Nov: Equine Behavior Short Course

October 9, 2012 under CANR News, Cooperative Extension, Events

The University of Delaware Cooperative Extension is excited to offer a three-night educational series this fall on topics related to equine behavior. All three sessions will be held at the Paradee Center, Kent County Extension Office in Dover, Delaware from 6:30-8:30 pm. A registration fee and advanced registration will be required. Light refreshments and take-home materials will be included as part of the registration fee.

Night 1 on Monday, November 5 will focus around the theme of “Foundations of Equine Behavior” and will cover topics such as anatomy and physiology, the workings of the equine brain, normal or natural equine behavior and learning terminology and how horses learn.

Night 2 on Wednesday, November 7 will focus around the theme of “Handling Behavior Problems” and will cover topics such as stereotypies and dealing with common equine behavior issues. This evening will feature a special guest lecturer, Dr. Sue McDonnell from the University of Pennsylvania’s New Bolton Center, a nationally known researcher and speaker on equine behaviors.

Night 3 on Wednesday, November 14 will focus around the theme of “Working Effectively with Equine Behavior” and will cover topics such as positive versus negative reinforcement, a review of current training approaches and common equine welfare concerns.

Interested individuals may attend just one or all three of the sessions. For more information please contact Susan Garey at (302) 730-4000 or Dr. Carissa Wickens at

For additional information and to register for this program, please visit the UD Cooperative Extension Equine Blog at

If you have special needs that need to be accommodated, please contact the office two weeks prior to the event.

Cooperative Extension Education in Agriculture and Home Economics, University of Delaware, Delaware State University and the United States Department of Agriculture cooperating. Distributed in furtherance of Acts of Congress of May 8 and June 30, 1914, Delaware Cooperative Extension, University of Delaware. 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.


UD Extension Professionals Honored at National Conference

November 14, 2011 under CANR News, Cooperative Extension

Four University of Delaware Cooperative Extension professionals were recognized at the National Extension Association for Family and Consumer Sciences conference, which was held in Albuquerque, New Mexico, earlier this fall.

Kathleen Splane receiving the National Early Childhood Childcare Training Award from the NEAFCS 2011 President Marsha Lockard

Kathleen Splane received the National Early Childhood Child Care Training Award and an editing team consisting of Maria Pippidis, Margo McDonough and Sandy Peralta received an Eastern Region Newsletter Communication Award.

Splane is Extension’s family and consumer science educator for Kent County. The child care training award recognizes Splane’s innovative online program, “Healthy Habits, Healthy Start.” Splane received funding from the state Division of Public Health for the program, which is designed for providers throughout the state who serve preschoolers. Some curriculum content was provided by Nemours Health & Prevention Services.

“There is a critical need for training materials about childhood nutrition and exercise,” says Splane. “Delaware has a very high percentage of children who are obese or overweight. In a state by state ranking, we rank 16th highest. Child care providers, in conjunction with parents, can play an important role in giving young children a healthy start.”

The Extension editing team, led by Maria Pippidis, was recognized for Two Cent Tips for Delaware, an email newsletter that focuses on consumer money management skills. Recent issues have covered such topics as retirement planning, getting along and saving money in multigenerational households, reducing the cost of holiday travel, and helping teenagers and young adults become credit savvy. Pippidis is the director of the New Castle County Cooperative Extension office, Peralta is an administrative assistant in that office and McDonough is a UD communications specialist.

Maria Pippidis receiving the Eastern Region Newsletter Communication Award from the NEAFCS Eastern Regional Director Theresa Mayhew

To learn more about “Healthy Habits, Healthy Start,” contact Splane at ksplane@udel.ed or 302-731-4000. To subscribe to Two Cent Tips for Delaware, send an email to


Karen Crouse honored by regional 4-H

August 8, 2011 under CANR News

Kent County and Delaware 4-H is proud to recognize Karen Crouse of Kent County, DE, for her commitment to 4-H and to her community. Crouse was named the 2011 North East Regional 4‑H Salute to Excellence Outstanding Lifetime Volunteer for her exceptional contributions as a 4-H volunteer and leader in the North East Regional 4-H program.

Although never a 4-H member herself, Karen jumped right in as project leader (in the mid-1980’s) and then co-organizational leader of the Harrington Sunshine 4-H Club from 1993 until the present.  The club started as 8 members, quickly grew to 60 members, and spiked to over 125 members by year three. Karen’s primary responsibilities, in additional to the general club duties, were to oversee community service projects and serve as the sewing project leader.

Karen instills the importance of community service in her 4-H members and has been extremely involved with the annual “Make A Difference Day Projects” that her club has done, including making and delivering over 4,000 Care Packets to the local hospital and military base during the past twelve years.  Karen also promotes leadership opportunities to youth in 4-H, encouraging members to get involved and participate in the many different 4-H events and opportunities that are available to them.  She is self-taught in sewing and has served as the sewing project leader for her club for over ten years, working with 7-10 young seamstresses annually.

Karen’s leadership does not stop at the club level, but extends to volunteerism at the county and state level as well.  On the county level, she has been an active member of the County Leader’s Association, serving on numerous committees during the past 20 years, and has worked with many county and state 4-H events, often behind the scenes as a judge or organizer.  Of particular note is her volunteer work with the Clarks Corner After-School Program and the Dover Air Force Base Military 4-H Club.

Karen has assisted with the Northeast Regional Volunteer Leader Forum both times that Delaware served as host, in 1998 and 2010. Her work has included presenting workshops and organizing.  She has been a workshop presenter at several Delaware State Leader Forums.  Karen has worked in the Delaware State Fair 4-H building for many years and has served as a chaperone for National 4-H Conference, National 4-H Congress, and the National Youth NERVF event at Cornell University. She has also worked with the Delaware Engaging Youth, Serving Community Program for five years, assisting with their annual forums and action events.  Karen was inducted into Kent County 4-H Links and has been an active participant.

In nominating Karen, Ernesto Lopez, Volunteer Specialist with the University of Delaware Extension Service, says, “Karen’s involvement with 4-H is extraordinary.  Her dedication to 4-H is a result of her own interests and the value she places on developing kids into productive citizens.  As 4-H educators, we know that we can call on Karen for any task, big or small and she is willing to help.”

Gene and Sharon Swackhamer established the National 4-H Salute to Excellence Volunteer Recognition Fund to emphasize the important work of 4-H volunteers across America. The awards, made possible through the Fund and Monsanto Company, the premier corporate sponsor, recognize 4-H volunteers who demonstrate exemplary service to 4-H while promoting service through volunteerism as both an opportunity and a privilege. Volunteers are awarded in two categories:  Lifetime Volunteer, for more than 10 years of service to 4-H; and Volunteer of the Year, for less than 10 years of service. For more information about the Salute to Excellence Program, contact JoAnne Leatherman at National 4-H Council at 301-961-2870 or

Monsanto Company is a leading global provider of technology-based solutions and agricultural products that improve farm productivity and food quality.  For additional information, please visit

Article submitted by Michele Walfred

Photo by Lloydlee Heite


Sweet watermelons

July 15, 2011 under CANR News

Delaware watermelon connoisseurs are enjoying the moment – local watermelons are now ripe and ready to enjoy. Local watermelons are sweeter and tastier than the out-of-state melons available earlier in the summer, claim their aficionados.

“Local watermelons do taste pretty sweet. And buying local produce when it’s in season helps to support our local growers,” notes Phillip Sylvester, agriculture agent for Kent County Cooperative Extension.

The state’s watermelon crop typically ripens by July 10 and continues through Sept. 25, with the most active harvest period in mid-August.  Delaware’s watermelon industry has declined slightly in recent years but is still strong.  There are more than 2,700 acres of watermelon in Delaware, down from 3,000 acres five years ago. Crop production is currently valued at $11 million annually.

Sylvester always plants watermelons in his home garden in Felton but the bulk of commercial growing takes place further south, in and around Laurel. The well-drained, sandy soils in western Sussex County are excellent for watermelon growing.

This area has been the seat of Delaware’s commercial melon industry since the 1850s, when schooners loaded with watermelon traveled the Nanticoke River to Baltimore and points beyond. More recently, the Laurel Farmers’ Auction Market opened in 1940 to bring wholesale watermelon buyers and sellers together. At one time the price of virtually every Delaware watermelon was negotiated at the Laurel Market. Today, supermarket chains send brokers directly to growers but the market is still used by small- and medium-sized buyers.

Sylvester grows “Crimson Sweet” watermelons because he says they have an exceptionally sweet taste. But this striped heirloom melon will never win any popularity contests, tasty as it might be, because of what some view as an unforgivable downfall – its seeds.

“I don’t care if a watermelon has seeds,” says Sylvester, “but most people do.”

In the 1990s, less than 1 percent of watermelons were seedless. Today, about 75 percent of the watermelons sold in the U.S. are seedless varieties. A seedless watermelon plant contains three sets of chromosomes and is sterile so it must be pollinated by a second plant to set fruit. As a result, growers must pay strict attention to the pollination needs of their seedless watermelon crops. Most growers rent or own honeybee hives but some have started to use bumblebees. UD bee researcher Debbie Delaney and Cooperative Extension fruit and vegetable specialist Gordon Johnson are working with watermelon growers this summer to see if bumblebees improve crop productivity.

Kate Everts also is conducting watermelon research but her projects focus on combating Fusarium wilt. This pestilent pathogen causes one of the most economically significant watermelon diseases worldwide. It causes wilt and plant death early in the season and again when the plant is in fruit. Once a field exhibits severe Fusarium wilt, it’s off limits for watermelon growing for 15 or more years.

Everts, who holds a joint appointment at the University of Delaware and the University of Delaware, collaborates closely with Extension specialists Emmalea Earnest and Gordon Johnson. Her research team focuses on several areas: they’re developing plants resistant to Fusarium wilt, exploring chemical disease measures, and looking at how cover crops can suppress this nasty fungus.

Sylvester is diligent about helping commercial growers obtain maximum yields but when it comes to his own watermelon plot, he adopts a laidback attitude. Though the ag agent know his way around a garden, sometimes pests or weather get the best of his watermelons. Every spring he tells himself “maybe we’ll have watermelons, maybe we won’t.”

However, this summer he hopes for a bumper crop because his 1 1/2-year-old son, Henry, shows a liking for watermelon. What could be better than a “Crimson Sweet,” grown in the backyard by Dad?

Article by Margo McDonough