This issue of The Forum brings to light a variety of practical and insightful methods for addressing the needs of and delivering programming to a variety of audiences. Today’s consumer is unique with cultural influences, family and life stresses, and even differences in psychographic responses. The fact that segments of a population can differ in so many ways may help explain why responses to programming differ among individuals who belong to a seemingly homogenous demographically-defined group. Hopefully understanding the differences addressed in this issue will better prepare you to develop programming that is more likely to improve audience knowledge and behavior.
Today’s consumer is not adequately prepared to select, purchase, prepare or store healthy foods and to prepare healthy meals. More programming is needed in these areas as well as in the area of resource management due to the current economic downswing in which we find ourselves. One article addresses the need of consumers to learn how to plan and prepare nutritious meals in less time and with less money. Two additional papers discuss the subtle differences in audience characteristics and describe the formative research that led to and guided the development of an intervention program designed to improve the ability of mothers of children 12 years old and younger to plan, prepare, and serve healthy family meals within their lifestyle constraints and personal preferences.
As a result of the establishment of the Healthy Marriage Initiative (HMI), various national, state, and local programs have been created to encourage marriage, particularly among low-income African-American cohabitating couples with children. One paper describes how extension agents can promote healthy relationships among low-income, cohabitating African American couples. Since Extension agents have little guidance regarding how they can promote healthy relationships among these couples, the recommendations made and implications for Extension that are noted should be helpful.
Addressing the needs of Latino/Hispanic couples and families necessitates that family life educators understand the cultural context in which those families live and know the research that has been done on successful programming for them. One paper addresses the cultural implications and gives guidelines for programming with these audiences.
As always, it is my hope that you will gain knowledge, resources, and inspiration from these articles to assist you in your endeavors. Enjoy!
Jacquelyn W. McClelland, Ph.D.