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Jennifer L. Boatright, J.M. Zajicek, and W.A. Mackay

Two experiments were conducted in which a polyacrylamide gel (Hydrosource, Western Polyacrylamide) was incorporated into 56 × 38-cm, raised, concrete beds, 20 cm deep, with a drain pipe in the center of each bed. In Expt. 1, treatments included (in grams of i.a. N) 0, 186, 372, or 558 plus 0 or 366 g hydrogel/m2, for a total of eight treatments. Each treatment was replicated three times. Petunia plants were transplanted into each plot for a total of 30 plants per treatment. Plants were kept well watered. Polymer incorporation had no effect on soil water retention, soil NO3 or NH4 retention, or plant growth. Expt. 2 included treatments of 0 or 186 g of ai N and 0 or 366 g hydrogel/m2. Each treatment was replicated six times with 10 plants per replication, resulting in a total of 60 plants per treatment. Minimal irrigation was imposed on treatments. This study demonstrated that under suboptimal conditions of minimal irrigation and fertilization, polymer incorporation significantly increased soil moisture (17%), NH4 retention (83%), and NO3 retention where additional N was added (64%) compared to soils without polymer.

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Amy N. Campbell, T.M. Waliczek, J.C. Bradley, J.M. Zajicek, and C.D. Townsend

As human pressures on the environment increase and as conflicting demands on education become focused, schools have a greater responsibility to educate children to care for their environment. Results from this study demonstrated that students who were involved in the actual propagation and restoration of ecosystems, and who had positive experiences in doing so, were more likely to have positive environmental attitudes.

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

A survey, targeting adults working with youth in garden situations, was designed for delivery on the KinderGARDEN World Wide Web site. The goal of this survey was to investigate adults who are actively involved in gardening with children in school, community or home gardens on their perceptions of the benefits of children participating in gardening. Three hundred-twenty completed surveys were returned via e-mail during a period of 9 months. Fourteen questions were included on the survey requesting information concerning what types of gardening situations in which children were participants and the demographics of the children involved in gardening. Results of the study cover 128,836 children (youth under 18 years old) involved in gardening, primarily with teachers in school gardens. The children involved were generally 12 years of age or under and were growing food crops. Adults gardening with children reported benefits to children's self-esteem and reduction in stress levels. Adults were also interested in learning more about the psychological, nutritional and physical benefits of gardening. Comparisons between those adults involved in gardening found that parents' and teachers' ideas differed concerning the most important aspects of the gardening experience. Parents viewed food production as most important while teachers thought socializing and learning about plants were most important.

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A.G. Snelgrove, J.H. Michael, T.M. Waliczek, and J.M. Zajicek

A geographic information system (GIS) was used to create an interface to evaluate the relationship between the amount of greenness and the crime level within the city of Austin, Texas. Results indicated a statistically significant negative correlation between the incidence of crime committed in the Austin greater metropolitan area for the year 1995 and the amount of vegetation within the area in which those crimes occurred. Areas with less than the average mean greenness level in Austin had an increased amount of crime. Results indicated no statistically significant relationship between the level of greenness of the crime sites and the severity of the crimes committed, and income level appeared to have no statistically significant effect on the severity of crimes committed.

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P.E. Danforth, T.M. Waliczek, S.M. Macey, and J.M. Zajicek

The purpose of this study was to determine if participation in the National Wildlife Federation's Schoolyard Habitat Program (SYHP) had an effect on the standardized test scores of fourth grade primary school students in Houston, Texas. To conduct the study, three pairs of Houston elementary schools were matched by student demographics of ethnicity and economics. The treatment group included a total of 306 fourth grade students whose teachers were using the SYHP. The control group consisted of a total of 108 fourth grade students whose teachers used a more traditional curriculum. To measure academic achievement, changes in standardized test scores (Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills) were compared between students' third grade data and their fourth grade data. Results showed that those students participating in the SYHP had significantly increased math scores when compared with peers in schools that were taught using a more traditional curriculum. However, overall, few differences were found in comparisons of reading scores of those students taught with SYHP and those taught using a more traditional curriculum.

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M.R. Gorham, T.M. Waliczek, A. Snelgrove, and J.M. Zajicek

Research has suggested that city environments with more green space may have lower crime levels. For this pilot study, 11 established community gardens in Houston, TX, were selected and mapped using ArcGIS 9.1 software. The numbers of property crimes reported in the 2005 crime data from the Houston Police Department surrounding the community garden areas at a distance of 1/8 mile were then tallied and mapped for the areas. The numbers of crimes were evaluated alongside demographic data from the 2000 U.S. Census. Statistical comparisons were made between community garden areas and randomly selected city areas that were within a 1-mile area surrounding each garden. Initial results of paired t tests indicated no statistically significant differences between the mean number of crime occurrences in community garden areas and the mean number of crimes in randomly selected areas. Results from a linear regression analysis also indicated that the presence of a community garden was not a predictor of a lower crime rate for a neighborhood. Adjustments were then made by removing randomly selected areas that were demographically least like their respective community gardens. Results from further analysis indicated that there were no crime number differences between the community garden areas and the randomly selected areas. However, interviews conducted with community garden representatives showed that community gardens appeared to have a positive influence on neighborhoods, with residents reporting neighborhood revitalization, perceived immunity from crime, and neighbors emulating gardening practices they saw at the community gardens.

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Traci Armstrong, J.E. Wolfe III, J.C. Bradley, and J.M. Zajicek

Ornamental grasses are currently growing in popularity and are being used in parks, public plantings, and commercial landscapes. This study was developed to determine the esthetic appeal of 12 ornamental grasses and evaluate public attitude toward the use of these grasses in low-maintenance landscapes. Grasses were selected for this evaluation using the following criteria: recommendations of experts in the ornamental grass field; material used in the nursery trade; and recommendations in popular literature. Two field sites were prepared and planted in the Spring 1991 and 1992. Both sites were maintained and irrigated to enhance the survivability of the grasses. The survey was conducted on several dates in the Fall 1992. Participants responded to questions regarding ornamental grass use, and the need for research on water conservation in landscapes. In addition, participants were asked to rank the individual grass species as to their accept-ability for landscape use. The results of the survey indicate that visual aesthetics are a major factor in public acceptance of landscape materials. In addition, the majority of ornamental grasses tested in this study were acceptable alternatives for low-maintenance landscapes with native and introduced species equal in performance.

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Amy L. McFarland, Benjamin J. Glover, Tina M. Waliczek, and Jayne M. Zajicek

The purpose of this study was to determine if participation in the National Wildlife Federation’s (NWF) Schoolyard Habitat Program (SYHP) had an effect on the science standardized test scores or science grades of fourth-grade primary school students in Houston, TX. To conduct the study, five pairs of Houston elementary schools were selected as either treatment or control schools. The treatment group included a total of 148 fourth-grade students whose teachers reported using the NWF’s SYHP. The control group consisted of a total of 248 fourth-grade students whose teachers used a traditional science curriculum. To measure academic achievement, scores on a standardized science test and science grades were compared between the treatment and control students. Results from this study indicated Caucasian students scored higher than minority students on the Stanford standardized science exam. Significant differences existed in the Stanford standardized science exam scores between male and female students for the treatment group only. Overall, the results from this study also showed that the SYHP was equally as effective at science instruction as the traditional curriculum within the Houston Independent School District (HISD) after teachers gained familiarity with using the habitat for instruction.

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Aime J. Sommerfeld, Amy L. McFarland, Tina M. Waliczek, and Jayne M. Zajicek

New dietary guidelines recommend eating more than five servings of fruit and vegetables each day without setting upper limitations. Although older adults tend to report a higher intake of fruit and vegetables than other age groups, over half of the U.S. older population does not meet the recommendation of five daily servings of fruit and vegetables. Research has shown that gardening is one way of improving fruit and vegetable intake. The primary focuses of this study were to examine and compare fruit and vegetable consumption of gardeners and nongardeners and to investigate any differences in fruit and vegetable consumption of long-term gardeners when compared with newer gardeners in adults older than age 50 years. An online survey was designed to be answered by older adults (50 years or older) and respondents self-selected themselves for inclusion in the study. A total of 261 questionnaires was completed. Data collected were analyzed using statistical procedures, including descriptive statistics, Pearson's product-moment correlations, and multivariate analysis of variance. The results of this research supports previous studies that indicated gardeners were more likely to consume vegetables when compared with nongardeners. However, these results were not found with regard to fruit consumption between gardeners and nongardeners. Additionally, the length of time an individual reported having participated in gardening activities seemed to have no relationship to the number of vegetables and fruit reported as consumed, which suggests gardening intervention programs late in life would be an effective method of boosting vegetable and fruit consumption in older adults. Gender was also evaluated with no statistically significant differences found for overall fruit and vegetable intake.

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Shelley A. McReynolds, J.M. Zajicek, W.A. Mackay, and J. L. Heilman

A study was conducted to explore how different mulches affect water use of landscape plants. Plots 4.9 m × 7.3 m, were covered with 5cm pine bark, cypress, white rock, or clay aggregate. 3 potted plants of Ligustrum japonicum (wax-leaf ligustrum) and Photinia × fraseri (red tip photinia) were placed in each plot so that the top of each pot was at ground level. 1 plant of each species was planted directly into each plot. Water loss was measured on a daily basis, both gravimetrically and using heat balance stem flow gauges, during both the 1992 and 1993 growing seasons. Stomatal conductance was measured periodically during each growing season. Surface, air, and soil temperatures at two depths were recorded. During 1992, pine bark mulched plants consistently used more water than the other treatments, as opposed to summer 1993 when the most water was used by plants over white rock. Surface temperatures of pine bark, cypress and clay aggregates were higher than those of white rock both years, by as much as 20C, while temperatures under the mulch varied as much as 5C between pine bark and white rock.