Gardening in the Zone: Educational Programming using Mass Media Outlets

in HortScience

The 2004 report from the National Gardening Association showed that 84 million people (78% of the U.S. population) participated in one or more types of do-it-yourself lawn and garden activities. This creates a substantial consumer group, and an important audience for Cooperative Extension to reach with educational programming. In 2003, a collaborative project between the Iowa State University (ISU) Extension Service, a regional gardening magazine, and regional television stations began as a new avenue to deliver educational programming related to horticulture. Gardening in the Zone is a series of 35 two-minute segments that are broadcast weekly March through October during local morning and evening news programs. Currently, the segments are shown on television stations across the state, resulting in over 95% coverage and reaching viewers in southwestern Wisconsin, northwest Illinois, southern Minnesota, and eastern Nebraska. In just 1 year, the number of stations carrying the segments has doubled. The segments are hosted by a broadcast professional and done in a question and answer format with an introduction, content on the particular topic, and a close. To close the segment the host refers viewers to the ISU Extension Gardening in the Zone website (http://129.186.89.193/gardening/) and the magazine website, which appear on the screen. This format provides a minimum of three potential contacts with the viewer including the real time broadcast, reference to the website, and ultimately, links to Extension publications from the website. These segments provide research-based information to a large audience that traditional Extension programming methods might not otherwise reach.

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