April 2018 // Volume 56 // Number 2
The Importance of Style and April JOE Highlights
In the first section of the Editor's Page, "The Importance of Style," I provide inspiration for adhering to editorial style. In "April JOE Highlights," I discuss articles in the issue that focus on Extension's role in larger collaborative systems and multidisciplinary efforts, approaches that give shape to the action of listening to Extension audiences, and methods for enhancing Extension professionals' use of technology and big data.
Ideas at Work
Extension: The Backbone Organization in Statewide Population Health Management
Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service has developed and is implementing a statewide population health management model aimed at leveraging key partnerships in South Carolina. The model delineates roles of key partners needed to operationalize statewide initiatives and drive the delivery of health extension in the state. Clemson University Cooperative Extension functions as the backbone organization within the model, achieving collective impact by using a collaborative approach for cultivating health as a shared value of entities throughout the state. Strong partnerships have been established, and rigorous evaluation is under way to determine the model's efficacy with regard to health indicators and population health outcomes.
Establishing an Agricultural Summit
The rapidly growing population in Skagit County, Washington, has placed a threat on agriculture, and agricultural stakeholders were in need of an open discussion with public policy officials. In response to this need, we at Washington State University Skagit County Extension organized the first Skagit Ag Summit in 2016. As a result, stakeholders and public policy officials were able to meet to discuss their differing opinions. According to 2016 and 2017 Skagit Ag Summit surveys, a vast majority of attendants desired that we continue to host the event annually. We provide a description of our process and other useful information and encourage other university Extension offices in similar circumstances to host agricultural summits.
How to Create Videos for Extension Education: An Innovative Five-Step Procedure
Although the benefits of using video as a learning tool in Extension programs are well known, less is understood about effective methods for creating videos. We present a five-step procedure for developing educational videos that focus on evidence-based practices, and we provide practical examples from our use of the five steps in creating a video series for an Extension program. Through the effective development of videos, Extension professionals can organize and present information in a meaningful way.
Q Methodology: A Method for Understanding Complex Viewpoints in Communities Served by Extension
This article introduces Q methodology, an idea-sorting activity that can help Extension improve outreach and education on new and contentious issues. Q methodology is a helpful tool when Extension professionals are confronted with controversial or complex resource management challenges. Through the analysis of a simple card-sorting exercise, researchers can determine quantitatively and qualitatively how different issues combine to result in (a) an individual's viewpoint on an issue and (b) groupings of different viewpoints within a community. We describe the basic approach to implementing Q methodology and suggest circumstances in which it can help facilitate Extension outreach and education.
Extension Involvement in Collaborative Groups: An Alternative for Gathering Stakeholder Input
One alternative to focus group research for assessing community educational needs is participant observation research with collaborative stakeholder groups. Dialogue within collaboratives can provide an Extension professional with a robust assessment of community educational needs. In this article, I explore this concept and provide examples of published outputs resulting from my experience with collaborative group participation.
Expanding Pollinator Habitats Through a Statewide Initiative
Due to changing federal and state policy as well as increased community concerns about pollinators, assisting clients interested in pollinator health is taking more Extension agent time and resources. In addition, many gardeners tend to be beginners in need of support to recognize best management practices related to pollinating and beneficial insects. In Georgia, the Pollinator Spaces Project provides tools gardeners can use to create pollinator habitats, learn about pollinating and beneficial insects, and be recognized for their efforts. As a low-cost, agent-friendly program, it is a model that can be easily replicated in other states.
Picture This: 4-H Press Corps Builds Life Skills
A picture is worth a thousand words! Extension professionals are often looking for the picture that best captures an event and tells its story. Look beneath the surface, though, and a picture is worth much more. Developing a 4-H press corps results in a collection of useful photos but has the added benefit of providing 4-H members with an opportunity to explore an interest, develop workforce skills, and provide a service to the community. Additionally, development of a 4-H press corps has the potential to involve more members in telling the 4-H story. Moreover, the 4-H press corps concept can be adapted to each program's unique needs.
Tools of the Trade
Rapid Needs Assessment and Response Technique
The rapid needs assessment and response technique (RNR) is a useful tool for Extension professionals seeking ways to improve workshop structure. Facilitators using RNR organize workshop participants in small groups and then rotate the groups through a series of stations where participants dialogue on questions central to the workshop topic. The technique helps adult learners actively engage with one another, thus improving their ability to learn the subject matter. Use of RNR also allows facilitators to understand participants' existing knowledge of a workshop topic and tailor their education to participants' specific questions and needs.
Using Computational Text Classification for Qualitative Research and Evaluation in Extension
This article introduces a process for computational text classification that can be used in a variety of qualitative research and evaluation settings. The process leverages supervised machine learning based on an implementation of a multinomial Bayesian classifier. Applied to a community of inquiry framework, the algorithm was used to identify evidence of cognitive presence, social presence, and teaching presence in the text contributions (44,000 unique posts) of more than 4,000 participants in an online environmental education course. Results indicate that computational text classification can significantly reduce labor costs and can help Extension research faculty scale, accelerate, and ensure reproducibility of their research.
Financial Analysis Tools for On-Farm and Off-Farm Commercial Kitchens
This article describes two spreadsheet-based tools designed to help farmers evaluate the viability of building and operating commercial kitchens, on-farm and off-farm, to meet the demand for locally processed foods. Both tools let users define the processing activities and kitchen capacity, including the appropriate equipment, personnel needs, days of operation, and processed products. The on-farm kitchen model provides annual return estimates, allowing users to change recipes each year to match changes in annual farm production. The off-farm kitchen model assumes a stand-alone facility with depreciation schedules, loan amortization schedules, 10-year profit/loss projections, and various measures of return on investment.
Tools and Strategies for Documenting Educational Connection with Diverse Audiences
How does an educator ensure that an audience is receiving an intended message? Further complicating this matter, what happens if the audience members' primary language differs from that of the presenter and the use of an interpreter is not feasible? We explore these questions through a case study based on our experience as three Extension professionals from the U.S. mainland who led a 2-day training of Extension/4-H professionals from the greater Micronesia area in the western Pacific Ocean. The instrument and educational concepts we describe could be valuable tools as Extension educators work with audiences having diverse backgrounds and languages.
Blender Bikes: Blending Nutrition and Physical Activity
Many Americans do not meet the recommendations for diet and physical activity. A blender bike can be an effective tool when coupled with hands-on activities that reinforce health recommendations. We created Blending Nutrition and Physical Activity: An Activity Guide for Use with Blender Bikes to use when incorporating a blender bike into educational sessions held in classrooms and at afterschool programs, camps, fairs, and other venues. We provide a research-based rationale for implementing blender bike demonstrations and describe activities in the guide that take blender bike use beyond a fun, eye-catching display to experiences that convey nutrition and physical activity concepts and help achieve Extension's health-related goals.
Ramping Up Rural Workforce Development: An Extension-Centered Model
Workforce development is a growing need in rural communities. This article recognizes Cooperative Extension as a critical labor market intermediary in fostering local workforce solutions. It proposes a community-based approach with Extension at the center of a process for identifying key stakeholders, facilitating collaboration, and supporting data-driven decisions. Through participatory methods and economic analysis of local industries, our team engaged over 120 stakeholders from two rural regions in the Great Plains. Our findings show that Extension plays an important role in promoting cross-sectoral collaboration to address complex workforce issues, enhance community capacity, and mobilize local action.
Using Dialogue to Engage Agricultural Audiences in Cooperative Learning About Climate Change: A Strategy with Broad Implications
Dialogue with stakeholders has been recognized as an effective educational strategy for addressing complex topics such as climate change. We report here on the Carbon, Energy, and Climate fishbowl discussion series developed by Michigan State University Extension to assist the state's agricultural community in understanding and adapting to the changing climate. Facilitated dialogue reduced barriers to communication and promoted cooperative learning for target audiences and the project team, generating useful information on the current status of climate change adaptation within Michigan's agriculture sector and revealing needs to be addressed by future Extension programming. Using a dialogue-based approach such as the one we describe can highlight challenges and opportunities Extension faces in addressing various complex issues with diverse audiences.
Nonprofit Partnerships in Extension Programming: A Pilot Study
Strategic collaboration between Extension faculty and nonprofit organizations has the potential to reduce costs, generate revenue, and improve programmatic outcomes for all involved. Through a mixed-methods pilot study, we examined how and to what extent such collaboration exists. Data sources included the National Center for Charitable Statistics, the Foundation Center, and results from a survey administered to county Extension faculty in one administrative district in Florida. Findings indicate that although Extension faculty partner with nonprofits, further development of these partnerships could lead to increased revenue generation and programmatic outcomes. Our methods and findings may help inform future research and development of strategic partnerships elsewhere within Extension.
Engagement in Extension Professional Associations: Tennessee Extension Professionals' Attitudes and Perceptions
We sought to determine Extension agents' attitudes and perceptions related to Tennessee Extension professional associations. We conducted one-on-one interviews with association members and nonmembers and used a thematic analysis method to analyze the results. Themes common to members and nonmembers were (a) networking and connection, (b) value, and (c) membership costs. Member-only themes included (a) awards and (b) motivation to join. Nonmember-only themes included (a) lack of information and understanding of function and (b) recruitment. Recommendations for practice and future research revolve around motivation, effective recruitment, professional development, networking, and awards. Our findings and recommendations may serve as guiding elements for others evaluating Extension professional associations.
Needs-Based Training and Online Resource for Managers of Rural Festivals, Fairs, and Events
Festivals, fairs, and events (FFEs) provide rural communities with economic and noneconomic benefits. For the project described in this article, we conducted a needs assessment of Iowa FFE managers by surveying them about the challenges they face in event management and then used the results of the assessment as the basis for training sessions provided to rural FFE managers in five areas of the state and development of an associated event management resource. The resource can be used by Extension and outreach offices to provide local FFE managers guidance on managing FFEs. We discuss broader implications for Extension as well.
Research in Brief
Impact of an Extension Social Media Tool Kit on Audience Engagement
Extension professionals can improve their use of social media as channels for extending programmatic efforts by maximizing target audience reach and engagement. We describe how implementation of a tool kit highlighting best practices for using social media improved Extension professionals' efforts to engage target audience members via social media. Specifically, we found that after having access to the tool kit, Extension professionals were able to prompt greater participation and engagement from the applicable target audience across three online platforms—Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. Our findings indicate that Extension professionals can benefit from learning how to use social media more purposefully and implementing best practices for connecting with audiences.
Assessing Washington State Landowners' Interest and Concerns Regarding Growing Bioenergy Crops
Bioenergy industries will depend, in part, on interested and informed landowners who are willing to grow bioenergy crops. We surveyed landowners in Washington State to gain insight into their knowledge and interest regarding bioenergy crops and the importance of various cropping decision factors. The majority of landowners surveyed were not familiar with bioenergy crops and/or were unlikely to grow them. They indicated that profit, soil and land preservation, and water quality are all important factors to consider when making cropping decisions. Our results provide Extension professionals with an enhanced understanding of perceived challenges and advantages related to growing bioenergy crops.
Providing Family Education for Grandparent Caregivers: Lessons from the GRandS Program
Grandparents who take on primary responsibility for raising grandchildren face unique family challenges while helping reduce the burden on the foster care system. The GRandS (Grandfamily Resilience and Sustainability) Program was a family life education program designed with three fundamental goals: (a) increase grandparent caregivers' knowledge and skills in parenting and child development, (b) fortify their relationships with spouses and grandchildren, and (c) inform them about, and connect them to, available community resources. In this article, we describe the program implementation and evaluation, including the use of quantitative analysis and anecdotal accounts. Additionally, on the basis of our findings and experience with the program, we identify factors important to Extension's successfully serving grandfamilies.
Repro Money: An Extension Program to Improve Dairy Farm Reproductive Performance
A farmer-directed, team-based Extension program (Repro Money) was developed and executed by the University of Wisconsin–Madison Department of Dairy Science in collaboration with University of Wisconsin–Extension. The goal of the Repro Money program was to help Wisconsin dairy farmers increase reproductive performance and profitability through identification of areas for improvement and implementation of action plans. For the 40 Wisconsin dairy farms that completed the Repro Money program, mean 21-day pregnancy rate increased by 2 percentage points, which was estimated to result in an economic net gain of $31 per cow per year. Extension professionals can apply similar team-based programs to tackle multifaceted, interrelated problems that may be only partially addressed by other, more traditional programming.
Survey of Nebraska Soybean Producers: Current and Future Statuses of Weed Management
Like crop producers elsewhere, soybean producers in Nebraska are challenged with managing weeds that are evolving resistance to an increasing number of herbicides. We surveyed Nebraska soybean growers, crop advisors, and industry professionals to identify current agronomic practices, assess the distribution of herbicide resistance and strategies for weed management, and gauge perceptions of new herbicide-tolerant soybean technologies. We found that producers rely heavily on herbicides and are challenged with several herbicide-resistant weeds. Our findings also suggest that new herbicide-tolerant soybean technologies will be readily adopted. Extension educational programs promoting a holistic approach to weed management will be critical.
Assessing the Educational Needs of the Pennsylvania Wine Industry
We surveyed Pennsylvania winemakers and winery owners to determine their skill levels, the varieties and styles of wines they produce, their wine-making production challenges, and best practices for addressing educational needs through Extension programs. Growing and sourcing high-quality fruit were identified as key challenges. Although most participants obtained production information from other industry members and preferred face-to-face workshops to further their education, response to a Penn State Extension Enology blog site, developed to address industry challenges and extend our educational reach, has been extremely positive.
Producers' Opinions on What Makes Demonstrations Effective
Despite the widespread and long-standing use of demonstration sites in Extension, there is little empirical evidence to inform how best to design them. We report data from 513 producers in three regions of Indiana whom we surveyed about sources of information for farm management decisions, the usefulness of demonstrations, and preferences and factors that influence their attendance at demonstrations. In general, respondents had positive opinions about demonstration events and high levels of agreement regarding their usefulness. Lack of awareness of demonstrations was the greatest single factor leading to nonattendance. We provide recommendations for organizing demonstration events based on the preferences of producers we surveyed.
Motivations for and Psychological Benefits of Participating in the Florida Master Naturalist Program
We explored the motivations for and psychological benefits gained from participating in the Florida Master Naturalist Program (FMNP). We surveyed 3,904 participants, and 1,983 participants responded with completed questionnaires, for a 50.79% response rate. Florida master naturalists participated to learn, help the environment, and act on altruistic values. The respondents indicated that their participation in the FMNP provides psychological benefits related to helping the environment, exploring, and being social. To foster support for master naturalist programs, program designers should attend to motivations and perceived benefits related to participation in such programming.
Power of Produce: Farmers' Market Incentive Program Targeting Eating Behaviors of Children
The Power of Produce (PoP) Club is a farmers' market incentive program for children aged 5–12. The purpose of the summative evaluation described in this article was to determine the impact of the PoP Club on improving family and child behavior at a Minnesota farmers' market as well as child fruit and vegetable (F&V) consumption. Results from a self-reported retrospective survey completed by parents suggest that the PoP Club is a valuable program, with participating parents reporting increased family attendance and child engagement at the farmers' market and increased F&V consumption by children at home.