Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Agricultural & Extension Education (MS)

Degree Level



Agricultural Education, Communications and Technology


Leslie D. Edgar

Committee Member

Brian E. Haggard

Second Committee Member

K. Jill Rucker


Agricultural Commodities, Campaign Evaluation, Campaign Needs Assessment, Communication Campaigns, Natural Resources, Perceptions


The two articles presented in this thesis used both quantitative and qualitative research methods to examine two distinct stages of communication campaigns: research and evaluation. In the quantitative study, students (n = 440) at the University of Arkansas were surveyed to determine their perceptions of the Arkansas Water Resources Center (AWRC), water resources, and water issues. A questionnaire was developed from an existing instrument, reviewed by a panel of experts, pilot tested, and revised. The researchers found participants were most aware (M = 3.23, SD = 1.14), concerned (M = 4.07, SD = 0.86), and interested (M = 4.10, SD = 0.87) in drinking water quality. Students who participated were least aware of the AWRC (M = 2.23, SD = 1.10) with 67.6% of students reporting either a low or very low level of awareness. The data showed direct positive correlations between students' overall interest, awareness, and concern of water. Interest and awareness had a strong positive correlation, r = .61, p < .0001. Also, interest and concern had a strong positive correlation, r = .75, p < .0001. There was a moderate positive correlation between awareness and concern, r = .50, p < .0001. Additionally, there were direct positive correlations between students' class experiences, their interest in learning more about the AWRC and their overall interest, awareness, and concern of water. The researchers recommend the AWRC use the demographics reported to target specific audiences groups with educational messages about drinking water quality, the AWRC's activities, and water research. The results indicate a need for more water centers and natural resource organizations to identify perceptions among audience groups to determine effective messaging routes.

In the second study, a team of agricultural communications researchers at the University of Arkansas utilized semiotic and content analyses to qualitatively assess the visual and content elements of a commodity group's promotional campaign. The purpose of this study was to analyze and assess the youth outreach portion of a communication campaign developed for a large commodity promotion board in Arkansas. The content of each creative piece was systematically analyzed using content code sheets. Visually, content was coded denotatively, then connotatively to identify emergent themes. Textual content was coded for recurrent themes. This study identified emergent themes and determined message accuracy and quality of creative pieces. Findings revealed 24 emergent themes, with 234 theme occurrences, within 11 creative pieces used to target the "youth" audience, a message accuracy of 81.8%, and an overall quality score between "fair" and "average" (M = 2.21; SD = 0.61). The top five themes identified through the content analysis included: how [commodity] is produced (13.25%), benefits to Arkansas economy (10.26%), [commodity] is grown in Arkansas (9.83%), promotion of [commodity] Board (9.40%), and human benefits (6.84%). In-depth interviews with key players were used to support the researchers' analysis. Additional content analyses should be completed to determine themes, message accuracy, and quality of promotional materials from agricultural commodity campaigns to determine strengths and weaknesses within the industry.