Impact Reports – Relevance

Debra Davis, PhD

Telling the extension story has never been more important than today! With everyone competing for valuable resources, stakeholders need to know what they get for the investment they make in our programs. They want to know the difference our programs make in the lives of people who participate in our programs. It’s all about accountability!

Consider using the 3 R’s model to tell your program’s story. It is a very simple but structured and concise way to explain to others the RELEVANCE of our programs to the issues in the state; our RESPONSE or what we did to address those issues; and the RESULTS or impact of our actions. Over the next couple of weeks, I will be discussing the 3 R’s in more detail. Today, the first R-RELEVANCE.

In the RELEVANCE section of your impact report, explain why you conducted the program. Answer these questions:

  • Why is addressing this issue important?
  • How was the issue identified?
  • How can education help to address the issue?
  • Who is your target audience
  • What were the overall goals of your program?

Let’s look at a few examples of what a RELEVANCE statement might look like.

Example 1: Nutrition

Approximately 31% of elementary school students in X Parish are overweight or obese. According to 2009 estimates by the State Department of Health & Hospitals, this number has risen by 33% in the last 10 years. Research has shown that consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables and daily physical activity among most youth are not at recommended levels.  Educating youth and their caregivers about the health benefits of making dietary and lifestyle changes can reverse these staggering statistics once new strategies are adopted. The goal of this program was to introduce 5th grade students to new fruits and vegetables and to increase the number of minutes of daily physical activity each performs by 20%.

Example 2: Agriculture

The 2010 Ag Summary reports the gross farm value of soybeans in A, B & C Parishes is approximately $31.5 million. A review of past data shows a steady decrease in acreage in these three parishes over the past five years. There are many variables which influence a farmer’s decision to stay in farming but the cost/benefit ratio may be the most important. Educating producers on ways to improve efficiency by reducing input costs can help them stay in business. Three hundred twenty soybean producers in the tri-parish area were targeted with this program.

Example 3: Youth Development

Sixty percent of 8th graders in Y Parish scored unsatisfactory on 2010 standardized tests in science and math according to the State Department of Education. The Louisiana Department of Labor also reports that the availability of trained workers for jobs requiring mastery of science skills has decreased significantly in the last 10 years. A statewide 4-H task force hypothesized that both issues can be addressed through the 4-H SET project. Incorporating science standards into 4-H SET programs can help students better understand science concepts. This program was designed for 8th grad students in the parish who scored below mastery level on the 2010 standardized test in science.

Check me. In these examples, did I answer all of the RELEVANCE questions? How could these statements be improved? Post your suggestions.

One thing I especially like about the 3 R’s model is that it can be easily adjusted to fit your needs. It can be very brief, covering all 3 R’s in very few words or it can be expanded to provide additional detail when the situation allows. Next time we’ll focus on the second R-RESPONSE.

To learn more about the 3 R’s model and writing impact statements, visit the LSU AgCenter’s Impact Reporting Database or contact ODE.

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