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  • Author or Editor: Tina M. Waliczek x
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Children develop their personalities and attitudes at an early age. With children spending a large portion of their waking hours in the classroom, schools are a major influence on many factors including environmental attitudes. Studies in human issues in horticulture have focused on how gardens and nature affect other variables in children, but few have focused on environmental attitudes of children in mainstream school districts. The main goal of this study was to initiate and integrate an environmental education garden program into the curriculum of several schools in the midwest and Texas. One objective of the research project included evaluating whether the students participating in the garden program developed positive environmental attitudes as a result of participation in the garden program. The garden program, Project Green, was designed to provide thirdthrough eighth-grade teachers some basic garden activities that could be infused into their classroom lessons and would serve to reinforce curriculum in various disciplines with hands-on activities. Eight schools, ≈1000 students, took part in the study. Students participating in the study were administered a pre-test prior to participation in the garden program and an identical post-test after its completion. Comparisons were made between children based on age, ethnic background, gender, and length of garden season. Results examine the relationship between the garden program, environmental attitudes of children and demographic variables.

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Children develop their personalities and attitudes at an early age. With children spending 25% of each day in the classroom, schools are a major influence on self-esteem, interpersonal relationships, and environmental attitudes. Studies in human issues in horticulture have focused on how gardens affect self-esteem in nontraditional populations but have yet to research children in mainstream school districts. Our main goal was to initiate and integrate an environmental education garden program into the curriculum of several schools in the midwest and Texas. Our objectives included evaluating whether the students participating in the garden program were receiving various emotional, physical, and psychological benefits and whether they were developing positive environmental attitudes as a result of participation in the garden program. The garden program, titled “The Green Classroom,” was designed to provide third-through eighth-grade teachers some basic garden activities that could be infused into their classroom lessons and would serve to reinforce curriculum in various disciplines with hands-on activities. Eight schools, ≈1000 students, took part in the study. Students participating in this study were administered a pretest before participation in the garden program and an identical posttest after its completion. The questionnaire included a psychological inventory, an environmental attitude survey, and a short biographical information section. Comparisons were made between children based on age, ethnic background, gender, and length of garden season. Results examine the relationship between the garden program and self-esteem, interpersonal relationships, attitude toward school, and environmental attitudes of children.

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Science and math achievement scores of 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade elementary students were studied using a sample of 196 students from McAuliffe Elementary School, located in McAllen, Texas. Students in the experimental group participated in the Junior Master Gardener™ program in addition to the traditional classroom-based math and science methods. In contrast, students within the control group were taught math and science using only traditional classroom-based methods. No statistically significant differences were found in comparisons of science students' achievement scores, indicating that those students using the Junior Master Gardener™ program as a method to learn science benefited similarly to those who learned using only traditional science classroom-based instruction. However, results indicated statistically significant differences in comparisons of students' math achievement scores showing that those students who received traditional math instruction had more improved math achievement scores compared to those taught using the Junior Master Gardener™ program. Results also found no statistically significant differences between demographic groups indicating that males and females and students from different ethnicities benefited similarly from participation in the Junior Master Gardener™ program.

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Many individuals and businesses enhance the central design of their homes or offices with living interior plants. While the aesthetic values of interior greenery are obvious, some research has suggested that interior living plants may offer some psychological and restorative values, such as reduced tension, better coping mechanisms, and increased concentration and attention. The main objective of this research was to investigate the impact of plants within a university classroom setting on course performance, course satisfaction, and student perceptions of the instructor. The study was designed to include a minimum of two classes of the same coursework, taught by the same professor in the same room. Three sets of two classes each, and ≈500 students were included within the study. Throughout the semester, the experimental class of students was treated by including an assortment of tropical plants within the classroom. Plants were not present in the control classroom of the study. A survey administered to each classroom of students at the end of the semester asked students to provide demographic data including class rank, gender, and grade point average. The professor for each course provided information on each student's grade for the course, as well as overall quantitative information on how well students were satisfied with the experience they had within the course. The results demonstrate value added to the classroom experience and help to justify consideration of the added expense of interior plants in meeting the goals of instructor and curriculum.

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Today, in many of America's major cities, communal gardening projects have not only yielded produce to their participants, but also a plethora of neighborhood success stories, including feelings of wellbeing, safety, and the beautification of acres of vacant land. According to anecdotal evidence, the presence of a community garden can connect people to the earth, nature, and each other, as well as reduce crime. The purpose of this study was to determine if a relationship existed between reported property crimes and the presence of inner city community gardens in Houston, Texas. According to the Houston Police Department, property crimes include vandalism, breaking and entering, and burglary. Crime data for reported property crimes from 1995 through 2004 were obtained from the Houston Police Department. The Houston Police Department divides the city into “beats” and property crime rates were determined for each beat. At least one active community garden was targeted for each police beat. Results for the study compared crime rates within a 1/8-mile radius surrounding the community garden and the property crime rate for the entire police beat. In addition to the evaluation of crime data, community garden members were surveyed for thoughts and opinions pertinent to the presence of their particular community garden.

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The average cost of housing a single inmate in the United States is roughly $31,286 per year, bringing the total average cost states spend on corrections to more than $50 billion per year. Statistics show 1 in every 34 adults in the United States is under some form of correctional supervision; and after 3 years, more than 4 in 10 prisoners return to custody. The purpose of this study was to determine the availability of opportunities for horticultural community service and whether there were differences in incidences of recurrences of offenses/recidivism of offenders completing community service in horticultural vs. nonhorticultural settings. Data were collected through obtaining offender profile probation revocation reports, agency records, and community service supervision reports for one county in Texas. The sample included both violent and nonviolent and misdemeanor and felony offenders. Offenders who completed their community service in horticultural or nonhorticultural outdoor environments showed lower rates of recidivism compared with offenders who completed their community service in nonhorticultural indoor environments and those who had no community service. Demographic comparisons found no difference in incidence of recidivism in comparisons of offenders based on gender, age, and the environment in which community service was served. In addition, no difference was shown in incidence of recidivism in comparisons based on offenders with misdemeanor vs. felony charges. The results and information gathered support the continued notion that horticultural activities can play an important role in influencing an offender’s successful reentry into society.

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The attention restoration theory suggests that directed attention is subject to fatigue, and the presence of nature and natural environments allows recovery from that fatigue, consequently improving cognitive function. The purpose of this study was to investigate whether the mental processes of memory and reasoning were enhanced when exercised concurrently in a natural environment outdoors vs. an artificial environment such as an indoor classroom or lecture hall. Three hundred and eighty degree-seeking students at Texas State University were tested using modified forms of the Sentence Repetition Test and the California Verbal Learning Test to test verbal memory and a modified form of the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale-IV Matrix Reasoning Test to evaluate nonverbal reasoning/fluid intelligence. Half of the subjects (190) were tested in their classroom at the regularly scheduled class time or one located in the same building at a predetermined date and time. Half of the subjects (190) were tested in an outdoor garden classroom at a predetermined date and time. No significant difference was found to exist between in either the memory or reasoning scores of the two groups. However, comparisons of subjects in the same demographic categories produced one significant difference. Students classified as seniors (P = 0.035) who were tested in the natural environment performed significantly better on the Sentence Repetition Test compared with those tested in the artificial environment. Research generally supports the premise that exposure to nature or natural environments can have beneficial effects on physical and mental health and also improve cognitive function. Further studies should possibly include more than one meeting time and additional testing time for participants to sit and observe in the natural vs. artificial environment before testing.

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As Generation Z (born 1995–2012) students replace Millennial (born 1981–94) students on college campuses, instructors may begin to evaluate and structure their courses based on how this new generation best learns. Generation Z students were exposed to such things as the internet, smart phones, personal computers, and laptops since infancy and, hence, are very comfortable with technology and multitasking. The purpose of this study was to compare students’ overall grades and perceptions of the course and instructor in a face-to-face vs. an online/hybrid basic floral design course taken by a majority Generation Z student population. The face-to-face course consisted of live lectures that met twice per week for 50 min at an assigned time; reading materials and standard lecture slides were used. The hybrid course had content placed online within weekly modules and released to students in an asynchronous manner each Monday. Both versions of the course had a face-to-face laboratory that met once per week. Comparisons of grades between the face-to-face and hybrid course formats were made using analysis of variance tests. A Mann-Whitney U test was used to determine if there were statistically significant differences in the way students in each course format answered the end of semester course and instructor evaluation survey. Of those that took the course, a majority [466 (98.3%)] was between the ages 18 and 24 years, within the Generation Z era. When comparing grades within this group, it was found students in the hybrid course received more A and B letter grades overall [223 (91%)] compared with the students of the same age range in the face-to-face course [198 (88.7%)]. Overall, seniors and juniors scored higher grades in both the hybrid and face-to-face course when compared with the sophomore and freshmen within the same class. No significant difference was found between the face-to-face and hybrid students’ responses to any of the 11 questions on the course and instructor evaluation survey. Results showed an overall high level of satisfaction (4.50) for both the face-to-face and hybrid format.

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Rose (Rosa ×hybrida) breeders historically have bred plants based on what they personally have deemed attractive and traits required by growers to produce the crop successfully. End-user preferences were not formally considered in breeding decisions. The purpose of this study was to investigate growers’ and consumers’ opinions of roses available on the market and preferences for future roses coming into the market. A web-based survey tool was developed to measure the attributes consumers were considering in purchasing and growing rose plants, their knowledge of diseases and pests, and their hopes for new plants coming to market. A link was sent to horticultural group mailing lists as well as distributed through personal e-mail lists, Facebook, and a news release from Texas A&M University. The survey was posted for 4 months. It included ≈66 questions and took 30 minutes or more to complete. More than 2000 responses were received from rose growers and nursery consumers worldwide. The respondents preferred roses that were disease resistant, with fragrant, abundant, red, and everblooming flowers. The ideal height of the preferred rose shrubs was waist to shoulder-height. Differences were found in preferences between experienced rose growers and those who were not affiliated with rose associations on variables such as the need to use chemicals to manage diseases, the importance of foliage glossiness and large vs. small blooms, the value of roses in the garden setting, the level of difficulty roses pose in growing situations, and the willingness to pay more for a rose shrub in comparison with other garden plants. Differences also were found among age groups and preferences for flower color, fragrance, foliage color, and foliage glossiness. This information could be helpful in targeting marketing of roses.

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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.

Open Access