2023 – Central District All Faculty Symposium – Horticulture, Florida Yards and Neighborhoods, Florida Friendly Landscaping™
Jamie Daugherty, UF/IFAS Lake County Extension. Yilin Zhuang, UF/IFAS MREC, Gabriel Vicari, UF/IFAS Marion County Extension, Amanda Marek, UF/IFAS Marion County Extension Tia Silvasy, UF/IFAS Hillsborough County Extension, Tina McIntire, UF/IFAS Seminole County Extension, Krista Stump, UF/IFAS Osceola County Extension, Brooke Moffis, UF/IFAS Lake County Extension.
Situation: According to the 2022 US Census the population of Florida is 22,244,823. This represented a 1.9% increase from 2021, a trend which is expected to continue. Continued growth leads to more urbanization and a strain on Florida’s natural resources, most importantly water. Florida residents have the power to impact local resources either positively, or negatively. This impact depends on how they manage their land. With education on proper landscape plant selection, efficient irrigation, nutrient management, and integrated pest management, residents can limit their negative impact on resources.
A team of UF/IFAS Extension Agents in Central District from Lake, Marion, Orange, Osceola, and Seminole Counties worked together in conjunction with the Lake County Water Authority and the UF/IFAS Regional Specialized Agent for Water Resources to develop an interactive educational program for Central Florida residents on home landscape water conservation practices in their home landscape. This in-person workshop allowed agents to instruct 40 residents on several of the 9 Florida-Friendly Landscape™ (FFL) Principles and the importance of the Floridan Aquifer.
Methods: The half-day program started with a general session about the Floridian aquifer and local water resources issues. Participants were then split into smaller groups for the interactive portion of the day. Groups moved through stations located in the UF/IFAS Lake County Extension Discovery Gardens where each group enjoyed presentations on various FFL topics.
Results: Thirty-eight participants completed a post-event survey. 100% of surveyed participants indicated gaining knowledge in at least one area with eight areas showing a 97% increase in knowledge. 100% of participants indicated an intent to adopt at least one new recommended behavior with the top three being using mulch correctly in the landscape (87%), adding a water feature to their backyard (82%), and building a rain barrel (79%).
Conclusion: The education provided in this event is vital for resource conservation. After the completion of this program, all participating team members decided to make this an annual event.