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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Thanks to a partnership of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension and the Florida Peanut Producers Association, food pantries from Pensacola to Monticello will receive thousands of jars of donated peanut butter this December.
“The Peanut Butter Challenge not only raises awareness about the important contribution of north Florida’s peanut growers to the state peanut industry, but also helps provide a healthy, locally produced product to food-insecure families in northwest Florida,” said Libbie Johnson, agriculture agent for UF/IFAS Extension Escambia County and co-organizer of the Challenge.
Since 2012, the Peanut Butter Challenge has collected jars of peanut butter from residents, volunteer groups and businesses in 16 northwest Florida counties, Johnson said. This year, UF/IFAS Extension county offices received 3236 jars of peanut butter.
In addition to these donations, the Florida Peanut Producers Association also contributes, supplying more than 3000 jars each Challenge, Johnson said.
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — You want to buy those perfect gifts for your loved ones, but you want to avoid experiencing the post-holiday sticker shock when you get your credit card bills. University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension faculty offer words of wisdom.
Michael Gutter, an associate dean of UF/IFAS Extension and a family financial expert, gives several tips to avoid holiday shopping pitfalls:
- Make a list, and set a budget. Ask yourself: How much can you afford to spend? Prioritize gifts and sometimes even people. For example, consider spending more on your immediate family than on your extended family.
- Consider a family giving circle. Buy for your own kids, then draw a name of someone from your extended family. Instead of getting gifts for all nieces, nephews, you might just buy one or two gifts.As an aside, Gutter said: “My family and I are focusing on what gifts contribute to shared experiences, for my son and I, it is some scuba equipment because it is something we do together. In this way, it is not just a gift — something one person benefits from — but it is instead something that contributes to family experiences.”
- If your friends have children of varying ages, consider toy swaps instead of buying toys, more like passing them down, and the one receiving it still has a new toy.
- Avoid giving gifts with many follow-up or add-on expenses, unless you have discussed it with the parents. It can be frustrating to get something that is only really fun if you have the other accompanying items.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — When people shop at this year’s 20th annual poinsettia sale at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, they may be surprised that not all poinsettias are red.
The sale, held from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Dec. 8 and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dec. 9, takes place at the greenhouses behind Fifield Hall, 2550 Hull Road, Gainesville, Florida, on the UF campus. For more information on this year’s UF/IFAS poinsettia sale, click here.
Traditionally, consumers prefer red poinsettias, said Jim Barrett, a UF/IFAS professor emeritus of environmental horticulture who still plays a large role in UF/IFAS poinsettia trials. But as a result of breeding, the bright red poinsettia is now available in burgundy, pink, peach, white, yellow and marbled colors.
In fact, this year, a new, popular poinsettia is the ‘Love You Pink,’ Barrett said. “It’s not a traditional Christmas red,” Barrett said. “But it’s so popular, you’ll find it in retail outlets this year.”
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – University of Florida College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS) students and UF/IFAS faculty recently took home several awards at the 41st International Plant Propagators’ Society (IPPS) southern region conference. IPPS is a global network of plant production professionals involved in horticulture research and education.
“It’s important for our students to attend and participate in professional conferences, such as IPPS, because they learn from top experts in the horticulture fields,” said Sandra Wilson, UF/IFAS environmental horticulture professor. “Our students engage in important experiential learning opportunities such as conversing with professors and other experts who have written these students’ college textbooks.”
The following students, faculty and staff received awards at the conference:
Sidney B. Meadows Award of Merit
- Mack Thetford, environmental horticulture associate professor at UF/IFAS West Florida Research and Education Center.
The award recognizes an outstanding individual for his or her contributions to the nursery industry and plant propagation in the Southern region of North America; it is the highest honor bestowed upon a member.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Rock Aboujaoude Jr., a University of Florida College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS) undergraduate student, presented to more than 2,000 colleagues from around the world at the 12th U.N. Conference of Youth in Marrakesh, Morocco. This international event was held as part of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change in November.
As part of his presentation, the third-year international food and resource economics major discussed his involvement with the nonprofit organization, Campus Climate Corps. Aboujaoude specifically addressed global economic development in regard to climate change. He stressed the importance of being an informed citizen who works with others to impact local and state government.
“I’m very passionate about the subject of climate change, and I believe this is where my future career will be,” said Aboujaoude. “Involvement in opportunities like this is in the interest of making society a better place in which to live.”
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The University of Florida Department of Housing and Residence Education will receive traps designed to stop mosquitoes in their tracks through a donation from SEOUL VIOSYS, a South Korean-based company.
While there are no cases of locally transmitted zika virus on the UF campus, Gainesville or Alachua County, Sharon Blansett, assistant to the associate vice president for UF student affairs, welcomes the mosquito traps as a virus-prevention measure for students living in graduate and family housing.
“The Department of Housing and Residence Education is happy to receive the mosquito traps to help further protect residents living in graduate and family housing from mosquitoes that could potentially transmit viruses,” said Blansett, whose duties include managing UF student housing. “We do not have a mosquito problem at UF, but it’s great to know we’re getting more help in our continued efforts to keep students safe.”
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — It took a few years for Buzz Eaves to notice that tropical soda apple shrubs were overtaking his 1,200-acre cattle ranch near Fort Pierce, Florida. The prickly plant, with fruit the size of a golf ball and the color of unripen watermelon, was creating a barrier to the cattle’s grazing ground and displacing native plants.
“I was spending close to $6,000 a year on fertilizer and it wasn’t working that well,” Eaves said. “Then I heard about a program through the University of Florida that helps get rid of invasive species, so I turned to the school for help,” Eaves said. “It was the best thing I ever did.”
The UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences joined a dozen other organizations to form the Florida Invasive Species Partnership (FISP). The members work across boundaries to address invasive species challenges across the state, said Chris Demers, UF/IFAS Extension statewide program manager.
FISP began as a working group to address invasive species on state and federal land. The program expanded to include privately owned land, Demers said. “UF/IFAS Extension faculty provide various resources on invasive species, control and prevention,” he said. “We work across all species, plants, animals and fungus.”
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researchers and Extension agents are fanning across the state and the Southeast region to help growers and packers meet new federal food safety guidelines.
Driving across the state to packinghouses, farms and training centers, scientists such as Michelle Danyluk, Keith Schneider and Renee Goodrich are training growers in the latest regulations. “The state is massive, and we are not only tasked with helping Florida farmers meet new safety guidelines, but also are tasked with training educators in the Southeast so they can help growers in their states,” said Schneider, who with his colleagues is in the UF/IFAS department of food science and human nutrition.
Last fall, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released several major rules that comprise the new Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). The federal government has recognized the role of Extension specialists in training programs for key sections such as the Produce Safety Rule and the Preventive Controls for Human Foods Rule, Schneider said.
The University of Florida is one of two institutions that was awarded a $1.2 million grant by USDA in 2015 to help lead such training, Danyluk said. The Southern Training, Education, Extension, Outreach, and Technical Assistance Center to Enhance Produce Safety at UF, led by Danyluk, is one of two regional programs that play a leading role in coordinating and implementing FSMA-related training, education, and outreach programs for small and medium-sized farms, beginning farmers, socially disadvantaged farmers, small processors, and/or small fresh fruit and vegetable merchant wholesalers.
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — One of the most important lessons Destiny McCauley ever learned happened in the show ring: “Never give up, even when you think you’ve lost,” she says.
After the first round of a cattle showmanship competition, McCauley, a long-time Hardee County 4-H member, was put last in the line of contestants, which usually signals a low score, she explained. Thinking she had already lost, McCauley just went through the motions in the second round.
She later found out the judges were testing her resolve. Her placement in the line-up had nothing to do with her score. After the first round, McCauley was in first place, but, after her lackluster second round, she had dropped to third.
Now, as she gets ready to graduate from the University of Western Kentucky with a double major in animal science and communications, that experience in the show ring still impacts the way she faces challenges.
ARCADIA, Fla. — Families in Desoto County who visit their local library could walk away as gardeners and healthier eaters. That’s because the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension Desoto County has implemented a program that creates a garden at the local library.
The Family Learning and Literacy Garden was started in 2015 via a partnership between UF/IFAS Extension Desoto County and other community organizations, said Kristie Popa, a UF/IFAS Extension 4-H agent. So far, eight families have successfully completed their first growing season, she said. They are currently preparing their plots for their next crop, she said.
The idea was to educate youth and their families about gardening, health, nutrition and agriculture, Popa said. “We wanted to immerse families in books to encourage a love of reading, while engaging young people in 4-H who may not have had the opportunity before,” she said. “So, gardening at the library gave us the perfect opportunity to engage families in literature and in healthy living.”