December 2013 // Volume 51 // Number 6
JOE—50 Years & Counting
In "JOE—50 Years & Counting" I call attention to the support JOE enjoys from Extension Directors, highlight the first Commentary, and describe the last observance of JOE's 50th anniversary celebration, the Outstanding Feature of 2013 Award, to be announce next February. In "December JOE" I call attention to just eight of the 36 fine articles in the issue, which, together, make a fitting end to another good year and a great 50 years.
Celebrating JOE's First 50 Years: A Public Good
Understanding our history provides insight to shape our vision of JOE's future. As we implement Extension's mission, defining our own personal philosophy is often overlooked. Instead, the focus is on the institution's policies, procedures, and practices. Extension's public good is derived from its engagement with communities. Such engagement requires a commitment among Extension's educators; this commitment must be grounded in understanding engaged scholarship, an evolving process to which JOE must contribute.
Participate in the JOE Discussion Forum on “Celebrating JOE's First 50 Years: A Public Good”
Initiating and Sustaining Conversations Between Organic Farmers and Extension
The relationship between advocates of organic agriculture and land-grant university agents has evolved significantly over the past century, but land-grant research and Extension agents still confront many challenges to working with organic farmers. This article reviews the barriers to communication that have developed over the last century and initiates a discussion on how to facilitate successful collaborations among Extension agents, researchers, and organic farmers.
Participate in the JOE Discussion Forum on “Initiating and Sustaining Conversations Between Organic Farmers and Extension”
Ideas at Work
Repeat Customer Success in Extension
Four multi-session research-based programs were offered by two Extension specialist in one rural Missouri county. Eleven participants who came to multiple Extension programs could be called "repeat customers." Based on the total number of participants for all four programs, 25% could be deemed as repeat customers. Repeat customers had increased attendance and participation (attending at least 60% of the class sessions) as well as developed relationships with other participants. One key to keeping participants involved is to schedule future programs to begin shortly after the current program ends to keep engagement and excitement levels high.
College Readiness for Rural Youth Initiative: Creating a Climate for Success
College Readiness for Rural Youth is an innovative, postsecondary education bridge program that gives youth the opportunity to explore college attainability, admissions, financial aid, and application processes. The initiative aims to support academic success and transition to college for rural youth.
Community Leadership: A New Academic Major
Complexity and rapid change prompt the need for institutions of higher education to reexamine curricula and programs to ensure they are preparing graduates for 21st century career opportunities. At Ohio State University, conversion from quarters to semesters provided the impetus to revisit the undergraduate curriculum and create a new Community Leadership major. The new major was designed to prepare students for future Extension outreach and other leader roles to influence positive change in communities through learning partnerships. Development of the undergraduate major and its implications for Extension and leadership workforce preparation are described.
West Virginia Interpretive Guide Training: A Collaborative Effort
West Virginia University's Extension Service partnered with the Recreation, Parks, and Tourism Resources Program to improve guide performance in West Virginia's tourism industry. The result of this partnership is a West Virginia Interpretive Guide Training program aimed at providing low-cost, widely available training to guides throughout the state. The course is divided into two components—a set of online modules and an in-person skill assessment workshop. We expect the benefits of completing the West Virginia Interpretive Guide Training to be similar to the benefits gained by completing national certification courses.
Utilizing a State Level Volunteer Recognition Program at the County Level
Volunteer recognition is an important component of Extension programs. Most land-grant universities have implemented a state volunteer recognition program. Extension professionals, however, are too overburdened with meetings, programs, and activities to effectively recognize volunteers locally. Utilizing a state model is an efficient means of recognizing volunteers. This article presents an idea that Extension professionals can utilize to implement a statewide volunteer recognition program on the county level. The first step is to appoint a volunteer recognition committee that will utilize the state recognition categories and identify and nominate worthy volunteers for their programmatic contributions at both the county and state levels.
Partnering with School Nutrition Professionals to Promote Fruit and Vegetable Intake Through Taste-Testing Activities
The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act (HHFKA) of 2010 sets new nutrition standards for schools, requiring them to serve a greater variety and quantity of fruits and vegetables. Extension educators in New Jersey partnered with school nutrition professionals to implement a school wellness initiative that included taste-testing activities to support schools in achieving the milestones established by the HHFKA. Results indicated that "previewing" foods may influence students' interest in, and acceptance of, new foods, opening up outreach and partnership opportunities for Extension educators to consider when working to promote school wellness.
Food Preservation Mini-Modules Offer Options for Learners and Extension Staff
Renewed interest in growing and purchasing locally grown foods quadrupled requests for food preservation classes. Economic times tightened budgets, decreasing staffing levels of Extension educators. Offering options via the Internet was a natural progression to meet the increased demand. Extension educators created 20 5-minute online video-like Food Preservation Mini-Modules (http://www1.extension.umn.edu/food-safety/preserving/modules/). Over 10,000 home preservers have viewed the online modules. One hundred percent of the participants indicate use of this Internet technology was a good way to receive food preservation information. This article describes how diversifying program portfolios by offering online and classroom options provides choice for the learner and Extension staff.
Tools of the Trade
Recommendations for Establishing Extension Programming for Organic Farmers
As organic agriculture continues to grow, Extension is frequently being called to expand its efforts with organic farmers. However, this non-traditional audience has not historically requested or readily accepted information from Extension and will require Extension to use outreach methods more adapted for this grassroots-based audience. We conducted an extensive literature review of Extension efforts with organic farmers in order to develop recommendations for future Extension programming. The primary strand connecting them is the importance of developing informed Extension efforts by participating in existing organic farmer networks.
The PKRC's Value as a Professional Development Model Validated
After a brief review of the 4-H professional development standards, a new model for determining the value of continuing professional development is introduced and applied to the 4-H standards. The validity of the 4-H standards is affirmed. 4-H Extension professionals are encouraged to celebrate the strength of their standards and to engage the wider field of professional development in dialogue.
Generating Potential Solutions for Dealing with Problem Volunteers
Extension agents are often required to work with challenging volunteers or to problem-solve difficult volunteer scenarios. However, many Extension agents receive little to no training in conflict management. At the 2013 Extension Master Gardener Coordinators' Conference, a breakout session was held to discuss the management of difficult volunteers and related issues. Master Gardener Coordinators were given several potential "problem volunteer" scenarios to discuss, so that potential solutions could be developed and shared. Although we were not able to measure the efficacy of the potential solutions, they represent the combined wisdom and experience of Master Gardener coordinators from across the country.
Meeting a Growing Demand: Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service's Early Childhood Educator Online Training Program
Demand for professional development training in the early childhood field has grown substantially in recent years. To meet the demand, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service's Family Development and Resource Management unit developed the Early Childhood Educator Online Training Program, a professional development system that currently offers nearly 100 courses (142 contact hours) to child care professionals in multiple languages. Since 2010, over 300,000 online courses have been completed by child care providers and directors. Outcomes from the program demonstrate how technology can be used to augment Extension educators' face-to-face training efforts by dramatically expanding outreach to this growing audience.
Visit NJ Farms: An Online Resource to Support Statewide Marketing of Agritourism
The popularity of agritourism is growing nationally. Central to the success of any agritourism operation is effective marketing. Visit NJ Farms is an interactive website designed as a centralized marketing platform for New Jersey agritourism operators. The website was developed to provide farmers with an easy-to-use tool to enter farm information, agritourism activities, and special events in a searchable database of statewide agritourism activities. Individuals interested in visiting a farm are able to search for specific agritourism activities or browse special on-farm events. Website visitors can select farms of interest to visit and develop customized travel itineraries with driving directions.
Determining Interest in YouTube Topics for Extension-Authored Video Development
With an audience of over 1 billion users per month, YouTube is an attractive medium for delivering Extension programming. Amidst growing competition for viewership, determining content that is in demand by Extension clientele on YouTube is a daunting challenge that Extension educators face. The YouTube Search function of Google Trends and monitoring of existing YouTube views for related content can help guide topic selection in developing Extension-authored video content. Example applications of these tools are detailed to show how to select relevant YouTube topics with viral appeal and extend the reach of Extension programming.
4-H Science Inquiry Video Series
Studies support science inquiry as a positive method and approach for 4-H professionals and volunteers to use for teaching science-based practices to youth. The development of a science inquiry video series has yielded positive results as it relates to youth development education and science. The video series highlights how to conduct science-rich activities for classroom-based education and afterschool programs and through 4-H club settings. With access to the videos as a training tool to teach the science inquiry process, 4-H professionals and volunteers have greater potential to provide meaningful, intentional, and impactful learning opportunities in science for youth participants.
Community Involvement to Reduce Insect Threats to Urban Forests
While urban trees increase property values and improve human health, healthy urban trees also reduce potential infestation of nearby native forests. We developed a collaborative program to raise public consciousness of risks to trees from invasive insects before injury has occurred. The Nevada Department of Agriculture entomologist trained Extension Master Gardeners to recognize the threats, signs, and symptoms of alien arthropod species. They then taught classes in venues around the state, bringing awareness of potential problems. By 2013, over 700 professionals and local residents had attended a class, increasing the number of educated and concerned observers around Nevada.
The University of Florida IFAS (UF/IFAS) Aquatic Weed Control Short Course: A Statewide Training Program for Pesticide Applicators
The University of Florida IFAS Aquatic Weed Control Short Course is an Extension program that has been in existence since the 1980’s. A primary goal of the program is to provide training to Florida’s licensed pesticide applicators and individuals seeking initial licensing. Historically, surveys reveal that the vast majority gained useful knowledge and insights applicable to their situations, their expectations for learning were met, and they were overwhelmingly satisfied with their experience. Stakeholders include individuals from a diversity of employment sectors with varying levels of experience. Results show that the needs of these stakeholders are being met by the annual event.
Straw Bales as a Planting Medium
The childhood obesity epidemic in America is a national health crisis (Let's Move, 2008). Areas across the nation exist with low access to healthy food by either being low income or more than a mile from a supermarket. Gardening has become a popular route to provide access to healthy foods. However, arid conditions and poor soils in the Southwest contribute to an on-going and challenging effort to grow fresh food supplies. To alleviate these problems, Extension agents teach that straw bale gardens offer an easy planting medium with multiple advantages.
Transformative Learning in Practice: Examples from Extension Education
Transformative learning can lead to great awareness of one's own and others' personal perspectives and result in changes in how participants understand important social issues and how they choose to take action or not. Three examples of Extension teaching that embrace transformative learning are presented: a phenomenological approach to interaction with landowners; forest story cards; and scenario planning. These tools have been shown to be useful in forestry and may be useful in many Extension disciplines.
African-Americans' connection to the land is rapidly disappearing, and with it goes the cultural, political, and socio-economic capital that has helped this population, especially in southern states. There has been a severe decline in black landownership since 1910, resulting in rural counties with predominantly black populations becoming pockets of enduring poverty. Judicious investments in efforts to solve black land loss may lead to solutions to a larger problem: engagement of non-industrial private forestland owners in sustainable land management. Strengthening black forest-based communities as places to invest and live can build on this rich Southern heritage.
Understanding the Long-Term Benefits of a Latino Financial Literacy Education Program
The long-term impact of a Latino financial literacy program was evaluated with a sample of relatively recent immigrant populations in southern Minnesota. Telephone and face-to-face interviews were conducted with participants 6 months post program completion. Results indicate that improvements in knowledge and skills were retained and that these learning were applied to make improvements in participants' financial situations. Participants acknowledged that more important than gaining knowledge was learning how to apply what they have learned. Implications for Extension are offered in terms of those factors that promoted the effectiveness of the financial literacy education.
Food Safety Knowledge, Behavior, and Attitudes of Vendors of Poultry Products Sold at Pennsylvania Farmers' Markets
A needs assessment survey was developed to assess the knowledge and attitudes of poultry vendors at farmers' markets in Pennsylvania, on food safety, regulation, and poultry production. Vendors were administered a 32-question paper survey, in person, during market hours. The results revealed critical vendor practices and identified important vendor knowledge gaps and attitudes on food safety and poultry processing. The data obtained from the study will aid in the development of future farmers' market research, as well as generating training and outreach materials on food safety for vendors selling meat and poultry products at farmers' markets.
Do Farmers' Markets Improve Diet of Participants Using Federal Nutrition Assistance Programs? A Literature Review
Farmers' markets have emerged as one health strategy to improve the access and availability of fresh foods for limited-resource audiences using federal nutrition assistance programs, although their effectiveness on dietary intake is not well understood. The review reported here evaluates the strengths and weaknesses of existing research about the dietary outcomes of accessing farmers' markets, focusing on federal nutrition assistance programs tied to farmers' market initiatives. The comprehensive literature review includes a total of six total articles published between January 2005 and January 2012. The review highlights the need for more comprehensive and systematic research.
Building Supportive Networks Among Agricultural Innovators Through a Symposium on Dryland Organic Farming
Extension can play a valuable role by bringing together those who are pioneering innovative practices. We planned, built, and evaluated an Extension symposium on dryland organic agriculture. Post-symposium evaluations indicated that this process disseminated regionally relevant information; fostered networks among producers, researchers, and the organic processing and feed industries; enhanced trust among stakeholders; and increased interest in expanding organic production. Ninety-five percent of respondents indicated that they established new business relationships within 6 months of the symposium. A unique aspect of our project was the enhancement of social capital between geographically separated rural localities.
Demographic Factors Affecting the Adoption of Multiple Value-Added Practices by Oklahoma Cow-Calf Producers
Value-added programs are continually promoted by Extension personnel as avenues for improving cow-calf profitability, but producer adoption of value-added practices lags in spite of research that validates the value of these practices. Identifying producer characteristics that increase the likelihood of value-added practice adoption is critical to developing successful outreach efforts. Results from a survey of Oklahoma beef producers on value-added practice adoption indicate that multiple demographic variables influence a producer's likelihood of practice adoption. For Extension specialists, results can help in targeting likely adopters and developing methods to overcome barriers to adoption by producers less likely to adopt.
Defining Audience Segments for Extension Programming Using Reported Water Conservation Practices
A tool from social marketing can help Extension agents understand distinct audience segments among their constituents. Defining targeted audiences for Extension programming is a first step to influencing behavior change among the public. An online survey was conducted using an Extension email list for urban households receiving a monthly lawn and garden newsletter. The results describe particular constituent groups or segments, defined by their landscape conservation practices. Extension agents can use audience segmentation to design programming that targets the behaviors, expectations, and lifestyles of specific members of their community and identify emerging issues.
The Impact of the Media in Influencing Extension's Perceptions of Methamphetamine
The study reported here explored media dependency and moral panic involving methamphetamine perceptions among a national sample of Extension Directors through survey methodology. With a 70.0% response rate, the questionnaire concentrated on demographics; methamphetamine knowledge, information sources, and dependency; and perceptions of the media. Supporting the media dependency and moral panic theories, 85.0% perceived the media as their primary source of methamphetamine information. Yet 90.3% of Extension Directors possessed inaccurate methamphetamine use perceptions.
Beginning Farmers: Will They Face Up to Safety and Health Hazards?
The study reported here assessed the farm safety and health training needs of beginning farmers in Pennsylvania to help educators develop training workshops and materials to meet those needs. Results of the online survey indicate that participants highly value farm safety, consider themselves to have mostly minimal to moderate skills relative to the safe operation of farms, and are willing to attend safety training workshops. The results of the study provide direction to Extension educators in designing farm safety and health training for this growing constituent group.
Research in Brief
Does Evaluation Competence of Extension Educators Differ by Their Program Area of Responsibility?
Raising evaluation capacity is not an easy task unless the evaluation competence of Extension professionals in each program area is identified. The study reported here identified whether level of knowledge and skills and needs for further training in program evaluation vary for Extension educators based on their program area. A total of 752 Extension educators participated in the study through an online survey. Differences were observed for evaluation competence and further training needs between Extension educators among program areas. Therefore, offering training for Extension educators based on evaluation competence and the area of responsibility is recommended for optimum training outcomes.
The Similarities Between Volunteer Behavior and Consumer Behavior: A Study of Volunteer Retention
The study reported here sought to determine if volunteer behavior mirrored consumer behavior with respect to loyalty. It was established that in the same way that consumer satisfaction with a good or service leads to repurchase, satisfaction from a volunteer experience leads to higher volunteer retention and commitment to the organization. Recommendations are made to: (1) clearly and continuously communicate the significant role volunteers play in a young person's life; (2) provide new and challenging experiences for existing volunteers; and (3) ensure that all volunteers feel accepted by all members of the Extension office.
Case Study of Senior Cohousing Development in a Rural Community
Senior cohousing, a type of cohousing that focuses on adults age 55 or older, is recent information to Extension educators. The study reported here examined the development of senior cohousing in a rural community. The programming stage of the development of a rural senior cohousing located in a town in the Midwest was observed for the study. The six components of senior cohousing: Participatory Process; Deliberate Neighborhood Design; Extensive Common Facilities; Complete Resident Management; Non-Hierarchal Structure; and Separate Income Sources (Durrett, 2009) were observed. Introducing senior cohousing to Extension educators may help them to present housing options for older adults.
Adoption of Integrated Pest Management Practices Among Oklahoma Greenhouse Producers: A Case Study for Experiential Learning
An instruction- and experience-based workshop was conducted for Oklahoma greenhouse producers to teach principles of integrated pest management (IPM) for common arthropod pests of greenhouse crops. Workshop effectiveness was evaluated using a pre- and post-test instrument to measure changes in knowledge and attitudes about IPM and current use and intention to adopt IPM practices. Findings indicate the objectives were accomplished as participants reported significant increases in IPM knowledge, a marked acceptance of IPM practices, and a willingness to adopt IPM. Extension workshops that combine classroom instruction and hands-on demonstration can be used effectively to teach relevant concepts to stakeholders.
Measuring the Impact of Termite Prevention Curricula in Hawaii Public Schools in an Area-Wide Extension Program
The efficacy of Educate to Eradicate, a K-12 service-learning science curricula developed as part of a statewide, community-based Extension effort for termite prevention, was evaluated. The curricula use termite biology and control as the basis for science education and have been implemented in over 350 Hawaii public school classrooms with more than 12,530 students from 2001 to present. Student surveys and work samples were used to measure changes in student knowledge, behavior, and engagement. Use of school curricula in Extension programs reaches a large public audience and encourages long-term continuation of community pest prevention efforts.
Perceptions of Texas 4-H Livestock Ambassadors on Career Development, Higher Education, and Leadership Development
Selected 4-H youth participated in the Texas 4-H Livestock Ambassador program. Forty-five youth participated in the 3-day program delivered by university professors and staff, Texas AgriLife Extension faculty and industry representatives. An instrument was developed and administered to the Texas 4-H Livestock Ambassadors at the end of their first year of service to evaluate their perceptions regarding the perceived impacts the program had on: 1) career goals, 2) higher education opportunities, and 3) leadership development. The students perceived the Texas 4-H Livestock Ambassador Program increased their understanding of career development, higher education, and leadership development.
Expanding Cooperative Extension's Audience: Establishing a Relationship with Cowboy Church Members
The study reported here provided a descriptive report on cowboy churches, while identifying the potential for Extension-cowboy church collaborations and examining the direct implications to Extension. The diffusion of innovations conceptualized the qualitative study. Semi-structured, face-to-face and phone interviews were conducted with 10 adults from cowboy churches. Findings revealed relative advantages for Extension-cowboy church collaborations, areas of compatibility, and ample opportunities for trialibility. Disseminating nutrition, animal science, and youth development information to cowboy church members may establish a relationship between the two groups. Extension could gain positive advocates in local communities through educating and establishing relationships with cowboy church members.