December 2017 // Volume 55 // Number 6
Editorial Aspects of Program and Study Design and December JOE Highlights
The "Editorial Aspects of Program and Study Design" section of this Editor's Page presents two compelling reasons authors should consider editorial matters while developing programs and designing studies. "December JOE Highlights" draws attention to the plethora of articles in the issue devoted to the subject of new technologies and identifies other topics highlighted in the issue.
Necessary Role of Extension in Development of Agricultural Regulations
Extension professionals are often sought out to provide technical information for and consult on agricultural issues. However, it is not widely known that Extension professionals can fulfill an important niche in assisting with developing regulations. Indeed, there is no other organization better suited for this role. In the State of New Jersey, Extension faculty are appointed to regulatory boards and committees as neutral parties who can provide nonbiased, science-based information. Extension faculty in the state have become trusted resources related to providing information for legislated programs, such as right-to-farm regulations, and agricultural conflict resolution.
Participate in the JOE Discussion Forum on “Necessary Role of Extension in Development of Agricultural Regulations”
Ideas at Work
The Money Mentors Program: Increasing Financial Literacy in Utah Youths
Utah 4-H and Fidelity Investments collaborated on a program for increasing the financial literacy of teens and children. The collaboration resulted in positive impacts for both Extension and Utah youths. Extension benefited through partnership with a corporation that provided content expertise, volunteers, and funding for a financial literacy program. Youths benefited from improved financial literacy. A Teens Reaching Youth (TRY) team approach was used for the training of 81 teens, who then taught 530 youths statewide. The curriculum addressed research-based financial concepts through activities and technologies that were interactive, appealing, and engaging. The program development and implementation processes may serve as models for other Extension programs, and the curriculum is free to download.
Tinkering with Technology: A Library Workshop to Support 4-H Youth Development
When University of Idaho (UI) Extension brought the Idaho 4-H Teen Conference to UI's main campus, the conference organizers collaborated with UI librarians to organize a workshop in the library's newly established makerspace, the Making, Innovating, and Learning Laboratory (MILL). In the MILL, the students used cutting-edge technology to foster new or existing interests in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). This article describes how Extension and 4-H youth development professionals can team with librarians to use library makerspaces to introduce 4-H high school students to STEM technologies and digital literacies that will be necessary for jobs of the future.
Pioneering Extension Nutrition Education with iPad Apps: A Development Story
Technology can be an effective vehicle for Extension nutrition education. Body Quest: Food of the Warrior is a childhood obesity prevention initiative of the Alabama Cooperative Extension System that successfully incorporates technology in the classroom. With Body Quest, students learn about healthful eating through blended learning involving both classroom instruction and self-directed e-learning via apps. Seven iPad apps excite students and engage them in the learning process. Extension professionals can benefit from our lessons learned for creating a successful app.
Tools of the Trade
Mobilizing Rural Communities to Prevent Childhood Obesity: A Tool Kit
The tool kit Mobilizing Rural Communities to Prevent Childhood Obesity is the product of a seven-state multidisciplinary research project focused on enhancing obesity prevention efforts by integrating community coaching into the work of rural community coalitions. The interactive tool kit is available at no cost both in print form and online, and it consists of five tutorials that present best practices and lessons learned throughout the research project. Extension professionals working within health promotion coalitions may wish to use or promote the tool kit. Coalition members can complete the activities contained in the tool kit individually or as a group.
Request for Support: A Tool for Strengthening Network Capacity
A request for support (RFS) is a tool that is used to strengthen network capacity by prioritizing needs and optimizing learning opportunities. Within University of Minnesota Extension, we implemented an RFS process through an online survey designed to help leaders of food networks identify and rank learning and capacity-building needs and indicate their preferred methods for partnering with us to meet those needs. The tool was effective in enabling us to systematize teaching and engagement and tailor efforts to the needs and assets identified through the survey. Other Extension professionals can adapt the tool to guide their work with networks.
Using Survey IDs to Enhance Survey Research and Administration
Survey IDs are short strings of unique characters assigned to each recipient in a sample population. Extension research can benefit from the improved organization of survey implementation and data collection, better researcher-respondent communication, and reduced survey material costs supported through the use of survey IDs. This article outlines how survey IDs can provide a more efficient approach to survey administration and data management and includes suggestions about overcoming some limitations of survey IDs. Best practices for creating and using survey IDs when organizing and administering survey research also are suggested.
Reliability Analysis of the Adult Mentoring Assessment for Extension Professionals
The Adult Mentoring Assessment for Extension Professionals will help mentors develop an accurate profile of their mentoring style with adult learners and identify areas of proficiency and deficiency based on six constructs—relationship, information, facilitation, confrontation, modeling, and vision. This article reports on the reliability of this new instrument. Extension agents in 10 southern states completed the assessment, and each construct was analyzed through the use of Cronbach's alpha procedures. All six constructs were well within the acceptable range of reliability. Personnel in other Extension systems and similar organizations can now be confident using this tool for training and development purposes.
Using Clickers for Data Collection for Enterprise Budgets
Audience response receivers, or clickers, provide a convenient and efficient way to collect data for developing enterprise budgets. The use of clickers allows the Extension specialist to ask growers for individual farm data while guaranteeing confidentiality and anonymity. In addition, setting up a session for collecting the data from a panel of producers is less costly and time consuming than conducting one-on-one interviews. But perhaps the greatest advantage of this methodology is that it allows for keeping up with the rapid pace of change in growers' practices.
Field Day Success Loop
Field days continue to be useful for Extension professionals conducting outreach with farmers, so long as those events incorporate an interpersonal, farmer-led instructional style and are followed up with an evaluation strategy that documents the long-term influences field day attendees have on their peers. At Iowa Learning Farms, we have formulated a successful method for conducting field days that has led to a set of progressive impacts we refer to as the "field day success loop." By drawing on the multifaceted approach to evaluation that contributes to the success loop, Extension professionals can strengthen their own field days and track the long-term impact of farmers' influence on their peers regarding implementing conservation practices.
Recognizing Linguistic Cues to Align Financial Coaching Strategies with the Transtheoretical Model of Change
Financial coaching is more effective if a finance professional understands where a client is in the process of change. This article presents five mini scenarios exemplifying the stages of change as they apply to clients receiving financial coaching as well as a sampling of coaching strategies useful for helping clients move through those stages. In particular, the focus of each mini scenario is language used by clients that can provide clues about the stage of change the client is in. Financial management Extension professionals can use the information presented to recognize linguistic cues related to stages of change and align coaching strategies appropriately.
Visionmaker.NYC: An Online Landscape Ecology Tool to Support Social-Ecological System Visioning and Planning
The Welikeia project and the corresponding free online tool Visionmaker.NYC focus on the historical landscape ecologies of New York City. This article provides a brief introduction to online participatory tools, describes the Visionmaker tool in detail, and offers suggested ways to use the tool for Extension professionals based in and outside New York City. This information provides a basis for best practices Extension professionals can apply when using Visionmaker to support ecological thinking and participatory planning to catalyze change among urban residents.
Engaging Participants Without Leaving the Office: Planning and Conducting Effective Webinars
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service has been developing and refining webinar delivery practices since 2012. On the basis of a review of existing literature and our own experiences, we have established methods for necessary planning, organization of content and people, and effective delivery of high-quality webinars. We have distilled those methods into a collection of best practices. By using those best practices, which we identify in this article, Extension educators can deliver virtual learning experiences that are engaging and enjoyable for all parties involved.
Organizational System for the LEGO WeDo 2.0 Robotics System
In this article, we explain an organizational system for the new LEGO Education WeDo 2.0 Core Set used in 4-H robotics; in school enrichment, afterschool, and other youth robotics programs; and by hobbyists. The system presented is for organizing WeDo parts into a translucent parts tray that includes part names and numbers. The article provides step-by-step instructions for obtaining needed materials and constructing the parts inventory card. The system allows for personalization of the parts card to facilitate equipment management.
A Web-Based Chill Hours App for Fruit Growers
Many fruit plants have a chill hour requirement for breaking dormancy. Various models estimate chilling, but two models are commonly used for fruit crops. From 2000 to 2016, chill hour data were collected by Mississippi State University experiment station employees as well as by local fruit producers; however, the number of participants in the process dwindled over time. To address this issue, we developed a mobile-friendly web application to interface with Weather Underground data. From these data, fruit growers can assess growing conditions that affect plant physiology and prepare for events in the upcoming season. Extension professionals can introduce the app to fruit growers in their areas.
Using Real Colors to Transform Organizational Culture
Extension educators are frequently tasked with strengthening organizations they collaborate with or provide education to. When a county government in Wisconsin experienced significant personnel changes in a span of less than 18 months, department heads contacted Extension to request professional development and team-building education for their staffs. Extension educators facilitated a series of Real Colors workshops that were attended by over 300 participants and transformed the county's organizational culture. Workshop evaluations and behavior change reported by the county administrator provided evidence of this transformation.
The Contribution of Urban 4-H to Social Capital and the Implications for Social Justice
The idea that equal education exists in the United States is a misconception, and positive youth development programs are a proposed response to inequitable education. Youth development programs have the potential to increase one's social capital, particularly for youths who are marginalized by inequitable access to quality education. The study described here focused on the contribution of urban positive youth development to social capital and social justice. Findings indicate that 4-H initiatives related to social capital are reaching marginalized youths. However, barriers are preventing 4-H from reaching these youths adequately and/or consistently.
Establishing a Common Language: The Meaning of Research-Based and Evidence-Based Programming (in the Human Sciences)
This article describes the development, implementation, and exploratory evaluation of a professional development series that addressed educators' knowledge and use of the terms research-based and evidence-based within Human Sciences Extension and Outreach at one university. Respondents to a follow-up survey were more likely to select correctly the commonly accepted standard for each term, and they reported asking more questions, talking with others, examining programs' evidence bases, and placing more value on fidelity and evaluation following participation in the professional development series. Educator reactions to the series were generally positive, although researchers interested in designing like programs might consider engaging educators within the context of their preexisting knowledge levels.
Exploring Employee Readiness for Change in a State Extension System
Understanding factors that influence employee readiness for change is essential for successful organizational change. We examined variables linked to employee readiness for change in one state's Extension system. Results revealed high-quality employee-supervisor relationships, neither high nor low levels of resistance to change, and somewhat high levels of readiness for change. Respondents with more years of service, more time working for their current supervisors, and greater resistance to change reported lower levels of readiness for change. We share implications in an effort to help increase successful organizational change efforts.
Preparing Future Professionals for Holistic Family and Consumer Sciences Programming
It is critical that the value of Extension family and consumer sciences as a broadly focused profession be recognized both in and out of Extension. Establishing universally recognized competencies and assuring that agents possess those capabilities are vital steps to securing and maintaining the integrity of the profession and its value to those it serves. University of Tennessee Extension has developed a process for assessing basic competencies of newly hired agents and responding to their competency gaps with targeted training.
Understanding Predictors of Nutrient Management Practice Diversity in Midwestern Agriculture
Agriculture's negative effect on water quality has become increasingly well documented. Farmers have a range of conservation practices available, yet rate of adoption is not optimal. Extension and other agricultural stakeholders play a key role in promotion of conservation practice adoption. We used survey data to examine relationships between farmers' integration in agricultural social networks and diversity of conservation practices used. Farmers who were more engaged in agricultural organizations and social networks tended to report greater diversity in nutrient best management practices. Conversely, less "connected" farmers reported less management practice diversity. Opportunities for Extension to engage with both groups exist.
Drones in Extension Programming: Implementation of Adult and Youth Activities
The use of unmanned aircraft systems (UASs), or consumer drones, in agriculture has the potential to revolutionize the way certain farm practices are conducted and the way science, technology, engineering, and math principles can be taught. Currently, there is need for UAS training for both adults and youths, and that need will increase with the expected growth of the UAS industry. This article addresses the need to include UASs in Extension programming, the associated legalities, and the best types of UASs to use in such programming.
Examining Consumer Attitudes and Cultural Indicators Surrounding Local Food
Many consumers are committed to buying local. With the study reported here, we aimed to advance understanding of the influence of culture in the local food movement. The study addressed the presence of cultural indicators in discussions about local food among a sample of Florida residents interested in local food. The influence of culture on participants' thoughts about local food was examined for the purpose of guiding communication and Extension programming surrounding local food. A qualitative thematic analysis revealed the influence of culture through the themes of tradition/ritual, family, local economy, trust, health and quality, experience with local food, and convenience.
Meeting Stakeholder Energy Technology Education Needs Using a Mobile Demonstration
Understanding the impact of workshops that include mobile demonstrations for describing technical applications can be useful when planning an Extension program on new energy technologies. We used a mobile demonstration in a workshop that provided information on small-scale on-farm biodiesel production. Evaluation of the workshop outcomes identified significant increases in attendees' perceptions, awareness, interest, and knowledge related to the topic. On the basis of our process for planning and conducting the workshop and the results of the evaluation, we recommend implementing a well-distributed needs assessment and using a mobile demonstration to present technology that is economically feasible to use. The workshop we describe can be used as a model for other Extension programs.
Research in Brief
Co-Parenting for Successful Kids: Impacts and Implications
We examined the impacts of the Co-Parenting for Successful Kids program offered by University of Nebraska Extension. Using a sample of 2,622 parents who participated in the program in 2015, we measured their knowledge change and ability to perform cooperative coparenting behaviors. Results suggest that the program effectively improved participants' coparenting knowledge and ability to use behaviors such as understanding and supporting children in developmentally appropriate ways, enhancing communication skills, and developing parenting plans. In examining group differences, we found that parents of infants and toddlers benefited the most from the program. Suggestions on program development and evaluation are discussed.
Breed and Supplementation Influence on Consumer Ratings of Ground Meat from Pasture-Raised Lamb
Consumer acceptance of pasture-raised hair sheep lamb was investigated. Food hub participants (n = 284) from Richmond, Virginia, were recruited to receive ground lamb and provide product quality ratings before and after product preparation. Over 96% of survey respondents specified that they would purchase local ground lamb if available, 35% indicated that they would purchase it at least once a month, and 43% indicated that they would pay a premium for it. Animal management pertaining to breed and supplementation had little effect on consumer ratings. The findings suggest that ground meat from hair sheep lambs could provide an opportunity to enhance profitability for small-scale producers in Virginia. Extension educators may be able to apply the findings in assisting sheep producers with lamb marketing.
New Extension Approaches to Serving Agricultural Media in Advancing Farm-Life Safety Communications
The study described here focused on needs and opportunities for Extension to serve agricultural media more fully in addressing new safety risks in agriculture, one of the nation's most hazardous industries. The study was conducted in the context of major broadening of channels used by agricultural media. A mixed-methods approach included a national survey to identify views and suggestions from agricultural journalists about covering farm-life safety. A companion literature review addressed case studies and other research featuring Extension collaborations with media for advancing farm-life safety. Findings revealed expanding opportunities and ideas for Extension personnel, with implications for Extension program areas beyond farm-life safety.