HOW TO WRITE A GOOD IMPACT STATEMENT

What is an Impact Statement?

An Impact Statement:

Your impact audience is the public: local, state, and federal officials, your peers, external grantors, and industry representatives. Keep in mind that both BASIC and APPLIED studies have impacts.

Impact statements follow a simple formula:

  1. Issue or problem statement.
  2. Action statement. It describes how your work helps resolve the problem. Make sure you state why something is a problem, and then follow up with how your work makes a difference.
  3. Impact - the benefits. The impact of your works is in the answer to the question "What is the payoff?" An impact could include quotes from those who have benefited from your efforts. Not all impacts are quantitative; some are improvements in quality of life or a change in attitudes or aspirations. For example, an increased awareness of protecting environmental quality might be an impact.
  4. Who was responsible? List any collaborators or contributors.
  5. Your name and contact information.

EXAMPLES

TEACHING:

Biotechnology Applications is required of majors in the life sciences completing the option in biotechnology. In this capstone course, students develop a project based on current biotechnology industry products, business plans, and ethics. Working in groups, students contact industry and marketing personnel as they build their research portfolio for a specific company. In a formal, professional presentation, students describe the specific product and scientific basis for its development, the marketing strategy of the company, and the business plan. A goal is to recommend the basis for investment in the company. Feedback from peers and entrepreneurs challenge the credibility of the information, providing the forum for the group to defend their "company" and the decisions upon which recommendations are based. The course impacts students' perceptions of industry and how their understanding of basic science and molecular biology, essential to development of a quality product, must also interface with other considerations as the product moves to the marketplace. Their contact with industry representatives introduces them to professionals having additional expectations that include strategies to identify client need, market size and development, quality control, evaluation of product efficacy and safety, sources of capital and profit margin. These important aspects of decision making for a business become relevant to these students, emerging experts in basic science, who, in their careers, choose to participate in the successful application of biotechnology. Arguing the pros and cons for investing in the company they have investigated and evaluated, students gain experience that impacts understanding about the interface between basic science and its use by society. Students acquire insights that contribute directly to career planning and choices about additional steps in their education or training.

INTERNATIONAL:

In 1996, a crisis arose when Guatemalan snow peas were detained at US ports of entry because of infestation by an unknown leafminer species. The IPM CRSP responded by completing a taxonomic survey of snow pea leafminer insects in the Guatemalan highlands. This survey found that Liriomyza huidobrensis is the major species found in snow peas and other export crops in the central highlands. This species also occurs in the United States. Results of this IPM CRSP technical assistance effort were accepted as a basis for removing the requirement for detention of Guatemalan snow peas found with minor leafminer infestations. Guatemalan small farmers lost about US $5.7 million due to the rejection of their snowpea shipment to the US. The US consumer also had reduced access to affordable and high quality snow peas during the winter months. Because of the IPM CRSP intervention, Guatemalan farmers have regained their market share and the US consumer has access to high quality snow peas. The total value of Guatemalan snow peas in the US market is about US $140 million, of which only 5% goes to the producer. Thus, it is not only the Guatemalan small farmer who has benefited from the CRSP intervention, but also others in the product chain. Total trade between the United States and Guatemala is approximately $1.5 billion per year.

RESEARCH:

Parkinson's Disease is a disease that affects millions of people in the US, causing uncontrolled tremors. Parkinson's Disease may be related to exposure to environmental toxins. Laboratory studies have been done analyzing the possible hazards to humans following exposure to insecticides that affect the nervous system. We are testing the ability of insecticides to induce hallmarks of Parkinson's Disease, which is caused by the specific death of specialized neurons in the brain. Recent studies, funded by the U. S. Army are evaluating the actions of two common insecticides, permethrin and chlorpyrifos, in inducing Parkinson's Disease-like symptoms in laboratory animals. Both permethrin and chlorpyrifos did negatively affect the specialized cells in the brain associated with Parkinson's Disease. This study links two commonly used insecticides to brain injury that may be linked to Parkinson's Disease. It also suggests that insecticide exposure may enhance other disease-causing processes.

EXTENSION:

Youth Character Education

In 1999, the citizens of Jim Wells County identified moral character in youth and parenting support as a major issue facing their community. The Jim Wells County Extension Office developed six monthly weekend retreats to improve the total family unit by developing positive parenting skills and teaching positive character traits. A total of 183 family members participated in the program (95% Hispanic and 5% White). Because of this program, respondents noted improvements in the following subjects: open communication between family members improved by 52%, listening skills improved by 38%, and overall family being closer together because of this program improved by 72%. One husband said, "In all our married years we had never discussed so many things. We learned a lot about communicating in our sessions."

Strengthening Families

In Virginia, the rate of child abuse and neglect victims increased 8% from 1991- 96; juvenile arrest rate for violent crime increased 21.9% from 1991-1995, working families spend an average of 8 % of their gross income, or roughly $4000 annually, on childcare (U.S. Census Bureau). A parenting program designed to strengthen families by increasing parenting skills and outreach programming through Extension faculty and trained volunteers provided extended learning opportunities for 3,100 Virginians to improve their parenting knowledge and skills. All the fathers in the program (1,450) indicated they had learned to be better listeners instead of "talkers." 3,007 (97%) participants improved their knowledge regarding parenting which led to 2,604 (84%) making one or more practice changes. 88 % (2,728) of the parents improved their knowledge about parenting (pre- to post-test). 1,763 (56%) participants said that their children's behavior had improved, and 2,480 (80%) felt more confident about their ability to handle behavior problems.

Rural Economic Development

In rural areas across the Commonwealth of Virginia many families and individuals are facing difficult economic times. Layoffs and business restructuring continue across the state. When citizens find new jobs they are often for lower wages and benefits. Many forced off welfare rolls are struggling to make ends meet with minimum wage jobs with no benefits. Citizens are increasingly responsible for financing their own retirements, but few have basic knowledge and skill in this area. The goal of Money 2000 is to provide education that assists families and individuals in achieving economic self- sufficiency by learning how to effectively manage their resources. The program focuses on personal and family financial management and decision-making. 636 participants of Money 2000 across Virginia set a goal to save $1,952,949 and reduce their collective debt by $2,128,754. In the last six months, 96 participants reported collectively saving $154,900 and 75 participants reported collectively reducing their debt by $149,099. Of 161 people completed a home ownership seminar series, 122 (76%) had bought a home within one year.

Beef Quality Assurance

Virginia Cooperative Extension's Beef Quality Assurance Program trained and nationally certified 2505 beef producers which resulted in value-added beef products and increased livestock sales. Producers also received an additional $272,000 in income because of the Virginia Quality Assured (VQA) program. 1000 producers from 14 different states completed the thirty-hour Virginia Cow- Calf Management Course which resulted in increased value or cost savings of $20 per cow per year.

Pesticide Safety Education

Because of Virginia Cooperative Extension's Pesticide Safety Education program, 15,000 commercial and private pesticide applicators were trained and certified according to state and federal requirements. The program allowed 15,000 agricultural producers and commercial pesticide applicators to purchase and use both restricted and general use pesticides in Virginia. Because of the program, the risks to public health and the environment were minimized while maintaining crop protection and effective pest control efforts.

Soybean Rust

The economically devastating plant disease, Asian soybean rust is expected to reach Virginia. With yield losses up to 80% the risk to Virginia's $100 million dollar soybean crop is significant. Extension's first responder educational programs trained 300 agricultural professionals, including extension agents in best management and crop protection strategies. 7 fungicides received emergency registration for use because of Extension's efforts. Because of the Soybean Rust Program, Virginia is prepared to quickly identify soybean rust and will be able to respond to minimize yield losses and economic impacts to growers.