IFAS News

University of Florida

50 Florida 4-H youth to attend presidential inauguration

Topic(s): 4-H, Extension, Families and Consumers, IFAS

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — On Jan. 20, 50 youth from the Florida 4-H youth development program will attend the presidential inauguration in Washington, D.C., to learn more about U.S. democracy and civic engagement.

“4-H believes in learning by doing, and this is an opportunity for our young people to be really engaged in our political process at the highest level,” said Chris Decubellis, associate state program leader for Florida 4-H youth development.

Florida 4-H members will attend the inauguration as part of the Citizenship Washington Focus program, a national program held in Washington, D.C., and attended by 4-H members from across the country ages 14 to 19. 4-H members confirmed their attendance for the inauguration nine months prior to the Nov. 2016 election.

Florida 4-H members will arrive in the capital on Jan. 17 and stay through Jan. 20.

“I am excited for the opportunity to travel to Washington D.C. and witness such a monumental event in history,” said Gabi Sullivan, an attendee from Marion County and president of the Florida 4-H State Council. “Attending the inauguration is a once in a lifetime event for me, and I believe the experience will open my mind to many new ideas and people.”

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UF/IFAS experts to stress environment, immigration, production at ag policy conference

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Crops, Economics, Environment, Extension, Food Safety, IFAS, RECs, Research

Spiro Stefanou

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences economists and other experts will explore economic insights helpful for making informed business and policy decisions at the second annual Florida Agricultural Policy Outlook Conference, organized by the UF/IFAS food and resource economics department.

This year’s topics include the innovation economy, food and nutrition policy, agricultural labor, water quality and management and agricultural production policy and trade.

The conference will be held from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Feb. 9 at the UF/IFAS Gulf Coast Research and Education Center, 14625 County Road 672, Balm, Florida.

“Agriculture is a vital industry for Florida with interesting opportunities and compelling challenges as we move into the future,” said Spiro Stefanou, chair of the UF/IFAS food and resource economics department. “Our goal is to bring industry experts, researchers, policy and business leaders together to discuss the current and emerging challenges related to Florida as an engine of innovation, policy related to food, nutrition and consumer decision making, water quality and management, agricultural labor and the prospects for our fruit and vegetable industry.”

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Florida 4-H annual meeting celebrates successes, looks to the future

Topic(s): 4-H, Extension, Families and Consumers, IFAS

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida 4-H agents spend their careers helping young people learn life skills that put them on the path to becoming successful adults. However, these dedicated professionals also know that learning is a lifelong process.

At the 2017 4-H Youth Development Institute, Florida 4-H faculty and staff  from across the state will come together to learn from each other and share success stories from their own 4-H communities. The institute is set for Jan. 10 to 12 at the Hilton Hotel in Ocala, Florida.

“At the 4-H Youth Development Institute, we work to provide our wonderful 4-H agents with the latest science behind positive youth development and the latest youth development curricula,” said Chris DeCubellis, associated state program leader for 4-H youth development with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension. “We also provide training for the organization and volunteer systems necessary to provide positive experiences for Florida’s Youth.”

“We are striving for the Florida 4-H Youth Development Program to be the premier youth development program in the nation,” DeCubellis said. “In order for this to happen, we must have the best-trained professionals in the business.”

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‘Art of Goodbye’ starts the conversation about end-of-life planning

Topic(s): Extension, Families and Consumers, IFAS

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — No one likes to talk about death or dying. But starting a dialogue with loved ones about end-of-life concerns outside of a diagnosis or crisis can help reduce the stress and conflict that sometimes occur when those close to us are terminally ill or pass away, says Lynda Spence, family and consumer sciences educator with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension Marion County.

Spence heads the Art of Goodbye project, a series of classes offered through UF/IFAS Extension that helps participants understand end-of-life issues and how to communicate their preferences to family, friends and healthcare providers.

“While most people want to start the conversation, many aren’t sure how to bring up the topic or are afraid that talking about the end of life will change their relationships with people they care about,” Spence explained.

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UF/IFAS researchers show potential market for locally grown Asian vegetables

Topic(s): Agriculture, Crops, Cultivars, Economics, Extension, Families and Consumers, IFAS, Nutrition, RECs, Research, Vegetables

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Asian-Americans in three East Coast states, including Florida, yearn for more of their native vegetables, and those crops can be grown in the East, say two University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researchers.

Gene McAvoy, a UF/IFAS Extension vegetable specialist, and Shouan Zhang, a UF/IFAS plant pathology associate professor, were among a group of 17 researchers from four land-grant universities who surveyed Asian Americans’ preferences in Asian vegetables. Then the researchers tested the crops in various states to see how well they would grow.

There’s a market for locally grown Asian vegetables, researchers say.

In Florida, Asians account for 2.8 percent – or 557,000 — of the state’s 19.8 million people, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The population of Asian Americans has jumped by 32 percent from 2000 to 2011, according to the census bureau. Asians are expected to make up about 40 million Americans by 2030. On the East Coast alone, there are 5.8 million Asian Americans in 2014, according to the study.

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UF/IFAS Extension program collects mosquito repellent for the homeless

Topic(s): Extension, Families and Consumers, Household Pests, IFAS

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BROOKSVILLE, Fla. — Experts agree that one effective way to protect yourself against mosquitoes —and the diseases they can transmit — is to wear mosquito repellent. But for homeless people, getting access to this kind of protection can be difficult.

In response, the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension Hernando County launched Operation Skeeter Stop. Through this program, organizers collected 313 donated containers of mosquito repellent and distributed them to the Hernando County homeless community through the Homeless Ministry of Brooksville and the Bread of Life Ministry.

Operation Skeeter Stop is a collaboration among several UF/IFAS Extension Hernando County programs, including Florida Sea Grant, Florida Friendly Landscaping, 4-H Youth Development and Florida Master Gardeners, along with Hernando County Mosquito Control and the Florida Department of Health, said Brittany Scharf, UF/IFAS Extension Hernando County Florida Sea Grant agent.

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4-H Tech Wizards gives Hastings youth science education, confidence

Topic(s): 4-H, Extension, Families and Consumers, IFAS

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Each week, 28 middle schoolers from Hastings, Florida, gather at the W.E. Harris Community Center, where they practice programming robots to light up and move around or learn the physics behind the bow and arrow. These 4-H Tech Wizards are not just getting a leg up in STEM—science, technology, engineering and math—but also developing life skills they might otherwise miss out on.

“Most of these youth have grown up under difficult circumstances,” said Julia Kelly, 4-H agent with University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension St. Johns County. “Some were born drug addicted or come from homes that receive public assistance, while others are cared for by a single parent or have one parent who is incarcerated.”

UF/IFAS Extension St. Johns County is one of six Florida counties—including Hillsborough, Palm Beach, Duval, Osceola and Broward—that has a 4-H Tech Wizards program.

“Youth arrive with a with a variety of science backgrounds and skill levels, so our goal is to supplement what they are learning in class and spark an interest in science they may not have known they had,” said Kelly.

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UF/IFAS Extension Specialist: Time to keep those New Year’s resolutions

Topic(s): Extension, Families and Consumers, Finances, IFAS, Nutrition

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — It’s almost a new year, another chance to make resolutions. But will they stick this time? Or will you see your determination peter out by February?

An Extension specialist with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences offers tips on how you can develop good habits and keep those New Year resolutions. “It can be tough to start a new habit, and there are a lot of things that can get in the way. Change is not easy, and sometimes we’re just not ready,” says Heidi Radunovich, associate professor, human development specialist, and UF/IFAS Extension program director for UF Engagement. She offers a few suggestions for success:

  • Work on getting the resources you need. For example, you want to exercise regularly, but you can’t afford a gym membership. Schedule regular walks, use community facilities, or buy some used and/or inexpensive equipment or videos.
  • Think carefully about attitude. We have to believe that we are capable of making the change. It can be hard to stick with something if we don’t truly believe we are capable, or even if we have doubts. Make sure to give yourself a pep talk and search for examples of others who have been successful.

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2016’s Top 10 UF/IFAS Extension publications cover snakes, avocados, vegetable gardening, more

Topic(s): Agriculture, Crops, Economics, Environment, Extension, Families and Consumers, Food Safety, IFAS, Invasive Species, Lawn & Garden, Pests

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Vegetable gardening, bahia grass, living with snakes and identifying poisonous plants. These are the topics for some of the top University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension documents from 2016. Here’s this year’s list of the top 10 publications from the UF/IFAS Electronic Data Information Source:

  1. Vegetable gardening offers fresh air, sunshine, exercise, enjoyment, mental therapy, nutritious, fresh vegetables and economic savings, as well as many other benefits: http://bit.ly/2hgLzbV. (124,723 visits)
  2. In the U.S., people kill thousands of snakes each year, yet only five or six people die of venomous snake bites. In order for snakes and people to safely coexist, it is important that Floridians learn to identify, understand and respect snakes: http://bit.ly/2h66sDM. (91,417)
  3. Living with snakes in Florida: About 50 species of snakes live along the Atlantic and Gulf coastal states. An EDIS document, http://bit.ly/2hgK7Xf, teaches you how to identify black snakes.  (89,724)
  4. Here’s everything you need to know about common diseases that afflict poultry: http://bit.ly/2ganzHn. (84,556)
  5. Before you go for a walk, it helps to know if there are poisonous plants along your path. Find out how to identify them: http://bit.ly/2hgJGvJ. (72,245)
  6. How do producers make sure food-handling and processing equipment stays clean? A UF/IFAS expert shows you: http://bit.ly/2hitCpe.
  7. St. Augustine grass is dense and well-adapted to Florida soils, but you’ve got to make sure you water it, according to this EDIS document, http://bit.ly/2gZIYQb. (47,072)
  8. We live with alligators here in Florida. So what do we do about it? Find out here: http://bit.ly/2hdKwpe (45,686)
  9. Bahia grass prefers acidic soil and has relatively few insect and disease problems. Find out more here: http://bit.ly/2gOaaUy. (42,178)
  10. Learn more about growing avocados in your backyard in Florida from UF/IFAS experts in this EDIS document: http://bit.ly/2gOaaUy. (36,064)

EDIS, a free service of UF/IFAS Extension, provides information on topics relevant to you: profitable and sustainable agriculture, the environment and natural resources, 4-H and other youth programs, Florida-friendly landscapes, communities that are vibrant and prosperous, economic well-being and quality of life for people and families. UF/IFAS Extension faculty statewide write the documents for EDIS.

“EDIS is a longstanding public-service tradition of UF/IFAS Extension in which we use an electronic system to disseminate top-notch, science-based research to our many stakeholders,” said Nick Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension. “We hope people continue to go to the website and read this critical information that provides solutions for their lives.”

That website is www.edis.ifas.ufl.edu.

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Caption: Vegetable gardening, bahia grass, living with snakes and identifying poisonous plants. Those are among the 10 most popular UF/IFAS Extension publications for 2016.

Credit: UF/IFAS file.

By: Brad Buck, 352-294-3303, bradbuck@ufl.edu

UF/CALS adds Youth Development and Family Science Ph.D. program

Topic(s): Announcements, Departments, Families and Consumers, IFAS

phdweb

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The University of Florida College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS) will add a new Ph.D. program in youth development and family science to start in fall 2017. This is the first doctoral program in Florida and at an Association of American Universities (AAU) institution in the southeast to focus on youth development.

As part of the family, youth and community sciences (FYCS) department, this doctoral program is appropriate for individuals looking to pursue a tenure-track faculty position or a research career in government, nonprofit or private sectors. The program offers opportunities for doctoral students to engage in undergraduate teaching and mentoring.

“This is very exciting for our department since this will be our first Ph.D. program,” said Tracy Irani, chair of the FYCS department. “We’ve had FYCS graduates of UF contact us on a regular basis to see if a doctoral program has been added to our curriculum and we can now say, ‘Yes!’ We just hired a prevention science methodologist specifically for this program.”

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