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  • Author or Editor: Heather Kalaman x
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As land-use patterns change over time, some pollinating insects continue to decline both in abundance and diversity. This is due, in part, to reductions in floral resources that provide sufficient nectar and pollen. Our overall goal is to help increase the use of plants that enhance pollinator health by providing research-based information that is easily accessible to the public. To assess the most successful mode of sharing this information, a survey was distributed to more than 4000 Master Gardener (MG) volunteers of Florida. The objectives of our survey were to gauge both knowledge and interest in common pollinators, common pollinator-friendly floral resources, and a favored means of accessing material about additional pollinator-friendly plants for landscape use. With a response rate of just over 18%, results showed that there is a clear interest among Florida MGs in learning more about pollinators and pollinator-friendly plants with face-to-face classes followed by a website as the preferred modes of accessing educational materials on this topic. Respondents on average were extremely interested in learning more about pollinator plants [mean of 4.41 out of 5.0 (sd = 0.89)], with greatest interest in butterflies/moths (Lepidoptera), followed by bees (Hymenoptera), birds (Aves), bats (Chiroptera), and beetles (Coleoptera). Overall, MG participants felt more confident (P < 0.0001) in their knowledge of pollinator-friendly plants (mean 3.24 out of 5.0) than pollinator insects (mean 3.01 out of 5.0). When tested, 88.5% were able to correctly identify black-eyed susan (Rudbeckia hirta), with 70.1% correctly identifying spotted beebalm (Monarda punctata). Variations were observed in tested knowledge of pollinating insects, with 90.2% correctly identifying a zebra longwing (Heliconius charithonia) and only 32.6% correctly identifying a striped-sweat bee (Agapostemon splendens). These results revealed that MGs perceived themselves to be fairly knowledgeable about both pollinator plants and pollinating insects, yet their tested knowledge ranged widely depending on the actual plant and pollinator type. This suggests an emphasis be given for future MG training focused on diverse plant and pollinator species, preferably in a face-to-face environment. Results also show that additional resources regarding pollinator-friendly plants, as well as identification material on pollinating insects, are both desired and valued by our Florida MG community.

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