December 2020 // Volume 58 // Number 6
Message from the Journal of Extension Editorial Committee
This editorial addresses upcoming changes to the Journal of Extension. These changes are intended to facilitate more efficient editorial processes and continued enhancement of the scholarly and editorial strengths of the journal. The new editorial model will involve associate editors who will be an integral part of the manuscript review process. In addition, a new publishing arrangement with Clemson University Press will be effective January 1, 2021. The commitment to publishing a high-quality journal and supporting author development remains a priority.
Farewell and December JOE Highlights
As JOE enters a new phase of its existence beginning in 2021, I will leave my position as editor in chief. In the Farewell section of this Editor’s Page, I anticipate JOE’s bright future and reflect on what my time with JOE has meant to me. In December JOE Highlights, I focus on the power and utility of JOE Ideas at Work and Tools of the Trade articles and spotlight some of the most important articles in the issue’s other sections.
Impact of COVID-19 on Missouri 4-H State Fair Participation and Implications for Youth Development Programs
For University of Missouri Extension, facilitation of Missouri 4-H's participation in the Missouri State Fair (MSF) during the COVID-19 era was a challenge and an opportunity for improvement. In a time when positive youth development experiences are more necessary than ever, Extension professionals must consider how to uphold the foundations of positive youth development and maintain a sense of program normalcy while ensuring new levels of safety and security. We describe lessons learned before, during, and after Missouri 4-H made the decision to open the MSF 4-H building in the midst of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic and issue a call for related action by others.
Participate in the JOE Discussion Forum on “Impact of COVID-19 on Missouri 4-H State Fair Participation and Implications for Youth Development Programs”
Ideas at Work
Farm-Based Programming for College Students Experiencing Food Insecurity
Student food insecurity is a concern at colleges and universities across the country, and Extension professionals can bring unique solutions to this growing problem. At Rutgers–New Brunswick, visitors to the Student Food Pantry receive vouchers for fresh produce to be redeemed at the New Brunswick Community Farmers Market. As well, the Rutgers Gardens Student Farm makes weekly deliveries of fresh produce to the pantry, which is available at no cost to students. With creativity, Extension efforts such as master gardener programs, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education, and family and community health sciences programs can play an important role in alleviating college student food insecurity.
Moving With the Marsh: Encouraging Property Owner Adaptation to Marsh Migration
Climate change adaptation efforts at the local level can help build support among Extension clients as well as improve resilience of natural systems. Marsh migration models of tidal wetlands in Connecticut show inland movement where conditions are suitable. Property owners, however, are frequently opposed to allowing marsh migration of cultivated lawns and gardens. We provide an example of development of a marsh migration buffer on a recently acquired land trust parcel adjacent to tidal wetlands as a local climate adaptation technique. Monitoring and education efforts are ongoing, with emphasis on local outreach. Similar strategies can be applied elsewhere.
Using Data Visualization to Demonstrate Outcomes—Examples From Ripple Effects Mapping
If you have conducted a ripple effects mapping (REM) event, you may have wondered "What is the best way to use these data, and what are some creative options for sharing the findings?" REM involves a mind mapping approach to evaluation and is an effective way to collect qualitative data that document the direct and indirect impacts of complex programs and projects. We provide examples of visual ways to display the gathered data and describe how to use the information to elevate your program outcomes.
Creating Opportunities Through an Experiential, Community-Based Cooperative Extension Internship Program
Extension is positioned to develop and implement high-quality, high-impact internship experiences for college students in local communities. The creation of the Rising Star Internship program arose from interest in providing experiential work opportunities for Iowa State University students coupled with the organizational goals of promoting awareness of Cooperative Extension and increasing interest in employability within Extension. The program provides a paid county-level summer internship with several unique elements. Evidence collected from student participants suggests that it is a mutually beneficial endeavor for Extension, students, and communities. Extension systems may desire to replicate these efforts if they share similar ambitions.
Farm/Ranch Succession Planning Program Motivates Families to Take Steps
The United States is experiencing increased aging of farmers and ranchers, highlighting the need for succession planning programs that can help prepare them for successful transfer of land and assets to a successor. We discuss the Design Your Succession Plan program and its evaluation. The program consists of three sessions that address multiple topics regarding succession planning. Over a 5-year period, 516 participants from across North Dakota attended the program. Results from retrospective pretest/posttest surveys indicate that the program had a significant impact on increasing knowledge and confidence among participants. Implementation can assist aging farm and ranch families across the country.
4-H International Camp United Program and the 2025 4-H Strategic Vision
Building on existing relationships with international youth development colleagues, we created the 4-H International Camp United Program (4-HICUP) as a leadership opportunity for international and U.S. teens. In 2019, teenagers from Azerbaijan, Italy, Russia, and the United States came together to build personal cross-cultural relationships, further develop leadership skills, and increase understanding of their role as global citizens. The program was inspired by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture 2025 Strategic Vision for 4-H suggesting that "youth and adults learn, grow, and work together as catalysts for positive change." With the success of 4-HICUP, we want to include more states/countries and expand our outreach, and we encourage others to implement similar programming.
Tools of the Trade
Assessing Community Readiness to Engage in Diversity and Inclusion Efforts
Social scientific research has demonstrated that increasing racial or ethnic diversity can reduce overall levels of social solidarity in a community. Yet many community development organizations, including Extension, are deeply committed to creating a broader sense of cohesion in rural communities. This article highlights a recent interagency effort, known as the Welcoming Communities Assessment, to assess a community's readiness for inclusion. The Welcoming Communities Assessment helps community members gain a baseline, action-oriented understanding of how inclusive different sectors of their community are for immigrants, refugees, and people of color. This article describes the assessment's context, design, analysis, and implementation.
Ten Steps for Establishing a Succession Plan Addressing Volunteer Disengagement
What happens when volunteers disengage from an Extension program? What steps should Extension professionals take to fill a vacated role? There is a robust amount of research regarding best retention practices once volunteers are plugged into a program. However, there is a gap in current volunteer literature regarding practical applications to prepare existing volunteers to take on new roles. Incorporating proven strategies through practical applications would allow Extension professionals to address volunteer disengagement before it happens. Extension professionals can consider 10 steps to develop a succession plan to address volunteer disengagement.
Remote: Office Not Required—A Book Review
Remote: Office Not Required by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson offers a novel perspective into the modern workplace practice of remote work. This book provides an outline for becoming an expert in remote work, both as a leader and as a practitioner. Fried and Hansson describe tools and methods that help practitioners find success when implementing remote work and explain how to avoid common obstacles. Although drawbacks and challenges exist, the authors maintain that remote work is likely more compatible with organizations than leaders might think, maintaining that the advantages outweigh the disadvantages.
Using Learning Management Systems to Provide 4-H Programming During the COVID-19 Pandemic and Beyond
Using a learning management system (LMS), such as Canvas, to provide 4-H programming can support program growth. With the onset in 2020 of the COVID-19 pandemic, 4-H professionals have been forced to move face-to-face activities online and challenged to work differently and in innovative ways to continue offering youth development opportunities. Responding to this challenge, Missouri 4-H created an online resource using the Canvas LMS to offer 4-H volunteers and families project opportunities and research-based project materials in one easily accessible and affordable platform.
Assessing Healthful Eating and Physical Activity Practices in Places Children Learn
Site-level assessment questionnaires (SLAQs) were developed to assess nutrition and physical activity practices and environments in schools and other places children spend time in order to facilitate program planning and evaluation. After expert panel review for content validity, questionnaires were feasibility tested by users in six schools, three early care and education programs, and two out-of-school programs. Findings indicate that the questionnaires are feasible and useful for planning interventions. Extension programs can use SLAQs to support policy, systems, and environment change efforts that promote healthful eating and physical activity in children and to measure intervention effectiveness.
Tank Systems on Shrimp Farms Are Effective for Extension Demonstrations in Aquaculture
Numerous approaches can be implemented to carry out on-farm Extension demonstrations in aquaculture. The design and approach used are often governed by the problem or question that needs to be addressed as well as budgetary constraints within Extension programs. West Alabama is home to a unique inland marine shrimp industry that uses a low-salinity artesian groundwater source to raise shrimp. Demonstration and technology transfer have been carried out on commercial shrimp farms for nearly 20 years using low-budget on-levee tank systems operated by Extension personnel using this unique water source. On-farm tank demonstrations can be an effective tool for Extension professionals working in aquaculture, especially where unique circumstances exist.
Existing Data Sources as Tools for Entry-Stage Extension Professionals
Due to the nature of Extension, work across counties differs because efforts are grounded in the needs of a community and intentional programming helps address these needs. A common competency required for entry-stage Extension professionals is program development, which includes planning, design, implementation, and evaluation. Understanding a community's needs is a crucial aspect of the program planning process, yet new Extension professionals may not know where to locate existing information about their communities. Before creating Extension programs, Extension professionals should understand local communities and identify existing data to facilitate the needs assessment phase of program development.
Extension Professionals' Information Use, Protective Behaviors, and Work-Life Stress During the COVID-19 Pandemic
In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, we asked Extension professionals about sources used to inform their work, means used to inform clientele, and management of their own health and well-being. Survey data revealed that Extension professionals sought information from trusted sources and that large majorities were involved in disseminating online information to clientele. Extension professionals felt well supported, were prepared to address the pandemic's challenges, and were practicing recommended health behaviors. However, respondents reported high levels of stress and difficulty balancing professional and personal needs. Recommendations focus on collaborative opportunities for Extension as well as professional development and other resources for Extension personnel.
Measuring the Aggregated Public Value of Extension
Extension program participants tell story after story of the impact of Cooperative Extension on their lives, their families, and their businesses. Despite huge amounts of qualitative data, very little quantitative data exist showing the aggregated public value of Extension programs—especially across program areas. The lack of data leaves Extension administrators high and dry when they are asked to show public value, a circumstance sometimes resulting in reductions in human and financial resources. A simple, yet powerful Extension public value instrument was developed and used in Georgia along with analysis methods designed to showcase the short-, medium-, and long-term impacts of Extension programs.
Participant Motivations for Joining an Extension Program
We asked participants of Gulf of Mexico, Chesapeake Bay, and Atlantic Coast restoration-focused oyster gardening programs (OGPs) about motivations for joining an OGP and engaging in an activity in general at the gardening site before and after joining an OGP. Regarding motivations to join an OGP, environmental improvement was a stronger motivation than opportunity to learn or fishing improvement, both of which were generally greater than social motivations. Additionally, OGP participation was not significant in changing motivations for engaging in an activity in general at the gardening site, suggesting that a focus on initial motivators for engaging in an associated activity may be key to Extension program volunteer recruiting and retention efforts.
Extension's Role in Changing the Context of Health
The Cooperative Extension National Framework for Health and Wellness calls on Extension professionals to operate in new ways that will shape "the context in which people grow, learn, work, and play" and to practice multidisciplinary and collaborative approaches in communities. In this article, we present three cases in Oregon as examples of how Extension faculty at Oregon State University are working to improve population health in rural Oregon communities in alignment with the Cooperative Extension National Framework for Health and Wellness. These examples highlight the roles Extension faculty can play in such work as well as associated successes and challenges.
Opportunities for Impact: Health Promotion in Rural Early Care and Education Environments
Early care and education settings are essential partners in the battle against childhood obesity. We describe an Extension-facilitated early childhood obesity prevention intervention conducted in 25 rural early care and education settings. A total of 148 policy, systems, or environmental changes were achieved, reaching approximately 450 young children. Systems changes were the most prevalent outcome achieved. The experiences of Extension professionals in promoting policy, systems, and environmental changes are highlighted as are implications for other Extension systems and professionals promoting policy, systems, or environmental changes in early care and education settings.
Dr. Patricia A. Hendricks and the Targeting Life Skills Model: An Oral History
The targeting life skills model created by Dr. Patricia A. Hendricks represents the skills developed by youths participating in 4-H. The model is used to identify desired learning and action outcomes of positive youth development programs. An article related to the origins and validation of the model was never published. This oral history describes Hendricks's Extension background, explains the circumstances that led her to create the model, traces the model's genesis, and reveals why the model lacks empirical validation and confirmation. The research-referenced, universally accepted model remains a valuable and systematic approach to planning and engaging youths in high-quality youth development experiences.
Research in Brief
Professional Development Needs of Early-Career Extension Agents Beyond the First Year: Florida County Extension Director Perspectives
Extension agents serve important roles in communities but often begin their careers lacking skills crucial for success. We aimed to understand the professional development needs of Florida early-career Extension agents beyond the first year as perceived by eight county Extension directors (CEDs). Through semistructured interviews, CEDs indicated that building community relationships, managing volunteers, communicating effectively, and other Extension-related skills are areas for which early-career Extension agents need professional development. These results suggest a need for additional development opportunities beyond the first year, with a professional development model that is continually adapted as an Extension professional's skill set changes. Our findings have implications for those involved in Extension practice and research beyond Florida.
Assessing and Responding to COVID-19 Pandemic Nutrition and Wellness Impacts on Iowans
The COVID-19 pandemic has increased the need for indirect Extension programming. To ensure a consumer-focused response, we gathered data from 452 survey respondents regarding how the pandemic was affecting their food-related and health behaviors. The majority reported obtaining their food from a grocery store as they had prior to the pandemic, albeit less frequently, and having increased their home food preparation. Due to the pandemic, respondents were less physically active and more stressed and were seeking reliable nutrition and wellness information. We describe how we were able to facilitate an immediate response by repackaging and adapting existing programming to meet pressing client needs, and we identify broader implications of our work.
Navigating the Coronavirus Pandemic: Advice for Grandparents From Grandparents
In a qualitative study, I explored the experiences of grandparents during the coronavirus pandemic in the spring and summer of 2020 in the United States. Grandparents affected by the coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent restrictions shared their experiences in audio/video recorded interviews. Responses to one interview question asking about advice they would give to other grandparents were analyzed. Four themes were identified from the data analysis. Advice given was motivated by a desire to help other grandparents and their families. Implications for Extension professionals are discussed.
Nebraska School Gardens and the Potential for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math Learning
School-based growing spaces support student engagement in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) learning through authentic agricultural pursuits. We conducted a survey of Nebraska schools to characterize existing school-based growing spaces and to identify challenges limiting garden-based STEM learning. Our findings confirm the use of school-based growing spaces for kindergarten through 12th-grade STEM instruction, especially in the sciences. Opportunities for technology and engineering experiences are currently limited, and additional professional development support is needed to broaden garden-based STEM learning efforts. Our findings are relevant to current and future Extension efforts supporting school gardens, especially in rural agricultural communities.
Determining the Professional Development Needs of Florida Integrated Pest Management Extension Agents
With agriculture as the second largest economic industry in Florida, the state's Extension agents need subject matter expertise necessary for disseminating the latest in agricultural research information to agricultural producers. Using an exploratory sequential design coupled with a Borich model, we determined the professional development needs of Florida Extension agents working in integrated pest management (IPM). Through our needs assessment, we identified 16 IPM competencies and found that the highest priority relative to needed professional development was for the competency "determining pest thresholds." Extension personnel can use the list generated to assess perceptions of importance and ability level regarding IPM competencies among Extension professionals in their states.
Comparing Linkages Between Descriptive Norms and Current and Intended Outdoor Water Conservation
The study presented here was used for evaluating how theory of planned behavior variables (attitude, perceived behavioral control, subjective norms) and perceptions of others' outdoor water conservation (descriptive norms) related to individuals' own conservation and intent to conserve. The theory of planned behavior predicted current and intended conservation similarly. Descriptive norms from close-peer and state referent groups improved predictions of current practices but not behavioral intentions. Descriptive norms may be more influential when Extension clients are establishing routines pertaining to outdoor water conservation (e.g., installing a new landscape). Extension professionals should strategically communicate a conservation norm at similar opportune times.
Social Media Use for Farmers Market Communications in Illinois
Social media has been recognized as a powerful tool supporting communication of many topics in the agriculture industry. We explored the use of social media platforms among farmers market managers and specialty crop growers in Illinois through an online survey. Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter were platforms used by the majority of respondents. We found that social media was used primarily for communicating with consumers for marketing purposes. We identified major training needs of farmers market stakeholders related to using social media to promote business and convey food safety information.