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Margaret Balbach

The traditional content in introductory horticulture courses emphasizes plant structure, physiology, and production. At Illinois State Univ., however, the course work has been designed to meet University Studies requirements as well as departmental needs. The students taking the course are viewed as a market, and basic principles of marketing are used to gain and keep the interest of a wide variety of students, few of which have had any previous contact with horticulture. Extensive coverage is given to the historical, social, and economic status of horticulture in the United States. This nontraditional approach has been successful in the view of students and faculty. Postcourse surveys found that 98% of students felt that they had gained a good working knowledge of horticulture, and that 95% believed they would be a more knowledgeable consumer. Some departments use the University Studies program as a means of recruiting new majors, and this potential was not ignored in designing a marketing approach to the course content.

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David J. Wehner

A 14-min video highlighting careers in turfgrass management (“Turfgrass Management: Your Field of Dreams”) was developed as a recruiting tool for colleges and universities. The intended audiences are high school students, parents, and members of the industry. The project was funded by commercial sponsors, and the video was produced at the Univ. of Illinois. The tape has received excellent reviews from instructors in turfgrass management and has been credited with increasing interest in their programs.

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W. Timothy Rhodus

A survey of bachelor degree programs in the United States indicated that horticultural enrollment declined 4.4% between 1986 and 1988. Programs that increased enrollment (39% of those responding) were more likely to use various recruitment materials and activities than were those with declining or no change in enrollment (48% and 13%, respectively). Supply of students and time required to recruit were most often reported as high priority issues. The percentage of new majors recently graduated from high school had declined in 43% of the programs, but increases were reported in students age 22 and above, no prior horticultural experience, and interested in a part-time program. Both the direct approach, open house or personal visit, and the indirect approach, students and alumni promoting the program, were reported as effective recruitment activities.

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Jennifer Campbell Bradley, Tammy Kohlleppel, Tina M. Waliczek, and Jayne M. Zajicek

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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Rebecca Darnell and Jimmy Cheek

Graduate student enrollment in the plant sciences has decreased over the past several years, and there is increasing interest in recruitment/retention strategies. Before successful strategies can be implemented, however, the status of current plant science graduate programs needs to be determined. Survey data on graduate student demographics, research area, support levels, current recruitment strategies, and career opportunities were collected from 23 plant science graduate programs. Overall, 55% of graduate students in plant sciences were male and 45% were female; about 60% were domestic and 40% were international. Cellular/molecular biology and breeding/genetics were the two disciplines that had the greatest number of graduate students and the greatest number of job opportunities. Most programs cited financial support as the biggest obstacle to recruitment. However, stipend number, the guarantee of multiple years of support, the funding of tuition waivers, and health insurance costs also impact student numbers. As more of these costs are shifted to faculty, there appears to be an increasing inability and/or reluctance to invest grant funds (which support 60% of the plant science graduate students) in graduate student education. These data suggest that the decline in plant science graduate student enrollment may be due to shifting of more of the total cost of graduate training to faculty, who may be unable/unwilling to bear the cost. There is also a clear shift in the research focus of plant science graduate students, as postdoctoral and career opportunities are weighted toward molecular biology/genetics, leaving the more applied plant science areas particularly vulnerable to low graduate enrollment.

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Rebecca L. Darnell and Jimmy G. Cheek

Graduate student enrollment in the plant sciences has decreased over the past several years, and there is increasing interest in recruitment/retention strategies. Before successful strategies can be implemented, however, the status of current plant science graduate programs needs to be determined. Survey data on graduate student demographics, research area, support levels, current recruitment strategies, and career opportunities were collected from 23 plant science graduate programs. Overall, 55% of graduate students in plant sciences were male and 45% were female; approximately 60% were domestic and 40% were international. Cellular/molecular biology and breeding/genetics were the two disciplines that had the greatest number of graduate students and the greatest number of job opportunities. Although most programs cited financial support as the biggest obstacle to recruitment, there was not a strong correlation between graduate student number/program and stipend amount. However, other funding factors besides stipend amount; such as stipend number, the guarantee of multiple years of support, the funding of tuition waivers, and health insurance costs, likely impact student number. As more of these costs are shifted to faculty, there appears to be an increasing inability and/or reluctance to invest grant funds (which support 60% of the plant science graduate students) in graduate student education. These data suggest that the decline in plant science graduate student enrollment may not be directly due to low stipend amounts, but rather to shifting of more of the total cost of graduate training to faculty, who may be unable/unwilling to bear the cost. There is also a clear shift in the research focus of plant science graduate students, as postdoctoral and career opportunities are weighted towards molecular biology/genetics, leaving the more applied plant science areas particularly vulnerable to low graduate enrollment.

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Marvin P. Pritts

having a career in horticulture. Whereas high school students are one potential source of new recruits for university horticulture programs, another is students already enrolled at one’s institution. These students have already matriculated, but often are

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Norman F. Childers

For about 65 years, I have tried many ideas for recruiting horticultural students. Each has been effective to a limited extent, often involving much time in contacting vocational–agricultural schools and high school career advisors, making movies and slides, printing and distributing brochures, and designing and distributing displays at meetings. These continuing efforts are worthwhile and needed; however, I have found it easier, perhaps less expensive, and more effective, to recruit students already on campus. On college campuses, there are always a wealth of students still undecided on a major or minor, even in their senior year. The problem is to find a way to attract these students to stimulating experiences in horticulture and, at the same time, gain administrative credit for more undergraduates in departmental classes. Since 1990, the Univ. of Florida has been offering a 1-h credit “snack” course titled “Growing Fruits for Fun and Profit” at the noon hour two days a week in the spring and summer semesters. We serve the students a few fresh strawberries in that fruit is the topic, a big cookie or two, and a fruit drink. Enrollment has grown to a limited 300 students in spring and 80 students in summers—with a waiting list! We cover most fruits grown in Florida, with help of extension personnel specializing in the respective fruit and with the leader (Rebecca Darnell or me) offering a few of the 15 lectures. One session is a tour of the Univ. of Florida fruit plantings. Students are required to be present (given one absence) and keep a notebook. There are no exams. Students are graded on their attendance, notebooks, and attentiveness. One lecture from vegetables or ornamental faculty may be invited during the course. Most students get an A or B. For further attraction, 12 to 15 scholarships of $500 to $1500 are offered. We have been able to capture a few majors each year from students coming from across the campus.

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Sheri T. Dorn, Milton G. Newberry III, Ellen M. Bauske, and Svoboda V. Pennisi

an EMG program). Recruitment, training, and management of potential and returning volunteers have changed minimally since the program’s inception ( Gibby et al., 2008 ). Originally, EMG programs targeted urban areas, where call volume exceeded

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Margaret Balbach

Introductory Horticulture at Illinois State University is approved for inclusion in the University Studies Program. This program is comprised of courses whose content is considered of general importance to the educated layperson, rather than to the specialist in the field. Departments may use the University Studies Program as a means of attracting students to the field. This has been done with fair success with Introductory Horticulture. Because the course must provide personal enrichment, be broad in scope, offer a systematic design for further learning, and assure a breadth of knowledge and understanding, this course has been designed to focus on the economies of the various horticultural industries, how they are related to the socioeconomic history of the various regions of the country and how the marketing of horticultural products and enterprises affects the personal life of individuals. Acceptance of this approach has been two-fold: first: student evaluations are positive, a steady enrollment has been maintained, and the course has steadily provided 10% to 15% of new Horticulture students, and second: the University Studies review committee has twice affirmed the “tenure” of Introductory Horticulture in spite of increasingly stringent guidelines that discourage many traditional science courses.