Charlotte County FFL Training a Success
With thanks to Charlotte County Extension Director Ralph E. Mitchell
Each year, Tom Becker with the UF/IFAS Charlotte County Extension Service conducts Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ (FFL) training for all the county's Master Gardener trainees. Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ is a key, overarching concept that guides not only horticultural decision-making, but also recommendations to the public.
Trainees are given an approximate three-hour classroom training, immediately followed by a site visit for assessment at a local Master Gardener veteran's yard. To document knowledge increase in the 14 Master Gardener trainees, a standard pre-test was administered. After the classroom session and site visit—which showed minimal environmental impacts to a canal in nearby Charlotte Harbor Preserve State Park—a post-test was conducted to determine the trainees' understanding of the FFL concepts and practices.
The pre-test scores averaged 76%, and a significant increase was documented when trainees were re-tested later that same day with an average of 92%. The greatest gains in knowledge and understanding were noted in three areas: (1) selecting plants specific for their location, (2) properly applying fertilizer, and (3) maintaining their landscapes in order to reduce stormwater runoff.
Capping off the successful day, one Master Gardener said, "This training was exactly what I needed to move forward with installing my own Florida-Friendly yard."