To provide arboreta and botanic gardens with a guide to determine public interests in programs at their institution, a case study was completed of the Crosby Arboretum, Mississippi State University. ‘Community’ was defined as participants that resided within 105 km (65 mi) of the arboretum (97% of community respondents) and attended the Picayune Street Fair. ‘Visitors’ were defined as respondents that attended the Piney Woods Heritage Festival at the arboretum. At each event, an intercept survey was conducted in Picayune, MS, during November 2009 where self-selected respondents (n = 271 for community and n = 56 for visitors) answered six demographic and 11 program, activity, and event questions. Both groups were similar in all demographic variables except age (9 year average age difference) and the number of homes without children (60 and 76%). Each group was most interested in continuing education classes, craft exercises, music performances, fitness walks, and workshops. The community and visitors were the least interested in book clubs, dance instruction, preschool activities, and scout programs. This study can be adapted by any botanic garden or arboretum and may be useful in planning current and future programs which target visitor or community interests for repeated visits to the site.

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Author notes

Approved for publication as Journal Article No J-11824 of the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station, Mississippi State University. Special thanks to Coastal Research and Extension Center, Mississippi State University for funding this research.

2Director of the Crosby Arboretum and Assistant Extension Professor of Horticulture. jconklin@ext.msstate.edu.

3Extension Associate II and Senior Curator. drackett@ext.msstate.edu.