April 2005 // Volume 43 // Number 2

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Editor's Page

A Cautionary Note About Attachments
"A Cautionary Note About Attachments" delivers just what the title suggests and should be of particular interest to prospective authors. "April JOE" highlights three of the many good articles in this issue.


Applied Extension Research in an Era of Devolution
Blaine, Thomas W.
In recent years, the trend in devolution (placing funding burdens and decisions for programs at more decentralized levels of government) has not only taken shape, but has accelerated. With changing priorities for the federal government, it is clear that higher portions of funding for other government programs must be borne by smaller units of government--if they are going to be provided at all. This Commentary argues that applied Extension research conducted at the local level can keep the organization relevant and vital in this new era of devolution.

Participate in the JOE Discussion Forum on "Applied Extension Research in an Era of Devolution"

Lessons Learned Abroad
Youmans, David
American Extension has left its footprints overseas for more than 50 years. An experienced Extension internationalist reflects on how lessons learned abroad find expression in a more global but vulnerable homeland today.

Participate in the JOE Discussion Forum on "Lessons Learned Abroad"

Feature Articles

The View from County Partners--Extension in Southwest Washington
Stienbarger, Douglas M.
Given increasing urbanization and economic transformation, how well does Extension serve its clientele? Using personal interviews, the study described here gauged the perceived accountability and relevance of Extension programs to county governments in southwest Washington State. The study has implications for other regions utilizing significant discretionary funding from county partners. County commissioners like Extension programming but express little ownership in programming often seen as antiquated. Commissioners do not see Extension meeting community needs and invest little time in the partnership. While closer alignment with county priorities will help improve the relationship with Extension, institutional constraints may also play an important part.

Rethinking Extension Communications: Is Issues Programming the Key?
Donnellan, LaRae M.; Montgomery, Florita S.
Extension's internal and external publics are increasing their demands for greater program accountability. At the same time, researchers have documented that many Extension communicators have been unhappy with being left out of the program-development process. This article examines the evolution of the role of communicators and shows how it is relevant to the current discussions of issues programming. The authors recommend administrators and communications units adopt a public relations model to better meet Extension's objectives.

The Heritage Area Movement: Redefining Opportunities for Extension Professionals
Selin, Steven; McGill, David
The heritage area movement is gaining momentum in the United States, offering new opportunities for Extension professionals to strengthen communities, build strong partnerships, and share the Extension story. This article reports on a case study examining the anatomy of a heritage area start-up, the Appalachian Forest Heritage Area (AFHA) in West Virginia and western Maryland. Results underscore the diversity of interest groups coalescing into the heritage area movement and illustrate the regional impact of Extension services. Issues raised by participants highlight many of the challenges heritage area projects face nationwide. Leadership opportunities for Extension professionals within the heritage area movement are discussed.

Online Leader Training for 4-H Volunteers: A Case Study of Action Research
Kaslon, Lisa; Lodl, Kathleen; Greve, Vickie
4-H Volunteers Leaders recognize the importance of training and the need for continual education about the 4-H program. The challenge is to use the most innovative teaching tools to reach them. Online instruction is valuable in that it provides the medium and method for training more consistently, more regularly and at any time or place. In order to test the feasibility of online training for 4-H Volunteer Leaders, an Action Research Study was conducted. Results of the study showed that an online training is an acceptable method for training 4-H Volunteer Leaders.

Evaluating the Effectiveness of Public Television as a Method for Watershed Education
Wagenet, Linda P.; Lemley, Ann T.; Grantham, Deborah G.; Harrison, Ellen Z.; Hillman, Katrie; Mathers, Kevin; Younge, Lee Hanle
We describe a program that evolved from Cooperative Extension educators' concern about declining attendance at face-to-face workshops on environmental issues. As a result, we developed an education program comprising six television programs; a radio series; Web-based materials; and information supplied to libraries. We randomly selected individuals to complete a written survey assessing their environmental knowledge and commitment pre- and post-broadcast. Our analyses indicate that watching the television programs did not predict significant changes in environmental knowledge or commitment. Our study findings do not strongly support the effectiveness of using local public television as an environmental education tool.

Lighten Up Iowa: An Interdisciplinary, Collaborative Health Promotion Campaign
Litchfield, Ruth E.; Muldoon, Joann; Welk, Greg; Hallihan, Jim; Lane, Tim
In Iowa, obesity nearly doubled between 1990 (12.8%) and 2002 (22.9%). Rural areas, like Iowa, tend to have a higher prevalence of obesity and are difficult to reach with health promotion efforts. The Iowa Department of Public Health, Iowa Games, and Iowa State University Extension deliver Lighten Up Iowa, a friendly team competition promoting physical activity and fruit/vegetable consumption. In 2003, Lighten Up Iowa reached 1,400 teams (12,000 Iowans in 99 counties) that logged 2.6 million miles of physical activity and lost 23.5 tons of weight. Pre- and post-surveys indicate significant (p<0.05) increases in physical activity and fruit/vegetable consumption.

Research in Brief

Ethnic and Gender Differences in Community Service Participation Among Working Adults
Smith, Thomas J.
A ready and steady supply of volunteers is critical to Extension programs. The study described here examined the effects of gender and ethnicity in community service participation among working adults. Data obtained from the 1998 National Household Education Survey (1998) were examined and logit analysis applied. Results showed strong main effects for gender and ethnicity, with females showing higher rates of community service than males, and African-Americans showing higher rates than Whites or Hispanic Americans. No interactive effect of gender with ethnicity was apparent. On the basis of these findings, recommendations for more specific targeting of subgroups for community service participation are made.

Systematic Assessment of Resistance to Extension Organizational Change: Evidence from the Alabama Cooperative Extension System
Washington, Rynetta R.; Fowler, Samuel R.
This article provides a case-study example of how Extension administrators may help their organizations advance toward institutionalization of change and restructuring through systematic participation of agents and specialists in change assessments. Citing two change assessments in the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, this article offers a framework Extension administrators can adopt to decrease resistance to organizational changes. Action steps are discussed in terms of identifying specific changes resisted and embraced by Extension stakeholders. Though this participative approach does not guarantee complete acceptance of changes by organizational stakeholders, the approach can help evolving Extension organizations advance toward sound institutionalization of changes.

Evaluating a Youth Leadership Life Skills Development Program
Smith, Thomas A.; Genry, Leonard S.; Ketring, Scott A.
Using a pre-test/post-test/follow-up/hindsight format, the study described here evaluated the development of leadership life skills in the participants in the Appalachian Regional Commission Youth Leadership Incubator Program. The participants consisted of youth (n=32), ages 12 to 17, from seven economically distressed counties in the Appalachian Region of Alabama. Repeated-measures analyses and paired samples t-tests indicated significant differences between pre-, post-, and follow-up scores when using hindsight shifts in the analyses. Hindsight shifts seem to more accurately measure the changes in participant ability.

Extent of Positive Youth-Adult Relationships in a 4-H After-School Program
Paisley, Jessica E.; Ferrari, Theresa M.
It is widely recognized that relationships with caring adults are essential for youth to achieve their fullest potential. The study described here explored youths' relationships with adults in a 4-H after-school program setting. Methods used included a youth survey and observations of youth-adult interactions. All youth were found to be experiencing highly positive relationships with adults at the after-school program. Two major factors were found to contribute to such relationships: attendance and positive adult behaviors. Relationships with adults at the after-school program were significantly more positive than those with teachers or neighborhood adults. Implications for practice are discussed.

Life-Skill Development Found in 4-H Animal Judging
Nash, Scott A.; Sant, Laura L.
A study was conducted in Idaho to determine the impact of the 4-H animal judging program on the life skills of former participants and how judging influenced their lives. The results of the study show that the judging program has affected the development of animal industry knowledge and is at least moderately influential on the development of communication, decision-making, problem solving, self-discipline, self-motivation, teamwork, and organization. All these skills have been recognized as beneficial life skills associated with workforce preparedness. Over 97% of the judging alumni indicated that the Idaho 4-H judging experience positively influenced their personal success.

Sources and Channels of Information Used by Beef Cattle Producers in 12 Counties of the Northwest Florida Extension District
Vergot, Pete, III; Israel, Glenn; Mayo, Doug E.
A study was conducted to examine beef cattle producers currently being served by University of Florida IFAS Extension Agents located in county Extension offices of Northwest Florida. This article focuses on the cattle producers' preferences for sources and channels of information. The data show that five combinations of information sources and channels are used by beef cattle producers. The findings can guide education program efforts in the future to better serve the Extension clientele of Northwest Florida.

Guidelines for Recommending Precision Agriculture in Southern Crops
Watson, Susan; Segarra, Eduardo; Lascano, Robert; Bronson, Kevin; Schubert, A. Michael
Technology has tremendous implications for Extension agents working with producers, agribusinesses, and youth. Four southern crops, including cotton, corn, grain sorghum, and peanuts, were evaluated under current agricultural management practices and precision farming technology. Yield, profit, and fertilizer application levels are compared across the two management practices. Field characteristics for the most profitable locations are outlined as a reference for producers in determining whether they would likely be good candidates for this technology. Results are commodity specific and suggest maximum bounds on investment levels that would be profitable to producers.

Effectiveness of Flagging and Propane Cannons to Disperse Canada Geese in Winter Wheat Fields
Drake, David; Villano, Amy
We conducted a study to evaluate the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of propane cannons and flagging to reduce or eliminate Canada goose damage to winter wheat. Our preliminary results indicate that propane cannons and flagging offer cost-efficient, non-lethal options for protecting winter wheat from Canada goose damage. Propane cannons seem to be more effective than flags and may be recommended by Extension professionals where applicable and in situations where crop losses exceed the cost to purchase and operate a propane cannon.

Ideas at Work

Assessing Community Resources and Economic Development Programming Efforts Using a Modified Human Development Index
Estrada, Joselito K.
Current outcomes measures of Extension Service base program effectiveness tend to be initiative specific. These diverse indicators do not provide an encompassing view of a base program's efficacy. This article proposes the use of an overall index that would incorporate existing outcomes measures to evaluate base program progress. Specific emphasis is placed on the development of an index for the community resources and economic development base program.

Communicating Program Value of Family Life and Parenting Education Programs to Decision Makers
DeBord, Karen
In tight budgetary times, prevention and community education programs are often the first targets on the budgetary cutting block. Documenting the effects of prevention has always been difficult. However, educating Extension advocacy networks and local budgetary decision makers is critical to help convey program value to the public and to program participants. This article challenges Family Life Extension educators to collectively arrive at some strategies to convey the value of prevention education in communities and presents two examples of ways to explain program impact.

Families at Five: Extending Land-Grant Research Findings to Families
Haddock, Shelley A.; Zimmerman, Toni Schindler; Aberle, Jennifer T.; Fetsch, Robert J.; Peterson, Rick L.
Families at Five is a joint community outreach partnership between Colorado State University (CSU) Department of Human Development and Family Studies and CSU Cooperative Extension. The program provides research-based family life education and resources to families, Extension educators, and family life community professionals. Comprised of an adult program with accompanying programs for adolescents and children, Families at Five is designed to educate family members on ways to strengthen family relationships. Included in the article are suggestions for engaging Cooperative Extension agents and other community practitioners in the program planning and delivery of educational programs.

Cooperative Extension's Role in Mold and Moisture Education
Kirby, Sarah D.
This article explores the role of Extension educators in mold and moisture education. Media attention has served to raise the consciousness of the general public regarding mold issues; however, it has also served to create a sense of alarm. Increasingly, Extension professionals are being asked to address mold and moisture issues in residential settings. Extension can help clientele in four critical areas: situational perspective, tools to assist, best management practices, and moisture remediation.

Desert Bioscape Training Influences Master Gardeners' Practices
O'Callaghan, Angela M.; Robinson, M. L.
Teaching desert-appropriate horticultural techniques to Las Vegas residents may save millions of gallons of water. Master Gardener volunteers receive such instruction through the Desert Bioscape program. A survey of Master Gardeners found many of them incorporated the training into their own landscapes and some teach these principles at community classes. A majority of respondents (92%), do not teach classes, but are neighborhood resources for desert landscape information.

Accommodating Youth with Disabilities in 4-H Horse Programs
Brady, Colleen M.; McKee, Katie E.
Including and accepting youth with disabilities in horse programs is an important part of our positive youth development mission. There are some inherent dangers and concerns in working with horses that create some unique challenges for volunteers and Extension staff providing an inclusive and inviting program. This article discusses how inclusion of youth with disabilities in educational programs benefits youth with and without disabilities, and strategies we have found successful in our efforts to increase the accessibility of our 4-H horse program to youth with disabilities.

Tools of the Trade

What Cooperative Extension Professionals Need to Know About Institutional Review Boards: Obtaining Consent
Martin , Sally; Weigel, Dan; Brown, Randy
This article focuses on the process and forms used to obtain consent from people who might participate in a needs assessment, evaluation, or research project designed for presentation or publication. It is the fourth in a series providing tips for preparation of IRB proposals by Extension professionals.

Spicing up 4-H Teen Public Speaking with Multiple Intelligence Approaches
Laughlin, Kevin; Peutz, Joey; Cheldelin, Kati
Spicing up 4-H teen public speaking can be accomplished through multiple intelligences (MI) approaches. Innovative introductions, visual imagery, and metaphor used with an MI lens strengthened Speak-Up programs for 4-H Ambassadors. The metaphor of chili peppers enabled youth to focus on five major speech components: the aroma (title), hot spice (opening), hot sauce (central idea), meat and potatoes (body), and then adding more hot sauce (conclusion). The pepper theme was built into the entire program (growing, cooking, cleaning, decorating, cultural aspects, history, etc.). MI enabled teens to make new friends, gain confidence, learn leadership, and overcome fears in public presentations.

A Simple Method to Evaluate Series-Type Extension Programs
Jayaratne, K. S. U.; Hanula, Gail; Crawley, Connie
This article describes how to evaluate the impact of a series-type Extension program. Evaluating program impact is essential for Extension accountability. The evaluation method described in this article is simple and effective in documenting the impact of one Extension program taught as a series. This approach can be used to evaluate other series-type Extension programs by modifying the behavior section of the instrument presented in this article to match the program content and objectives. This evaluation tool not only helps Extension agents document impact but also helps them to focus on the program objectives during the program delivery process.

Staying Connected and Proactive Statewide
Khan, Mohamed F. R.; Berglund, Duane R.
Extension educators nationwide are integrally involved in using research-based information to help adults and youths improve their lives and communities. Extension programs are channeled to clients through a network of Extension specialists and county agents or technical advisors. In large, agriculturally diverse states, Extension professionals need to stay connected and proactive to successfully serve their clients. This article describes how Extension educators at different locations use conference calls to facilitate proactive provision of relevant information in a timely manner to clients.

Agriculture Environmental Management System Electronic Manure Handling Process Map
Harrison, John D.; Toney, Aditya H.; Smith, Dallen R.
Utah State University Cooperative Extension Agriculture Environmental Management Systems participants developed an electronic process flow method for identifying aspects and assessing impacts from the manure handling systems on animal feeding operations. This method breaks the manure handling system into manageable portions by delineating every process and support activity on a process flow diagram. Then each process and activity is individually examined to identify associated aspects. This approach expedites the identification of aspects in relation to those processes and activities. It also fulfills the operational control condition to "identify those operations and activities that are associated with identified significant environmental aspects."

Teaching Entrepreneurial and Management Skills to Extension Audiences
Howe, Sarah; Hines, Steven; Nelson, James
Training programs for business manager-entrepreneurs can have important positive impacts on economic development. A 15-week course of this type has been taught seven times in the last 3 years in rural Idaho communities, largely by county Extension faculty. Interest in the course has been high. This article describes what we have found to be the important topics to cover in this course, some things we have learned about how best to teach the course, and some suggestions for using the course as the basis for synergistic partnerships and collaborations.