Gardening is increasing in use as the focus of interdisciplinary teaching units in the elementary school curriculum and as a stratagem for student therapeutic, recreational, and social experiences. Elementary school teachers, identified as experienced in using gardening as a teaching tool, were surveyed and interviewed to determine successful strategies for integration of gardening into elementary school curricula. The most important factors determined by these teachers for the successful use of gardening in the curriculum were 1) student and faculty ownership or commitment to integrating gardening in their curriculum, 2) availability of physical resources, and 3) faculty knowledge and skill in the application of gardening to enhance an interdisciplinary curriculum. Educators who incorporate school gardening into their curriculum report that school gardening is a somewhat successful (35.2%) or very successful (60.6%) teaching tool that enhances the learning of their students. Most (92%) teachers surveyed requested additional school gardening education for themselves.
HortTechnology offers educators an opportunity to publish articles on many topics of interest to other educators, as well as those in related horticultural communications fields. Topics suitable for publication are numerous; methods of incorporating analytical skills into the curriculum, practical laboratory exercises, new audiovisual and computer technologies for the classroom, and successful internship programs are but a small sample. Manuscripts submitted for publication are circulated for review, as with other refereed papers. Publishing enables innovative teachers to share and receive recognition for ideas, and rewards readers with useful skills and concepts that can improve teaching effectiveness.
Computer technology allows horticultural educators to convey information more flexibly and visually to a greater audience. However, accessing and making use of technological teaching tools is as much a hurdle as it is an opportunity. HortBase provides the framework for educators in horticulture to easily access and contribute to quality chunks of horticultural educational by computer. Engaging computer-based instruction such as HortBase in distance or on-campus teaching is a three-step process. First, before assembling the teaching material, the educator must decide on who the target audience is and what information to convey. Audiences on campus often have higher expectations of how they want to learn, being accustomed to face-to-face instruction and guidance, but may not have a clear idea of what they want to learn. Off-campus audiences may have lower expectations but generally are more focused on the information they want. Second, the educator then must decide on how much of the information to bring into digital form oneself and what to draw from elsewhere. Chunks of digitized information can be created by scanning existing images into the computer or created on computer with drawing programs. Once digitized, images can be manipulated to achieve a desired look. This is laborious, so much effort can be saved by taking created chunks from HortBase. Finally, choose a medium for dissemination. Course content can be presented with slide-show software that incorporates digitized slides, drawing, animations, and video footage with text. Lectures can then be output to videotape or broadcast via an analog network. Alternatively, the digitized information can be incorporated into interactive packages for CD-ROM or the World Wide Web.
Two environmental education classes at Missouri Botanical Garden, “The Water Cycle: Making a Terrarium” and “The Tropical Rainforest,” were evaluated to determine their effects upon attitude and knowledge change of elementary school children. A pre-test post-test design was used to compare experimental and control groups. Data indicated that The Water Cycle: Making a Terrarium class had a positive influence on attitudes toward learning about plants and the environment; The Tropical Rainforest class had no effect. Neither of the classes significantly affected the children's attitudes toward interacting with the environment. Both classes increased the knowledge base of participating children. There were no differences between male and female attitudes or knowledge in either class. Nonformal learning experiences of this type may be a more effective means of stimulating horticultural interest among younger children than traditional classroom settings. [Affiliation. The research was conducted at Southern Illinois Univ. in the Plant and Soil Science Dept.]
Two environmental education classes at Missouri Botanical Garden, “The Water Cycle: Making” a Terrarium” and “The Tropical Rainforest”, were evaluated to determine their effects upon attitude and knowledge change of elementary school children. A pretest-post-test design was used to compare experimental and control groups. Data indicated that The Water Cycle: Making a Terrarium class had a positive influence on attitudes toward learning about plants and the environment the Tropical Rainforest class had no effect. Neither of the classes significantly affected the children's attitudes toward interacting with the environment. Both classes increased the knowledge base of participating children. There were no differences between male and female attitudes or knowledge in either class. Nonformal learning experiences of this type may be a more effective means of stimulating horticultural interest among young children than traditional classroom settings.
Databases are commonly used to coordinate and summarize research from multiple projects. The potato (Solanum tuberosum) research community has invested significant resources in collecting data from multiple states and provinces, and we have developed a web-based database format for the use of researchers, farmers, and consumers. The northeast regional potato variety development project (NE1031) is a U.S. Department of Agriculture, Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (USDA-CSREES) regional project focused on developing and evaluating the suitability of new varieties and advanced clones from multiple breeding programs for a range of environments. This multistate project and its predecessors have been in existence for more than two decades, and they have resulted in the collection of a significant amount of standardized potato trial data. We have developed an interactive potato variety database that allows researchers and end-users to access and obtain potato variety trial results in one centralized site. The database is populated with the results of potato variety trials conducted in eight states (Florida, Maine, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia) and two Canadian provinces (Prince Edward Island and Quebec). It currently contains over 35 data features and was developed primarily for scientists interested in potato variety development, growers, and allied industry members. Hypertext mark-up language (HTML) and hypertext preprocessor (PHP) were used to develop the database interface.
During the fall semester of 2003, a Clemson University introductory landscape design class collaborated with South Carolina Botanical Gardens staff and coordinators of Sprouting Wings, an after school gardening program for at risk children, to design an exploratory Children's Garden within the Botanical Gardens. Project methodology included site selection, research, site analysis, conceptual diagrams, preliminary designs, and full color renderings of final designs. Students periodically presented their progress on the project to the clients in order to receive feedback and advice. One of the thirteen themed gardens designed is the Wonders of Water Garden. Project goals were to create a center for environmental education addressing current issues in water quality such as pollution from industries and runoff, erosion, stream degradation, and sedimentation resulting from land clearing and development. Visitors will be able to observe and learn about various environmental factors affecting native plant and animal life. The garden will help to teach environmental stewardship and understanding of general aquatic ecology. An observation deck, serpentine bridge through a bog garden, and a bridge crossing a waterfall stream will allow close observation of native aquatic plant and animal life. The Wonders of Water Garden design includes the bog garden and carnivorous garden that border two pools connected by a stream of small waterfalls which may be used to create awareness of current water quality issues and serve as a model to teach visitors the importance of water and aquatic plants in the environment.
In the mid-1970s, University of California, Davis, students concerned about the environmental and social consequences of modern agriculture were interested in exploring the practice and theory of “alternative” agriculture. These students organized to create new educational opportunities to address needs that were not being met by the existing curricula. These student-initiated opportunities emphasized interdisciplinary analyses of agriculture and field-based experiential learning; they included student-organized courses and the development of the Student Experimental Farm (SEF) as a site for student education, research, demonstration, and extension projects. Over the next three decades, the SEF developed diverse experiential educational projects, classroom and field-based courses focusing on sustainable and organic agriculture, and several departments and programs offered additional, related courses and curricula. In 2004, an interdisciplinary curriculum committee within the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences began to develop an undergraduate major in sustainable agriculture. A team of faculty and students within the committee conducted a broad stakeholder survey of agricultural practitioners, academics, students, and alumni to help inform decisions regarding what content, skills, and experiences to include in the curriculum. The survey findings reinforced the original curricular and pedagogical themes articulated and acted upon by students 30 years prior. The proposed curriculum is aimed at integrating disciplinary and interdisciplinary coursework in natural and social sciences, significant on- and off-campus experiential learning, and an emphasis on professional and interpersonal problem-solving and communication skills. Educational theory supports these diverse educational approaches and is useful in helping design courses and curricula in organic and sustainable agriculture.
Writing is an integral part of a career in horticulture. Most successful horticulturists write not only in communicating with peers, but also in keeping extensive journals or records of their activities. These tasks use different writing skills. Writing in horticulture classes should reflect, encourage, and provide practice in both types of writing. Assignments should reflect the students' career choices and provide writing practice in an appropriate genre.