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IFAS News

University of Florida

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.”

(more …)

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.”

(more …)

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

Energy upgrades 080415

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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.

(more …)

UF/IFAS study sheds light on homebuyer types

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

Cantrell for web 033115

Randy Cantrell

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Some homebuyers want to live near the best schools and shopping. Others favor houses that look gorgeous from the outside. Still others are motivated by the house’s cleanliness. But a University of Florida housing specialist found multiple types of homebuyers and what lured them to buy homes after the housing bust.

That data could help Realtors and people trying to sell their own homes.

While real estate remains largely focused on “location, location, location,” post-housing-bust homebuyers fall into four categories and five sub-categories, said Randy Cantrell, an assistant professor in the Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences at UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

A few years ago, a South Florida Realtor asked Cantrell what compelled people to buy homes after the most recent real estate boom-turned-to-bust, defined as any time after 2008. Since 2008, potential homebuyers have competed for mortgages typically reserved for those with credit scores of at least 680 – out of a maximum of 850 — and riskier mortgages are no longer available, Cantrell said.

(more …)

UF/IFAS implements the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program this tax season

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

A pink piggy bank set atop a pile of money.  Savings, investment, finances, cash, coins, dollars.  2012 UF/IFAS Extension Calendar image by Tyler Jones.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Jess Gaylor, a retired Army veteran, saw a sign on his church bulletin board for the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program and decided to give the free program a try to file his income taxes.

“It was available when I needed it and the cost was definitely right and it was close to the house,” said Gaylord, who files married with his wife Martha. “I’ve told several people about it.”

UF/IFAS Extension is currently implementing the VITA program in 10 Florida counties to help under-served individuals and those who are at risk for abuse by unscrupulous tax preparers. (more …)

UF/IFAS Extension working to help farmers and ranchers keep it all in the family with AgSave$ Program

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

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — For Marianna farmer and rancher Ken Barton, the combination of business and family is more than just a balancing act – it is his livelihood.

Barton is 10 years away from retirement, and concerned about how he will hand over the reins of the family business he established in 1979 to his son and son-in-law.

“I think one of the things that kind of sticks out in my mind – what will I need to do to make sure that when I’m ready to retire – or simply have a smaller share and smaller responsibility – how do I leave that to my children without a huge tax burden on them or me?” Barton asked recently. He owns 260 acres and leases another 1,500 to grow row crops and raise cattle. “That’s my concern  ─ that we can transfer that farm and those assets to the next generation without hidden things – things that we’re not aware of that could cause us the most problems.”

Many Florida farming and ranching families face that same question, and that’s where the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences’ Extension program, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and the Florida Department of Financial Services, are stepping up with a new take on the 6-year-old Florida Saves program. It’s called Agriculture Saves ─  or AgSave$ ─ and it is designed to help farmers and ranchers make that transition from one generation to the next. (more …)

New videos from UF/IFAS Communications

Topic(s): Announcements, Finances, Food Safety, Landscaping, Research, Uncategorized

UF/IFAS Communications has a slew of new videos that can be used for Extension or other educational purposes. Here is a roundup:

Vacation on a Budget –  (3:31) A fun family vacation does not have to break the bank – University of Florida/IFAS Financial Expert Dr. Michael Gutter explains how to have fun in the sun without going in the red.

Scallop Harvesting 101 (3:00)  Scallop season is underway in Florida. Betty Staugler with UF/IFAS Sea Grant Extension, has some tips to help get you started.

Operation: Protect Our Pets – When Fleas Attack – (5:11) In this installment, UF/IFAS Entomologist Faith Oi addresses the different stages of the flea life cycle while UF Veterinarian Dunbar Gram demonstrates using a flea comb to look for fleas. (more …)

UF/IFAS study: Distressed older adults more likely to accept financial help

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

GAINESVILLE – Emotionally unstable elderly people tend to accept financial assistance more readily than their more stable peers, a new University of Florida study shows.

Martie Gillen, an assistant professor in family, youth and community sciences at the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, studied how personality traits play a role in whether elderly people are willing to accept financial assistance from others and in what form.

Gillen said the study has implications for public assistance programs, including food stamps. It may be that such programs should be better marketed to older adults, she said.

“Many elderly people are eligible for food stamps, but will not sign up for the benefits,” she said.

(more …)

UF study: Nature-based tourism often benefits local environment, economy

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

Taylor Stein

Cutline at bottom. Click here for high-resolution image.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — When nature lovers book vacations in the great outdoors, they want their dollars to help preserve the places they visit, and a University of Florida study suggests that often happens.

Research in Costa Rica, one of the world’s top destinations for nature-based tourism, showed that successful tour businesses usually invested in environmental protection and maintenance, and tour businesses of all sizes circulated money throughout local economies.

The findings could help Florida’s fledgling nature-based tourism industry increase its appeal to potential customers, said author Taylor Stein, an associate professor with UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

(more …)

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