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IFAS News

University of Florida

UF/IFAS scientists: Keep your dogs out of warm lakes

Topic(s): Environment, Families and Consumers, IFAS, Research

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — University of Florida scientists warn against letting your dog swim in warm water bodies after they found several lakes with a pathogen that can make canines sick.

Animals, including dogs and horses, can contract pythiosis from swimming spores, said Erica Goss, a UF/IFAS assistant professor of plant pathology. About 10 cases of humans getting sick from this disease have also been reported in the U.S.

In addition to keeping their animals out of lakes, people should avoid ponds and other standing water that contains grass and aquatic vegetation, particularly in the hot months, Goss said.

“Lined ponds should be OK, because the pathogen is probably soil borne,” she said. “I believe that dogs who do not swim have also gotten it though, possibly from eating infested grass. Dogs that drink infested water can get intestinal infections.”

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UF/IFAS scientists warn of pharmaceutical peril for aquatic organisms in urban rivers

Topic(s): Conservation, Environment, Extension, Families and Consumers, IFAS, Pollution, RECs, Research, Safety

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — River beds in urban areas worldwide store pharmaceuticals, and University of Florida scientists warn they can pose a potential environmental danger to aquatic organisms.

UF/IFAS Post-Doctoral Researcher Yun-Ya Yang conducted a study along rural and urban areas of the Alafia River, which runs through parts of Hillsborough County and empties into the Gulf of Mexico. In her study, Yang collected sediment samples at several sites along the river and found 17 pharmaceuticals.

Yang found a lower amount of pharmaceuticals than in previous similar studies because river beds in Florida do not contain enough silt and clay, but they can still present an environmental concern.

These types of chemicals are not confined to the Alafia River or urban-area rivers in Florida, said Gurpal Toor, an associate professor in soil and water science, who supervised Yang’s study. The scientists say their findings are representative of urban rivers worldwide, partly because wastewater treatments plants, septic systems and industrial wastewater empty into water bodies. Landfill chemicals also leach into water bodies. All these sources contribute these contaminants in the environment.

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UF/IFAS expert wins lifetime achievement award for his international work for nonprofits

Topic(s): Announcements, Families and Consumers, Finances, Honors and Appointments, IFAS

Muthusami Kumaran.  Family, Youth, and Community Sciences.

Muthusami Kumaran

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Since 2012, for three summers, UF/IFAS students have travelled to India with Family, Youth and Community Sciences nonprofit management faculty member Muthusami Kumaran to learn about Non-Governmental Organizations (nonprofits) and development.

While there, Kumaran also lends his expertise on strategic planning, fundraising and best management practices to local NGOs.

This year brought an added bonus: Kumaran won the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Sethu Valliammal Educational Trust and the Soka Ikeda College of Arts and Science for Women, for his years of work with nonprofit organizations and NGOs worldwide. The trust, a major NGO itself, operates schools, colleges and vocational training institutions with a focus on providing educational opportunities to underserved students.

“It’s amazingly humbling,” Kumaran said of the award. “I truly consider it an honor to serve NGOs.”

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UF/IFAS scientists: Keep up your guard for West Nile virus

Topic(s): Entomology and Nematology, Environment, Families and Consumers, IFAS, Pests, RECs, Research, Weather

 

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for more information and a video, click here: http://bit.ly/1IrtbSv

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — While Florida has never experienced a serious West Nile virus epidemic, UF/IFAS scientists caution the public to remain vigilant about this dangerous mosquito-borne illness.

Meanwhile, UF/IFAS researchers continue to study ways to nip the virus in the bud and monitor its spread. Researchers at the UF/IFAS Florida Medical Entomology in Vero Beach track rainfall, groundwater levels, mosquito abundance, wild bird populations and virus transmission to animals including horses and sentinel chickens. Researchers use these data to track the virus transmission between mosquitoes and wild birds, noting when mosquito infection rates reach the levels that can infect humans.

West Nile virus, first detected in the U.S. in New York City in 1999, and in Florida in 2001, has been confirmed hundreds of times nationally, and it can be lethal. For example, 779 cases (with 28 deaths) were reported in California in 2004, most from three southern California counties. The next summer, 880 cases (with 19 deaths) were reported in counties across the state.

The environmental conditions that favor West Nile virus transmission in Florida include very dry winter and early spring months, followed by heavy rainfall and short periods of drought – usually 10 to 14 days — in the late spring and early to mid-summer months.

Low winter temperatures also help to predict epidemic risk, especially in south Florida, said Jonathan Day, a professor at the UF/IFAS lab in Vero Beach. Years when exceptionally cold periods were reported in south Florida, such as 1977 and 1989, were followed by mosquito-borne virus epidemics.

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Farming conference slated for Aug. 15 in Jacksonville

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

 

2011 Small Farms Conference.  UF/IFAS Photo by Tyler Jones.

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The First Coast Specialty Crop Conference, created by UF/IFAS, comes to Jacksonville on Aug. 15, the first of five new regional conferences in 2015 and 2016 across the state.

The conference has evolved from an annual statewide event that began in 2009 in Kissimmee to more targeted, regional conferences across the state. A team of UF/IFAS Small Farms and Alternative Enterprises Extension agents and other stakeholders created the conference series, said Danielle Treadwell, a UF/IFAS associate professor in horticultural sciences.

Experts at the program at the Student Union Building of the University of North Florida will address concerns of Northeast Florida farmers, providing them with multiple learning and networking opportunities.

Whether you are interested in improving your farming skills by enhancing your soils and pest management, obtaining practical knowledge for postharvest practices, or diversifying your farm through cut-flower production, mushrooms or microgreens, this is a great place and time to learn.

“I’d like everyone that comes to walk away feeling that they have additional tools, skills that will benefit their farm,” said David Nistler, an agriculture, small farm and natural resources Extension agent for Clay County, who is part of the conference planning team.

The conference will also provide participants with marketing skills through a number of detailed skill sessions. Finally, in a small-group setting, there will be comprehensive, in-depth meetings created to provide attendees with skills like reading and interpreting soil tests as well as pest and disease identification.

Among the speakers will be UF/IFAS researchers and Extension personnel, agricultural industry experts and experienced farmers who, according to Nistler, bring a unique perspective about what they do.

“We’re very excited to see farmers who are excited and want to share with other people,” he said.

Check out the Conference Program and Register online at www.firstcoastconference.eventbrite.com. Early Bird registration is $45 if you register on or before July 28. Registration is $55 after this date. Your registration includes refreshments, lunch, and educational materials.

For more information about the conference, contact Jose Perez at 352-294-1692 or joseperezoro@ufl.edu.

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Caption: The First Coast Specialty Crop Conference, created by UF/IFAS, comes to Jacksonville on Aug. 15, the first of five new regional conferences in 2015 and 2016 across the state. The conference has evolved from an annual statewide event that began in 2009 in Kissimmee (see the photo above from the 2011 conference) to more targeted, regional conferences across the state.

Credit: UF/IFAS file photo.

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

Source: Jose Perez, 352-294-1692, joseperezoro@ufl.edu

 

UF/IFAS expert urges returning college students to read, know their lease

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

Michael S. Gutter, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Family Youth and Community Sciences.  UF/IFAS Photo.

Michael Gutter

For more information, check out this video: http://bit.ly/1STpVY0

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — As thousands of college students across America return to school for the fall, a UF/IFAS financial expert has quick, simple advice: Read the apartment lease.

To some, reviewing the lease may seem obvious; to others, it may seem onerous. But it’s time well spent, said Michael Gutter, an associate professor of family financial management and associate dean of Extension at UF/IFAS.

Most students won’t understand the legal language of a lease, but if they read it, they’ll know whether they’re responsible for cleaning the carpet and the kitchen, for example, Gutter said. They’ll also find out major points, including the conditions under which a deposit is refundable.

Also, keep in mind that whoever signs the lease must pay the rent, Gutter said. Sometimes, at least one parent or legal guardian may have to co-sign the lease to ensure the rent is paid. That’s because some college students have little to no credit.

“Like any business owner, landlords want to make sure that they’re going to get paid,” Gutter said. “The co-signer is very much the back-up plan. If the tenant fails to make the payments on time, they may contact the co-signer for payment. There’s a true commitment; it’s not just a moral backing.”

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Downy mildew confirmed on popular purple velvet plants

Topic(s): Agriculture, Economics, Environment, Families and Consumers, IFAS, RECs, Research

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Downy mildew, a disease known to damage dozens of plant species in Florida, has now been found on purple velvet plants in South Florida, UF/IFAS scientists say.

Purple velvet plants are popularly used for foliage and cut flowers, said Aaron Palmateer, associate professor in plant pathology at the UF/IFAS Tropical Research and Education Center in Homestead.

“The upside to reporting any disease, especially aggressive diseases like downy mildew, is to get the word out,” said Palmateer, who co-authored a paper on the finding that appears online in the journal Plant Disease. “This allows growers to take preventive action and to start applying fungicides labeled for downy mildew before a disease outbreak, which is the ideal approach for disease management.

“The downside is the added expense of applying additional fungicides to control the downy mildew,” he said. “This is a disease that can kill the plant, so it’s a definite game-changer.”

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UF/IFAS study sheds light on how willing we are to adjust our energy bills

Topic(s): Economics, Environment, Families and Consumers, Finances, Green Living, IFAS, Research, Weather

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — All it takes is six questions. You answer those, and University of Florida researchers say contractors will know how willing you are to upgrade your home for energy efficiency and whether you can afford the improvements.

Heating and cooling make up 54 percent of American households’ utility bills, a primary concern for Randy Cantrell, a UF/IFAS assistant professor and Extension specialist in housing and community development. For some people, their monthly energy bill comes as sticker shock. But we all react differently when we open the envelope, and Cantrell calls that response “botheredness.”

Cantrell wanted to know two things: how bothered people are by their energy bill and whether they can afford to do something about it. So he and Brad Sewell, a graduate research assistant, used a web-based survey of about 1,000 American homeowners to divide them into groups based on utility bill botheredness and budgetary constraints for household upgrades.

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UF/IFAS apps give irrigation, growing tips and more

Topic(s): Agriculture, Conservation, Environment, Extension, Families and Consumers, Green Living, IFAS, New Technology, Research, Weather

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Looking to save money and water when you irrigate? UF/IFAS scientists have developed an app for that. Want to know what plants to grow in your garden? You guessed it: UF/IFAS has an app for that as well.

UF/IFAS’ so-called “smart irrigation apps” include an urban lawn app that estimates how long you’ll need to water your lawn to meet current plant water demand. It uses a simplified approach for automated irrigation systems. This urban lawn model uses meteorological data to compute a simple, real-time weekly water balance, said Kati Migliaccio, UF/IFAS associate professor in agricultural and biological engineering and lead designer of the app. Find these apps and others at Smartirrigationapps.org.

“The turf app provides a free resource to determine a schedule to apply the right amount of water to landscapes, which is personalized based on user inputs,” Migliaccio said.

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UF/IFAS study: Few science museums use the word “agriculture” to teach

Topic(s): Agriculture, Families and Consumers, IFAS, Research

Aerial Williams, left, Cynthia Brown and Laken McPherson add water and dyes to a groundwater simulator in a Tallahassee park (Wednesday 7/18). The device, which contains sand, plastic components and pipes, demonstrates how oil, pesticides and other chemicals poured on the ground can contaminate the water supply. Williams is in 11th grade at Lincoln High School in Tallahassee, Brown is a Leon County extension agent with the University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, and McPherson is in fourth grade at Coast Charter School in Crawfordville, Fla. (AP Photo: Thomas Wright, University of Florida/IFAS)

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Walk into a science museum, and you may read the words “paleontology” or “astronomy.”

But you’re not likely to find the word “agriculture” in any science museum, even though many exhibits relate to agricultural content or practices.

Katie Stofer found this gap when she surveyed 29 science museums in cities of all sizes across the U.S., and her findings are published in a new study in the journal Science Education and Civic Engagement.

“Unfortunately, we have effectively separated agriculture from the other sciences,” said Stofer, a UF/IFAS research assistant professor in agricultural education and communication.

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