University of Florida

UF/IFAS experts to celebrate animal agriculture at 39th annual Sunbelt Ag Expo

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

2010 Sunbelt Agriculture Expo in Moultrie, Georgia.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences faculty will be sharing their expertise on the theme of Florida’s animal agriculture at the 39th annual Sunbelt Ag Expo — the largest agricultural expo in the southeast.

About 80,000 people are expected to attend the expo, held Oct. 18 to 20 in Moultrie, Georgia.

“Our experts in UF/IFAS Extension are thrilled to represent our programs, and we are proud to participate in such an important event. It is a great opportunity to meet others who are as passionate about agriculture as we are,” said Nick Place, dean of UF/IFAS Extension.

Visitors come to the expo to learn about the latest agricultural research, technology and marketing tools, according to the expo web site.

At the permanent UF/IFAS building, displays and exhibits will tell the story of Florida’s animal industries, starting with the resources that go into raising animals and ending with the safe preparation of animal proteins. In addition, attendees can hear presentations on livestock forages and poisonous plants by UF/IFAS researchers in the expo’s Beef Barn, or head over to the pond section to learn more about Florida’s fisheries.

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Jackson County 4-H member selected as Florida junior beef ambassador

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

Caitline Caudill 2

Caitlin Caudill

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Long before she joined the Jackson County 4-H Livestock Club, Caitlin Caudill liked to pretend she was a veterinarian, treating her teddy bear or stuffed cow for a make-believe illness or injury. When she turned 11 and got her first real cow—a Charolais heifer—she already had a passion for the livestock industry and caring for animals.

That passion was on full display when Caudill, now 15, recently competed to become the new Florida junior beef ambassador.

To be selected, Caudill had to demonstrate both her public speaking skills and knowledge of the beef industry. The day-long competition included a mock media interview, a product promotion scenario and a presentation to group of would-be consumers.

“I was super nervous at the beginning, but then when I began the competition, my nerves went away because I knew I had to be confident in myself,” Caudill said. “I was so excited when I won!”

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4-H youth to compete in state grilling championship at the University of Florida

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

Steaks being grilled. Barbecue, grilling, meat, meat science, steak, beef, cooking, food, nutrition. UF/IFAS Photo by Tyler Jones.

Please see caption after story.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — When Kara Croft, 16, noticed that all the other contestants at her district 4-H Tailgating Contest were using lighter fluid to start their grills, she got nervous. The lighter fluid produced big flames, while the paper charcoal-starter she used created a much smaller flame. But she stuck to her plan, reminding herself that paper starters, unlike lighter fluid, don’t impact the taste of grilled meat.

Croft, who is a Suwannee County 4-H member, ended up cooking the winning steak, which the judges said was both tender and flavorful. Her win qualified her for the State Championship 4-H Tailgating Contest, where she and 29 other youth will demonstrate mastery of cooking safety and grilling techniques.

The University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences will host the contest on September 10 at the Straughn IFAS Extension Professional Development Center on the UF campus. The Straughn Center is located at 2142 Shealy Drive, Gainesville, FL 32611. Check-in begins at 8 a.m., and grilling starts at 9 a.m. Contestants have 2 ½ hours to prepare and submit their meat for judging.

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

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


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.


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

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

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

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


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.

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

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


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.

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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.

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UF/IFAS Extension Leon County to host Spring Open House on May 7

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

Who:      The UF/IFAS – Leon County Extension Office to host the 2016 Spring Open House.

What:    The community is invited to learn more about gardening related topics, including tree ID, invasive plant ID, the Florida-Friendly Yards program, composting and vermicomposting (worms!), and providing wildlife habitat at the UF/IFAS Extension Leon County Spring Open House. Visitors can tour demonstration gardens, and purchase a plant at the plant sale. Other Extension program areas will also be there. The Family Nutrition Program – Farm to School will have children’s activities and school garden resources for teachers. Leon County 4-H will introduce folks to archery. The Big Bend Woodwind Quintet will also be providing musical entertainment while you tour the gardens. Light refreshments will be available.

When:   9 a.m. – 1 p.m., Saturday, May 7

Where:  UF/IFAS Extension Leon County Office, 615 Paul Russell Road, Tallahassee, Florida, 32301.


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

Source: Mark Tancig, 850-606-5202, tancig00@ufl.edu

Ron O’Connor named National Friend of Extension

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


Ron O’Connor was named “National Friend of Extension” this month at the 2015 National Epsilon Sigma Phi Conference in Coeur d Alene, Idaho.

see caption below

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Ron O’Connor takes a hands-on approach to helping at University of Florida/IFAS Extension events, mentoring up and coming agriculture students, taking photographs and even securing grants for many projects.

This month at the 2015 National Epsilon Sigma Phi Conference in Coeur d Alene, Idaho, the agricultural fraternal organization’s Alpha Delta chapter honored his efforts, naming O’Connor a “National Friend of Extension.” (more …)

Michael Gutter named new Associate Dean and State Program Leader for 4-H Youth Development, Families and Communities

Topic(s): 4-H, Agriculture, Announcements, Departments, Families and Consumers, Honors and Appointments, IFAS



GAINESVILLE, Fla. — University of Florida Dean and Director for Extension Nick Place announced Tuesday that Professor Michael Gutter has been promoted to associate dean and state program leader for 4-H Youth Development, Families and Communities within the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. (more …)

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