Lots of reasons for success stories. They are valuable locally. REEDs, Communication & External Relations specialists, media, administration (federal and state reporting).
Started as Midwestregional agronomist for industryArea field agronomist for both industry and Extension31 year veteran of Extension Crop SpecialistInformation technology & communicationsANR program evaluator
CBS ends its newscast with a positive note.
Why was it important to address an issue with some kind of educational effort? What justified Extension (you) spending time/resources on this?What was created/produced because of your efforts? How many people were reached?What outcomes (results) can you show/document because of your efforts?Learning Action ConditionsThese 3 points are important aspects of your story because they show the value you brought to the table.
Outcomes:Learning – understanding how weather patterns affect crops; problem identified why loss of nitrogen; changing attitudes about timing of nitrogen application; incentive created to do something differentActions taken – adopting conservation techniques learned at a field demonstration; decision to change timing of nitrogen application; Changed conditions – appropriate land use, understanding how soil properties mitigate surface and groundwater contamination from ag inputs to lessen environmental, recreational and aesthetic impact. New standard or benchmark for farming enterprises, environment, local community, society.
Saving producers money because they learned better management skills is the outcome at the second level of change… producers changing behavior or taking action based on Ext recommendations. Stakeholders need to know the broader value of our efforts, i.e. how the public benefits. We need to know how to talk about that level of value. As we go through the mechanics of writing a good success story (based on relevance, response, results), keep in mind the bigger picture that can showcase how our efforts create public value.How do we spin Ext successes to show how our programs affect these sectors, thereby contributing to public value? Figure out how a series of ag programs conducted over time contribute to a broader change.Find inferences to other sectors; for ex: widespread problems with bad weather or disease can impact transportation of commodities. More examples later…The perspective of Ext programs should change from what Ext does to issues that are meaningful in your state. Tourism, natural resources, environment, commodities, niche markets, rural vitality, Main Street impacts. Look at your work w/ local ag businesses. It may be easier to show public value from that sort of interaction than with individualproducers.
Here are the facts about what happened to hog prices recently. Profitability in farming is always relevant, at least to producers!Is this a situation that your program could address? Let’s assume your program has some relevance to this situation and you conduct some workshops and follow up to see if participants adopted Extension recommendations.
Continuing decline in prices may spur some producers to look at alternative sources of income.Extension responds to their needs with a program that shows how to evaluate different farm plans.All the elements of the result of a program are in this statement, but is there a better way to showcase Ext efforts?What is the most important piece of this statement?
The key result of ‘making better decisions’ is front and center.
You’ve identified the audience you can make these claims about (the who). The ‘how’ comes next… thru Extension education.Survey results from participantscan back up your claims w/ quantifiable data.
Title: Does it make people curious to learn more about your program?NecessaryBasics: Who, what, where, when, whyRelevance: What specificneed did your program address?Results: What behavior changes do you anticipate? What can you document? Do you have quotes from participants?Public Value: Why should people who did not participate care? What need or issue of a larger community did this program address? What was the impact on the larger community? What, if any, followup will be done?
You have a nanosecond to catch and hold a reader’s attention. Use the title to extend that nanosecond.Let’s look at our example from the hog and dairy price scenario.
What kind of change is your program going to generate? Show how participants are taking action that pay off as a result of Extension education/research. What do they say about how your program helped them? Good quotes always help a story. Public Value: When you describe the specific audience you are working with, keep in mind how you might extrapolate the results to make broader inferences. Your evaluation isn’t claiming the same cause and effect will be true for a larger population, you just point out possible associations.
Use active verbs when describing your Outcomes. They can be measured and documented.
Descriptive verbs relate to the activities (outputs) that your program generates, not its outcomes. These verbs don’t explain the value of your program.
This type of verb relates to an activity or output, not an outcome.Don’t use pronouns (we, our, us…) because sometimes parts of your story are taken out of original context & you want readers to still be able to id who the story is about.
This Outcome shows Learning and is measurable by seeing how well producers recognize weeds. What part of this statement is missing?Can you make this claim about all sb and corn producers in your state?Need to define audience… participants who attended your program.
This Outcome goes beyond Learning by measuring how the improved recognition of weeds can affect profitability for a specific group of producers.What would be a broader implication from this outcome?
Are Extension priorities in line with client priorities? If not, which group do you/should you develop programs for?Are Extension needs in line w/ client needs? If not, whose take precedence?
These are valid observations of changes as a result of the Extension program. But the story needs to go further to explain how these actions impact profitability. These anecdotal comments are worth following up on to determine tangible benefits resulting from each of these actions.You have to build in the ability to do this kind of follow up (evaluation) at the front end of your program.
Public stakeholders arenot going to care that MGs now have a nice online reporting system that makes it easy to enter their hours. What does thereporting systemhave to do with what peoplevalue? The benefit for the larger public is how recording hours is going to make things better for people who MGs assist.
This statement is crisp, to the point, and clearly states what the benefit is. NOTE: I did not use acronyms, included full name of institution. Don’t use pronouns for your organization…Use every opportunity to reinforce name recognition. Repetitiveness helps keep the public aware of Extension’s name.
As I mentioned at the beginning, success stories can be important sources of information for required reports and a variety of communication pieces. Program leaders and administration completing federal reports use them. Success stories have content that is valuable to local regions and counties as they prepare annual stakeholder reports. Extension communications and External Relations scans success stories looking for content for a variety of communication pieces, including news releases, impact statements, and fact sheets.
Write strategic Outcomes for specific activities that you can add together to eventually show that Extension has some influence on a long-term condition change.
Speculate what the future would look like without your program… for the producer, ag business, local community, the state.
When ascribing Public Value, use verbs that convey the impact Extension had on an issue.
Look at all the activities that you do and start linking them into a larger picture by finding some commonality. Your success stories won’t be isolated instances, but rather be linked by that common goal.
The objective isn’t to educate producers; education is the venue used to achieve the objective. What you really want to do is increase producers’ economic viability or profitability through their use of management tools such as spreadsheets and other tools.
Clear what the benefit is.
Explain why being able to breeding a sow longer benefits the public in language they will understand.
Explain why being able to breeding a sow longer benefits the public in language non-ag audience will understand.
Basics: Who, what, where, when, whyTitle: Does it make people curious to learn more?Relevance: What need did your program address?Results: What behavior changes can you document?Public Value: Why should people who did not participate care? What was the impact on the larger community?
Include evaluation in your program from the beginning so it is easier to write a good story at the end. Show the relevance of your program to current issues.Write a story w/ punch that the public can relate to.
Include evaluation in your program from the beginning.Show the relevance of your program to current issues.Write a story w/ punch that the public can relate to.
Administrative Skills - Writing using success stories aug 2011 nacaa
So you want to write a goodSuccess Story<br />Sorrel Brown <br />Program Evaluation<br />ANR Extension<br />August 9, 2011<br />NACAA<br />
The 3 Rs … Plus<br />Public Value<br />How the public benefits<br />How changed conditions make a larger difference<br />
A good story shows why it’s worth telling<br />Situation: Hog and dairy prices plummeted substantially in 2008 and 2009. The price rise of grain increased costs of production, especially for fertilizer and land.<br />Relevance…. Response…. Results<br />
From Situation to Results<br />Because Extension conducted workshops on the Farm Financial Planning Program, farmers acquired the knowledge and skills to evaluate the impact of alternative farm plans on their farm business. <br />Okay, but…<br />
Better, but…<br />Farmers are better able to evaluate the impact of alternative farm plans on their farm business using knowledge and skills gained through using the Extension Farm Financial Planning Program.<br />Survey results show that …<br />
Much stronger …<br />Farmers who attended the X workshop are making better decisions regarding the risk of alternative farm plans by evaluating their impact on the farm business through the knowledge and skills gained from the Extension Farm Financial Planning Program.<br />Survey results show that …<br />
Parts of a Success Story<br />Title creates curiosity<br /> Necessary elements<br /> Changes that occurred<br /> Relevance<br /> Results<br /> Public value (if likely)<br />
Make the Title work for you<br />Farm Financial Planning Program<br />Better Economic Decisions with the Farm Financial Planning Program<br />Increased Dairy Efficiency with the Farm Financial Planning Program<br />
Show a Meaningful Change<br /> Measurable objectives<br /> Target audience<br /> Evaluation results<br />
Descriptive Verbs <br />Ok for Outputs<br /> Conduct … Carry out … Establish … Present … Provide … Educate … Inform … Produce … Develop … Create … Design … Train<br />Not for Outcomes<br />
Outcome Example<br />Developed a field reference that provides descriptions and images of the more common weeds in Iowa.<br />What you did, not what changed or who benefited and how.<br />
Outcome - Better<br />Improved corn and sb producers’ ability to recognize common weeds in Iowa using a field reference that provides descriptions & images and can be easily carried into the field.<br />
Outcome – Even Better<br />Increased corn and sb producers’ profitability through better decisions for weed management. Participants in X program are now able to make economical decisions about weed control by recognizing common weeds in Iowa using a field reference that provides descriptions & images and can be easily carried into the field.<br />
Broader Implications (Public Value)<br />By making better decisions about investing in production inputs regarding common weeds using the Extension field guide, corn and sb producers in Iowa are more likely to limit their chemical applications to the environment. <br />
So what? = Relevance Factor<br />Priorities<br />Needs<br />Investment<br /><ul><li>Problem-focused
Environment</li></li></ul><li>Outcomes – Good, but…<br />Survey results revealed that as a consequence of the education participants received at X Extension meetings, they took the following actions to increase their profitability:<br />
One family now checks the market daily for pricing opportunities. So what?<br />One producer had a basis contract on 45,000 bu of corn for the 1st time. So what?<br />One producer noted a gap in both corn & sb and purchased a put option contract to take advantage of the opportunity for the 1st time. So what?<br />
Master Gardeners across Iowa embraced the online hours reporting system. So what?<br />Better, but not quite there…<br />XMaster Gardeners surveyed in 2010 say they will use the new online reporting system to record hours so that … (what’s the real benefit?)<br />
Much Better<br />Summaries provided by the new Iowa State University Extension Master Gardeners’ online reporting system show [list benefits important to the public].<br />
Using your Success Story<br />State reports<br />Federal reports<br />Regional stakeholder reports<br />Extension/College of Ag communications<br />To create a collective impact story<br />
Outcome Indicators for Condition Changes <br />Cumulative across various activities within a program that lead to changes for a broader audience<br />
NIFA Comments on <br />ISUE 2010 Annual Report<br />Actions taken to seek stakeholder input that encourages their participation<br />Method used to identify groups and individuals<br />Method used for collecting stakeholder input<br />A statement of how collected input will be considered<br />
NIFA Comments on <br />ISUE 2010 Annual Report<br />Significant effort went into documenting all the important activities that are supported by the funding. <br />Represents the high quality of information generated, organized and communicated to a wide variety of interested people.<br />
Public Value – Changed Conditions<br />Can Extension claim credit?<br />
Public Value when …<br /><ul><li>Narrows an information gap
The thread that links your program to a bigger picture</li></li></ul><li>Broader outcomes because of Extension education<br />Influences … <br />Contributes ... <br />Isa factor in ...<br />Adds to …<br />Plays a part in … Promotes …<br />
Outcomes – Desired Change?<br />Educated producer concerning the value of improving sow longevity in their herds. <br />Used spreadsheet tools developed to show economic impact that improving sow longevity could have.<br />Used educational posters/presentations to show producer how sow longevity can be improved through proper gilt selection.<br />
Outcomes – Desired Change<br />Increased profitability of X hog producers through their understanding and use of spreadsheet tools that calculate economic benefit of improving sow longevity through proper gilt selection.<br />
Outcomes – Public Value?<br />Animal welfare has improved to the point where sows now remain in the breeding herd longer.<br />So what that sows remain in the breeding herd longer? <br />Don’t assume the public knows anything about your discipline.<br />Describe benefits from the public’s perspective.<br />
Public Value Stories<br />Evidence of program impact<br />Testimony from individuals whose lives were improved by their ownparticipation<br />Testimony from individuals who benefit from improved conditions that Extension programs helped generate<br />Environmental<br />Social<br />Economic<br />
Outcome<br />Survey results (n=250) showed Internet links were used by 98% of participants, 74% shared what they learned, information was used to make decisions by almost all, increased profits/acre from this information was noted by most respondents, and Iowa acres impacted were in the tens of thousands. <br />What’s the Public Value in this story?<br />
Public Value Statements<br />Extension’s program on X contributed to disseminating information about Y that impacted tens of thousands of Iowa acres.<br />Information provided by Extension was used to make decisions by almost all participants and increased their profits per acre, thereby stimulating the local economy. <br />Better farming decisions helps producers stay economically viable, resulting in a more vital rural community.<br />
Results that affect Conditions –<br />Example<br />Iowa farmers increased production efficiencies to reduce negative environmental impact.<br />Track specific production efficiencies in target audience over time to show a condition change for others.<br />
Results that affect Conditions –<br />Example<br />Increased incomes for producers have a ripple effect on their local community. Using Integrated Pest Management recommendations by Extension reduces the impact of chemical products on the local environment. <br />
Parts of a Success Story<br /> Title that catches attention<br />Necessary elements<br /> Changes that occurred<br /> Relevance<br /> Results<br /> Public value (if possible)<br />
How confident are you to …<br />Determine if a story is worth telling?<br />Recognize verbs that describe outcomes?<br />Better understand how your programs create public value?<br />Show program relevance to a public issue?<br />