Meeting the needs of changing clientele can be achieved by modifying current extension programs such as the Master Gardener program. In Oregon 90% of the nursery industry workforce is comprised of Hispanics who speak Spanish and have a limited understanding of English. Translating the content of selected chapters from the Oregon-Washington Master Gardener Handbook into Spanish creates a new training tool that can be used throughout the industry. By providing technical training in the basics of plant science, nursery employees will have a better understanding of the work they are doing and gain job satisfaction.
Ann Marie VanDerZanden
The Landscape Design Theory class at Oregon State Univ. is composed of undergraduate students from a variety of majors including, horticulture, housing and interior design, business, criminal justice, and art. This diversity of majors means there is a wide range of student knowledge about the history of landscape design and creates a unique teaching opportunity. To capitalize on this diversity and to encourage student participation, concept or knowledge maps were used at the beginning of the term before the material being covered in class lectures. Students were divided into groups of three and asked to develop a group concept map. They were given major societies or events that occurred in history from about 2000 BC (ancient Egypt) through the early 20th century. Additionally each group was given a list of 20 landscape design elements or features. Initially each group developed a historical timeline. After the timeline was complete they linked the different landscape design elements or features with a historical era thereby creating a map of their understanding of landscape design history. After the landscape design history segment of the class was completed the small groups reconvened and evaluated their initial concept map in light of the recently completed lectures. Each group discussed their original map, what associations were correct, and how they would do it differently with their newfound understanding of landscape design history. A class discussion followed regarding initial perceptions and benefits of this learning activity. This teaching strategy could easily be adapted to a number of other horticulture topics.
Ann Marie VanDerZanden
A collaborative two-part project between Iowa State University Horticulture Extension and the Iowa Nursery and Landscape Association (INLA) resulted in an online, asynchronous training program to prepare green industry professionals for the Iowa Certified Nursery Professional (ICNP) exam, and to provide advanced training through webinars. Since 2008, members have accessed a set of 20 training modules that cover plant identification and content on the written portion of the certification exam. In the 6 years since the modules have been used, the pass rate for the written portion of the exam has increased from 57% (2005–07, 18 participants) to 85% (2008–13, 49 participants). A survey administered to participants between 2008 and 2013 gathered information on participant demographics, interest in learning in an online format, usefulness and applicability of information in preparing for the exam, module usability, and how the modules impacted their learning. Participants felt that the modules were an effective way to deliver content (4.45 out of 5) and reported they were comfortable using a web-based format to learn (4.89 out of 5). Advanced training was delivered to members through three webinar series: five webinars in 2011 and four webinars each in 2012 and 2013. Although attendance to the live webinar sessions was limited, the archived versions have been accessed a number of times.
Ann Marie VanDerZanden
Horticulture graduates entering the field of landscape design and installation must be able to integrate technical skills with practical applications. This requires higher-order thinking skills such as critical thinking, which can be practiced through various teaching and learning strategies in an undergraduate curriculum. The objective of this project was to develop a series of three reflective writing assignments in a landscape design course to help students improve their critical thinking skills of analysis and synthesis. Scores on an 18-point quiz question for 110 students enrolled in Beginning Garden Composition (HORT 380) from 2005 to 2009 were compared. The comparison was between 2 years when the reflective writing assignments were not part of the course and 3 years when the assignments were included in the course. Quiz scores increased significantly for the students who completed the reflective writing assignments (average of 16.2 out of 18) compared with students who did not complete the assignments as part of the course (average 10.2 out of 18).
Ann Marie VanDerZanden and Gail Gredler
Oregon State University Master Gardener volunteers are the backbone of home horticulture program delivery in Oregon. In 1997, more than 800 new Master Gardeners received between 48 and 66 hours of initial training at 17 sites throughout Oregon. A reduction in faculty available to train Master Gardeners and reduced travel budgets for existing faculty have made it difficult to effectively deliver training on a statewide basis. One solution to this problem is to train veteran Master Gardeners to assume some of the teaching duties for the initial training in their respective counties. In Sept. 1998, 45 veteran Master Gardeners attended a 2-day training seminar to learn to deliver two 3-hour training modules to Master Gardener trainees. Participants learned to use curriculum materials developed for training sessions on vegetable gardening and herbaceous ornamentals. Curriculum materials include annotated slide sets, handouts, suggested activities, entry/exit quizzes, and teaching evaluations for each module. Participants also received training on effective teaching strategies for the adult learner. Participants delivered the training in their respective counties during winter 1999 and returned an evaluation of the training experience. Benefits of this program included reduced training expense and teaching time for Extension faculty, increased volunteer commitment and participation in Master Gardener training, an advanced training opportunity for veteran Master Gardeners, availability of curriculum materials for future training, and improved retention of veteran Master Gardeners.
Ann Marie VanDerZanden and Tom Cook
Once an abandoned property at the edge of campus, the 7,000 ft2 (650.3 m2) horticulture teaching garden at Oregon State University has evolved from an overgrown residential lot into a well-defined and meticulously maintained garden. Since its beginning, an irrigation system, hardscapes, turf, bulbs, annuals, perennials, and woody plants have been installed by students enrolled in undergraduate horticulture courses. About 200 students use the garden annually as part of their formal instruction and it is currently integrated into the curricula of courses in landscape design, landscape construction and maintenance, and herbaceous and woody plant identification. Because the garden space is dynamic, curriculum changes can easily be accommodated.
Ann Marie VanDerZanden and Bob Rost
Video clips are a type of interactive multimedia that are often incorporated in Internet based training, and recent studies have reported examples of how cooperative extension is beginning to use Internet technology, including video clips, as part of delivering educational programs online. A survey was designed to determine if Oregon State University Extension Master Gardener volunteers trained in 2001 were able to access a video clip online. Eighty percent of the recent trainees had access to or owned a computer and 93% of this group had access to the Internet. Yet, when asked to access the video clip online only 37% of the respondents were successful. This disparity suggests the need for a seamless interface between the multimedia component and the software required to access it. If the end user is unable to access the multimedia component, it is difficult to justify the additional resources required to develop these teaching tools.
Ann Marie VanDerZanden and Erika Kirsch
The Internet has become a tool used in business, education, and leisure pursuits. Extension has used the Internet in a variety of ways including the training of extension staff and volunteers and the dissemination of information. In 2001, a survey was developed to determine the comfort level, familiarity, and use of computers and the Internet by active Oregon Master Gardeners (MGs). Basic demographic data was also collected. We found that 85% of respondents use computers and are very comfortable with computers and the Internet. This extensive use and comfort level suggests that the Internet may be an acceptable alternative to the traditional face-to-face training method for some Oregon MGs.
Ann Marie VanDerZanden and Christopher Hilgert
In conjunction with two noncredit, on-line training modules for the Oregon Master Gardener Program, a team of educators and web designers developed an evaluation tool to help determine the effectiveness of these modules for training Master Gardeners. The evaluation tool includes questions on technical issues, organization and presentation of the module, navigation throughout the module, content and user satisfaction. Data collected from participants via the tool in 1999 on the basic botany module, highlighted areas that needed improvement including reducing the amount of on-screen reading (organization and presentation) and an inability of participants to access video clips and animations (user satisfaction). Overall, participants gave both modules high marks in each of the five categories. Major modifications made to the soils and fertilizers module in 2000 were likely responsible for the improved organization/presentation rating (2.4 in 1999 to 1.9 in 2000 where 1 = highly positive ranking; 5 = highly negative ranking) and the user satisfaction rating (2.5 in 1999 to 2.0 in 2000). Both years the overall acceptability of the course was high 1.45 (1 = highly positive ranking; 5 = highly negative ranking) and 1.80, 1999 and 2000 respectively, and has encouraged the team to continue developing on-line training modules for the Oregon Master Gardener Program.
Erika Kirsch and Ann Marie VanDerZanden
The last statewide survey of the Oregon Master Gardener (MG) Program was completed in 1992. Since that time, the program has expanded from 20 to 27 counties and increased by over 600 new volunteers. Compared to other MG programs around the United States, Oregon is the tenth largest in number of volunteers and seventh in hours volunteered. Considering the size of the Oregon MG program and changes seen in annually compiled statistics, a better understanding of who the Oregon MGs are and what they think about their personal volunteer experience became critical. We developed a survey tool to understand the Oregon MG demographic composition and personal volunteer experience. Compared to the 1992 baseline survey, the general trends found in the 2001 survey suggest that Oregon MGs are younger, joining the program with more college education, live further from cities and towns, and are more often employed. Still, the commitment level to volunteering is similar to, or has exceeded 1992 levels.