IFAS News

University of Florida

UF/IFAS Extension faculty win seed money through new Shark Tank-style program

Topic(s): 4-H, Agriculture, Citrus, Crops, Extension, Families and Consumers, Finances, IFAS, Pests

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Facial recognition software is no longer a thing of the future. But what if similar technologies could one day help farmers identify pests in the field?

Steve Futch, multi-county citrus agent with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension, thinks it’s possible. And thanks to the new UF/IFAS Extension Entrepreneurship Program, he and other UF/IFAS Extension faculty now have more of the tools they need to make their ideas a reality.

“One of the missions of UF/IFAS Extension is to connect Floridians with science-based information that will improve their quality of life. Our relationships with our clientele are always evolving, so we are always reassessing and rethinking how we can better serve our audience,” said Nick Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension. “Entrepreneurial thinking can help us get out of our comfort zone and approach problems in new and creative ways.”

Jan. 17 to 19, UF/IFAS Extension faculty members from around the state heard presentations from several UF entrepreneurship experts, including Elio Chiarelli, entrepreneurship specialist with the UF/IFAS Center for Leadership. As a doctoral student in the UF department of agricultural education and communication, Chiarelli’s research focused on successful entrepreneurship within agriculture and natural resources.

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UF/IFAS Extension Baker County breaks ground on new teaching orchard

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

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — If you want to know how best to prune a fruit tree or even how to plant one, Alicia Lamborn can do more than just tell you—she can take you out back and show you.

Lamborn, a horticulture agent with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension Baker County, recently received a $500 grant from Miracle Grow to establish a fruit tree orchard in the arboretum behind the county office. She’ll use the area to teach residents how to care for plum, fig, persimmon and other types of fruit trees.

“I’m a learn-by-doing kind of person, and that’s how I prefer to teach others,” Lamborn said. “For locals who have always wanted to grow fresh fruit in their backyard, the demonstration orchard is a place where they can get the hands-on experience they’ll need to be successful.”

The learn-by-doing approach was on display earlier this month when Lamborn and 4-H agent Shaina Spann led a group of Florida Master Gardeners, 4-H volunteers and 4-H youth in planting over a dozen fruit trees, as well as blackberry and blueberry bushes, in the orchard area.

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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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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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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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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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UF/IFAS Extension Desoto County combines library and agriculture to draw youth to 4-H

Topic(s): 4-H, Agriculture, Extension, Families and Consumers, IFAS, Lawn & Garden, Nutrition, Vegetables
Kristie Popa. Photo taken on 9-2-15

Kristie Popa

ARCADIA, Fla. — Families in Desoto County who visit their local library could walk away as gardeners and healthier eaters. That’s because the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension Desoto County has implemented a program that creates a garden at the local library.

The Family Learning and Literacy Garden was started in 2015 via a partnership between UF/IFAS Extension Desoto County and other community organizations, said Kristie Popa, a UF/IFAS Extension 4-H agent. So far, eight families have successfully completed their first growing season, she said. They are currently preparing their plots for their next crop, she said.

The idea was to educate youth and their families about gardening, health, nutrition and agriculture, Popa said. “We wanted to immerse families in books to encourage a love of reading, while engaging young people in 4-H who may not have had the opportunity before,” she said. “So, gardening at the library gave us the perfect opportunity to engage families in literature and in healthy living.”

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UF/IFAS Florida 4-H to host 4-H Gator Soiree on Nov. 18

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

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences faculty, staff, industry leaders and 4-H alumni and friends, will come together at the second annual 4-H Gator Soirée to support UF/IFAS Florida 4-H University 2017. The event will be from 6 to 8 p.m., Nov. 18 at University House.

Every summer, youth from across Florida travel to the UF campus to learn, lead and serve at UF/IFAS Extension Florida 4-H Youth Development Program’s flagship program, UF/IFAS Florida 4-H University. 4-H University features workshops led by faculty, and helps youth discover educational and career opportunities, all while experiencing the university.

Attendees will hear from university leaders and 4-H State council president, while enjoying the company of fellow 4-H supporters and 4-H musical talent. In addition, longtime 4H booster Betty Jo Tompkins will be honored with the 2016 4-H Lifetime Achievement Award.

“By investing in Florida’s youth, we ensure future generations of citizen leaders ready to make a difference in our communities, state and nation,” said Caylin Hilton, assistant director of strategic operations for UF Advancement. “We are thankful to our 4-H Gator Soirée sponsors and attendees for their support of Florida’s 4-Hers.”

Cost is $150, and includes a cocktail style dinner of heavy hors d’ouevres. For more information or to buy tickets, contact Caylin Hilton at 352-392-1975 or cnewbern@ufl.edu.

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

Source: Caylin Hilton, 352-392-5432, cnewbern@ufl.edu

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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