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S.M. Skelly and J.C. Bradley

The number of school garden programs in America is growing. With interest in school gardens rising, research exploring the benefits of school gardens is important to establish the value of horticulture and gardening in primary education to help schools develop, promote, and use gardens for a variety of purposes. The goals of this research project were 1) to develop a typology, or matrix, of school garden program intensity and 2) to determine if variables related to positive youth development varied within the intensity typology. Twenty elementary schools in Florida participated in the research project accounting for ≈20 teachers and 400 third-grade students. This presentation will include how the typology was developed using three levels of intensity (high, medium, and low) and three types of gardens (vegetable, flower, and combination). The dependent variables examined for this study were the student developmental assets of responsibility, school engagement, achievement motivation, and interpersonal competence. Additional dependent variables included students' environmental attitudes and attitudes toward science. Discussion of school garden program intensity and the influence it may have on positive youth development will be the focus of this presentation.

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Jennifer C. Bradley and J.M. Zajicek

A current trend in environmental practices concerns using constructed wetlands for wastewater treatment. The ecological values of wetlands have long been known. Wetland plants aid in the treatment of water pollutants by improving conditions for microorganisms and by acting as a filter to absorb trace metals. Wetlands now are being considered for industrial, municipal, and home wastewater treatment. Constructed wetlands are an economical and environmentally sound alternative for treating wastewater. These constructed “cells” are designed to function like natural wetlands. In constructed wetlands, water flow is distributed evenly among plants in a cell where physical, chemical, and biological reactions take place to reduce organic materials and pollutants. Increasing numbers of environmentally conscious homeowners are installing wetland wastewater treatment systems in their backyards with the aid of licensed engineers. This installation is occurring despite of the lack of educational materials to aid in site selection, selection of appropriate plant materials, and long-term maintenance. Traditional wetland plant species currently are being selected and planted in these sites, and the resulting effect is often an unsightly marsh appearance. With increasingly more homeowners opting for this alternative system, a strong need exists for educational materials directed at this audience. Therefore, educational resources that can provide information to the public regarding the benefits of wetland wastewater systems, while promoting aesthetically pleasing ornamental plant species is needed. A hands-on guide for installing constructed wetlands, a home page on the World Wide Web, and an instructional video currently are being developed at Texas A&M Univ. These technologies will be demonstrated and the values, needs, and opportunities available for the horticultural industry in the area of wetland construction will be discussed.

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T. M. Waliczek, J.C. Bradley, and J.M. Zajicek

Children's gardens are receiving increased attention from communities and schools. Educators recognize that gardens provide beauty, produce and education, and serve as an outlet in which gardeners may gain personal benefits. The objectives of this research study were to evaluate whether children participating in garden activities benefited by an improvement in interpersonal relationships and attitudes toward school. No significant differences were found between pre- and posttests and the control and experimental group comparisons. However, demographic comparisons offered interesting insight into trends in the data. Female students had significantly more positive attitudes towards school at the conclusion of the garden program compared to males. The results also showed that there were differences in interpersonal relationships between children depending on grade level in school. In addition, childrens' attitudes toward school were more positive in schools that offered more intensive individualized gardening.

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T.M. Waliczek, P.D. O'Rourke, and J.C. Bradley

Horticulture crops are a multimillion dollar industry in Illinois, providing employment opportunities as well as strengthening many local economies. In February 1998, about 300 surveys were mailed to members of the Illinois Nurserymen's Association, including owners and operation managers of retail and wholesale nurseries, greenhouses and garden centers. Questions included the pool of available labor, the total number of persons employed, including full and part-time workers, starting and average salaries for employees, retention rates and training procedures. Questions were also asked regarding employees' education and experience level, average compensation for various levels of employment and demographics of the employee pool. A 48% response rate was achieved with 147 surveys returned and analyzed. Respondents reported an average of 70 employees including sales staff, office staff and seasonal employees. Those businesses responding employed an average of 2.5 managers with an approximate annual salary of $48,000, and an average of 15 laborers with an approximate annual salary of $21,000. Correlations provided insight into which areas of the industry hired persons with horticulture degrees and the types of experience most valued by the respondents.

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J.E. Barrett, J.C. Bradley, C.A. Bartuska, T.A. Nell, and D.C. Clark

More than 60 new poinsettia cultivars have been introduced in the past 3 years, and many of these have nontraditional bract color or plant form. About 75% of all poinsettias sold are red and `Freedom' represents more than 50% of the red poinsettia market in the United States In Fall 1999, 212 individuals were surveyed and asked to indicate their favorite 10 cultivars out of the 89 in a cultivar trial. The top choices were `Plum Pudding', `Winter Rose Dark Red', `Cranberry Punch', and `Monet Twilight', which were selected by 48%; 38%; 32%, and 31% of the participants, respectively. These cultivars are all nontraditional in appearance. The top red cultivars were `Freedom', `Orion', and `Red Velvet', which were selected by 27%, 26%, and 23%, respectively. The participants were then asked to rate on a 1 to 10 (most favorable) scale 15 plants that represented different poinsettia forms and colors. Five of these plants were cultivars with different shades of red that the industry easily separates. However, the participants' ratings of these were not significantly different, which indicates the shade of red in bract color may be more important to the industry than it is to the public. These results also indicate that there are strong differences in individual preferences for poinsettias. Each of the 15 plants received both high and low ratings. Also, of the participants that included `Freedom Red' in their top 10 selection, only 13% of those selected `Plum Pudding', which has purple bracts, and only 11% selected `Winter Rose Dark Red', which has a nontraditional plant form.

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Amy N. Campbell, T.M. Waliczek, J.C. Bradley, J.M. Zajicek, and C.D. Townsend

As human pressures on the environment increase and as conflicting demands on education become focused, schools have a greater responsibility to educate children to care for their environment. Results from this study demonstrated that students who were involved in the actual propagation and restoration of ecosystems, and who had positive experiences in doing so, were more likely to have positive environmental attitudes.

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Traci Armstrong, J.E. Wolfe III, J.C. Bradley, and J.M. Zajicek

Ornamental grasses are currently growing in popularity and are being used in parks, public plantings, and commercial landscapes. This study was developed to determine the esthetic appeal of 12 ornamental grasses and evaluate public attitude toward the use of these grasses in low-maintenance landscapes. Grasses were selected for this evaluation using the following criteria: recommendations of experts in the ornamental grass field; material used in the nursery trade; and recommendations in popular literature. Two field sites were prepared and planted in the Spring 1991 and 1992. Both sites were maintained and irrigated to enhance the survivability of the grasses. The survey was conducted on several dates in the Fall 1992. Participants responded to questions regarding ornamental grass use, and the need for research on water conservation in landscapes. In addition, participants were asked to rank the individual grass species as to their accept-ability for landscape use. The results of the survey indicate that visual aesthetics are a major factor in public acceptance of landscape materials. In addition, the majority of ornamental grasses tested in this study were acceptable alternatives for low-maintenance landscapes with native and introduced species equal in performance.

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Jennifer C. Bradley, J.M. Zajicek, C.D. Townsend, and G.E. Briers

The objectives of this research project were to: 1) Develop an environmental science curriculum that was heavily activity-based, 2) evaluate the curriculum for usefulness as a teaching tool, and 3) test student knowledge and attitude changes towards the environment resulting from exposure to this 10-day curriculum unit. The curriculum developed entitled Environmental Technology—”Natural State of the Environment” was designed to provide an introduction to biological processes and basic principles of ecology, and to set the foundation for additional environmental studies. The curriculum was sent to 31 high schools in Texas and tested on 1500 students. Students participating in this study were administered a pretest prior to participation in the environmental science curriculum and an identical post-test after its completion. The questionnaire included an attitude inventory and knowledge section in addition to a biographical information section. Results examine the relationship between environmental knowledge and environmental attitudes, determine the attitude and knowledge changes from before until after the instructional unit, and focus on the importance and need for environmental education programs.

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S.M. Skelly, T.C. Kohlleppel, M.E. Kane, and J.C. Bradley

In Spring 1999, the Environmental Horticulture Graduate Student Association (EHGSA) at the Univ. of Florida was given the opportunity to develop a professional development course, for credit, for graduate students. Members of the EHGSA determined that there was a need for seminars on topics such as curriculum vitae development, interview techniques, effective presentations, successful teaching, and many more topics pertinent to the graduate student as a future professional both inside and outside of academia. As a group, the EHGSA determined the seminar topics, found speakers to present the information and organized the course for the Fall 1999 semester. The rationale for creating this course, its development, topic selection, and student reviews will be presented.

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Tina M. Waliczek, R.D. Lineberger, J.M. Zajicek, and J.C. Bradley

A survey, targeting adults working with youth in garden situations, was designed for delivery on the KinderGARDEN World Wide Web site. The goal of this survey was to investigate adults who are actively involved in gardening with children in school, community or home gardens on their perceptions of the benefits of children participating in gardening. Three hundred-twenty completed surveys were returned via e-mail during a period of 9 months. Fourteen questions were included on the survey requesting information concerning what types of gardening situations in which children were participants and the demographics of the children involved in gardening. Results of the study cover 128,836 children (youth under 18 years old) involved in gardening, primarily with teachers in school gardens. The children involved were generally 12 years of age or under and were growing food crops. Adults gardening with children reported benefits to children's self-esteem and reduction in stress levels. Adults were also interested in learning more about the psychological, nutritional and physical benefits of gardening. Comparisons between those adults involved in gardening found that parents' and teachers' ideas differed concerning the most important aspects of the gardening experience. Parents viewed food production as most important while teachers thought socializing and learning about plants were most important.