February 2006 // Volume 44 // Number 1

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Editor's Page

JOE by the Numbers 2005
JOE by the Numbers reports on the 2005 acceptance rate, submission rate, and readership rate and calls attention to one of the most interesting features of the JOE site, the Top 50 Most Read Articles lists. February JOE mentions just six of 29 excellent articles.


The Neglected Life Skill
Harder, Amy
Well developed writing skills are in high demand in the professional workplace, yet American students continue to struggle with this important life skill. While 4-H has an exceptional history of teaching oral communication skills, writing has become the neglected life skill. If 4-H is to help its members succeed in all areas of communication, writing must move beyond the realm of the record book and be given a more central role in program planning.

Participate in the JOE Discussion Forum on "The Neglected Life Skill"

Feature Articles

Extension's Role in Homeland Security: A Virginia Perspective
Miller, John H.; Grisso, Robert; Lambur, Michael
Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE) conducted a project designed to determine what role it might play in assisting local governments in dealing with emergency preparedness issues in the aftermath of a manmade disaster resulting from terrorist activity. The project was funded through USDA. Community forums were used to collect viewpoints and perspectives on the unique role VCE could play in providing Homeland Security educational assistance to local governments and key professionals involved in the protection of residents from a terrorist attack. Using this information, VCE has taken steps to position itself to play a key role in addressing this important issue.

Continuity and Change: Themes of Mental Model Development Among Small-Scale Farmers
Eckert, Eileen; Bell, Alexandra
Farmers' mental models of farming influence their learning, decisions, and actions. Sometimes realizing opportunities for success requires farmers to challenge assumptions embedded in their mental models. The qualitative study described here explored how a group of small-scale farmers developed mental models of farming and the conditions under which their models changed. Two themes emerged indicating that farmers developed and reinforced existing mental models through discovery learning and problem solving and that an "activating event" may trigger transformation of an existing mental model. Understanding how farmers develop mental models can help educators design learning programs and services that enable farmers to succeed.

Community Collaboration: Effective Partnerships with Steering Committees
Banach, Mary; Zunz, Sharyn; LaPointe, Nicole
This article reports the findings of a study examining the development, use, and effectiveness of community-based steering committees at three different rural sites. Each site developed projects administered by local Extension Educators aimed at benefiting at-risk youth and families. The effectiveness of the steering committees was evaluated by whether conditions were cultivated that would lead to program sustainability. Factors examined at each site included: availability and deployment of resources; steering committee composition; and leadership\ownership of the project. The article details the results of the study and suggests some implications for the development of community partnerships.

Large-Scale Dairies and Their Neighbors: A Case Study of the Perceived Risk in Two Counties
Whittington, M. Susie; Warner, Kellie J.
Most urban residents, many nonfarm rural residents, and even family farmers view large-scale animal agriculture as an undesirable neighbor. A study examined the perceived attributes of the manager of the risk in two communities upon the siting of a large-scale dairy. Conclusions were: 1) community members are unable to identify the manager of the risk, 2) citizens feel hopeless to act, 3) personal experience in agriculture leads to understanding the issues, 4) large-scale animal agriculture is a cultural shift, 5) two-way communication with communities is essential, and 6) safety precautions by the farmer leads to greater community acceptance of the dairy.

Effectively Disseminating Information to Limited-Scale Landowners in the Urban/Rural Interface
Cartmell, D. Dwayne, II; Orr, Chandra L.; Kelemen, Danna B.
The study described here addressed the preferred methods of receiving information by limited-scale landowners and the role demographic variables play in the preferred delivery method of information. Findings indicated Extension's audience prefers the use of direct mail as a primary method of information dissemination. Less than half used Extension. In cross-referencing age and education level with preferred sources of information, the study indicated audience members, regardless of age and education level, preferred direct mail as their source for information.

Revisiting State 4-H Mentoring Programs for County 4-H Professionals
Safrit, R. Dale
This article describes major aspects of mentoring programs being conducted currently by state Extension systems to support county 4-H Youth Development professionals. NAE4-HA Mentoring Task Force members developed a quantitative research methodology using a Web-based survey and census of State 4-H Leaders as of September 1, 2003, to collect data. Thirty-four respondents reported having some type of county 4-H mentoring program, including 12 reporting a formal program and 22 an informal program. However, a consistent, Web-based national 4-H professional development mentoring curriculum would better benefit county 4-H professionals and state 4-H programs in the U.S. and globally.

Former 4-H Key Club Members' Perceptions of the Impact of "Giving" Life Skills Preparation on Their Civic Engagement
Pennington, Penny; Edwards, M. Craig
Does 4-H make an impact on the civic engagement of adults? If so, do former 4-H members view the impact as being greater than that of other programming? This article describes perceptions of former 4-H Key Club members regarding the application of "giving" life skills preparation on their civic engagement. The impact of youth organizations on acquisition of "giving" life skills is also described. Participants "agreed" they were applying "giving" life skills acquired through 4-H, and that those experiences had a "major" impact on their civic engagement. It is recommended that "giving" life skills programming be continued.

Development and Formative Evaluation of a Bilingual Interactive Multimedia Dietary Assessment Tool
Zoellner, Jamie; Anderson, Jennifer; Gould, Susan Martin
A bilingual interactive multimedia dietary recall was developed for use in the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program. This recall was evaluated by nutrition professionals to determine effectiveness of the introduction, food groupings, graphics, audio, and program flow. Users first report food choices from 167 graphically represented foods. Then, food variety, cooking techniques, and portion sizes are displayed. Last, users can add and delete foods. A nutrient profile comprised of 20 dietary constituents is generated. This recall provides potential for stimulating food recall with audio and visual cues, promoting more honest reports of food intake and saving staff time.

Research in Brief

Survey of University of California Academics' Attitudes Regarding the Impact of Escaped Horticultural Introductions on Wildlands
Wilen, Cheryl A.; Bell, Carl E.; Grieshop, James I.; Robb, Karen L.
In order to investigate whether there were differences in attitudes and perceptions within the University of California regarding the impact of introduced ornamental plants, we conducted a survey of academics with assignments in natural resource programs or ornamental horticulture. In general, the ornamental horticulture academics did not view the problem of invasive species as severely as the natural resource academics, but the both groups recognize that non-native landscape ornamentals now occur and can affect California's wildlands. These data can be used to provide training to academics on this issue and help facilitate discussion between the different groups.

Consumer Trust in Extension as a Source of Biotech Food Information
Ekanem, Enefiok; Mafuyai-Ekanem, M.; Tegegne, Fisseha; Muhammad, Safdar; Singh, Surendra
A mail questionnaire survey was used to collect data on the sources that consumers used for gathering information about biotech food products and nutrition issues. Using responses from 250 randomly selected consumers from three states, this article (1) examines the media and sources from where consumers obtained food products and nutrition information and (2) estimates the level of trust that consumers put on Extension professionals as a source of information. Newspapers, television, magazines, and word-of-mouth were frequently used to gather food products and nutrition information. Extension professionals were ranked as the third most trusted source of information by consumers.

Texas Agricultural Commodity Board Members' Perceptions of the 2002 U.S. Farm Bill
Catchings, Christa L.; Wingenbach, Gary J.
Extension educators have important roles in educating the public on national agricultural policies. The purpose of the study reported here was to determine Texas agricultural commodity (corn, cotton, grain sorghum, and wheat) board members' perceptions of the 2002 Farm Bill. Male respondents, 46 to 55 years old, considered the Cooperative Extension Service/universities and the Internet as good information sources for learning about the farm bill. Cotton board members believed their organizations influenced the bill's final outcome. Extension educators should maximize their resources by using information sources suited to stakeholders' needs for learning about future farm bills.

Direct Marketing Edamame (Glycine max [L.] Merrill) to Professional Chefs
Montri, Dru N.; Kelley, Kathleen M.; Sánchez, Elsa S.
A consumer-research study was conducted in Metro-Philadelphia to determine professional chef demand for edamame (Glycine max [L.] Merrill). Cultivar preferences and partiality for shelled or inshell edamame were also investigated. The majority of chefs indicated that they were "very likely" to use edamame again, and many were interested in acquiring Pennsylvania-grown edamame from small-acreage growers. Most chefs "liked" all three cultivars, and the majority preferred shelled edamame. Using this methodology, Extension personnel can continue to investigate professional chef demand and preferences for specialty crops and provide grower clientele with information on how to best meet consumer needs.

Financial Fitness Quiz Findings: Strengths, Weaknesses, and Disconnects
O'Neill, Barbara; Xiao, Jing Jian
This article reports findings from an online financial self-assessment tool, the Financial Fitness Quiz. The quiz consists of 20 statements about practices in financial management, saving and investing, insurance and estate planning, credit, and shopping. Data from the quiz are used to study the frequency of performance of 20 frequently recommended financial practices. Data were collected in 2003 from 2,155 respondents. Differences were found in total quiz scores by age, gender, education, income, and race. Comparisons of 2003 survey results with studies in 2001 and 2002 are presented, and implications for Extension educators are discussed.

Leadership Styles and Volunteer Administration Competence: Perceptions of 4-H County Faculty in the United States
Stedman, Nicole L. P.; Rudd, Rick
The study described here sought to determine the perceived leadership style of 4-H county faculty. There were 238 county 4-H faculty randomly selected to participate. Participants completed three Web-based questionnaires, the Volunteer Administration Leadership Competency Instrument, the Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire, and a demographic instrument. Regression models predicted transformational, transactional, and laissez faire leadership. The importance of systems leadership (ß=.97) and organizational leadership (ß=-.94) contributed the most to transformational leadership. Proficiency in organizational leadership (ß=-6.24) contributed to transactional leadership. The importance of organizational culture (ß=1.10) and commitment to the profession importance (ß=-.85) contributed to the prediction of laissez faire leadership.

Exploration of Parent, 4-H Volunteer Advisor, and Sports Coach Support and Pressure on Youth Involved in 4-H and/or School Sports
Homan, Greg
A correlation and descriptive research study was conducted surveying over 400 youth in three western Ohio schools exploring youth perceptions of adult pressure and support of 4-H and/or school sports involvement. Findings provide an opportunity to evaluate the nature of adult influence on youth involvement in these respective activities. Results are useful as a tool to educate local volunteers and parents who are active in youth extracurricular activities.

Use and Evaluation of a Statewide 4-H Volunteer Newsletter
Zimmer, Bruce P.; Shriner, Joyce A.; Scheer, Scott D.
The Ohio 4-H Cloverbud Connections newsletter is a statewide publication targeted for volunteers working with K - 2 youth. Two statewide surveys in Ohio were conducted with 4-H volunteers and 4-H Extension staff to measure the usefulness and utilization of the newsletter. Results indicated 4-H Cloverbud volunteers and 4-H staff utilize the newsletter and consider it a valuable resource. Ninety-seven percent of the 4-H Cloverbud volunteers and 4-H staff want the newsletter continued. Findings indicate the importance of 4-H Cloverbud activities for readers, need for more awareness of the newsletter Web site, and importance of 4-H Cloverbud volunteer training.

Ideas at Work

Incorporating Service Learning and Extension in Inner City Middle Schools: A Model for Future Programming
Webster, Nicole
The article describes a program model used to promote science-based learning through a service learning model in an inner city school. Through working collaboratively with Extension staff, a program was created to meet the growing academic and social needs of youth in the inner city school system. If greater emphasis is placed on programming efforts among Extension, the community, and public schools, successful programs can be created to enhance the learning of the inner city youth population.

Food Pantries: Food and Nutrition Education in a Non-Traditional Setting
Miyamoto, Angela; Chun, Lindi; Kanehiro, Naomi; Nakatsuka, Claire
This article describes an informal approach to delivering nutrition education to a limited resource audience in a food pantry. Improving dietary quality by increasing vegetables and fruits, and safe food handling were the main focus of the education. Extension educators created simple and quick main dishes using foods only from the food pantry. Nutrition education materials focusing on food safety were distributed. Ability/flexibility to create a fast and easy main dish dependant upon foods available, developing trust and rapport with staff and clients, cultural appropriateness, and language barrier issues should be considered when delivering an Extension education program in food pantries.

Building an Onsite Wastewater Treatment System Management Database for Your Municipality
Obropta, Christopher C.; Buckley, Katie A.
In an attempt to protect groundwater and surface water quality in the face of rapid residential development, a New Jersey municipality established an "Onsite Wastewater Disposal Management District." After 15 years of having the program in place, the municipality asked Rutgers Cooperative Research & Extension to update the management program database. The newly developed database is automated to generate form letters, invoices, late notices, and license renewals, and it is linked to the municipality's geographic information system. The database has increased productivity, improved tracking abilities, and has resulted in faster identification of systems needing inspection for the municipality.

A Teachable Moment: The Las Vegas Centennial
Kock, Jo Anne; Agao, Vicki
What an exciting time to learn Las Vegas history! In celebration of the 2005 Las Vegas Centennial, a children's book, Growing Up in Las Vegas, and an accompanying activity book for use in childcare provider training was developed. Amply illustrated, this fictional story based on historical facts and photos from 1905, stars five-year-old Ellie and her brother Billy. The curriculum contains 14 different activities that follow the illustrations in the book. Reaching over 1,500 adults and 2,000 children, adult participant evaluations showed a significant knowledge gain. The curriculum can be easily replicated and adapted to fit other geographic areas.

Tools of the Trade

We Identified Issues Through Stakeholder Input--Now What?
Cummings, Scott R.; Boleman, Chris T.
Listening to needs of clientele to maintain relevance is an essential component of planning. Extension has maintained relevance by listening to clientele. However, how can we systematically review all these issues and develop meaningful strategies to respond with impact? The answer to this question is our ability to maintain our grassroots advantage, but be accountable for regional and statewide impacts. This article provides a strategy to review issues that surface from clientele and develop programmatic action plans to address issues that surface from multiple sources for county, regional, and statewide implementation.

A Needs Assessment Method for Extension Educators
Caravella, Jennifer
This article offers a methodology Extension educators can use for conducting a needs assessment. It uses existing data and key informant interview responses. Results of the interviews were shared with individuals and agencies that work with children and families. An evaluation showed that 61% intended to use the information to plan for future programs, services, or activities that their organization may provide. Educators from other program areas could easily adapt this methodology to conduct a local situational analysis.

Techniques for Establishing Educational Programs Through the African American Faith Community
Woodson, Joyce M.; Braxton-Calhoun, Millicent
In 1996, University of Nevada Cooperative Extension began to explore reaching the African American population through the faith community. The goal was to address the disproportionately high incidence of chronic disease in that population. Many meetings and discussions followed with clergy and their staff, which resulted in shared desire and concern for the health of their congregation. Through these experiences specific techniques are offered for effectively establishing educational programs for the African American community. This effort led to the development and implementation of other health and nutrition programs targeted to address life-threatening issues associated with the African American community.

Journey to Successful Collaborations
Strieter, Linda; Blalock, Lydia B.
Due to ongoing budgetary restraints, reduced staffing, and other challenges to continued program growth, Extension personnel must understand how to bring together the resources needed for successful programming and sustainability. The most effective way to accomplish this is through collaboration. Unfortunately, ". . . little is written describing how to approach the developmental process [italics added] of collaboration" (Gardner, 2005). This article provides readers with an easy to understand, step-by-step guide for navigating the road to successful collaborations.

Volunteer Recruitment Packets: Tools for Expanding Volunteer Involvement
Culp, Ken, III; Aldenderfer, Amy E.; Allen, Lynette A.; Fannin-Holliday, Sarah G.; Ford, Raven C.; Goodwin, Carole A.
Extension agents must become proficient volunteer recruiters. The 2003 Kentucky Volunteer Administration Academy developed a volunteer recruitment packet as a tool to be used by Extension professionals, staff, and volunteers. The recruitment packet includes major components that introduce Extension to potential volunteers. Thirteen customized volunteer recruitment packets were developed based upon programmatic need and request frequency. Additional packets can be developed based upon the needs of the program and volunteers. Recruitment packets have been distributed and used in a variety of ways that extend recruitment and marketing efforts to volunteers who are engaged and supervised by the agent.

Training Educators and Community Collaborators Using a Satellite Videoconference Format
Pankow, Debra L.; Porter, Nancy M.; Schuchardt, Jane
Financial security is the ability to meet future needs while keeping pace with day-to-day obligations. The Cooperative Extension National initiative Financial Security in Later Life seeks to a) help people improve personal finance behaviors leading to financial security in later life, b) enhance the capacity of local educators and their partners to deliver effective programs, and c) increase economic vitality and quality of life for families and communities. A satellite videoconference designed to increase the capacity of educators and community partners to deliver effective programs was held in December 2003. On-line evaluations indicate this capacity-building opportunity clearly met objectives.

Building an Extension Information Network: An Oregon Agricultural Case Study
Burt, Larry
This article discusses an Extension electronic database system that was developed to gather, maintain, and disseminate basic economic information on Oregon's agricultural production and sales. The system could be modified to facilitate a wide range of Extension program needs for the collection and dissemination of information.

Raising the Visibility of Extension Web Sites
Palmer, Dave
Extension Web sites are not as visible to search engines as they could be. In fact, many are nearly invisible. The search engine optimization techniques described in this article can help bring Extension Web sites--and their content--to millions of searchers. Increased Extension productivity will result.