GAINESVILLE, Fla.— Arbor Day is approaching and Seffner, Florida, residents are geared up to celebrate with an Arbor Day mail art contest presented by the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension Hillsborough County.
National Arbor Day, April 29, is a time for the global community to come together and celebrate the importance of trees by planting new ones and taking care of the trees already in existence. Trees play an essential part in the ecosystem because they provide clean air and water as well as slow climate change. They also prevent species loss and alleviate poverty and hunger.
This year’s Arbor Day theme for the mail art contest is titled “I appreciate trees because…” Contestants will submit their art, along with their name, age and number, to the Extension office for a chance to be one of three winners. The categories are divided by three age groups: child, youth and adult. Three winners will receive a tree planting kit worth $100, and their art work will be displayed in the lobby of the UF/IFAS Extension Hillsborough County office.
The winners from each age group will be chosen before Arbor Day, and they must be present at Kerby’s Nursery on April 29 at 6 p.m. to receive their prizes.
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Have you ever had a tree trimmed back to bare bones because you thought you were getting your money’s worth? You may be guilty of tree abuse, says a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension agent.
For the last 16 years, the UF/IFAS Extension Broward County Tree Trimmer Program has been teaching tree trimmers and arborists in South Florida how to avoid tree abuse with best pruning practices. Broward County requires tree trimming businesses to be certified and licensed, and the Extension program provides the certification training. Since its start in 2001, the program has issued between 10,000 and 11,000 certifications.
UF/IFAS Extension Broward County agent Michael Orfanedes developed and now oversees the training program. Orfanedes said that when it comes to pruning trees, “Some customers think that the more that gets removed, the better the job.” However, certain pruning practices are considered tree abuse because they can make trees vulnerable to decay and instability. “When trees decline and fall apart, there can be liability and loss of property,” Orfanedes said.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Six University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences faculty members, who are trying to solve global issues as wide-ranging as better alternative fuels and nutrient absorption, have been named as UF Research Foundation Professors for 2016-19.
The recognition goes to faculty who demonstrate a distinguished record of research and a strong research agenda that’s likely to continue to distinguish them in their fields.
“UF/IFAS faculty research continuously shows its value in practical ways, but these faculty members stand out because the University of Florida is recognizing their outstanding work,” said UF/IFAS Dean for Research Jackie Burns. “Their scientific research helps solve global issues ranging from potential solutions to citrus greening to growing crops in a changing climate to finding new sources of alternative energy.”
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Whether it’s hybrid termites, grain pathogens, mosquito mating or something in between, University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researchers are studying important topics and helping to solve global issues.
The UF/IFAS Research Dean’s Office recently recognized more than two dozen UF/IFAS faculty members for their impactful research, and Dean for Research Jackie Burns said she could not be more proud of the scientists.
“We recognize that these research articles are examples of the many published by UF/IFAS that are highly impactful and help reach solutions to worldwide issues including food shortages, nutrition, diseases and economic development,” Burns said. “Our faculty perform top-quality, globally-recognized scientific work, and we’re proud to recognize them.”
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Just as the Zika virus is causing concern worldwide, a University of Florida insect specialist with 36 years of experience at the Florida Medical Entomology Laboratory has been named the lab’s new director.
Professor Jorge Rey started at FMEL, part of the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, in 1979, the year the Vero Beach, Florida, lab came under UF’s umbrella. He moved up the faculty ranks from research scientist to professor in 1994 and was named interim director last year. Now, he’s the lab director, said Jack Payne, UF senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources.
“With his many years of top-quality research and his time as interim director of the Florida Medical Entomology Laboratory, Dr. Rey has earned the respect of the lab’s faculty members. Thus, he’s an ideal fit as director,” Payne said. “Dr. Rey is well-positioned to lead the FMEL scientists to new heights in research and Extension as we continue to look for solutions to mosquito-borne diseases such as dengue, chikungunya and Zika.”
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Major issues threaten American agriculture, but few outside the industry understand the gravity of these problems. University of Florida students are learning how to tell these stories.
The National Institute of Food and Agriculture, part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, awarded a $296,000 grant to UF, Texas Tech and Colorado State — three land-grant universities — to teach students how to increase their awareness and knowledge about controversial topics in agriculture and natural resources. That way, they can think more critically about such hot-button topics – including genetically modified organisms and climate change — and thus, communicate more effectively about them, said Ricky Telg, a UF/IFAS professor of agricultural education and communication.
UF/IFAS received $90,921 for its portion of the project.
The grant will help future agriculture leaders know how to communicate more effectively and hopefully educate the general public about how these challenges could, for example, destroy Florida’s $10.7 billion citrus industry, spread viruses like chikungunya and dengue, increase water pollution and lead to more obesity. Educating the general public about these challenges will help people understand how agriculture and natural resources issues are intertwined and help everyone see the big picture in ensuring we have ample food to feed the predicted 9.5 billion people on Earth by 2050.
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researcher wants to help you engage your neighbors to conserve urban biodiversity.
Mark Hostetler, a UF/IFAS professor of wildlife ecology and conservation, sees educational signs in neighborhoods as a way to nudge people to change their landscape practices, among other activities.
“Such signs can help homeowners understand ways to manage their homes, yards and neighborhoods in a more sustainable way,” Hostetler said.
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — How long do you shower? Would you be willing to set a timer for yourself while you bathe? That may be something to consider as you try to reduce your water consumption, say University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researchers.
In a study that used an online survey of 932 Floridians, UF/IFAS researchers sought to identify characteristics of so-called “high-water users,” based on residents’ perceived importance of plentiful water and their water conservation behaviors.
Researchers were most interested in the 24 percent of the respondents who saw water conservation as important yet take little action to do so – for example, people who take long showers and those who may use excessive water to irrigate their lawns. That’s because researchers want residents, homeowners associations, Extension agents and the media to target their water conservation measures to these water users.
WHO: The University of Florida IFAS Center for Landscape Conservation and Ecology will host the first Urban Landscape Summit on March 23.
WHAT: All are invited to hear summit speakers discuss water, landscape management, urban pest issues, social issues, economics and more. Presentations will include “Why do we adopt environmentally friendly lawn care?”; “Managing pests in lawn care: Is it necessary?”; and “Smart water application technologies.”
WHERE: The event will be held at the Straughn UF/IFAS Extension Professional Development Center, 2142 Shealy Drive, Gainesville.
WHEN: The summit will be from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Wednesday, March 23. For more information, visit http://gardeningsolutions.ifas.ufl.edu/clce/events/urban-landscape-summit.html
To register, log onto http://2016urbanlandscapesummit.eventbrite.com
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — If your child loves bugs, it’s time to register for the seventh annual UF Entomology Field Camp organized by the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.
Whether your child craves the critters for their creepiness or is beginning to develop a “Big Bang Theory”-like interest in insects as a potential field of study – or is somewhere in between — he or she may well enjoy the experience. Many campers return year after year, organizers say. This year’s camp has been dubbed the “Bug Club.”
The camp, open to rising fifth through ninth-graders, is held from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., daily from June 20-24, at the UF/IFAS entomology and nematology department at Steinmetz Hall on the UF campus. This year, organizers plan to include more insect-collecting trips, weather permitting, said Rebecca Baldwin, a UF/IFAS assistant professor of entomology.