February 2002 // Volume 40 // Number 1

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Editor's Page

Editor's Page
"JOE by the Numbers" reports how many submissions JOE received in 2001 and describes how they've fared in the review process. In that section you'll also find information on submission and readership rates. "Discussion Opportunity" waves the banner for the new JOE Discussion Forum. And "February 2002 JOE" highlights some of the topics discussed this month Extension involvement in public and possibly controversial issues most notable among them.


Extension Faculty and Political Acumen
Stoltz, Michael
Extension faculty function in a political arena and should be politically active in Extension issues and budgets. Extension faculty and administrators each have a role in providing reliable information on issues and budgets to elected officials. Extension administration should provide plans and budgets to faculty and expect them to work with elected officials as well as inform clientele and support groups. Communication between all levels of Extension becomes extremely critical. There are pitfalls, but the rewards can be a stable or higher Extension budget.

Feature Articles

The Role of Extension in Controversial Studies: The Case of Interstate Dairy Compacts
Bailey, Kenneth W.
This article reviews the steps taken at the University of Missouri in dealing with a very controversial study on dairy compacts. More and more, Extension is being asked to conduct applied economic studies on controversial public policy issues. However, care must be taken to conduct these studies in an objective and scholarly manner without unnecessarily alienating affected stakeholders. Academic freedom and integrity must be maintained, and faculty cannot allow themselves to be placed in a position to be influenced by affected stakeholders. At the same time, Extension cannot operate effectively without these important stakeholders. This study outlines an acceptable balance.

Coalition Sustainability: Long-Term Successes & Lessons Learned
Lodl, Kathleen; Stevens, Georgia
While most Cooperative Extension projects begin with worthy goals, to truly measure a project's long-term success, it is necessary to assess the project's impact over time. The purpose of this article is to analyze the sustainability and continued impact of a USDA funded youth-at-risk project coalition building project 10 years after the onset of the initial project and 5 years after cessation of funding. The lessons learned through the work of the coalitions involved in this project can provide insight into the planning and implementation of other projects and strategies that can be used to ensure long-term project sustainability.

Evaluating Extension-Based Water Resource Outreach Programs: Are We Meeting the Challenge?
Shepard, Robin
Attention from politicians and agency personnel, concerns over duplication in mission, privatization, and the push for competitive funding serve to increase the demand for evaluation and accountability in Extension education. In winter 1997-98, a survey was conducted with Cooperative State Research Education and Extension Service (CSREES) state water quality coordinators to assess the status of evaluation efforts related to water quality outreach projects. Survey results offer insight into when and how accountability issues are addressed throughout the life of a project.

The Long and Short of Groundwater Education for Michigan Farmers
Holsman, Robert H.; Krueger, David
The Michigan Groundwater Stewardship Program (MGSP) has pursued a variety of educational strategies to educate farmers about groundwater risks associated with pesticide and fertilizer use. This article describes a 4-year study investigating program effectiveness. The results suggest that Farm*A*Syst has been a successful intervention for promoting farm management practices. Yet, despite the apparent changes in some farm management practices, little impact on groundwater literacy has been achieved. We suspect adoption of these practices may be driven by financial incentives, rather than an improved understanding of the need to assess and evaluate risks to their local groundwater supplies.

Changes in Cultural Practices of Farmers in Southeast Nebraska as a Result of Their Adoption of Transgenic Crops
Peterson, James M.; Cassman, Kenneth G.; Cantrell, Randy
How do cultural practices change as producers adopt transgenic crops? A group of progressive producers in southeast Nebraska were surveyed to learn how practices changed as RR soybeans were adopted. These producers were found conservative in changing their management practices to use transgenic crops most efficiently. Tillage and planting practices were unchanged from conventional crops. Seed dealers and on-farm research were the top educational resources used in determining which varieties of soybeans to plant. Based on this study, on-farm research offers Extension an avenue for providing needed information to producers.

Investing in the Future: Addressing Work/Life Issues of Employees
Kutilek, Linda M.; Conklin, Nikki L.; Gunderson, Gail
The Extension organization has a long tradition of professional service to clientele, often at a cost of sacrifice to family and self. The results of a national study indicated that work/life issues are of great concern. Employees identified the most critical work/life challenges as: 1) a heavy work load, 2) evening and weekend time commitments, and 3) lack of control or job autonomy. The recommendations, based on this study, urged Extension administrators throughout the organization to reduce the workload and time requirements of county-based professionals and contended that policies needed to be consistent within the national Extension system.

Building Local Knowledge for Developing Health Policy Through Key Informant Interviews
Morton, Lois Wright
Key informant surveys offer Extension educators a way to build knowledge about their local health systems and provide a catalyst for developing health policies. Key informant surveys of 138 leaders in 14 rural counties revealed the top 10 health goals across these counties. These goals are a starting point for public dialogues to develop a local health agenda and engage Extension in strengthening local partnerships around health education, intervention, and policy development.

Research in Brief

Conflict-Laden Issues: A Learning Opportunity
Corp, Mary K.; Darnell, Tom
Extension faculty has opportunities to bring people together to solve problems. A simple process finds solutions to a problem with herbicide drift. The process provided five key "findings:" 1) Finding balance between reason and emotion is crucial; 2) Having a participatory process facilitates buy-in; 3) Learning to solve conflicts provides long term benefit(s); 4) Facilitating is a role Extension is uniquely suited to fill; and 5) Extension staff should be trained in facilitation. The authors argue that Extension faculty should play a role in developing this capacity to resolve conflicts.

Measuring and Benchmarking Customer Satisfaction: Implications for Organizational and Stakeholder Accountability
Radhakrishna, Rama
Customer satisfaction has become an important performance measurement tool for many organizations, and Cooperative Extension is no exception. Clemson Extension Service conducted a customer satisfaction survey (CSS). A total of 1,068 clients responded to a 14-item survey that elicited data on Extension information use, satisfaction with services, and demographic information. Overall, findings indicated that customers were very satisfied with the service from Clemson Extension, and a majority indicated that the programs were up-to-date, accurate, and relevant to their situations. The CSS findings were benchmarked with two other states in the Southern Region as standards of measurement.

Factors Affecting the Location of Precision Farming Technology Adoption in Tennessee
Roberts, Roland K.; English, Burton C.; Larson, James A.
A group of Tennessee farmers indicated that they would benefit from downloadable digitized soil maps and university precision farming training programs for themselves, agricultural laborers, and agribusiness personnel. The University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture is interested in knowing where in Tennessee to allocate its scarce resources to enhance precision farming programs. Data from a survey of Extension Agents and the Census of Agriculture were use to develop five Logit regression models to estimate the probabilities of precision farming technology use in Tennessee's 95 counties. Counties with estimated probabilities greater than 0.5 would be good candidates for precision farming programs.

Assessment of Wildlife Depredation to Agricultural Crops in New Jersey
Drake, David; Grande, John
We documented wildlife depredation to vegetable, fruit, grain, and nursery crops in New Jersey during the 2000-growing season. Our objectives were to understand the economic impact wildlife has on agriculture and to identify the most common wildlife species causing depredation so county Extension agents can tailor strategies to minimize or eliminate wildlife conflicts. We documented $1,767,404.77 worth of economic damage to agricultural crops caused by at least 10 wildlife species. Our results may be used to support policies to reduce/eliminate conflicts between agriculture and wildlife and can aid county Extension agents in making cost-effective wildlife damage management recommendations to farmers.

Student Wellness Needs in Rural Appalachia
Summers, Sally; Leary, Paul
The study reported here determined the youth risk behaviors of students in a rural high school. A 44-item questionnaire adapted from the Youth Risk Survey developed at the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention was administered. Findings indicate that some issues of national concern were not confirmed in this West Virginia sample. Tobacco and steroid use were not significant issues in this study. The areas of suicide ideation and food choices, however, highlighted areas of concern. Implications for practice are proposed.

Farmers' Markets: Consumer Trends, Preferences, and Characteristics
Govindasamy, Ramu; Italia, John; Adelaja, Adesoji
The study reported here provides an overview of attitudes, preferences, and characteristics of consumers who shop at farmers' markets. The results, based on a consumer survey of 336 patrons of New Jersey farmers' markets, revealed that absence of a market in customers' vicinity, lack of knowledge, and inconvenience in terms of time and location were the main reasons for not patronizing these markets. On average, consumers spent $16 per visit, and the majority had attended between two to four different farmers' markets. The majority visited these facilities once a week, once every 2 weeks, or once a month.

Ideas at Work

Building Strong Communities Through Mediation
Lambarth, Janet Kiser
The subject of the article is development of mediation education in Spokane, Washington, by Washington State University Cooperative Extension. The author discusses the value of mediation as an alternative dispute resolution process. She outlines the reasons for introducing the program and actions taken to implement it, and details the documented impacts on community, personal, and professional life of the mediation training for the 110 adults in the program. Mediation is recommended as a way of restoring civility, transforming individual behavior, and building community.

Evaluating a Diversity Educational Resource in Cooperative Extension
Ingram, Patreese D.; Radhakrishna, Rama
A variety of efforts are under way to help build the capacity of Cooperative Extension to effectively serve culturally diverse communities. In Pennsylvania, one such effort was the development of Diverse Issues, a quarterly newsletter. The newsletter is mailed to Extension professionals across the state. This article describes this "idea at work" and the feedback received from those who read it. Extension professionals generally consider Diverse Issues as a valued diversity educational resource.

Extension Assistance for Integrated Pest Management Programs in K-12 Schools
Stier, John C.; Delahaut, Karen A.; Pellitterri, Philip J.; Williamson, R. Chris; Becker, Brian P.
We developed a training and education program in integrated pest management (IPM) for K-12 school building and grounds managers. The purpose of the program was to reduce exposure of children to pesticides at schools. Web-based and hard copy resource materials were developed in a cooperative effort between University of Wisconsin-Extension and the state's Department of Agriculture. Since 1999, personnel at 46% of Wisconsin's public schools have received training, education, and assistance in developing IPM programs. This high degree of voluntary participation is expected to affect pending legislation aimed at mandating IPM in schools.

Improving Science Education in the 4-H Geology Project
Bourdeau, Virginia D.
To move the 4-H Geology project beyond a focus on rock and mineral collections and introduce youth to science concepts and geologic processes, a 4-H Earth Science Leader Guide was developed. State-wide workshops and the creation of Earth Science Materials Kits were key elements of the first year's success. The result is both an increase in youth enrollment in the 4-H Geology project and an increased county staff capacity to support science education programs.

Development of a Dairy Management Information Web Site
Chapa, A. M.; Smith, J. W.; Ely, L. O.; Gilson, W. D.; Nakazawa, M.
"The Dairy Manager" Web site was developed to provide producers access to current, reliable management information. The site is designed for efficient use by the producer or county Extension educator and contains compiled, reviewed, specific, and current dairy management information. The site is updated frequently and a panel of experts in various fields related to dairy production and management review the material prior to posting to the Web site.

Training and Supporting Volunteer Mentors for Juvenile Offenders in Urban Gardening
Konen, Joseph H.
This article summarizes 3 years of experience in training and supporting volunteer mentors for work with juvenile offenders in an urban gardening program. The program parameters are given, and the methods for selection, orientation, and training of volunteers are both described and commented upon.

Building Partnerships to Address Challenging Social Problems
Kazura, Kerry; Temke, Mary; Toth, Kristina; Hunter, Barbara
A parent in prison creates disruption and stress for the entire family system. In order to provide family programming to this high-risk population, a partnership was created among the University of New Hampshire (UNH) Cooperative Extension, UNH Department of Family Studies, and New Hampshire's Department of Corrections. This partnership is called The Family Connection Project. Programming objectives are to strengthen at-risk families and improve the healthy development of children with incarcerated parents through a family-centered, strength-based approach. The acquisition of positive parenting/relationship skills is expected to increase protective factors and decrease risk factors in families with an incarcerated parent.

Tools of the Trade

Tabloids--A Tool for Public Issues Education
Bloome, Peter; Duncan, Andrew; Rost, Robert; Novak, Theresa
An old-fashioned vehicle,the tabloid-format publication remains a cost-effective method for delivering public issues education. Since 1998, three high-profile public issues have been addressed in tabloids that were distributed as inserts in all the daily newspapers in Oregon. These publications, which have multiple purposes, also have multiple payoffs. Each tabloid's impact is determined by the level of public interest in the issue and by how well the publication carries out its educational objectives. A carefully managed review process allows heavily entrenched factions to be successfully engaged. Significant financial as well as human resources are required for production of a public issue tabloid.

Using the Focus Group Process to Assess the Needs of a Growing Latino Population
Malek, Faye
Five focus groups were conducted in Manitowoc County, Wisconsin, to assess the needs of the local Latino population. The assessment was conducted to determine how Manitowoc County UW-Extension could assist Latinos in their efforts to effectively assimilate into their new communities. Making the focus group process culturally appropriate improves the likelihood of obtaining useful data.

Transforming Extension as the Agricultural Sector Changes
Gustafson, Cole
The agricultural sector continues to undergo a major transformation from traditional family farms to industrial, vertically integrated producers of differentiated branded products. As this transformation occurs, the financial structure, sources of credit, and managerial strategies employed by these firms also evolves. This article introduces Extension agents to the rapidly changing industry structure, methods of credit underwriting, loan products, or channels of fund delivery being applied to large-scale farming operations, more accurately described as "agribusinesses."

Maximizing Agents' Effectiveness: Virginia Cooperative Extension’s Answer to Training New Extension Agents
Gibson, Jerry D.; Brown, Almeshia S.
The New Agent Training Program is required for all new Extension agents employed by Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE). The New Agent Training Program is based on the programming skills inventory and the background they bring to VCE. This article is to shares with other Extension or related professionals the efforts that VCE is taking to train new Extension agents in necessary skills outside their subject matter training.

"Selling Timber Without a Timber Inventory": An Exercise for County Agents and Foresters
Daniels, Bob
Many landowners do not receive full value for their timber when it is sold. Extension foresters and county agents often encourage landowners to have an inventory of their timber when they make a timber sale, but most still do not. The exercise described in this article is an enlightening and enjoyable activity for landowner meetings about marketing forest products and illustrates the necessity of timber inventory and human relationships in marketing timber.