Warner, L. A., Diaz, J. M., & Kumar Chaudhary, A. (2018). Informing urban landscape water conservation extension programs using behavioral research. Journal of Agricultural Education, 59(2), 32-48 https://doi.org/10.5032/jae.2018.02032


Water availability is an important issue addressed by Cooperative Extension programs nationwide. Rapid population growth and urbanization present unique challenges and opportunities for Extension programming. In this study, we explored whether urban Extension audiences in Florida had unique characteristics that could be used to design tailored programs. We used electronic surveys to collect water conservation and landscape management behaviors along with demographic information. Applying audience segmentation concepts, we divided respondents into subgroups by rural-urban continuum codes. We then described the resulting subgroups and made comparisons to identify differences that could inform Extension programming. The most urban residents had lived in Florida the longest, were least engaged in most water conservation practices, most likely to use a professional landscape company for landscape maintenance activities, and most likely to reside in a homeowners’ association. The findings revealed somewhat of a disconnect between urban residents and protection of water resources. Understanding these differences among urban audiences can be useful insights to guide impactful Extension programs. Urban landscape water conservation programming should be designed to build a connection between residents and their local water bodies, and should engage the many partners present in urban systems. More research is needed to examine the relationship between residing in more urban areas and engaging less in landscape water conservation practices.

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