April 2011 // Volume 49 // Number 2
A Few Words About References
In "A Few Words About References," the editor points to some problems with the References sections of JOE Submissions: no JOE citations, only JOE citations, no scholarly citations at all, citations that appear in References sections but not in articles, and inconsistently/incorrectly spelled author names. In "April JOE," she calls special attention to the two Commentaries and the first Feature.
Regionalization With or Without Specialization: A Call for a National Research Agenda
More research is needed to help states evaluate Extension delivery model alternatives. Given funding trends, access to all programs requires regional systems with county offices. The traditional county model provides access to an office but only to some programs. While there will be many differences, only states with specialized educators can make sufficient program investments to increase public value and funding. Stakeholders exploring regionalization need to know about the successes and failures of the early adopters. The implementation of a national agenda of high-quality research on regionalization and specialization is needed to protect Extension's historic mission.
Participate in the JOE Discussion Forum on “Regionalization With or Without Specialization: A Call for a National Research Agenda”
Advancing the Public Value Movement: Sustaining Extension During Tough Times
Extension must more fully and adeptly embrace the public value movement to be sustainable as a publicly funded organization, or our demise as an organization will continue. The public value steps outlined here and piloted with several Extension systems and national work groups can be informative for others interested in capturing and sharing the public value of Extension work. Overall, the Extension public value banner needs to be held high as we struggle to change the perception of our work by addressing this as a "movement" in our organizational development and not a "response" to the economic environment.
Participate in the JOE Discussion Forum on “Advancing the Public Value Movement: Sustaining Extension During Tough Times”
Ideas at Work
Using an Asset-Based Community Development Initiative to Attract and Retain Young People
An asset-based community development effort was conducted in Northern Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to attract and retain young people in an effort to reverse the region's decades-long population decline. Nearly 700 of the community's high school students, college students, and young professionals participated in a survey to identify the features of the community that its young people considered as assets. The grassroots, community-based Gogebic Range Next Generation Initiative collaborated with a number of community institutions to promote, strengthen and connect young people to these identified assets.
Implementing and Assessing 4-H Educational Activity Kits for Children
Educational activity kits were developed and implemented through a statewide effort for 4-H Youth Development Extension programs serving 5-8 year-old children. The purpose of the kits was to promote life skills in children and assess the learning environment. Data was collected based on the observations of 577 children across 22 counties. Findings indicated life skills of subject matter knowledge, getting along with others, and decision-making were enhanced through activity kits. While contextual elements for positive youth development were present for: positive relationships with caring adults, opportunities for mastery/competence, emotionally and physically safe environment, and opportunities for engagement of learning.
Functional Foods Programs Serve as a Vehicle to Provide Nutrition Education to Groups
An increase in consumer interest in functional foods provides an opportunity for FCS educators to use this topic in Extension programming to promote current nutrition recommendations. The Functional Foods for Life Educational Programs (FFL) are a curriculum of six evidence-based mini-seminars that highlight specific functional foods that have the potential to benefit health. Program participants are introduced to a variety of facts about each food, including research findings and consumption recommendations. FFL has reached a large and varied audience and ha generated preliminary positive outcomes. This article explores the FFL model as an option for providing nutrition education to groups.
Crossing Boundaries with Teamwork and Economics for Water Management
The Water Team used teamwork and economics to transcend water boundaries. Recommendations implemented and physical improvements extended the irrigation season by 16 days in 2008, increased potential farm profits, and increased water conservation. The Team is now poised to cross more boundaries, assembling data and coordinated plans for watershed management and groundwater recharge for larger geographic areas, watersheds, and organizations.
Tools of the Trade
Best Practices for Extension Curricula Review
Effective curricula are a cornerstone of successful Extension programming. The National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) Nutrition and Health Planning and Guidance Committee (NGPGC) developed a set of recommendations for a curriculum review system and created a curriculum review checklist. The checklist describes components of an effective curriculum as well as specific items reviewers should access related to content, readability, and utility.
Participatory Evaluation: Factors to Consider When Involving Youth
This article provides a critical perspective on the increasing involvement of young people in participatory evaluation as well as identifies the factors to consider when designing a youth-led evaluation project. Through this avenue, young people will increase their participation in organizational development and community change. Youth-led evaluation can be a powerful tool for supporting youth to move beyond socially determined roles to become active participants in evaluation and their own growth.
The Clam Trail: Blending Science Education, Public Art, and Tourism
The Barnegat Bay Shellfish Restoration's Clam Trail is an award-winning scavenger hunt that combines science education, public art, and tourism. This family adventure has participants seeking out giant painted fiberglass clams, upweller clam nurseries, and points of interest in search of science facts to record on their forms. Upon returning these forms, the participants are given awards and chances at recognition. The project has been a very successful method of capturing the public's attention, as well as educating residents and tourists at the Jersey Shore about the Barnegat Bay and its watershed.
Factors of Success for Large Agricultural Field Events
Traditional crop management field days at research stations in Minnesota and Wisconsin were attracting a declining number of attendees. These events present a wide array of topics to a diverse farmer and agricultural professional audience. To increase participation, we created single-theme events for farmers called "Expos." These Expos offer multiple opportunities for receiving new information, including educational presentations, interactive farmer panels, static equipment displays, and vendor booths, coupled with the attraction and interaction of in-field side-by-side equipment demonstrations. The result has been a series of expos in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa that have attracted up to 750 participants each.
Program Review: Raising Healthy Eaters
The prevalence of overweight children and adults has been increasing steadily over the past three decades. Behaviors related to diet and nutrition are often established in early childhood. Toddlers most often develop healthy eating habits through parent modeling. Due to the steady increase in obesity in children, there is a clear need for nutrition and parenting programming that helps parents gain a better understanding of nutrition and feeding habits of children. In this article we review the curriculum Raising Healthy Eaters, a program that integrates parenting and nutrition.
Extension Forestry and Family Forest Owners: A Data Source
Family forests account for 92% of private forest owners in the United States and 62% of private forestland acres. These are the main clients of Extension forestry. The most recent National Woodland Owners Survey (NWOS) was completed in 2006, and, besides the published results, the U.S. Forest Service has developed NWOS Tablemaker, which can develop useful tables from these data. Tables can be developed to illustrate family forest ownership trends, demographic characteristics, forest management and timber harvesting activities and plans, and forest management information sources. This is an ideal tool to get a "handle" on family forest owners.
Pesticide Applicator Profiling: Using Polycom® Distance Delivery for Continuing Education and Characterizing Florida's Licensed Applicators
The University of Florida offers continuing education units (CEUs) via distance technology using Polycom® to meet requirements for applicators of pesticides to renew their licenses. A large statewide event conducted in 2010 also included a needs assessment of this group concerning CEUs. Results indicate that these applicators strongly prefer earning CEUs rather than retesting for renewal and that they don't mind short travel distances and paying nominal fees to attend programs. Distance delivery was a first-time experience for most in obtaining CEUs, and they were overwhelmingly positive about attending such an event in the future.
An Excel-Based Mean Weighted Discrepancy Score Calculator
The Borich (1980) needs assessment model requires that a mean weighted discrepancy score be calculated for each item, competency or activity included in the needs assessment. The two most common types of Borich-type discrepancy scores noted in the agricultural education literature are importance/ability or what is/what should be. An Excel-based mean weighted discrepancy score calculator provides a simplified process of calculating mean weighted discrepancy score and reduces opportunities for user error. The Excel-based mean weighted discrepancy score calculator is a free Microsoft Excel file that allows individuals to calculate discrepancy scores for importance/ability or what is/what should be scores.
Delivery of PowerPoint® Videos on the World Wide Web
A widespread and devastating epidemic of potato and tomato late blight in the Northeastern U.S. during the 2009 growing season brought to the light the need for rapid and effective delivery of reliable information. Extension took the lead in information delivery during the epidemic and during the winter in preparation for the upcoming growing season. Microsoft PowerPoint® was used to create a narrated video, and the completed file was converted with PPT To Video Scout software to a Windows Media Format and posted on the Internet. The procedure produced easily accessible information that is continually available for client use.
Spreading the Word About Extension's Public Value
In recent years, the idea that Extension can build support for its programs by highlighting how they benefit people who have no contact with the programs has taken root in the Extension system. Providing Extension program teams with resources, training, and leadership can lead to a body of public value messages that can infuse Extension's stakeholder communications. Hundreds of Extension professionals have received public value training, and survey results suggest that many trainees are following up with actions. Many trainees see positive effects from the public value approach, but measurable impacts will take more time.
An Assessment of Agriculture and Natural Resource Extension Program Needs on American Indian Reservations in Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington
This article summarizes the results of a needs assessment involving American Indians and outreach professionals on reservations in Idaho, Nevada, Oregon and Washington. The survey featured 36 questions about agricultural and natural resource issues that may pose challenges on reservation lands. A comparison between reservation residents and outreach professionals indicates that issue perceptions differ significantly for 23 of the 36 issues. Acknowledging these perceptual differences can help Extension to identify program gaps and opportunities with tribal nations. It can also increase Extension's appreciation for cultural diversity, thereby improving its capacity to execute its outreach mission on American Indian reservations.
Analyzing the Natural Resource Extension Needs of Spanish-Speakers: A Perspective from Florida
Hispanics are the country's fastest growing minority group. The study reported here surveyed and assessed Extension agents from two demographically different regions in Florida on perceptions and attitudes about the need, quality, and dissemination of Spanish Extension materials. Results showed Extension programs are important sources of information for Spanish-speakers from a region with a high population of Hispanics. However, Extension agents do not feel adequately prepared to reach this audience, and resources are insufficient, especially on critical environmental topics relevant to the audience. The study demonstrates the need to develop regionally and culturally relevant Spanish Extension materials for urban Spanish-speakers.
Adapting Community and Economic Development Tools to the Study of Local Foods: The Case of Knox County, Ohio
In this article we seek to identify how diverse community and economic development tools in the Extension portfolio might be adapted to the assessment of local food and farming developments. We report on an assessment of the economic development opportunities and impacts of local food system development in Knox County, Ohio. The data and analysis are drawn from several different sources, including demographic census data and retail and economic activity data. The assessment findings and the process of coordinating the assessment effort reveal some of the opportunities and challenges of Extension effectively supporting community development related to local food systems.
Local Food Tourism Networks and Word of Mouth
This article draws from surveys of three key components of local food tourism networks: farmers, restaurateurs, and tourists. Key informant interviews were also conducted to complement survey data. Results indicate that word of mouth is central to forming and maintaining local food tourism networks because it links farmers and restaurateurs. Also tourists become aware of tourism opportunities primarily through word of mouth. For these reasons, Extension educators must consider word of mouth when promoting local food tourism. Word of mouth requires time to form "naturally." Therefore, practitioners must create opportunities to link the different hubs in local food tourism networks.
Attitudinal Survey of Producers Involved in a Meat Goat Artificial Insemination Clinic
To quantify intrinsic learning processes, the Intrinsic Motivation Inventory (IMI) was established and incorporated into a questionnaire provided to participants in two meat goat artificial insemination clinics. Pre-test and post-test results on meat goat knowledge, motivation constraints, and confidence in livestock management skills were compared to assess the impact of the instructional clinics. In both months, participants increased their examination scores and improved confidence in their livestock management skills. Understanding of key aspects of the IMI may be of importance when planning educational programs for agricultural producers coming from a variety of different backgrounds and experiences.
Rural Community Members' Perspectives on Mental Health and Aging: An Ecological Approach to Interpreting and Applying Focus Group Results
The Mental Healthiness and Aging Initiative was created to develop resources addressing the mental health needs of older adults, particularly those in rural areas. Community members participated in focus groups discussing mental health and aging. Themes that emerged included the desire to maintain independence, the importance of emotional health and intergenerational activities, the value of sharing one's life history, remaining active and engaged, being respected, and educating younger community members about aging. The results are discussed in terms of ecological applications. Extension agents should find this data useful for developing programs and materials to promote mental healthiness in their communities
Stormwater Monitoring and Resident Behavior in a Semi-Arid Region
Stormwater from a small municipality in Utah was monitored for flow and phosphorus. A survey was also administered to ascertain potential behavioral impacts on stormwater. The majority (53.7%) of stormwater measured was non-storm related. It is suspected that summer irrigation was adding to baseflow. Concentrations of phosphorus were below national means, but were high enough to lead to excessive algal growth. Survey results showed that most residents (92.3%) fertilize their lawn, although very few (1.7%) use a soil test to determine if fertilization is necessary. The study highlights the need for monitoring, surveying and collaboration to address current stormwater issues.
Healthy Homes: A Contemporary Initiative for Extension Education
This article connects Extension education and the Healthy Homes Initiative. Background on housing research and education is provided in the context of four issues (toxic materials, dangerous gases, hazards related to asthma, and other residential hazards). The federally funded Healthy Homes Partnership is described, and implications for collaboration with county, state, and federal governments; universities; and community organizations are described. Examples of Extension programming in Healthy Homes across states are presented. Recommendations for research and the development of educational materials are made.
Research in Brief
Are Transformational Directors Required for Satisfied Agents?
The purpose of the study reported here was to determine if a correlation existed between directors' leadership style and agents' job satisfaction. A usable return rate of 112 (60.8%) Tennessee agents was achieved. The instrument included a demographic assessment, the Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire 5X, and the Mohrman-Cooke-Mohrman Job Satisfaction Survey. Data was aggregated across the state. While the majority of directors were perceived as laissez-faire (N = 64, 73.6%), the majority of agents indicated high job satisfaction (N=61, 56.5%). Cross tabulation of this association indicates that transformational directors have more highly satisfied agents than other styles.
The Relationship of Future Agricultural Extension Educators' Cognitive Styles and Change Strategies for Adult Learners
The study expands reported here Extension education's knowledge regarding characteristics of potential change agents. Graduate students learning to become agricultural Extension educators were studied to determine their definition of a change agent. Participants' cognitive styles were assessed using Kirton's Adaptation-Innovation Inventory to explore if cognitive style influenced preference for and potential usage of diffusion of innovations as a planned change strategy. Findings indicated future Extension practitioners' cognitive styles were associated with the planned change strategy they preferred. This findings could assist Extension professional development specialists in better understanding how to prepare current Extension practitioners to effect behavior change in clients.
Teaching Child Care Providers to Reduce the Risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome)
Keeping children safe and healthy is one of the main concerns of parents and child care providers. SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) is the leading cause of death in infants 1 month to 12 months of age. Over 2,000 infants die from SIDS every year in the United States, and almost 15% of these deaths occur in child care settings. A targeted educational training was developed to teach child care providers about SIDS and the importance of safe sleep environments in child care. Statistical analyses indicated significant differences in participant knowledge and self-reported practices on pre- and post-tests.
Hispanic Consumers' Willingness to Purchase Aquaculture Products Directly from Farmers: Results from a Recent Survey
A survey of Hispanic consumers was conducted in Kentucky to evaluate their willingness to buy fish and crustaceans directly from farms. The data showed that 72% of respondents were willing to travel to farms to buy food products. In addition, 85% of respondents were willing to support vendors bringing food products from farms to their communities. Of various fish and crustaceans cultured in Kentucky, tilapia was the most popular item. Whole fish was the most popular product form. The stated willingness to pay for tilapia suggests that the direct-to-consumer sale of tilapia is a profitable alternative for aquaculture farmers.
Goal Setting: A Strategy for Reducing Health Disparities
The Healthy Rewards study tested the effectiveness of goal setting to encourage behavior change in Latino and African American adults in three northern California counties. Four groups of adults were alternately assigned to receive either 1) basic health promotion and nutrition education without goal setting (control) or 2) the same education with personal goal setting. Participants (n=31) attended four 2-hour weekly sessions over 1 month. While the community-based education was effective in promoting participant behavior change overall, the goal-setting groups reported even greater change than groups who did not engage in goal setting.
Go Wild with Fruits and Veggies: Engaging Children in Nutrition Education and Physical Activity with Animal Characters
The Go Wild with Fruits and Veggies! curriculum incorporates wild animal characters to motivate 3rd-5th grade children to increase fruit and vegetable intake and physical activity. Positive findings from a rural setting regarding a self-reported increase in intake of vegetables (n=1,285) were verified by more intensive evaluation of vegetable intake in an urban setting (n=140) that compared treatment and control groups. No differences in changes in physical activity were noted between groups. These results demonstrate the effectiveness of the curriculum based on the use of animal characters to role model positive behaviors and different evaluation methods to corroborate findings.
Weight-Control Practices Reported by Students in a Maine Middle School
Extension professionals who work with youth are often faced with issues of body weight, diet and/or body image. How we handle these topics has the potential to either help or harm. The goal of the study reported here was to explore the prevalence and types of weight-control methods practiced by middle school students. The majority of students reported practices that have been previously associated with increased risk for becoming overweight. Those who work with children should be careful to avoid contributing to the tendency for children to begin weight-control practices that may paradoxically increase their risk for becoming overweight.
Resources Inventory of Beef and Dairy Operations for the Use of Ethanol Coproducts
To remain competitive in the industry, beef and dairy producers in the Midwest need to adapt to the use of alternative feeds and take advantage of the expected abundance and favorable pricing of biofuel coproducts. Integrating the coproducts as feed ingredients could make the livestock industry significantly more attractive and competitive in domestic and global markets. A survey instrument was created to inventory resources that currently limit (or enable) the use of biofuel coproducts by small and medium-sized beef and dairy producers in the state of Indiana. Seventy-eight of Indiana's 92 counties were represented in the survey results.