December 2016 // Volume 54 // Number 6
Message from the Journal of Extension Editorial Committee We make the following key points about the direction of the journal:
We make the following key points about the direction of the journal:
Checking Math and December JOE
In the opening section of this Editor's Page, "Checking Math," I tell a story about an obsessive youngster and her stickler father as a foundation for requesting that prospective JOE authors refrain from submitting manuscripts containing mathematical errors. In "December JOE," I preview articles that stress the need for Extension to anticipate and prepare for critical changes occurring in our world. I also spotlight articles that offer new approaches to standard tasks and effective responses to organizational change, and I delineate a variety of other topics addressed in the issue.
The Internet of Things and Big Data: A Litmus Test for Extension?
The Internet of Things (IoT) and Big Data are radically changing the face of human activity, from driving our cars to preparing our food to managing our health. Billions of connections between machines and people will be directly tied to areas of life skills that Extension cares about. Can Extension gauge the impact of IoT and Big Data? How will Extension respond to the challenge of these technologies? What new skills should be included in Extension position descriptions? What organizational policies, support, and infrastructure will be needed? Will Extension proactively develop new organizational skills and programming relevant to digitally connected clients?
Participate in the JOE Discussion Forum on “The Internet of Things and Big Data: A Litmus Test for Extension?”
Ideas at Work
Sharing Resources: A Bistate Extension Specialist Position
As Extension budgets across the United States continue to tighten, sharing a specialist between states could become an increasingly effective way to provide high-quality programming at a lower total cost. This article describes the working modalities, benefits, challenges, and outputs of an existing two-state Extension consumer food safety specialist position. Overall, this bistate position has been beneficial to both states involved. The model could be implemented in other states, and the descriptions of aspects of the position provided in this article may be instructive for states considering such an option.
Teaching Multiple Cohorts in the Same Classroom
Extension serves an increasingly diverse community, with a number of program participants being new farmers, minority farmers, and low-income farmers. Since the 1980s, Washington State University Skagit County Extension has provided a tractor safety course to older youth farmers, aged 12 to 15. In 2010, a nonprofit farm incubator showed interest in having its members participate in the course, and new adult farmers and Latino farmers were introduced into a classroom of older youths. Meeting the needs of these distinct farming cohorts in a single classroom required a multimodal approach, the success of which is replicable in other Extension education programs.
Collaborative Writing as a Scholarship Activity: A Framework for Extension Faculty
As Extension faculty and staff work to meet the requirements for increased scholarship activities through multiple outlets, a collaborative writing activity can be an important instrument in one's academic toolbox. Writing collaboratively allows colleagues to support one another's individual strengths and work through concerns together. This shared endeavor can help Extension professionals translate and disseminate the impacts of and findings from Extension programming for academic and practitioner audiences.
The Local Food Grower's Behavior During Planning, Growing, Harvesting, and Selling
This article presents a perspective on the behavior of the local food grower during the market-related decision-making process. The relevant behavior is manifested during the planning, growing, and harvesting and selling phases of the agricultural business cycle. The local food grower faces a set of market alternatives from which, if applying a rational approach, he or she selects one option or a combination of options that allows for profit maximization. Decisions about timing of planting and harvesting are important and are dictated by market conditions and the biological nature of the grower's product. This article contains a number of suggestions for researchers and Extension specialists to consider relative to assisting local food growers.
Tools of the Trade
Implementing the 40 Gallon Challenge to Increase Water Conservation
The 40 Gallon Challenge is an easy-to-use, comprehensive indoor and outdoor water conservation educational tool. It can be used nationwide and easily incorporated into existing educational programs. Promotional materials and pledge cards are available on the 40 Gallon Challenge website and can be modified by educators. The website displays data related to the impacts of the educational tool nationwide, statewide, and countywide. As of the writing of this article, 10,395 people had read the indoor and outdoor water conservation practices and pledged to save approximately 1.8 million gal of water per day (645 million gal per year).
Online Orientation for 4-H Volunteers
The 4-H Online Volunteer Orientation Series provides an opportunity for volunteers to receive orientation at times and places that are convenient for them. Online orientation provides a means for efficiently orienting a large cadre of volunteers. Twenty voice-over PowerPoint presentations were created in three series: 4-H Camp (seven presentations), Volunteer Certifications (three presentations), and 4-H Clubs (10 presentations). Each presentation concludes with a five-question quiz designed to assess knowledge gained. Volunteers scoring 80% or higher receive credit. Volunteers who have completed orientation better understand and fulfill their roles, serve more effectively, and have a greater likelihood of continuing their service.
Resource for Evaluating the Economic Impact of Local Food System Initiatives
Local food system stakeholders are confronted with challenges when attempting to ascertain the economic impacts of food system investments. The U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Marketing Service commissioned a team of economists to develop a resource to provide support to stakeholders interested in understanding the economic impacts of local food system efforts. In this article, we explain the process of developing The Economics of Local Food Systems: A Toolkit to Guide Community Discussions, Assessments and Choices (a resource known as the Toolkit), and we describe the Toolkit contents, with the goal of encouraging Extension educators, community development professionals, and other stakeholders to conduct more rigorous evaluations of local food system initiatives.
Lessons Learned from Conducting Volunteer-Based Urban Forest Inventories on the Gulf Coast
Volunteer-based urban forest inventories are a common activity among Extension professionals; however, project facilitators often end up duplicating mistakes experienced previously by others. This article shares lessons learned from conducting several volunteer-based urban forest inventories. The lessons revolve around the themes of volunteer recruitment, communication with the public, private property access, project scope and time line, volunteer management, and efforts to increase efficiency. Through awareness of these lessons, Extension professionals can implement and adapt our successful strategies yet not repeat our mistakes. In turn, readers will increase the likelihood of successfully developing baseline measures while engaging the public in urban forest management.
MTurk 101: An Introduction to Amazon Mechanical Turk for Extension Professionals
Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk) is an online marketplace for labor recruitment that has become a popular platform for data collection. In particular, MTurk can be a valuable tool for Extension professionals. As an example, MTurk workers can provide feedback, write reviews, or give input on a website design. In this article we discuss the many uses of MTurk for Extension professionals and provide best practices for its use.
Leveraging Hispanic/Latino State Commissions to Advance Extension's Diversity Agenda
Many states have created Hispanic/Latino commissions to focus on the needs of their Hispanic/Latino populations. By viewing these state agencies as informational and capacity-building resources, Extension personnel can use the agencies to advance their own organizational and programmatic diversity agendas. To illustrate this point, this article describes the Hispanic/Latino Commission of Michigan, the agency's web page, its publishing of a Statewide Schedule of Events brochure in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, and use of the agency's outputs by Extension personnel as tools for planning activities that target Hispanics.
North Carolina Chefs Who Cultivate Restaurant Gardens: A Population with a Hunger for Extension Information
As part of a larger study designed to explore the gardening practices and educational needs of North Carolina chefs who cultivate restaurant gardens, the chefs' desired areas of knowledge and preferences for delivery of educational material were identified. As a result, a plan for North Carolina Cooperative Extension to use in developing educational programs for this population was completed. This article provides information on this emerging population and focuses on specific techniques Extension might use in developing educational programs that engage this audience.
Using Importance-Performance Analysis to Guide Extension Needs Assessment
Importance-performance analysis is a methodology that may allow Extension professionals to prioritize the characteristics of an issue, a resource, or so on that should receive the most attention. Through this approach, high priority is assigned to elements that clients are unsatisfied with but view as highly important. We explored applying the method to the selection of messages on water conservation. Findings are presented in the context of water conservation programming, but implications may apply across Extension. We recommend that Extension professionals consider using this methodology to analyze target audiences and prioritize associated communications.
Climate Change Challenges for Extension Educators: Technical Capacity and Cultural Attitudes
We surveyed Extension educators in the southern Great Plains about their attitudes and beliefs regarding climate change, their interactions with constituents surrounding climate change, and challenges they face in engaging constituents on the topic of climate change. Production-oriented and sociocultural challenges in meeting constituents' information needs exist. Educators reported (a) lacking capacity for addressing climate change issues and (b) needing information, especially regarding drought and extreme or unseasonable weather events and related management practices. Educators also identified a need for more educational resources, including print materials and online decision aids. Implications are relevant to educators working beyond the study area and in any agricultural production system.
Transforming the Knowledge Gap for Local Planning Officials: Impacts of Continuing Education in a Master Citizen Planner Program
In an era of increasing complexity, the majority of local land-use decisions in the United States are made by volunteer citizen planners. Often these elected or appointed volunteers enter their positions with a passion for their communities but without appropriate background training. The Michigan Citizen Planner Program was developed to address this gap. The study described in this article investigated the self-assessed impacts on graduates of basic and advanced training. Findings suggest that training conducted as the result of collaboration by university Extension, other state agencies, and nonprofit groups is essential to realizing the positive community development impacts expected by citizens and local officials.
Web-Based Geographic Information Systems: Experience and Perspectives of Planners and the Implications for Extension
Web-based geographic information system (GIS) technology, or web-based GIS, offers many opportunities for public planners and Extension educators who have limited GIS backgrounds or resources. However, investigation of its use in planning has been limited. The study described here examined the use of web-based GIS by public planning agencies. A 2013 web-based survey of 274 public planning agency staff throughout Wisconsin revealed that use of web-based GIS for planning tasks lags behind use of software-based GIS and that agency use is hampered by a number of barriers. The findings suggest that Extension professionals can help practitioners become more familiar and proficient with web-based GIS applications.
Factors Affecting Stakeholders' Willingness to Pay to Prevent the Spread of Aquatic Nuisance Species
Physical separation of the Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins has been identified as the most effective method for preventing the transfer of aquatic nuisance species, particularly Asian carp, from the Mississippi River Basin to the Great Lakes. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers selected Extension to conduct a study of a key stakeholder group, Great Lakes charter captains, as a first step in assessing public opinion on the issue. Results reveal that the charter captains overwhelmingly support basin separation. Expanded educational outreach related to aquatic nuisance species, basin separation, and so forth would improve the ability of clientele to make informed decisions regarding separation of the basins.
Minimizing Disparities and Developing Support by Identifying Differences in Confidence and Knowledge Related to Water Issues
Extension educators face challenges as they strive to keep up with critical issues in their communities, such as those surrounding water. A growing population and a diminishing water supply necessitate that Florida residents become more knowledgeable about water issues. We conducted research to determine how confident both the general public and decision makers are in Florida's water resources and to assess how aware both groups are of the state's water policies. The results revealed significant statistical differences between the two groups in almost every category analyzed. We propose relevant ways to engage in targeted programming that will bridge the gap between the general public and decision makers.
Research in Brief
Extension Professionals' Perspectives on Supporting Feedstock Production for Biofuels: Concerns, Challenges, and Opportunities
The development of successful bioenergy programs will depend on informed and prepared Extension professionals who are willing and equipped to provide technical support. A survey of Extension professionals in the Pacific Northwest revealed barriers to program development, including limits on time and knowledge and concerns about economic returns for biofuel crops. Without the promise of market opportunities, Extension professionals may be unwilling to devote requisite resources to bioenergy programs. However, government policies and mandates make the rise of biofuels highly likely. Extension professionals should look to the future and consider blending bioenergy education into existing programs.
Analyzing the Implementation of Nutrient Management Plans by Farmers: Implications for Extension Education
We conducted case studies on four Connecticut dairy farms to evaluate how well farmers implemented their nutrient management plans (NMPs). Our findings can help Extension educators develop programs to improve NMPs and NMP adoption by farmers. We identified three educational topic areas that would likely increase NMP understanding and acceptance: (a) soil testing protocol, results interpretation, and nutrient recommendations; (b) manure fertilizer-equivalent value, proper application, and effective distribution; and (c) costs and benefits of substituting on-farm manure for purchased commercial fertilizer. A new adaptive nutrient management program presents a timely opportunity for cost-effective and collaborative on-farm education efforts by Extension and the Natural Resources Conservation Service.
Southern Foresters' Perceptions of Climate Change: Implications for Educational Program Development
An understanding of foresters' perceptions of climate change is important for developing effective educational programs on adaptive forest management. We surveyed 1,398 foresters in the southern United States regarding their perceptions of climate change, observations and concerns about climatic and forest conditions, and knowledge of and interest in resilient forest management techniques and climate science. A majority (61%) agreed that climate change is occurring, and 14% agreed that it is caused by humans. Most respondents were interested in learning more about forest resilience and related concepts. Development of programming focused on managing for forest resilience in a changing climate is a prudent educational approach that builds on familiar risk-management strategies.
Good Agricultural Practices Certification for Small-Scale Produce Processors: A Case of Food Safety
A case study illustrates both the process undertaken by a small produce-processing facility to become certified as having food safety good agricultural practices (GAP) and associated assistance provided by Extension. Information was collected from four U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Marketing Service audits conducted over 2 years. The audits resulted in certification of the facility for processing southern peas and leafy greens at the Harmonized GAP with Global Markets Program Intermediate Level. The case study details the changes the facility implemented to become compliant with the requirements identified during the audits. It was concluded that broad and extensive Extension training and technical assistance could be needed to help small-scale processors become food safety GAP certified.
YA4-H! Youth Advocates for Health: Impact of a 4-H Teens-as-Teachers Program
This article reports the results of an evaluation of the YA4-H! Youth Advocates for Health—Teens as Teachers program. Consistent with previous research on the impact of teen teaching, the teens participating in the program gained confidence and skill with regard to teaching younger youths. The program also affected the teens' understanding that they are role models for younger youths and their desire to be role models. Additionally, the teens learned the content they taught and adopted new healthful behaviors. These results are promising and add to the growing body of evidence suggesting that teens learn and adopt practices they teach to younger youths.
Closing the Science Comprehension Achievement Gap Through the Use of an Extension Youth Development Science Comprehension Model
Improving youth science comprehension is critical to youth development, yet this intended outcome is often overlooked in terms of how Extension programs are delivered. The purpose of the study reported in this article was to determine through the assessment of potential student growth whether applying features of a youth science comprehension model to an Extension youth development program targeting underserved middle-school youths led to improved student academic achievement. Program delivery incorporating key features of the model resulted in improved scores for youths performing at or below grade level. These results suggest that the model offers a promising tool for improving youth science comprehension through Extension programming.
Opportunity to Improve Public Perceptions of Arthropods and Arthropod-Related Benefits
The general public may not recognize the value of conserving insects and spiders in home landscapes. We surveyed individuals to assess public perceptions of 10 arthropods—nine common insects and one common spider species—and to determine whether arthropod-related attitudes could be altered. Additionally, we collected data on survey respondent gender, age, and level of entomology education and found that level of entomology education was strongly associated with respondents' perceptions about arthropods. Moreover, 60% of respondents were willing to change their attitudes after learning about an arthropod's benefits. By promoting arthropods at outreach events, Extension educators could alter arthropod-related attitudes among the general public.
Economically Disadvantaged Minority Girls' Knowledge and Perceptions of Science and Engineering and Related Careers
This article addresses economically disadvantaged minority girls' knowledge and perceptions of science and engineering and the influence of their experiences with science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) on their choices for future careers. We interviewed three girls who participated in a 4-H–led gender-inclusive STEM program. Our findings suggest that the girls lacked opportunities to learn STEM in out-of-school settings and that they had very limited knowledge about STEM professions. They did not associate their job aspirations as being related to STEM, even though they were. To better prepare such girls to engage in STEM, educators need to provide long-term interventions that are supported by both out-of-school programs and families.
Windfall Wealth and Shale Development in Appalachian Ohio: Preliminary Results
The response by agriculture/natural resources and community development Extension educators to shale development in Ohio has been proactive. There is a need, however, to understand the impact that shale development is having broadly on families and communities and specifically as it relates to lease payments and the perceptions and realities of resource windfalls or sudden wealth. This article presents the preliminary results of a qualitative study. In the course of data analysis, themes emerged around the topics of money, family and community life, and land. A discussion of the role of Extension professionals is provided.