April 2016 // Volume 54 // Number 2
A New Requirement for JOE Authors and April Highlights
To expedite the publication process for JOE submissions, I am requiring that all prospective authors apply a manuscript submission checklist to their work before submitting it. In "New Requirement for JOE Authors," I explain my reasoning and identify benefits I expect will result from implementation of the checklist. In "April JOE," I spotlight articles about new methods for addressing less tangible aspects of Extension work, Extension professionals' use of new technologies to overcome long-standing and contemporary challenges, and other interesting topics.
The Polarization of Agriculture: The Evolving Context of Extension Work
The general public's perceptions and attitudes about agriculture have become more diverse and divergent in recent years. Extension professionals can find themselves working with widely varied audiences whose members adhere to a range of agricultural values. This commentary focuses on how changes in agriculture have affected the work of Extension professionals. I argue that Extension professionals need to find ways to recognize what their own agricultural values are and to determine how those values will influence their work.
Participate in the JOE Discussion Forum on “The Polarization of Agriculture: The Evolving Context of Extension Work”
Ideas at Work
Wet Grain Delivery Advice: A Previously Impossible Extension Challenge Solved Through App Technology
The delivery of wet grain during harvest is a complex and constantly changing problem about which Extension professionals have been unable to offer more than general advice. By capitalizing on important characteristics of mobile devices, a new app enables producers to fully benefit from detailed information universities have generated on grain drying and costs associated with delivery of grain to different locales. Development of such an app demonstrates the power of apps and mobile devices in allowing Extension to deliver previously unattainable services to its clientele.
Using Modern Digital Photography Tools to Guide Management Decisions on Forested Land
Forestland management depends on assessing changes that occur over time. Long-term photo point monitoring is a low-cost method for documenting these changes. Using forestry as an example, this article highlights the idea that long-term photo point monitoring can be used to improve many types of land management decision making. Guidance on establishing photo points in the field and taking and cataloging images is presented. By implementing long-term photo point monitoring, landowners can document land management successes, and Extension professionals can use the resulting images to relay information on proper planning and management.
Building 4-H Program Capacity and Sustainability Through Collaborative Fee-Based Programs
Shrinking budgets and increased demands for services and programs are the norm for today's Extension professional. The tasks of procuring grants, developing fund raisers, and pursuing donors require a large investment of time and can lead to mission drift in the pursuit of funding. Implementing a collaborative fee-based program initiative can fund current and new programs, increase program capacity, and create program sustainability.
Supercharging Chaperones: A Meeting Toolkit for Maximizing Learning for Youth and Chaperones
Trip and conference chaperones are a wonderful resource in youth development programs. These well-intended volunteers, many parents of youth participating in the event, want the best experience for the youth but are not necessarily trained in positive youth development. A consequence of this circumstance is that not all chaperones provide the best opportunities for youth learning. Providing a card-based resource kit that allows for flexibility supports chaperones in running event meetings that are fun and engaging and that improve learning of content and development of life skills.
Training Law Enforcement Officials on Responding to Equine Calls
The occurrence of equine abuse/neglect cases is an ongoing issue. However, officials responding to equine cases are rarely experienced in handling horses. Therefore, workshops teaching basic horse husbandry were offered to better equip and prepare officials to respond to equine cases. Trainings consisted of both classroom and hands-on sessions. Responses to a survey conducted 4 to 6 months postworkshop indicated that the training had been very beneficial during subsequent equine investigations (80%) and that officials were more prepared to assess horses (85%). Thus, Extension faculty presented basic, factual information that was relevant to the needs of officials responding to equine cases.
Tools of the Trade
From Knowledge to Action: Tips for Encouraging and Measuring Program-Related Behavior Change
It is challenging to document the behavior changes that result from Extension programming. This article describes an evaluation method we call the "action items method." Unlike other approaches for measuring behavior change, this method requires program participants to define their own action plans as part of a program and then asks them about completing these goals several months after program completion. To the extent that we help participants identify specific behavioral changes that move them beyond their individual lives, we also exemplify the public value of Extension programming.
Volunteer Income Tax Assistance: A Community Coalition for Financial Education and Asset Building
Free tax programs, such as Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA), allow recipients of the earned income tax credit (EITC) to have their returns filed for free. VITA and other free tax programs are nationwide. However, each program is distinct, and the services provided by these programs differ. This article discusses a successful and unique community collaboration that can be used by Cooperative Extension professionals nationwide to assist consumers with tax preparation, introduce new paths for providing consumers with financial education, and open the door to involving consumers in additional financial management programming.
Using Social Media to Engage and Educate Teen Parents
Employing social media to engage youth in real-time learning is a growing trend. Although the use of social media by youth is increasing, barriers exist for Extension educators wanting to capitalize on youth interest in social media, including a lack of information on how best to employ social media in programming. This article highlights a teen parenting program's use of asynchronous learning through a variety of social media platforms.
An Integrated Pest Management Tool for Evaluating Schools
Having the ability to assess pest problems in schools is essential for a successful integrated pest management (IPM) program. However, such expertise can be costly and is not available to all school districts across the United States. The web-based IPM Calculator was developed to address this problem. By answering questions about the condition of a building and the behaviors of individuals who use it, any pest management professional or building manager can use the IPM Calculator to assess pest risk at a school campus and obtain IPM-based solutions to reduce that pest risk. This new tool is available online at http://ipmcalculator.com.
Food Safety Posters for Safe Handling of Leafy Greens
This article describes food safety educational tools depicting safe handling of leafy greens that are available as downloadable posters to Extension educators and practitioners (www.extension.iastate.edu). Nine visual-based minimal-text colored posters in English, Chinese, and Spanish were developed for use when formally or informally educating foodservice workers about safely handling leafy greens. A three-phase methodology included the use of expert knowledge, microbial sampling, and observational study in Iowa and Kansas foodservice operations. Use of the posters was shown to have positive impacts on both microbial levels and food safety behaviors, suggesting that the posters can be useful tools for Extension personnel.
Animal Agriculture in a Changing Climate Online Course: An Effective Tool for Creating Extension Competency
There is a need to create competency among Extension professionals on the topic of climate change adaptation and mitigation in animal agriculture. The Animal Agriculture in a Changing Climate online course provides an easily accessible, user-friendly, free, and interactive experience for learning science-based information on a national and regional level. The web-based curriculum is proving to be a useful tool and valuable resource for Extension educators in gaining knowledge and being better equipped to inform and influence livestock and poultry producers regarding climate issues.
MG SPROUTS: A Project-in-a-Box Approach to Educational Programming
MG SPROUTS was developed as a "project-in-a-box" program, a self-contained educational programming tool for Extension agents working with master gardener Extension volunteers (MGEVs). The program design incorporates programmatic materials and project management materials and follows best management practices for volunteer management. MG SPROUTS was tested in four Georgia counties in spring 2015. Agents, program coordinators, and MGEVs provided postproject evaluation via an online survey. Both agents/coordinators and MGEVs who used the MG SPROUTS materials during the pilot study reported a satisfactory experience. The project-in-a-box approach to educational programming enables agents to provide a meaningful and satisfactory experience for MGEVs during educational program delivery.
Resources for Underwater Robotics Education
4-H clubs can build and program underwater robots from raw materials. An annotated resource list for engaging youth in building underwater remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) is provided. This article is a companion piece to the Research in Brief article "Building Teen Futures with Underwater Robotics" in this issue of the Journal of Extension.
Physical Activity: A Tool for Improving Health (Part 3—Recommended Amounts of Physical Activity for Optimal Health)
By promoting physical activities and incorporating them into their community-based programs, Extension professionals are improving the health of individuals, particularly those with limited resources. This article is the third in a three-part series describing the benefits of physical activity for human health: (1) biological health benefits of physical activity, (2) mental health benefits of physical activity, and (3) recommended amounts of physical activity for optimal health. Each part of the series is designed to help Extension professionals effectively integrate physical activity into community programs and motivate individuals to maintain an interest in being physically active during and after a program.
The New Screen Time: Computers, Tablets, and Smartphones Enter the Equation
Emerging technologies attract children and push parents' and caregivers' abilities to attend to their families. This article presents recommendations related to the new version of screen time, which includes time with computers, tablets, and smartphones. Recommendations are provided for screen time for very young children and those in middle and late childhood. Recommendations for screen time for adults—particularly important when adults are around their children—are included as well. In addition, the article provides information about integrating the recommendations into practice with Extension and other community audiences.
Pipeline Easement and Right-of-Way Agreements
This article describes an Extension educational program designed to increase landowner knowledge about pipelines and address issues related to right-of-way agreements. Specific terms of right-of-way agreements in Ohio are often difficult to obtain because many companies forbid landowners from discussing contract details with others. Uninformed individuals have signed agreements not understanding how management of their land may change, what some of the provisions in a document mean, and how much monetary compensation companies are willing to pay for easements. Postmeeting evaluations indicated that knowledge was gained by clientele and that participants were better equipped to understand and negotiate easement agreements.
Capacity Building and Community Resilience: A Pilot Analysis of Education and Employment Indicators Before and After an Extension Intervention
This article reports on an analysis of the effects of a quasinatural experiment in which 16 rural communities participated in public discussion, leadership training, and community visioning as part of an Extension program at Montana State University. Difference-in-differences methods reveal that key U.S. Census socioeconomic indicators either improved more rapidly or declined more slowly in communities that took part in the program, relative to a statistically matched control group. These findings offer persuasive circumstantial evidence for the ability of Extension programs to build community resilience. The findings and methodology, therefore, have important implications for Extension's role in current public and academic resilience planning discourses.
A Formative Evaluation of the Children, Youth, and Families at Risk Coaching Model
In this article, we describe the results of a formative evaluation of a coaching model designed to support recipients of funding through the Children, Youth, and Families at Risk (CYFAR) initiative. Results indicate that CYFAR coaches draw from a variety of types of coaching and that CYFAR principle investigators (PIs) are generally satisfied with the coaches' methods. Areas in which PIs would like to see changes to the coaching model include amount of technical coaching and amount of help with specific CYFAR funding requirements. We review strategies for incorporating this feedback into practice and discuss implications for CYFAR and for Extension in general.
Fathers' Knowledge of Their Youth's Unsafe Behaviors on the Farm
The study discussed in this article examined the extent to which fathers were aware of unsafe farm behaviors engaged in by their youth. Fathers and youth provided information about the youth's behaviors on the farm, particularly related to tractors/large equipment. Fathers indicated whether they were familiar with the North American Guidelines for Children's Agricultural Tasks (NAGCAT). Youth engaged in numerous unsafe and dangerous behaviors of which their fathers were unaware. Fathers were not familiar with NAGCAT. Extension professionals from agriculture, family and consumer sciences, and 4-H youth development all have roles to play in educating parents about NAGCAT and youth farm safety.
A Qualitative Exploration of Entrepreneurial Learning Among Southern Arizona Small-Scale Farmers and Ranchers
Small-scale farmers and ranchers who participate in local food enterprise are challenged by a number of market uncertainties. These uncertainties include unpredictable consumer purchasing patterns, seasonal production variations, and relatively small customer bases. Moreover, farmers and ranchers turned local food entrepreneurs have limited access to business training and, thus, rely on experience and experimentation to guide their business decision making. This article draws on qualitative data to explore how farmers and ranchers who participate in Southern Arizona farmers' markets develop entrepreneurial knowledge and skills. Recommendations for how Extension educators can enhance the entrepreneurial learning of small-scale farmers and ranchers are provided.
Extension Master Gardener Social Media Needs: A National Study
An online survey was conducted to assess the feasibility of providing training on the use of social media for the Extension Master Gardener (EMG) program. Volunteers (n = 1,275) and coordinators (n = 111) responded. Findings indicate the existence of sufficient interest in a nationally coordinated social media training. Inclusion of social media as a qualifying activity in EMG programs should be explored. Findings support inclusion of volunteers in future surveys and the possible need for increased involvement of volunteers in setting program direction. Training is being developed on the basis of the data. Future surveying of the EMG population by using random sampling to more accurately define the audience is strongly encouraged.
Research in Brief
Personal Sustainability: Listening to Extension Staff and Observing Organizational Culture
Extension staff are increasingly challenged to do excellent work and balance their lives. University of Maine Cooperative Extension committed to a 2-year participatory action research project to support staff and to an organizational climate that encourages personal sustainability. With tools from ethnography and appreciative inquiry, staff engaged with colleagues through surveys, interviews, focus groups, and informal conversations. This article describes the richness of the process, the methodology, and the findings. Actions began early, as awareness was raised and people felt empowered. Recommendations resulting from the project address ways to support work-life balance, collegiality and connection, and staff connection to organizational vision.
Evaluation of a Cooperative Extension Curriculum in Florida: Food Modification for Special Needs
State and national surveys of adult family care homes identified a strong need for education on texture-modified food preparation and the nutritional needs of older adults. An Extension curriculum, Food Modification for Special Needs, was developed to provide an overview of chewing and swallowing problems, food texture, pureed food preparation, and the nutritional needs of older adults as well as hands-on skill development. An evaluation demonstrated that use of the curriculum resulted in significant impacts among workshop participants on perceived knowledge and skills gained and implementation of skills learned. Further in-state and national dissemination of the Food Modification for Special Needs curriculum is required.
Educating Farmers' Market Consumers on Best Practices for Retaining Maximum Nutrient and Phytonutrient Levels in Local Produce
Few farmers' market consumers are aware of how to retain optimal nutritional quality of produce following purchase. Our objective was to develop and evaluate educational materials intended to inform market consumers about best practices for storing, preserving, and consuming local produce to maximize nutrients and phytonutrients. Printed educational materials were developed and then evaluated via a survey of and interviews with Ohio farmers' market consumers. The materials were modified to reflect consumer comments, and finalized materials were distributed to farmers' markets throughout Ohio. The approach we used can be applied by other Extension professionals when developing educational materials for different audiences.
Building Teen Futures with Underwater Robotics
Preparing young Americans with science and technology skills has been on the forefront of educational reform for several years, and Extension has responded. Robotics projects have become a natural fit for 4-H clubs, with members' experiences ranging from using Lego® Mindstorms® and other "purchase and assemble" robotics kits to building and programming robots from raw materials. This article addresses one such club's impacts on educational engagement, career trajectory, and life skills development. An annotated resource list for engaging youth in building underwater robots is provided in the Tools of the Trade article "Resources for Underwater Robotics Education" in this issue of the Journal of Extension.
Keeping It Safe: Aging in Place Among Rural Older Adults
The purpose of the study addressed in this article was to identify ways to reduce risk and improve safe aging in place among rural older adults. Resident and Extension faculty and county educators visited study participants at home to assess functional capacity and the home environment. Extension professionals may be uniquely positioned to provide programming to help older adults age in place. Aging in place programming may help improve quality of life for older adults and their family members and caregivers.