Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Agricultural Extension

Major Professor

Robert S. Dotson

Committee Members

Cecil E. Carter Jr, Ray Humberd, Chales L. Cleland


Successful Extension-related 1862 and 1890 institutional small farm programs in the Southern Region of the United States were studied and application of findings was made to a situation in The Gambia.

Nineteen of 36 small farm coordinators representing ten of the sixteen states in the Southern Region of the United States responded to a mail questionnaire identifying and characterizing their most successful small farm programs in 1979. States responding included: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia. Library-type research also was used.

Major findings included:

1. A total of 33 Extension Small Farm Program were identified for 1862 and 1890 institutions in the ten states.

2. Nineteen "most successful" Extension small farm programs were reported by the state coordinators.

3. Eleven state coordinators defined small farm as "gross sales of $20,000 or less."

4. A few, three, defined it as "gross sales of less than $10,000 per year."

5. None reported using the newly suggested 1979 USDA definition:

a. Rural Farming net income below nonmetro median.

b. Family dependent on farming income.

c. Family provides labor and management.

6. The 1862 successful program purposes were "to in crease fam income," "improve family living standards" and "raise quality of living."

​​7. The major 1890 successful program purpose in 1979 was "teaching production practices."

8. There were 514 staff members assisting 6,878 farmers in 254 counties reported in the successful small farm programs by 1862 and 1890 coordinators responding.

9. Below average farm income was reported as the primary criterion for selection of farmers to participate in the successful programs.

10. Extension's main relations to the programs were in "providing leadership" and in "administering the programs."

11. Only two state coordinators reported state legislation related to their most successful programs.

12. All coordinators indicated that federal legislation was related to their program.

13. Successful Extension small farm programs in the 1862 institutions had started earlier than those in the 1890 institutions.

14. Most coordinators in both kinds of institutions felt that their programs would last "indefinitely."

15. Most coordinators in both kinds of institutions indicated that funding for their programs came from "USDA," "TVA," "federal" and "Extension sources."

16. An average of 165.4 full-time staff equivalents was devoted to each of the most successful programs in 1979.

17. Coordinators in both kinds of institutions indicated that crop enterprises were the most frequently mentioned ones engaged in by participants in their small farm programs, although livestock enterprises also were engaged in.

18. Coordinators in both kinds of institutions felt that inflation, lack of credit, poor marketing alternatives, lack of use of management practices and low prices received were the largest problems facing small farmers in 1980.

19. State coordinators in both kinds of institutions reported that management, production and marketing were the subject matter areas in which Extension had made its greatest contribution.

20. The "most effective" Extension teaching methods utilized to assist small farmers in 1979 were demonstrations (i.e. method and result) and the one-on-one approach as reported by coordinators in both kinds of institutions.

21. Nearly all coordinators felt that their program goals were achieved to at least "some degree" in 1979; while four indicated a "great degree" of achievement.

22. Coordinators in both kinds of institutions felt that increased income, adopted practices, increased production and improved living level of small farmers were reasons why they could say their programs were successful.

23. Utilization and cooperativeness of paraprofessionals, Extension Agents, and specialists and value of prior one-on-one Extension contacts were factors most coordinators felt had contributed most to their programs' success.

24. Most coordinators in both kinds of institutions suggested staffing and funding as their largest needs if their successful Extension small farm programs were to improve.

In applying the findings of this study to the development of a procedure for use with a small farm educational program in The Gambia, important steps were seen to include: 1) consideration of available sources of information on the socioeconomic and cultural conditions and agricultural needs of area small farmers; 2) appropriate use of paid farmers (i.e. paraprofessionals) as Extension Agents; 3) a national survey of small farmers for ideas and suggestions on how the Extension Service could help with their problems; 4) appropriate use of Extension educational methods including one-on-one contact, farm visits, demonstrations, mass media and group meetings; 5) consideration of ways to reduce the high rate of illiteracy; 6) periodic evaluation of the small farm programs in The Gambia. Implications and recommendations also were made.

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