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MANAGING NUTRIENTS IN A WILD & SCENIC RIVER BASIN: PROVOKING BEHAVIOR CHANGE IN RESIDENTIAL FERTILIZER USERS

T. McIntyre, MS, CEP, University of Florida IFAS Extension Seminole County, Sanford, FL, USA and Dr. T. Fullerton University of Florida IFAS extension Seminole county, Sanford, FL, USA

Situation: Seminole County (SC) is home to the Wekiva Springs River, a National Wild & Scenic River and an Outstanding Florida Waterbody, and the St. Johns River, which includes the oxbow Lakes Harney, Monroe and Jesup. These waterbodies are all impaired by nutrients. These water resources are economically and environmentally tied to the area through recreation, property values, wildlife support and aquifer recharge. Research on the Wekiva Springs Basin shows 26% of all nitrate entering the basin was from urban turfgrass fertilizer.

Methods: September 2018 – May 2019 the Florida-Friendly Landscaping team taught Fertilizer Workshops. Workshops targeted homeowners and HOA’s, offered a free bag of fertilizer and educated participants on Best Management Practices (BMP’s) for residential landscapes.

Results: Byway of mass media and 27 classes, 17,454 people were educated about fertilizer BMP’s; of those, 288 completed reflective post-surveys which revealed 97.2% increased their knowledge on the impacts stormwater (including fertilizer run-off) has on local waterbodies, 98.8% intended to use the information to fertilize their yard appropriately, and 95.3% were more confident they could fertilize appropriately. In a 6 month follow up survey, 86.1% of 129 participants reported they were currently using BMP’s or had recommended BMP’s to their landscaper as a result of the fertilizer workshop.

Conclusions: These educational efforts resulted in data that shows significant behavior changes which seeks to reduce local levels of nitrogen and phosphorous, pollutants that lead to harmful algae blooms and impairments. Participants better understand sources of water contamination resulting from fertilizer misuse and have acted to change those behaviors.

17 Comments on “MANAGING NUTRIENTS IN A WILD & SCENIC RIVER BASIN: PROVOKING BEHAVIOR CHANGE IN RESIDENTIAL FERTILIZER USERS

  1. It is interesting and encouraging to see the use/recommendation of BMPs as a result of the fertilizer workshop.

  2. I love the pie chart! Ag is not the worst culprit!

  3. Hi Tina,
    This is an impressive effort! I offer a workshop each year called ‘Collaborating to Manage Ecosystems’. The goal is to teach natural resource professionals about working with stakeholders to manage large-scale, complex environmental problems. We take a field trip that begins in Wekiwa Springs State Park, and talk about water issues at the springhead. I wonder if you might be willing to be a guest speaker the next time we hold the workshop, and talk to participants about your work?

    • Hi Holly,
      I would absolutely love to! Please keep me in my and reach out as you are planning. My email is k.mcintyre@ufl.edu. Thanks for thinking of me, I think it would be a great cross-collaboration!

  4. 17,454 people! It is an impressive number. Great job!! My understand is that 17,454 people is a combination of media and classes, correct? If so, how many did you get the number reached by mass media?

    • Hi Yilin,
      Thanks for your question. We reached about 17,000 people through mass media and the rest were in person. We were very active during this 9 month time span, offering at least two, but upwards of 4 classes per month only on this topic. We did workshops at the Extension office, all libraries, to all Rotary clubs in the county and to other HOAs and groups.

  5. Hi Tina, How were these classes delivered? If my math is correct there would have been over 600 attendees per class which is awesome but a very big class.
    Thanks,
    Liz

    • Hi Liz,
      We reached a total of 17,454 people through mass media and classes. We reached about 17,000 people through mass media and the rest were in person. Over the 9 month period we offered classes at the Extension office, all libraries, to all Rotary clubs and HOAs and other groups only on this topic. We offered at least two per month, but typically upwards of 4 per month. Class sizes varied from 15-40 people depending on audience. Thanks for your question!
      Tina

  6. Hi Tina,
    How were these classes conducted? If my math is correct 27 classes would average over 600 attendees per class. Thanks, Liz

  7. Important work being accomplished, congratulations!

  8. you can post supporting links to the comment are. Thank you.