Title page for ETD etd-03292006-140347

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Fletcher, Bobby Hugh
Author's Email Address bhfletcher@agctr.lsu.edu
URN etd-03292006-140347
Title The Impact of the Louisiana Master Gardener Program on the Perceived and Actual Horticultural Knowledge Levels of Program Participants
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
Department Human Resource Education Workforce Development
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Michael Burnett Committee Chair
Jeff Kuehny Committee Member
Krisanna Machtmes Committee Member
Satish Verma Committee Member
Dana Brown Dean's Representative
  • volunteer
Date of Defense 2006-03-24
Availability unrestricted
The primary purpose of this study was to determine the impact of participation in the master gardener program on:

a. Self-perceived knowledge in selected horticultural areas;

b. Knowledge in selected areas of horticulture as measured by a researcher designed test; and

c. Use of best management practices (BMPs) in horticultural practice.

Gardening is a favorite pastime in the United States that has therapeutic and rewarding benefits. Currently, there is a great demand for accurate gardening (horticultural) information from green industry users such as gardeners from all backgrounds and areas. There is a need for research-based horticultural information to be provided to the home gardener by reputable sources.

In 1972, the "Master Gardener" concept was initiated in Washington State due to the high demand to answer consumer horticultural questions. The main objective of this program is to increase horticultural knowledge of program participants so they, in turn can transfer this research-based information to consumer horticultural clientele. The program quickly spread throughout the United States. It reached Louisiana in 1994 and was expanded throughout most metropolitan areas by 1997. No formal evaluation has ever been conducted to determine the horticultural knowledge impacts of this program.

All 257 2004 Louisiana Master Gardener program participants were surveyed both before and after participation in this program to determine programmatic impacts. The survey used was a researcher-developed instrument designed to measure self-perceived knowledge, tested knowledge, and Best Management Practices (BMPs) used. Data were collected by currently employed master gardener coordinators and submitted to the researcher after each phase of data collection (pre and post).

Results of the study revealed that the LMG participants were highly educated, mostly Caucasian, and mostly female. Significant improvements were identified in all of the knowledge and practice measurements included in the study. These included self-perceived knowledge, tested knowledge, and use of BMPs.

It was concluded that the 2004 Louisiana Master Gardener program was effective in increasing the self-perceived horticultural knowledge and tested horticultural knowledge of program participants. In addition, the study concluded that the 2004 Louisiana Master Gardener program improved the use of BMPs among the participants.

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