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Extension Education

Morgan Pinkerton
Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems Agent
UF/IFAS Extension


During the COVID-19 pandemic, many Central Florida horticulture operations saw increased demand for products due to heightened interest in at-home gardening as many people transitioned to working from home. However, statewide shutdowns left horticultural professionals with limited in-person opportunities to learn critical skills and sustainable management techniques, many of which are best learned through practice. The horticulture industry quickly adapted to following COVID-19 precautions to continue business throughout the pandemic. Educational programming also needs to evolve so that stakeholders can safely participate in valuable experiential learning opportunities. The objectives of this program were to increase knowledge level on sustainable integrated pest management (IPM) strategies and increase adoption of these practices using an in-person training that accommodated CDC guidelines on COVID-19. Three class sessions were held with 19 participants. Classes were conducted in a large auditorium, an outdoor pavilion and two local nurseries to accommodate social distancing. Instruction included interactive educational lectures, hands-on laboratory activities, and field visits with instructors teaching both in person and virtually. The classes were designed as introductory and interdisciplinary trainings for horticultural professionals on scouting and integrated pest management (IPM) with the goal of increasing economic and environmental sustainability at their horticultural operations. A post-workshop survey was used to assess both perceived and measured knowledge gain, as well as the adoption of various practices learned. In post-workshop evaluations, 92.3% of thirteen survey participants claimed that they increased their knowledge level on one or more topics related to scouting and IPM. On knowledge-based questions, participants answered an average of 79.5% of questions correctly. Moreover, 76.9% of participants indicated on the post-training survey they have already implemented one or more IPM practices at their operations by the end of the third class. Overall, the educational program was successfully adapted to accommodate safety precautions during the COVID-19 pandemic, while still providing hands-on training to horticultural professionals. Despite the challenges associated with COVID-19, the classes resulted in knowledge gain and the adoption of sustainable scouting and IPM practices.

Poster has NOT been presented at any previous NACAA AM/PIC

This poster is being submitted for judging. It will be displayed at the AM/PIC if not selected as a State winner. The abstract will be published in the proceedings.

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Authors: M. G. Pinkerton, L. Felter, H. Wooten, B. Moffis, G. E. Ricketts
  1. Pinkerton, M. Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems Agent, UF/IFAS Extension Seminole County, Florida, 32773
  2. Felter, L. Commercial Food Systems & Horticulture Agent, UF/IFAS Extension, Florida, 32703
  3. Wooten, H. Commercial Horticulture Agent, UF/IFAS Extension Orange County, Florida, 32812
  4. Moffis, B. Commercial Horticulture Agent, UF/IFAS Extension Lake County, Florida, 32778
  5. Ricketts, G. Commercial Horticulture Agent, UF/IFAS Extension Osceola County, Florida, 34744