health advocates, and other social scientists to identify the factors other than knowledge that influence decisions regarding healthful behaviors. The article also presents guidelines to help Extension personnel optimize messages and programs designed to encourage preventive health behaviors based on findings concerning (a) perceptions of risks; (b) perceptions of self; (c) environmental conditions, both physical and social; and (d) perceptions of costs and benefits of recommended behavior.

Research in Brief

Communicating the Handling of Nonresponse Error in Journal of Extension Research in Brief Articles
Lindner, James R.; Wingenbach, Gary J.
This article reports a study designed to describe historical treatment of nonresponse error in the Journal of Extension. All Research in Brief articles (N=83) published in JOE (1995-99) were analyzed using content analysis techniques. Results showed that not mentioning nonresponse error, not controlling nonresponse error, or not citing the literature were the norm and not the exception. It is recommended that Extension researchers address nonresponse error when it is a threat to the external validity of their study. Recommendations for additional study and adoption of methods for handling nonresponse are provided.

Measuring the Ethical Cognition Effects of a Videotape Livestock Show Ethics Education Program
Goodwin, Jeff L.; Murphy, Tim H.; Briers, Gary
As Extension educators and agriculture education teachers address the sensitive issues of livestock show ethics and quality assurance of the food animals produced and marketed to the public through the youth livestock program, they must ensure that their educational efforts are effective. Everyone has an opinion about what should or should not be done in order to improve the situation related youth livestock ethics. This study examines the effectiveness of a video educational program that has been in widespread use since its inception in 1996.

Electronic Identification of 4-H Livestock Projects
Rusk, Clinton P.
This article describes the effectiveness of electronic ear tags placed in 625 sheep and 508 4-H swine projects in five Indiana counties. Electronic ear tags worked well (>98% readability) in lambs when the tags were properly placed on the inside of the animal's ear. Electronic tags were either missing or failed to respond in 33% of the 4-H hogs at the Knox county fair, and swine members had a difficult time visually reading the number on the tags. Electronic ear tags speed up the check-in of animals at the county fair and reduce the potential for human error in transposing numbers.

Measuring the Perceived Effectiveness of Training for the Dairy Option Pilot Program
Ibendahl, Gregory; Maynard, Leigh; Branstetter, Andrea
This article presents the results of a survey designed to measure the perceived effectiveness of Dairy Option Pilot Program (DOPP) training. A pre- and post-training survey was used to see if the training increases a dairy farmer's perceived knowledge and understanding of put options. Because the Risk Management Agency is expanding dairy risk management, evaluations are needed to measure the potential success of these programs. Survey results show the training significantly increased the farmers' reported comfort level and understanding. The majority of farmers reported intentions to buy options to control risk. Undetermined, however, is whether dairy farmers will consider options after the DOPP program ends.

Impacts of Extension Education on Improving Residential Stormwater Quality: Monitoring Results
Dietz, Michael E.; Clausen, John C.; Warner, Glenn S.; Filchak, Karen K.
The project reported in this article evaluated whether stormwater quality could be improved by educating homeowners and implementing best management practices in a suburban neighborhood. Nitrogen, phosphorus, and bacteria levels from two watersheds were compared using the paired watershed approach. Resident surveys, property site assessments, soil tests, and water quality and quantity monitoring were conducted. A x2-analysis of survey data indicated no significant changes in measured behavior. Significant (p=0.01) reductions in NO3-N and fecal coliform bacteria concentrations occurred; however, total nitrogen concentrations did not change significantly.

Ideas at Work

Information Technology Adoption in Agricultural Operations: A Progression Path
Thomas, Daniel C.; Callahan, Dale W.
Agricultural operations are not taking advantage of the Information Technology (IT) tools that exist today. As the agricultural industry continues to evolve, IT utilization is critical to the continued competitiveness/survival of individual operations. A progression path for IT adoption is defined that takes into account IT tools utilized along with impacts to operational processes. This path can be used as a tool to ease farmers into the IT world without introducing excessive change all at once. Application of this path in Extension educational programs could increase IT adoption and retention in agricultural operations.

Understanding Stepfamilies: Family Life Education for Community Professionals
Adler-Baeder, Francesca
The author describes the rationale and the process for developing an educational seminar based on the current research on stepfamilies for professionals who work with children and families. Receptiveness to this program model for "second-tier" family life education is demonstrated.

Using Agriculture as the Foundation for an Extension Nutrition Education Program
Hughes, Luanne J.
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is based on the principle that the future success of our farms is dependent upon the relationships between farmers and an expanding non-agricultural population. And, in many ways, the future success of our communities can be cultivated by strengthening our connection with our agricultural roots. Building on this concept, Rutgers Cooperative Extension created a nutrition and agriculture education initiative for children ages 3 to 8 called "From Our Farms." From Our Farms promotes improved nutrition and consumption of locally grown foods through a series of family-based activities that are offered through local libraries.

Extension Programs Increased Missouri Cotton Farmer Use of Survey-Based Pest Management
Wrather, J. Allen; Boyd, Michael L.; Kendig, J. Andrew; Nabors, Ray A.
In 1982, only 5% of Missouri cotton farmers surveyed fields for pests and used this information when selecting pest management strategies, i.e., survey based pest management (SBPM). University of Missouri faculty initiated a program that year to instruct farmers about the benefits of SBPM. They provided instruction from 1982 to 1999. During 1999, 3% of Missouri cotton farmers were surveyed by phone for their use of SBPM. That year, farmers used SBPM to protect 82% of Missouri cotton acres. In addition to better yields, the use of SBPM ensured more efficient use of all pest management strategies.

Tools of the Trade

Tips for Teaching Non-Traditional Audiences
Bairstow, Roger; Berry, Holly; Driscoll, Debra Minar
One of the greatest thrills for an Extension educator is being asked, "When's the next one?" at the end of a session. To keep that question coming when teaching non-traditional audiences, these county educators share their tips for designing programs that increase the learner's comfort and create a non-threatening atmosphere. Relationships, cultural differences, use of time and resources, and finding new ways to measure learning progress can all influence programming success.

Engaging Minority and Culturally Diverse Audiences
Hoorman, James J.
Extension's mission is to educate and disseminate research to all people, but minority and culturally diverse audiences are often difficult to engage. The article offers seven ideas to help Extension professionals engage these audiences. Learn to understand their culture. Interact with innovators and key leaders in the community, and understand the hierarchy. Identify and solve local issues. Be patient and persistent, and develop early success stories. Adapt the program to their culture, keep the message simple, and repeat the message. Look for win-win situations and financial incentives to encourage participation. Evaluate, revise, and repeat the program.

Total Rural Capital: A Model to Engage Extension Faculty and the Public in Rural Community Development
Cartwright, Sharon; Gallagher, Tom
Rural community development is challenging work. This article introduces a tool that is useful for scholarship and for working with people in rural communities. Total rural capital is a multi-disciplinary model that can help faculty develop scholarship from their work while helping the public to better understand the complexity of community development.

Recipe Checklist: A Tool to Aid Development of Recipes for Audiences with Limited Resources
Reed, Debra B.; Schuster, Ellen
Recipes are popular vehicles in nutrition education. Significant time and resources are devoted to identifying, developing and distributing recipes in Extension nutrition education programs. A qualitative review of existing recipes found some recipes to be lacking in standardization. The authors review previous work about recipe development for limited resource audiences and present a comprehensive recipe checklist for Extension staff to better assess whether a recipe will be effective in programming.