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  • Author or Editor: Coleman L. Etheredge x
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Allen V. Barker

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Coleman L. Etheredge, Tina M. Waliczek and Jayne M. Zajicek

In the last quarter century, the epidemic of overweight and obese Americans has increased strikingly. This, in turn, has caused a substantial rise in the risk of cardiovascular diseases, cholesterol, hypertension, osteoarthritis, stroke, type II diabetes, specific forms of cancer, and other diseases. The main purpose of this research was to investigate the influence of gardening activities on activity levels, body mass index (BMI), allergies, and reported overall health of gardeners and nongardeners. The sample population was drawn from two sources: an online survey and an identical paper-pencil formatted survey, which was distributed to church, garden, and community service groups within Texas and parts of the mid-western United States. A total of 1015 people participated in the study. Results from this study indicated nongardeners were less physically active when compared with gardeners. However, frequency of gardening did not have a statistically significant impact on gardeners’ BMI. There was also no difference in BMI between gardeners and nongardeners. Gardeners indicated having more frequently reoccurring symptoms for “ear infection/ear ache,” “high cholesterol,” “kidney stone,” “gallstones,” and “arthritis,” indicating gardening may be being used as a distraction therapy, helping gardeners to cope with pain and remain active when other forms of exercise may not be an option. There was no statistically significant difference in incidence of allergies between gardeners and nongardeners.

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Kathryne Short, Coleman L. Etheredge and Tina M. Waliczek

In the United States, there is an increasing demand for field- or greenhouse-grown, specialty, locally grown cut flowers. However, certain cultivars of cut flowers are not readily available in the market. The purpose of this research was to produce a crop of novelty sunflowers (Helianthus annuus ‘Firecracker’) and study the marketability of the cut flowers to wholesale and retail florists and consumers. The plants were grown in greenhouses. Stems were harvested and shown to local floral wholesalers/retailers who were individually interviewed on their perceptions of the cut flower as a product. Farmers’ market patrons were administered a quantitative survey to determine their perspectives on locally sourced products and willingness to pay (WTP) for the specialty cut flower (SCF). Results indicated half of the local florists interviewed responded positively to locally grown floral products in general, with all florists willing to pay at the least the same amount for the SCF as they are currently paying for their standard commercially grown, imported cut sunflowers. Farmers’ market customers expressed a WTP of $1.34/stem and/or $10.13/bunch of 10 stems for the SCF with participants who expressed a higher concern for sourcing local products often more willing to pay a higher price for the SCF. Furthermore, among demographic comparisons, there were no differences in WTP based on age, income, and education. However, females were more likely to purchase the SCF when compared with males, and African-Americans were less likely to buy the SCF and willing to pay less for 10-stem bunches when compared with respondents of other ethnic backgrounds. Although many buyers responded positively to the product, results indicate women and those who prefer to buy local would be a good target demographic market for the product.

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Ghazal Tarar, Coleman L. Etheredge, Amy McFarland, Amy Snelgrove, Tina M. Waliczek and Jayne M. Zajicek

One-third of Americans are reportedly living with extreme stress, with 75% to 90% of visits to primary care physicians being for stress-related problems. Past research found visiting green areas lowers blood pressure, reduces headache and fatigue, improves mood, and hastens recovery from stress. The main objective for this study was to determine if stress-related illness rates in regions of Texas were related to vegetation rates and tree canopy cover. Data on the stress-related illnesses of high blood pressure and heart attacks were collected from the Center for Health Statistics and the Texas Department of State Health Services for all 25 metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) in Texas. MSAs are counties or group of counties with a central city or urbanized area of at least 50,000 people. Percent canopy cover was calculated for each MSA using the Multi-Resolution Land Characteristics National Land Cover Data canopy cover dataset. Vegetation rates for all the MSAs were examined and mapped for illustration using geographical information system (GIS) software. Visual relationships among the data were observed. Quantitative data were also analyzed. When mapping stress-related illness rate into MSA regions of Texas, no clear trend was observed with vegetation rates or percent tree canopy cover when compared with stress-related illness rates. Semipartial correlations were calculated to analyze the relationship between tree canopy cover and vegetation rate and stress-related illness rate variables after controlling the effect of external variables like income levels, age, population, and ethnicity. There was no significant positive or negative relationship found between stress-related illness data when compared with percent canopy and vegetation index for any the 25 MSAs of Texas.

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Coleman L. Etheredge, Tina M. Waliczek and Pratheesh Omana Sudhakaran

A university faculty-managed and student-run service-learning program provides seasonal plants and floral designs for holidays and special events on campus. Native and well-adapted plants for client personal use are also promoted and sold throughout the semester. Students propagate and grow greenhouse and nursery crops and create floral designs through service-learning applications in classes. Floral designs and greenhouse/nursery products are advertised via e-mail to members of the university's faculty and staff. The purpose of this study was to document program fundraising over time, as well as to measure the experiential value to the students and the quality of life benefits to the campus community. Economic benefits were evaluated by reviewing overall and average costs and earnings from the program over a 13-year period. Results indicated the average profits for the program were $6578 annually, with most sales occurring during the late spring semester. Surveys collected qualitative data from students participating in the program and indicated the experience was a valuable hands-on horticultural teaching tool, but also helped students build confidence, learn business skills in management and networking, and find their passion within the industry. Unsolicited comments from faculty and staff found that the program brought joy, had educational value, and provided a service to departments.