New Castle County 4-H to hold second annual 5K run

August 30, 2013 under Cooperative Extension

quest_clover_logoThe New Castle County 4-H program will hold the second annual Quest for the Clover 5K run and walk at 9 a.m., Saturday, Sept. 28, in Wilmington.

This year, the race will be held at Dead President’s Restaurant, which will offer brunch specials and will have 4-H booths for children.

All proceeds will benefit the New Castle County 4-H program on both the county and club levels. 4-H is a youth development organization serving children ages 5-19 that covers hundreds of project areas and strives to reach youth in three national mission mandates — healthy living, citizenship and science.

Registration prior to Sept. 25 is $20. After Sept. 25, the price is $25 per person.

To register on-line, visit this website.

For more information, contact Katie Jones or Mallory Vogl.

For 4-H volunteer opportunities, contact the 4-H office at 302-831-8965.

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Cooperative Extension to offer classes explaining health insurance

August 19, 2013 under Cooperative Extension

Cooperative Extension to offer Health Insurance Literacy classes The University of Delaware Cooperative Extension will hold workshops titled “You and Health Insurance: Making a Smart Choice” throughout the state this fall.

The workshops are aimed at helping Delawareans make health insurance choices that meet their needs and fit their budgets given the new health insurance changes that will be implemented.

The two-hour programs will be presented by Extension personnel and volunteers who have received training concerning health insurance and making good financial decisions about insurance coverage.

The programs will help participants analyze their health care needs, compare insurance plans and apply knowledge learned to make smart health insurance choices based on what they can afford.

A consumer workbook to help participants feel more confident in making health insurance selections will be presented and reviewed. There also will be information about accessing the new federal Health Insurance Marketplace options.

The following is a list of session locations, dates and times for all three counties:

New Castle County

  • New Castle County Cooperative Extension, 461 Wyoming Rd. Newark, 302-831-1239. Sessions Sept. 12, 6:30-8:30 p.m.; Sept. 13, 10 a.m.-noon; and Dec. 4, 6:30-8:30 p.m.
  • Wilmington Library, 10 East 10th St., Wilmington, 302-571-7400. Session Sept. 26, noon-1:30 p.m.
  • Bear Library, 101 Governors Place, Bear, 302-838-3300. Session Oct. 2, 6:30-8:30 p.m.
  • Woodlawn Library, 2020 West 9th St., Wilmington, 302-571-7425. Session Nov. 12, 6:30-8:30 p.m.
  • Corbit-Calloway Memorial Library, 115 High St., Odessa, 302-378-8838. Session Nov. 20, 6:15-8 p.m.

Kent County

  • Kent County Extension Office, 69 Transportation Circle, Dover, 302-730-4000. Sessions Oct. 24, 3-5 p.m. and 6:30-8:30 p.m.

Sussex County

  • Sussex County Extension Office, 16483 County Seat Highway, Georgetown, 302-856-7303. Sessions Oct. 7, 6:30-8:30 p.m., and Oct. 8, 10 a.m.-noon.
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Barton named Vice President of ASHS

August 13, 2013 under CANR News, Cooperative Extension

Sue Barton named Vice President ASHSSue Barton, extension specialist and an associate professor in the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, has been named the Extension Division Vice President for the American Society for Horticultural Science (ASHS).

ASHS is the main organization of professional horticulturalists and includes members from industry, academia and extension.

The term for Vice President will begin in August and Barton will serve for 3 years.

Barton has been with the organization since she was a graduate student in the 1980’s and she also serves as an associate editor for one of their publications.

“I have been working with ASHS in that capacity for a long time,” said Barton. “But this will give me an opportunity to get to know the inner workings of the organization a little better and hopefully provide some service to other extension professionals who are involved.”

Barton said that another reason she wanted to get involved was to raise the national presence of the University of Delaware.

“I think it’s good for the University when faculty take national roles so I felt like it was also my responsibility once I was asked to do it, to fulfill this for UD in addition to doing it for horticulturalists in general.”

Article by Adam Thomas

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Sussex Master Gardener workshops feature hostas, insect safari

August 7, 2013 under Cooperative Extension

Fritillary Butterfly in the GardenSussex County Master Gardeners will offer two workshops in August. On Tuesday, Aug. 13 at 1 p.m., Master Gardener Vickie Thompson will conduct a workshop on hostas.  Learn about these easy-to-grow, shade-loving perennials known for their beautiful foliage.  See examples of several different colors, sizes and leaf styles. Also, become familiar with the many uses for this plant in containers and in the landscape. There will be information on how to plant and care for hostas and what to do when insects or disease attack.

Grownups, kids and grandkids will enjoy the workshop scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 22 at 10 a.m., entitled “You Just Have To Look for Butterflies and Other Interesting Creatures in the Garden.”  A lively presentation and a storyteller will lead up to a jungle safari through the Master Gardeners Demonstration Garden. Bring the children or come by yourself.

Both workshops will be held at the Elbert N. and Ann V. Carvel Research and Education Center, 16483 County Seat Highway, Georgetown, Del. Participants must pre-register by contacting Tammy Schirmer at 302-856-2585, ext 544.

These workshops are free. Come early or stay late to enjoy the Demonstration Garden behind the building.

For more information on gardening in Delaware, visit Cooperative Extension’s Lawn and Garden website.

Master Gardeners are working volunteers and are supported by Delaware Cooperative Extension through the University of Delaware and Delaware State University Extension offices. It is Delaware Cooperative Extension’s policy that that no person shall be subjected to discrimination on the grounds of race, creed, color, sex, age, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, veteran or handicap status. If you have special needs that need to be accommodated, please contact the office two weeks prior to the event.

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4-H, EFNEP combine exercise with healthy habits at youth programs

July 30, 2013 under CANR News, Cooperative Extension

Up for the Challenge teaches kids about healthy livingAs the result of a $2 million donation from the Walmart Foundation to expand the Walmart 4-H Youth Voice: Youth Choice program in Delaware and 20 other states, 4-H and Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) Cooperative Extension personnel and volunteers have teamed up to prove that they are “Up for the Challenge” when it comes to teaching healthy living habits to young Delawareans.

In Delaware, 3,000 youths will receive six hours of the Up for the Challenge: Lifetime Fitness, Healthy Decision curriculum delivered by Cooperative Extension staff and a cadre of teenagers. They have been trained to deliver the curriculum in afterschool programs, community centers, 4-H clubs and other sites.

The program, geared toward young people ages 8-12, will be implemented at all Delaware 4-H afterschool sites, including the seven Delaware State Housing Authority (DSHA) sites, all of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed) and EFNEP sites and Dover Air Force Base sites. These sites reach 2,000-plus youths.

Delaware has had a strong nutritional education presence through 4-H, EFNEP and SNAP-Ed but one of the things that makes Up for the Challenge unique is that it will be taught by both adult instructors and teen educators.

Sue Snider, coordinator of EFNEP, Cooperative Extension food and nutrition specialist and professor of animal and food sciences in the University of Delaware’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, said of the program, “EFNEP nutrition assistants have conducted hands-on educational programs for low-income youth for years. What makes this summer’s classes awesome and special are the teens.”

“This particular topic is awesome because it’s the nutrition and the fitness,” said Karen Johnston, a UD Cooperative Extension agent of Up for the Challenge. “We’ve been doing a great job of using youth and adult educators in tobacco drug and alcohol prevention — we’ve done that throughout the state for a few years now and reached thousands of people. This is nice because now we have the nutrition and the fitness components, so that’s a really great collaboration.”

At Kirk Middle School in Newark, Del. — one of the New Castle County locations where the Up for the Challenge curriculum was being taught — EFNEP nutrition assistant Carmella Johnson was teaching participants about grains while also taking time to inform them about yoga. “It’s healthy eating incorporated with exercise,” said Johnson. “It’s a mixture of both throughout the day.”

Johnson said that the young people are taught about the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s MyPlate, which is the new food pyramid, while also learning about things like portion control and reading labels on foods and drinks that they consume.

“A lot of them don’t really think about soda and sugary drinks as being calories,” said Johnson. “They’re drinking a lot of calories but they don’t see that, so we talked about reading labels. If you start reading your labels, you’ll see how many calories you drink and they do add up.”

Johnson added, “Many children just don’t know all the aspects of good nutrition or food preparation and that’s what’s nice about Up for the Challenge — it’s very hands on so the young person has an opportunity to not just learn the plate but also they actually make food in the class.”

Snider said that a 2011 Youth Behavior Risk Factor Surveillance Survey conducted by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention noted that 43 percent of Delaware youth reported that they did not get 60 minutes of physical activity at least five days a week.

Johnston added that having instructors who are closer in age to the children — who teach the classes in conjunction with the adult instructors — helps the young people get excited about learning about healthy living practices. “That’s just so pivotal, having that experiential learning, and it’s memorable,” she said. “The kids are really responding to the youth presence as well as the adult presence in this hands-on activity.”

To learn more about Up for the Challenge, visit the website.

Article by Adam Thomas

Photo by Danielle Quigley

This article can also be viewed on UDaily.

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UD Cooperative Extension offers class on pickles

July 25, 2013 under Cooperative Extension

Let's Make Pickles class set for Aug. 22 in DoverAfter conducting food preservation classes on topics like salsas and jams, Kathleen Splane decided to change it up a bit and tackle a new topic — pickles.

“Let’s Make Pickles” is offered through the University of Delaware Cooperative Extension Family and Consumer Sciences unit and will take place from 6-9 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 22, at the Paradee Center at 69 Transportation Circle in Dover. The class is open to the public and the cost is $15 and includes all the materials participants need to make their pickles.

For the class, Splane has partnered with the Master Gardeners and the Master Food Educators.

When it comes to canning foods, Splane, Cooperative Extension’s family and consumer science educator for Kent County, said that one of the most important aspects is “encouraging people to know the latest techniques. Sometimes things that grandma did back in 1930 might not be the safest options, so we are really trying to get people on board with the most recent techniques.”

Those techniques are taught in the class, in which Splane discusses all of the sanitation instructions before getting started on the actual process of making pickles.

“We want to be hands-on with them to actually go through the steps of preparing the product from beginning to end,” Splane said. “In the beginning, I teach the principles of canning, the importance of the sanitary conditions and sterilizing the jars and surfaces, and also we go through the differences between hot water bath canning and pressure canning and what products need to be done in what kind of process.”

Once the students learn about the background information, it is on to the pickling. The participants roll up their sleeves and get started, cutting cucumbers, preparing the brine and going through the process of water bath canning for the pickles.

The pickles take a fairly short time to make but Splane explained that participants will have to wait 24 hours to pick up their pickles to make sure that their jars are totally sealed.

The canning itself is not very hard, Splane said, but it can be difficult to wait out the process. “Sometimes, it just takes patience. Patience and waiting for the finished product versus going to buy it at the store.”

To access a registration form for this class or to check out other classes offered by Cooperative Extension, visit the website.

Article by Adam Thomas

Photo by Danielle Quigley

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Mark Isaacs receives John Warren Award

July 23, 2013 under CANR News, Cooperative Extension

Award-Mark Isaacs_John_Warren_AwardA staff picnic at the University of Delaware Carvel Research and Education Center in Georgetown on July 16 included a surprise announcement for the center’s director, Mark Isaacs. Tom LaPenta, interim associate vice president for human resources at UD, recognized Isaacs with the John Warren Excellence in Leadership and Service Award.

The award recognizes significant accomplishments and notable contributions in leadership by University supervisory staff. The award includes a $1,000 gift.

“I am very proud to name Dr. Mark Isaacs for this award,” LaPenta said. “In my decades here, I have seen how Mark leads with respect and dignity. I can say that there are very few natural leaders, and Mark deserves special distinction. His passion for the mission of the University has motivated the highly skilled staff of the Carvel Center.”

LaPenta quoted from the three nominations letters submitted as a requirement for the award. These letters acknowledged Isaacs’ passion for agriculture and his extraordinary and visionary leadership.

One of the nomination letters read, in part, “He is a remarkable relationship builder and an astute financial manager during very challenging times. Mark leads with a clear sense of direction and purpose.”

The award was a surprise for Isaacs who was at the Carvel staff picnic with approximately 70 full- and part-time staff present. Isaacs received a standing ovation from his colleagues and staff.

“I am honored to accept this,” Isaacs said. “It is a very big surprise. I could not lead without a great group of people to work with.”

Isaacs has been director for the Carvel Research and Education Center since 1992. The Carvel Center serves as the southern campus for the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, where Isaacs is also an assistant professor in the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences. Its 344-acre campus is an agricultural experiment station and home for Sussex County Cooperative Extension and the Lasher Laboratory, a poultry diagnostic center. In 2012, the farm was renamed the Thurman Adams Jr. Agricultural Research Farm in honor of the late Delaware state senator. Isaacs close relationship with Adams helped to foster key support in state funding for the facility’s growth and success in the community.

The Warren Award was established by the University in 2011 to recognized significant accomplishments by supervisory staff in the areas of leadership and service.

A second Warren Award for 2013 will be announced in September.

Article by Michele Walfred

Photos by Evan Krape

This article can also be viewed on UDaily.

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UD’s Cooperative Extension unveils a new way to connect with experts

July 16, 2013 under CANR News, Cooperative Extension

havequestion-ask-expertDelaware residents with questions related to family and health, community development, food and agriculture, programs for young people and gardening will now have a new way to connect with experts on those topics thanks to the University of Delaware and Delaware State Cooperative Extension’s Ask an Expert website, which will be unveiled this week at the State Fair.

Michelle Rodgers, associate dean and director of UD’s Cooperative Extension, said that Delaware Cooperative Extension is “excited to bring our areas of expertise to Delawareans through a simple request on your web browser.”

Rodgers added, “The unique aspect of Extension’s Ask an Expert is that all of our responses are based in university research, and if we don’t have the research experts here, the system has the capacity to connect with Extension experts across the country. It is information you can trust through a simple question entry on your browser.”

Ask an Expert is as simple as clicking on the Cooperative Extension website and asking a question about a problem related to the topics above. The people with questions will then be connected with a Cooperative Extension, university staff member or volunteer expert who will be able to provide them with a timely and regionally specific response electronically. The goal is to have a response within 48 hours.

Images can be attached to the question to help further explain questions, such as attaching a photo of an insect or a spot on a plant.

Questions and answers can be made publicly or privately, depending on preference.

To check out the Ask an Expert page, visit the following link.

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Sussex County Master Gardener Open House set

July 2, 2013 under Cooperative Extension

Master Gardeners volunteer time to spruce up the demonstration garden at the Carvel Center in Georgetown before the annual Open House July 13.The Master Gardeners of Sussex County will host their annual Open House in the demonstration gardens behind the Carvel Center at 16483 County Seat Highway (Route 9) in Georgetown on Saturday, July 13, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

There will be activities for children, including a Peter Rabbit puppet show, as well as demonstrations on gardening and related topics. Master Gardeners will be available to answer questions and to provide information about the various sections of the garden that exhibit trees, shrub, perennials, annuals, and vegetables that do well in Delaware. Visit the popular plant sale located in the picnic grove.

The public is invited to stroll through the paths that link special areas — a children’s garden, a sensory garden, an annual/perennial border, a native plant garden, a shade garden and more — or to sit on one of the benches and watch the insects and wildlife interact with the setting.

For children, this year’s highlights include:

  • Insect Safari (come hunting with us for the creatures that live in the back yard). Bring your camera!
  • Meet Mr. and Mrs. Turtle, courtesy of the Delaware Council of Wildlife Rehabilitators and Educators.
  • Participate in a scavenger hunt
  • Scheduled performances of Peter Rabbit and Farmer McGregor

Educational workshop topics include:

  • 10 a.m.  Accessible Gardening. Learn how to Garden Smart, Garden Easy
  • 11 a.m.  What are Invasive Plants and how do you control them?
  • Noon  Insect Safari – children and adults – bring your camera!
  • 1 p.m.  Hostas!

Master Gardeners will also raffle some exciting items! Currently on the list are:

  • Garden gift basket with miscellaneous items
  • Coffee table book donated by Kent County
  • Hypertufa planted with succulents
  • Garden kneeler

Master Gardeners are members of the community who have received extensive training in order to extend the home garden outreach of Delaware Cooperative Extension. Information also is available online. Visit: http://extension.udel.edu/lawngarden/.

It is the policy of the Delaware Cooperative Extension System that no person shall be subjected to discrimination on the grounds of race, color, sex, disability, age or national origin.

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UD Extension researchers look to blueberries as a small wonder for Delaware

June 27, 2013 under Cooperative Extension

Blueberries,Vaccinium corymbosum, the tiny, sweet blue fruits touted for their health benefits are growing as a favorite among fruit lovers and health-conscious people everywhere. With consumer demand trending toward buying local, blueberries could be a no-brainer bonanza for the First State. For Delaware to do it right, knowing the best varieties to plant and documenting the ideal growing conditions for commercial production is essential.emmalea ernest works with blueberries

At the University of Delaware College of Agriculture and Natural Resources and beyond, Emmalea Ernest is informally known as “the lima bean lady” in part for her research efforts to build a better lima bean, a vegetable crop that has enjoyed success and prominence in Delaware.

An Extension agent and fruit and vegetable researcher, based at UD’s Elbert N. and Ann V. Carvel Research and Education Center, Ernest works closely with her colleague, Gordon Johnson,  Vegetable and Fruit Extension Specialist. Ernest’s efforts have focused on evaluating varieties of crops that can be grown in Delaware for commercial production. Though lima bean breeding remains her specialty and area of doctoral study, Ernest also conducts trials of sweet corn, lettuce, watermelon, pole beans and for the third year in a row, blueberries are part of her research repertoire.

“Not a lot of Delaware acreage is devoted to blueberries at present,” Ernest explains, “but there is a lot of interest from growers.” Ernest’s research will provide valuable information on what varieties produce the best yield and taste for success in Delaware.

Since 2011, rows of blueberries-in waiting occupy approximately a third of an acre at the Thurman G. Adams Agricultural Research Farm part of  Carvel’s 344 acre complex. In all,  each of 23 blueberry varieties, with names like Aurora, Sweetheart, Star, Reka, and Chandler, to name only a few, are part of the large, multi-year study. In addition to the Carvel site, Ernest is conducting variety trials and other studies in collaboration with Hail Bennett, of  Bennett Orchards in Frankford.

In the first two years, Ernest and her “veggie team” have been pinching off the flower blossoms, preventing fruit production.

Stopping blossoms from progressing into blueberries allows the plant to become fully and firmly established. This summer, the third year of research has been the charm, or at least a change for the senses. This summer they will see and taste the fruit of their labors.

Ernest refers to her crop as “my blueberries” but she is willing to share their various shapes, sizes and flavors, as well as give  credit to her team of interns and UD colleagues for the hard work. This summer, the study will benefit from volunteer Master Gardeners who will help harvest the 275-plus bushes as they ripen. Size, weight, color, taste and overall health will be logged in and evaluated. While she is curious to receive feedback from others about their taste and texture, Ernest’s trials currently concentrate on the results of soil amendments, mulching techniques and specific variety’s response to Delaware’s seasons and weather conditions.  The varieties reach their peak at different times in the summer, important knowledge that will help growers to expand their production over several months.

Blueberries are relatively disease free Ernest explains, and while her research plot has yet to be picked off by birds, she anticipates they will be a major issue for the crop. Currently, uncovered, Ernest says there are plans to enclose the entire trial area with a trellis covered by one large net.

Also working closely with Ernest is Extension IPM Specialist Joanne Whalen, who monitors the plots for the presence of  spotted-wing drosophila, a potential, pesky fruit fly for the crop. The best bird netting won’t stop visits from fruit flies, however. If the presence of the spotted-wing becomes more of an issue, Extension experts will seek to find a solution to the pests the berries turn from green to blue and violet, they are picked and weighed from each bush. Taste tests at this stage are informal, with Carvel’s staff serving as willing taste critics.

Three different experiments are being conducted at the trial site. In addition to the variety trial, the team is evaluating blueberries’ response to various soil and mulches that she and her team apply.

Blueberries are traditionally planted with peat moss under the root, Ernest explains. They are evaluating less-costly alternatives. Materials being tested include pine bark fines, waste silage, composted saw dust horse bedding, chipped-up construction waste wood, and for control, no amendments at all. Mulching materials include the same list of ingredients, and also chopped corn stalks. The ongoing results are published in a vegetable and small fruit blog she and Gordon Johnson maintain,  and articles also appear in the Weekly Crop Update.

“Blueberries like wet conditions,” Ernest said, acknowledging that a very wet June has been good for the blueberry’s first year of production.”They’ve been very happy this summer,” Ernest said. “They do well in bog-like conditions, but they aren’t an aquatic plant.”

Ernest plans to collect data for several more years before being comfortable making recommendations to area growers.  Conducting successful variety trials, soil amendment studies and mulching recommendations can only be executed across an array of conditions and time. It is exacting work where patience is a virtue.

Ernest, ever the scientist, is nonetheless excited about the prospects of bigger and better blueberry crops in Delaware. “I think people will get more excited about them than lima beans,” Ernest admits. “I have no shortage of people offering to eat them.”

Article and photos by Michele Walfred

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