IFAS News

University of Florida

UF/IFAS 4-H welcomes Miss America 2016 to 4-H University on July 25

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

MISS AMERICA 2016

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Miss America 2016, Betty Cantrell, will deliver the keynote address at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension 4-H University. The event will be held from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m., Monday, July 25 at the UF Reitz Union Grand Ballroom.

4-H University, UF IFAS Extension Florida 4-H’s flagship leadership event, is a weeklong overnight workshop for young adults ages 14 to 18, said Travis Shepard, UF/IFAS Extension state 4-H events coordinator. Attendees will participate in educational workshops led by UF/IFAS faculty, explore career opportunities and lead community service activities, he said.

“Students will not only interact with youth from across the state, but will also have fun while developing critical life skills that will help them become productive and engaged citizens,” Shepard said.

Cantrell, a 4-H alumna from Warner Robins, Georgia, will speak about the importance of setting goals and following your dreams, and the impact 4-H has had on her life, Shepard said. “She’ll also grace us with a song or two, and tell us about her experiences thus far as Miss America.”

According to Shepard, students are excited to meet a 4-H alumna who has realized her dreams. “We are thrilled to have such an accomplished and relatable 4-H alum serve as the keynote speaker of our opening ceremony,” he said.

-30-

By: Beverly James, 352-273-3566, beverlymjames@ufl.edu

Source: Travis Shepard, 352-294-2901, t.shepard@ufl.edu

Finding Dory: UF/IFAS researchers find first-ever method to farm Pacific Blue Tang

Topic(s): Announcements, Environment, Families and Consumers, IFAS, RECs, Research
Blue Tang breeding in captivity news release on Tuesday, July 19th, 2016. Photo by Tyler Jones.

Blue Tang breeding in captivity./Photo by Tyler Jones.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Finally, it may be possible for regular folks to find their own Dory, as researchers with the University of Florida Tropical Aquaculture Laboratory have successfully raised the Pacific Blue Tang in captivity. This is the first time that researchers have been able to raise the blue fish that now stars in a Disney movie.

“Like many research successes, it took a team of two UF biologists, faculty, graduate students and other staff to make it happen,” said Craig Watson, director of the UF Tropical Aquaculture Laboratory, which is part of the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. “We worked with Rising Tide Conservation and the SeaWorld-Busch Gardens Conservation Fund to find a way to successfully breed Pacific Blue Tangs. It was a delicate, time-intensive endeavor, but one that has paid off.”

The project began approximately six years ago, when Watson was approached by Judy St. Leger from Rising Tide Conservation, Watson said. The program’s primary goal is to develop production technologies for key marine ornamental species, including Pacific Blue Tang, he said.

(more …)

Celebrate Florida agriculture and natural resources, cheer on the Florida Gators Oct. 15

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

Spectators and fans in the stands of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium during a UF football game.  Photo taken 11-07-15

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Farmers, ranchers, landscapers – and everyone in between – are invited to celebrate Agriculture and Gardening Day at the University of Florida’s homecoming football game, Oct. 15, 2016.

UF Athletics and the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences are hosting the event and offering discounted tickets to anyone connected to agriculture in the state, including their families and friends.

“Florida’s agricultural, natural resources and related food industries add $140 billion to our economy and employ nearly 300,000 people,” said Jack Payne, UF senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources. “The industry is second only to tourism in Florida, and this is a great way to honor and recognize those who work so hard to put food on our tables and plants and flowers in our yards.”

The Gators are playing the University of Missouri Tigers, and tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis, with limited seating available in the upper south end zone for $35 and the upper north end zone for $20.

(more …)

UF/IFAS Extension St. Johns County 4-H team headed to national forestry competition

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

IMG_3782

Please see caption below story.

AUGUSTINE, Fla. — Henry Keating, 15, and Cayla and Jeremy Smith, 15 and 17, can tell a fir tree from a spruce — no small feat for three kids who grew up in St. Johns County, Florida, where firs and spruces don’t grow.

As part of the UF/IFAS Extension St. Johns County 4-H forestry team, it’s been several years since these three could walk into a forest and simply see “trees.” Instead, they see features such as leaf shape and branching pattern, clues to the trees’ species. For example, “spruces have rounder needles, while firs have flatter ones,” said Jeremy.

Keating and the Smiths won this year’s Florida 4-H state forestry competition and are now headed to the National 4-H Forestry Invitational in Jackson’s Mill, West Virginia. The competition is set for July 31 to Aug. 4.

The St. Johns team will compete with other 4-H teams from across the country, demonstrating mastery of various skills, such as estimating the amount of timber in a tree and planning the development of forested land. They will also need to identify 81 tree species, including fir and spruce, nearly twice the number of trees they had to know at the state level.

(more …)

At UF/IFAS Extension youth camp, weather is more than a conversation starter

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

IMG_3100

NAPLES, Fla. — The quietest kid at the Southwest Florida Weather Camp beamed as his miniature hot air balloon rose above the other balloons launched by his fellow campers.

“His balloon went up the highest and went farther than anyone else’s,” said Tish Roland, 4-H agent at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension Collier County. “Everyone was running over to him asking him how he did it.”

Over the last two years, Roland has organized the Southwest Florida Weather Camp with the help of Mike Mogil, director of the National Weather Camp Program and experienced meteorologist. “Mike has worked with kids all over the country, but he is from Naples and wanted to have Weather Camp in his own community,” Roland said.

This year’s Weather Camp is set for July 11 through July 15, and goes from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. each day. Activities will take place at the UF/IFAS Extension Collier County office in Naples, Florida. The registration fee includes lunch and snacks. Go to http://bit.ly/29nJk00 to register.

(more …)

UF/IFAS Extension to host cottage industry expo for local food entrepreneurs

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

017021

WESLEY CHAPEL, Fla. — Have you ever dreamed of selling your own cheese or marketing your grandmother’s jam recipe? Budding entrepreneurs are invited to the first annual Tampa Bay Cottage Industry Expo to hear experts from the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences and industry professionals present on topics such as food safety, production and marketing.

The expo is set for July 30 at Wiregrass Ranch High School, 2909 Mansfield Boulevard, Wesley Chapel, Florida, and will go from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The goal of the event is to help people tackle the challenges that come with starting a cottage food business, said Whitney Elmore, UF/IFAS Extension Pasco County director. “We want to help people get into the industry while avoiding some of the big mistakes that might be a hindrance to their success,” she said.

(more …)

UF/IFAS, Pinellas Sheriff’s office create urban farms in Pinellas County

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

Loften Center students learning about gardening and nutrition on Thursday, May 21st, 2015.

GAINESVILLE, Fla.— Residents in a county on Florida’s Gulf Coast are getting the help they need to access healthier foods via a collaboration between the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension and the Pinellas Sheriff’s Police Athletic League. The two entities have teamed up to create an urban farm in Pinellas County.

Urban farms promote an abundance of food for people in need while raising awareness of health and wellness. “It is an opportunity to teach families and children the values of nutrition and establish a level of commerce for produce distribution,” said Mark Trujillo, a public health regional specialist for UF/IFAS Family Nutrition Program.

Trujillo introduced the executive director of the Pinellas Sheriff’s PAL, Neil Brickfield, to an empty U-Pick farm in Lealman, Florida, Pinellas County. After discovering the potential that the farm had to help the county, Brickfield then began to work with UF/IFAS to identify the needs of the farm and community.

Because Lealman, Florida is considered a food desert, the idea of an urban farm was essential for the area, Trujillo said. According to Brickfield, the citizens in Lealman are more than a mile from a local grocery store. “So, the urban farm is an opportunity for people to have fresh produce readily available,” Brickfield said.

(more …)

UF survey shows most Floridians want to know more about genetically modified foods

Topic(s): Agriculture, Crops, Families and Consumers, Food Safety, IFAS, New Technology, Nutrition, Research

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — While almost half of Floridians acknowledge buying genetically modified foods, a recent survey by the Center for Public Issues Education in Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Florida reveals that most people want to know much more about those foods.

“The study shows that Floridians believe they don’t know much about genetically modified foods and their benefits,” said Joy Rumble, assistant professor in agricultural education and communication at the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. “Many people are favorable to supporting research, and they think it’s essential that government support it. Floridians see a place for GM foods, but they do have hesitations.”

The PIE Center surveyed 500 Floridians on their perceptions of genetically modified foods. Respondents were largely unsure about the potential benefits of genetically modified food, with more than 40 percent neither agreeing nor disagreeing that food technology such as GMOs allows people to live longer or better lives.

(more …)

In UF/IFAS Extension Florida 4-H, leadership starts at a young age

Topic(s): 4-H

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Nine-year-old Rose Ducanis did not want to go to her first 4-H club meeting. “My mom pretty much had to drag me there,” Ducanis said. “I didn’t want to go because I just had no idea what to expect.” However, during that first meeting, she realized that UF/IFAS Extension Florida 4-H wasn’t just a bunch of kids listening to adults and eating snacks — it was a chance for her to find her voice as a leader.

“As I got more involved in 4-H, I realized that I had good things to say and that people would actually listen to them. You don’t often get that opportunity as a kid,” Ducanis said. Though Ducanis grew up in Davie, Florida, a suburban community, she liked how 4-H’s focus on leadership could apply to youth from any community.

Now, after nearly a decade as a 4-H member, Ducanis is the 2015–2016 Florida 4-H state council president. She has also been chosen as governor for this year’s 4-H Legislature, the main civic education event for Florida 4-H members between the ages of 13 and 18. From June 27 to July 1, youth from around the state will be at the Florida State Capitol, where they will learn to play the part of lawmakers, lobbyists and media correspondents in a mock legislative setting.

(more …)

Blueberries’ health benefits better than many perceive

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

Blueberry bush.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Consumers know some of the benefits blueberries provide, but they’re less aware of the advantages of reverting aging, improving vision and memory, a new University of Florida study shows.

Shuyang Qu, a doctoral student in agricultural education and communication at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, led the study. Joining Qu were Joy Rumble, a UF/IFAS assistant professor of agricultural education and communication, and Tori Bradley, a master’s student in the UF/IFAS food and resource economics department. Rumble’s Florida Specialty Crop grant gave the opportunity to examine consumers’ knowledge of blueberry health benefits.

Qu and her colleagues wanted to determine how much consumers know about blueberry health benefits and see if there’s a knowledge gap with blueberry health benefits among demographic groups. Using their findings, they will identify promotional opportunities for Florida blueberries.

Researchers surveyed more than 2,000 people in 31 states – mostly on the East Coast and in the Midwest – to see what they know about the health benefits of blueberries. Most were aware of the benefits of blueberries in warding off cancer and lowering the risk of heart disease. The UF/IFAS study also found that low-income populations tend to know less about blueberry health benefits.

(more …)

Back to Top