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  • Author or Editor: Paula Diane Relf x
  • HortTechnology x
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As the level of urbanization has increased, many people in Korea have begun to recognize the beneficial effects of plants in our immediate surroundings and involvement in horticultural activities. Today, an increasing number of Koreans attempt to improve the quality of life and enhance educational effectiveness through horticultural activities. Kindergarten, elementary, middle, and high schools have initiated garden-based programs. Some universities include courses focusing on horticulture applications to human well-being in their regular graduate programs or in their social education curricula. A few general hospitals, psychiatric hospitals, and rehabilitation centers have begun applying horticulture as a means of treatment. Most of the research articles in Korea on various aspects of human issues in horticulture have been published since the foundation of two academic societies, the Korean Horticultural Therapy Association and the Korean Society for Plants, People, and Environment. These articles are primarily focused on the areas of school gardening, healing gardens, and psychological or physiological effects of horticultural activities. For the future development of human issues in horticulture in Korea, several areas need to be enhanced including: interdisciplinary studies of horticulture and social education; development of different skills, techniques,and scales to validate the effects of horticultural therapy, healing gardens, and gardening as a teaching tool in public education; and an organization empowered to certify horticultural therapists.

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This study provides a profile of six juvenile offenders' responses to a vocational horticulture curriculum. The results indicate that vocational horticulture curricula may be a tool to strengthen a delinquent individual's bonds with society and, subsequently, evoke changes in attitudes about personal success and perceptions of personal job preparedness. The youths in this study increased their social bonds in all six categories addressed by the pretest and posttests, and were motivated to think more practically about their careers. Due to the limitations on size and scope of the study, it is exploratory in nature and provides ideas for future research and possible assessment methods for further research.

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The Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE) Master Gardener (MG) Coordinator Manual, a 14-chapter resource book, was developed cooperatively with teams of VCE MGs, coordinators, and agents to enhance coordinators' skills. It includes chapters on risk management, volunteer management, the educational process, current policies, and the volunteer section of the VCE Master Gardener's Handbook. The VCE MG Coordinator Manual was the basis of four local VCE MG coordinator-training sessions in 1998. This evaluation showed that coordinators are using the manual and adapting the suggestions and samples to fit their local programs, despite the fact that more planning time is often required. Those using the manual increased their understanding of VCE goals and the role of the VCE MG and slightly increased their leadership skills. Reading the manual showed a need for information on training VCE MGs to work with agents to design and implement strong horticulture education programs for Virginia communities. Areas for improvement were identified before final publication.

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Throughout history, plants have been used to benefit people. In the United States, formal research to document the impacts of plants on people was not published until the 1970s, when papers from social and medical scientists began to appear. In the 1990s, symposia, including the first on “The Role of Horticulture in Human Well-being and Social Development,” brought people together from around the world to share and expand their knowledge in this emerging field. Symposium participants have included researchers in the social sciences and plant sciences, practitioners in horticultural therapy, teachers in colleges and public gardens, industry representatives applying the knowledge, and more. This has formed the basis for current activities in research, teaching, and practice throughout the United States. Examples from research that now documents a variety of beneficial impacts of plants on people are discussed.

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Management changes brought about by 1996 budgetary action shifted local Master Gardener (MG) program management from state-funded local agents to a structure of coordinators consisting of locally funded agents, locally funded nonagent coordinators, and volunteers willing to take on additional responsibilities. The Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE) MG volunteer program is currently available in 76 unit offices. The unit programs are managed by 46 MG coordinators, including 8 locally funded agents, 8 locally funded technicians, and 30 volunteers. Currently, there are 2747 MG volunteers (trainees, interns, and MGs). To provide consistent, state-level direction and leadership to this less experienced group of local coordinators and to prepare them for their jobs as MG program managers, current management materials were extensively revised and expanded and new resources were developed. These efforts to ensure that everyone understood the purpose and focus of the VCE MG program resulted in revision of MG program policies, development of new volunteer training materials, establishment of a state-level MG planning and work team, new management guidelines, in-service training for coordinators, an administrative website and electronic discussion listserv available only internally to agents and coordinators, and a state MG newsletter focused on the role of MGs as community leaders and educators.

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Many of the research questions that have been posed regarding the effects of plants on people can only be answered using methodologies from the social sciences. Lack of familiarity with these methods and their underlying concepts has limited the role that horticulturists have taken in this research. Horticulturists, because of their particular sensitivity to the various aspects of plants and the nature of the ways that people interact with plants, must be involved in this type of research to generate the information that is needed by horticultural industries. This paper reviews many of the common methods that have been used in research on human issues in horticulture and presents examples of studies that have been conducted using these techniques. Quantitative and qualitative methods are discussed.

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