October 2020 // Volume 58 // Number 5
Style Update and October JOE Highlights
With this issue, we begin the transition to current APA Style as outlined in the latest edition of Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association. In my Style Update section, I comment on associated changes and their implications and issue a directive to learn more by reading the manual. In October JOE Highlights, I focus on articles in which JOE authors tackle the array of challenging circumstances we find ourselves in today.
We (All) Need to Talk About Race: Building Extension's Capacity for Dialogue and Action
For Extension to remain relevant to the mission of meeting the most critical community needs, we must examine the racial inequities that hold us back as institutions and lead efforts to engage diverse communities in learning about race through dialogue. Responses from participants in 26 states who joined a train-the-trainer initiative suggested that despite previous efforts, there is great need for increased education and capacity building to address racism and prioritize racial equity both within our institutions and in the communities we serve. For Extension professionals to effectively engage in this work, it is critical for administrators to show visible support.
Participate in the JOE Discussion Forum on “We (All) Need to Talk About Race: Building Extension's Capacity for Dialogue and Action”
Ideas at Work
Adapting to Provide Innovative In-Person Extension Programming During a Pandemic
The success of Extension programming is often predicated on in-person events, and numerous Extension programs are preplanned and scheduled well in advance of the anticipated programming date. In-person events help foster community, collaboration, and the human connection within our society. During the COVID-19 pandemic, it is critical for Extension to be adaptive and innovative and react proactively to worldwide, nationwide, and local authorities' and health professionals' recommendations to protect clientele, staff, and volunteers. Extension educators can tailor in-person programs to align with health professionals' recommendations by using creative, innovative, and adaptive measures. We describe two such programs.
Ride Utah! Resiliency-Building Horse Rides for Military Personnel and Families
To introduce and provide equine-related activities to military personnel and their families, Utah State University Equine Extension created and implemented an effective program called Ride Utah! Equine-related activities have been shown to improve mental health and build strong family relationships in participating individuals. Ride Utah! incorporates campus faculty, county agents, and community volunteers to promote, facilitate, and conduct safe, enjoyable equine trail rides and associated resiliency-building programming. Program evaluation has indicated significant increase in participants' resiliency, and the program can be replicated or adapted for use elsewhere.
Using Playbooks to Guide Leadership Transitions in Voluntary Groups and Community Organizations
Leadership changes can result in confusion for voluntary groups or community organizations. Traditionally, new leaders have received board training or been expected to learn by doing or reviewing existing policies. The National Association of Community Development Extension Professionals (NACDEP) took a new approach, with those in leadership roles developing "playbooks" to guide incoming leaders. The process has proved to be successful for NACDEP and is now being replicated by other organizations.
Tools of the Trade
Extension Programming Resource for Building Farm and Farm Family Resilience
Farms and farm families experience stress due to the interconnectedness between healthy farm businesses and healthy family members. The resource Farm and Farm Family Risk and Resilience Framework: A Guide for Extension Educational Programming supports Extension educators in providing programming for the farming population. The guide includes a 96-article literature review, a farm and farm family risk and resilience framework, logic models, assessment and teaching tools, and a program planning tool. The guide can help Extension educators assimilate programming approaches and content to reduce risk, build resilience, and strengthen systems.
Decision-Making Tree for Prioritizing Racial Equity in Resource Allocation
Within University of Minnesota Extension's health and nutrition program area, we created and are using a decision-making tree to prioritize our work with communities of color through equitable decision-making practices. The tool is currently used to help grant administrators winnow down a pool of applicants for a participatory grant-making program called the Action Learning Seed Fund. In this article, we draw on our experiences with creating and using the tool to explore its potential application for advancing equitable decision making in other areas of Extension work.
Effectively Conducting Field Days While Responding to Unprecedented External Restrictions
Despite external influences such as societal restrictions imposed during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, farmers continue to work, and needs for outreach and education have not waned. Extension professionals must continue to support these needs by using media and channels not typically employed when more traditional vehicles, such as on-site consultations and field days, are not practical or safe. The Iowa Learning Farms team from Iowa State University Outreach and Extension has developed a successful Virtual Field Day program using available online tools that can be easily adopted by other Extension organizations to facilitate outreach.
SRWC-PEAM: A Comprehensive Appraisal Tool for Short-Rotation Woody Crops in the Southeast
Short-rotation woody crops (SRWCs) are fast-growing trees grown for energy or paper production. The productivity and economic assessment model for short-rotation woody crops, or SRWC-PEAM, is a web-based tool for evaluating the potential to produce woody feedstock from SRWCs on marginal lands in the southeastern United States. Productivity and economic assessments are based on land history and conditions, species, economic factors and management, and an enterprise budget developed according to recent field research and published data. Extension professionals can use SRWC-PEAM to evaluate stand establishment and management options to find profitable SRWC project scenarios for landowners and improve producers' economic risk management decisions for SRWCs.
Remote Hiring Innovation During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Extension's in-person hiring processes have been complicated in 2020 by the COVID-19 pandemic. To prevent delays in hiring for three vacant county faculty positions, our search committee conducted remote interviews using a variety of innovative techniques, such as a live "we're hiring" webinar, an icebreaker session, and live and recorded candidate presentations. The results of our innovative efforts included a larger pool of applicants, relaxed web-based video interviews, and savings in time and expenses. These strategies could be considered as new and effective approaches and practices to hiring and interviewing in Extension as the pandemic continues and into the future.
Collaboratively Writing Extension Publications for the Public
This article describes how to collaboratively write Extension publications for the public. The seven-step process that is outlined provides structure and accountability for completing writing projects that involve multiple authors and facilitates the dissemination of electronic or print materials in a timely manner.
Tips for Using Photovoice in Evaluation of Extension Programs
Photovoice is a technique in which a facilitator guides a participant to produce a photograph and accompanying caption that reflects the participant's unique views regarding a topic. The photovoice process is designed to be used with a wide range of audiences. This article describes ways Extension educators can incorporate photovoice into the evaluation of Extension programs and identifies issues they should consider when doing so.
Impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Community Partners in the Agriculture Industry in Hawai'i
We explored ways in which the COVID-19 pandemic has affected those who work in the agriculture industry in Hawai'i. Although economic hardship seems to be the obvious consequence, changes to the logistical and daily routines in the home also emerged as major impacts, and psychological effects may be even more distressing. Those who work in agriculture are an essential component of the agricultural and human ecologies to which land-grant universities are connected. Our findings provide valuable insights as to how Extension professionals across the United States may assist agricultural producers and farm families in their own communities at this time.
Disasters Happen: Identifying Disaster Management Needs of Cooperative Extension System Personnel
Disasters are deeply affecting communities and economies in the United States, and the role of Cooperative Extension in disaster management efforts continues to grow. We surveyed University of California Extension personnel to identify existing disaster management programs and future needs. We found that about one third of our respondents had been involved in preparing for, responding to, or helping communities recover from disasters. Respondents experienced having a variety of needs related to disaster preparedness and response systems, procedures, materials and equipment, and educational materials. Our findings revealed a critical need for program and professional development around disaster management for Cooperative Extension personnel.
Engaging Farmers and the Agriculture Industry Through the Testing Agricultural Performance Solutions Program
The University of Nebraska–Lincoln Testing Agricultural Performance Solutions (TAPS) program involves use of farm management competitions to increase engagement across producers, industry, and universities. Participants make several management decisions throughout the growing season in a controlled field trial held at the university research station. Results are analyzed, and awards are presented for most profitable farm, most efficient farm, and farm with the greatest grain yield. The TAPS program involves several techniques for facilitating participatory assistance, including two-way communication and transformational learning. It has resulted in participants' questioning their past management decisions and realizing that they need to improve their marketing skills to improve profitability.
Evaluating Common Measures 2.0 in 4-H: Intra- and Interpersonal Skills Predict Engaged Citizenship
Research indicates that positive youth development (PYD) programming leads to improved developmental outcomes. Yet there continues to be a lack of clarity about how PYD programs are defined and measured. Therefore, Common Measures 2.0 was created for assessing 4-H youth development programs. We examined the universal skills (intrapersonal and interpersonal) and engaged citizenship scales of Common Measures 2.0 through a survey of 175 participants at a 4-H youth leadership conference. Intrapersonal and interpersonal skills were significantly positively associated with engaged citizenship. The universal skills and engaged citizenship scales showed acceptable factor loadings and Cronbach's alpha values. Limitations and future directions are discussed.
Exploring Agents' Philosophies of Adult Education and Perceptions of the Role of Extension
This article describes our study exploring Extension agents' philosophies of adult education and their perceptions of the role of Cooperative Extension for individuals and in the community. We surveyed agents in Arkansas using the Philosophy of Adult Education Inventory and open-ended questions related to the role of Extension. Most agents indicated the strongest level of agreement with the progressive philosophy. Two themes that emerged from the open-ended questions were agent as disseminator of information and impact of Extension on quality of life. Our discussion includes recommendations for professional development that involves examining one's personal philosophy of adult education.
Are Beginning and Small-Scale Farmers Drawn to Diversification? Ten Years' Findings From Ohio
Diversifying a farm's production operations or marketing channels can boost income and raise farm survival rates. But are beginning and small-scale farmers inclined toward a strategy of diversification? We analyzed 578 attendee surveys from 10 years of an Extension workshop for new and small-scale farmers in Ohio. We investigated the farming profile of beginning and small-scale farmers, the degree to which they are interested in pursuing diversified farming, and whether these interests vary by gender. We found evidence that new and small-scale farmers are interested in alternatives to commodity grain farming, that these alternatives are associated with diversified farming systems, and that some specific diversification interests vary by gender.
Survey of Farmers Market Managers in California: Food Safety Perspectives
We conducted a survey to characterize certified California farmers markets (FMs) regarding location, seasonality, size, product, product labeling, advertising methods, postharvest practices, regulations governing vendors, training offered, and training interests. Data obtained from the survey highlight the need for improvement regarding food safety and can serve as a basis for development of collaborative education by Extension educators, regulatory agencies, and FMs. Extension professionals can play a proactive role in such training opportunities, focusing outreach efforts for training according to applicable findings and including online training venues to maximize reach to stakeholders.
Research in Brief
How to Talk With Ranchers About Drought and Climate Resilience: Lessons From Knowledge Exchange Workshops in Montana
This article offers the Extension community a pathway to drought resilience and climate-related conversations through knowledge exchange workshops. In 2017, a "flash drought" affected eastern Montana, and ranchers in the region faced numerous challenges. Moreover, drought-favorable climate conditions are predicted to increase for the region. We held five workshops to facilitate an exchange of adaptive drought management strategies, focusing on key themes for drought resilience: (a) drought planning and adaptive management, (b) use of local knowledge networks, (c) flexible stocking and grazing, and (d) adaptation to shifting baselines. Extension can use this approach to foster multidirectional knowledge sharing to strengthen ranching resilience to drought conditions.
Benefits of Incorporating the Strengthening Families Program Into Family Drug Treatment Court Services
The opioid epidemic has become a public health crisis; it is important to understand practices Extension educators can use to support affected families. We explored the benefits of a parenting program delivered by Extension educators, the Strengthening Families Program (SFP), for families involved in family treatment court services. Data came from 41 parents who participated in SFP from 2014 to 2018. Findings from retrospective questionnaires showed increases in parental warmth, positive discipline, stress management, and family organization, as well as decreases in family conflict. Findings show the potential for SFP to support families as they work through challenges amid the opioid epidemic.
National 4-H Hippology and Livestock Skillathon Contests Affect Knowledge and Skills
Using a mixed model, we evaluated effects of national 4-H hippology and livestock skillathon contests on youths' content knowledge, 21st century skills, and postsecondary plans. Hippology participants gained significant knowledge in all topics except breeds, and livestock skillathon contestants gained significant knowledge in all topics. The contests were similar in their effects on development of 21st century skills and postsecondary plans. Gains in content knowledge indicate that contest preparation is an effective method for increasing youths' technical knowledge. Additionally, findings suggest that contest preparation is a viable venue for 21st century skill development and that such skill development is not specific to topic.
Evaluating Utah's Rural Online Initiative: Empowering Rural Communities Through Remote Work
Utah's rural counties have experienced high levels of unemployment compared to the state's urban counties. Utah State University Extension developed a remote work educational program intended to reduce rural unemployment. We conducted a descriptive study to gather data from May–August 2019 participants (N = 1,025). Our results indicate that short-term outcomes from the course were realized. On average, participants experienced increases in knowledge, improved skills, and positive intentions toward seeking remote employment. We recommended formative evaluation for continuous course improvement and follow-up procedures to measure participants' success in securing remote employment. Extension professionals can plan and evaluate their programs using the framework presented in this article.
Mentoring in Action Model—Exploring the Mentoring Process in Nebraska Extension
One method used by Extension organizations to orient new professionals is mentoring, yet gaps exist in the research on mentoring within Extension. Through focus group interviews and a materials review, I explored the mentoring process in Nebraska Extension. Using a semistructured interview approach, I asked Extension educators about their mentoring experiences, and I reviewed an organizational mentoring packet. From my findings, I constructed the mentoring in action model, which explains mentorship in Nebraska Extension. The model shows that mentoring is built on two mentoring structures and two primary characteristics of effective mentoring relationships. The study findings can inform mentoring strategies Extension may use to orient new employees to their roles and responsibilities.