February 2012 // Volume 50 // Number 1
JOE by the Numbers 2011
In "JOE by the Numbers 2011" I report on the 2011 submission and readership rates and announce JOE's current acceptance rate: 27.8%. I also highlight the Top 50 Most Read Articles lists, pointing out that three of the new entries were published in the 1990s. (All JOE articles still "live" and can still "speak" to us.) In "February JOE" I highlight two articles on partnerships and three on how we communicate with our audiences and call attention to the fact that the titles of eight of 36 articles explicitly mention evaluation or assessment.
The Impact of the Extension Service on Minority-Owned Small Farm Operations
Reaching and serving minority populations will require greater consideration in the future. However, this mission can only be accomplished when Extension makes a commitment to provide better coordination and administration of internal and external outreach programs. There is a necessity for Extension professionals to facilitate interactions between limited resource minority farmers and USDA agencies. This will in turn promote opportunities for these farmers to participate in various programs sponsored by eligible USDA and other participating agencies. The creation of minority outreach programs by Extension clearly demonstrates a commitment to this mission. Yet there is so much more to be done.
Participate in the JOE Discussion Forum on “The Impact of the Extension Service on Minority-Owned Small Farm Operations”
Keys to Successful Programming: Incentives in Multi-Institutional Partnerships
Collaborative partnerships are an important mechanism for meeting client needs in an era of declining resources. Partnerships work best when their areas of concern, goals, and objectives overlap. Yet overlapping goals do not guarantee successful outcomes; rather, aligning incentives is necessary to motivate partners to invest. This article reviews incentive types and discusses the incentives that motivate Extension, government agencies, and private entities. Examples of successful partnerships are provided, and practical steps for achieving successful partnerships are discussed.
Participate in the JOE Discussion Forum on “Keys to Successful Programming: Incentives in Multi-Institutional Partnerships”
Ideas at Work
Adapting Extension Food Safety Programming for Vegetable Growers to Accommodate Differences in Ethnicity, Farming Scale, and Other Individual Factors
Differences in vegetable production methods utilized by American growers create distinct challenges for Extension personnel providing food safety training to producer groups. A program employing computers and projectors will not be accepted by an Amish group that does not accept modern technology. We have developed an outreach program that covers all pertinent food safety information in a manner that is acceptable to each of our target audiences. Utilizing audience targeted programming, small group of food safety professionals will be able to reach a myriad of different types of producers and help them provide the consumer with a wholesome product.
EFNEP Reaches Refugee Youth Using a Mobile Van
New groups of refugees settled in apartments far from city services. Their children lacked access to organized after-school activities and the opportunity to practice English. The Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) wanted to reach and teach the young refugees but lacked the staff and budget to do so. This article discusses how the EFNEP formed a partnership with a city parks and recreation department to reach refugee youth while providing organized activities and nutrition education. Educators should learn: what new groups live in their county, where they live, what schools their children attend, and other agencies assisting them.
Extension's Role in Developing a Farmers' Market
Interest in access to local food is increasing. Communities of all types and sizes have volunteers interested in creating farmers' markets. Extension can play an important role in the development of farmers' markets because it is ideally suited to organize and coordinate these volunteer energies. By helping community volunteers focus their efforts, Extension enabled volunteers, community leaders, and residents to realize the benefits of creating a farmers' market. This article discusses a process for developing a community farmers' market and the roles that Extension has played.
Text to Speech: A 4-H Model of Accessibility and Inclusion
4-H project manuals play an integral part in a youth's ability to achieve mastery in a specific project area. For youth who struggle with reading, written 4-H materials prove inadequate in addressing the needs of the learner. This article proposes a new delivery method of 4-H educational material designed to create a more inclusive and accessible environment for youth in need of literacy support. Materials created in an audio format give youth the opportunity to hear, understand, and follow along with written material, ultimately enhancing the learning process.
Adapting Annie's Project in Maryland: Findings and Results
Annie's project is a national program designed to empower farmwomen to manage information systems used in critical decision-making processes and to build local networks throughout the state. The target audience is farmwomen with a passion for business and involvement in the farm operation. Annie's Project is designed as eight, 3-hour sessions that focus around the five areas of farm risk management. It has engaged and educated an increasingly large part of the farm sector that does not regularly attend Extension and production meetings. The program has received an overwhelming response by participants and produced significant impacts.
Tools of the Trade
On Reviewing and Writing a Scholarly Article
This article provides guidelines for reviewing and writing scholarly articles for the professional who reads and writes them for his/her own work and/or for publication in scientific journals. It outlines the purpose and contents of each section of a research article and provides a checklist for reviewing and writing a research article. This article is intended for use by authors, reviewers, Extension workers, graduate students, and neophyte scientists when reviewing and writing a scholarly article. The reviewer has the responsibility to determine and demand quality, and by doing so quality will result.
The "Ballot Approach" to End-of-Event Evaluation in Indian Country and Beyond
This article presents the "ballot approach" to end-of-event evaluation, an approach developed in response to frustration with existing surveys and inadequate quantity and quality of feedback to my programming in Indian country. The ballot approach is grounded in the participatory development theory and methods popularized by Robert Chambers and others. Adoption of the ballot approach coincided with a year-to-year trebling of response rate and a dramatic increase in total responses. Two open-ended questions generated 157 written comments compared to three comments the year prior. Although causality cannot be established, the approach appeared effective and appropriate, supporting creativity and adaptation in evaluation methods.
Program Planning with Problem Mapping to Better Understand Need
This article describes two methods for use in program development and refinement. Problem mapping and forcefield analysis are explained with a real-world example about parenting education. Both methods are visual and consider multiple causes and effects of a problem. The methods are effective for clearly thinking through a problem, identifying opportunities, partners, and programming possibilities. These methods can be used with groups to help identify problems and resulting needs, to select possible solutions, and then to use the information to design and refine programs.
Creating New Program Opportunities with Specialized Staff
Extension will continue to face many changes in the future. Successful staffing models will help Extension position itself for sustainability and growth. Aligning staff with their strengths is essential for success of new staffing plans. Staff can use their strengths to provide success program design and implementation. Staff in new roles will also need to collaborate in program development and offerings to assure the public and stakeholders that new models are sustaining.
Participatory Action Research: A Useful Tool for Exploring Work-Life Balance Issues
Many of our Extension clients struggle with issues of work-life balance, self-care, and sustainable leadership. Extension staff do as well. This article describes the richness of the Participatory Action Research (PAR) tool as an educational and community development intervention and a qualitative research methodology. The project on self-care and women's sustainable leadership described here also engaged researchers as participants in the study. Using PAR to create solutions to issues of self-care and work-life balance has great potential in Extension with benefits to clients and staff as well.
Performance-Based Evaluation of a Beef Cattle Retained Ownership Extension Program
Feedback from participants in Extension programs is often favorable. However, some of these participants do not adopt the management changes recommended through a specific Extension program. The evaluation reported here assessed producer adoption of management recommendations from the Mississippi Farm to Feedlot Program. This program facilitates cattle finishing and carcass data collection and then assists beef cattle producers in interpreting and using this information to make needed management changes. Farm-level and aggregate results reveal areas where improvements are needed and document the rate of adoption of recommendations. This can help Extension professionals modify programming efforts to improve program impact.
Ranch Logistics and Rancher Perceptions of the BioPryn® Blood Test for Pregnancy Determination in Beef Cattle
Pregnancy determination of beef cows is critical information that assists ranchers in keep/cull decisions, which impact profit margins. The declining number of large animal veterinarians may make access to pregnancy determination services more difficult. BioPryn® blood testing is a new method that can be accomplished without the assistance of a veterinarian. Ranchers received two presentations on BioPryn® and instruction on the bleeding procedure, and a ranch-level demonstration was conducted. Ranchers were evaluated for logistics of the practice, perceptions, and potential adoption. Knowledge of the method increased significantly. Ranchers are beginning to seriously consider BioPryn® or are already adopting it.
Diabetes Awareness of Low-Income Middle School Students Participating in the Help a Friend, Help Yourself Youth Diabetes Awareness Education Program
The study reported here investigated the effectiveness of the LSU AgCenter Help a Friend, Help Yourself youth diabetes education curriculum to increase knowledge and awareness of diabetes and its symptoms in low-income middle school students participating in the Boys and Girls Club after-school program. The curriculum includes four lessons with multimedia presentations, art projects, and demonstrations designed to teach children about diabetes, with a specific focus on the signs and symptoms. Results indicated that students' knowledge of diabetes and its symptoms increased following participation in the four-session series.
Successful Statewide Walking Program Websites
Statewide Extension walking programs are making an effort to increase physical activity levels in America. An investigation of all 20 of these programs revealed that 14 use websites as marketing and educational tools, which could prove useful as the popularity of Internet communities continues to grow. Website usability information and an analysis of all 14 sites were combined to determine characteristics that may enhance the efficacy of these sites. Application of these findings could allow Extension professionals to more efficiently communicate with the public about exercise, nutrition, and state walking programs.
Entrepreneurial Checklist Tool for Beginning Farm and Home-Based Businesses
Extension educators entertain frequent questions on beginning a farm or starting a home-based business. Retired, unemployed, and displaced workers consider starting a small farm or home-based business. Determining educational needs or individual business aptitude is time consuming. Lengthy and comprehensive skill-based checklists exist for business self assessment (Boehlje, Dobbins, Miller, Bechman, & Rausch, 2000). Authors suggest Extension educators use a simple personality-based checklist tool to assist individuals in assessing entrepreneurial ability prior to starting a beginning farm and home based business.
Leveraging Partnerships to Achieve High Impact: Lessons from Wildlife Field Days
Effective wildlife management on private lands can supplement and diversify income by providing opportunities for hunting, fishing, and ecotourism. We offered a workshop series that covered a comprehensive set of issues pertaining to this topic. In the process, we found that using a large, multi-state, multi-agency planning committee enabled us to tap into numerous clientele networks, reach many people new to Extension, recruit expert speakers from many organizations, and spread tasks so that individual burdens were reduced. This mutually beneficial collaboration is a model for future Extension programming that may become increasingly useful as Extension budgets continue to decline.
The Nature and Extent of Conflict Among Volunteer Leaders in the 4-H Horse Project: Implications for Effective Program Management
The study reported here investigated the extent and nature of interpersonal conflict experienced by volunteer leaders of 4-H horse clubs. Despite anecdotal accounts of high levels of conflict in county 4-H horse programs, conflict does not appear to be universal, and the majority report that horse leaders are mostly to extremely cooperative. If leaders perceive that county agents are engaged in the horse project, by attending horse leaders' meetings, facilitating conflict resolution, and addressing concerns, less conflict among 4-H horse leaders is reported. The results of the study have clear implications for managing county 4-H Horse programs.
The Impact of the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) on Two State Cooperative Extension Systems
The research reported here examined the impact of the Government Performance and Results Act on accountability and evaluation activities in two state Cooperative Extension Systems. Accountability was examined using five dimensions from Koppell's (2005) framework. Findings indicated both Extension systems transferred accountability activities to county-level educators through increased reporting expectations. There was not a strong connection between GPRA and changes in program evaluation practice or understanding in either state. Clear definitions of accountability within Extension and close examination of the role of evaluation may enhance accountability efforts and result in not only using evaluation for accountability but also for organizational learning.
Assessing Program Implementation: What It Is, Why It's Important, and How to Do It
While the importance of evaluation program offerings is acknowledge by Extension educators, less emphasis is given to understanding program implementation. Simply assessing program impact without a clear understanding of the degree to which a program was actually implemented can result in inaccurate findings. The effective evaluation of both program impacts and evaluation can provide Extension educators with a more holistic perspective of their programs and an increased ability to identify and disseminate best program practices.
The Forgotten Half of Program Evaluation: A Focus on the Translation of Rating Scales for Use with Hispanic Populations
Extension professionals often work with diverse clientele; however, most assessment tools have been developed and validated with English-speaking samples. There is little research and practical guidance on the cultural adaptation and translation of rating scales. The purpose of this article is to summarize the methodological work in this area as it relates to evaluation in Extension, specifically with Spanish-speaking, Hispanic populations of Mexican origin. General practices are reviewed and recommendations outlined. Inferences about program outcomes and impacts depend, in large part, on the rating scale; therefore, inattention to these issues could lead to misleading results and interpretations.
Using a Training Video to Improve Agricultural Workers' Knowledge of On-Farm Food Safety
A training video was produced and evaluated to assess its impact on the food safety knowledge of agricultural workers. Increasing food safety knowledge on the farm may help to improve the safety of fresh produce. Surveys were used to measure workers' food safety knowledge before and after viewing the video. Focus groups were used to determine workers' views of the video and identify areas that could be improved. Results indicated a high level of food safety knowledge, but some significant improvements were observed. The project provides a framework for assessing videos as training tools and suggestions for further research.
My Community, My Voice: Rural Older Adults Speak Through Photography
Extension educators can serve as a catalyst to engage rural older adults to build community awareness and support healthy lifestyle choices. The study reported investigated rural elders' views of the supports and challenges for physical activity through the community-based participatory process. Older adults photographed their community to collectively assess issues they faced in maintaining active lifestyles. Elders identified and reported aspects of personal and community choice that serve to act as supports or barriers for their physical activity. Elders' engagement in community issues identification can serve to promote positive health behavior practices throughout the lifecycle.
Using Interesting Text to Communicate Complex Natural Resources Issues
The research reported here examined the strategy of using specificity, quotes, characters, and case studies to increase the interest level of informative text about using wood for energy. Focus groups were used to gain in-depth understanding of how citizens perceive information conveyed through this style of text. The text accomplished its goal of sharing information and encouraging future involvement, but themes expressed in the focus groups highlight the challenges of creating interesting materials on complex issues for citizens. This article explains these concerns of mistrust, bias, and misconceptions to help others overcome similar challenges.
Testing Age-Paced Parenting Newsletters Up to Age 3: Greater Impact on First-Time Parents
An age-paced newsletter for parents of toddlers was evaluated. Mothers reported the newsletters were as useful as information from doctors or nurses and more useful than other sources of information. We hypothesized and found that first-time mothers reported the newsletters more useful than experienced mothers—reading more of the newsletters and sharing them more often with their social networks. More first-time mothers also reported making positive changes in their behaviors as a result of reading the newsletters. Two strategies were employed to increase the validity of the self-report data. Implications for parent education are discussed.
Small and Home-Based Businesses: Measures of Success and the Contribution of Local Development Services
Small and home-based businesses have long been identified by Extension educators as an important component of economic development, particularly in rural areas. The services available to these businesses can take many forms, including management training, accessibility of local funding, providing incubation facilities, or setting up mentoring relationships. Extension educators wanting to promote certain services should be aware of historical rates of use of these programs and their impacts on various success measures for small businesses. State-level survey results of small business owners are used to discuss the services used, different measures of success, and statistical relationships between the two.
Research in Brief
Leadership Advisory Boards in Texas: Their Perceived Ability and Utilization as the Visioning Body for Program Development
The ability of Leadership Advisory Boards within Texas AgriLife Extension Service to function as the primary visioning/needs assessment source is paramount to maintaining the grassroots connection for programs. The study reported here sought to measure the self-perceptions of members' ability to meet the demand associated with this role. The study found that members feel confident in their ability to scan the community and identify relevant issues but found a need for increased training and orientation as to function and roles.
Volunteer Management Needs Assessment of the Tennessee 4-H Program
The purpose of the descriptive study reported here was to determine the perceptions of working with 4-H volunteer leaders and knowledge level of volunteer management through a state-wide needs assessment among Tennessee Extension agents with 4-H youth responsibility. The research determined a need for a formalized 4-H volunteer leader management system within the state Extension organization. Extension agents had high proficiencies in knowledge levels of managing 4-H volunteers and perceptions of working with 4-H volunteers. Results indicated that most Extension agents agreed on a need for readily available, Web-based materials and for a comprehensive 4-H volunteer leader management system.
The Development of a Food Safety Brochure for Families: The Use of Formative Evaluation and Plain Language Strategies
Printed materials have been used extensively as an educational tool to increase food safety awareness. Few educational materials have been designed to target families with young children for food safety education. This article reports the use of the formative evaluation process to develop a brochure designed to enhance awareness about food safety among primary food handlers of families with children 10 years and under. Quantitative and qualitative evaluation included the use of plain language principles and two focus groups with target audience members. Application of systematic formative evaluation can help health practitioners develop more effective consumer-centered educational materials.
Assessment of Native Languages for Food Safety Training Programs for Meat Industry Employees
Challenges arise when teaching food safety to culturally diverse employees working in meatpacking and food manufacturing industries. A food safety training program was developed in English, translated into Spanish, and administered to 1,265 adult learners. Assessments were conducted by comparing scores before and immediately following training. Scores concerning food safety knowledge and food handling behavior improved dramatically when training was conducted in the native language. Impressive gains were noted for Spanish-speaking participants who averaged 96.60% on post-training scores, demonstrating that identical food safety training programs are most successful with both English- and Spanish-speaking individuals when presented in their native languages.
Formative Assessment of Assistance Needed with Grocery Shopping and Preparing Food Among Rural Community-Dwelling Older Adults
The study reported here assessed assistance needed with grocery shopping and food preparation among 369 rural community-dwelling older adults. Needing assistance with grocery shopping and food preparation was reported by 21% and 16% of participants, respectively. Among participants needing assistance with grocery shopping and food preparation; 25% and 33%, respectively, reported they never or rarely received the needed assistance. Approximately two-thirds of participants reported they were most likely to receive assistance from their spouse or children. Education on assistive technology designed to facility independent living could assist with many physical limitations community-dwelling older adults experience with grocery shopping and food preparation.
Demographic Factors Influence Environmental Values: A Lawn-Care Survey of Homeowners in New Jersey
The success of Extension programs in motivating homeowners to adopt good lawn management practices will likely depend on addressing their personal values. A survey for homeowners in New Jersey assessed attitudes about lawn care and environmental impacts, and determined which demographic factors related to these values. As in previous surveys, the study reported here found that homeowners valued both environmental conservation and having attractive lawns. A cluster analysis divided respondents into two groups, with one more highly valuing environmental concerns, but membership in this group did not translate into better horticultural practices.
Engendering Behavior Change Through Single-Session Workshops: Lessons Learned from Extension's Private Well Initiative
Based on a follow-up mail survey conducted in 2009, we found that structured, one-time workshops can influence and impact participant behavior change. Survey results suggest that brief workshops, staffed by key resource personnel, can have a powerful influence on participant behavior change and fill an important gap in rural drinking water protection. As a result of these educational workshops, we have learned that single-session workshops with supporting materials can encourage: (1) Testing of drinking water wells, (2) Contacting resource experts for more information and assistance, and (3) Sharing management information with other private well owners.
Evaluating Continuing Education Needs and Program Effectiveness Using a Survey of Virginia's SHARP Logger Program Participants
Virginia's SHARP logger program is a Cooperative Extension program currently providing training to over 1,500 loggers, foresters, and others. We conducted a mail survey of SHARP loggers to characterize program participants, assess programming needs, and evaluate program effectiveness. Results indicate a diverse group of participants in terms of education and occupation. Responses illustrated a need for diverse continuing education class topics and formats. Sixty-two percent of participants reported making changes to their operation as a result of attending SHARP logger trainings. The most commonly reported changes included improvements in safety and implementation of BMPs for water quality.
The Effects of the Wildlife Habitat Evaluation Program on Targeted Life Skills
Does participation in the Wildlife Habitat Evaluation Program (WHEP) help develop life skills? 4-H members and coaches who participated in the National WHEP Contest between the years 2003 - 2005 and 2007 - 2009 were asked to complete an evaluation at the end of each contest. A portion of the evaluation asked participants and coaches to determine if six specific life skills (teamwork, oral communication, written communication, social skills, decision making, and leadership) were enhanced as a result of participation in the WHEP. Results suggest that participation in the WHEP has a positive influence on the development of these life skills.