Owens, C. T., & Lamm, A. J. (2017). The politics of extension water programming: determining if affiliation impacts participation. Journal of Agricultural Education, 58(1), 54-68. https://doi.org/10.5032/jae.2017.01054 


Research has found levels of engagement in environmental behaviors and participation in Extension programming around environmental issues are directly associated with political affiliation. Democrat and Independent parties encourage members to vote for stricter environmental regulations, such as water conservation efforts, while Republicans resist. These divergent political behaviors imply that individuals’ political affiliation affects their water conservation habits and their attitudes towards environmental issues. Hence, this can be used as a basis for creating appropriate water conservation-focused Extension programs targeting specific populations. However, research on the level of individual engagement in water conservation efforts and participation in Extension programming by political affiliation is lacking. The purpose of this study was to identify how engagement in water conservation behaviors and interest in water-focused Extension programs differ by political affiliation. The results show that Democrats are more interested in water-based education when compared to Republicans. These findings have important implications for the development of effective Extension programs designed to assist in water conservation efforts. By understanding the diverse political influences on water conservation behaviors, Extension educators can create appropriate and effective water-based education programs that resonates with all audiences.

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