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New technology increases access to Master Gardener training

Woody ornamentals have gone high-tech - for Master Gardeners that is. A new CD-ROM in the Master Gardener course will allow them to point and click to identify and learn about 142 significant Northeast shrubs, trees, vines and groundcovers.

"My entire six-hour lecture on woody ornamentals that I present for Master Gardener training is on this CD-ROM, illustrated through slides, voice-overs and video," said Carl Salsedo, a Cooperative Extension educator and coordinator of the West Hartford Master Gardener Program, who created the CD-ROM during his sabbatical last year. "Every effort has been made to make this CD-ROM user-friendly, interactive and attractive."

The CD-ROM, A Guide to Woody Ornamentals for Master Gardener Training in Connecticut, is both IBM and Macintosh-compatible and will have a Web page dedicated to it.

"The CD-ROM is tailored to provide ready access to many of the most commonly found woody ornamental plants used in Connecticut landscapes. This is especially important to Master Gardener volunteers who can use the CD-ROM to quickly access information and answers to clientele questions," said Roger Adams, assistant director of Cooperative Extension Services. "This is one example of how Cooperative Extension is increasingly using technology to better serve the people of our state."

Salsedo, who has been with Cooperative Extension Services for 22 years, will be featured in the October issue of Connecticut Magazine that will mention the CD-ROM. He began thinking about creating the CD-ROM in 1994, when his son, Carlos, was a graduate student at NYU's Interactive Telecommunications Program. Carlos, now a Ph.D. student at the University of Massachusetts, helped to create the CD-ROM by digitizing the slides, video, text and music. Original music was composed for the CD-ROM by Greg Aldrich, of Sound Byten Productions in Manchester.

The CD-ROM, which will be used to teach the woody ornamentals portion of the Master Gardener program, has six sections, including a slide show of the 142 plants and the 10 most frequently asked questions regarding woody ornamentals.

"The students will learn how to use the technology. If they don't know how, they are going to gain skills that are needed in the 21st century," Salsedo said. "It can also be used by horticulture commodity groups, including nurserymen, garden centers, landscapers, groundskeepers and home gardeners."

The woody ornamentals pictured and described include flowering deciduous trees, deciduous trees, coniferous trees, flowering deciduous shrubs, broadleaf evergreen shrubs, evergreen shrubs, dwarf conifers, vines and groundcovers. Also pictured is the Pinchot Sycamore tree in Simsbury, the largest living tree in the state.

Renu Sehgal-Aldrich