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Jennifer Doxey and Tina M. Waliczek

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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Michelle Gorham and Tina M. Waliczek

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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Adelaide Pigg* and Tina M. Waliczek

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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Tina M. Waliczek and J.M. Zajicek

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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Tina M. Waliczek and J.M. Zajicek

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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Tina M. Waliczek, Dave Byrne and Don Holeman

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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Carol Cammack, Tina M. Waliczek and Jayne M. Zajicek

The Green Brigade horticultural program is a community-based treatment and diversion program for juvenile offenders. The program is used for vocational training and rehabilitation. The objectives of this study were to determine if participation in the Green Brigade program improved the horticultural knowledge and the environmental attitudes of participating juvenile offenders. Participants of the Green Brigade program significantly improved their horticultural knowledge exam scores as a result of participating in the program. Participants also had significant improvements in their environmental attitude scores after completing the program. However, participants attending the Green Brigade program less than 60% of the time had significantly more negative environmental attitude scores than participants attending more frequently. Further analyses showed the program was equally effective at improving environmental attitude scores for all participants regardless of gender, ethnicity, age or grade in school.

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Florence M. Oxley, Tina M. Waliczek and Paula S. Williamson

The San Marcos River in Texas supports a wide diversity of aquatic organisms and provides critical habitat for eight endangered species. It is also a highly invaded ecosystem, with 48 documented introduced species. Several of these are invasive and known to negatively impact native species. Increasing pressure to control or eradicate invasive species exists to mitigate their impacts. Management programs can be controversial and, in some cases, have been delayed or stopped because of public opposition. People who have a vested interest in an invaded ecosystem, stakeholders, may be the most likely to express opposition or offer support for invasive species control. Understanding opinions can help guide educational outreach to gain public support for management programs. To assess stakeholder’s opinions of invasive species (defined as species that cause harm to the environment or human health), a survey instrument was distributed, and 335 completed surveys were analyzed. The majority of survey participants believed nonnative, invasive species should be controlled to conserve the environment (84.4%), where they damage native Texas species (75.9%), and in particular when they threaten rare Texas native species (89%). Proposed management methods influenced levels of support for invasive species control. Significant differences among demographic groups were found in membership in environmental organizations, knowledge of invasive species in the river, and sources of information on invasive species.

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Leonardo Lombardini, Tina M. Waliczek and Jayne M. Zajicek

A study was conducted among the attendees of the Annual Texas Master Gardener Conference held in College Station, TX, in May 2006. Participants were asked to complete a 31-question survey to understand their knowledge of the nutritional attributes and storage guidelines of pecans (Carya illinoinensis). A total of 177 attendees completed the survey, corresponding to 32.2% of the total number of conference attendees. Participants were asked to complete the survey to test their nutritional knowledge, purchasing attitude, consumption, and storage preferences of pecans (23 questions). The remaining eight questions requested biographical and demographical information. Results revealed that taste was the main reason people ate pecans followed by the perception of eating something healthy. Over four-fifths of survey respondents knew that pecans contain heart-healthy fats and proteins. Approximately one-half of the respondents were aware that pecans are a source of minerals and antioxidants. However, 86.9% of the respondents believed that consuming pecans could lead to an increase in the levels of low-density lipoprotein (“bad”) cholesterol, which is opposite of what was reported by clinical studies. Over one-third of the respondents did not think that pecans require refrigeration to maintain flavor. Moreover, over half of the respondents did not believe that pecans store better if kept in the shell. Although the sample was limited because it was one of convenience, in general, respondents had good eating habits and a very positive attitude toward pecans. However, more educational programs are necessary to inform them about the health properties and proper storage methods of pecans.

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

The kinderGARDEN website (http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/KINDER/index.html) was developed as part of the Aggie Horticulture network. Its focus was to help incorporate fun garden activities into the home and school lives of children. The page has grown to include pages on school gardens, community gardens, botanical gardens, and a fun page for kids. The site focuses toward providing information on activities and curricula developed for children. A survey, designed to investigate the perceptions of parents and teachers working with youth in gardening situations on the benefits of children gardening, is included on the site. Adults who work with children in any type of gardening situation can respond to the survey via e-mail. Questions on the survey relay information about the type of gardening situation in which the children participate, how many children are involved, the types of crops grown, the relationship of the adult to the child, and what kinds of benefits the adults observe in the children. Results and conclusions of the survey instrument will be presented. The positive aspects and drawbacks of this research technique will be discussed.