Beginning in 1998 students in the Dept. of Horticulture at Iowa State Univ. have been given an opportunity to enroll in a semester-long study abroad course, culminating in a two-week visit to the country of interest. Students participating in a recent study abroad experience to England were asked several questions prior to their departure including: 1) their motivation for participating and goals for the site visit; 2) fears or concerns related to the trip; 3) expectations about the course and trip; and upon arriving home 4) their overall evaluation of the course and trip. A questionnaire containing ten closed-ended and six open-ended questions was given to all 25 students enrolled in the course. We learned most students participated in the course to learn about and experience a different place and culture. Thirty-nine percent of responding students said issues related to packing for the trip was their biggest concern or fear. Twenty-six percent were concerned abut using a foreign currency while another 17% said interacting with other sudents on the trip was their greatest concern. A large majority (90%) of students felt the course and trip met their expectations and 80% said they would participate in another international experience. Other survey questions revealed students gained better insight about themselves, became more tolerant of people and other customs, felt they were better able to adapt to new situations, developed close friendships with traveling companions, and experienced an increased interest in horticulture.
Cynthia Haynes* and Jeff Iles
Cynthia Haynes and Cary J. Trexler
University-affiliated gardens enhance the teaching, research, and outreach missions of the university. Attracting and retaining volunteers is challenging but important for the success of most public gardens. The objective of this case study was to determine the perceptions and needs of volunteers at a university-affiliated public garden. In a focus group format, participants' responses were analyzed to determine the benefits of volunteering to both the participants and the university. Benefits were categorized into three groups: material, solidarity, and purposive. Material benefits are tangible rewards that are equated with monetary or resource gain. Solidarity benefits are social rewards from being in a group. Purposive benefits are rewards from achieving a goal or mission. This study documents the shift of volunteer motives from deriving purposive to solidarity benefits as the garden grew and expanded. Concomitantly, the goals of the university-affiliated garden shifted from purposive to material benefits. Our results confirm that garden volunteers are like other groups of volunteers in that they expect specific benefits for their participation, and their needs may fluctuate over time. Thus, a public garden may need to adjust reward systems to maximize the positive impact of volunteers. The university would benefit from an efficient support system to help volunteers meet their desire for helping the organization. To retain volunteers the university needs better training programs, a more flexible volunteer work schedule, and more recognition ceremonies. This study has implications for any institution that uses volunteer support to accomplish its mission.
Ann Marie VanDerZanden and Cynthia Haynes
The 2004 report from the National Gardening Association showed that 84 million people (78% of the U.S. population) participated in one or more types of do-it-yourself lawn and garden activities. This creates a substantial consumer group, and an important audience for Cooperative Extension to reach with educational programming. In 2003, a collaborative project between the Iowa State University (ISU) Extension Service, a regional gardening magazine, and regional television stations began as a new avenue to deliver educational programming related to horticulture. Gardening in the Zone is a series of 35 two-minute segments that are broadcast weekly March through October during local morning and evening news programs. Currently, the segments are shown on television stations across the state, resulting in over 95% coverage and reaching viewers in southwestern Wisconsin, northwest Illinois, southern Minnesota, and eastern Nebraska. In just 1 year, the number of stations carrying the segments has doubled. The segments are hosted by a broadcast professional and done in a question and answer format with an introduction, content on the particular topic, and a close. To close the segment the host refers viewers to the ISU Extension Gardening in the Zone website (http://22.214.171.124/gardening/) and the magazine website, which appear on the screen. This format provides a minimum of three potential contacts with the viewer including the real time broadcast, reference to the website, and ultimately, links to Extension publications from the website. These segments provide research-based information to a large audience that traditional Extension programming methods might not otherwise reach.
Kimberly R. Hilgers, Cynthia Haynes, and Joanne Olson
The interest and use of gardens as educational tools for youth has increased in recent decades. The positive connection found between children and horticulture has prompted the development of garden-based curricula for use in schools. Iowa State University Extension developed the Growing in the Garden (GITG) curriculum for use in kindergarten through third-grade classrooms. This study examined what impact the GITG curriculum had on the awareness and interest of first graders in the areas of science, nutrition, and environmental awareness. Impact was assessed by a parental survey asking for perceptions of their child's interest and awareness after experiencing three lessons from the GITG curriculum. The sample population consisted of 78 parents of first-grade students from four classrooms in Iowa. The response rate was 60.2%. Results indicate that a significant number of parents completing the survey noted an increased awareness and interest of their children in the areas of science and the environment. Factors such as socioeconomic status, ethnicity, and gender did not influence the outcomes.
Cynthia Haynes, Kimberly Hilgers, and Joanne Olson
The interest, use, and recognized benefits of gardens as educational tools for youth has increased in recent decades and has prompted the development of garden-based curricula for use in schools. Iowa State University Extension developed Growing in the Garden (GITG), a curriculum designed for use in kindergarten through third grade classrooms. This study examined the impact of the GITG curriculum on the awareness and interest of first graders in the areas of science, nutrition, and the environment. A survey was used to determine parental perceptions of their child's interest and awareness after experiencing three lessons from the GITG curriculum. Forty-seven parents (60.2% response rate) of first graders from four classrooms in Iowa completed the survey. A significant number of parents surveyed noted an increased awareness and interest of their children in the areas of science and the environment. Factors such as socio-economic status, ethnicity, and gender did not influence the outcomes.
Cynthia Haynes, Jon C. Pieper, and Cary Trexler
Creating effective learning experiences with limited educational resources has compelled educators to maximize the value of field trips. A common problem associated with field trips is anxiety felt by students in new surroundings, a situation that can distract students and adversely affect learning. Previsit activities before a field trip may reduce such anxiety and thereby increase attentiveness and learning. The objective of this study was to compare the effects of traditional and Internet-based previsit activities on learning and attitudes of fourth and fifth graders after a field trip to a public garden. Students in three classes were evaluated. Half of each class was assigned to one of the two previsit treatments. Three forms of assessments were used to measure the students' perceptions and learning: 1) observations were made to determine how many students remained on-task during the field trip, 2) 12 close-ended (Likert scale) questions were given to students and used to evaluate attitudinal responses the day after the field trip, and 3) seven open-ended questions were given to students and used to evaluate cognitive responses 1 week after the field trip. Attitudinal responses were identical between treatments. Observational data indicated that students subjected to the Internet-based previsit activity exhibited fewer off-task behaviors. Internet-based previsit activities increased cognitive scores in students compared to the traditional previsit activities for two of seven questions. The advantages of the Internet-based previsit activities may be the result of enhanced opportunity for self-directed learning and access to additional content.
Bryn Takle, Cynthia Haynes, and Denny Schrock
Recruitment and training of new volunteers is necessary to grow a Master Gardener organization, but retention of current individuals has advantages. Aligning reasons for volunteering with recruitment and continuing education topics with the interests of volunteers is essential in a successful recruitment and retention plan. The objectives of this study were to determine the motivations for volunteering in the Iowa Master Gardener program and to identify popular continuing education topics, preferred delivery methods, and social media usage among this audience. Learning about gardening and horticulture was the most important reason Iowa Master Gardeners volunteer with the program. In addition, altruism is important to these volunteers, but they do not recognize the full impact their projects have on their local community. They have a strong interest in learning about native plants and sustainable horticultural practices. The most preferred delivery methods were live presentations and workshops. Video presentations and webinars were generally less preferred. Respondents used certain social media sites, such as Facebook and Pinterest, some or a lot. Although this study was limited to Iowa Master Gardeners, results regarding motivation factors align closely with previous studies. We speculate that the results for advanced training topics, delivery methods, and social media usage would similarly align for Master Gardener programs across the country.
Ann Marie VanDerZanden, Cynthia Haynes, Gail R. Nonnecke, and Robert Martin
Globalization affects many aspects of American society, including higher education. Many institutions of higher education realize the need to help students become global citizens and thus require an international perspectives course as part of their undergraduate curriculum. The goal of this research was to evaluate the Horticulture Travel Course (Hort 496), which includes an international travel component, to determine whether it meets the university and College of Agriculture's expected learning outcomes and competencies in international and multicultural awareness. A 23-question survey instrument consisting of open- and close-ended questions was mailed to 116 former Hort 496 participants. Forty-three percent of the questionnaires were returned and were usable. Survey questions were designed to gather information on student demographics, previous international travel experience, learning outcomes achieved through participation in the pretrip preparatory class and the study abroad experience, and how these experiences influenced career development. Responses indicate that both the pretrip preparatory class and study abroad experience helped participants achieve the course learning outcomes. Furthermore, student presentations and guest speakers, and interacting with locals and planned tours immersed students the most in the pretrip preparatory class and study abroad experience, respectively. A majority of participants observed recognizable differences in agricultural management or production practices between the United States and the country visited. Participants also noted that Hort 496 had a positive affect on their communication skills, interpersonal skills, and personal growth.
Elizabeth Duncan, Ann Marie VanDerZanden, Cynthia Haynes, and Levon Esters
The Iowa State University undergraduate horticulture program has been nationally ranked as one of the best in the nation. Regular and systematic outcomes assessment is one means to evaluate the program for purposes of sustaining this level of excellence. The purpose of this study was to conduct a survey of horticulture graduates to determine preparedness when entering the workforce, departmental effectiveness, and to evaluate how well graduates met departmental learner outcomes. A 59-question survey instrument was distributed electronically to a proportional sample of 221 horticulture alumni who graduated between 2000 and 2006. The response rate was 47%. Results showed that graduates found jobs quickly, and a majority (76.7%) noted that their first and current jobs were highly related to their degree. Furthermore, 41.8% rated themselves as adequately prepared, 37.9% as more than adequately prepared, and 15.5% as exceptionally well prepared for their first job. Respondents also ranked their abilities related to the 33 learner outcomes questions as good to excellent.
Cynthia Haynes, Ann Marie VanDerZanden, and Jeffery K. Iles
The ornamental horticulture industry in the United States (the green industry) is a multibillion dollar industry that contributes to the economy of every state. Greenhouse and nursery products rank in the top 10 commodities produced in 42 states. In 2004, a 38-question survey was developed and mailed to 1281 members of Iowa's green industry, including wholesale and retail greenhouses, nurseries and florists, garden centers, landscape designers and contractors, and arborists, to gather information on the scope, scale, and business climate of the green industry in Iowa. All business types were represented in the 117 usable surveys that were returned. Although size and type of businesses varied, a majority of respondents had only one location, were family-owned, and had been in business less than 6 years. Respondents reported few factors that could limit their business success, and most felt they were much stronger than their competitors in the areas of customer perception of product quality and service and ability to meet customer needs. The estimated value of sales and services directly related to Iowa's green industry in 2004 was $311.5 million, and a majority of respondents expected their business to grow in the areas of employment, annual gross payroll and sales, and total annual expenses by 2010.