June 2006 // Volume 44 // Number 3

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Editor's Page

Bad Writing Obscures Good Work
"Words to the Wise" warns that "bad writing can obscure good work." "June JOE" mentions just six of the 28 fine articles in the June issue.


The Ups and Downs of the Workplace
Ingram, Patreese D.
Within almost every organization there is a hierarchy among the employees based on position, title, role, and function. In some sense, hierarchical distinctions create a class system in the workplace. Unlike other issues of diversity, class in the workplace is largely unacknowledged, causing some employees to feel like "somebodies" and others to feel like "nobodies." While rank is a necessary tool in the management of organizations, rank-based mistreatment can result in lower levels of job satisfaction and performance, and lower levels of loyalty and commitment to the organization. Everyone deserves to work in a climate of dignity and respect.

Participate in the JOE Discussion Forum on "The Ups and Downs of the Workplace"

Feature Articles

Perceptions of Extension's Desirable Future and the Role of IT
Mitchell, Matthew; Gillis, Bill
A demonstration project studying the perceived futures for the Washington State Extension system was conducted as a way to investigate the role of IT in the core activities of the organization. Six forward-thinking leaders from Washington State Extension were interviewed using a hybrid methodology known as "Ethnographic Futures Research." Findings revealed include the themes of communication and mission and the domains of opportunity, including personnel, organizational structure, community engagement, and funding. Also discovered were composite descriptions of perceived barriers to desirable future conditions and areas of influence that can be leveraged to make an optimistic future more probable for Extension.

Bridging the Digital Divide: An Evaluation of a Train-the-Trainer, Community Computer Education Program for Low-Income Youth and Adults
Mutchler, Matthew S.; Anderson, Stephen A.; Taylor, Umekia R.; Hamilton, Wanda; Mangle, Harry
This article details the evaluation of a train-the-trainer program aimed at bridging the digital divide among adolescents, youth, and adults in poor urban communities within the city of New Haven, Connecticut. Teens were trained in computer skills and teaching skills to others and then went into their communities and facilitated training sessions with children and adults of varying ages and abilities. The evaluation found that teen trainers experienced increases in computer skills, computer self-efficacy, and empathy for others and that the secondary participants experienced increases in computer skills. The article discusses implications for future efforts bridging the digital divide.

Learning from Latino Community Efforts
Gregory, Peggy; Camarillo, Joe; Campbell, Dave; Dasher, Steve; King, Nicelma; Mann, Michael; Snell, David; Sousa, Carla M.; Steinbring, Yvonne; Willmarth, Kenneth
The study described here documents interviews with 101 Latino adults identified as either participants or non-participants in specific activities in five California communities. Both groups were asked to recommend strategies for organizations that seek to provide programs for youth and families. Results indicate that the approach to recruiting adults needs to be reframed in ways that de-emphasize the traditional concept of a volunteer leader. Findings also indicate that there can be no short cuts to investing time in building relationships that create trust and a level of comfort essential to many residents for their participation.

Cooperative Extension and the 1890 Land-Grant Institution: The Real Story
Comer, Marcus M.; Campbell, Thasya; Edwards, Kelvin; Hillison, John
Extension educators are familiar with the story of the Morrill Act of 1862 and the Second Morrill Act of 1890. However, much of what is taught is not the entire story. Also, this story is usually taught from one perspective. The purpose of the study described here was to examine the people and events that led to the establishment of the 1890 land-grant institutions, the establishment of Cooperative Extension within the 1890 institutions, the individuals responsible for creating Cooperative Extension among the 1890's, and the struggles and obstacles in its development.

Mentoring: A Promising Approach for Involving At-Risk Youth in 4-H
Riggs, Kathleen; Lee, Thomas; Marshall, James P.; Serfustini, Ellen; Bunnell, Jolene
An effective way to reach at-risk youth is by establishing a positive adult/youth relationship through mentoring. Utah's Youth and Families with Promise (YFP) program combines mentoring with the benefits of structured 4-H. Participants were surveyed using a post-then-pre design. The differences in mean scores indicated statistically significant improvements in academic achievement, social competence, and family bonds. Youth reported increased levels of community attachment, and parents reported increased levels of parental efficacy. Extension professionals can use mentoring, in combination with 4-H, to reach and better serve at-risk audiences by introducing them to the benefits of 4-H as part of their mentoring experience.

Supervisors' and 4-H Youth Development Educators' Perceptions of the Leadership Practices Employed by Educators
Sinasky, Megan E.; Bruce, Jacklyn A.
The quantitative study described here investigated leadership practices being employed by county 4-H educators in Pennsylvania. Survey instruments, including the Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire (MLQ), the Leadership Practices Inventory (LPI), and a demographics questionnaire, were sent to all Extension 4-H educators and their supervisors. The study found no significant difference between scores of educators and supervisors for transactional skills. However, there was a significant difference in scores for transformational skills, leadership outcomes, and each LPI construct. Recommendations include staff development opportunities that will specifically address the gaps in leadership skills.

Factors Affecting Program Evaluation Behaviours of Natural Resource Extension Practitioners--Motivation and Capacity Building
Morford, Shawn; Kozak, Robert; Suvedi, Murari; Innes, John
Despite expectations for natural resource Extension practitioners to measure impacts of their programs, evaluation practices among this group are highly variable across individuals and states. The study described here assessed attitude towards evaluation, perceived organizational commitment to evaluation, practitioner characteristics, and levels of program evaluation conducted among natural resource Extension practitioners in the U.S. The study showed that age, years of experience, belief that one's job performance is assessed on the basis of program evaluation behavior, and other factors are linked to evaluation behavior. It also investigated factors in institutional capacity building for evaluation.

A Professional Guide for Parenting Educators: The National Extension Parenting Educators' Framework
DeBord, Karen; Bower, Don; Goddard, H. Wallace; Wilkins, Jacqueline Kirby; Kobbe, Anna-Mae; Myers-Walls, Judith A.; Mulroy, Maureen; Ozretich, Rachel
Effective parenting education is dependent on the quality of the educator, the curriculum, the educational setting, and awareness of parent characteristics and needs. This article outlines a framework to guide professional development in Extension and in the field of parenting education.

Research in Brief

On-Line Professional Development for Extension Educators
Senyurekli, Aysem R.; Dworkin, Jodi; Dickinson, Joel
In an environment of widespread budget decreases for Extension, we examine how interested and capable Extension educators are for on-line professional development. We also explore which factors are most important when deciding to participate in a professional development opportunity and what content areas are of most interest. Results indicate that nearly all of the participants surveyed are interested in on-line professional development and find content to be the most important factor. They are most interested in topics like youth development and risk-behaviors. We discuss the findings and outline recommendations for offering an effective on-line course.

Technology Transfer Preferences of Researchers and Producers in Sustainable Agriculture
Miller, Rhonda L.; Cox, Loralie
The transfer of information from research to producers is often a weak link in the research process. This study examined the methods used to transfer sustainable agriculture research technology to producers. Both principle investigators (researchers) and producers were interviewed to determine their preferences for technology transfer. Principle investigators prefer to transfer research information via workshops and periodicals. Producers prefer to receive information via on-farm trials and periodicals. Producers value workshops primarily for the dialog with the other producers. On-farm demonstrations are particularly important for technology that requires a drastic transition from the methods currently used in the farm/ranch operation.

Farm-Level Human Resource Management: An Opportunity for Extension
Brasier, Kathryn; Hyde, Jeffrey; Stup, Richard E.; Holden, Lisa A.
This article reports findings from research of dairy farm employment on large farms in Pennsylvania. Specifically, the article provides descriptions of duties and required and desired skills and training for nine distinct job titles. Based on these findings, training opportunities for managers and workers on dairy farms are suggested, focusing on communication, supervision and employee management, problem-solving, and computer skills. These are areas in which Extension educators have opportunities to improve the productivity of workers and to improve producers' human resource management skills, all of which may lead to increased farm productivity and sustainability.

Farmer Willingness to Enter into Manure Exchange Agreements: Differences Based on Age and Farm Size
Battel, Robert D.
Reducing nonpoint phosphorus pollution from all sources, including agriculture, is important in Michigan. Extension educators can help farmers reduce phosphorus loading into surface waters. One way to help farmers do this is to encourage manure transfer, or exchange, from livestock farms to the fields of neighboring crop farms. This study looked at farmers' willingness to exchange manure from one farm to another based on the farmers' age and farm size. Results reveal differences between farmers' perceptions of manure use by age of the farmer and by acreage. Differences in agronomic considerations were particularly important.

The Effectiveness of a Public Nutrition Education and Wellness System Program
Jones, Wash A.; Nobles, Carolyn J.; Larke, Alvin, Jr.
Enrollment of limited resource clientele in public nutrition education and wellness system programs is expected to produce positive changes in food preparation, food purchase, and health status. The study described here evaluated the effectiveness of the Families First: Nutrition Education and Wellness System (FF NEWS) Program, a nutrition education program in selected 1890 institutions, in achieving positive changes. Program participation influenced participants to make positive changes in food-preparation and food-purchasing practices and resulted in a positive "trend," though not statistically significant, in health status. The culturally sensitive curriculum was an important factor in individual participation and positive behavior changes.

The Influence of the Youth Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program on Nutrition Knowledge and Self-Reported Behaviors of Elementary School Children
Rabe, Marilyn; Ohri-Vachaspati, Punam; Scheer, Scott D.
A quasi-experimental study was conducted to assess the impact of the Youth Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program on 3rd and 4th grade children attending Cleveland Municipal schools in Cuyahoga County, Ohio. Pre- and post-test surveys were used to obtain information on nutrition knowledge and self-reported behavior from intervention and control group children. Children in the experimental group increased their nutrition knowledge. There was no significant change in children's self-reported nutrition behaviors.

Factors Influencing Career Choices of Adolescents and Young Adults in Rural Pennsylvania
Ferry, Natalie M.
Adolescent occupational choice is influenced by many factors, including life context, personal aptitudes, and educational attainment. Whether college-bound or work-bound, meeting the challenge of this developmental milestone is critical in adolescents' lives. The qualitative study reported here explored factors that play key roles in rural high school seniors and young adults career choice process. The cultural and social context of family and community were found to be instrumental in how youth learn about careers and influential in the choice process. Extension strategies that target parents and community to increase their involvement in youth career selection can promote sound career decisions.

Past and Anticipated Community Involvement of Master Gardener Trainees
Mayfield, Chyrel A.; Theodori, Gene L.
As one of four focus areas for Texas Cooperative Extension, community development is an integral part of the Extension system and should be incorporated into all programming efforts. The purpose of this study was to determine if the Master Gardener program affected community development. Descriptive statistics were used to compare participants' past experiences with their anticipated experiences after completion of the Master Gardener program. Results indicated that community development activities were being completed, but the extent and type of development could not be measured. Suggestions are provided to enhance and use the community development opportunities related to Extension programs.

An Analysis of Split-Director Administrative Positions Within Ohio State University Extension
Homan, Greg; Kleinschmidt, Andy; Bowen-Ellzey, Nancy; Trice, Carol
Extension organizations across the United States commonly use County Chairs or Directors in county units to provide leadership to core administrative function at the county level. A growing trend with Ohio State University Extension is a team-approach to the County Director position. This study analyzes these arrangements in Ohio and provides insight into the effectiveness of the shared Director model for consideration within and outside of the Ohio State University Extension system.

Ideas at Work

Facilitating the Adoption of an Online Conferencing System--A Recipe for Success
Murphrey, Theresa Pesl; Coppernoll, Susanna
The adoption of an Online Conferencing System by Texas Cooperative Extension has provided a way to meet challenges of geographic distance, time, and resource limitations in providing professional development. Implementation of specific steps throughout the diffusion of online conferencing has proved to greatly reduce the inherent technology intimidation that can exist with the adoption of new technologies. While the use of Online Conferencing Systems offer new and innovative ways to meet needs while reducing travel time and cost, implementing and gaining acceptance of this technology requires purposeful and planned efforts.

A Community Approach to Target Inactivity
Morgan, Kathleen Shimomura
The project described here shows how Extension can be a lead collaborative partner of a coalition to improve the health of the community by addressing the issue of inactivity. A community approach to increase physical activity was designed through the MAP-IT technique --Mobilize, Assess, Plan, Implement and Track. A community-walking program using pedometers was developed. The program was an instant success. Pedometers appear to be a good motivating tool. Tracking participants past the 8 weeks remained a challenge.

Gold Rush: Exploring an Alternative 4-H Livestock Experience
Lazur, Andrew M.; Pouder, Deborah B.; Brinkley, Monica L.; Shook, Elaine; Goode, Yolanda; Kent, Heather
Gold Rush, a new 4-H program involving rearing and showing goldfish, was conducted as an alternative to traditional, large animal livestock programs. A field day at the beginning of the project provided learning stations on the care and maintenance of goldfish and aquariums. Children reared goldfish for 6 months prior to showing their favorite fish at the district 4-H event. Learned skills were judged by the condition of the fish, written test result, project record book, and interview with the participant. Seventy percent of participants who showed fish wanted to continue or advance in the program.

Forestry Mini College: A Cost-Effective Way to Educate Non-Industrial Private Forest Landowners
Anderson, Roy C.
This article describes the forestry mini college (FMC) format as an educational tool that can be used by Extension forestry personnel to cost-effectively deliver research-based forestry information to many private forest landowners. A description of an existing forestry mini college program in Montana provides insight as to the method's effectiveness. Based on that analysis, the FMC format could be used across the country.

Tools of the Trade

Mobile Wireless Internet Video: Bringing the Specialist into the Field Remotely
Bequette, Barry L.
The use of mobile Internet video offers an efficient means for specialist diagnosis of field problems. Costs involved in adoption of the technology are small. Use of the technology has the potential to reduce travel expenditures, specialist time required to provide diagnosis, and response time to clientele.

Mission Thanksabunch: Saying Thank You Makes a Difference
Donna R. Gillespie
Recognizing contributors is crucial to maintaining community support for 4-H programs. It is important to recognize all 4-H patrons regardless of what projects they support. Mission Thanksabunch began in 2000 to thank market animal sale buyers and has been a great opportunity for 4-H youth to personally show their appreciation. The number of livestock buyers at the Minidoka County Fair has increased 31%, and sale receipts have increased by 104% since the program's beginning. Data indicated that even in times of depressed economic situations, local businesses and individuals are willing to support a successful and grateful youth development program.

Tips for Communicating Agricultural Safety to Children
Schwab, Charles V. ; Miller, Laura L. ; Graham, Lynn M.
Effectively communicating agricultural safety messages to children requires an understanding of this audience's unique characteristics, which are dependent upon their developmental stages. This article identifies important characteristics for the 4-7 and 8-12 age groups that were used in developing educational resources for children who participate in farm safety day camps and in-school programs. Each age group has specific characteristics that can inhibit communication when they are not considered in designing content and approach of educational materials. In addition, there are three comprehensive communication issues that affect the effectiveness of transferring safety messages to children.

Watershed Learning Activity: Coming to Terms with Geographic Scale
Knoot, Tricia G.; Grudens-Schuck, Nancy; Schulte, Lisa A.
Want better dialogue in your watershed group? Problems may result from participants' misunderstanding of geographic scale. The Watershed Learning Activity can foster an understanding of the importance of geographic scale through group-based experiential learning that combines aerial photography and conceptual change theory. Try it at your next watershed meeting.

A Worm in the Teacher's Apple: Protecting America's School Children from Pests and Pesticides
Gillett, Jennifer L.; Leppla, Norman C.
A Worm in the Teacher's Apple: Protecting America's School Children from Pests and Pesticides, a book on School IPM (integrated pest management), is a comprehensive; easy to read, four-part guide with information applicable to schools of any size in America. This is a valuable guide for Extension agents involved in School IPM.

Baseline Data for Your Program?
Kiernan, Nancy Ellen
Collecting baseline data is an integral part of evaluation. Understanding how different Extension programs are designed and delivered can suggest different sampling plans to collect baseline data.