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- Author or Editor: T.M. Waliczek x
Service learning is a technique in which instructors integrate community service into their semester curriculum to enhance the learning experience. Service-learning teaching strategies naturally fit into horticulture and landscape design curricula, since hands-on laboratories are often incorporated into lesson plans. The purpose of this study was to integrate service-learning techniques into a university-level horticulture course and measure the impact of the course on students’ perceptions of community involvement, perceptions of social impact, and perception of how well the students felt they learned the course material. Students in an undergraduate landscape design class were taught the process of landscape design using service-learning activities within the city and campus communities. Projects included developing designs for campus gardens, the city post office, neighborhood parks, the campus childcare center, city road median areas and the city women's shelter, and other projects. A survey tool was developed from other existing surveys to measure how students felt about service learning as a means to learn skills in class and to measure their perceptions of community involvement and social impact. Currently enrolled students were surveyed and alumni from five classes taught in a similar manner in previous years were surveyed. Results from the study showed major differences in that students felt more positive about community involvement after the course compared with before the course. Students rated their feelings of social impact and learning course material above the neutral levels in both categories. No differences were found in gender and grade point average (GPA) comparisons in any of the categories, with the exception of the social impact statements with males and students with higher GPAs rating their feelings more positively within that category. Additionally, differences were found in comparisons of alumni vs. current students, with alumni feeling more positive about how well they learned course material compared to current students.
Horticulture crops are a multi-million dollar industry in Illinois, providing employment opportunities as well as strengthening many local economies. To help establish a “green-goods” industry basis for Illinois, ≈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. The focus of the questionnaire was on the horticultural products and services provided and the value of these sales and services to residents of Illinois. Questions were included regarding the pool of available labor, the total number of industry employees, including full and part-time employees, and the starting and average salaries for employees. A 25% response rate was achieved with 76 surveys returned and analyzed. Results examined fundamental predictors in gaining industry employment such as education and experience, employee demographics and average compensation for those employed at various levels. Provided that survey responses were indicative of the overall Illinois horticulture industry, responses provided evidence that the horticulture industry contributes approximately $67 million in salary and wages to the Illinois economy. While universities are reporting an increase in the number of female horticulture graduates, respondents indicated that 74.8% of their employees were male. Businesses reported an average of 28 employees including sales and office staff. However, very few businesses had hired people with disabilities or were aware of the services the state can provide to businesses hiring people with disabilities. Businesses 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 industry.
The free-floating algae known as sargassum (Sargassum fluitans and Sargassum natans) drifts onto coastlines throughout the Atlantic Ocean during spring and summer months. Beach communities seek to maintain tourist appeal and, therefore, remove or relocate the sargassum drifts once it collects on shore. Maintenance efforts have attempted to incorporate the sargassum into dunes and beach sand. However, not all communities have the resources to manage the biomass and must dispose of it in a landfill. The utility of the seaweed biomass as a fertilizer for plant growth has been renowned for centuries. The purpose of this project was to evaluate the appropriate proportion of sargassum for other compost ingredients used in a large-scale composting system to create a quality product for utilization in horticultural and/or agricultural products. This study used ≈32 yard3 of sargassum as part of 96 yard3 of compost material that also included food waste, fish waste, and wood chips. Four protocols were prepared and included either 25% or 41.5% sargassum and various proportions of food or fish waste and wood chips, which are ingredients that would be readily available in coastline communities, to determine the ideal ratios of materials to create a quality compost. Piles were turned regularly and monitored for pH, moisture, and temperatures according to compost industry standards and approximately every 5 to 7 days. Piles cured for 4 to 8 weeks and the entire composting process lasted 5 months. Samples of compost were collected and tested through the Agricultural Analytical Services Laboratory’s U.S. Composting Council’s Seal of Testing Approval Program at Pennsylvania State University. All final compost products and protocols had reasonable quality similar to those required by current compost standards. However, the protocol incorporating equal parts sargassum (41.5%) and wood chips (41.5%), fish waste (4%), and food waste (13%) had the best results in terms of organic matter content and overall nutrient levels. Therefore, this study determined that waste management industries can use sargassum as a feedstock through a large-scale composting system to create a desirable compost product that could be used in the horticulture industries. Sargassum could also be composted and then returned to the shoreline, where it would help build soils and vegetation.
The objectives of this study were to examine an interdisciplinary and experiential approach to environmental education by use of a youth gardening program for third through fifth grade students. In addition, this study evaluated the gardening program's effectiveness on promoting positive environmental attitudes and a high environmental locus of control with children. A questionnaire was developed from three existing instruments and was used to collect information concerning environmental attitudes, locus of control as it related to environmental actions, and demographic information of respondents. No statistically significant differences were found on either variable in comparisons of experimental and control group responses. However, students from both groups exhibited positive environmental attitudes. Demographic comparisons indicated that children with previous gardening experience scored significantly higher on the environmental attitude and environmental locus of control statements when compared with children without gardening experience. Girls scored significantly higher than boys on environmental attitude and environmental locus of control scores. Caucasians scored significantly higher when compared with African-Americans and Hispanics on environmental attitude scores, and Caucasians scored significantly higher when compared with African-Americans on environmental locus of control scores.
Researchers wonder what it takes to improve athlete performance. Research has suggested that plants reduce anxiety, and reduced anxiety could, in turn, improve athletic performance. Research also shows that plants have psychological and restorative value such as improving coping mechanisms in human subjects as well as the potential to improve concentration and focus attention that could affect performance of athletes. The main objective of this research was to investigate the impact of greenery/landscaping on athletic performance and cognitive and somatic anxiety in track and field athletes. Four university track and field teams and 128 athletes participated in the study. Individual athlete performance and athletes' scores on the competitive state anxiety inventory-2 (CSAI-2) cognitive and somatic anxiety tests were collected from seven track meets that occurred during one spring competition season. Greenness/landscaping level was determined by Likert scale rating averages from professional horticulturists who individually rated each site. A regression analysis found that greenness level was a predictor (P = 0.000) of best performance by athletes. More of the athletes' best performance marks were at the track and field site that had the highest greenery rating, and many of the athletes' worst performance marks were achieved at the site that had the lowest greenery rating. Results also indicated that all athletes performed better at the more vegetated track and field site regardless of event and level of anxiety. All athletes performed similarly at each of the track and field sites regardless of ethnicity, gender, or grade classification. However, the overall average mean anxiety scores for all the athletes involved in this study were somewhat high in comparison with the instrument-normed scores for both the cognitive and somatic anxiety scales.
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.
The main objective of this study was to investigate the impact of an outdoor environmental program, Math and Science in the Outdoor Classroom, on elementary grade students' creative and critical thinking, and attitudes toward math and science. Math and Science in the Outdoor Classroom is an on-campus nature program in Santa Fe, N.M. Students participated in half-day programs focusing on topics such as water, insects, soil, and weather. Twenty-one teachers from five schools volunteered 175 second through sixth graders to participate in the program and research study. Surveys were administered to students, teachers, and volunteers after completion of the program. Interview data was analyzed using QSR NUD*IST (Nonnumerical Unstructured Data Indexing Searching and Theory-building) computer-assisted qualitative data analysis system to examine respondents' perceptions of the program using Bloom's taxonomy as a theoretical framework. Results indicated that students not only learned math and science at the lower levels of Bloom's taxonomy, but were also thinking at the higher levels of synthesis and evaluation within the framework.
Texas Master Gardeners participating in an Annual Master Gardener Advanced Training Conference held in College Station, Texas, in June 2000 were asked to complete a survey investigating the impact of the Master Gardener program on perceptions of quality of life and motivations for becoming a Master Gardener. A retrospective pretest/posttest was used to compare the gardeners' current perceptions and their perceptions prior to becoming a Master Gardener. After becoming Master Gardeners, participants reported statistically significant improvements in areas relating to quality of life including physical activity, social activity, self-esteem, and nutrition. Comparisons between demographic characteristics and perceived quality of life scores showed no significant differences. Reasons associated with gaining horticultural information were the primary motivations for becoming a Master Gardener.
School gardens show promise as a tool for developing science process skills through real-world investigations. However, little research data exist attesting to their actual effectiveness in enhancing students' science achievement. The purpose of this study was to develop three cognitive test instruments for assessing science achievement gain of third, fourth, and fifth grade students using a garden curriculum. The development of the test instruments occurred in three phases: 1) an initial set of test instruments which served as a prototype for length, scope, and format; 2) an adapted set of test instruments which were piloted; and 3) a final set of test instruments which were used for the assessment of the school gardening curriculum. The final Cronbach's alpha reliability for the final set of test questions was 0.82, indicating an acceptable level of internal consistency. Content validity of the test instruments developed for this study was established based on the science content standards specified in the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) for each grade level along with the gardening curriculum, as well as the Science Scope and Sequence documents for Temple, Texas Independent School District (ISD). Construct validity was established for the testing instruments by soliciting help from various curriculum experts from the Temple ISD.
Science achievement of third, fourth, and fifth grade elementary students was studied using a sample of 647 students from seven elementary schools in Temple, Texas. Students in the experimental group participated in school gardening activities as part of their science curriculum in addition to using traditional classroom-based methods. In contrast, students in the control group were taught science using traditional classroom-based methods only. Students in the experimental group scored significantly higher on the science achievement test compared to the students in the control group. No statistical significance was found between girls and boys in the experimental group, indicating that gardening was equally effective at teaching science for both genders. After separating the data into the grade levels, the garden curriculum was more effective as a teaching method in raising science achievement scores for boys in third and fifth grades, and for girls in the fifth grade compared to traditional classroom-based methods alone.