Making A Difference
Impact Summary Reports
- 2012 - Year in Review
- 2013 Beef Systems
- Learning Child
- Guardianship/Conservator Training Program
- Crops - Youth Programming
- Agricultural Economics
- Cropping Systems Productivity
- Food, Nutrition & Health
- Agriculture Water Management
- Animal Manure Management
- Water Climate Environment - Community
- Business Ventures and Innovation
- ECAP - Entrepreneurial Communities
- 2013 ESI and Beyond
- NACO Institute of Excellence
How Do You Write A Good EARS Report?
Overview: EARS (Extension Activity Reporting System) is our electronic database for collecting, storing and retrieving University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension program impacts. Administration, faculty and staff use the EARS system with funders, partners and taxpayers to share information on Extension programs that make a difference in Nebraska.
Many types of people outside of Extension read impact summaries based on EARS reports, including citizens, funding partners, county supervisors, state legislators, U.S. senators and congressional representatives. These audiences need to understand our priorities (desired outcomes as defined by our five UNL Extension Action Plans), our initiatives to address those priorities (examples of programs described in EARS reports), and the resulting value we provide to Nebraska residents (impacts from our EARS reports) with Extension’s role clearly defined.
Impact Summary Statement: This should sum up Extension’s involvement in the event or program, its impact on the participants and measurable results. One to three sentences should suffice.
Report Essentials: In two pages or less, EARS reports should focus on measurable outcomes or impacts, such as knowledge gained, practices changed, attitudes changed, and dollars saved which should tie into statewide outcome measures defined by the five Action Teams or individual work group outcomes, as defined in individual logic models. Case studies or testimonials are also effective for describing program impact. When writing an EARS report, try to answer the following questions:
- “What did Extension do?” and “What kind of clientele participation resulted?”
- “What changes were made and who made them?” These changes should tie back to the short-term (awareness, knowledge, attitude or skills), intermediate (behavior, practice, or decision changes), or long-term (condition changes – social, economic, health, civic, environmental) outcomes. Not every EARS report will be likely to address all three levels of outcome or impact. For example, EARS report impact might show that 70 of 78 participants reported they significantly or moderately increased their knowledge of planning (short-term impact) their family finances, 50 of 60 fathers engaged in at least one hour of additional time per week communicating with children (medium-term impact) or 120 farmers reported an average yield increase of four bushels per acre (long-term impact).Impact is about what measurable results happened as a result of the event.
- “How have Nebraskans benefited from the funds, staff and time used in this activity?”
Explain how you know the impact or your data collection methodology (evaluations, focus groups, pre- and post-tests of knowledge, etc.) and define the impact in both the summary AND early in the report itself.
Describe the primary educational products, events or programs, or delivery methodologies used to reach clientele and the resulting level of participation by clientele.
Identify the UNL Extension program to which you tie the educational activity – the Action Team Outcome or Objective or the individual work group outcome or objective.
What EARS Reports Aren’t:
- EARS reports are not about internal processes that will impact in a later project or event. For example, learning to use a database so that 4-H events can be better tracked is not an EARS report. Holding a telephone conference to talk about how to better equip volunteers is not an EARS report.
- EARS reports are not about the work of an event. Funding acquired; donations of work, products or time; advertising procured, and/or event processes are not relevant to the EARS report, unless they relate to the impact, (i.e. writing Spanish-language ads in order to acquire a Spanish-language audience.)
- EARS reports are not about the history of a problem. Tell the reader how your program or project helped a particular audience, community issue or learning need. If you must, use one or two sentences to tell why the program or project was needed but edit down extensive background.
- EARS reports are not about individual achievement. You may have conducted a presentation, or written a curriculum, or taught the course, but we don’t mention individual names in the body of the report, only at the end, where a whole team can be listed. EARS reports focus on the collective contribution of an action team or work group.
Examples: (all of the following is fictional). Please note the formatting (bullet points, short paragraphs).
Impact Summary Statement: More than 40 southeast Nebraska students understand more about money, banking and finance because of three UNL Extension “Money For Life” workshops for area high school seniors. Three-fourths of those attending the workshops, supported in part by the State Money Dept., reported in follow-up surveys that they had greater knowledge in how loans were made, the difference between a savings account and a certificate of deposit, and what mortgage terms meant. Approximately 50 percent reported starting a savings account since the workshop.
UNL Extension staff initiated a “Money for Life” workshop in cooperation with the State Money Dept. in the spring of 2007, to help students understand some of the financial situations and decisions they would face in the future. Extension held three workshops in three sites (Brownville, Peru and Falls City) over three days. Forty-three seniors from local high schools were invited to local bank operations to hear from – and question -- bank officials about bank processes such as loan agreements and mortgage terms; tour the bank; and receive printed information on mortgages, loans, CDs and other financial tools.
Extension worked with local banks to make sure age-appropriate literature was available, bankers understood the types of questions that might be asked, and to help supervise the students during the tour. Extension also helped prep the students with questions and subjects to consider as they toured the banks.
All students attending the workshops received evaluations three months after the workshops. Thirty-two evaluations (or 75 percent) were returned with the following noted:
- 86 percent reported increased knowledge of how a savings account and a certificate of deposit differed and how each was normally used;
- 75 percent reported increased knowledge of mortgage timelines and loan terms;
- 95 percent reported increased knowledge of what they would need to be successful in applying for a loan;
- 100 percent reported feeling more comfortable about going into a bank and asking financial questions; and
- 50 percent reported starting a savings account since the workshop.
Comments from students included:
“Mortgage interest rates can be different at different banks. Check around and find the best rate before you sign.”
“Money is in a CD for a long time. If you want to get it out quicker, put it in a savings account.”
“It’s important to know what you want to borrow for and how likely you can pay it back.”
The State Money Dept. came to Extension for help. Its members were receiving too many unbased loan applications from new graduates and wondered if Extension could partner with it to prepare the students for financial transactions. Extension staff worked with financial professionals to create Money For Life program elements and worked with high school guidance counselors to put together a list of students to attend the presentations. Transportation was provided by the State Money Dept.
This educational program is supportive of the 4-H Strategic Plan logic model short and intermediate-term outcome of:
- Youth will learn business/entrepreneurship skills (short-term outcome).
- Increased awareness of decision-making process (short-term outcome).
- Number of youth reporting improved decision-making and problem-solving skills (intermediate-term outcome).
- An increased number of youth entrepreneurs (intermediate-term outcome).
It also supports multiple short-term outcomes from the Healthy Families and Communities logic model including:
- Increase their knowledge of developing financial goals;
- Learn to develop a budget or cash flow plan to control spending;
- Learn how to control their use of credit;
- Learn to develop a savings/investment plan.
Work Group or Action Team Implementing Education Program