Measuring the Economic and Educational Value of a University-Based Service-Learning Floral and Plant Program
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A university faculty-managed and student-run service-learning program provides seasonal plants and floral designs for holidays and special events on campus. Native and well-adapted plants for client personal use are also promoted and sold throughout the semester. Students propagate and grow greenhouse and nursery crops and create floral designs through service-learning applications in classes. Floral designs and greenhouse/nursery products are advertised via e-mail to members of the university's faculty and staff. The purpose of this study was to document program fundraising over time, as well as to measure the experiential value to the students and the quality of life benefits to the campus community. Economic benefits were evaluated by reviewing overall and average costs and earnings from the program over a 13-year period. Results indicated the average profits for the program were $6578 annually, with most sales occurring during the late spring semester. Surveys collected qualitative data from students participating in the program and indicated the experience was a valuable hands-on horticultural teaching tool, but also helped students build confidence, learn business skills in management and networking, and find their passion within the industry. Unsolicited comments from faculty and staff found that the program brought joy, had educational value, and provided a service to departments.