IFAS News

University of Florida

UF/IFAS Extension Peanut Butter Challenge tackles hunger in the Panhandle

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

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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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UF/IFAS Extension offers way to avoid post-holiday shopping ‘sticker shock’

Topic(s): Economics, Extension, Families and Consumers, Finances

January 2007 calendar, During the excitement of the holiday season, many people overspend. Bring this and other debt uder control often seems like a daunting task. IFAS Extension family economics programs are helping people regain control of their finances by providing money management tips for reducing debt. UF/IFAS Photo by: Thomas Wright.

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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.
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    UF/IFAS Extension agent: Baking blunders to avoid this holiday

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

    GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The way people get cooking advice has changed a lot over the years, due in no small part to the Internet, said Heidi Copeland, family and consumer sciences agent with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension Leon County.

    “Before the Internet, people often took to calling their local Extension office for culinary advice, especially during the frenzy of holiday cooking,” Copeland said. “Fortunately, people still come to family and consumer sciences agents like myself to get answers to their culinary questions.”

    “Folks are frequently concerned about baking,” Copeland said. “Many often wonder why their product isn’t turning out.”

    Copeland has these tips for avoiding common baking blunders:

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    Consumers to choose from more than 100 varieties at annual UF/IFAS poinsettia sale

    Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Cultivars, Families and Consumers, IFAS

    2012 Horticulture Club's Poinsettia Show and Sale on Thursday, December 6th.  UF/IFAS Photo by Tyler Jones.

    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.”

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    UF/IFAS survey shows homeowners want incentives to conserve more water

    Topic(s): Environment, Extension, Families and Consumers, IFAS, Lawn & Garden, RECs, Research

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    GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Homeowners with irrigation systems would use less water if they were offered more incentives, according to a new University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences report.

    Most will even pay more for better water quality.

    Respondents to a UF/IFAS online survey of 3,000 such homeowners in Florida, Texas and California said reducing the price of water-efficient equipment would be the most effective strategy. That was followed by more practical information on household water conservation, easier identification of water-efficient appliances and better landscape irrigation ordinances.

    Additionally, respondents liked the idea of a real-time water use mobile app and more information on the environmental impacts of water conservation.

    “We know that informed homeowners are aware and concerned about the environmental consequences of excessive irrigation water use. However, awareness and concern are necessary, but not sufficient, conditions for resource and water conservation.” said Hayk Khachatryan, an assistant professor of food and resource economics and the lead investigator in the survey. “Efforts in promoting the adoption of water-saving irrigation systems and practices will be more successful when environmental conservation measures are combined with economic incentives such as utility or manufacturer rebates on smart irrigation equipment.”

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    UF receives mosquito traps for graduate and family housing

    Topic(s): Announcements, Entomology and Nematology, Families and Consumers, IFAS, Pests

     

    Paul Choi from Seoul Viosys meets with Dr. Philip Koehler and University Vilage housing workers to donate mosquito traps, photographed on November 21, 2016.

    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.”

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    Hardee County 4-H alumna: Attitude, perseverance are the keys to success

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

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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.

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    Habitat for Humanity, UF/IFAS Extension program work together for new homeowners

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

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    GAINESVILLE, Fla. — As they prepare to be new homeowners with help from Habitat for Humanity, program candidates learn home maintenance, how to save energy and how to get along better with home occupants through the Homeflow program, offered by the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension.

    A second Homeflow class will be offered starting Dec. 8, through a partnership with Habitat for Humanity in Jacksonville.

    Known as HabiJax, the Jacksonville program is one of the largest in the U.S., having built more than 2,000 homes in the past 28 years, said Randy Cantrell, a UF/IFAS Extension housing and community development specialist. Qualified homebuyers complete educational workshops and hours of “sweat equity” – volunteer hours alongside community volunteers – to help build their own homes and upon completion, purchase their home with an affordable mortgage payment.

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    UF/IFAS researcher: Neighborly conversations can help with water conservation

    Topic(s): Conservation, Environment, Extension, Families and Consumers, Lawn & Garden, Research

    People work at a rain barrel building workshop at the Alachua County Extension Office. Photo taken December 4th, 2015.

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    GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Your neighbors and peers probably care more about water conservation than one might assume, and that may mean they’re open to some new ideas about using less water, a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researcher says.

    Laura Warner, who will publish a new study on UF/IFAS Extension water conservation programs, thinks these neighborly discussions could prove fruitful.

    “You may not notice the ways someone conserves, but they may already be taking action to not waste water by using good irrigation practices, and they may be open to some new ideas if you strike up a conversation about how you save water in the home landscape,” said Warner, a UF/IFAS assistant professor of agricultural education and communications.

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    UF/IFAS Extension helps Floridians ‘take charge’ of diabetes

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

    Nancy Gal, standing, Marion County extension agent with the University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, discusses diet selection with participants in her Take Charge of Your Diabetes class. Those participating in the class include, from left, Herman Boykin, Elzatie Miller, Edward Sugarman and Marcella Spencer. Take Charge of Your Diabetes is available from Extension offices throughout Florida. (UF/IFAS photo by Marisol Amador)

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    GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Diabetes affects 29.1 million people in the U.S. — 9.3 percent of the population — and is the seventh leading cause of death in the country, according to the latest numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    “In Florida, 9.4 percent of adults have been told by a medical professional that they have diabetes, and this doesn’t count those who have diabetes and don’t yet know it,” said Linda Bobroff, professor and UF/IFAS Extension nutrition specialist with University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. Bobroff is director of the Take Charge of Your Diabetes program, a series of classes that helps those diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes better manage their condition.

    “Take Charge of Your Diabetes covers most aspects of diabetes self-care, and is offered by UF/IFAS Extension county faculty in collaboration with local health professionals who specialize in diabetes management. Participants attend nine weekly sessions and at least two follow-up meetings to encourage their continued adherence to best practices for good blood glucose control and to check their progress,” Bobroff said.

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