February 2016 // Volume 54 // Number 1
Salutations, Statistics, and a Sneak Peek Inside
As the new JOE editor, I begin this installment of the Editor’s Page by introducing myself and acknowledging the very big shoes I have to fill. Next, I share the always interesting “JOE by the Numbers” information. You’ll find out everything you want to know about JOE’s 2015 submission and readership rates—along with JOE’s current acceptance rate—and about the most read articles of 2015. Finally, I provide a glimpse into the contents of this issue of JOE.
4-H and Its Relevance in the Era of #Moments in Urban Communities
Meeting the needs of today's urban youth requires a shift in how organizations work with and view this socially driven population. National youth organizations, such as 4-H, must reposition themselves to remain relevant and relative to this ever-changing group. This repositioning requires the development of more culturally relevant programming and training and a keener eye toward how to reach and keep engaged these youth and their communities.
Participate in the JOE Discussion Forum on "4-H and Its Relevance in the Era of #Moments in Urban Communities"
Finding the Motivation, Time, Personal Techniques, and Confidence to Write
Extension personnel need to embrace the concept of producing scholarship in written form. However, many often encounter challenges, such as finding time to write and figuring out how to get started. Scheduling writing times during your peak performance periods, using techniques that include goal setting or timed intensive writing, and overcoming your fears about writing can improve your productivity. Take the challenge, and start today.
Participate in the JOE Discussion Forum on "Finding the Motivation, Time, Personal Techniques, and Confidence to Write"
Ideas at Work
Making Evaluation Work for You: Ideas for Deriving Multiple Benefits from Evaluation
Increased demand for accountability has forced Extension educators to evaluate their programs and document program impacts. Due to this situation, some Extension educators may view evaluation simply as the task, imposed on them by administrators, of collecting outcome and impact data for accountability. They do not perceive evaluation as a useful tool in Extension programming and, therefore, pay little or no attention to it. The purpose of this article is to describe how to integrate evaluation into Extension programming to gain all the benefits evaluation offers. These benefits include program improvement, monitoring, and marketing and Extension advocacy.
Cooperative Extension Answers the Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding
Extension has many opportunities to promote breastfeeding, one of the most highly effective preventive measures a mother can take to protect the health of her infant and herself. This article describes how and why Cooperative Extension can and should partner with federal and state efforts to promote breastfeeding. Members of Rutgers' Family and Community Health Sciences department served on state work groups to identify and implement evidence-based strategies for promoting breastfeeding in health care, child care, and work site settings. Extension is an important public health partner, providing technical assistance, content expertise, and resources that meet the needs of communities.
Meals Plus Program—An Innovative Approach for Providing Local Produce to Meals on Wheels Clients
Extension programming often strives to achieve maximum impact on a minimum budget, but when it comes to sourcing local produce, asking farmers to donate sellable commodity can result in a dip into their profits. By connecting community partners, Extension can facilitate collaborations that work in the favor of all participating parties and ultimately provide a valuable service. This model was implemented in the development of the Meals Plus program, an add-on service to Salt Lake County Meals on Wheels (MOW). The Meals Plus program delivered 130–160 shares of local produce weekly to MOW clients during Salt Lake County's 5-month farmers' market season.
Pros in Parks: Integrated Programming for Reaching Our Urban Park Operations Audience
In addition to regular job duties, such as tree care, mulching, irrigation, and pesticide management, urban park workers have faced environmental changes due to drought, wildfires, and West Nile virus. They simultaneously have endured expectations to manage growing, diversifying park usage and limitations on career development. An integrated programming approach is used to provide training to frontline parks department employees in the cities of Arlington and Fort Worth, Texas. Results indicate high levels of adoption of practices, enhanced staff morale, and identification of potential future leaders. The program also introduces an urban audience to the broader array of Extension programming and services.
Unique Multiorganizational Collaborative Proves Effective in Delivering 2014 Farm Bill Education
The Agricultural Act of 2014 is critical to the economic safety net for U.S. producers. This act represented a major change in philosophy, requiring producers to make key decisions about their options on the basis of risk management. To add to the complexity of the issue, the time period for delivering applicable education to landowners before sign-up deadlines was relatively short. This article highlights a unique multiorganizational statewide approach to delivering the applicable education. It involved University of Minnesota Extension, the Center for Farm Financial Management, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and banks and resulted in substantive evaluative outcomes.
Rainwater Harvesting at the Department of Public Works
As part of an urban Extension initiative that focuses on reducing storm water runoff from impervious surfaces, Rutgers Cooperative Extension installed 5,000-gal cisterns at the Department of Public Works (DPW) facilities in Clark Township and the Township of Parsippany-Troy Hills, New Jersey, to harvest rainwater from the rooftops of the garages at these facilities. This project intercepts rooftop runoff before it can carry nonpoint source pollutants from the land surrounding the DPW garages. The harvested rainwater is used to fill street sweepers, wash municipal vehicles, and supply water for a "green car wash" to support volunteer groups.
Facebook Closed Group Surveys Can Provide Representative Data in Certain Situations
As hog producers worldwide faced challenges related to porcine epidemic diarrhea (PED), a web-based survey was used to better understand Taiwanese hog farmers' use of a Facebook closed group (FCG) for communication and to determine whether Extension professionals could use an FCG as an effective survey tool. The study found that the FCG sample appeared to be largely representative of Taiwanese hog producers overall. This finding may have been partly due to the impact of PED, which led many producers to be highly engaged at the time. This endeavor offers a good example of how Extension can collect and disseminate information through an FCG.
Tools of the Trade
E-Basics: Online Basic Training in Program Evaluation
E-Basics is an online training in program evaluation concepts and skills designed for youth development professionals, especially those working in nonformal science education. Ten hours of online training in seven modules is designed to prepare participants for mentoring and applied practice, mastery, and/or team leadership in program evaluation. In this article, implications for practice, policy, and research are reviewed.
Tools for Formative Evaluation: Gathering the Information Necessary for Program Improvement
New Extension educators experience a steep learning curve when attempting to develop effective Extension programs. Formative evaluation is helpful to new, and experienced, Extension educators in determining the changes necessary for making programs more effective. Formative evaluation is an essential part of program evaluation. However, its use has been overlooked by Extension educators due to overemphasis on outcomes evaluation for accountability. Extension educators must develop evaluation tools with questions appropriate for determining program weaknesses and strengths and identifying changes necessary for improvement. This article describes how to develop formative evaluation questions for program improvement.
Assessing Social Learning Outcomes Through Participatory Mind Mapping
This article presents a method for using mind mapping to assess social learning outcomes in collaborative environmental restoration and participatory natural resource management initiatives. Using mind mapping for preassessment and postassessment can reveal changes in individual and collective thinking about critical social and ecological issues. On the basis of results from four youth-based environmental restoration programs in Boulder, Colorado, and New York and Cattaraugus Territory, New York, we suggest that mind mapping can serve as an effective data collection strategy and as a method for analyzing cognitive change in environmental restoration programs and civic ecology more broadly.
Overcoming Language and Literacy Barriers: Using Student Response System Technology to Collect Quality Program Evaluation Data from Immigrant Participants
Student response system technology was employed for parenting education program evaluation data collection with Karen adults. The technology, with translation and use of an interpreter, provided an efficient and secure method that respected oral language and collective learning preferences and accommodated literacy needs. The method was popular with parents and staff, and provided reliable data, ensuring that participants were well represented in the evaluation results.
Lights, Camera, AG-tion: Promoting Agricultural and Environmental Education on Camera
Viewing of online videos and television segments has become a popular and efficient way for Extension audiences to acquire information. This article describes a unique approach to teaching on camera that may help Extension educators communicate their messages with comfort and personality. The S.A.L.A.D. approach emphasizes using relevant teaching tools to decrease anxiety, implementing effective questioning as a natural segue to a deeper discussion in a follow-up segment, and sharing examples or case studies in the form of stories with characters. Extension educators should engage with local television outlets and their own web cameras to reach broader and more diverse audiences.
Ketso: A New Tool for Extension Professionals
Extension professionals employ many techniques and tools to obtain feedback, input, information, and data from stakeholders, research participants, and program learners. An information-gathering tool called Ketso is described in this article. This tool and its associated techniques can be used in all phases of program development, implementation, evaluation, and analysis and can be particularly effective in engaging audiences. Examples of how Ketso has been used to conduct needs/interests assessments, brainstorm and generate ideas, and organize and plan are shared.
Food Safety Education for Students and Workers in School Gardens and University Farms
The number of school gardens and university farms is increasing in the United States. Produce grown in these venues is often sampled in the classroom or incorporated into the food chain. Food safety education for students and workers is needed to ensure that produce is safe. Two 1-hr food safety curricula were developed to inform K–12 students and university farm researchers and workers about good agricultural practices. The validated curricula include four or five short video modules, activities, instructor/facilitator lesson plans, knowledge assessment quizzes, and instructor manuals. Piloting results indicated that participants increased food safety knowledge after viewing these curricula.
Promoting Food Safety Awareness for Older Adults by Using Online Education Modules
Older adults are susceptible to and at greater risk for food-borne illness in comparison to those in other adult age groups. Online education is an underused method for the delivery of food safety information to this population. Three online mini-modules, based on social marketing theory (SMT), were created for and pilot-tested with older adults. These mini-modules were effective in promoting familiarity with food safety behaviors and were well-received, supporting the development of future SMT-based online education for this target audience.
Physical Activity: A Tool for Improving Health (Part 2—Mental Health Benefits)
By promoting physical activities and incorporating them into their community-based programs, Extension professionals are improving the health of individuals, particularly those with limited resources. This article is the second in a three-part series describing the benefits of physical activity for human health: (1) biological health benefits of physical activity, (2) mental health benefits of physical activity, and (3) recommended amounts of physical activity for optimal health. Each part of the series is designed to help Extension professionals effectively integrate physical activity into community programs and motivate individuals to maintain an interest in being physically active during and after a program.
Poverty Simulations: Building Relationships Among Extension, Schools, and the Community
Poverty simulations can be effective experiential learning tools for educating community members about the impact of poverty on families. The project described here includes survey results from three simulations with community leaders and teachers. This project illustrated how such workshops can help Extension professionals extend their reach and impact by engaging coalitions and volunteers and building community partnerships with school systems and community leadership groups.
Maximizing the Economic Value from Facebook Marketing in the Agrifood System: Boosting Consumer Engagement Through Contests
The Mississippi Bricks to Clicks Extension Program teaches the economics and management of social media to agrifood businesses. The purpose of this article is to explain how agrifood businesses can use Facebook contests to boost consumer engagement by correctly following Facebook's contest rules. Extension professionals can use this tool to improve their own Facebook contests when engaging with clientele or to advise agrifood or other types of businesses.
The USDA's Healthy Eating on a Budget Program: Making Better Eating Decisions on a Budget
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has launched a new interactive online program titled Healthy Eating on a Budget. It is an addition to the popular ChooseMyPlate.gov programs, such as the SuperTracker program. The Healthy Eating on a Budget program helps consumers plan, purchase, and prepare healthful meals. This article discusses materials and resources that are available as part of the Healthy Eating on a Budget program and provides suggestions for ways in which Extension professionals who teach consumers how to improve their nutrition and make nutrition affordable can use the program.
Program Theory and Quality Matter: Changing the Course of Extension Program Evaluation
As internal evaluators for the 4-H program in two states, we simultaneously yet independently began to change the way we approached our evaluation practices, turning from evaluation capacity building (ECB) efforts that prepared educators to define and measure program outcomes to strategies that engage educators in defining and measuring program quality. In this article, we discuss our similar experiences, how these experiences are changing the ECB work we do, and how changing our evaluation approach ultimately will position 4-H for better evaluations in the future. This shift in evaluation focus has implications for other Extension program areas as well.
Extension Resource Use Among Washington State Wine Makers and Wine Grape Growers: A Case for Focusing on Relevance
Interview and surveys were used to understand Extension relevance in the context of overall information resource use among Washington State wine makers and wine grape growers. Relevance, rather than adoption, is suggested as a frame for assessing Extension communication with these practitioners. Results suggest that Extension resources are used and valued, but not always perceived as relevant. Moreover, practitioners' resource use preferences were diverse but tended to fall into three categories: science driven, value driven, and utility driven. Appreciating differences in how these groups perceive Extension resources as relevant may be useful in framing more efficient and effective communication with them.
Valuing Extension Programming at the County Level
Local governments must make difficult choices to provide funding for essential services. Determining where Extension programming fits in the continuum of services provided by local governments can be a challenge. We assessed the value Extension provides to a community by using a randomized survey and focus group interviews in a rural Washington county. The survey response rate was greater than 50%, and we found no nonresponder bias. The county's residents indicated that they think Extension adds value to the community, that they are willing to pay for Extension services, and that they endorse the use of public dollars to support Extension.
Applying Coaching Strategies to Support Youth- and Family-Focused Extension Programming
In this article, we describe how a peer-coaching model has been applied to support community-based Extension programming through the Children, Youth, and Families at Risk (CYFAR) initiative. We describe the general approaches to coaching that have been used to help with CYFAR program implementation, evaluation, and sustainability efforts; we discuss strategies coaches use to maintain effective relationships with CYFAR stakeholders; and we review common characteristics of effective coaches. Finally, we discuss implications that coaching strategies might have for Extension programming in general and present future directions for research and practice related to peer coaching.
Participant Comfort with and Application of Inquiry-Based Learning: Results from 4-H Volunteer Training
This article explores how a one-time training designed to support learning transfer affected 4-H volunteers' comfort levels with the training content and how comfort levels, in turn, affected the volunteers' application of tools and techniques learned during the training. Results of a follow-up survey suggest that the training participants experienced increases in comfort with guiding inquiry-based learning and achieved high levels of application of the tools and techniques presented during the training. The data indicate that providing participants with opportunities during training to experience tools and build skills by practicing techniques helps them more effectively guide learning in the future.
Interdisciplinary Professional Development Needs of Cooperative Extension Field Educators
The study discussed in this article sought to identify cross-program professional development needs of county-based Extension professionals (field educators). The study instrument was completed by 105 county-based Extension professionals. Interdisciplinary topics, such as program evaluation and volunteer management, were identified as subjects of needed professional development for the Extension professionals whose sole program area was Economic and Community Development. Extension professionals in both the Agriculture and Natural Resources and the Health and Human Sciences program areas tended not to identify topics from each other's program areas as subjects of needed professional development.
Research in Brief
How Do Mode and Timing of Follow-Up Surveys Affect Evaluation Success?
This article presents the analysis of evaluation methods used in a well-designed and comprehensive evaluation effort of a significant Extension program. The evaluation data collection methods were analyzed by questionnaire mode and timing of follow-up surveys. Response rates from the short- and long-term follow-ups and different questionnaire modes by occupational categories also were examined. Overall, the electronic questionnaire mode and 2-month follow-ups yielded significantly higher response rates. The findings have implications for meaningfully evaluating Extension programs operating with limited resources. The recommendations are useful to Extension educators who need to decide how to capture program outcomes but have limited resources.
Does Webinar-Based Financial Education Affect Knowledge and Behavior?
Using webinar delivery for Extension financial education programs allows educators to reach a broader range of clientele. It can, however, be difficult to gauge participants' learning of concepts in an online environment. Evaluations of two webinar series, one in Montana and the other in South Dakota, sought to determine the effectiveness of using webinar-based financial education. Online retrospective pre-post and follow-up evaluations of the programs showed that participants increased their knowledge and performed positive financial behaviors as a result of participating.
Assessing the Profitability of Guava Production in South Florida Under Risk and Uncertainty
This article discusses an assessment of the profitability of operating a 5-acre Thai guava orchard in South Florida. The assessment used simulation techniques to incorporate yield and price risks. The article also demonstrates the use of a stoplight chart, an approach Extension agents might adopt to aid clients' decision making. The stoplight chart presents the results of the analysis, which indicate a 2% chance that the grower would experience a negative return/loss (red), a 21% chance that the return would be greater than $0 but less than $8,450 (yellow), and a 77% chance that the return would be greater than $8,450 (green).
Collaboration Between Extension and Industry: Coordination and Assessment of Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue Training
Rescuing large animals from emergency situations can be fraught with dangers not only to the animals but also to the rescuers. People involved at the scene of such an emergency are most likely to include first responders, horse owners, and veterinarians. These groups need to be aware of how they can best work together to effect a safe and efficient rescue as none typically has all the knowledge and skills that are necessary. Extension training programs that bring together such groups can be beneficial in supporting emergency and disaster preparedness in the local community.
A Farmer's Choice: Which Field to Put That Manure On?
This article discusses a study that explored choice of fields for manure application by livestock feed growers in three northern Colorado counties. Using results from a mail survey, matched pairs of manured and nonmanured fields were analyzed. Among the field characteristics considered, distance from a manure source, expected yield, cost savings through nutrient substitution, and field size were the most significant factors affecting farmers' manure-application choices. Understanding such factors may provide Extension agents with discussion points for influencing farmers to protect water quality and air quality while making their work lives easier and improving their crop yields.
Understanding the Barriers to Using Locally Grown Wood in the Forest Products Industry
Given the popularity of "buy local" agricultural campaigns, there might be opportunities for Extension to promote the local attribute of wood products. Unfortunately, there is little available literature exploring wood-products manufacturers' attitudes and opinions regarding local wood. In fall 2012, 38 in-depth interviews were conducted with individuals representing a range of firm sizes and final products. Participants provided a definition for what they considered to be local wood and identified four major barriers to the inclusion of Connecticut-grown and -processed wood in their manufacturing: high expense, low visibility, limited demand, and limited availability.
Assessing Integrated Pest Management Implementation and Knowledge Gaps in South Dakota
A survey of commercial pesticide applicator training participants was carried out during 2015 winter pesticide certification meetings to assess integrated pest management (IPM) knowledge gaps. Overall, the majority of the respondents reported that they have adequate access to IPM information and that they apply IPM principles in their pest management programs. Preventive fungicide use was identified as a regular practice by half the respondents and was dependent on the region of the state. Participants identified basic pest identification as an area in which more resources are needed. Online information and field days were the preferred options for accessing outreach and Extension.
The Value of 4-H Judging Teams—Missouri Dairy Judging Alumni Survey
Former Missouri 4-H Dairy Judging Team members responded to a survey about life skills development and the value of the judging team experience. Results of the survey indicate that judging team experience was highly influential in the development of communication, public speaking, and presentation skills. Respondents also indicated that judging team experience was valuable in introducing them to opportunities in agriculture and the dairy industry, educational opportunities, and professional opportunities. Eighty-four percent of the respondents currently use their evaluation and decision-making skills both professionally and personally. All respondents indicated that judging activity benefits outweigh the costs associated with maintaining judging teams.