December 2007 // Volume 45 // Number 6

Previous Issue Back Issues Next Issue Toggle Abstracts On or Off

Editor's Page

The Sloppiness Must Stop
In "The Sloppiness Must Stop," the editor wages war on sloppiness and carelessness. In "December JOE," the editor calls attention to a few prevalent themes and interesting articles in the issue.


True Colors Shining Through: Cooperative Extension Strengths in Time of Disaster
Cathey, Leanna; Coreil, Paul; Schexnayder, Mark; White, Rebecca
Responding to the destruction brought to Louisiana by hurricanes Katrina and Rita proved extraordinarily challenging for the Louisiana Cooperative Extension Service (LCES). Responding to and recovering from such widespread destruction also provided valuable insights into the vital services that state Cooperative Extension Services have the capability to provide. In this Commentary, we share just a few of the insights we gained from surviving these disasters and provide some "lessons learned" that we hope you will find valuable as you consider the essential roles you play in your communities.

Participate in the JOE Discussion Forum on "True Colors Shining Through: Cooperative Extension Strengths in Time of Disaster"

Feature Articles

Building Disaster-Resilient Families, Communities, and Businesses
Boteler, Franklin E.
The United States is experiencing an increase in the severity of critical incidents. Extension agents play a significant role in enabling families, communities, and businesses to sustain themselves through these catastrophic events. A substantial body of scientific knowledge is available to guide Extension efforts in enhancing local sustainability. The literature indicates that our nation must adopt a strategy of continuous, sustainable hazards mitigation.

4-H Youth Development Apprenticeship Program: A Pilot of a New Certification in Youth Development
Bailey, Sandra J.; Deen, Mary Katherine
The field of youth development is expanding, requiring 4-H Extension staff to gain expertise in the field without leaving their jobs to return to school. To address this need, the 4-H Youth Development Practitioner Apprenticeship (YDPA) program was developed under the guidance of the National Association of Extension 4-H Agents and the National 4-H Council through funding from the U. S. Department of Labor. An evaluation of the pilot of YDPA found that staff gained numerous skills needed to effectively serve youth. Suggestions for program continuation are discussed.

Identifying Volunteer Core Competencies: Regional Differences
Culp, Ken, III; McKee, Renee K.; Nestor, Patrick
The study reported here surveyed direct service volunteers and agents in 12 states and identified 32 competencies for volunteers who deliver 4-H Youth Development programs and activities. Twenty of the 32 competencies were different when stratified by Extension region, illustrating that volunteer competencies have greater regional differences than previously thought. Volunteer competencies were statistically most different in the Southern region, while competencies in the North Central and Western regions were most similar. A national curriculum that focuses upon the 12 competencies that were not found to be significantly different between regions could be developed.

Research to Action: A Campus-Community Partnership to Address Health Issues of the Food Insecure
Greder, Kimberly; Garasky, Steven; Klein, Susan
A university-community partnership assessed the food security and health status of food pantry participants in a midwestern urban community. Eighty percent of households surveyed were food insecure, and 40% experienced fair or poor health. The sample experienced higher rates of chronic disease than the general population. A nutrition education program designed to meet specific nutrition and health-related needs of pantry participants was developed. Implications include training pantry staff about chronic disease and its relationship to nutrition, identifying pantry foods that provide positive health benefits, and developing consumer publications focused on selecting and preparing pantry foods when one has chronic disease.

Answering the Producers' Question: Is It Feasible?
Hostetler, Kimberly M.
Producers are trying to increase their profitability through new business ventures. However, before starting the business they often ask Extension professionals for help in determining if the project would be profitable. This article provides a brief overview of a five-step process for conducting a feasibility study. It then applies the process and analysis to the pork industry by examining the economic feasibility of a newly constructed, small, producer-owned pork processing facility. Results indicate that such a facility is not profitable or sustainable if hogs were purchased at the mean historic market price.

Organic Farmers' Need for and Attitude Towards Extension
Agunga, Robert; Igodan, Chris
The study reported here sought to determine sustainable agriculture farmers' perceived attitude towards Extension. A random sample of 99 sustainable agriculture farmers in Ohio showed a highly favorable attitude towards Extension and an expression of a great need for Extension information, particularly on environmental issues. However, the study also found that the vast majority of sustainable agriculture farmers do not feel that Extension educators neither understand the needs of sustainable agriculture farmers nor have the know-how to assist them. Thus, the researchers recommend an examination of Extension educators' need for sustainable agriculture training.

Red Carpet Service--Linking Rural Communities to Travelers and Tourists
Burkhart-Kriesel, Cheryl; Francis, Connie
As rural communities develop their tourism potential they often overlook one basic aspect, hospitality training for front-line staff. This article describes a train-the-trainer program, Red Carpet Service, designed to help front-line employees increase tourism awareness, discover traveler tools, and practice customer service skills. It is based on a service-profit chain model that outlines the relationship between internal service quality and business profitability. The article highlights program evaluation results from post-then-pre surveys and mystery shopper interviews as well as community development roles for Extension faculty and suggests tourism as way for communities to begin working together at a regional level.

Research in Brief

Perceptions and Preferences of Extension Programming and Sources Among Extension Users and Non-Users: 10 Kansas Counties
Boone, Kristina M.; Sleichter, Linda; Miller, Rick; Breiner, Sharon
County Extension personnel are challenged to serve the public while facing changing population density and diversity. Moreover, needs and satisfaction vary among Extension clients and non-clients. With this in mind, 10 of the most populous counties in Kansas, with the aid of a university researcher, conducted an evaluation to determine programming needs of both clients and non-clients. Findings indicate that non-clients and clients prioritize programming differently and prefer different delivery mechanisms. The results have allowed these counties to tailor their programming and marketing efforts to these two unique groups, while also serving as a basis for a collective marketing plan.

Communication Channel Preferences of Corn and Soybean Producers
Licht, Melea A. R.; Martin, Robert A.
The study reported here sought to identify the types of communication channels Iowa corn and soybean producers prefer for agricultural information. Data were gathered through focus groups and analyzed using theme coding and qualitative data charts. Conclusions included: 1) producers looked to Extension for assistance in evaluating information from other sources rather than acquiring information; 2) producers preferred a variety of communication channels; 3) producers highly preferred consultations highly; 4) producers preferred mass media channels for general information and interpersonal communication channels for specific and applicable information; 5) among mass media channels, producers preferred radio; and 6) among interpersonal channels, producers preferred consultations.

Marketing Practices of Indiana Soybean Producers
Alexander, Corinne; Conley, Shawn P.; Dobbins, Craig; Hurt, Chris; Patrick, George
Soybean marketing decisions play a critical role in maximizing farm income. The objective of the project described here was to identify market related educational needs and to provide benchmark information for producers. The assessment was conducted through a detailed direct-mail survey. The results of the survey demonstrate differences in market access among grower operation sizes and regions, and differences in forward pricing among grower operation sizes. Farmers with large operations generally have access to more markets and are more likely to manage price risk.

County Extension Agents' Perceptions of Positive Developmental Assets for Vulnerable Youth
Jones, Kenneth R.; Ashurst, Kerri L.; Kurzynske, Janet
A statewide assessment was conducted to determine county agents' perceptions toward key developmental assets in the lives of vulnerable youth and to identify an age group as a primary focus for Extension. Ninety-two percent of the 202 county agents responding to the rating scale agreed upon the need to focus on both youth leadership and personal values. Ninety-four percent of the agents also indicated that Extension should place emphasis on middle school youth as a high priority (in regard to programming). The findings conclude that there is relevance in assessing program efforts that promote positive development among youth.

The Motivation for and Developmental Benefits of Youth Participation in County 4-H Fairs: A Pilot Study
Arnold, Mary E.; Meinhold, Jana L.; Skubinna, Tammy; Ashton, Carolyn
The county 4-H fair is a way for 4-H youth to showcase their project work and receive recognition for their efforts, but it can also provide important opportunities for positive youth development. The study reported here sought to determine motivation for participating in county fair and the impact of fair on development outcomes. Results revealed that "having fun" was the biggest participation motivator. There were few significant differences in motivation for fair participation that were found between youth who participated in the market animal projects and those who did not. Analysis revealed that fair participation contributes to youth development outcomes.

The Role of the West Virginia Extension Service in Forestry Education and Technical Assistance
McGill, David W.; Campbell, Larry G.; Pierskalla, Chad
We conducted a survey of county-based West Virginia University Extension Service personnel to clarify the contribution of the organization to forestry outreach education in the state. Questionnaires were mailed to 235 Extension personnel, and 76% responded. Despite few with advanced forestry training, 65% receive forestry-related questions, and 72% of those answer an average of 24% of the questions. The proportion of forestry questions answered by Extension personnel was found to vary as a function of position and program. Referrals of questions to other agencies went most frequently to the West Virginia Division of Forestry and secondarily to other Extension personnel.

Use of the Plate-Waste Method to Measure Food Intake in Children
Jacko, Cheryl C.; Dellava, Jocilyn; Ensle, Karen; Hoffman, Daniel J.
Childhood overweight is increasing in the U.S. and is often associated with excess food intake. Because children consume at least one meal in school approximately half the days each year, it is important to develop accurate and cost-effective methods to measure food intake in schools. We compared the aggregated plate waste method with actual weighed food measurements. The aggregated plate waste measurements were similar to the energy and macronutrient intake determined by weighed food measurements. The plate waste methodology is a simple and accurate method that can be implemented by Extension professionals and teachers to assess children's energy intake.

Ideas at Work

Pre- and Post-Testing with More Impact
La Barge, Greg
A novel approach to the use of pre- and post-testing was used to take the element of guessing at answers to test questions out of this method to better quantifying knowledge gained by participants in a workshop. The approach showed a 10% increase in knowledge gained by participants over the traditional method of tallying pre-/post-test. The method also provides instructor feedback to improve the workshop content and allow him or her to better gauge the time needed for program components, measure confidence in answers, and identify where incorrect answers are actually thought to be correct by participants.

Using a Historical Tour to Teach Extension Audiences About Diversity and Human Rights
Traver, Susan; Luckey, Brian P.; Shaklee, Harriet; Nauman, Arlinda; Liddil, Audrey Audrey; Tifft, Kathee; Laumatia, Laura
Idaho's Journey for Diversity and Human Rights is a traveling workshop designed to teach about the roots of the state's people and their human rights challenges. Designers planned to acquaint participants with the richness and diversity of Idaho's past and broaden their perspective on the way in which past residents coped with issues not much different from those current residents face. Participants report gains in knowledge of Idaho's past and present challenges of human rights and diversity and plan to apply that knowledge in their daily lives. Educators can modify and replicate Idaho's Journey to fit any state or region.

Agri-Cultural Tourism: Linking the Arts and Humanities with Agricultural Direct Marketers and Specialty Producers
Burrows, Rhoda; Fennell, Anne; Redlin, Meredith; Verschoor, Lynn
In South Dakota, we are linking artists and specialty producers in a unique "Agri-Cultural Tourism" approach. In sparsely populated areas, agritourism enterprises have a difficult time attracting potential tourists. By partnering specialty agricultural enterprises with nearby or regional artists and other cultural entities and events, a critical mass of attractions can be created. This article provides an example of the critical partnership between cooperative extension, stakeholders, and numerous allied organizations that served as a catalyst for an on-going Agri-Cultural tourism alliance. It also highlights key issues and steps identified by the participants to assure continued development progress in the state.

Creative Marketing for a Small Wine Grape Region
Renquist, Stephen B.
A needs assessment of the Umpqua Valley wine grape industry in 2001 revealed the greatest impediment to our sustainability was a lack of coordinated marketing. By working together creatively, board members developed successful marketing strategies and effective ways to fund their strategies. After 3 years, survey data revealed that the number of visitors at participating wineries increased by 35% and wine sales increased 40% on average. Fundraising events contributed $90,000 for marketing, and seven new wineries and 11 new vineyards were established. This proves that sustainable programs can be home grown in a cooperative environment.

Columbus Saves: An Extension-Led America Saves Campaign
Loibl, Cäzilia; Shockey, Susan; Renn, Cynthia
This article describes the initiation and development of the Columbus Saves campaign led by Ohio State University Extension faculty and staff. Columbus Saves, based in Franklin County, Ohio, falls under the umbrella of the nationwide America Saves campaign managed by the Consumer Federation of America. America Saves is a financial awareness campaign that uses a social marketing approach to encourage Americans to save regularly (Brobeck, 1999).

The Role of Extension in Assisting School Districts to Implement and Monitor Their Local Wellness Policies
McDonald, Daniel A.; Whitmer, Evelyn
This article explores the role of Extension in assisting school districts to implement and monitor Local Wellness Policies. The authors include an outline of the basic requirements of the law and a description, based on their experience, of how school districts can implement and support their wellness policies. Information on various research-based resources available to schools and teachers are provided.

Healing Gardens for Assisted Living: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Health Education
Collins, Claudia C.; O'Callaghan, Angela M.
There is a serious lack of health promotion programs for seniors transitioning from living in their own homes to assisted living. Research has demonstrated that horticulture and gardening can benefit people who are institutionalized. Aging and horticulture specialists at the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension collaborated to create a healing garden project at Nevada's first low-income assisted living facility in Las Vegas. The goal was to enhance residents' quality-of life through a less traditional educational process. This process expands the scope and reach of Extension programs to a much larger and more diverse audience.

Tools of the Trade

Reporting Program Impacts: Slaying the Dragon of Resistance
Franz, Nancy K.; McCann, Mark
Virginia Cooperative Extension has responded to today's environment of enhanced accountability by improving the organization's program impact reporting. Successful strategies to enhance the quantity and quality of program impact reports include new hires, training faculty and administration, individual and small group technical assistance, development of reporting tools, and tying impact reporting to performance and recognition. This holistic approach resulted in enhanced reporting and use of program impacts as well as improved program design and evaluation.

A Practical Tool for the Evaluation of Extension Programs Presented to Older Adults
Jayaratne, K. S. U.
This article presents a practical tool for the evaluation of Extension programs presented to older adults. The survey method is not practical to collect evaluation data from older adults due to their physical limitations. This evaluation tool is an especially designed box used with plastic tokens. The evaluation box was tested and found accurate and easy to use. It is a practical alternative for the survey method in special situations. The evaluation box is appropriate to collect evaluation data from older adults and illiterate audiences. This tool can be used to evaluate exhibits as well.

Plants and Textiles: A Legacy of Technology--Introducing a New On-Line Project for Youth
Eames-Sheavly, Marcia; Coffman, Charlotte W.
Plants and Textiles: A Legacy of Technology is a plant- and textile-based on-line project with activities for teenaged youth. The detailed Web site includes an introduction to the project and addresses all components of four detailed activities, with other resources and information available at the site. This article introduces the project, its components, and outcomes and impacts from project participants, university students, and adult leaders.

Estimating Pre-Purchase Housing Counseling and Education Costs per Client
Green, Leslie E.; Delgadillo, Lucy
The per client cost of providing housing counseling and education programs (HCE) can be high, and funding for HCE providers is competitive. Counseling providers that can estimate per client costs compete more effectively for limited program funding. Using a case study, the authors describe how a previously determined formula can be used to calculate the per client cost of pre-purchasing housing counseling. HCE agencies and Extension educators can use this formula to prepare stronger funding proposals, and thus better serve families in their respective areas.

Interagency Cooperation in Addressing Worker Protection Standard Compliance Issues
Fishel, Fred
The Federal Worker Protection Standard is a regulated law in all states, including Florida. Compliance data have been compiled by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services for its 10-year history and indicate that Florida's agricultural producers desire to improve compliance. A statewide interagency effort was undertaken during 2006 to educate producers, with an overall goal of improving long-term compliance. University of Florida Extension was called upon to take a lead role. Preliminary results indicate that our programs provided immediate compliance assistance. Other states could potentially take an interagency approach to addressing compliance issues, with Extension serving as a leader.

Food Allergies: Safe Food Handling to Prevent Triggering an Allergic Reaction
Byrd-Bredbenner, Carol; Maurer, Jaclyn
The prevalence of food allergies is on the rise, especially among children. Safe food handling is important for preventing triggering a food allergic reaction. Guidelines for safe food handling for food allergies are scarce; therefore, data from key-informant interviews with health professionals, food professionals, and the public were used to develop educational factsheets for food service and child caretakers. These factsheets can be used by Extension professionals for both self-education and outreach education on this increasingly important health topic.

Tools to Help Horse Owners Deal with Muddy High-Traffic Areas
Greene, Elizabeth A.
Muddy and overstocked horse paddocks are a common sight at riding stables. The University of Vermont equine program has improved the conditions at the horse facility by renovating the worst portion (gate area) of the paddocks, thereby allowing drainage under the compacted area. After the renovation of three paddocks one fall, the decrease in mud and ice was so remarkable that the four remaining paddocks were renovated in the spring. A full-color pictorial guide was created to show others how the renovation process works.