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  • Author or Editor: Tammy Kohlleppel x
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Attracting new students into traditional agriculture programs has become increasingly difficult. The idea of offering a course as a means for introducing students to agriculture is a concept with popular appeal. As a recruiting effort, and as a method of introducing students to horticulture, the Environmental Horticulture Dept. at the Univ. of Florida designed a one-credit course for non-majors. The course was structured such that a broad understanding of horticulture, including production, landscaping, and floriculture, would be emphasized. The intent was to develop a course somewhat similar to an entry-level course, but incorporating a more enjoyable, practical, hands-on approach. ORH 1030 Plants, Gardens, and You was offered for the first time in summer 1997. It is now offered every semester. The course has one faculty assigned each semester and various other faculty members, including teaching, research, and extension specialists who participate as “guest lecturers”. Student response to ORH 1030 has been favorable, ratings are high and enrollment in the course has continued to rise from 30 to our current cap of 100. As a means of ensuring that we are meeting the needs of our students and to aid in targeting potential students, a survey was administered in Spring 2000. Students enrolled in the course were surveyed at the beginning and the end of the semester to gain insight into student demographics, horticulture background and experience, reasons for enrollment in the class, attitude toward horticulture and overall interest in horticulture. Findings will be discussed in addition to information and suggestions for successfully establishing a similar course in other horticulture departments.

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Stress has been characterized as an epidemic and has been found to play an important role in causing many diseases. In contrast, people often seek out nature and green spaces to help cope with life stress. Botanic gardens provide opportunities for people to immerse in nature, explore their horticultural interests, and experience recreation and leisure. The literature suggests that all of these activities are effective coping strategies against life stress. This study explored the effectiveness of botanic garden visits as a coping strategy. The findings of this study suggest that botanic gardens could be a place for coping with the effects of stress. Botanic garden visitation, along with gender, stressful life events, perceived health, and selfesteem, was found to be important in explaining reported levels of depression. Data also showed that visitors who received the most benefit of stress reduction were those most needing a coping strategy.

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Stress has been called the epidemic of the 90s and has been found to play an important role in causing many diseases. To help cope with the stresses of life, people often seek out leisure activities and nature. Botanic gardens provide a place for experiencing recreational activities and the natural environment. Researchers at the Univ. of Florida developed a survey to gain insight into the influence of a botanic garden on visitor stress. Three botanic gardens in Florida participated in the survey of garden visitors; these included Bok Tower Gardens, Fairchild Tropical Garden, and Mounts Botanical Garden. More than 300 surveys were administered to and completed by visitors of these gardens in Apr. 1999. The survey consisted of three main sections: 1) visitor perceptions of botanic gardens, 2) visitor personal perceptions, and 3) demographic variables. A stress process model was developed that incorporated botanic gardens as a coping strategy. The relative importance of a visit to a botanic garden and other stress process factors were examined for their importance in stress reduction. Also, botanic gardens were placed in context of the stress process model with the development of a multivariate framework. The stress process model included individual factors, stressors, stress mediators, and stress outcomes. Findings from this study provided insight into the role of botanic gardens as a method to cope with the effects of stress. Results showed that a visit to a botanic garden is important in the context of the stress process model as a coping strategy. Data also showed that visitors receiving the most benefit of stress reduction were persons most needing a coping strategy, those having higher depression index scores.

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Researchers at the University of Florida and Texas A&M University developed a survey to gain insight into demographic and educational influences on undergraduate students who major in horticulture. Five universities participated in the study of undergraduate horticulture programs. These included the University of Florida, Texas A&M University, Oklahoma State University, University of Tennessee, and Kansas State University. About 600 surveys were sent to schools during the 1997 fall semester. The questionnaires were completed by horticulture majors and nonmajors taking classes in horticulture departments. The survey consisted of two main sections. The first section, which was completed by all students, explored student demographic information, high school history, university history, and horticulture background. Only horticulture majors completed the second section, which examined factors influencing choice of horticulture as a major. Statistically significant differences were found between horticulture majors and nonmajors when comparing the two groups on the variables of transfer status, gardening experiences, and the importance of gardening. There was a significantly higher percentage of transfer students among horticulture majors. The decision to major in horticulture occurred somewhat early in academic programs, with the largest representations in high school or early in college. Overall, majors had more gardening experience than nonmajors and considered the hobby of gardening as a strong influence in choosing their major. This information should be considered in recruitment efforts since students reported that this interest fostered in them a desire to pursue horticulture as a major. School garden programs at the primary level and horticulture classes at the high school level could possibly influence more students to choose horticulture as a major at the college level. Currently, trends in recruiting efforts in academic programs at the university level are intense and competitive, as students are given more and more career option information. Consequently, data from this study may be useful for horticulture departments developing targeted recruiting programs.

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