Recipients of the Outstanding Public Issues Education Program Award

Outstanding Public Issues Education Program Awards

Responding Knowledgeably: From Welfare Reform to Well Being (1997)

Jean W. Bauer, Ph.D., Professor, Family Social Science, University of Minnesota
Bonnie Braun, Ph.D., Associate Dean of Outreach and Associate Professor, Family Social Science, University of Minnesota

Jean Bauer and Bonnie Braun seized the opportunity to educate citizens on the complex public policy issue of welfare reform. The 1996 welfare reform legislation dramatically changed 61 years of government assistance to families. Responding Knowledgeably: From Welfare Reform to Well-Being was designed to (1) increase awareness of the historic and contemporary nature of public assistance legislation in the U.S., (2) facilitate exchange of information, concerns, and ideas among community and professional leaders, and (3) refocus the legislation from the problem (welfare for a few) to the opportunity (well being for all) using research and theoretical frameworks. The program focused on the “five I’s” of information, issues, impact, implications, and imperatives. Educational forums with the public started six weeks after passage of the 1996 welfare reform legislation. Program elements included state and national satellite broadcasts, a national welfare reform think-tank, in-service training for extension faculty, presentations to professional society meetings, and development of a welfare reform web page. For this public policy programming to be effective, it had to reach large numbers of people, with diverse levels of knowledge and attitudes, dispersed across the state and nation within a short time frame. Bonnie and Jean built the capacity of this program to meet the needs of multiple learners with the innovative use of electronic technologies. While ultimate outcomes remain to be seen, reaction to this program from citizens and public officials has been very favorable.

Iowa’s Pork Industry – Dollars and Scents (1998)

Bruce Babcock, C. Phillip Baumel, Mike Duffy, Mark Edelman, Neil Harl, Marvin Hayenga, Dermot Hayes, Joe Herriges, Wallace Huffman, James Kliebenstein, Cathy Kling, John Lawrence, Kelvin Leibold, John Miranowski, Peter Orazem, Dan Otto, John Schroeter, Susan Thompson and Erda Wang.

Iowa has been the nation’s leading hog-producing state for more than 100 years. In recent years, the number of Iowa farms with hogs has been declining while new large-scale hog operations are being established. These facilities have generated much debate and have tended to polarize rural communities. This project consisted of several elements—new research was conducted, a book was published, a statewide conference was held and a comprehensive follow-up effort has been undertaken to reach new people concerning developments in Iowa’s pork industry.

The Natural Resources Leadership Institute: Using Conflict Resolution in Public Issues Education on Controversial Environmental Issues (1998)

North Carolina State University and the University of Kentucky: Mary Lou Addor, Leon E. Danielson, Simon K. Garber, Edwin J. Jones, Michael P. Levi, L. Steven Smutko, Donald H. Graves, Craig L. Infanger and Jennifer A. Thompson.

The Natural Resources Leadership Institute is a training program administered through the Cooperative Extension Service at North Carolina State University and the University of Kentucky. The goal is to train people to work together to resolve environmental problems. Each year, the institute brings together a broad array of groups over the past generationincluding government regulators, resource managers, industry representatives, environmental advocates, educators and private land owners over the past generation for six three-day workshops focused on leadership, teamwork, communication, dispute resolution and collaborative problem solving. Institute graduates have been responsible for resolving numerous environmental conflicts at the local level.

Collaboration to Achieve Agreement on Natural Resource Decisions: Different Approaches to Natural Resource Education in Eastern Nevada (1999)

Robert E. Wilson, Sherman Swanson, Hudson Glimp, Don Holloway, Alice Crites, Michael Havercamp, Bill Evans, Marlene Reborri, Dan Weigel, Gene Kolkman, Brent Eldridge, Ray Flake, Richard Carver, Joel Twitchell and Gerald Miller.

Change in the Great Basin rangeland during the past 150 years has resulted in a reduction in plant specie diversity, resulting in reduction of forages for wildlife and livestock and threatening the economic, recreational, and ecological health of the region. Because of intense conflicts between individuals regarding natural resource use, a new community based process was developed to enable people with varying interests to work together.

County Based Multi-disciplinary Public Policy Education Program (PPE) for Hillsborough County (Tampa) Florida (1999)

Michael F. McKinney, Team Coordinator, Hillsborough County Public Policy Advisory Committee, Hillsborough County PPE Water Committee.

Since forming in 1994, the primary focus of the Hillsborough County PPE program has been to develop and implement a multi-disciplinary education program to provide an opportunity for local citizens and decision makers to study various community issues incorporating established public policy methodology. The spectrum of educational programming has included land use issues, water issues, agricultural and environmental issues, nature/eco tourism issues, hunger and food security issues and issues of acceptance and respect. 14, 872 PPE contacts were made in 1998.

Local Taxes in Our Community: Understanding Tax Reform in Pennsylvania (2000)

Timothy W. Kelsey, Pennsylvania State University

This public policy education project commenced in 1997 as the Pennsylvania legislature started a process of creating new local tax policy alternatives. The first segment of this educational program included materials and presentations designed to help voters understand the proposed state constitutional amendment concerning property tax homestead exclusions and the potential implications for state and local tax policy. The second segment included materials, presentations, and regional in-service training sessions designed to help extension agents and citizens understand the subsequent 1998 legislation that outlined the specific tax policy options available to school districts and other local governments concerning the proposed Homestead/Farmstead exclusions. The third initiative was to provide detailed district specific study materials for all school districts so they could calculate whether to place the tax reform issue before their respective local school district electorates. The final initiative included CD-ROM with data, a teachers manual, a publication series, video, and in-service training programs for extension agents to help Local Tax Study Commissions and informal tax study groups to better understand local taxation in their own community and to help them examine the impacts of the various alternatives authorized under the 1998 legislation.

National Survey of State Animal Confinement Policies (2000)

Program Team: Andrew F. Seidl, Colorado State University; Mark A. Edelman, Iowa State University; Mellie Warner, Clemson University; Hal Harris, Clemson University; Nelson Bills, Cornell University; Charles Abdalla, Pennsylvania State University

During the Spring of 1998, the Farm Foundation facilitated the organization of a national task force to discuss the public policy education needs regarding animal confinement issues and concerns. The task force concluded that each state appeared to approach an increasing number of concerns differently given their unique resource constraints and political context. Policy educators concluded that virtually no policy education materials were available—not withstanding a few attempts by single states, organizations, and agencies to collect multi-state data on selected swine producing states. As a result, $33,000 from Extension Services in 12 states, the Farm Foundation and USDA-CSREES were allocated to the Task Force for purposes of designing and implementing a survey of state animal confinement policies. The objective was to identify the big picture of what states were doing in response to the growing number of animal confinement concerns raised in the media. The survey process identified appropriate university and state agency expertise to complete the surveys. A national Internet Web site was created at Clemson University to provide a summary of survey results as well as detailed results from the 48 states by state and/or by topic. A summary of the results has been published and distributed widely to policymakers, state and federal agencies and interest group leaders nationally and in several states. Survey results have been presented in a wide range of policy development discussions and policy evaluation settings at the state and national level, including Congressional and USDA briefing requests, state legislative briefings, interest group requests and conference programs. The project epitomizes the value of the national policy education networkby showing how policy educators can pool time and resources while partnering with USDA and Farm Foundation to develop a more comprehensive set of policy education and information resources for enhanced understanding of issues that are of local, state, and national concern.

Copin County U.S.A.: A Citizen Involvement Workshop (2001)

Program Team: Jeri Marxman, University of Illinois; Robin Orr, University of Illinois; Jeanne Warning, Iowa State University; Katey Walker, Kansas State University

Copin County, USA is a citizen involvement workshop that provides the opportunity for Extension educators and community citizens to practice applying their knowledge, values, and leadership skills to local public policy decisions. There are six scenarios in the Copin County exercise: child care, jobs, transportation, food security, health care, and housing. Each scenario includes information about stakeholders, community infrastructure, and demographic data that will help groups develop plans to deal with the issues. Suggestions for customizing the data to local conditions are provided, along with a broad general overview. The materials are easy for the facilitator to prepare and use. This program was and is an enormously collaborative effort of representatives of almost all states in the Region. We want to acknowledge here that this effort was nurtured by many people, whose advice and counsel guided the team efforts and wrote many of the materials.

Land Use Conflict: When City and Country Clash (2001)

Program Team: Mark A. Edelman, Iowa State University; David Patton, The Ohio State University; Charles W. Abdalla, Pennsylvania State University; Del Marks, Iowa State University; Farm Foundation; Kettering Foundation; National Land Use Task Force

 Land Use Conflict was released at the 1999 National Policy Conference and was distributed for use in public forums in over 40 states. The first printing of 10,000 copies was exhausted within a few months necessitating a second printing of 7,500. Project evaluations indicated Land Use Conflict was used in a variety of ways. It was used in community forums on land use, to design surveys to identify public perceptions and values about land use, and to recruit new contributors to a land trust. It was discussed in state hearings and in drafting bills on land use, and used as a primer on land use in undergraduate and graduate classes, extension in-service training sessions, and local leadership programs. As one user of the publication indicated on the assessment form, “Land Use Conflict appears to have long term value since it is not tied to specific policies or points in time.”

What the Public Values about Farmland (2005)

Program Team: Mary Ahearn, USDA Economic Research Service; Charles Abdalla, Pennsylvania State University; John Bergstrom, University of Georgia; Kevin Boyle, Virgina Tech University; Tom Daniels, University of Pennsylvania; Julia Freedgood, American Farmland Trust; Stephan Goetz, Pennsylvania State University; Fen Hunt, USDA, CSREES; Doug Lawrence, USDA, Natural Resources Conservation Service; Larry Libby, The Ohio State University; and Andrew Seidl, Colorado State University

Many diverse groups are engaged in responding to the public’s interest in protecting open space. There is, however, no single organizational leader or framework in the nation’s open-space protection movement. From an economist’s viewpoint, the public policy challenge is to provide the greatest benefit per farmland preservation dollar. But farmland preservation or open space programs provide an assortment of benefits or amenities, such as scenic vistas, wildlife habitat, cultural heritage amenities, food security, or growth management. Local residents place differing values on these amenities. To provide the most efficient management, public program managers need information on how the public values the various benefits. The public policy challenge is two-fold: to educate program managers about the power of economics applied to policy issues of allocating scarce dollars to protect open space, and to provide them with information on the what the public values about farm and ranch land. This program extended academic research to policy-relevant applications.

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