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IMPACT is published by the
University of Florida's Institute of
Food and Agricultural Sciences
(UF/IFAS). For more informa-
tion about UF/IFAS programs,
contact Donald W. Poucher,
assistant vice president of exter-
nal relations and communica- Volume 15, No. 3 Spring 2000
tions: (352) 392-0437, or e-mail:
IMPACT is produced by Urban Focus
IFAS Communicatioo Services The Fort Lauderdale Research and Education Center helps solve envi-
ronmental problems and enhances the quality of life in South Florida. 4
Editor 8 Everglades Agricultural Area
Cindy Spence Best management practices help farmers protect environmentally sensitive areas.
Ed Hunter 12 Education at Your Doorstep
SeryaYesilcay With new distance education technologies, UF's College of Agricultural and Life Sciences offers
Photo Editor classes statewide.
Photographers I 4 Southernmost Solutions
Thomas S. Wright Located in Homestead, the Tropical Research and Education Center is the only university
Eric Zamora facility of its kind in the continental United States.
KatrinaVitkus 8 A Salty Problem
Change of address, requests for
extra copies and requests to be Algae blooms provide a sign that something's amiss with fragile Florida Bay.
added to the mailing list should
be addressed to Cindy Spence,
PO Box 110025, University
of Florida, Gainesville, FL S
32611-0025, or e-mailed toPutting down roots
email@example.com. Impact 4-H project turns barren land into a
is available in alternative for- ga
mats; visit our home page at garden.
http://impact.ifas.ufl.edu Affordable H housing
UF/IFAS is putting Florida 2 Dreams come true in Collier County
FIRST in developing knowl- through a collaboration of UF/IFAS
edge in agricultural, human extension, banks and county government.
and natural resources and the
life sciences and making that 22
knowledge accessible to sustain
and enhance the quality of 29 Eat better, live better
human life. Visit the Florida
FIRST (Focusing IFAS A Hialeah nutrition education program helps the Hispanic population
Resources on Solutions make the most of limited resources.
for Tomorrow) Web page at:
http://floridafirst.ufl.edu 32 UF/IFAS Updates
On the cover: Horticultural
scientist Jonathan Crane bites Florida Earth Project
into a carambola, or star fruit, Students and professionals can learn about Florida's environmental issues.
one of the many Caribbean
fruits and vegetables being Ask the master
studied by scientists at the Florida ecotourism gets help from Master Naturalists. 4
Tropical Research and Educa-
tion Center in Homestead. Silicon success
Photograph by Thomas Wright. New research indicates this element controls diseases and boosts
.: UNIVERSITY OF
FLORIDA 35 UF/IFAS Resources
I ... F. d _. d A ...... S-s
Unlike ocher UF/IFAS research
I.. .and education centers chat are
located away from major urban
,. areas, the Fort Lauderdale
(. Research and Education Center
V r :, s in the middle of it all -giving
t ,0t0 researchers a unique opportu-
field Beach nity u) solve problems that
A- H-\"r' Ber n affect the environment and
Lighthouse Point qual ty of life for 8 million
I.- 14Ls Sc uth Florida residents.
Manor. S By (Cwl,k 'bods
n Fort Lauderdale
Ni C) N :r'
N. 1 0 F
4.. .M AC
E extending more than 100 miles from South Miami "Other major research focuses on invasive plant manage-
to the Palm Beaches, the Southeast Florida urban ment, aquatic weed management, structural pests as well as
corridor is one of the nation's largest and most other disease and insect problems all issues of concern in
environmentally sensitive. South Florida," Dusky said.
Next to this megalopolis are the delicate ecosystems of With hundreds of golf courses dotting the South Florida
Biscayne Bay and Everglades National Park, which are being landscape and dozens more under construction overuse of
damaged by nutrients in groundwater runoff from coastal fertilizer and pesticides could threaten groundwater quality.
cities. In addition to water quality problems, urban and To reduce the potential for damage, particularly from nitro-
natural areas are being attacked by invasive plants, plant gen and phosphorous, researchers at the center are measuring
diseases, termites and other pests. how much fertilizer is needed to keep the greens green.
To deal with these and other issues unique to the South John Cisar, professor and coordinator of UF's turfgrass
Florida environment, scientists at the UF's Fort Lauderdale research program, and George Snyder, distinguished research
Research and Education Center (REC) have a variety of professor and soil chemist, are developing a series of best
projects under way at the 100-acre urban campus. management practices for fertilizer and pesticide use on golf
"Because many of the problems being studied are associ- courses and sod farms in South Florida. Many of their
ated with high density development in close proximity to research findings are being used by UF/IFAS extension agents
sensitive natural resource areas, the Fort Lauderdale site is in the statewide Florida Yards and Neighborhoods education
ideal for such research," said Joan Dusky, acting director of and demonstration program to help homeowners protect
the center, part of UF's Institute of Food and Agricultural groundwater resources.
Sciences (UF/IFAS). Cisar and Snyder have developed a new product called
She said the center also offers hundreds of local, place- "BioSand" that serves as a filter of pesticides on golf courses.
bound students an opportunity to earn a UF College of "Basically, we have coated sand with a special polymer
Agricultural and Life Sciences degree in entomology, envi- from sugarcane waste that grabs organophosphate pesticides,"
ronmental horticulture or turfgrass management degrees Cisar said. "Used as the bottom layer of sand in golf greens,
not offered by any other state university in the area. it could help prevent pesticides and other chemicals from
"Our research is focused on urban issues, particularly leaching into groundwater over its expected 10- to 15-year
those with regard to the interface between urban and natural lifespan. That's just about the average lifespan of a green,
areas of Southeast Florida," Dusky said. "Since the urban too.
coast is contiguous to many natural resource areas, water Cisar, who also is evaluating turfgrasses for golf courses,
quality and conservation are a top priority. landscapers and homeowners, said new "ultra-dwarf" bermu-
"All the fertilizer, pesticides and other chemicals used in dagrass varieties have the lower mowing heights golfers prefer.
the urban areas, including lawns and parks, have a tremen- The new varieties are now available to commercial producers.
dous impact on the Everglades natural area as well as the
coastline. Much of our research is aimed at the judicious Fastest Growing
use of these compounds, thus reducing the potential for
groundwater contamination. Another important area of research at the Fort Lauderdale
REC involves production of ornamental plants, the fastest
Left, Nan-Yao Su, recognized as a world expert on the highly destruc- growing sector of Florida agriculture because of the state's
tive Formosan termite, is using a specially designed "foraging arena" to booming population growth. In South Florida, growers sold
observe the tunneling behavior ofsubterranean termites. $697 million worth of ornamental plants in 1997.
Timothy Broschat, professor of tropical ornamental horti-
culture, is conducting various fertilization and transplanting
S studies in a five-acre palm grove at the Fort Lauderdale REC.
"A key part of our research is aimed at identifying the
causes of specific nutritional disorders, determining which
fertilizer sources are most effective in treating these problems
and developing optimum methods for delivering nutrients to
plants without contaminating the environment," he said.
Broschat's other major work involves palm horticulture,
including studies on the best methods for transplanting large
specimen palms. His research has set industry standards in
South Florida for optimum root ball size and transplanting
age as well as tying and removal of leaves.
The Fort Lauderdale Research and Education Center includes a
Z mature, five-acre palm grove for teaching and research.
Spring 2000 5
Despite the best efforts to protect these expensive orna-
mental plants, all Florida palms are threatened by a lethal
fungal disease known as Ganoderma butt rot, according to
Monica Elliott, associate professor at the Fort Lauderdale
REC, who is searching for solutions to this serious problem.
"It's No. 2 on the list of the ten worst diseases of
E ornamental plants," said the soil-borne disease expert. "It
Sdo e s n o t a t t a c k a p a l m u n t i l t h e p l a n t h a s f o r m e d w o o d y
tissue in its trunk, which means the disease usually shows
up years after the slow-growing palms have
been nurtured from seeds. Worse yet, there
are no controls, either preventive or cura-
tive, for the disease. And we can't predict
which trees will become diseased."
Elliott, who initiated research on the
" Above, john Cisar, checks bermudagrass te. ".. malady in 1994, says the work will be
the Fort Lauderdale Research and Educati .... l,.a
long-term and costly because only mature
palms (palms with trunks) can be used for
E field studies. One of her first goals was to
Right, A I... Elliott holds a palm s,:,.p ,." i develop a small-scale research protocol for
Ganoderma conks, which are large, ma., / working with the disease.
growths that produce spores to spread ;' .. L w
pheromones that attract other weevils ofthe same species. The phero-
mones are then used in baiting traps.
"This entails using small blocks of palm wood, so only use prophylactic pesticide treatments at the time of pruning.
one palm has to be sacrificed instead of the ten or more for stress or transplanting. Giblin-Davis is using pheromo nc- to
each experiment," she said. "Since the disease is normally trap a destructive sugarcane weevil in the Everglades Agricul-
restricted to the lower four feet of trunk, most fungicides tural Area, too.
are ineffective. Future research will examine products, bio- To protect turfgrass against the destructive sting nem-
1 To protect turfgrass against the destructive sting nem-
logical and chemical, and techniques that will concentrate atode, Giblin-Davis is developing new natural biological
i atode, Giblin-Davis is developing new natural biological
fungicidal materials in the lower trunk without harming the methods that control the microscopic root-feeding animal.
", methods that control the microscopic root-feeding animal.
palm." The pest is a major problem on golf courses, athletic fields
and lawns in the southern United States. Current pesticide
Melaleuca Menace control measures may contaminate ground water and be
Spreading at the alarming rate of 15 acres every day, toxic to people and wildlife. To get around this problem,
melaleuca, the paperbark tree brought to Florida from Aus- Giblin-Davis has found a bacterium (Pasteuria) that parasit-
tralia about 100 years ago, has become one of the state's most izes the sting nematode. His research may result in the
troublesome invasive plants. development of a commercial biocontrol product.
"It's overwhelming the Everglades and coastal wetlands,"
said Robin Giblin-Davis, professor of entomology at the Super Termites
center. "More than $2.2 million is being spent annually Subterranean termites have always been a problem in
trying to control the tree, with losses to the local economy Florida, but the Formosan "super termite" has become a real
ranging as high as $168 million." "millennium bug" for residents and pest control operators.
To slow and hopefully stop melaleuca's rampage The pest 10 rime? mcri, dI-strucri\x than r-gular subtr-
across South Florida, Giblin-Davis is working with the U.S. r-inen tL rrmiri- appiarcnm\h arrid in the liniced Static in
Department of Agriculture to find effective natural predators the carl I, Wl i aboard xhip, from drh Far Eair. Now thib
to control the tree without pesticides.
"In 1997, a leaf-eating weevil, the melaleuca snout beetle, the- Siuthcast. lihe pc-., which hai gna cd irts a- up [he
was successfully released in Broward County, and it's starting Flridas cast cast o Jupit-r. alo has bccn [iund in Tampa.
to show some promise," Giblin-Davis said. "We're also test- [Pen.,ac.la and Orl.ndo.
ing some other biological control agents we found in Austra- Fbortunacdv. rc-carchc-rs _ic ihe Fort Lauderdalc REC hare
lia with the help of USDA." diJvC.Iopid nc\w mnihodil rt dti [i:c and control rth Formosan
Giblin-Davis said studies have shown that a small fly trmirc- as wXll ais regular ;ubrrrancn rcrmies the firsr
(Fergusonina) and a microscopic nematode attack the flower "mao" r br-eakhrough in rcrmiri pt.r cWontrol in I.1 -ears.
and leaf buds of the melaleuca tree, preventing seed develop- Nan-Y.o Su. prof,-,ior of nromolog and a world expLre
ment. on [he highly\ dcrruii.i\ M Formo.an tcrmirn-, has dc cloped a
"Preliminary research suggests these two biocontrols nI- monitoring and bailing ;\ scem rhat uL'c, p5rsticidc I hca-
working together are very host specific, which means they f1murmirn I only wh,-n rctrminc a, l irv has been d.ccrtid.
should not become a problem on other plants in Florida,"
he said. "This bodes well for releasing the Australian fly and ,,,
nematode parasites into southern Florida as another natural, .
non-chemical way of controlling the invasive tree."
In other research, Giblin-Davis is developing traps to ,' .... .. .. .. .,. ...
protect expensive Canary Island date palms from the North .. 7
American palmetto weevil and prevent destructive South ,'
American weevils from invading the state. Widely used as -
a signature plant in South Florida landscapes, the palms I
are expensive, with retail costs for a 15-foot palm running
as high as $5,000. In 1997, the pest killed palms valued
at $400,000 in just one nursery. Industry-wide losses were
"We have identified pheromones, chemicals that attract
the weevil, and we're using them to monitor and trap the
pest before it invades palms," Giblin-Davis said. "However,
traps must be used carefully because they can end up attract-
ing more weevils to a site where palms are being grown or
He said they're informing palm growers and others about
the potential risks of the pest. Since early weevil infestations
are not easily diagnosed, palm growers are being urged to
Spring 2000 7
The system is licensed by the UF to Dow AgroSciences, want to determine how these termites respond when con-
which markets the product as the Sentricon Termite Colony fronted with areas loaded with wood or without wood,
Elimination System. comparing branching patterns and how fast they construct
For more than a decade, Su has been working with tunnels," Su said.
communities in South Florida to control the pest. Recently,
the entire city of Golden Beach, located near the Miami- All A A
Dade/Broward County line, agreed to become part of an Al About Aquatics
ongoing UF/IFAS research project to eliminate the pest from Aquatic plants are another major concern in South Flori-
its boundaries. The city has been plagued by the pest. Su also da's fragile environment. Working with the UF/IFAS Center
is working with the National Park Service to control the pest for Aquatic and Invasive Plants in Gainesville, David Sutton,
at national landmarks in New Orleans, Puerto Rico and the professor at the Fort Lauderdale REC, is developing methods
U.S. Virgin Islands. to manage exotic, invasive weeds such as torpedograss and
To further improve control methods, Su has initiated hygrophilia while also promoting the ornamental value of
new research to determine the tunneling behavior of the other aquatic plants.
Formosan termite and the eastern subterranean termite. "We "Torpedograss is a major weed along shoreline areas," he
said. "It produces rhizomes below the soil sur-
face that are difficult to kill, and we are evaluat-
ing different herbicide timing and application
rates to inhibit their growth. We're also evaluat-
ing different herbicides to control hygrophilia,
a major weed problem in many South Florida
"Recently, we have been able to show that
hygrophilia plant produces seed, and we are
trying to determine factors that initiate flower-
ing, seed production and seed germination. We
have found that hygrophilia grows much better
in some areas. We're looking into the nutri-
tional requirements of the plant to determine
where it might be more of a problem," Sutton
Two native aquatic plants, sky flower and
pond apple, have potential as ornamentals, he
"With its deep blue petals, bright yellow
stamens and dark green leaves, sky flower could
be used by homeowners in small ponds and
"- garden containers," Sutton said. "We would
like to introduce pond apple into the residen-
tial landscape, too. It may grow well in wet
-. Z. areas or along the shoreline of small ponds.
". It produces an attractive flower as well as an
apple that can be made into jellies and jams.
However, the apple is not eaten raw like regular
Sutton said they're using slow-release fertil-
izers to help provide a constant amount of
nutrients for the new aquatic ornamentals and
prevent nutrients from leaching into water and
causing algae problems.
2 Joan Dusky, firstname.lastname@example.org
Timothy Broschat, email@example.com
a. John Cisar, firstname.lastname@example.org
SI I ". Monica Elliott, email@example.com
David Sutton is evaluating hybrid water lilies grown with a controlled release fertilizer. Robin Giblin-Davis, firstname.lastname@example.org
Culture of these and other aquatic plants with a slow-release fertilizer added to a George Snyder, email@example.com
sand rooting medium results in excellent production with very little loss of nutrients or Nan-Yao Su, firstname.lastname@example.org
contamination ofgroundwater. David Sutton, email@example.com
BM Ps make a difference
Scientists at the Everglades Research and Education Center in Belle Glade are developing best
management practices (BMPs) to improve and protect water quality in the Florida Everglades. It's all
part of an ambitious $7.8 billion federal plan to restore one of the world's most endangered ecosystems.
By Chuck Woods
"bW an en it comes to national issues involving agri-
culture and the environment, restoration of the
S Florida Everglades is one of the most challenging.
"How we solve this problem is being closely watched by
farmers, water management officials and environmentalist
across the nation and around the world," said Forrest Izuno,
water management professor with the UF's Institute of Food
and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS). "Many look at the
Florida Everglades issue as the poster child for the sustain-
ability of agriculture in the face of mounting environmental
"Farming-mainly sugarcane, vegetables, rice and sod-in
the 505,000-acre Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) gener-
ates more than $1 billion a year in economic activity. During
"the past 20 years, much attention has been focused on the
negative impacts of phosphorous in drainage water pumped
from the EAA, particularly its effect on ecosystems in Ever-
glades National Park and Florida Bay. Located south of Lake
Okeechobee and north of the Water Conservation Areas, this
tract of productive agricultural land is in the middle of two
environmentally sensitive areas.
To help restore and protect water quality in the Florida
Everglades, scientists at the Everglades Research and Educa-
tion Center (REC) in Belle Glade are working with the
Florida Department of Environmental Protection, South
Florida Water Management District (SFWMD), the Ever-
glades Agricultural Area Environmental Protection District
and individual growers. UF/IFAS researchers have developed E
and implemented a series of highly successful best man-
agement practices (BMPs) for the EAA that have already
reduced basin-wide phosphorous loads in drainage water
by an average of 50 percent. Some farms have achieved Timothy Lang checks optical sensors which measure revolutions per
phosphorous load reductions up to 80 percent. minute ata pump station in the Everglades AgriculturalArea.
SFWMD reports that phosphorous loads entering envi-
ronmentally protected areas south of the EAA have been
reduced by an average of 50 percent (peaking at 67 percent) Rice, who also directs the Everglades Soil Testing Labora-
during the past five years double the 25 percent mandated tory at the center, is measuring the nutritional requirements
by the 1994 state Everglades Forever Act. During the last of various crops and how different drainage practices and
five years, phosphorous concentrations leaving the EAA have phosphorus levels affect crops and long-term soil fertility
declined from an average of 173 parts per billion (ppb) to trends. To accomplish this, he is using 25 lysimeter fields -
an average of 100 ppb. fields that are closed off to surrounding areas so that all water
Izuno said additional 10 to 25 percent reductions may and nutrient inputs and outflows can be tracked.
be achieved when BMPs to control particulate transport of To further improve BMPs that limit the amount of nutri-
phosphorus (insoluble phosphorous in drainage water) are ents leaving EAA farming areas, Lang and Stuck are measur-
fully implemented in the next three years. ing the amount of phosphorus discharged in both soluble
"These data show that the BMP program has greatly and particulate forms. Soluble phosphorus can be absorbed
reduced phosphorous runoff to environmentally sensitive or utilized by plants while particulate phosphorus is not
areas actually reducing phosphorous concentrations to immediately available to plants and serves as a reservoir for
levels lower than those found at the source," Izuno said. future release of this element.
"From this we can conclude that our BMP program has Capone oversees many of the daily aspects of the BMP
enabled the agricultural lands to become a phosphorous project, coordinating laboratory work, assembling data and
'sink' or filter for South Florida." managing budgets. She also serves as the contact person with
Working with Izuno at the Everglades REC on various local, state and federal government groups. Her responsibili-
aspects of the BMP program are Ronald Rice, crop nutri- ties include ensuring that all facets of the program adhere
tionist and assistant professor; Timothy Lang, environmental to strict procedural guidelines and performance requirements
agronomist; Jim Stuck, environmental engineer, and Laurene set forth in the project's quality assurance plan.
Capone, biologist and project manager.
Izuno said the UF/IFAS research and "Our program has been a major factor in
extension program has changed the fertilizer, "More water is promoting the general acceptance of the fact
water management and crop rotation prac- that agriculture is an environmentally friendly
tices being used by growers, as well as their being stored on land use in South Florida, and that the indus-
philosophies for operating in the EAA. The ry's survival is a necessary part of a sustainable
primary BMPs implemented are water man- farmS tO be reused South Florida," Izuno said. "It's the most effec-
agement related, involving water table and or drained through tve program with the greatest acceptance and
pump management to uniformly drain farms impact currently implemented in the EAA."
in a manner that will not be detrimental to evaporation or Rice, who is conducting experiments with
crops or the environment. after field lysimeters, said research indicates nutrient-
"Over-drainage of farms is being cur- transpiration. rich water can be rerouted from one crop to
tailed," he said. "More water is being and phosphorus another to prevent off-farm discharge of water
stored on farms to be reused or drained that ends up in the Everglades. In a recent
through evaporation or transpiration. Water that would other- analysis, he found that BMP strategies imple-
and phosphorus that would otherwise have wise have left the mented at five sugarcane farms (including veg-
left the farm, particularly during heavy rains, tables and rice) over a four-year period have
are being rerouted around the farm to more farm, particularly supported phosphorus drainage reductions up
water tolerant areas and crops." to 67 percent.
Under the BMP program, agricultural during heavy rains, "The lysimeters allow us to demonstrate sev-
drainage pumping at the farm level has are being rerouted eral important BMP strategies, including the re-
decreased by approximately 25 to 30 percent routing of drainage waters from vegetable and
and average water tables in the EAA have around the farm to rice fields into sugarcane," Rice said. "These
risen by about three to four inches. As a BMPs prevent this water from affecting the
result, growers have been able to achieve ade- more water tolerant Everglades while also providing nutritional ben-
quate drainage and reduce water table vari- areas and crops." efits to sugarcane."
ability, which leads directly to a reduction Forrest uno Rice said the re-use of water on-farm also
in soil subsidence and prolongs viability of results in higher water tables, an issue that is
agriculture in the EAA. being explored with the lysimeter field. "The
Izuno said secondary BMPs include fertilizing according bottom line is that growers and UF/IFAS researchers are
to scientific soil-test recommendations, proper handling of redesigning farm water management and cropping systems
fertilizer and keeping crops with high phosphorus drainage to ensure agricultural sustainability while also protecting wet-
loads away from the main pumping stations, land ecosystems in South Florida."
"Growers have had to accept the fact that higher levels of Forrest Izuno, firstname.lastname@example.org
management are necessary for sustained agricultural produc-
tion and that environmental considerations are an important In afield ofgreen and red leaf lettuce, Ronald Rice examines roots to
part of their production plan," he said. determine how reduced fertilizer levels affect plant growth.
~, ` .__
UF/IFAS Distance Education Program
heads into new century
New funding to establish program in Homestead
By Ed Hunter
I n the beginning, there was the correspondence course, "Karl Kepner and I incorporated two or three bulletin
and it was good. board assignments, where the students respond to questions
Students without access to college courses could and they would interact amongst themselves, discussing these
complete them by mail. But there was little or no interaction leading questions," Wysocki said. "We tried to simulate the
between student and professor and no interaction with other in-class experience by hosting a once-a-week chatroom for
students, about an hour and a half."
Then came courses on videotape and two-way interac- And it's that effort by instructors to combine methods of
tive television. Now students could see their instructors, teaching that Luzar said will be the key to creating successful
Courses could include video demonstrations, Power Point distance education courses in the new millennium. Students
slide shows and, in the case of two-way TV, students in will benefit most from courses that do it all, she said.
remote locations could talk with the instructor and their "Combining our interactive video with the Web and
fellow classmates. coming up with mixed media is what we think is probably
The Internet allowed course material such as class notes the best approach to distance education," Luzar said. "The
and diagrams to be posted on World Wide Web sites. students have the advantage of seeing an instructor but also
Interaction between professors and students grew even more being able to do the truly asynchronous work that distance
through e-mail and online chatrooms. education offers. If you go back to the original concept of
distance education, in many cases it's asynchronous any
But faculty and administrators in the University of Flor- -
ida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences still don't time, any place."
believe they have quite hit the pinnacle of distance educa- One of those places in South Florida will see some
tion. They want more courses to have online components, changes in the near future. Part of $200,000 in new funding
including more Web-only courses, and they want courses to for distance education will bring improvements to the dis-
originate from each of the nine video conferencing facilities tance education classroom in Homestead along with a new
located at UF/IFAS research and education centers, includ- program in environmental horticulture.
ing the Tropical Research and Education Center (REC) in "We'll be working with faculty from Fort Pierce, in addi-
Homestead, the Southwest REC in Immokalee and the Fort tion to faculty from Gainesville to deliver classes in agri-
Lauderdale REC. cultural business management to Homestead," Luzar said.
"We do the interactive video very well because of the "And as we do that, we're opening up the next level of our
tremendous infrastructure development we've had here," said distance education program, where we're talking about not
Jane Luzar, UF/IFAS associate dean for academic programs. only emanating from Gainesville, but instead being able to
"But increasingly what we're doing is our World Wide Web do localized broadcasts."
offerings. We've offered some earlier courses, and one we did But right now, Gainesville is the UF/IFAS distance edu-
last semester showed us the potential." cation hub. The control center is located in room G-001
As part of a new Internet-based master's program in agri- in McCarty Hall. G-001 is a lecture hall that has been
culture, the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences offered completely equipped for distance education, with the capa-
a course in agribusiness human resource management that ability to show slide presentations, video clips and the video
was taught entirely on the Web. Food and resource econom- presenter a distance education version of an overhead
ics Assistant Professor Allen Wysocki said he felt teaching projector that allows instructors to display a portion of a
the course on the Web had certain advantages over courses textbook or any kind of printed matter.
taught using interactive video in terms of each student's The room features several remote control cameras that
schedule. can zoom in on any student in the classroom as well as
"I think the students benefited. Almost all of my stu- four TV monitors so students in Gainesville can see both
dents were online late at night doing their weekly readings," what is being transmitted to the remote sites as well as their
Wysocki said. "The Web-based nature of this course allowed classmates around the state.
the students the flexibility to learn the material at their own During the Spring 2000 term, environmental horti-
pace." culture Assistant Professor Dave Clark taught a distance
Wysocki said he and course co-developer Karl Kepner, education version of a required undergraduate course in hor-
UF/IFAS distinguished service professor of food and resource ticultural physiology. On Monday and Thursday evenings,
economics, have tried to take advantage of all the tools avail- Clark met in G-001 with about 34 students who were joined
able to add variety to the course.
by 26 others via the interactive video conferencing network -
from Fort Lauderdale, Fort Pierce and Milton. >;.
In one class session, Clark lectured on several aspects of
the process of photosynthesis. He made use of a variety of
media, including a Power Point presentation of class notes,; t
pages of the course textbook displayed on the video presenter
and a short video starring one of his graduate students dem-
onstrating a lab procedure. Students with questions need
only speak up and they can be heard in the Gainesville
classroom. And in Gainesville, students with questions push
"a button on their desk and a camera automatically zooms in
so they can be clearly seen at the remote sites.
Clark said he likes to take full advantage of the interac- Tropical Research and Education Center Director Waldemar Klassen,
tive nature of the video conferencing system by having his right, reviews the spring distance education class schedule with horti-
students get on camera to answer extra-credit questions. He cultural sciences Associate Professor Jonathan Crane in the distance
said in addition to providing a review, the questions help the education classroom in Homestead.
students get to know one another.
"I'll go through the roll, I'll say 'Joe Smith out in Milton
do you want to step up to the plate.' If they get on camera,
they get one point on the next test," Clark said. "Then I ask "
them the question. It serves as a review, and if they get it o
right, they get a second point.
"It keeps them up to date, plus it lets them see what
my exam questions are going to be like," he said. "Plus the
students in Gainesville know Joe Smith, by the end of class
they've seen him three times."
Efforts by faculty members like Clark and Wysocki help
students in the distance education courses get the same
benefit from courses as students taking the course on the
Gainesville campus. And while there haven't been any formal
studies, Clark said he can't see any difference in the students'
"I would teach my regular class five days and then come Above, environmental horticulture Professor Dave Clark makes a point
back and teach the night course, the distance course," Clark during a session of his Spring 2000 distance education class in horti-
said. "The students in the distance education course were cultural physiology. Clark taught 34 students who met in the UF/IFAS
scoring the same on the tests. We found that performance- distance education classroom in G-001 McCarty Hall while 26 other
wise there wasn't really any difference between the traditional students in Fort Lauderdale, Fort Pierce and Milton viewed the class
wise there wasn't really any difference between the traditional
class and the distance class." over the UF/IFAS interactive television network.
class and the distance class."
Administrators also point out that distance education
allows UF/IFAS to save money as it pursues its mission of Below, food and resource economics Professor Allen Wysocki taught an
putting Florida FIRST (Focusing IFAS Resources on Solu- Internet-only course in the Fall 1999 term on agribusiness human
tions for Tomorrow). resource management. Wysocki said that having the course entirely on
the Internet made it more flexible for his students.
"It's a smart way to do it, because we are able to deliver
with one faculty member what otherwise would be delivered o -
to very small classes by three faculty members," Luzar said. N
Luzar said another advantage of distance education is
that it allows students, especially in the distance education
master's program, to pick and select among the best electiveI
courses for their program from the top schools nationwide.
"In a graduate program you generally have a core of 4.
courses and electives. Perhaps some of those electives would
be offered by the best person in the national field at Purdue 'i
or Cornell," Luzar said. "It gives you the opportunity to put I
together a superior degree program and that's our goal."
Jane Luzar, email@example.com .i
Dave Clark, firstname.lastname@example.org X :I
Allen Wysocki, email@example.com
and Education Center
It's the only university facility in the continental United States that
focuses on a large number of tropical and subtropical crops.
By Ed Hunter
A s its name suggests, the Tropical Research and "We want to develop agriculture practices that utilize
Education Center (REC) in Homestead is like no all the inputs for the crops, yet don't result in leaching of
other facility in the UF's Institute of Food and chemicals into the aquifer," Schaffer said. "This work is
Agricultural Sciences. particularly important, since water quality standards will be
The center conducts research on tropical fruits, veg- set for Everglades National Park."
tables, nursery and ornamental crops in additional to Schaffer said the project is funded in part by money
important environmental problems in the southern portion from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer
Miami-Dade County. At the same time, an expanded teach- Services, the South Florida Water Management District and
ing program at the center will allow students to earn a the United States Environmental Protection Agency.
bachelor's degree in environmental horticulture from the
UF's College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. Virt i r r
Virtual Field Laboratory
Established in 1929, the 160-acre campus at the Tropical
REC includes fruit orchards, vegetable fields, greenhouses, Say a student in Minnesota wants to get some first-hand
laboratories, offices and classroom facilities. Fifteen faculty experience with tropical fruit production. At the moment,
members and a support staff of about 45 perform a variety of traveling to the tropics is the only option. But if the plans
research and education programs that serve growers, students of Schaffer and tropical fruit crop specialist Jonathan Crane
and consumers in one of the state's most environmentally come to fruition, that experience will be no further away
sensitive areas. than an Internet-connected computer.
With funding from a USDA challenge grant and the
Florida FIRST (Focusing IFAS Resources on Solutions for
Agriculture and the Everglades Tomorrow) initiative, the two researchers are in the early
With the restoration of Everglades National Park on the stages of developing a multimedia Web site they have dubbed
horizon, some growers may be concerned that their interests the Virtual Field Laboratory.
may be plowed under in the name of restoring the famed "Many national and international students studying
River of Grass. agriculture in temperate climates are interested in the tropics
But one Tropical REC researcher says that not only isn't and tropical agriculture, but they don't have any practical
agriculture standing in the way of restoration, it probably will experience or opportunity to observe the biology and pro-
turn out to be one of the restoration effort's best partners, duction of tropical fruit crops in the field," Schaffer said.
"A lot of the work being done here is to try to make "The virtual field laboratory will be a Web-based, interactive,
agriculture compatible with Everglades restoration," said multimedia course that will bring the tropics to the students
UF/IFAS plant physiologist Bruce Schaffer. "In the past, through the Internet."
agriculture has been seen as an opposing force to the natural
ecosystem. Improving Lychee Production
"But agriculture is a good partner in the restoration Lychee trees were first introduced to Florida in 1883.
effort. Without agriculture, fallow land adjacent to the Ever- The trees produce a thick-skinned fruit that is as red as
glades would be subject to invasion by weeds which may pose a strawberry. First grown in Southern China, it has always
a threat to the surrounding natural ecosystem and developers been popular in Asian communities, but is beginning to
would be building on land near the Everglades," he said. develop a substantial following among American consumers
So Schaffer and vegetable crop specialist Stephen as well.
O'Hair are working on developing best management prac- "Lychee is a relatively new cash crop," said Yuncong Li, a
tices for several popular South Florida fruit and vegetable UF/IFAS plant nutritionist. "It is a small, high-value tropical
crops. fruit crop that now has a high demand in the market."
., i l r t,, /
I IC 'I
But Li said while lychee trees grow in Florida, the unpre- Nevertheless, UF/IFAS researchers say phosphorus is an
dictable weather can cause problems for the trees, resulting essential part of the equation when it comes to obtaining
in inconsistent flowering and fruiting. So Li and Tom Dav- healthy fruit and vegetable crops with good yields.
enport, a UF/IFAS reproductive physiologist, are heading up "Without phosphorus, you can't get a good crop, espe-
a project to try and determine how growers can assure a cially in South Florida soil," Li said.
reliable yield. Since the virgin soil was deficient in phosphorus and
"The trouble is, Lychee trees are unreliable," Li said. required the addition of phosphorus to make it productive,
"Some years you will get a lot of flowers which will turn into Li said farmers believed that the crops needed large amounts
fruit, and some years you will get nothing. If you get years of phosphorus in order to grow. For years farmers have added
where the temperatures are relatively high, the trees will only two to three times the amount that was actually needed to
produce new leaves and no flowers." grow healthy plants. The result, he said, is that the farmers
Li said the preliminary results indicate that growers can have ended up actually creating soil that is phosphorus rich.
better manage their lychee crops by controlling the amount "After 50 years of farming, the soil is loaded with phos-
of nitrogen in the soil. phorus that is available to the crops," Li said. "Our soil has
"We feel if we fertilize correctly we can induce more plenty of phosphorous, so growers can reduce phosphorus
flowering, so we are developing a program to manage nitro- application.
gen fertilizer for the Lychee crop," Li said. "But if you "In some cases they don't have to use any, or they can
put too much nitrogen in the soil, you can jeopardize your significantly reduce the amount of phosphorus they do use,"
Lychee yield." he said.
Another side of the fertilizer equation is phosphorus. Associate Professor of horticultural science Jonathan Crane, right, and
Many environmentalist have tagged phosphorus as the bad graduate student Hilary George examine carambola trees that have
boy of fertilizers-linking it both to problems in the Ever- been treated with mulch to control soil temperatures. George is studying
glades and decreased waer qulit in ge horticultural science under the Dennis Carpenter Memorial Fellow-
s r tr it i ship, which is given by the Miami-Dade County AgriCouncil.
*Se r L~~
Li said current research with tomato and potato crops
has shown that the growers can take the phosphorus already
present in the soil into consideration when calculating fertil-
izer application rates.
"Not only are we protecting water quality and the ecosys-
tem, but growers can save money and reduce production
costs," Li said. "Growers are starting to cut fertilizer applica-
tions and some are not even using phosphorus fertilizer with
Virus Resistant Papaya
Papaya is an important cash crop in South Florida, where
the warm climate is perfect for the fruit, which has a very low
tolerance for cold temperatures.
One of the biggest challenges facing the papaya industry
in Miami-Dade County and the Caribbean region is the
papaya ringspot virus. Plant pathologist Mike Davis is work-
ing to develop new varieties of papaya that are resistant to the
virus using the latest techniques in molecular genetics.
Davis said the first test plants were grown and were ex-
posed to the virus to see if any exhibited the desired resist-
"Out of 257 transgenic lines inoculated with the ringspot
"virus from Florida, 48 appeared to be immune or highly
resistant to the virus," Davis said. "We now seek to enhance
commercial papaya production in the Caribbean region
by producing papaya-breeding lines with the resistance to
Of the 48 lines that were very resistant, 24 were selected
for further study. "We're just about ready to get our first
fruit, and then we will test to see how resistant the progeny 0
are," Davis said.
Once the researchers have determined that the resistance Y
is inherited, Davis said the next step will be to use a pro-
cedure called backcrossingg" to try to introduce the trait Plantpathology Professor Mike Davis is working to develop varieties of
for resistance to the virus into other commercially farmed papaya that are resistant to thepapaya ringspot virus.
"The backcrossing will probably take five to six years," Litz said that in addition to their historical importance,
Davis said. "We are cooperating with the University of cycads, such as the sable palm, are prized as ornamentals.
Puerto Rico, which will be doing the back crosses because But he said many of the cycad species are on the verge of
it is warmer there and they can get more crossing cycles in extinction, and one type of cycad from Central America has
less extinction, and one type of cycad from Central America has
disappeared from the wild.
"One species of cycad was discovered in Central America
Saving Plant Species in 1986 or '87 and there were only 30 individual plants
Cloned animals have been making headlines, from found," Litz said. "When researchers returned three or four
Dolly the sheep to the recent set of piglets. But genetic years ago, there were no plants left.
techniques have much broader applications, say Homestead- "However, the original discoverers had taken three or
based researchers who are working to save plant species from four plants back to a botanical garden in Mexico," he said.
extinction. "We have used pieces of leaves and we have been able to
"We are working on a method of cloning very ancient regenerate this species from leaves, and have thousands of
plants called cycads," said Richard Litz, a fruit biotechnology plants in the laboratory. We have rescued this species from
specialist. "They're very primitive evergreens. They are the extinction."
earliest, most primitive of all the plants that date back to Bruce Schaffer, firstname.lastname@example.org
the Jurassic." Mike Davis, email@example.com
Yuncong Li, Yunli@gnv.ifas.ufl.edu
Richard Litz, firstname.lastname@example.org
Spring 2000 17
''j -m ,
lJ~~t be' th]iiale mosii N ltq unspoilned prt of th S+outhK
With thme Ee,,a rglads to the not an th Keysm to the ,-m
protect from, the. urban. maelstrm.+ Manroe lin its.
shore an getl breze ripl th waer in a rsticn
rarely fund nowin te at fFoia
Bueo it plci sufae th ba isindcne S ea-
grss bed ar dyng levn main anml hoees The
ma- sign of lif is a loe lif fomnaghtfot
on th sSrfaceS.
"The sea rass University of Florida algae researcher Ed Phlips says the
"g algae blooms perpetuate the decline of the bay by blocking
beds support sunlight the seagrass beds and seaweed need for photosynthe-
sis. And as the seagrass beds die off, the marine animals that
sponges use them for nurseries also will disappear.
But the algae are a symptom of Florida Bay's decline, not
and provide a the cause. Florida Bay's problems, Phlips said, began with a
lack of water.
nursery ground for For hundreds of years, fresh water coursed through the
Everglades' River of Grass, spilling into Florida Bay and
lobster, shrimp, mixing with sea water, to reach a delicate mix of fresh and
salt water just right to nurture sponges, lobsters, fish of all
snook and other kinds and lush beds of seagrass to harbor the sea creatures.
t fi In the last century, however, the Everglades has had little
Sport fish. water to spare as the River of Grass has seen its water
Ed Phlips diverted to other uses. Florida Bay is suffering, like the
Everglades on which it depends, from a lack of fresh water.
Florida Bay, it seems, is dying of thirst.
As the desirable species decline, a species of algae called
Synechococcus has gained a fierce hold on the bay, said
Phlips, an associate professor with UF's Institute of Food and
P [.... b m like d,i oe .'bie a at l i ,,I p l i',,, E: cig/l.,,e
A t'tn nal PR1 a.I,, ; ,o, lv t1t',f, ar, u',. ,1 ld iLo e t,',/
thfe E,'ig~ul,, d, ul, tm ',h,,afill. F/lw., i B.i .
S, .. . F---
Aided by a grant from the Florida Sea Grant College
Program, Phlips has been studying Florida Bay and its algae
blooms since 1993. He started out trying to find out what
the blooms were, how much area they covered, and what
He quickly identified the algae as Synechococcus and
found, uncharacteristically, that only one species of algae
was responsible for most of the bay's algae blooms. He also
determined that the blooms had the strongest hold on the
north-central region of Florida Bay, one of four ecological
zones. The area was 400 square kilometers, or one-fourth of .
the 1,600 kilometers of the bay.
Not so easy was determining the cause of the blooms. For
culprits, Phlips looked to water flow from the west coast of
Florida, anticipating that nutrient loading might be causing
the blooms. That theory was not supported, and he turned
"Historically, there has been sheet flow through the Kis-
simmee River Basin through the Everglades to Taylor Slough
and Florida Bay," Phlips said. "Now, little water is funneled
through Taylor Slough to the bay and this increases the salt Ed Phlips examines a core sample taken from
concentration. Salinity during drought periods, in fact, is the center ofFlorida Bay just south of Tin Can
higher than is normal for sea water. Channel.
"Salinity stresses the grasses, making them subject to
disease. When the grasses died, that provided nutrients, and
waters of the Keys. The blooms wash into coral reef areas,
Synechococcus took advantage of that," Phlips said. "It's
causing concern that they could harm the fragile reefs.
very salt tolerant, as much as any organism I've seen, so
Synechococcus quickly dominated." "The reefs of the keys are a unique habitat we don't want
The looms h e in pat beae Sne to lose," Phlips said. "Loss of the reef habitat may not be
The blooms have repeated in part because Synechococ-
e s he r d i p b 1 a global catastrophe, but it certainly would be a regional
cus, the most dominant organism on the planet, is so well- a global catastrophe, but it certainly would be a regional
adapted the b's nw evironm When starved for catastrophe. Florida derives billions from its tropical habitat,
adapted to the bay's new environment. When starved for r 1 i cic
S.so we're not talking chicken feed.
nutrients, the algae sink and sit on the bottom, soaking up
nutrients from the mud. When it is sufficiently renourished, Florida Bay has evolved and is now a restricted lagoon.
it becomes buoyant and the blooms reappear. With the algae blooms, many people would view the bay as
Now that his studies have shown that the algae are tap- suboptimall," Phlips says, but actually it is still very produc-
ping into the decayed seagrass beds and other organic matter
on the floor of the bay, Phlips said he would like to continue As an algal culture, Florida Bay ends up with a different
his research to find out how large the reserve of nutrients is. food web and risks losing some of the higher life forms
"The nutrntsnts itFloridians view as normal and natural for that ecosystem.
"The nutrients come from sediments deposited over hun-
dreds of years by the River of Grass and from the growth and And while Florida Bay would have evolved anyway,
die-off of the seagrass beds. How long will these reserves sup- people have hurried its evolution along.
port the algae blooms?" Phlips asks. "We feel there's enough "Ecosystems evolve naturally, but we, through road-
there to support the blooms for quite a long time." building, ditch-building and diversion of water, have created
an unnatural system," Phlips said.
Changing Ecosystem Returning Florida Bay to a more balanced state one
i oe with less hypersalinity would flush the system, leaving algae
In his four-year study, he found that seagrass beds did less time to bloom. Flushing the system, however, would
not rebound, even during periods when the algae wee dor- require replumbing the Everglades, a project Phlips' research
mant. And, unfortunately, the seagrass beds are the key to results support and which state and federal governments are
the recovery of the bay. funding.
"The seagrass beds support sponges and provide a nurs- "The role of this research is to provide information
ery ground for lobster, shrimp, snook and other sport fish," for good management of environmental resources. Water
Phlips said. "So there important both ecologically and eco- resources are a very valuable part of this state," Phlips said.
nomically." "Everything is tied to water quality, and this is an issue
While the blooms are concentrated in the north-central everybody should be concerned about."
region of the bay, they affect other parts of the bay and the Ed Phlips, email@example.com
Spring 2000 21
.... 4 -.'
Residents get help
buying homes in (ollier countyy
UF/IFAS Extension, banks and county government join forces to make dreams come true
By Serya Yesilcay
ne of the first things Cyndi and Bob Kelly
did when they bought their home was to paint
the front door a flamingo pink to match the
powderpuff blossoms in their front yard.
After Gavin Jones signed ownership papers for his
condo, he adopted two kittens something he could not
do as a renter.
Both Jones and the Kellys were able to buy their
! hhomes through a program that helps Collier County
residents with lower incomes achieve that goal.
But lower income takes on new meaning in a county
where the median income is $59,100, said Bonnie Fauls,
a Collier County extension agent with the University
of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences,
who helped start the program.
Qualifying for home loans also can be difficult, even
on a moderate income, when the median home price is
$205,000 and affordable rent starts at $700, she said.
Enter the Collier County Home Loan Program, a
consortium of 10 banks, the UF/IFAS Extension Service
and county government, established to provide assistance
for those who couldn't otherwise afford to buy homes.
Participating banks work together with the extension
service to help applicants qualify for homeownership,
said Nancy Merolla, vice president for community rein-
vestment and community compliance manager at Com-
erica Bank Florida.
"We require every borrower to attend a homebuying
workshop presented by the extension service," she said,
"so we feel comfortable that they have some training
on budgeting and they understand the importance of
making a mortgage payment and how to maintain a
home once they're in it."
The role of the extension service is to help potential
owners with topics from loan applications to assistance
in what to look for in a home, Fauls said.
"We just don't put people in homes and walk away.
We give them the prepurchase education and try to teach
them as much as possible," she said.
Sitting in their new living room, surrounded by
stacks of toys, the Kellys agreed their involvement with
the program was a huge learning experience. "It was
tough even when we did qualify," said Mr. Kelly. "There
were other costs, like for the title, appraisal, inspection
we found out it was quite possible to have obstacles
all along the way."
Spring 2000 23
"Jones is transportation planning manager for Collier
County. Until he moved to Naples from Canada, he hadn't
"even considered becoming a homeowner. But being in a
lower income bracket here actually helped him qualify for
assistance, he said. Drawing his living room curtains to reveal
a poolside view framed by palm trees, he showed the pride
wI of ownership.
"This is a good location and it has all the amenities," he
said. "The amount I paid in rent was almost the same, to the
S penny, to what I pay now including tax and condo fee."
Borrowers have been more likely to qualify and keep
their expenses low thanks to adjustments banks made in
E their application guidelines, Merolla said. "We waived a lot
S of our fees, expanded the debt ratio to allow people with
e lower incomes to still qualify," she said. "We also relax our
Requirements for credit ratings so applicants can have a few
Nancy Merolla, left, and Bonnie Fauls have worked together fom the credit delinquencies with letters of explanation.
"start ofthe program to ensure smooth cooperation among participating "We just try to be more flexible overall than for someone
banks and the extension service, who just walked in to a bank," she said.
Actually, those who qualify don't even have to walk into
But they also had good help, Mrs. Kelly said. Marcy a bank, Merolla said. "The borrowers deal with the extension
Krumbine, outreach coordinator for housing at the extension service from the minute they make a phone call or express
service, walked them through the process with more faith their interest in buying a home, all the way to the closing
than they themselves had at times, she said. "She really kept process.
on top of things more than we ever did ourselves. She would Jones was able to complete his whole application from
always call us and check in," Mrs. Kelly said. "We feel very his desk. "I called in and then applied by mail," he said.
lucky to know Marcy." "The turnaround time for them to get my case rolling was
Krumbine teaches the workshops and also meets with cli- a day." Krumbine then went to his office to help fill out his
ents individually, along with another Spanish-speaking coor- final documents.
dinator. For others, the process can take time, Krumbine said.
"I tell people our program is a best-kept secret," she "We've had several people with really bad credit issues, where
said. "I'll meet with them at their office; or like tonight, I'm my mind would say 'no way,' but I'd tell them 'this is
meeting with somebody at the Central Library to prequalify what you need to do.' I have seen people turn around and
them." accomplish this huge task."
Since the program began in 1996, 315 residents have Soon after moving to Naples, it became apparent to the
become homeowners. "Our goal for the first year was to Kellys that the only way they could afford to buy a home
finalize 20 loans, but we ended up securing 78," Fauls said. would be through the loan program. Mrs. Kelly had left a
"The program clearly answered a need by targeting working job as computer systems analyst to have more time for her
people who can't afford the price of a home, like teachers, children and become a foster mother. Even with her husband
deputies basically, the working class." working, they soon found themselves facing the prospect of
becoming a lower-income household, she said.
"It takes discipline to adjust to being in the lower-income
Outreach coordinator Marcy Krumbine, right, helped the Kellys with bracket here," Mr. Kelly said, "but then the quality of life is
their loan applications and home buying education, providing a way much better we are now able to live in a safe, older and
for them to afford their new Naples home. established neighborhood."
E Thanks to the loan program, they also were able to save
on certain expenses most home buyers have, like being able
to waive private mortgage insurance, he said. "We saved on
having to pay up to $100 a month for nine years; that
would've added up."
So far, all partners agree the Collier County Loan Pro-
gram has been a success, bringing together extension, county
government and banks in a unique collaboration. "The
extension service has really helped connect potential clients
to the banks," Fauls said, and they have received a lot of
-,A .inquiries about the program.
"While other Florida counties do have programs for UF's resources and that entails a much broader menu than
homebuyer education or bank loan consortium, this is the we had realized.
only one I know of where the extension service helps bring "Now we are trying to see how we can work with the
together both the educational and financial components," extension service to meet more real life issues," Olliff said.
Merolla said. It couldn't be more real life for the Kellys, who moved
Demographics ultimately determine what programs to in to their home just before Christmas. "It was very special
use, but this would be a good working example for other for all of us," said Mrs. Kelly, hugging one of her foster sons.
counties with similar issues, said Tom Olliff, public services "We'd love to live here forever."
administrator for Collier County. Bonnie Fauls, firstname.lastname@example.org
Utilizing the educational expertise of UF/IFAS extension
was only the start of new cooperation, he said. "The exten-
sion service has generally been thought of as a branch imple-
menting traditional programs, but it really is an outreach of Bob and Cyndi Kelly enjoy being owners ofa home big enough to raise
Milt Putnam their own children and their foster kids.
~:~~;~f~~:~I.~L~~j~i,...,.l~ :IB:,"~ I
k.j ' liisci
5 .,... ." i
Rebuilding a Community:
One 4-H Garden at a Time
By Ami Neiberger
Assistant Dean for 4-Il
Damon Miller gives Marta-
vis Godwin a hand with .
"H ow big is a tree when it begins? Not a tough
question for the army of pint-sized gardeners
waiting to tackle their latest project as they marched pn
off the yellow school bus. The exuberant kindergartners
and first-graders from the Joseph Little Nguzo Saba Charter
School fell into formation and were ready to pick up their 0 il
trowels and go to war.
The battleground is their own neighborhood the Tama- Martavis Godwin, Assistant Dean for 4-H Damon Miller, Lydia
rind Park area in West Palm Beach. It's a neighborhood Fagan, Daeika Charles and Francis Gibson Coffieldprepare to plant
rind Park area in West Palm Beach. It's a neighborhood pottedplants.
overrun by crime, where drug dealers loiter on street corners
and tempt children coming home from school.
The effort to rebuild the area is uniting the very young Bennie Herring grew up in the neighborhood and
and the very old in a 4-H community gardening project. left a successful military career 11 years ago to become
"I like to dig," said Camra Alexis, 6, as she dug a hole executive director of TRUTHS (Truth, Responsibility, Unity,
with Willie Saul, 5. They carefully checked the hole for Training, Hope and Success Inc.). The organization is
buried treasure, just in case, before placing a bush inside. working to revitalize the community. It recently co-spon-
They were watched over by Francis Gibson Coffield, a retiree scored the "Neighbor
who is young at heart. Helping Neighbor"
project with more "It has an
"It has an intergenerational component, allowing kids than 100 volunteers
to spend time with an older generation and find common from Temple Israel.
interests," said Kim Coldicott, 4-H agent in Palm Beach The neighbors helped intergenerational
County. "Kids don't get the opportunity to do that often." fix up some of thetergenerat nal
fix up some of the
Senior citizens will be paired with children to work on houses belonging to
their plots together in the garden. Gardening is educational elderly residents, component,
for kids, said Coldicott. "We believe that gardening is a cleaned up the neigh-
hands-on way to teach kids about their connection to nature borhood, and pre- allowing kids to
and science." pared the 4-H garden
Not to mention that it's fun. "It's important for children for further develop- s t
to play while they are learning," said Damon Miller, assistant ment. Spend time with an
dean for 4-H youth development programs at the University Herring was on-
of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. site getting the youth older generation
"Hands-on learning can really make education come alive for excited about garden-
them. Of course, a little imagination helps, too." ing. "People can do and find common
And gardening is good for seniors, too. "Working in the something for them-
garden gives me strength," said Coffield, a spry lady with selves if given the
plenty of get-up-and-go at 75. The garden will be named opportunity," said interests.
after her because she has devoted her life to caring for Herring. After doing Damon Miller
children in the community. their planting for the
A few people might think retirement is a time for relax- day, he sent the U 14
ing, but not Coffield. "I live a full life today. I think it's grubby kindergartners
important to teach children what the ground can do for home with plants, so
them." She's not alone in her sentiment. Many of the adults they can watch them* *
involved in the project have lived in the community for more grow and talk about
than 20 years and are working hard to revive it. the project with their 0^ r
parents. Ti O
Spring 2000 27
He says that many children never get out of the inner city to see nature, and the most
rewarding thing about the 4-H project is seeing a child's face light up when a seedling
comes out of the ground.
That will be reinforced with educational programs. There will be contests for the best
vegetables and flowers. A butterfly garden and sitting area are planned. Coldicott says that
the extension office will do a weekly educational program with the youth and seniors. -
Ironically, the garden sits on land where a house was bulldozed after its tenants were
evicted for drug activity and the land was taken by the city. It now belongs to Habitat
for Humanity Palm Beach County, which is leasing the land to the group for $1 a
year. Habitat has committed to building 10 houses in the neighborhood as part of the
Organizers say that community gardening does far more than teach children where *
food comes from, although that is important. Community gardens can restore a sense
of civic pride and rebuild shattered community linkages, said Cara Jennings, Palm Beach
County 4-H program assistant in community gardening. '
Residents have lived in fear of crime for so long that they are afraid to go outside
sometimes, said B. Carleton Bryant, chair of the Black Citizens Coalition and a retired
college professor who lives near the garden.
That attitude is changing thanks to community efforts, according to Bryant. "We will
raise our voices and say we won't take any more of the crime and drugs. Not any more,"
said Bryant. "This project will enhance the community so people can get something out "IOU Io
Will the retired professor be working in the garden with the kindergartners? He v
chuckled and said, "I was the child of migrant farm workers. I think I still have a green
thumb or two left. I guess you do return to your roots." n O
Thomas Wright Damon Miller, email@example.com
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By teaching the Hispanic population how to eat better
and have higher nutritional standards, the program helps
them lead healthier lives, said Sandra Canales, food and
nutrition program coordinator at the University of Florida's
Miami-Dade County Cooperative Extension Service.
"We target a lot of families with children, because we
know they are the ones who will make the difference," she
said. "We also work with pregnant women and teens to
implement healthy eating habits from the start."
The program has really helped change food patterns and
behaviors, said Linda Cook, coordinator of UF's Expanded
Food and Nutrition Education Program.
Program assistants Luz Vasquez, left, and "The Dade County Hispanic unit works with around
Sonia Garcia, join coordinator Sandra 2,500 families a year to improve eating habits," she said.
Canales, center, to discuss nutrition and And that means reaching another 8,000 or so family
better eating habits with their class. members through the participants.
4The program has served many
people since 1983, but it really
"isn't enough, Canales said.
"We really only reach a
"minimum number, because of
"We just do not have the
manpower to do enough."
.. Nor do they get adequate
funding to sustain this and other
similar programs around Florida,
Cook said. "The program is
I .mostly federally funded with lim-
"ited state and county funding.
"Federal dollars have not
increased in the past ten years,
and unfortunately there is more
emphasis on special initiatives
instead of continuing programs
like this one," she said.
Ultimately, the families they
help are the ones that lose the
most through all the cuts, Canales
said. A high percentage of them
receive federal food assistance or
other forms of aid, and the pro-
gram has especially been effective
in turning that assistance into
good nutrition, she said.
"Our focus has been to com-
plement other food assistance
programs, which provide the
physical help; but we give them
the education to wisely spend that
4 Working with other agencies
is an important component of the
program and also helps them find
potential clients, Canales said.
"We target agencies they already
use, like Food Stamps, which pro-
vides the actual food dollars, and we
can tell them what to buy to have
a balanced meal; or Women, Infants
and Children, which gives vouchers,
and we inform clients about proper
They also go to clinics where
people receive other services, Canales .
said. "Then they can also learn about
better nutrition and what to eat to be
Since 53 percent of the pop-
ulation is Hispanic, teaching very
often becomes bilingual, Canales
said. "Our books, materials are all
bilingual, and even if there is one
non-Spanish speaker in a class, we go
over everything in two languages."
Clients need to complete a 10-to-
12-lesson course on food and nutri- Sandra Canales speaks to a nutrition class.
tion, usually over several months, taught by UF/IFAS
extension agents and volunteers.
They then earn certificates which many even use during
job searches, Canales said. "For many, these are the only certificates
"These are low-income people, with maybe a sixth grade they have ever gotten, and we hear success stories
education at most, and for many of them, a certificate from a of how they have found jobs as a result.
university is very important. "They just really improve their lives and
"So they take the program very seriously." sense of well-being overall," she said.
Cook agreed. "It is interesting to go back to some homes But it will become even more difficult to
of clients after a year and see the certificates hanging on sustain programs when federal partners have not
their walls. indicated any hope for future funding, Canales
said, and they will probably have to keep cutting
manpower and resources to continue their pro-
"W e target a lot "If this were a one time deal, we could have
reached more people, but with a series of pro-
grams we really target a much more in-depth
of families with kind of learning," she said.
In depth and personal if students miss a
children, because class, instructors will either go to their homes
or stay after class to repeat the lessons, Canales
we know they are All that effort takes time and money, but
Canales does not lose hope.
the ones who will "One of our agents who has been around for
29 years would always say how scared they were
make the every year that funding would be cut.
"But now she is retiring, and laughs it off,
difference." saying, 'If it has been around this long, you don't
have to worry any more.'
"I hope she's right!"
Sandra Canales Sandra Canales, firstname.lastname@example.org
Linda Cook, email@example.com
Environmental educators will get better
opportunities to address Florida's issues
through UF/IFAS program
T he next time you attend a work- reach a much larger audience and maxi-
shop on Florida's environment, you mize returns from our investment in
"might be able to learn from a real mas- this program," Main said.
ter-a Florida Master Naturalist, to be Educating people to make the most
exact. of Florida is crucial, especially now,
Ecotourism operators and wildlife when the threats to conservation are
managers alike have expressed needs for so big. Urbanization and tourism have
more structured education, leading to both affected Florida's natural habitat, =
the creation of the Florida Master Natu- he said. r
ralist Program, spearheaded by a Uni- "Even ecotourism, with a 30 percent
versity of Florida researcher. growth per year, can become a threat
"One of the reasons I wanted to do to the environment," Main said. "For disconnected series of speakers -- on
this program was to learn more myself," example, disturbing colonies of nesting bats one year, on butterflies another," he
"said Martin Main, wildlife ecologist wading birds or eagle nests would not said.
with UF's Institute of Food and Agri- be practices we want ecotour operators "By developing program materials
cultural Sciences. But the main incen- to engage in, even if unintentionally." and format, training efforts will be fairly
tive was the lack of qualified people to To prevent such practices, master consistent among instructors, which is
present accurate information, he said. naturalists would train in environmen- important from a potential employer's
Until now. The Florida Master Nat- tal ethics as well, he said. perspective," Main said. "This way,
uralist Program being developed by Although there are some small instructors can follow a guided path
Main and professionals at other envi- groups that do very well at training while adding their own expertise as
ronmental institutions, will help train their employees, guides and volunteers, well."
qualified environmental instructors, most of existing environmental training That path will include teaching
"By training environmental educa- depends on the work of one person, about Florida's freshwater, upland and
tion professionals as Florida Master Main said. That can be difficult to sus- coastal ecosystems to employees, vol-
Naturalist Program instructors, we can tain, when most attempts "bring in a unteers, ecotour operators, and other
interested persons. Three different
S-- teaching modules will have 40 con-
Stact-hours each, including 16 classroom
l hours, 18 hours in the field, and a
i six-hour supervised practicum where
students will have supervised practice
presenting information to tour groups.
Martin said the program's evolution
was helped by a collaborative funding
effort: a recent $91,190 grant from the
Florida Advisory Council in Environ-
Martin Main stresses the importance of edu-
cating people to make the most ofFlorida,
especially when urbanization and tourism are
rapidly becoming threats to its environment.
New educational program to target
natural resource issues in South Florida
She Florida Earth Project is almost cover all aspects of South Florida's nat-
Sready for take-off, and participants ural resources environment, Bronson
can look forward to exploring South said. Topics of study will cover a survey
Florida's major natural resource issues of the region, its agriculture, the South
on location. Florida Water Management District,
With an outdoor setting to experi- natural systems, development and resto-
ence real-life conservation issues, par- ration.
ticipants will get to apply theoretical Although South Florida is of pri-
"knowledge or learn more on topics mary concern, Bronson said the topics
out of their areas of expertise, said relate to other geographic areas and
Stan Bronson, an extension agent for could thus attract students from diverse
h the University of Florida's Institute of backgrounds. "Florida students from
"Food and Agricultural Sciences, who natural resources, agriculture or envi-
also works on agricultural and natural ronmental engineering can apply," he
resources policy. "We want to turn the said, "but we want the program to
Everglades into a classroom laboratory." be transferable. Someone from Duke
"Along with the Everglades to pro- should be able to come, or someone
Wildlife ecologist Martin Main envisions the vide a perfect setting, Florida uni- from a South American university-
Master Naturalist program as a way to protect versities, government agencies, private they can see things that those countries
Floridas environment through intensive edu- industry and non-governmental institu- will be dealing with 20 to 30 years from
cation for ecotourism professionals. tions have agreed to offer their exper- now.
tise. In Florida, the project already has
mental Education; $12,000 from e "The Earth Project will provide a brought together more than 30 part-
Southwest Florida Council on Envi- hands-on chance for learning on agri- ners, including UF's Center for Natural
ronment Education Inc., along with a culture, politics and environment in the Resources, the South Florida Water
UF Extension Enhancement Award for Everglades area-from water manage- Management District, non-governmen-
another $4,000. ment policies to a chance to see first- tal organizations including the National
fo st ni essihand what farmers are doing to work in Audubon Society, agricultural compa-
The first training session is planned the Everglades area and enhance its con- nies and other private industry. "Interest
for early 2001, following the devel- servation," said Mitch Flinchum, Dis- in the project was very high from the
opment of the wetlands module. But trict 5 coordinator for the UF/IFAS start," Bronson said. Classes will start
interest is already high, Main said. "We Extension Service. in July, just a year after the initial idea
have a big group of people who are will- originated.
ing to teach and others chomping at the The project will be open to uni-
bit to start the program. People want versity students, professionals from gov- Applications will be accepted start-
to be able to say Tve taken the neces- ernment agencies and private industry. ing in April. For more information,
sary training, and it comes from UE"' Teaching will include guest lectures, check http://earthproject.ifas.ufl.edu
rOther cooperators include Florida seminars and field experience through or contact Bronson at (561) 233-1724.
Gulf Coast University, professional eco six separate teaching modules to allow Stan Bronson, firstname.lastname@example.org
tourism operators, and the National instructors to give a comprehensive -Serya Yesilcay
Audubon Society Corkscrew Swamp view on different issues, Bronson said.
Sanctuary. Although the whole course will take
For more information, visit three to four weeks to complete, partici-
www.masternaturalist.com or contact pants also will be able to take the mod-
Martin Main at (941) 658-3400 at the ules separately. This will help address
Southwest Florida Research and Educa- the needs of both extension education
tion Center in Immokalee. and academia, he said. "You can look at
it both as a university component and
Martin Main, email@example.com for professionals, to educate the part-
-Serya Yesilcay ners themselves."
Taken as a whole, the modules will
Spring 2000 33
Silicon gets the respect it deserves
Wc en it comes to plant nutrients, sili- research group. The UF group, which
con is finally getting the respect it recently won the prestigious UF/IFAS
deserves, thanks to a group of University Interdisciplinary Research Award, is cur-
"of Florida scientists whose breakthrough rently engaged in collaborative work with
research has demonstrated the importance soil scientists and plant pathologists from
of this element in world agriculture. Brazil, Colombia, India and Russia.
"Until now, this element has always Out of the UF group effort has come
befuddled people because plant nutrition- a calibrated soil test for silicon, now one
ists have never considered it essential," of the most requested tests conducted
said Lawrence Datnoff, professor of plant by the Everglades REC. A rapid method
pathology with the UF's Institute of Food for assessing the silicon content of plant
and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS). tissue also has been developed, and it is
He said new findings by a group of now being used by a number of private
scientists at the Everglades Research and laboratories.
Education Center (REC) in Belle Glade Datnoff said the UF research group
show this element can boost crop yields, revealed that silicon has great potential E
reduce the need for expensive fungicides for being incorporated into an integrated
and improve plant resistance to some pest management program for managing t
diseases. Datnoff said silicon has been diseases such as blast. The group also .
used successfully in Florida on rice and demonstrated that yields may be increased Lawrence Datnoff, plant pathologist at the
sugarcane for many years and has been without further genetic improvements. Everglades Research and Education Center in
"reported to improve production on other These yield increases are associated with Belle Glade, examines riceplants in a green-
crops ranging from citrus and strawberries silicon increasing grain set (sexual fertil- house.
to tomatoes and cucurbits. ity) more than any other biomass compo-
"For me, as a plant pathologist, to nent. rice yields, controlling blast and other dis-
see what silicon does for disease control "We have found that silicon can ben- eases, potential grain discoloration, insect
is just phenomenal," he said. "It doesn't efit plant growth through greater yields in management, reduced phosphorus appli-
just control one disease, it controls several rice while improving the sugar content in cations and liming costs. Total extra net
diseases. You can better manage your fun- sugarcane," Datnoff said. "Silicon can be returns from the silicon application, using
gicide applications, reduce the number very useful, especially when these plants the yield-cost-price structure assumed for
of applications or maybe eliminate them are under stress. Silicon may enhance South Florida, amounts to a total of
altogether." soil fertility, improve soil physical proper- $349.39 per hectare. This figure encom-
Datnoff and other researchers at the ties, improve disease and pest resistance, passes a comprehensive although con-
Everglades REC have demonstrated that increase photosynthesis, regulate evapo- servative total benefit that resulted
the residual effects of this element one transpiration, increase tolerance to toxic from silicon research conducted in differ-
year later provide effective disease control elements such as aluminum and manga- ent ecosystems in Florida, Colombia and
comparable to the application of fungi- nese and reduce frost damage." other parts of the world.
cides. Because of UF research, many insti- These and other research findings
"We also found this element could tutions in the United States (University were discussed by 90 scientists and
enhance control of the two most impor- of Arkansas, University of Georgia, Lou- industry personnel from around the
tant rice diseases in the world-blast isiana State University, North Carolina world at the Silicon in Agriculture Con-
(Magnaporthaegriesa) and sheath blight State University, Rutgers University) and ference in September 1999 in Fort Lau-
(Thanatephorus cucumeris)," he said. "In other countries (Australia, Brazil, Colom- derdale. The program included speakers
the case of rice cultivars that are partially bia, Philippines, South Africa, Thailand, from Australia, Brazil, Canada, Colom-
resistant to these diseases, the use of sili- Venezuela, Vietnam) are now implement- bia, Japan, Korea, Netherlands, New Zea-
con makes them almost completely resis- ing this approach or studying its feasi- land, Russia, South Africa and the United
tant. ability in rice and other crops, including States.
Other faculty at the Everglades REC fescue, rye, sugarcane and wheat. Conse- The conference was organized by
working with Datnoff are George Snyder, quently, this UF research has not only Datnoff, Snyder and Gaspar Korndorfer,
distinguished professor of soil science; helped local and national rice growers, professor of soil science at the Univer-
Jose Alvarez, professor of agricultural eco- but has helped rice and other types of sidade Federal de Uberlandia in Brazil.
nomics; and Christopher Deren, professor growers around the world. Sponsors included the UF and U.S.
of agronomy/breeding. Thomas Kucha- The UF researchers summarized the Department of Agriculture.
rek, professor of plant pathology at UF per-hectare benefits (gross revenues) of Lawrence Datnoff, firstname.lastname@example.org
in Gainesville, is also working with the using silicon minus costs from increased -Chuck Woods
New educational resources from the The Butterfly
Gardening ID Decks
I FAS/Extension Bookstore UF/IFAS Communication Services
with UF Department ofEntomology
Landscaping for Florida's Author Jaret Daniels, an avid lepi- andNematology
Wildlife Video Series dopterist, persuaded his household to Can you tell a Tiger swallowtail
UF/IFAS Communication Services allow their garage to become a butterfly male from a dark-form female? Can
with UFDepartment ofWildlife farm and raised many of the creatures you tell a Banded hairstreak from a
Ecology and Conservation pictured in the book. The full-color Great purple hairstreak? From the pho-
oe S e co- photographs, all taken by him, show tographic collection of butterfly expert
Joe Schaefer, co- butterflies, the caterpillars from which Jaret Daniels comes the ultimate,
Snd author of Land- they develop, nectar plants, host plants pocket-sized butterfly reference.
n scraping for Florida's and garden designs. Of special interest Over 50 species of butterflies and
this new video is a section on conservation that de- caterpillars spring to larger-than-life in
trilogy "Providing scribes how individuals can act locally this splendid, full-color identification
trilogy, "Providing to improve the quality and biodiversity deck, perfect for use in the garden, in
Water" and "Provid- of their environment. the field, or in the classroom. Use it to
ing Cover," as a companion piece to his Daniels is the former manager of inspire the minds of future entomolo-
popular publication on backyard eco- Boender Endangered Species Labora- gists, or enjoy privately in your back-
systems. tory at the University of Florida, yard butterfly garden.
St s Gainesville. He has written extensively Available April2000.
With the same simple step-by-step on butterflies and other beneficial
format of the book, these videos insects in such publications as Fine
illustrate in living color the methods Gardening, American Butterflies, and Educational Resource
for providing food, water and shelter Tropical Lepidoptera. For the past nine Information
to wildlife encountered in backyards years he has worked on the ecology Educational resources produced by
throughout Florida. These videos are and conservation of several endangered IFAS, including those co-published
available individually or as a set, and and threatened butterfly species in with University Press of Florida, are
can be used as supplements to extension Florida and the Caribbean, including available from the IFAS/Extension
programs or enjoyed independently by the Schaus swallowtail. Daniels is cur- Bookstore (formerly IFAS Publications)
the Florida homeowner. rently the curator oflepidoptera for located in Building 440, Mowry Road,
Available April 2000. Butterfly Kingdom Conservatory in on the University of Florida campus.
Hilton Head, S.C. To access the UF/IFAS catalog of
Your Florida Guide to Available June 2000. educational resources and order form,
Butterfly Gardening: visit the IFAS Communication Services
A Guide for the Deep South Your Florida Guide to website at http://ics.ifas.ufl.edu/
e C D e, P. B rfl G de o ForSaleResources. Please call 1-800-
Jaret C. Daniels, Ph.D. Butterfly Gardening Video 226-1764 to place VISA and Mas-
Co-published by UF/IFAS UF/IFAS Communication Services terCard orders; or fax orders to
Communication Services and This instructional video was 352-392-2628.
University Press ofFlorida designed as a companion piece to the
The book, the Your Florida Guide to Butterfly Gar- IFAS Communication Services is
LORIDA third in the popular dening book. looking for Florida Cooperative
L,,DE Your Florida Guide Butterfly expert Jaret Daniels will Extension Service offices interested
UTTERFLY series, offers a thor- teach you how to create your own but- in representing the IFAS Extension
liARININCl ough look at Floridas terfly paradise. You'll be treated to a Bookstore, formerly IFAS Publica-
SG most important but- sampling of exquisite butterfly gardens tions, at trade shows and profes-
terflies and the plants from all over Florida, learn about the sional meetings for the purpose of
"they prefer for food, butterfly life cycle, and see the step- selling educational resources pro-
shelter and egg laying, by-step process that will turn your land- duced by the Institute of Food and
The guide helps you select plants scape into a haven for butterflies. Agricultural Sciences at UF Dis-
for a yard where butterflies can live counts off the retail price for bulk
and return year after year. It includes This video is perfect for use in counts o e retail price or uk
pand return year after yeay r.one n extension and classroom programming purchases are now available. Please
planting diagrams easy one-day con- as well as by the individual butterfly contact Eva Squires, Marketing/
trainer projects and full garden layouts enthusiast. For-Sales Coordinator, at
designed for each of Florida's three 352-392-2411, or email
major growing zones, as well as designs Available June 2000. email@example.com.
suitable for the Deep South.
Spring 2000 35
SFLORIDA NON-PROFIT ORG.
L..... F ... A, ... ..S U.S. POSTAGE PAID
Vice President for Agriculture and Natural Resources PERMIT NO. 540
The University of Florida GAINESVILLE, FL
Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences
P.O. Box 110180
Gainesville, FL 32611-0180
and researh assistant, KarenWillIams open a pip underneathanelev fpoIt
that Iir can measure how] nItrofil through IlayeIrs IIII I I I mentI allow
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