Enhancing Limited-Resource Farmers' Economic, Environmental, and Social Outcomes Through Extension Education
Westbrook, Johnnie Ray
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Enhancing Limited-Resource Farmersâ Economic, Environmental, and Social Outcomes Through Extension Education Johnnie Ray Westbrook ABSTRACT This research examined how the North Carolina A & T State University Cooperative Extension program has helped limited-resource farmers realize economic, environmental, and social outcomes through its 1890 Extension education program. Since1990, there has been little research on recent contributions of 1890 Extension programs for this audience. This inquiry described educational collaborative efforts among the North Carolina A & T Extension program, North Carolina State University (NCSU), other 1862 land-grant universities, community-based organizations, and government agencies providing nonformal education and services to limited-resource farmers. Personal interviews were conducted with two Extension specialists, one associate, two agents, and two agricultural and natural resource technicians. A focus group was conducted with nine limited-resource farmers. The findings revealed that the Farmers Adopting Computer Training (FACT), Plasticulture, and Pastured-Swine programs have helped enhance limited-resource farmersâ economic, environmental, and social outcomes. In addition, the participants confirmed caring, trust, and relationship building as qualities that encouraged their participation. However, participants indicated that scheduling Extension programs that conflict with planting and harvesting season and programs that do not address farmersâ needs and issues prevent their participation in Extension programs. Furthermore, North Carolina A & T Extension programs involved farmers in program planning through advisory committees and mentoring other farmers. Participants indicated that NC A & T collaborates with North Carolina State University, community-based organizations, and other government agencies to meet the needs of limited-resource farmers. The data suggest that the following improvements and changes for the North Carolina A & T Extension program: (a) use the outcome-based evaluation approach to evaluate Extension programs, (b) provide training for Extension faculty on program planning models, (c) continue the FACT, plasticulture, and pastured-swine production programs, (d) educate faculty in other schools and colleges at NC A & T State University about Extension programs, and (e) develop joint programs with other schools and colleges at North Carolina A & T State University.
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