Volume 52(4) - 2011 - DOI: 10.5032/jae.2011.04065

Abstract:

Master Gardeners serve Cooperative Extension as volunteer educators who deliver horticultural knowledge to citizens across Florida by teaching a broader amount of public constituents than can a single extension agent. The economic value of the Master Gardener participation to Florida Extension was nearly $9,000,000 in 2010. Very little research has been conducted to determine what affects Master Gardener tenure. This study utilized self-efficacy theory and Houle's Typology on adult learning orientations as the overlapping framework to determine what predicts Master Gardener tenure. The research design was survey research, and stratified sampling was implemented to select the population of participants. A mail survey was employed as the data collection method, and the response rate received was 86.78%. Participant age, instructional efficacy, and specific learning orientations were found to significantly affect Master Gardener tenure. Instructional efficacy was the only variable that Master Gardener coordinators can enhance in participants in order to retain quality Master Gardeners. The continued participation from adults in the Master Gardener program improves the goals of Cooperative Extension. This study underscores the importance of preparing current and future Master Gardeners in teaching strategies to retain their participation in order to educate more of the state's citizenry.
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