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William T. Hlubik and Michael W. Hamm

A comprehensive model for measuring the impact of community gardening on the physical, nutritional, and sociological structures of at-risk, urban communities is desperately needed to ensure the long-term sustainability of such programs.

This presentation will focus on the stepwise formation and implementation of an evaluation tool which was developed to fill this urgent need. The intent of the research approach is to scientifically validate the connection between community gardening and community well-being. In partnership with noted horticultural researchers, urban gardeners, dietitians, and sociologists, we have developed a statistical survey which integrates scientifically proven evaluative methods with new measurement techniques.

Preliminary findings from the first year of survey administration will be shared in order to stimulate further discussion and refinement of this particular model, and to encourage the development and implementation of scientifically-based, evaluative tools for other urban gardening and community development programs.

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William T. Hlubik and Richard B. Weidman

In 1993, a modification of the Master Gardener volunteer program was created to focus on ecological principles for environmentally sound gardening. The new program is called the Master Gardener-Environmental and Community Stewardship (MGECS) program and addresses important environmental concerns in Middlesex County, N.J. Program participants receive more than 100 hours of training in horticultural and ecological principles and are required to share their knowledge with others through volunteer activities monitored by cooperative extension staff. Volunteers encourage home comporting, recycling of grass clippings, proper fertilization techniques, and least-toxic pest control in the home landscape and garden. Trained volunteers have helped more than 16,000 people during the past 2 years through lectures, demonstrations, telephone contacts, and newspaper articles. Since the MGECS program began in 1993, the number of volunteer hours per person during the first year has increased by 30% compared to the traditional Master Gardener program offered from 1989 to 1992. This new program is an effective model to encourage practical environmental stewardship through community volunteer action.

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Nicholas Polanin, Madeline Flahive DiNardo, William T. Hlubik and Barry Emens

New Jersey has two active quarantines currently under the jurisdiction of the USDA's Cooperative Asian Longhorned Beetle (ALB) Eradication Project. Encompassing just over twenty (20.2) square miles, these quarantines are located in the northeastern and central coastal regions of the state, in close proximity to the ports of New York, Newark, and Elizabeth. Public education and media outreach have been instrumental in confirming the presence of ALB in New Jersey, as both quarantines are the result of citizens' reports. Twenty five personnel have been directly assigned to this eradication effort, with outside contractors taking up the remaining effort. Nearly 33,000 trees have been inspected, resulting in 11,000 (33%) removals of infested or high-risk host species trees. Major losses have occurred in populations of Norway and red maple, London planetree, and American elm, species which have received widespread praise (and unfortunate over-planting) for their tolerance of urban planting sites. Regulatory Contracts (597) and Compliance Agreements (137) were necessary to formalize the quarantine and to create strong working partnerships between the USDA, municipalities, and industry to gain access to all trees and to control the movement of all “green material” in the quarantine areas. Municipalities currently cooperating in the New Jersey Community Forestry Program have begun offsetting this major deforestation and canopy cover loss with the planting of 2,545 nonhost trees, with full reforestation expected over the next several years. In addition, >22,000 trees have been treated with Imidacloprid as a possible deterrent to any activity or spread of ALB in the Garden State.

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Michele Bakacs, Amy Rowe, William T. Hlubik and Jan Zientek

This article presents findings from the first 3 years of implementing an organic land care training program for landscapers, including landscaper attitudes, lessons learned, and the potential role of extension. Results of a needs assessment as well as discussions with organic practitioners provided evidence that New Jersey lacked in-depth training needed to assist practitioners in determining acceptable practices when offering organic services to their clientele. As a result, Rutgers University convened an organic land care working group and developed a certificate program for professionals with the long-term goal of promoting healthy soil, enhancing biodiversity, and reducing polluted runoff from managed landscapes. Thus far the program has been attended by 63 landscapers with 48 fulfilling the program requirements. Follow-up surveys with participants of the first 2 years showed that 38% of the 1163 acres (470.6 ha) under their management are either in transition or have been completely converted to organic management. Respondents reported a significant decrease in use of synthetic fertilizers and significant increase in use of organic fertilizer. Median synthetic pesticide usage decreased by 40%. Respondents reported since attending the program they were more effective at a number of practices including removing invasives and installing native plants, installing rain gardens, reducing stormwater runoff, and reducing irrigation. Focusing on the science, patience in transitioning, and understanding there are no “one size fits all” organic programs have been important lessons learned by experienced practitioners. Clientele acceptance, product efficacy, and finding skilled staff were cited as consistent challenges. These results indicate that extension can play a lead role in conducting applied research and providing relevant, effective educational programming for landscapers in the organic land care field.

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William T. Hlubik, Nicholas Polanin*, Madeline Flahive DiNardo, Richard Weidman, David Smela, James Marko and Sean Convery

Today's fast paced and technology-enriched lifestyles require that many traditional educational seminars and workshops be transformed into “sound bites” of “edu-tainment” if Extension is to keep pace with clientele needs for specific and timely information that's useful and straight to the point. To remain a viable source of timely research-based information, Extension can stay ahead of this curve by utilizing today's technology to inform and educate the public on current issues or outbreaks. This presentation will highlight two such cases where technology delivery systems were utilized to maximize audience size and create an informed public in as short amount of time as possible. Public Service Announcements (PSA's) televised over New Jersey's Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), New Jersey Network (NJN), addressed water conservation and landscape issues during the recent northeastern drought. The potential viewing audience is over eight million people, including all of New Jersey and parts of Pennsylvania, Delaware, New York, and Connecticut. The second case study will highlight a fully interactive CD-ROM on the Asian Long Horned Beetle (ALB) that was created within 12 months of the pest's discovery in Jersey City, N.J. This CD-ROM, containing curricula, PowerPoint presentations and evaluative tools, is currently being used throughout the northeast and in Canada for the most recent infestation of ALB. Filming for both Rapid Response efforts was done with a Sony DSR-500 DV Cam Camcorder and a Canon XL-1 Camcorder. Digital editing was completed on an Apple G4 running OS X with Avid Express Meridian Non-Linear Editing Software version 4.5 with 3D effects, Apple Final Cut Pro 3.0, Adobe After Effects 5.5, and PhotoShop 7.0. Stills were taken with a Sony Mavica and Nikon CoolPix digital cameras.