Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Agricultural & Extension Education (MS)

Degree Level



Agricultural Education, Communications and Technology


Casandra K. Cox

Committee Member

Jill Rucker

Second Committee Member

Debra Head


Adult learning, Educational strategies, EFNEP, Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program, Extension, Nutrition education, program reach, Recruitment


The two articles presented in this thesis used a researcher-developed literature-based survey instrument to collect data on the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) in the United States. Data was collected on methods of teaching, communication technologies used, recruitment strategies, barriers to attending classes, and program assistant demographic data. There were 803 program assistants working during the 2018-2019 program year. There were 346 program assistants who completed the 35-question survey instrument during data collection.

The first article focused on identifying effective teaching strategies used to increase program engagement by collecting data on program characteristics, methods of teaching, and educational or communication technologies used. This article also looked at if correlations exist between teaching methods and graduation rates and technologies used and graduation rates. It was found that although there is not a required curriculum or program structure for EFNEP, program assistants in each region were using a similar program structure. Three out of the four regions primarily use the Eating Smart, Being Active curriculum when facilitating EFNEP classes. Program assistants reported primarily meeting either four to six times during a series or seven to nine times and the average class length was reported as either 60 minutes or one-hour and 30 minutes. Furthermore, it was found that program assistants in the U.S. reported feeling least confident when talking in a large meeting of strangers and most confident when talking with a friend. Program assistants (90.8%) preferred teaching using the group class structure and 77.7% preferred teaching face-to-face classes. The top three educational techniques used to increase participant engagement across the U.S. were build relationships with participants, encourage discussions, and encourage small changes.

The second article focused on identifying effective recruitment strategies used by EFNEP in reaching limited income audiences in the U.S. by collecting data on recruitment strategies used and barriers to recruiting targeted participants. It was found that 55.8% program assistants surveyed used social media to recruit participants. The top three social media platforms used to recruit participants were Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. It was also found that 73.1% of the program assistants were interested in seeing EFNEP use social media to recruit participants. The primary methods used to recruit participants across the U.S. were preformed groups, word-of-mouth, and human service agencies. Eighty-seven percent of the program assistants reported experiencing challenges when recruiting EFNEP participants. The top three barriers to attending classes reported to EFNEP program assistants were limited available time, childcare issues, and lack of transportation.