October 2002 // Volume 40 // Number 5

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Editor's Page

Editor's Page
"JOE Usage Statistics" demonstrates that JOE reaches far and wide and that, if you're published in JOE, so do you. "October 2002 JOE" talks about some of the articles in this issue.


The Roles of Extension in Agricultural Economics Departments
Martin, Michael V.
If agricultural economic departments in land grant universities are to remain useful and viable, they will have to place renewed emphasis on their Extension mission. Departments individually and the profession of agricultural economics collectively must embrace Extension work as a valued activity. Administrators and colleagues must more fully include excellence in Extension in the promotion, tenure, and salary adjustment processes.

Employee Participation in Decision Making in Extension: A Ladder of Participation to Reduce Cynicism
Gallagher, Thomas J.
There is much discussion in modern management, and in Extension, about "pushing decisions down to the lowest level." However, there is also much cynicism among employees in Extension about executive decisions and how employees are involved in decisions. A "ladder of decision making" is offered as a typology of seven levels of decisions. From highest to lowest, the ladder incrementally shifts the responsibility to make the decision from the executive to employees. Potential benefits of the ladder include improving the quality of Extension employees participation and reducing their cynicism.

Feature Articles

Examining a Professional Development System: A Comprehensive Needs Assessment Approach
Conklin, Nikki L.; Hook, Laryssa L.; Kelbaugh, Beverly J.; Nieto, Ruben D.
Determination of training and development for personnel in any organization is a challenging task. The task is even more complex when employees have diverse job responsibilities. That is the challenge that faced a team of professionals with Ohio State University (OSU) Extension who designed and implemented a comprehensive training and development needs assessment in autumn 2000. Program personnel perceived a greater need for training in personal and professional development topics than in technical subject-matter topics. OSU Extension is not unique in facing the challenges of designing a professional development system that meets the educational needs of a very diverse population of employees.

Short-Term Interventions for Long-Term Needs: The Challenge of Bridging Youth and Community Development
Stephenson, Garry; Morford, Shawn; Berry, Holly
The Mill City/Gates Youth Development Project operated as a youth-at-risk program in a timber-dependent community during the timber crisis of the early 1990's. Evaluations indicate the youth activities were effective. Community support structures created by the project continue to operate 5 years after the end of funding, indicating a successful institutionalization of this component of the project. Although projects like this can have tremendous impacts with short-term youth programs, they are not sustainable when the community lacks the resources for their continuation. This project demonstrates investments in community capacity building have long-term impacts and are crucial for communities to support youth and families.

Participatory Approaches to Program Development and Engaging Youth in Research: The Case of an Inter-Generational Urban Community Gardening Program
Krasny, Marianne; Doyle, Rebekah
We applied participatory models of program development and research in an inter-generational program whose goal was for youth to document ethnic gardening practices in urban community gardens. Outcomes for educators included professional development and the opportunity to expand their programs to urban audiences, whereas youth learned about gardening, developed positive relationships with elders, and enhanced their academic skills. Developing relationships with youth was an important outcome for gardeners. Through examining what motivates various participants and how they benefit, we may be able to enhance our understanding of how best to work with educators to design a youth participatory research program.

Information Technology Use by Local Governments in the Northeast: Assessment and Needs
Kelsey, Timothy W.; Dougherty, Michael J.; Hattery, Michael
How local governments are using information technology is important to understand if extension teaching on local government and economic development issues is to be effective. This study uses results from surveys of local officials in New York, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia to examine the potential for delivering extension programs to local officials through information technology. The responses suggest that local officials predominantly prefer face-to-face training, but many are willing to try distance education. In addition, even though many governments are using the Internet, there still are significant numbers who do not yet have access to these technologies.

New Mexico Cooperative Extension Service Home Economists' Perceived Technical Knowledge and Estimated Client Needs
Koukel, Sonja D.; Cummings, Merrilyn N.
The study reported here determined the differences between New Mexico Cooperative Extension Service Home Economics agents' perceived technical knowledge and client needs for 144 Family and Consumer Sciences concepts. Data were collected using mailed questionnaires to all agents. Follow-up procedures resulted in a 94% return rate. For 71 of the concepts, respondents felt their knowledge exceeded client needs; for 67 of the concepts, respondents felt client needs exceeded their knowledge. Analysis of variance found no differences for participants by years of employment. Data indicated a need for agent information in some critical areas that will influence future pre-service and in-service education.

Evolution of the Penn State Farm Management Extension Computer Lab
Parsons, Robert L.; Hanson, Gregory D.; Watts, Laura L.; Power, Lehan
The computer information processing revolution created an outreach education need to train agricultural producers in the use of computers and software applications. While initial computer workshop training efforts by county agents were frustrated by lack of consistent, portable lab equipment, a joint effort by Pennsylvania Farm Credit and Cooperative Extension led to the successful creation of a highly successful portable computer lab. During 1997-2000, Extension agents conducted 101 workshops for 821 paid participants on topics ranging from basic computer operation to record keeping. Success has led to the development of additional regional labs and agents' specialization in specific computer applications that now reach both farm and non-farm groups.

Research in Brief

Using Simple Educational Methods to Motivate Consumers to Prepare for Emergencies
Bowen, Cathy Faulcon; Faison, Nakesha
The purposes of the study reported here were to determine: a) if simple educational efforts (a workshop and a booklet) would motivate consumers to prepare their homes for an emergency and b) which variables would best explain if consumers took action. Over 50% of respondents reported preparing for an emergency because of the booklet or workshop. Older and more educated consumers were more likely to take action. Commonly reported actions included storing food, water, and emergency supplies. Variables that best predicted if emergency preparedness actions were taken included: attendance at a Y2K workshop, reading the entire booklet, and having at least a high school education.

Assessment of NetMeeting® for Professional Development Programming
Parcell, Joe; Giddens, Nancy
Extension field faculty are demanding greater access to professional development programming to keep in touch with rapidly changing technologies. Simultaneously, Extension programs are facing budgetary constraints. To address these conflicting issues, we initiated the use of Microsoft NetMeeting® for professional development programming. In this article we provide an economic assessment of NetMeeting® for one professional development program in Missouri. The economic cost savings are large.

Basic Botany On-Line: A Training Tool for the Master Gardener Program
VanDerZanden, Ann Marie; Rost, Bob; Eckel, Rick
A team of educators and Web designers at Oregon State University developed a non-credit, on-line training module for the Oregon Master Gardener program. The project goal was to increase accessibility to the Master Gardener program and is the first step in developing similar modules for other topics covered in the Master Gardener training. The 48 Master Gardener participants felt the module was a useful training tool. They also noted that the convenience of completing the material at their own pace and during a time that fit into their schedule made this type of training tool useful to them.

Financial Information Base of Participants in FSA Borrower Training
Ibendahl, Gregory; Isaacs, Steve; Trimble, Richard
The article presents the results of a survey designed to assess the financial records knowledge of farmers in FSA training. Questions are asked about which records farmers are currently keeping and how they use those records and financial information. Results suggest farmers are keeping track of mainly cash expenses and are not developing much analysis from their records. Farmers do appear to appreciate the importance of financial records, however. FSA borrower training can help borrowers improve their financial record knowledge to make better farm business decisions. Also, the 2-day format of the workshop seems to be successful at providing detailed financial information.

Forest Landowner Short Courses at Mississippi State University
Londo, Andrew J.; Monaghan, Thomas A.
Extension forestry at Mississippi State University has been providing educational opportunities for forest landowners in Mississippi for more than 70 years. The first forest landowner short course was offered in 1984. Since then, the short course curriculum has grown to include 11 short courses taught throughout the state every year. Since 1987, these short courses have resulted in over 7,000 attendees owning or managing over 2,000,000 acres of forest land and valuing the information they received at over $115,00,000. The short course format described here will combine well with new and emerging technologies such as interactive video, the Internet, and live satellite broadcast.

Ideas at Work

Creating the Base for Extension Priority Issues
Martenson, Diana
Field and campus faculty partnered in a trend analysis process that established a baseline of trends and resulting issues important to Minnesotans over the next 3 years. Approximately 70% of the trends and issues identified resulted from both the field and the discipline process. This congruence launched a program-development process mobilizing the organization around 14 critical issues. Work teams are currently identifying Extension's niche with these issues, and staff development, resources, and expertise are being leveraged for appropriate local response.

Blended Teaching: Land Use Planning Education in Wisconsin and Lessons Learned
Haines, Anna L.
This article focuses on a new university/Extension approach for land use planning education that blends coursework with community engagement. The College of Natural Resources at University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point and Cooperative Extension established the Center for Land Use Education (CLUE) in 2000. CLUE's model for land use education focuses on a team-based approach that integrates university and outreach education. Regional zoning board and plan commission workshops are opportunities for teaching university students about the realities of implementing land use tools while educating Extension clientele about how to make informed decisions for their communities.

Sensational SuperCupboards
Cason, Katherine L.; Scholl, Jan F.; Heald, Judith W.; Harrington, Catherine S.
While the nation's investment in nutrition assistance is an important and effective tool in fighting hunger and food insecurity, improving the diet quality of low-income Americans remains a major challenge. The SuperCupboard program is a successful community-based approach for educating low-income adults with families, thereby enabling them to prepare and consume healthy, nutritious, and safe diets and to become better managers of their food dollars.

Involving Fathers in Children's Literacy Development: An Introduction to the Fathers Reading Every Day (FRED) Program
Green, Stephen
Fathers play a critical role in the development of their children. Recent research indicates that fathers who are actively and responsibly involved in raising their children can make a lasting difference in their lives. Fathers play a particularly important role in their children's academic success. One activity that fathers can engage in with their children that has been consistently linked with better school performance is reading. The Fathers Reading Every Day (FRED) program was developed to encourage fathers to become active in their children's early literacy development. This article provides an introduction to the FRED program.

Kid's Klub--A New Approach to School-Age Child Care
Novak, Mary; Klemme, Merry
The Kid's Klub is a new approach to curriculum for school-age child care in summer that focuses on building developmental assets. This project integrates 4-H adult and youth leaders, Master Gardeners, and UW-Extension Staff in presenting projects each week during the summer to first- through fourth-grade children. Public Adventures, a 4-H community service curriculum, was conducted. Fact sheets on building assets were written for parents. All parents reported that their children continued developing empathy, sensitivity, and friendship skills. Nearly three-fourths of the parents reported that their children gained in the following three areas: community values youth, youth as resources, and creative activities.

4-H Animal Care as Therapy for At-Risk Youth
Weigel, Randy R.; Caiola, Brenda; Pittman-Foy, Lise
Encouraging nurturing traits through the interaction of animals and at-risk youth can help reduce antisocial behavior. A 4-H animal-care program was initiated at The Wyoming Girls School as part of the rehabilitation process for the School's residents. Self-assessments by the young women indicated that the animals served a therapeutic role. Supervised interaction between at-risk youth and animals can provide an avenue to enhance self-esteem and build positive coping behaviors.

Teaching Youth Through 4-H Animal Science Workshops
Rusk, Clinton P.; Machtmes, Krisanna
The Animal Sciences Workshop for Youth is an intensive 3-day training at Purdue University. The goal of the workshop is to educate high school aged youth about animal production practices while stimulating their minds to think about new and improved ways to raise animals. By bringing 4-H youth together with Animal Science professors, the workshop serves to teach and recruit students at the same time. Since 1973, this significant educational program has affected more then 8,000 youth delegates from 11 states and British Columbia. 94% of the delegates attending in 2000 found the workshop to be a positive learning experience.

Tools of the Trade

Operational Efficiency Review: How to Free Dollars for Extension Programs
Bequette, Barry L.
The effect of the declining economy has challenged Extension's ability to maintain existing programs and create new ones. By examining ways to reduce overhead and enhance resources, Extension can realize savings that can be redirected to meet operational and program needs. This article describes a process for an operational efficiency review that can reduce expenses and provide redirected funds for programs.

Uncovering Resources for Your International Extension Experience
Driscoll, Debra Minar
Resources for international Extension experiences are available on the national Extension association's Web page described in this article. Ideas that state Extension associations can use to assist their Extension workers in planning their own international experiences are also highlighted.

Reducing Computer Anxiety in Adult Microcomputer Training
Dupin-Bryant, Pam
As the use of microcomputers continues to increase in daily affairs, so does the demand for formal adult microcomputer training. Extension educators who are training adults in the use of computers are being confronted with students exhibiting computer anxiety that directly affects the teaching/learning process. This article discusses computer anxiety and the implications it has on effective microcomputer instruction. It presents research, theories, and methods to help instructors reduce computer anxiety in adults learning to use computers.

Distance Education--A Case Study in Practical Application
Cecil, Kyle; Feltes, David
An Extension distance education program was an attempt to provide practical information on pest management topics while assessing acceptance by Extension clientele to an alternative form of instruction. Over 94% of participants indicated they would attend another Extension program taught through the use of distance education. Furthermore, an analysis of costs indicates that there was a substantial cost savings realized as a direct result of the distance delivery format utilized. All Extension programs may not be appropriate for distance delivery; however, as educational practitioners, we must have the capacity to determine what instructional method is most appropriate for a given situation.

The Community Economic Development Toolkit
Barta, Suzette; Woods, Mike D.
This article describes the toolkit available to community economic development educators at the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service. The types of tools fall into two categories: educational programming and technical assistance. Rural communities that have committed themselves to the process of economic development can benefit from the various tools in the toolkit. The tools can be used singly; however, they tend to work best when used together as a part of a comprehensive community-based plan for economic development.

The Human Challenge of 4-H Horse Programs
Galloway, Robin; Gallagher, Thomas J.
Management of volunteer, adult leaders in 4-H/Youth horse programs can be challenging. We identify four reasons why "people problems" may develop within horse leader groups, and we recommend five strategies that 4-H agents can use to manage the groups. In sum, we propose that 4-H agents apply some "horse sense" to people problems.