December 1998 // Volume 36 // Number 6 // Tools of the Trade // 6TOT2

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Community Interest Survey to Plan Utah Botanical Center

A community interest survey provided valuable information in planning a new educational Botanical Center. Master Gardener volunteers were vital in conducting the survey of 500 community residents. Survey participants favored a mix of continuing some existing Extension programs and adding new programs. New programs suggested included native and drought tolerant plants, water conservation, and reducing landscape maintenance costs and time. The survey showed public support for an entrance fee that was used exclusively for development of the Botanical Center.

Shawn Olsen
Davis County Extension Director
Utah State University
Farmington, Utah
Internet address:

Debbie Amundsen
Assistant Director
Utah Botanical Center
Farmington, Utah

Dave Anderson
Project Director, Utah Botanical Center
Utah State University
Logan, Utah

Stan Guy
Community Development Specialist
Utah State University Extension
Logan, Utah


Utah State University (USU) has operated the Utah Botanical Center (UBC) in Farmington since 1954. The seven-acre site is used for research and demonstrations on trees, shrubs, flowers, and vegetables. The UBC is a valuable resource for communities, schools, scout groups, garden clubs, and the general public in Davis County and the State of Utah. Due to expansion of adjacent U.S. Highway 89, the center is being relocated to a new site two miles away in Kaysville. The site is adjacent to an existing Agricultural Experiment Station Research Farm and Interstate Highway 15. The Kaysville site is considerably larger, approximately 94 total acres, and will provide much more space for botanical research and Extension programs.

Survey Methods

A planning team is developing a conceptual master plan for the Utah Botanical Center (UBC). The team felt that it was important to obtain input from the public regarding viewpoints, attitudes, and concerns about the development of the new facility. In initial planning, it was felt that one of the most important public groups to survey was the residents of Kaysville City where the UBC will be located.

Survey questions were developed by the UBC planning team with assistance the USU community development specialist. Kaysville City mayor wrote a cover letter explaining the purpose of the survey and encouraged citizen participation. Included with the survey was a map showing the location of the old and new sites. The survey included 11 questions and a place for comments and suggestions. Questions could be completed quickly by circling a number or providing a yes-no response.

Kaysville City has about 14,000 residents. For the city survey, it was decided to contact 500 homes. A random clustered sampling procedure (Dillman, 1978) was used to determine which homes to survey. The city map was divided into 777 grids, 500 feet square or the size of an average city block. A random number table was used to select 33 grids to survey. Forty Master Gardener volunteers and UBC staff members conducted the survey on two separate weekday evenings in October 1994. Survey takers were given a map of a grid with a cross hair marker in the center of the grid as a starting point. Surveyors then sampled the next 15 houses in a row where people were home.

In conducting the survey, a drop-off/pick-up technique was used to solicit a high response rate. Survey takers briefly explained plans for the new botanical center, left the survey and explained they would return after 30-to-45 minutes to collect the survey. Many people completed the survey within a few minutes and left the survey on their doorstep. Some people had questions about the survey and completed it after visiting briefly with survey takers when they returned. A total of 500 surveys were distributed. Of these, 465 surveys were completed for a response rate of 93%.

Results and Discussion

A total of 63% of the survey participants had visited the Farmington Botanical Center, meaning that a majority of participants were familiar with the existing botanical gardens and educational programs. The most frequent reasons for visiting were to obtain horticulture information/plant diagnosis and for leisure/picnic usage.

The following list includes activities that participants felt were important for the UBC in Kaysville to provide or continue to provide. These activities were listed as either "Very Important" or "Important" by more than 90% of the survey participants.

  • Providing plant information (literature, diagnostics)
  • Identification of plant materials
  • Community education
  • Demonstrations
  • Displays
  • Garden Tours
  • Workshops

Most of these activities had been conducted at the Farmington gardens. The emphasis on community education programs was a new program request. An interesting activity that was favored by 64% of the respondents was to continue and improve public fishing at the Kaysville site that includes four ponds.

The following specific landscape and horticultural displays were recommended by over 90% of survey participants:

  • Trees and shrubs
  • Annual and perennial plant materials
  • Plants for low maintenance
  • Reducing landscape maintenance costs
  • Reducing landscape maintenance time

The Farmington garden included trees, shrubs, perennials, and other plant material displays. The interest in low- maintenance plants and reducing landscape maintenance cost and time were new program requests.

Responses in the open comment section of the survey related mostly to the new Kaysville site. Some of the most frequent suggestions were:

  • Highway buffer enhancement
  • Improvement of the ponds for wildlife habitat
  • Place for public events
  • Eager to have botanical garden in Kaysville
  • Strong emphasis on conserving water through proper landscaping methods

The survey asked if participants would be in favor of an entrance fee to the Botanical Center, provided the money was used exclusively for the future development of the center. A total of 58% said yes, while 42% said no. Some suggested a reduced fee for children, scout groups, and so forth. Some said they would pay for educational information and tours but not for recreational use like walking or biking. Another person suggested a voluntary garden development contribution rather than an entrance fee.


The survey indicated strong support for the Botanical Center programs and for the new center to be located in Kaysville. Many excellent suggestions were received regarding the most important programs to continue and new programs to implement. A summary of the survey is included in the garden marketing plan being used to solicit funding. (A copy of the marketing plan is available upon request from the first author).

The Kaysville City survey was the first broad-based community in-put on planning the new Utah Botanical Center. The strong public support for a new and expanded UBC was an important factor for the planning team to continue their work and planning (Wright, 1998). This public support was demonstrated visibly later in 1996 and 1997 when over 1,200 community volunteers participated in two major cleanup projects at the Kaysville site. Governor Michael O. Leavitt and two county commissioners were among the volunteers.

Local community support of the UBC was an important factor in decisions by the state legislature to appropriate $700,000 over the last two years to the UBC. This money will be used to move valuable landscape plants from Farmington to Kaysville and begin construction on the new Utah Botanical Center. The survey also helped to develop the UBC mission that emphasizes sustainable urban landscapes, resource conservation, and environmental sensitivity (Utah Botanical Center, 1997).


Dillman, D. A. (1978). Mail and telephone surveys: The total design method. New York: John Wiley and Sons, Inc.

Utah Botanical Center.(1997). Promotional brochure. Utah State University.

Wright, G. J. (1998). Environmental topics recommended for educational programs at the Utah Botanical Center. Thesis Proposal for Department of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning, Logan: Utah State University.