January 16, 2002 | By: Aimee D. Heald

CYFERnet , the web site for a national network of land grant university faculty and county Extension educators working to support community-based educational programs for children, youth, parents and families, recently earned an overall four-star rating by Tufts University’s Child and Family WebGuide.

“The WebGuide evaluates sites that present substantial research-based information about numerous topics in child development,” said Janet Kurzynske, associate professor of Extension for the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture. “Only a small number of web sites that are evaluated are included in this Guide.”

UK is the lead university for determining web content for the multi-faceted program. Tufts gave the web site five of five possible stars in three of four evaluated areas. Five stars were awarded for content, authority and ease of use.

Kurzynske, co-director of CYFERnet, said the site provides high quality educational materials and allows the user to interact with peers and share work on a national and international level.

“CYFERnet brings together the best children, youth and family resources of all the public land grand universities in the country and makes them available in electronic form,” she said.

The web site offers a section just for kids, where they can sign up for “CyberCamp” and explore virtual caves, get craft project ideas and learn about different parts of the ecosystem. There’s also an area to chat with peers about their experiences in “camp.”

Adults browsing CYFERnet will find experts from across the country in the areas of youth, children, parent/family and community, as well as access the latest research, statistical and demographic information. The site also provides a way to locate funding and grant writing opportunities.

“The site helps you find materials about different evaluation strategies and methods,” Kurzynske said. “Other tools you will find are online lessons and tutorials, ways to integrate technology into local programs, and ideas on how to use the Internet and educational software with youth and families.”

In addition to the above tools, browsers can learn about more than 300 community-based programs targeting at-risk audiences. Also, a search tool makes locating full-text publications from land grant universities around the country easy.

Since 1999, the Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service has provided more than $1 million to support the CYFERnet Program effort through Kentucky. The program includes an overall Program committee of 23 members and and six CYFERnet editors who each have a seven-member editorial board.

“The editors and boards function in many roles and the most important is the peer review process for all materials posted on the web site,” Kurzynske said. “The responsibility of the CYFERnet Program committee is to serve in a consultant role to offer future direction.”

Kurzynske co-directs the CYFERnet Program with UK 4-H Extension Specialist, Wendy Stivers. The web site is located at http://www.cyfernet.org.


Janet Kursynske 859-255-8640