An Expanding Role for Extension Agents in the New Millennium: Helping Clients Evaluate Non-Extension Information.

Melissa Taylor, Peter Hesseldenz, Sandra Bastin, and Robert H. Flashman


In the past, consumers in rural areas depended on Cooperative Extension agents for reliable information because they had less access to television and other sources of information as did consumers in urban areas. However, with the explosion of technology and the new accessibility of information via Internet and satellite dishes, rural and urban consumers are getting a plethora of information from a variety of sources. Although these sources are convenient and easy to use, consumers should be aware that these resources may contain deceptive or misleading information. As in the past, Cooperative Extension agents must continue to provide consumers with research-based information, but the new challenge is to help consumers evaluate the quality of information originating from all technology sources to ensure that they are receiving reliable and accurate information. This article provides useful tips for Cooperative Extension agents and consumers to evaluate the wealth of health and nutrition information that can be obtained from the Internet, television, magazines, and other sources in the mass media. For the full article, click here.

How Consumers Prepared for the Year 2000: Preliminary Findings

Cathy Faulcon Bowen


This article describes a key component of a Year 2000 outreach effort directed at households by Penn State Cooperative Extension. Objectives were to:

  • Provide a brief educational booklet, Consumers and the Year 2000 (Y2K), for extension educators to use in responding to requests for information about the year 2000.
  • Determine if a simple-to-read publication would motivate consumers to take some action to prepare their homes for an emergency.
  • Determine what actions consumers would take to prepare for the year 2000.

A booklet, Consumers and the Year 2000 (Y2K) was a key component of this educational effort. Consumers’ responses on a Y2K evaluation card indicate that most had taken some action to prepare their homes for an emergency. The most common actions were storing appropriate foods and water. For the full article, click here.

Educating Children in a Socially Toxic Environment

James Garbarino


This article discusses the problems of children growing up in a socially toxic environment. Social toxins include violence, poverty, and other economic pressures on parents and their children. They include disruption of family relationships and other trauma, despair, depression, paranoia, nastiness, and alienation — all contaminants that demoralize families and communities. These are the forces in the land that contaminate the environment of children and youth. These are the elements of social toxicity. For the full article, click here.

Stepping Stones for Stepfamilies

Charlotte Shoup Olsen


Stepfamilies may appear to be like first time married two-parent families, but in reality, they are not. Their complexity becomes more apparent when one begins to recognize the number of close relationships that are possible. Stepping Stones for Stepfamilies, an Extension program developed by Kansas State University, is designed to assist, not only stepfamilies with children under the age of 18 years old, but professionals, extended family members, and friends who want to understand how to be supportive of successful stepfamily living within their communities. Different learning styles require different types of educational strategies; thus, the program consists of a six-lesson home study course, a 35-minute video, an audiotape, single page fact sheets, a teaching guide, a training manual, and evaluation instruments. These resources can be used in combination with each other or individually as the situation warrants. For the full article, click here.

The Editor’s Corner: Internet Users Should Follow Age-Old Advice:”Caveat Emptor!”

Carol A. Schwab, Editor FFCI


Internet users should follow the age-old advice: “Caveat Emptor,” or “Let the Buyer Beware.” Whether it is a scam or simply unreliable information, Internet users need to develop Web savvy to separate the reliable from the unreliable. The following editorial provides guidance on how to judge legal services and/or information offered through the web. For the full editorial, click here.



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