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Tina M. Waliczek, R.D. Lineberger, and J.M. Zajicek

The kinderGARDEN website (http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/KINDER/index.html) was developed as part of the Aggie Horticulture network. Its focus was to help incorporate fun garden activities into the home and school lives of children. The page has grown to include pages on school gardens, community gardens, botanical gardens, and a fun page for kids. The site focuses toward providing information on activities and curricula developed for children. A survey, designed to investigate the perceptions of parents and teachers working with youth in gardening situations on the benefits of children gardening, is included on the site. Adults who work with children in any type of gardening situation can respond to the survey via e-mail. Questions on the survey relay information about the type of gardening situation in which the children participate, how many children are involved, the types of crops grown, the relationship of the adult to the child, and what kinds of benefits the adults observe in the children. Results and conclusions of the survey instrument will be presented. The positive aspects and drawbacks of this research technique will be discussed.

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Melanie M. Migura, L.A. Whittlesey, and J.M. Zajicek

The main objective of this study was to determine the effects of a vocational horticulture program on the self-development of female inmates in a federal prison camp (FPC) in Bryan, Texas. Subjects were sampled from the inmate population of FPC-Bryan and assigned to two groups. Group A was comprised of 36 inmates participating in the Master Gardener program and Group B, the control group, was comprised of 26 inmates who were not participants in the Master Gardener program. A confidential 55-item survey was administered in a pretest-posttest fashion and contained questions from Rotter's (1966) Internal-External Control of Reinforcement Scale and the Multidimensional IE Scale (Gurin et al., 1969), Pugh's (1992) Prison Locus of Control Scale, the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale (Rosenberg, 1965), and the Satisfaction With Life Scale (Diener et al., 1985). No significant differences were found between the pre- or post-tests of the Master Gardener and control groups. In addition, no significant differences were found for generalized internal-external locus of control and situation specific internal-external locus of control when pretest and posttest mean scores were compared within each group. However, Master Gardener and control participants significantly increased their self-esteem and global life satisfaction scores between the pre- and post-tests. Due to the high occurrence of research subjects reporting a history of drug or alcohol abuse, the pre- and posttest mean scores of drug or alcohol abusers and nonabusers participating in the Master Gardener program were compared. No significant differences as a result of participation in the Master Gardener program were found for nonabusers for all variables tested and for generalized internal-external locus of control and global self-esteem for drug or alcohol abusers. Substance abusers did significantly increase their situation specific internal-external locus of control and their global life satisfaction while participating in the Master Gardener program.

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T.M. Waliczek, P. Logan, and J.M. Zajicek

The main objective of this study was to investigate the impact of an outdoor environmental program, Math and Science in the Outdoor Classroom, on elementary grade students' creative and critical thinking, and attitudes toward math and science. Math and Science in the Outdoor Classroom is an on-campus nature program in Santa Fe, N.M. Students participated in half-day programs focusing on topics such as water, insects, soil, and weather. Twenty-one teachers from five schools volunteered 175 second through sixth graders to participate in the program and research study. Surveys were administered to students, teachers, and volunteers after completion of the program. Interview data was analyzed using QSR NUD*IST (Nonnumerical Unstructured Data Indexing Searching and Theory-building) computer-assisted qualitative data analysis system to examine respondents' perceptions of the program using Bloom's taxonomy as a theoretical framework. Results indicated that students not only learned math and science at the lower levels of Bloom's taxonomy, but were also thinking at the higher levels of synthesis and evaluation within the framework.

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C.D. Klemmer, T.M. Waliczek, and J.M. Zajicek

School gardens show promise as a tool for developing science process skills through real-world investigations. However, little research data exist attesting to their actual effectiveness in enhancing students' science achievement. The purpose of this study was to develop three cognitive test instruments for assessing science achievement gain of third, fourth, and fifth grade students using a garden curriculum. The development of the test instruments occurred in three phases: 1) an initial set of test instruments which served as a prototype for length, scope, and format; 2) an adapted set of test instruments which were piloted; and 3) a final set of test instruments which were used for the assessment of the school gardening curriculum. The final Cronbach's alpha reliability for the final set of test questions was 0.82, indicating an acceptable level of internal consistency. Content validity of the test instruments developed for this study was established based on the science content standards specified in the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) for each grade level along with the gardening curriculum, as well as the Science Scope and Sequence documents for Temple, Texas Independent School District (ISD). Construct validity was established for the testing instruments by soliciting help from various curriculum experts from the Temple ISD.

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C.D. Klemmer, T.M. Waliczek, and J.M. Zajicek

Science achievement of third, fourth, and fifth grade elementary students was studied using a sample of 647 students from seven elementary schools in Temple, Texas. Students in the experimental group participated in school gardening activities as part of their science curriculum in addition to using traditional classroom-based methods. In contrast, students in the control group were taught science using traditional classroom-based methods only. Students in the experimental group scored significantly higher on the science achievement test compared to the students in the control group. No statistical significance was found between girls and boys in the experimental group, indicating that gardening was equally effective at teaching science for both genders. After separating the data into the grade levels, the garden curriculum was more effective as a teaching method in raising science achievement scores for boys in third and fifth grades, and for girls in the fifth grade compared to traditional classroom-based methods alone.

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Melanie M. Migura, J.M. Zajicek, and L.A. Whittlesey

More than one million people were incarcerated in U.S. prisons at the end of June 1995. Increasing emphasis has been placed on inmate rehabilitation with society's realization that 95% of those incarcerated will be released from prison and returned to society. The responsibility of undertaking the rehabilitation process lies in part with vocational programs, one of which is horticulture. In addition to developing job skills, horticulture may provide another viable means of rehabilitation in the form of horticultural therapy. The women's Federal Prison Camp in Bryan, Texas, implemented the Master Gardener program as part of its vocational training program in March 1991. The prison's Master Gardener program is sponsored by the Texas Agricultural Extension Service and constitutes a horticultural therapy program. More than 225 inmates have completed the program; however, the effectiveness in inmate rehabilitation brought about by such programs has not been extensively documented. Consequently, our objectives were to determine the effects of participation in the Master Gardener program on the locus of control, self-esteem, and life satisfaction of female inmates. About 80 inmates were administered a pretest before the Master Gardener program and an identical posttest at its conclusion. The 55-item questionnaire included a biographical section, a locus of control inventory, a self-esteem inventory, and a life satisfaction inventory. Data were analyzed using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences. Results examine the relationship between the Master Gardener program and the psychological well-being of the female inmates at the Federal Prison Camp in Bryan, Texas.

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Aime J. Sommerfeld, Tina M. Waliczek, and Jayne M. Zajicek

A questionnaire based on the Life Satisfaction Inventory A (LSIA) was used to investigate older adult (age 50+ years) gardeners' and nongardeners' perceptions of personal life satisfaction and levels of physical activity. The LSIA measures five components of quality of life: “zest for life,” “resolution and fortitude,” “congruence between desired and achieved goals,” “physical, psychological, and social self-concept,” and “optimism.” Additional multiple-choice questions were asked to determine respondents' level of physical activity, perceptions of overall health and well-being as well as to gather demographic information. The survey was posted on a university homepage for ≈1 month. Responses were gathered from 298 participants who differentiated themselves as gardeners or nongardeners by responding positively or negatively to the question “do you garden?” Results indicated statistically significant differences in comparisons of overall life satisfaction scores with gardeners receiving higher mean scores indicating more positive results on the LSIA. Four individual quality-of-life statements included in the LSIA yielded statistically significantly more positive answers by gardeners when compared with nongardeners. Other questions regarding healthful practices revealed that personal reports of physical activity and perceptions of personal health were statistically significantly more positive among gardeners when compared with nongardeners.

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Jennifer DeWolfe, T.M. Waliczek, and J.M. Zajicek

Researchers wonder what it takes to improve athlete performance. Research has suggested that plants reduce anxiety, and reduced anxiety could, in turn, improve athletic performance. Research also shows that plants have psychological and restorative value such as improving coping mechanisms in human subjects as well as the potential to improve concentration and focus attention that could affect performance of athletes. The main objective of this research was to investigate the impact of greenery/landscaping on athletic performance and cognitive and somatic anxiety in track and field athletes. Four university track and field teams and 128 athletes participated in the study. Individual athlete performance and athletes' scores on the competitive state anxiety inventory-2 (CSAI-2) cognitive and somatic anxiety tests were collected from seven track meets that occurred during one spring competition season. Greenness/landscaping level was determined by Likert scale rating averages from professional horticulturists who individually rated each site. A regression analysis found that greenness level was a predictor (P = 0.000) of best performance by athletes. More of the athletes' best performance marks were at the track and field site that had the highest greenery rating, and many of the athletes' worst performance marks were achieved at the site that had the lowest greenery rating. Results also indicated that all athletes performed better at the more vegetated track and field site regardless of event and level of anxiety. All athletes performed similarly at each of the track and field sites regardless of ethnicity, gender, or grade classification. However, the overall average mean anxiety scores for all the athletes involved in this study were somewhat high in comparison with the instrument-normed scores for both the cognitive and somatic anxiety scales.

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June Wolfe III, J.M. Zajicek, and M.A. Hussey

Six native Texas and six introduced ornamental grass species were chosen for an evaluation of water use performance and aesthetic value under drought stress to identify material most appropriate for water conserving landscapes. Greenhouse and field experiments determined the overall performance of the grasses under drought conditions. A public survey evaluated the aesthetic value of investigated species. Greenhouse work determined that examination of total chlorophyll content was not a useful parameter for predicting drought stress. Water use and visual aesthetic decline rates were determined for all species in the greenhouse. On average, native and introduced species performed equally well. Imperata cylindrica exhibited the lowest rates of water use (by 92%) and visual decline (by 51%) in the greenhouse and was the most conservative water user in the field with lowest stomatal conductance (by 76%). The survey found that grasses were acceptable as ornamentals in the landscape and natives and introduced species equal in preference.

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S. Koch, T.M. Waliczek, and J.M. Zajicek

Fifty-six children were included in a study that evaluated the effectiveness of a garden program designed to teach health and nutrition to second through fifth grade-level children. The specific objectives of the research project were to evaluate the effect of the program on nutritional knowledge of the benefits of eating fruit and vegetables, nutritional attitudes toward fruit and vegetables, and eating behaviors of children, specifically consumption of fruit and vegetables. Children's nutritional knowledge was measured with an 11-question multiple-choice exam based on the educational activities performed. Children's nutritional attitudes regarding fruit and vegetables were measured with a fruit and vegetable preference questionnaire, and children's eating behaviors were evaluated with an interview question asking them what they ate for a snack that day. After participating in the nutritional program, children's knowledge about the benefits of eating fruit and vegetables significantly improved, but there were no significant differences found in participants' attitude scores toward fruit and vegetables. However, the participants did report eating healthier snacks after participation in the nutritional program.