Communicating Science Using the Science of Communication

In the digital world in which we live today the public is presented with an overwhelming quantity of information, much of which is unscientific. In this webinar we will apply the lessons learned from antimicrobial resistance and health communications to more science communication challenges. This presentation was originally broadcast on August 14, 2020. More… Continue reading “Communicating Science Using the Science of Communication”

Adding Color to Your Program…People and Personalities

Asking a client to share their communication style and preference isn’t necessarily the first thing that’s done when contacted for help about manure management. However, it’s been shown time and again that communicating to a person in the way that matches the way they want to be communicated to, is the best way to ensure everyone is acknowledged and heard.

What Have I Learned

There are several methods for identifying personality preferences and subsequently, communication preferences. I choose to use the Real Colors® program with the manure haulers I work with. This is a group that has had very little attention given to them by Extension and are reluctant to trust agency folks. Using an organized program like Real Colors® is a non-invasive way to really understand how each of the 25 haulers I work with need to be communicated with. After going through the assessment and figuring out everyone’s individual preferences, we then gather as a group and talk about why some father/son, brother and cousin teams may find it difficult to work together. I follow the personality preference training with conflict management strategies which eventually leads into discussion on how to get along with fellow employees, customers and competitors.

Next Steps

I dare you to ask your most challenging program attendee to be vulnerable enough to discuss their personality and communication style…the ones that come to every event you host within your program. The grumpy guy with crossed arms; the stern lady with pursed lips; or the one who won’t stop talking. Why would you do that? Because the barriers that break and the forward momentum that is gained may be just what your program is lacking.

Author

Mary A. Keena, North Dakota State University Extension, mary.keena@ndsu.edu

Additional information

https://realcolors.org/

 

The authors are solely responsible for the content of these proceedings. The technical information does not necessarily reflect the official position of the sponsoring agencies or institutions represented by planning committee members, and inclusion and distribution herein does not constitute an endorsement of views expressed by the same. Printed materials included herein are not refereed publications. Citations should appear as follows. EXAMPLE: Authors. 2019. Title of presentation. Waste to Worth. Minneapolis, MN. April 22-26, 2019. URL of this page. Accessed on: today’s date.

Quantitative Analysis of Words in Popular Press Articles about Livestock and Environment

Livestock farming practices and technologies, like many aspects of agriculture and industry, continue to evolve. As technology and attitudes change regarding livestock farming, public response changes as well; this is reflected in the way that people talk and write about the subject. This change and growth is a common topic  of both public and technical debate and scrutiny. Databases on the internet collect public articles and documents related to livestock farming dating back to the early 1980’s. The information in these articles can be evaluated using a number of computer science based approaches. These data can help to highlight how significant past events and their impacts were perceived, and possibly predict  how future trends within the industry will be described in popular press/media.

What Did We Do?

We gathered popular press articles from an online database, Factiva, with the search terms “livestock and odor,” from the year 2000 to the present. A computer program developed using machine learning processes: (1) cleans and structures the individual articles into text files; and (2) quantifies the importance and frequency of words in individual and groups of articles, by year. The program assigns two measures of importance to each word. Words that frequently occur in many articles per year provide broad overarching ideas and subjects. Words that are deemed important to each  individual article provide more nuanced data including companies, people, and equipment discussed in livestock farming. To demonstrate the results, this data is visualized in tables and graphs to show patterns in subjects as they develop and change over time.

What Have We Learned?

This analysis method gives us a quantitative basis for reviewing the change in importance of words over time. All analysis after choosing the subject and search terms is done by a computer program, protecting the outcomes from reader bias. Changes in word importance or frequency can be supported with numerical data and easily visualized from year to year. The different approaches also allow for inferences between long-term subjects and ideas (Table 1), and shorter term players in the industry (Table 2).

This analysis method does not pull out the context that any of the words are used. Manure and waste are two means of describing the same material, with different connotations. Manure and waste appeared at similar frequencies in many, but not all years. Dairy was more prominent in 2011 and 2013, but hogs (or synonyms) appeared in most years. Refinements to the article search protocol could limit the articles to those of opinion (i.e. editorials) or regional perspectives. There are opportunities for this method to inform historical reviews of livestock and the environment, and inform future communication efforts.

Future Plans

There are a number of opportunities to extend this project in the future. One would be to experiment with different search terms and databases to see how outcomes depend on the data source. Another opportunity would be to apply the quantitative method to other applications. The computer program could be applied to any database and so the method has utility to topics other than livestock farming.

Authors

Ryan Felton, Undergraduate Research Assistant, University of Minnesota

Erin Cortus, Assistant Professor and Extension Engineer, University of Minnesota

ecortus@umn.edu

Additional Information

Project support provided by the University of Minnesota UROP program.

Table 1. The top twenty words by year that most frequently appeared in a popular press article database search based on the keywords “livestock and odor”, by year. The relative frequency of some livestock types (cattle, hog, dairy) and manure-related words (manure, waste) are highlighted.

 

Table 2. The top twenty words by year that were the important focus of articles in a popular press article database search based on the keywords “livestock and odor”.
Table 2. The top twenty words by year that were the important focus of articles in a popular press article database search based on the keywords “livestock and odor”.

 

The authors are solely responsible for the content of these proceedings. The technical information does not necessarily reflect the official position of the sponsoring agencies or institutions represented by planning committee members, and inclusion and distribution herein does not constitute an endorsement of views expressed by the same. Printed materials included herein are not refereed publications. Citations should appear as follows. EXAMPLE: Authors. 2019. Title of presentation. Waste to Worth. Minneapolis, MN. April 22-26, 2019. URL of this page. Accessed on: today’s date.

 

Pathways for Effective Manure Nutriment Management Information Sharing and Education Between Agriculture Professionals: A South Dakota Pilot Test


Why Look at Barriers in Nutrient Management Information Flow?

 

The issue of manure nutrient management has been the subject of controversy and new policies in recent years as the non-point source discharge of nutrients and bacteria is substantial if manure is not managed properly. Unfortunately, there are barriers between organizations and individuals that prevent the flow of important, timely information between audience types and limits the impact and usefulness of research results. These barriers may be in the form of institutional language differences, job descriptions, or a mismatch between information outputs and inputs.

What did we do?

A national team of researchers, Extension specialists, consultants and government staff developed a survey to quantify the role, programming, and barriers to information flow between organizations and individuals regarding manure nutrient management. The electronic survey was disseminated via cooperating agencies, organizations and personal contacts to technical service providers, producers, university personnel, regulatory personnel, private sales or service enterprises and other professionals who contribute to manure nutrient management in South Dakota. Respondents were asked to indicate the relevance of information sources (inputs), information products (outputs) and collaborators (links), as well as barriers to their use. The relevance selections were transformed into scalar data and an analysis of variance was performed on the average relevance scores to test for differences based on input/output/link type and organization type.

What have we learned?

There were 139 surveys started, and 80 surveys completed. Data from partially completed surveys were, however, included in the analysis. The main categories of self-identified respondents were NRCS (n=36), Producers (n=29), University personnel (n=15) and Regulatory personnel (n=9). The remaining categories respondents were grouped into an Other category (n=22). The average relevance score for each of the information sources, information products and collaborations listed in the survey were consistent (no significant difference between organization types). As sources of information, consultation, eXtension and field days were ranked most relevant, with classroom and social media being least relevant. Similarly, consultation, field days and eXtension were ranked the most relevant means of sharing information; social media was ranked least relevant. Barriers to information sources and products were specific to the activity or product. The select ion “No barriers to use” was not an indicator of relevance. All organization types deemed producers the most relevant collaborator, followed by state, university and federal agencies.

Future Plans

The South Dakota-based survey was a pilot test for a nationwide survey being conducted in 2015. From feedback and data review, the survey has been refined and shortened to elicit the key input, output and collaborator data. With the national data in hand later in 2015, the project team looks forward to linking information producers and users in effective pathways for manure nutrient management information transmission, and ultimately, adoption.

Authors

Erin Cortus, Assistant Professor and Environmental Quality Engineer at South Dakota State University erin.cortus@sdstate.edu

Nichole Embertson, Nutrient Management Specialist, Sustainable Livestock Production Program, Whatcom Conservation District; Jeffrey Jacquet, Assistant Professor, Sociology and Rural Studies, South Dakota State University

Additional information

Anyone interested in participating on the Pathways Project team are invited to contact Erin Cortus (erin.cortus@sdstate.edu) or Nichole Embertson (NEmbertson@whatcomcd.org).

Acknowledgements

The nationwide team who contribute to and guide the Pathways project are gratefully acknowledged. Funding provided through the South Dakota SARE Mini-Grant Program supported data collection and analysis for the survey pilot test.

The authors are solely responsible for the content of these proceedings. The technical information does not necessarily reflect the official position of the sponsoring agencies or institutions represented by planning committee members, and inclusion and distribution herein does not constitute an endorsement of views expressed by the same. Printed materials included herein are not refereed publications. Citations should appear as follows. EXAMPLE: Authors. 2015. Title of presentation. Waste to Worth: Spreading Science and Solutions. Seattle, WA. March 31-April 3, 2015. URL of this page. Accessed on: today’s date.

 

Communicating Science during Controversy

Climate change as a topic of discussion in animal agriculture circles can be controversial. Often we believe “if they only understood the facts, they would agree with us.” However, this method only works with a small part of the population. Opinion formation is very complex and includes many other factors besides scientific facts, such as emotion, values, and trust.

Related: Recorded webinar on “Communicating Amidst Controversy

Fear-based messaging has been frequently used as an attempt to provide a spark that will lead to further learning and behavioral changes. However, these messages must be coupled with both information and support in order to be effective. Without these two resources, people often suffer from feelings of helplessness, remoteness, and lack of control over the situation which all prevent behavior change from occurring.

The goal of our communications is open-minded, unbiased consideration of all the facts. How do we create such an environment? 

White paper: Communicating Controversy in Agricultural Extension on the Topic of Climate Change: A Summarized Review

Strategies:

  1. Understanding your audience – people look for information that is consistent with what they already think, want, or feel. Identify misconceptions understand the context within which they make decisions.
  2. Get their attention – People typically perceive immediate threats as more relevant and of greater urgency than future problem. So focus on how climate is impacted them today and how smaller costs now can prevent larger losses in the future. Use stories to frame the issue in ways that relate to their values.
  3. Translate science into concrete experienceUse vivid imagery to discuss potential solutions up front, particularly highlighting any benefits.
  4. Effectively communicate uncertainty – explain the difference between knowing the causes of climate change and uncertainty about what to do about it.  Use risk management as an effective way to discuss how to evaluate solutions.
  5. Tap Into Social Identities and Affiliations – create connections between your audience, the environment, and society using diverse advocates.
  6. Encourage Group Participation  – encourage small group discussion and facilitate groups that can continue to meet and discuss.
  7. Minimize bias In order to reduce bias, it is critical to recognize your own values and biases. Checks and balances within your team as well as allowing for public input early in development of products will help provide transparency about your agenda. Emphasizing the need for continued learning is important and acknowledges the fact that there is a lot of information out there that can’t be covered in short periods of time.

Educator Materials

To download the video, white paper, or other materials for use in educational programs, visit our curriculum page.

Recommended Resources

This project hosted a webinar on “Communicating Amidst Controversy” The archive page includes links to view individual segments, download them, and access handouts of the presentation slides.

Acknowledgements

This page was developed as part of a project “Animal Agriculture and Climate Change” an extension facilitation project to increase capacity for ag professionals. It was funded by USDA-NIFA under award # 2011-67003-30206.

Author: Crystal Powers, University of Nebraska – Lincoln cpowers2@unl.edu

Making Sense of Smells – Communicating Odors to Diverse Audiences

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Example of odor visualization system using colors and shapes to replace chemical jargon.

Why Is Smell and Odor Important to Animal Agriculture?

Smell is perhaps the least understood of our five senses.  Yet, the human perception of odor may mean the difference between war and peace for a livestock farmer and his neighbors.  Because the science of  smells is complex, there is a tendency to run straight for the organic chemistry book when we try to describe farmstead odors.  This approach goes right over the heads of most people.  There must be a better way to communicate odors to diverse audiences.  This workshop can be utilized by teachers or extension staff to teach about communication of a topic that is frequently encountered by farmers, ag professionals, and others. To see the presentation slides, scroll to the bottom of the page.

Learning Objectives

This two hour workshop will explain how to use an innovative visual technique to describe farmstead odors to general audiences without resorting to chemical jargon.  The visualization technique based on shapes and colors was developed at Oklahoma State University in the mid 1990s, and has been used to talk about odors with many diverse audiences.  The method demonstrates that odors have “structure”, and can be measured using the four concepts: character, concentration, intensity, and persistence.

Students will also participate in a mock laboratory exercise to demonstrate how odor intensity and pleasantness are measured.  Results of the exercise will be analyzed in “real time”.  Further analyses of previous exercise runs will be compared and contrasted to the workshop results.  This laboratory has been presented to over 250 college freshmen and their results are presented in this recording.

Workshop Introduction

What is an Odor?

Measuring Odors

Odor Experiment

Another Odor Experiment

Physiology of Smell

Author

Douglas W. Hamilton, Associate Professor and Extension Waste Management Specialist, Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service dhamilt@okstate.edu

Doug Hamilton is an associate professor of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering at Oklahoma State University.  He has three degrees in Agricultural Engineering from the University of Arkansas, Iowa State University, and Penn State University.  His sense of smell remains keen despite the fact he has worked with livestock manure for nearly 34 years.

For More Information

 

The authors are solely responsible for the content of these proceedings. The technical information does not necessarily reflect the official position of the sponsoring agencies or institutions represented by planning committee members, and inclusion and distribution herein does not constitute an endorsement of views expressed by the same. Printed materials included herein are not refereed publications. Citations should appear as follows. EXAMPLE: Authors. 2013. Title of presentation. Waste to Worth: Spreading Science and Solutions. Denver, CO. April 1-5, 2013. URL of this page. Accessed on: today’s date.

Communicating About Climate Change

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Purpose

Climate change has become a hot-button issue in mainstream American politics, and people are divided over its causes, impacts, and solutions. This presentation will offer an overview of how the public views the issue of climate change, several explanations for these differences in perception, and possible approaches for bridging the gaps through innovative communication strategies. I will also present some initial findings from a NSF funded project aimed at communicating about climate change and its long-term association with the issue of agricultural runoff in the Maumee Watershed area of Ohio.

This presentation will include information about:

  • Public opinion trends about climate change and public policy
  • Different explanations for divisions in public opinion about climate change
  • What the latest communication research tells us about best climate change communication practices, and about developing a public consensus about this issue

What Did We Do?

 

What Have We Learned?.

Future Plans

Authors

Dr. Erik Nisbet, Assistant Professor, The Ohio State University

Corresponding author email address   nisbet.5@osu.edu

 

Additional Information

You may learn more information about the topic of climate change at the Ohio State University Changing Climate website http://changingclimate.osu.edu/

Pathways for Effective Information Transfer Between Manure Management Professionals

This webinar presents the results of a national survey on how manure nutrient management professionals, learn, share and collaborate, and how we can use this information to guide information transfer in the future. This presentation was originally broadcast on November 20, 2015. More… Continue reading “Pathways for Effective Information Transfer Between Manure Management Professionals”