Delaware Ag Week draws record numbers

January 24, 2014 under Cooperative Extension

Delaware Ag Week draws record crowdsA successful Delaware Agriculture Week, held from January 13-17, attracted record attendance at the Delaware State Fairgrounds, home to the event for the past nine years.

An estimated 1900 visitors, up from 1700 last year, drove to Harrington to attend their choice of 97 sessions offered on a variety of topics crucial to Delaware agriculture. Topics included poultry, equine, nutrient management, fresh market fruits and vegetables, production crops, irrigation, forestry, horticulture, safety, ACA health insurance, Integrated Pest Management (IPM), weed and disease control in agronomic crops. Additional presentations covered equine, small ruminants and beef cattle.

‘Ag Week’ as it is known in the First State is planned in collaboration with the University of Delaware Cooperative Extension, Delaware State University Cooperative Extension and the Delaware Department of Agriculture. In addition to invited experts from around the country, more than 30 sessions were taught by experts from the University of Delaware College of Agriculture and Natural Resources and college staff served as session moderators.

Cory Whaley, Sussex County agriculture Extension agent and chair of the Delaware Ag Week Planning Committee, was pleased with the number of people who attended and the 81 vendor exhibits offered during the week.

“Ag Week is great event where the ag community can come together for continuing education, to catch up with friends, and talk with local vendors,” said Whaley. “Much of the success of Ag Week can be attributed to the individual session chairs who identify topics that are relevant and timely and then match these topics with expert speakers from our area and from across the country.”  A complete listing of this year’s program sponsors and exhibitors is available on the Delaware Ag Week website.

Michelle Rodgers, associate dean and director of UD Cooperative Extension, attended many of the sessions throughout Delaware Agriculture Week. Rodgers commended her Extension colleague’s efforts and teamwork for developing an event that positively impacts the agricultural community. “Hat’s off to the entire team for an excellent Ag Week.” Rodgers said. “We have had record crowds as well as top-notch speakers from Delaware and across the country. Feedback has been very positive,” Rodgers said, adding that attendees especially voiced appreciation on hearing the current research, the breadth of topics offered, and a venue to network with others in the agriculture sector.

Ed Kee, Delaware Secretary of Agriculture, thanked everyone who organized Delaware Ag Week. “We are really connecting. Good job to all the farmers and industry people who participated,” Kee said.

During Delaware Ag Week attendees were able to earn nutrient management, pesticide and certified crop advisor continuing education credits.

It was the first Ag Week for Nathan Kleczewski, UD Extension plant pathology specialist, who was hired in May 2013.  Along with Dan Egel and Shubin Saha, colleagues from Purdue, Kleczewski felt the collaborative nature of the sessions gave other experts the opportunity to share their research and expertise. “It gives growers an outside perspective and builds collaborations,” said Kleczewski.

Kleczewski was pleased to see 250 people attend the high tunnel and agronomy sessions and received positive feedback. “It was a great way to introduce myself to many people and now that they have a face to put to the name, I expect to receive more calls during the course of the growing season,” Kleczewski said.

A new exhibition for 2014 was the Hazards of Flowing Grain demonstration. Mike Love, agriculture safety Extension agent, coordinated the presentations, equipment and resources. Twice a day, Love conducted a workshop on the dangers of grain entrapment and rescue best practices via a mobile unit developed to scale by Penn State.

“An individual entering a grain silo can be entrapped in seconds,” Love said. Attempts to move can bury the victim deeper in the grain. Love illustrated the physics behind grain movement within silo storage, explaining how a 165-pound individual effectively becomes 300 pounds when the grain reaches waist level. Love emphasized that knowing how to safely respond is critical. The exhibit was enthusiastically received and plans to feature it during the Delaware State Fair in July are being discussed.

On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings during Ag Week, Love conducted Grain Rescue workshops at the Quillen Arena where first responders utilized best practices for the unique rescue challenge inside a full sized silo mock-up on loan from Perdue Agribusiness Grain Emergency Response Team. More than 100 first responders from Delaware attended and worked in teams as they entrapped a volunteer and practiced the rescue techniques and equipment. “The grain rescue workshops were offered to first responders and farmers so they may learn the characteristics of flowing grain, the causes and best practices for rescue,” Love said.

Philip Russell, 1st Assistant Chief of the Magnolia Volunteer Fire Department attended the training Thursday night and found the experience extremely valuable. “This was an eye opener for us. We need to make sure we have the right equipment to make the proper rescue.”  Russell said.

Robbie Roe, Russell’s colleague, volunteered as a victim and agreed the training was necessary. “It would be the worst way to die known to man,” Roe exclaimed. “I couldn’t breathe.” Fortunately, their fire department has not been called out to a grain entrapment, but Roe was grateful for the opportunity to become better prepared. “We have silos in our district we never had before. This [training] is what we need to do.”

Held in January every year, the 2014 event was an opportunity for Rodgers and her Extension colleagues to mark Cooperative Extension’s 100th year of providing research-based information to the public.

Click here for additional photos of Delaware Ag Week

Article by Michele Walfred

Photos: Michele Walfred, Cory Whaley, and Heather Baker

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Kleczewski joins UD Cooperative Extension as plant pathology specialist

May 15, 2013 under Cooperative Extension

Nathan Kleczewski has joined the University of Delaware Cooperative Extension Service as the plant pathology specialist. He replaces Bob Mulrooney, who retired after 38 years with UD Cooperative Extension.

Kleczewski received his bachelor of science degree in biology from University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh and his doctorate in plant pathology from Ohio State University. He did postdoctoral research at Indiana and Purdue universities. Most recently, he worked as a plant pathologist with FMC Agricultural Products.

At UD, Kleczewski’s work will concentrate on plant pathology in field crops. Although he has only been in his new job since May 1, Kleczewski has hit the ground running. He already has set up meetings with local growers to better understand their needs.

“My work is grower-driven,” notes Kleczewski. “All of my applied research projects will focus on the concerns of Delaware’s farmers.”

KleczewskiNathanRecognizing the ever-increasing role that technology plays in daily life, Kleczewski will create a Facebook page where he will post up-to-the-minute information on plant diseases in Delaware and surrounding states. A farmer in the field need only glance at his or her smartphone to find out the latest issues and learn how to prevent or mitigate crop loss.

“We are very pleased to have Nathan join our Extension team. Each growing season brings its own disease challenges and having plant pathology expertise on our team in Delaware is a critical aspect of successful crop production and sustaining Delaware agriculture,” says Michelle Rodgers, associate dean and director of UD Cooperative Extension and Outreach.

Kleczewski grew up in rural Wisconsin. Both his maternal and paternal grandparents owned dairy farms and his uncles currently work as dairy farmers. He always enjoyed studying the sciences but when the time came to enter graduate school he told a college professor, “I want to work in the sciences but I want to do work that my uncles will understand and appreciate. I want to make a difference in the lives of people I know.”

His professor suggested plant pathology and Kleczewski quickly discovered that it was the perfect discipline for his interests. Kleczewski’s wife, Victoria, also works in the agricultural field; she is employed in field development for DuPont.

Kleczewski is enjoying a busy spring. He and his wife settled on a new house in Middletown in late April, and are looking forward to the birth of their first child later this month.

Article by Margo McDonough

Photo by Danielle Quigley

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