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Kory M. Beidler, Jeffery K. Iles, Sarah M. Nusser, and Ann Marie VanDerZanden

Industry input can assist postsecondary institutions as they strive to provide relevant knowledge and skill-building exercises for the professional development of their students. Using a mail questionnaire, we invited landscape contracting decision-makers to comment on the efficacy of landscape contracting curricula at colleges and universities. The population of Associated Landscape Contractors of America 2003 online member list (2049 companies) was organized into four strata based on company size. A stratified random sample of 400 companies was selected. We received 137 completed questionnaires (35% response rate). Most of the population was either satisfied or extremely satisfied (52%) with college graduates recently hired; only 8.1% of the population was dissatisfied or extremely dissatisfied. When respondents were asked to consider four knowledge categories, a majority (53%) said recent graduates were deficient in business knowledge, followed by construction (25.1%), horticultural (9.6%), and design (5.1%) knowledge. When respondents were asked to rate the importance of topics that could be taught in undergraduate landscape contracting programs, business topics (personnel management, estimating and bidding, and clientele management) were identified as their top three choices. The population also named three business-related skills (client relationships, time management, and managing employees) among the five most important skills for landscape contracting professionals. Despite the stated importance of business knowledge and training, 68.3% of the population said when hiring for an entry-level landscape contracting position, they prefer candidates with strong horticultural skills over those with strong business skills. These results suggest landscape contracting firms would welcome a postsecondary-trained work force with improved business skills; however, this business training should not come at the expense of horticultural course work and experience.

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R. Daniel Lineberger

A tool with enough power and versatility to communicate the depth and breadth of the art and science of horticulture has emerged with the development of the World Wide Web. First created to meet the rapid communication needs of high-energy particle physicists, the Web has proven to be a powerful information-providing tool enabling communication with all the diverse audiences of horticulture. Web-browsing software is multimedia in nature, and graphically based. Information can be colorful, interactive, commercial, amateur, or arcane, depending on the skill and objectives of the information provider. The target audience can be school children, horticultural producers, home gardeners, or academic researchers. Access to the Web is inexpensive and becoming widely available. These features enable audiences that previously had difficulty accessing the vast stores of horticultural information that reside within the confines of academic and governmental libraries to get that information from their schools or homes. The ever-growing demand for information, the need to integrate Web technology into teaching at all levels, and the adoption of the Web as a resource for distribution of peer-reviewed scholarly work has led to the development of various creative solutions among academic, professional, and avocational horticulturists. Some of these will be examined in detail during the workshop.

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C.J. Catanzaro, C.L. Fenderson, and R.J. Sauve

The Dept. of Agricultural Sciences currently offers degrees at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Undergraduate programs in Plant Science, Animal Science, and Rural Development were consolidated within the Dept. of Agricultural Sciences in the late 1980s due to the declining number of graduates. However, no personnel turnover or course changes occurred due to consolidation. Enrollment at the undergraduate level has doubled within the past 5 years. Student enrollment for Fall 1995 included 127 undergraduates and 31 graduate students. Graduation figures projected for 1995–96 include 26 undergraduates and 8 graduate students. Horticulture and Agronomy are now two of the concentrations available for the BS degree in Agricultural Sciences, and Plant Science is an option for the MS degree in Agricultural Sciences. Presently in the plant sciences there are approximately 30 undergraduates and 20 MS students. Faculty and professional staff affiliated with the Cooperative Agricultural Research Program are encouraged to submit teaching proposals to the 1890 Institution Capacity Building Grants Program, a USDA-funded competitive program for the agricultural sciences. Awards enable grantee institutions to attract more minority students into the agricultural sciences, expand institutional linkages, and strengthen education in targeted need areas. The Grants Program supports teaching projects related to curricula design, materials development, and faculty and student enhancement. Current teaching grants address graduate and undergraduate education in molecular biology and undergraduate education in soil sciences.

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Michael A. Arnold, R. Daniel Lineberger, Tim D. Davis, Steven W. George, Wayne A. Mackay, Greg D. Grant, Jerry M. Parsons, and Larry A. Stein

Plant trialing and marketing assistance programs have become popular in recent years with several state and some regional programs emerging. Successful implementation requires considerable labor, facilities, and monetary resources for evaluation of large numbers of taxa over several years to ensure that plants are well adapted to the region of interest. Research and development funds, dedicated facilities, and cooperator commitment to trialing programs can be limiting during the early years of the programs. Involvement in plant trialing programs allows students to be exposed to plot layout planning, statistical design, plant maintenance, data collection and analysis, and professional communication of trial results. Construction of facilities for conducting plant trials, growing plants for use in trials, trial installation, and maintenance of plants all provide practical hands-on horticultural training. Replicated plant trials provide the latest information on regionally adapted taxa for inclusion in classroom instruction and publications. Plant trialing programs benefit from labor assistance, development of dedicated facilities, and the opportunity to share equipment and supplies among teaching, trialing, and student research projects.

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Milton E. Tignor and Sandra B. Wilson

Information is more accessible to students than ever before. Gone are the days of a single instructor being the ultimate authority on a specific scientific discipline. Search engines, online journals, virtual libraries, and the development of Internet II will continue to drive the increase in availability of information. With basic computer skills, the average college student can put their hands on more subject data than they could possibly read during the time frame of a semester-long course. Therefore, it is more critical than ever to give students the logical tools to evaluate information and construct intelligent arguments. One particular area of interest to the horticulture industry is the impact of environmental regulations and public concern over common horticultural production practices such as irrigation, land development, application of pesticides, and developmental manipulation using growth regulators. South Florida is a mosaic of pristine natural areas, major agricultural production regions, densely populated urban areas, and regions of rapid suburban growth. As a result, there is heightened public awareness of environmental issues, which often leads to spirited conflicts among people with diverse professional backgrounds and personal interests. This catalyzed the development of a new course entitled “South Florida Flora and Ecosystems” that uses several different types of critical thinking exercises to help relate course content information into the cultural and political framework of South Florida. Techniques such as role playing, utilizing guest speakers with opposite opinions on the same topic, and active evaluation of data were used to enhance student learning, increase environmental awareness, and place undergraduate horticultural students one step closer to becoming “society-ready” graduates.

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Deborah M. Shuping and Jeffrey D. Zahner

Water conservation is making journal headlines nationwide because of drought, contamination, pollution, and over development. While the idea of xeriscaping began in the Western United States where landscapes can be truly dry, many water-saving principles apply to the Southeast, where home moisture problems and pest problems associated with moisture are a major problem. A year of drought maybe followed by three years of plentiful rainfall, and conditions are significantly different from the semi-arid regions of the country to which most of the present literature on water conservation is directed.

The purpose of this project was to provide information on water conservation to designers, landscape industry personnel, and homeowners in the Southeast. This was done by compiling recommendations based on research being conducted by professionals in building science, forestry, horticulture, entomology and landscape architecture.

An educational tool addressing the pressing national problem of water conservation with a regional emphasis, this project was designed to help readers increase landscape water efficiency by 30 to 50% while lowering maintenance costs and insuring greater survivability of landscape plants in times of water shortage. Through careful planning and design, economically attractive and aesthetically sound water conserving landscapes can be created.

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John L. Griffis Jr.

For more than 50 years, the Fulbright Scholar Program has offered U.S. faculty, professionals, teachers, and students the opportunity to conduct research, teach, or study abroad and to make a major contribution to global understanding. The purpose of the program is “ increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries...and thus to assist in the development of friendly, sympathetic, and peaceful relations between the United States and other countries of the world.” There are more than 700 competitive Fulbright awards in more than 120 countries available each year. The majority are for lecturing or combined lecturing/research, although some research-only awards are also available. Eligibility for awards as well as an overview of available opportunities will be discussed. Application procedures and techniques useful in securing awards will also be presented. I received a Fulbright award to lecture in horticulture at Africa Univ. in Zimbabwe during 1997, and will provide a brief summary of my Fulbright experience.

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Tamela D. Michaels and John D. Lea-Cox

Electronic information systems that take advantage of new technological developments on the Web are a key towards fulfilling the mission of the extension educator; i.e., to help individuals, families and communities put research-based knowledge to work in improving their lives. Webpages are one key to achieving this goal, but vertical searches using search engines are tedious and inefficient. There is a need for a) rapid and easy access to verifiable information databases and b) the coordination of good information resources that are already available on the Web in an horizontal format. NurseryWeb was developed as an open information resource within a frames environment that enables users to gather information about a variety of nursery-related material; e.g., cultural information, diagnostic criteria for disease and pest identification, data on integrated pest management and marketing data. In addition, a password-protected communication resource within the page provides nurserymen with conferencing and direct email connections to nursery extension specialists through WebChat, as well as providing time-sensitive data, alerts, and links to professional organizations. A number of critical issues remain unresolved—e.g., the integrity of information links, data and picture copyright issues, and software support. Nonetheless, the ease of use, availability of information in remote areas at relatively low cost, and 24-hr access assures that this type of information provision will become dominant in the future.

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Mary Haque

In The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey presents a convincing appeal to replace what he calls the “Personality Ethic” with focus on the “Character Ethic” as a foundation of success. Rutger's professor Donald McCabe's 1991 survey reporting that 67% of 6000 college students responding to a survey say they have cheated at least once verifies the need to address basic foundations of character, including honesty and integrity in the college classroom. The question is no longer “Do we need character education?” but rather “How can we implement a process that inspires people to action?” A process involving students in the development of both personal and class codes of ethics has been well received in a sophomore-level landscape appreciation course. Incorporating such codes into all classes would be a logical response to McCabe's study, which revealed that dishonesty is less prevalent at schools with explicit honor codes. Encouraging students to write ethics statements that address high standards of behavior and concern for a greater society and world is a first step toward developing concerned professionals who will serve the public with integrity and understanding after they leave the classroom.

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Michael S. Uchneat and Cheryl Capezzuti

Education of future consumers is a frequently discussed objective to improve consumer relations with the horticulture industry. We have developed a program which addresses this objective. The program provides examples of art projects that can be combined with simple horticultural experiences. We are presenting this program as a model to be used by horticultural professionals for the instruction of child care providers, or for direct presentation to children. Our intent is to create a greater awareness of horticulture. Often, child care providers plan educational experiences for young people based on disciplines that have been established by tradition and that are considered essential to childrens' educational development. For example, teachers might plan a nature lesson, a simple math lesson or an art lesson. This interdisciplinary plan helps children feel the connectedness of the world in which they live rather than seeing it as a series of unrelated events. Traditional motor skills are taught, along with an appreciation for seeds, plants, and the environment. Teachers may adapt the information presented here to a wide variety of activities. This approach can serve as an example of how interdisciplinary programs involving horticulture might be structured. It offers a timeline to teachers who desire to duplicate such a program, and presents many ideas, along with detailed information on how to conduct individual projects. Hopefully, this integration of art and horticulture inspires those who work with children to creatively consider the possibilities of interdisciplinary planning.