Aquascape Education Methods

COMPARING RESPONSIVENESS TO AQUASCAPE EDUCATION METHODS
T. Sudol, UF/IFAS Extension, Seminole County, Sanford, FL
Situation: In accordance with the Florida Extension Roadmap Initiative 2 ‘Enhancing and Protecting Water Quality, Quantity and Supply,” I educate Seminole County residents on protecting the waterfront or “aquascape”. As with any topic, I must communicate effectively and quantify behavior change for as many people as possible. In December 2013, the UF/IFAS Center for Public Issues showed that 33% of Florida residents preferred to watch a video while 14% preferred attend a workshop for water education. Methods: In September 2015 I delivered an aquascaping class for a 324-household subdivision. It consisted of a pre/post-test on identifying plants, a 30 minute lecture, and an hour of plant sample displays and lakefront planting with approximately 1500 aquatic plants to give away. A follow-up survey was emailed to participants three months later. In October 2015 I created a 3:30 minute video discussing aquatic plants and waterfront protection. The YouTube video and follow-up survey was shared with a different subdivision (963 households) twice in their e-newsletter. Results: The class had 11 participants (3% of the subdivision). Three participants completed the pre/post-test, which showed a 31% knowledge gain for plant identification. The follow-up survey was sent to 6 participants; one completed it (16 % response rate), indicating 5 changes. The 1500 plants available were installed. Meanwhile, the video has 197 YouTube views to date (5% of the subdivision). There were 72 responses to the survey (37% response rate). On a scale of “none” to “a lot”, 65% learned “some” to “a lot” about aquatic plant identification. They indicated a total of 297 behavior changes (average 4 changes/person). Conclusion: Ideally, the same community would have had both education formats available to see if one format was preferred over the other. As it is, results show that a similar proportion of the community (3% class, 5% video) participated in the aquascape topic. While the survey response rate was higher with the video, both methods inspire a similar amount of behavior change per person.  If a specific waterbody is targeted for restoration, a class can give firsthand education, recommendations and possibly supplies to the residents. If the goal is general awareness and improved behavior, a video distributed through the community can also affect change.
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