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George E. Fitzpatrick and Stephen D. Verkade

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Kimberly A. Klock-Moore and George E. Fitzpatrick

Analytical determination and confirmation of minimum compost processing times and minimum curing times can aid commercial growers in selecting compost materials that should give them more reliable and consistent results in their operations. Five-cubic-yard volumes of yard-trimmings were assembled into three 1.25-cubic-yard compost piles at 60-day intervals. At the conclusion of the experiment, there were three piles each of compost of the following ages: 10 months, 8 months, 6 months, and 2 months. Compost was collected from each pile and screened through a 0.75-inch screen. Bulk density, water-holding capacity, air-filled porosity, carbon to nitrogen ratio, electrical conductivity, and ATPase activity were determined on samples from each reference compost pile. A bioassay using beans also was performed. These data will be presented.

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George E. Fitzpatrick and Kimberly A. Klock-Moore

Over the 10-year period of 1987-1997, the demographics of the student population enrolled in the University of Florida off-campus BS degree in horticulture program at Fort Lauderdale have changed. Average student age has increased from 35.5 years to 38.1 years. Age range has increased from 22 to 54 years to 21 to 75 years. Age distribution changes have been most notable. In 1987, the age of the student population was normally distributed, whereas by 1997 the distribution had become bimodal, with one mode in the age group 26 to 30 and the other mode in the 41 to 45 age group. Estimated median one-way distance traveled to attend classes has not changed significantly, from 13.2 miles (range 3.9-89.8 miles) in 1987 to 14.2 miles (range 1.0-59.8 miles) in 1997.

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George E. Fitzpatrick and Kimberly A. Klock-Moore

The average undergraduate horticulture major at the Univ. of Florida Academic Program at Fort Lauderdale is 38 years old. The older, non-traditional student population is quite diverse, but many individuals are motivated by a desire to change careers, and many of them have taken extensive academic course work at other institutions prior to applying for admission to the Univ. of Florida. Academic advisement of this type of student presents a substantial challenge because of the uncertainty of content and vigor of prior academic preparation. To help meet this challenge, we have developed several academic advisement checklists that indicate numbers and titles of critical preprofessional and general education courses from the academic institutions that have been most frequently attended by the highest numbers of the incoming non-traditional students. These checklists have been cross-referenced between the catalogs of the various academic institutions and the Univ. of Florida catalog. We use these documents to evaluate the academic preparation of incoming transfer students and to assist them in making correct course selections to remedy any academic deficiencies that could negatively influence their success in upper division horticulture course work.

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George E. Fitzpatrick and Wagner A. Vendrame

One of the largest horticultural trade shows in the United States, the Tropical Plant Industry Exhibition, takes place each January in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The timing of this show coincides with the offering, during the spring semester, of an undergraduate horticulture course, Palm Production and Culture (ORH 4321C, 3 credits). We have developed a guided activity in which we assign the students to visit several preselected exhibits in this show, so that each exhibit in the show is visited by at least one student. The students complete a questionnaire for each exhibit in which they note the identity of the palm species present, the number of species present, the number of individuals of each species, and the total number of palms in each exhibit. Data in the questionnaires are compiled and used to augment and reinforce class discussions on morphology, cultural requirements, interiorscape management, species richness, species diversity, and field laboratory work in morphology and taxonomy. Procedures used have the potential for adaptation to other types of horticultural trade shows and other types of horticultural crops, as well as for other courses in horticulture.

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George E. Fitzpatrick and Stephen D. Verkade

Three compost products made from urban waste materials, municipal solid waste (MSW), yard trash (YT), and a co-compost made from 1 part sewage sludge and 3 parts yard trash (S-YT), were used as growing media for production of dwarf oleander (Nerium oleander L.) in 25 cm. diameter containers. In one test the composts were used as stand-alone growing media and in a second test they were blended with pine bark (PB) and sand (S) in 2 ratios: 4 compost: 5 PB: 1 S and 1 compost: 1 PB: 1 S. The S-YT co-compost produced plants with the highest biomass in both tests. Reduced growth of dwarf oleander in each test was associated with the degree to which the media compacted during the 5.5 month production period. The MSW compost compacted an average 8.5 cm. per container when used as a stand-alone medium, while the S-YT mixes compacted much less, typically < 4.0 cm.

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Laura A. Sanagorski and George E. Fitzpatrick

Trees in urban settings require more care because they are more likely to develop structural defects that can be costly, dangerous, or more maintenance-intensive than those in natural settings. People need to understand how trees grow in the urban environment and how to recognize potentially hazardous structural defects, yet this is not a topic regularly presented in school curriculum. The objectives of this study were to determine if structural defect recognition in trees is an appropriate topic for sixth grade curriculum, and to explore the efficacy of two methods of teaching this topic. We introduced structural defects in trees to sixth grade students, as part of the normal science instruction at three public middle schools located in Broward County, FL. We found sixth grade students to be capable of recognizing and comprehending the implications of structural defects in trees following a short period of instruction. We compared hands-on, experiential instruction with a passive, illustrated lecture style instruction for teaching students to recognize structural defects in trees and determined that students exposed to both methods of instruction increased their ability to recognize defects overall. Moreover, we observed that students exposed to defects in trees via illustrated lecture style classroom instruction received significantly higher scores in the post-test than students exposed to the same material via a hands-on approach.

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Kimberly K. Moore, George E. Fitzpatrick, and Jane E. Slane

The University of Florida College of Agriculture and Life Sciences offers the Bachelor of Science degree program in Environmental Horticulture at the Fort Lauderdale Research and Education Center (FLREC). Instructors at the FLREC deliver course work and course work is also presented using a variety of distance education (DE) technologies. These DE technologies include interactive video conferencing, videotape, and web-based courses. The question often arises as to how many courses should be delivered using DE versus live onsite instruction. This survey was conducted to ascertain how students perceive the quality of education they are receiving using a mixture of delivery methods.

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Douglas A. Bailey, Stephen D. Verkade, and George E. Fitzpatrick

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George E. Fitzpatrick, Edwin R. Duke, and Kimberly A. Klock

Horticultural growing medium components must be selected with regard to their influence on properties such as cost, availability, ease of mixing, appearance, pH, nutrient levels, soluble salt levels, exchange capacity, aeration, particle size distribution, bulk density, water-holding capacity, and consistency. Over the past several decades, various types of compost products made from urban waste materials have been evaluated as components in horticultural growing mixes. The highest-quality compost products tested have frequently compared favorably with peat as one of the organic components in growing mixes. The lowest-quality compost materials tested have retarded plant growth and, in extreme cases, contributed to plant mortality. Occasionally, compost products that performed well in research trials did not prove to be satisfactory when used in commercial nursery crop production because of the lack of repeatable consistency between batches produced in large-scale municipal composting operations. One of the major reasons for the lack of consistency in compost quality is the highly variable nature of organic feedstocks accepted by many large-scale composting operations. The highest-quality composts tend to be produced in composting operations in which facility management decisions are made with consideration on their impact on the economic, physical, and chemical parameters of the end product.