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  • Author or Editor: M.J. McFarland x
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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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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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A stem flow gauge designed for herbaceous plants was adapted for measuring the absolute mass flow rate of sap in large stems and trunks of woody plants. The method uses a steady-state heat balance method in which a constant, known amount of heat is supplied to a stem segment. The axial and radial conductive heat fluxes away from the heated segment are measured, as well as the rise in sap temperature. The device can be operated by commonly available dataloggers and does not require calibration. In a greenhouse experiment with a small tree, the sap mass flow rate, as measured by the the gauge, agreed with the measured transpiration rate within 4% when both were integrated over 24-hr periods or longer. Short term comparisons (≤4hr) were less accurate, due to the changes in water content of the tree above the gauge, which cause a lag between transpiration rate and sap flow rate. The dynamic response of the tree and gauge system to sudden changes in sap flow was ≈20 min under midday conditions. Other than the insertion of temperature-sensing thermocouples 2 mm into the trunk, the gauge components are non-invasive and do not disturb the tree physically or physiologically to a significant extent.

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