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  • Author or Editor: Catherine McGuinn x
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A 17-week vocational horticulture curriculum was assessed for it's effectiveness in changing attitudes about personal success and job preparation, presenting horticulture/landscaping as an appropriate career, developing an attitude of appreciation and fostering of the environment, and strengthen social bonds to reduce delinquent behavior. Pre-tests/post-tests based on Hirsch's tests of social bond for juvenile delinquents were developed and administered to address attitudes toward school, teachers, peers, views, and the environment. A separate pre-post test dealt with career and aspirations. Results of these tests were compared to tests administered at a comparable urban program. Behavioral records for one semester before and semester during the horticulture curriculum were compared. Daily journals maintained by service learning students volunteers were analyzed for observational themes and combined with teachers observations. Success of the program was related to students desire and ability to get summer internships and/or employment in horticultural settings. Due to the limited size of the study group (6) and the school policies limiting follow-up data collection at 6 or 9 months, the results of the study must be seen as trends suggesting future research direction and supporting the continued work being conducted a Norfolk Botanic Gardens.

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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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