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Volume 4, Issue 2, June 2022

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Special Issue on Extension Education and Teaching: Part 1

Guest Editors: Kynda Curtis, Amy Hagerman, and David Ripplinger

Extension Education

On the Strategic Creation of Extension and Outreach Content in a New Media Environment

Trey Malone, Jim Monahan, Katie Nicpon, K. Aleks Schaefer, and Madelyn Cary

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Posted online: May 23, 2022
doi: 10.22004/ag.econ.321905

Abstract: Colleges of Agriculture across the world have been forced to rapidly adapt new media solutions to confront the challenge of educating and community building in increasingly digital spheres. With prospective and current students, program participants, alumni, and stakeholders at home, the COVID-19 pandemic was a catalyst to creating educational and connection opportunities through new media such as podcasts. Podcasts, like all digital content, require strategic planning and perform best when integrated into an overall communication or teaching strategy. This article uses podcasts as a case study as to discuss how new media can be a complement to the communications and learning goals of agricultural and applied economics departments. We develop a conceptual framework that provides a template for best practices for integrating podcast content into research-based community building and strategic communications development. Our article then utilizes the conceptual framework to describe the development of the Michigan State University Closing Bell podcast, which was implemented as a livestream on College of Agriculture and Natural Resources social media platforms in response to ongoing crises during the early stages of the pandemic.

Keywords: New media, outreach-bases research, podcasts

Extension Programming During a Pandemic: The Cooperative Director Foundations Program

Michael A. Boland, Christopher J. Kopka, Keri L. Jacobs, Courtney Berner, Brian C. Briggeman, Matthew Elliott, Diane Friend, Phil Kenkel, Greg McKee, Frayne Olson, John L. Park, Will Secor, Kristi Schweiss, Hannah Scott, and Tom Worley

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Posted online: June 16, 2022
doi: 10.22004/ag.econ/321906

Abstract: In summer 2020, when it became apparent that our Extension programming was not likely to be done in person in 2020/2021, a broad group of collaborators, representing universities, cooperative centers, and practitioners, began discussions to collaborate on some form of online learning platform to offer our Extension education modules for new directors on agricultural cooperatives boards across state lines and develop a program that was unavailable in most states. The objective is to describe the process, content, and lessons learned from our collaboration two years later. A legal entity was formed to develop and launch a common learning platform across our universities to handle registration fees and to pay for the development of the programs. The result is a comprehensive, peer-reviewed curriculum composed of 23 digital modules comprising 15 hours of content with a workbook written by a collaboration of 11 universities and 15 authors. We used state-of-the-art technology including storyboards, recorded lecturers, animations, vignettes, and online assessments for the digital content. In May 2022, adoption of the programming has begun slower than expected but moving in the right direction. We discuss lessons learned and about evolving new insights about future Extension programming for this largely underserved group.

Keywords: Agribusiness, cooperatives, education, Extension, learning, online

Can We Foster the Future of Extension through (Friendly) Competition? The Past, Present, and Future of the Graduate Student Extension Competition

Aaron J. Staples, Carlos A. Fontanilla-Diaz, Kate Binzen Fuller, and Maria I. Marshall

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Posted online: June 16, 2022
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doi: 10.22004/ag.econ.321907

Abstract: The year 2022 is the 15th anniversary of the AAEA Graduate Student Extension Competition (GSEC). The GSEC provides an opportunity for applied economics MS and PhD students to develop Extension and/or outreach programs based on their graduate work, present their proposals to a group of outreach experts, and gain feedback. It also serves as an opportunity for networking, informal mentorship, and enhancing professional relationships and collaboration. This competition is one way to encourage applied economics graduate students to enter into Extension careers, or at least better inform them about those careers. We evaluate the competition and its outcomes for both student competitors and judges through historical information and survey data. We find that the GSEC enhances the ability of graduate students to translate research to lay audiences and can serve as a key pipeline for future Extension economists and others in outreach roles. This case study can be used to inform similar efforts for career education and mentorship efforts in Extension and outreach fields of economics.

Keywords: Extension mentorship, Extension pedagogy, adult education, outreach

Nurturing International Graduate Students for a More Diversified and Inclusive Extension Workforce

Yangxuan Liu and Wendong Zhang

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Posted online: June 17, 2022
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doi: 10.22004/ag.econ/321908

Abstract: The United States exports over 20 percent of its agricultural products; thus, agricultural trade and understanding global markets and partner countries’ agricultural policies is increasingly important to its continued success. International graduate students represent a significant portion of agricultural economics students at many land-grant universities; however, many international graduate students do not receive exposure to Extension. We argue this creates an untapped resource to integrate graduate education and Extension services; thus, Extension misses opportunities to recruit top talent to serve the agricultural industry, and international graduate students have less job market success. Leveraging a survey of department heads and Extension economists in agricultural economics departments, our research documents the status of international Extension agricultural economists, identifies hidden and perceived barriers for international graduate students pursuing academic Extension careers, and provides insights into appropriate education and training programs in university graduate curricula to increase international graduate students’ awareness of and interest in Extension.

Keywords: Economic education; Extension; diversity, graduate education; international graduate student; land-grant university

Cross-Hedging in the Classroom: Engaging Students Scholarly Extension Output

Joel Cuffey, Wenyig Li, Wendiam Sawadgo, and Adam Rabinowitz

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Posted online: June 27, 2022
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doi: 10.22004/ag.econ.321909

Abstract: Topics covered by undergraduate agricultural economics courses often overlap with Extension educational needs. This paper describes an undergraduate class project that involved students in producing an Extension report. The project was designed as a collaboration between undergraduate instructors and Extension economists. The instructors targeted a set of concepts and skills for the students to practice, and the Extension economists advised the instructors on a particular issue using those skills relevant to local agriculture. This process resulted in analyzing the potential to cross-hedge peanuts with futures contracts from different commodities. Students were introduced to peanut marketing, cross-hedging, regression analysis, and how to write an Extension publication. In groups, students analyzed data and wrote a report. Group reports were evaluated by Extension economists, and one project was chosen to be published as a peer-reviewed Extension publication.

Keywords: Cross-hedging, Extension education, undergraduate teaching

Engaged Learning: Linking Course Instruction and Extension Programming

Todd M. Schmit, Richard Stamm, and Roberta M. Severson

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Posted online: July 6, 2022
doi: 10.22004/ag.econ.321910

Abstract: Engaged learning projects can effectively complement Extension programming goals and course learning objectives that enrich outcomes for both components. A cooperative business management class at Cornell University provides an evaluation of the fundamental principles, structure, finance, and governance associated with the cooperative business model. In so doing, students analyze contemporary issues facing modern cooperatives. In collaboration with Extension programming, contemporary issues are emphasized through projects with actual cooperative businesses. Students benefit from applying principles learned in class, while cooperatives benefit from fresh, new perspectives they receive from people outside their organization. Both value the highly interactive nature of this engagement and to which work plans and expected deliverables can and often do change throughout the course of the projects. This paper synthesizes the obstacles and benefits associated with engaged learning projects from the learned experiences of the class instructor, professional Extension staff, and cooperative industry clients. Recommended best practices are elucidated to better inform faculty interested in implementing this dynamic approach combining Extension and classroom education.

Keywords: Cooperatives, engaged learning, Extension programming, undergraduate teaching