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April 3, 2012

Program design impacts public value

Elements of a program's design can influence how much public value the program can create. Module 9 of the Building Extension's Public Value Presenter's Guide lists a number of those elements:


When I was at the 2012 Women in Agriculture Educators National Conference last week, I was reminded of the risk management education program for farm and ranch women known as Annie's Project. It is an example of a program that achieves its impact by targeting a carefully selected audience: women who are motivated to be involved in a farm or ranch business. Not knowing much more about the project than that, I wondered how the Annie's Project curriculum is tailored to its target audience. After all, if the program could achieve its objectives using all the same approaches as a traditional risk management education program--which historically were targeted to men--then it wouldn't be necessary to have a separate program for women.

I have learned, partly from this 2010 Journal of Agricultural Education article by Lynn Hambleton Heins, Jeff Beaulieu, and Ira Altman, some of the ways that Annie's Project is designed to be particularly effective with farm women learners. For example, the curriculum recognizes that women typically play different roles in the farm business and have different motivations for being involved in the business than men do.

I have also read and heard elsewhere--not in the Heins, Beaulieu, Altman paper--that the Annie's Project uses educational approaches that address the specific learning needs of women, who learn better in supportive environments with other women. I haven't found an article that describes these specific educational approaches or presents evidence that they are more effective with women learners than approaches used in traditional risk management classes. If any readers know of such a source, please let me know. With that evidence, I think Annie's Project can be a fine example of a program that maximizes its public value through careful program design.

Source: Hambleton Heins, Lynn, Jeff Beaulieu, and Ira Altman. "The Effectiveness of Women's Agricultural Education Programs; a Survey from Annie's Project." Journal of Agricultural Education 51,4 (2010):1-9.