UD Extension Scholars involved in range of projects this summer

August 15, 2012 under CANR News, Cooperative Extension

Ask Donald Seifrit, Jr., what he does as a University of Delaware Extension Scholar and he hesitates before answering. It isn’t easy to sum up all the tasks he has taken on during this summer-long internship program.

Under the direction of Carrie Murphy, a horticulture agent in the New Castle County Extension office, he might start his morning by identifying fungus on a cherry branch or insect holes on a tomato leaf. He’ll then contact the gardener who dropped off the plant or insect sample and suggest solutions to the problem.

In the afternoon, he may head to a UD greenhouse where he’s working on three different research projects with Richard Taylor, an Extension agronomy specialist. Seifrit has been busy evenings and weekends, too, at events ranging from a farmers’ field meeting in Middletown to preparing for a community garden workshop in the Southbridge section of Wilmington.

The Extension Scholar program gives students and recent grads the opportunity to gain real-world experience as interns with UD Cooperative Extension.

Jan Seitz, former associate dean of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources and director of UD Cooperative Extension, created the program, which is supported by an endowment fund established by Dover growers Chet and Sally Dickerson.

“I’d like to work in industry, initially, but I also think it could be rewarding to get my teaching certification and be a high school agriculture or biology teacher,” says Seifrit, who graduated in June with a plant science degree. “The Extension Scholar program is giving me a taste of careers in which I could use my plant science degree.”

Andy Kness is another Extension Scholar with a new plant science degree from UD. Kness knows he wants to be a researcher and will be back in the classroom in September, pursuing a master’s degree in plant science. In the meantime, he’s working with Cooperative Extension entomologist Brian Kunkel.

One valuable lesson Kness has already learned is that research doesn’t always go smoothly. Take, for example, a stink bug project that he and Kunkel had planned to tackle this summer.

“It’s a dud; there’s nothing to talk about right now,” says Kunkel. That’s because the brown marmorated stink bug – that nonnative stink bug that has caused crop loss and landscape damage in Delaware – is in remarkably short supply this summer.

That’s good news for homeowners and farmers, not so good if you’re trying to evaluate the effectiveness of insecticides against the stink bug as well as the natural enemies that attack this pest. Kunkel and other UD researchers want to be able to present solutions when the stink bug does make its inevitable return.

One recent morning, a few forlorn stink bugs munched leaves in a rearing container while Kunkel and Kness focused their attention on the insect that has kept them busy this summer – red-headed flea beetles.

“These critters chew holes in plants and can cause significant destruction to nursery plants,” says Kness. “It’s not really a problem for homeowners as much as it for nurserymen. They can’t sell plants with flea beetle damage even though these plants aren’t really damaged and will look fine in their second season.”

Kness is assisting Kunkel with a project that could provide an environmentally sustainable way to control this beetle. The answer may lie in a tiny white worm, more formally known as entomopathogenic nematode. This parasitic worm attacks the larvae of the red-headed flea beetle by releasing bacteria that eventually kills it.

Two weeks ago, Kness introduced these worms into petri dishes filled with red-headed flea beetles to evaluate their usefulness. Next up, he and Kunkel will replicate the experiment in greenhouse plants and then out in the field.

Six students were named Extension Scholars this summer. The other interns have been working with military youth at Dover Air Force Base, developing State Fair programs, teaching 4-H equine camps and assisting with honey production at the UD apiary.

“I wish there had been something like this program when I was in school,” says Murphy. “I think it’s a fantastic way for students to learn job skills while gaining an understanding of the role that Extension plays in the community and the wide range of things that we do.”

Article by Margo McDonough

Photo by Danielle Quigley

This article can also be viewed on UDaily.

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Extension Scholars now accepting applications

February 6, 2012 under CANR News

Applications are now being accepted for the 2012 Cooperative Extension Scholars Student Intern Program. This innovative program, open to rising juniors, seniors and graduate students at the University of Delaware, offers a 10-week experience of working, and making a difference, as an intern with UD’s Cooperative Extension.

Jan Seitz, associate dean of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources and director of UD Cooperative Extension, created the Extension Scholars Program in 2004 to give UD students an opportunity to become fully engaged in service learning, which has long been a hallmark of the Cooperative Extension Service.

“The work that Extension Scholars carry out each summer is integrated into their academic curriculum; meets the needs of local communities; provides structured time for reflection; and helps foster civic responsibility,” says Seitz.

Past Extension Scholars have designed and delivered 4-H educational programs; fostered partnerships between Extension and other government and nonprofit organizations; worked with volunteers; pursued funding; evaluated program impacts; and conducted needs assessments. A capstone experience is part of the program.

Up to three Extension Scholars will be named. Scholars receive a stipend of $3,000 and, if needed, an allowance of $500 for job-related travel and/or housing. Support for the 2012 program comes from an endowment fund created in 2010 by Dover-based growers Chet and Sally Dickerson.

Location of internships will be Extension offices on the UD campus and/or in New Castle, Kent and Sussex counties. Scholars are expected to work from June 10 to Aug. 4.

The application deadline is March 23. Selections will be announced by April 6.

To receive an application, or for more information, contact Alice Moore at 831-2504 or via email at ammoore@udel.edu.

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4-H Youth Congress

December 6, 2011 under CANR News, Cooperative Extension

Ten Delaware youth were selected to participate in the National 4-H Youth Congress, which was held recently in Atlanta. This leadership development conference is considered the flagship event of the 4-H program, providing youth with an unparalleled opportunity to learn about community involvement, culture diversity and service to others.

“I am very proud of the Delaware 4-Hers who represented our state at Youth Congress,” says Jan Seitz, associate dean and director of University of Delaware Cooperative Extension. “I know these students will take the knowledge they have gained and put it to good use in community service projects and other activities here in Delaware.”

Two youth from Kent County participated in the Youth Congress: McKenzie Ivory and Trevor Maloney. Eight youth from Sussex County attended: Bethany Killmon, Stephen Mervine, Jr., Joe Anderson, Jenna Hitchens, Nathan Bradley, Mary Catherine Lagano, Hunter Murray and Isabel (Izzy) Wharton.

Ivory is a 16-year-old member of the Harrington Sunshine 4-H Club. Her 4-H project areas of concentration include livestock and the fashion revue. Ivory is the daughter of Stephanie and Matt Ivory of Harrington. She attends Lake Forest High School.

Maloney is also a 16-year-old member of the Harrington Sunshine Cub. His 4-H project areas include goat, swine, woodworking and photography. He attends Milford High School and is the son of Timothy and Kelley Maloney of Houston.

Killmon is a member of the Dublin Hill 4-H club. She is in her eighth year of 4-H and attends Sussex Technical High School.  She has focused on raising and showing sheep and also has been involved in horticulture and photography projects. She is the daughter of Carla and Garry Killmon of Bridgeville.

Mervine is a 16-year-old member of the Dublin Hill 4-H Club. He enjoys photography projects but his favorite thing about 4-H is state camp. Mervine’s grandfather was inducted into the 4-H Hall of Fame and he hopes to follow in his footsteps someday. He is the son of Stephen and Polly Mervine of Bridgeville and attends Sussex Technical High School.

Anderson, 16, of Milton, is a member of the Hollymount 4-H Club. He is in his 10th year of 4-H and attends Sussex Technical High School. He has raised and shown dairy cows for eight years and also has been involved in swine and photography projects. He is the son of Sharon and Paul Anderson.

Hitchens, 17, is a member of Dublin 4-H Club. She is in her sixth year of 4-H and attends Sussex Central High School. She has raised and shown sheep for six years. She is the daughter of Tracie and Randy Hitchens of Georgetown.

Bradley has been in 4-H for eight years and is a member of the Seaford Blue Jays 4-H Club. The 16-year-old attends Sussex Technical High School. In 4-H, he has been active in fishing, shooting sports and food projects. He is the son of Jacalyn and Steven Bradley of Seaford.

Lagano, 17, also attends Sussex Technical High School. As a member of the Country Clover 4-H Club, she has been involved in robotics and clothing and textiles projects. She also enjoys being a counselor at 4-H camps. She lives in Frankford with her parents, Joe and Debbie Lagano.

Murray, 17, is a member of the Dublin Hill 4-H Club. He is in his ninth year in 4-H and attends Sussex Technical High School. He has raised and shown sheep for 9 years and has been involved in foods and arts and crafts projects. He is the son of David and Melissa Murray of Greenwood.

Wharton is a member of Buttonwood 4-H Club. The 17-year-old attends Sussex Technical High School and lives in Laurel with her parents, Wendy and Kip Wharton. She has raised and shown livestock for eight years and also has been involved in clothing and textiles and animal science projects.

For more information about Delaware 4-H, contact the state 4-H office at 302-831-2509.

Article by Margo McDonough

This article can also be viewed online on UDaily by clicking here.

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Cooperative Extension Annual Conference

October 19, 2011 under CANR News, Cooperative Extension, Events

Cooperative Extension professionals from University of Delaware and Delaware State University met on Tues. Oct. 18, for their annual conference in Dover, to celebrate their unique partnership and excellence in Extension outreach programing that serves Delaware’s families and agricultural constituents.

The conference’s keynote speaker was Linda Kay Benning, executive director of Northeast Cooperative Extension Director and associate director for Extension and Outreach at the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, located in Washington, D.C. Benning remarked on Extension’s rich history, the value of its current programming and the future of Extension funding at regional and national levels in the 21st century. Benning addressed the importance in raising awareness of the diverse programming that Cooperative Extension delivers to families, farmers, businesses and industry.

In recognition of Delaware’s Extension contribution the past year, the 2011 Cooperative Extension Awards of Excellence were announced:

Integration of Extension and Research Award:

  • Gordon Johnson, Maggie Moor-Orth, Richard Taylor, Phillip Sylvester, Rose Ogutu, Brigid McCrea, Megan, John Clendaniel, Dahlia O’Brien, Mike Wasylkowski, Lakhe Paudel, and Joann Walston.

Positively Outrageous Service Award for Innovative Marketing of Extension – Individual:

  • Carol Scott – 4-H Educator Afterschool program “Moving Youth Ahead.”
  • Mary Argo – 4-H Educator in Sussex County.

Positively Outrageous Service Award for Innovative Marketing of Extension – Team:

  • Tracy Wootten, Maggi Moor-Orth, and Sussex County Master Gardeners:  Brent Marsh, Jessica Clark, Jane Casazza, Susan Trone, Tracy Mulvaney, Mary Perkins, Mary Noel, Mary Hall, Marge Lewis and Linda Peters for:  “Peter Rabbit’s Adventure in Farmer McGregor’s Vegetable Garden,” a mobile theatrical presentation for children.

Outstanding Programming Award:

  • Tracy Wootten, Laurie Wolinski, and Maria Pippidis – for “Annie’s Project” which supports and empowers women in agriculture.
  • Maggie Moor-Orth, Tracy Wootten, and Brian Kunkel – “How Do You Like Me Now – Insects and Their Damage” and;
  • Gordon Johnson, Maria Pippidis, Kathleen Splane, Phillip Sylvester, Anne Camasso, Tracy Wootten, and Cory Whaley – “Food Safety on the Farm”
  • Karen Johnston, Michelle Ernst, and Amelia Uffelman – “4-H Health Rocks Program – Youth tobacco prevention program.”
  • Bill McGowan, “The Resourceful Leader”-Community development and economic gardening initiative.

Recipients of the Director’s Spirit of Extension Awards: Ernesto López, Rhonda Martell, Kathleen Splane and Albert Essel.

Epsilon Sigma Phi (ESP) the association of Extension professionals presented the following awards:

  • Adult Outstanding Volunteer Award- Hetty Francke.
  • Youth Outstanding Volunteer Award- Terra Tatman.
  • Group Outstanding Volunteer Award- Emerson Farms.
  • Friend of Extension- Agilent Technologies.
  • Meritorious Support Service Award- Sharon Webb.

Delaware State University recognized two Extension professionals:

  • Bridget McCrea – “1890 Administrator’s Award” for Extension Agriculture and Youth. Development.
  • Andy Wetherhill – “1890 Administrator’s Award for Diversity” in Agricultural Extension programs.

Earlier in the morning, the conference’s 100 attendees separated into agriculture, family and consumer science and 4-H youth development groups and discussed initiatives and exchanged new ideas on how to effectively reach their constituents’ future needs.

The ag group focused on how to enhance an $8 billion agriculture industry given current economic challenges.  Items of note included the ability to understand and anticipate the needs of the ag community, the capacity to engage those needs in a timely fashion and development and implementation of a strategy that creates an understanding and support for the value of Cooperative Extension.

Family and consumer science and EFNEP agents discussed what they see as emerging issues in nutrition, food safety, financial management and family well-being and how best to effectively communicate revised guidelines and research to local constituencies.

Through their diverse programming, 4-H reaffirmed that effective outreach to Delaware’s youth must rest on eight principles: a positive relationship with a caring adult, a safe emotional and physical environment, an inclusive environment, engagement in learning, opportunity for mastery, opportunity to see oneself as an active participant in the future, opportunity for self-determination and opportunity to value and practice service to others.

Tuesday’s gathering marked the last Extension Conference under the tenure of UD Associate Dean and Director of Cooperative Extension, Janice Seitz, who is retiring in April 2012. The ninth conference however, will not be Seitz’s last. In 2003, Seitz established the Lighthouse Award as a special honor bestowed to an Extension professional who “lights the way for others.” Each year, the holder of the Extension beacon has the responsibility to pass the award onto a deserving colleague. Doug Crouse, 2010 recipient, carefully considered his many options but concluded on one obvious choice, Dr. Jan Seitz, the founder of the award.

The award assures Seitz’s continued involvement in outreach programming and a return to next year’s conference to once again confer the award. But Seitz’s future participation was never in any doubt.  Though stepping out of her leadership role, Seitz plans to lend support and resources whenever needed.   “This is the greatest job I have ever had,” Seitz said. “I love Extension so much.”

Images of the conference are available on the UD Carvel Research and Education Center Flickr site: http://www.flickr.com/photos/carvel/sets/72157627800614733/

Article submitted by Michele Walfred.

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