Water-quality Education Program Affects Consumer Behavior and Attitudes

in HortScience
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  • 1 1Dept. of Horticulture, Virginia Polytechnic Inst. and State Univ., Blacksburg, VA 24061-0327
  • | 2 2Virginia Cooperative Extension, Prince William County Office, Manassas VA 22110

A multi-faceted extension education program to reduce consumer contributions to nonpoint source pollution by encouraging proper landscape management was initiated in Prince William County, Va., and funded through the USDA-extension service. The program now is being replicated in several counties in Virginia, primarily in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The program recruits participants through educational field days, advertisement and other means. Educational techniques include one-on-one assistance from Master Gardener volunteers and the use of Extension publications developed for this program. Publications developed include The Virginia Gardener Easy Reference to Sustainable Landscape Management and Water Quality Protection—a concise reference of Virginia Cooperative Extension landscaping recommendations that includes a calendar for recording fertilizer and pesticide applications, IPM, and other maintenance activities. The Virginia Gardener Guide to Water-wise Landscaping, was recently added to supplement the program in the area of water conservation. In Prince William County, over 700 people have participated. Most of those who complete the program report being more satisfied with their lawn appearance and spending less money. Participation also resulted in consumers being more likely to seek soil test information before applying fertilizer. Other effects include greater participation in leaf composting and grass clipping recycling and greater awareness of nonpoint source pollution.

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