Taylor, M. R. & Lamm, A. J. (2017). Identifying the needs of opinion leaders to encourage widespread adoption of water conservation and protection. Journal of Agricultural Education, 58(4) 269-281. https://dot.org/10.5032/jae.2017.04269
Opinion leaders are persuasive in convincing others within their social networks to adopt certain opinions and behaviors. By identifying and using opinion leaders, agricultural educators may be able to leverage individuals who have influence on others’ opinions, thereby speeding up the adoption of new practices. In this article, we review a statewide survey to define opinion leaders and understand their current water conservation practices. Additionally, by using the theoretical framework of the diffusion of innovations, we explored what subject matter areas opinion leaders are most interested in, and where they go for more information. These findings will identify how agricultural educators can reach opinion leaders to help disseminate important water conservation information. The findings indicated opinion leaders have a good grasp on how to conserve water, but are still misusing water in terms of protecting its quality. Based on these findings it is suggested that agricultural educators develop educational programming focused on improving opinion leaders’ knowledge of water pollution; a connection needs to be made between water quality and the environment.