Bringing Master Gardening to Costa Rica

Daniel F. Culbert, Alejandro Bolques, Larry Halsey, Adrian G. B. Hunsberger, Henrique Mayer, David W. Marshall, Linda M. Seals, Pete Vergot, Luin N. Bulgarelli, B. K. Singh

Abstract


The University of Florida Extension Service initiated Costa Rica’s first training of non-formal landscape managers in 2008. Three county agents and two administrators spent a week in Apr. 2007 visiting EARTH University’s new LaFlor campus near the Pacific coast. That region is experiencing rapid growth in tourist development. Stresses of rapid growth, decreased water quality and quantity, and misuse of horticultural chemicals now impact the local economy and environment. In 2008, seven county agents provided two concurrent 7-week programs. Each agent spent 2 weeks at LaFlor. Agents rotated in and out each week for program continuity. Course materials and lessons were taught in Spanish. The “Master of Gardens” program was designed for nursery and landscape professionals. The “Gardeners of Costa Rica” course focused on homeowners and ecotourism personnel. Participants learned about best management practices suitable to the dryland tropics, practiced concepts with hands-on exercises, and installed demonstration gardens. After 7 weeks, a graduation ceremony was held and 47 participants received completion certificates. Pre/post, testing results showed up to 38% improvement in test scores on the concepts taught. Follow-up activities include an ongoing website. Materials developed will be utilized in Florida to deliver programs to Spanish-speaking audiences. This project provided an international experience for Extension faculty to broaden their knowledge of different environments and cultures.

Keywords


best management practices, Guanacaste, Hispanic landscapers, international Extension, Spanish training, volunteers

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Proc. Fla. State Hort. Soc.     ISSN 0886-7283