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Cooperative Extension has created many decision support tools in spreadsheet, websites and apps, but are people actually using these tools?

Wendy Johnson and Brian McCornack from Kansas State University looked into the acceptance of these kind of applications and shared their findings in their Journal of Extension article, "Getting Growers to Go Digital: The Power of a Positive User Experience."

We talked about technology adoptions, especially among crop producers, in the conversation below.

We've been flirting with Snapchat at NDSU Extension Service. We've created some on-demand geofilters for events, but we don't have ant NDSU Extension Snapchat accounts.

Dr. Chelsey A. Ahrens, Specialty Livestock/Youth Education Specialist with University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service,  has fully embraced Snapchat for her Arkansas 4-H Livestock program. I talked about how she is using Snapchat and other social media to reach 4-H participants and their families.

A few weeks ago on the podcast, I talked with Jamie Seger and Paul Hill about their experience on the Extension Committee on Organization and Policy's (ECOP) Innovation Task Force. On the latest episode, spoke with Dr. Keith Smith, who chaired that task force.

Dr. Smith is Professor Emeritus at The Ohio State University. He served as the director of Ohio State University Extension for more than 20 years.

It was great to get a former director's perspective on innovation in Cooperative Extension. Dr. Smith is frank about Extension's need to innovate. He referenced the Innovation: An American Imperative, the call by industry leaders for policies and investments to ensure the U.S. remains a global innovation leader, in asking if its imperative that the nation innovate, why should it not be imperatve for Extension?

Dr. Smith also mentioned the book Collective Genius: The Art and Practice of Leading Innovation by Linda Hill, Greg Brandeau, Emily Truelove and Ken Lineback. He had his cabinet read this book while at Ohio State University Extension.

Dr. Smith is a respected leader in Cooperative Extension. Here's hoping the system hears his call for innovation.

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The increasing public distrust of science is one of the indirect threats to the future of Cooperative Extension. Obviously, an organization founded to diffuse research-based information and innovation would have an extremely hard time functioning in a country that had stopped trusting science.

Citizen science has the potential to rebuild trust in science by engaging people in the scientific process. It could also engage people in improving their own lives and communities, sharing in the work Extension often aims to do. Citizen science benefits Extension, and so Extension should be working to encourage it.

Katie Stofer, a research assistant professor at the University of Florida in the Agricultural Education and Communication department, has spent a year researching the state of citizen science in Cooperative Extension as part of an eXtension Fellowship. She shared some of what she learned on the latest episode of the podcast.

Jamie Seger, Educational Technology Program Director at The Ohio State University, and Paul Hill, County Educator and Extension Associate Professor (4-H) at Utah State University, co-lead the eXtension Educational Technology Learning Network (EdTechLN).

They join us periodically on the podcast to discuss the emerging technologies and issues in Cooperative Extension, and what's going on in EdTechLN. In the conversation below, we focused on the Extension Committee on Orgaization and Policy's Innovation Task Force, which Paul and Jamie both served on.

When I set up my interview with John Ivey, North Carolina Cooperative Extension agent in Guilford County, I was interested in the shared use kitchen he helped set up because it seemed innovative that Cooperative Extension would offer a facility where they might have only offered education.

That was just the tip of the iceberg. When John described how the shared use kitchen brought together much of what Extension has to offer: agriculture, entrepreneurship, community development and food safety. Add that to the impetus for the project, a finding that Guilford County was among the lest food secure counties in the nation, and you can see that Guilford County's shared use kitchen is a much more significant innovation than I had thought.

Science Flash MobThe University of Arkansas Soybean Science Challenge is a multi-faceted effort to engage high school science students in “real-world” scholarship around soybean production.

Karen Ballard, Professor of Program Evaluation at University of Arkansas, Division of Agriculture, Cooperative Extension Service joined us to talk about the virtual field trips, science fair awards and online courses that make up the Challenge. In addition, Karen shared her insights into how Extension can reach young people and be more innovative.

I hope you enjoy the conversation.

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Chuck Hibberd, dean and director of Cooperative Extension at the University of Nebraska - Lincoln, speaks off-the-cuff about learner engagement, social learning and other subjects key to Extension's future like no other administrator I've met.

Earlier this year, I was assisting with a workshop for Nebraska Extension leaders. The workshop opened with a video message from the director. I thought it would be a standard welcome. Instead Chuck Hibberd spoke, unscripted, about conversational vs. transactional programming, addressing complex issues and the importance of networks.

We talked about some of those things, as well as learner engagement and the future of Extension on the latest Working Differently in Extension podcast.

When I read the article, "Rural Health Inequities and the Role of Cooperative Extension" in the Journal of Extension, I knew I wanted to have the authors (Lauri Andress and Cindy Fitch) on the Working Differently in Extension podcast.

So much of their article, spoke to things I believe about complex issues, using networks to address those issues, and Extension's potential role in those networks. The article makes it clear that the decisions people make about their health happen in context, and knowledge transfer alone is not enough to address health issues in context. According to the authors, "Successful interventions (in addressing diabetes) have focused on a range of determinants, including capacity building, community participation, community development, systems change, health education, food preparation, and physical activity classes."

Andress and Fitch believe Cooperative Extension is uniquely positioned to address rural health inequities on a number of fronts. I agree, but I also think Extension alone cannot solve this problem. We need to work with a wide range of organizations that can address this complex issue in ways Extension can't or could never imagine.

I hope you enjoy our conversation.

Dr. Roberto Gallardo is working to close the rural digital divide. He's the leader of Mississippi State University Extension Intelligent Community Institute and the author of Responsive Countryside: The Digital Age and Rural Communities.

In the latest Working Differently in Extension podcast we talked about Roberto's TEDxJackson Talk, the rural digital divide and Cooperative Extension's role in closing it.