Search for Excellence in Consumer or Commercial Horticulture

Jennifer Fishburn
Extension Educator, Horticulture
University of Illinois Extension

Black, B. J.*1, , Fishburn, J.*2, , Haynes, C. L.*3, , Smith, M. A.*4,
1 Horticlutre Eduator, University of Illinois Extension, Sterling, IL, 61081
2 Extension Educator, Horticulture, University of Illinois Extension, Springfield, IL, 62707
3 Horticulture Specialist, Associate Professor, Iowa State University, Ames, IA, 50011
4 Extension Educator, Horticulture, University of Illinois Extension, Milan, IL, 61264

The purpose of this bi-state (Illinois & Iowa) educational collaboration was to provide educational gardening programming opportunities during Covid-19 while building a partnership between Illinois and Iowa Extension. Gardening in the Air (GITA) allowed us to provide popular garden days virtually at a time when large groups could not meet. A follow-up survey of 479 fall participants provided us with positive survey responses and ideas for additional sessions. Survey responses led to offering winter sessions with extended beaks to 1,385 people. Compiling all the follow-up open-ended surveys (n=815), 80% reported learning something new, and 75% referred to specific learning/knowledge gain.  All but two sessions were recorded, closed captioned then uploaded to YouTube for the registrants to view later. Following the great success of these programs, a 5-month survey was sent to fall participants to measure their changes for the 2021 gardening season due to GITA. From the 5-month (n=149), 32.3% plan to use the information to do something differently, 17.7% are more confident in making gardening decisions, and 16.6% did something new/made a change in their garden. While adapting to Covid-19, our fiscal prudence allowed us to save $15,226 in travel expenses, in addition we did not incur facilities rental fees. Our Illinois-Iowa Extension partnership grew to include partnerships with University of Minnesota, University of Tennessee and Western Illinois University. Due to the success of this program, we are planning a fall 2021 session.