Master of Science (MS)
Plant, Environmental Management and Soil Sciences
Research indicates that the average age of the American farmer is 57 years old. There is a need for new programs to be developed to encourage youth to pursue careers in agriculture. This study developed and implemented a horticultural curriculum at a summer camp targeting participants aged 9-12. A treatment group consisted of campers that signed up for the Victory Garden camp track and a control group consisted of randomly selected campers from a different camp track. A pre-test and post-test were given to both student groups. The test consisted of 16 general horticultural knowledge multiple choice questions and four questions pertaining to the campers’ environmental stewardship. During the second year of the study, pre-tests and post-tests had minor adjustments but also included a short answer question targeting in-depth knowledge of flower pollination. Lesson topics included propagation, Victory Gardens, soil, recycling, plant parts, pollination, photosynthesis, and insects. Lessons were developed with several teaching methods using the three basic learning styles: visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. Statistical analysis of variance using PROC GLIMMIX at the 0.05 level found that participants in the treatment group had a significant improvement of general horticulture knowledge from pre-test to post-test responses. Post-test scores of treatment participants were significantly higher than control participants in both years of the study. Treatment students were significantly more confident that they could explain to others how to grow a plant, and that they could grow more than one type of plant. Analysis of the second year of data found that treatment students were significantly more likely to feel confident that they could plant a seed that would grow into a plant. Although demographic data was taken for each participant including gender, age, and ethnicity, no significant differences were found for any of these groups. Analysis of the short answer portion of the exam found that students from the treatment group were more likely to respond with multiple correct answers.
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Gillett, Carly, "Creating a horticultural curriculum addressing environmental concerns" (2012). LSU Master's Theses. 1191.