IFAS News

University of Florida

Florida Agriculture Literacy Day Set for May 2

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

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Use your imagination to hop aboard ‘Ole Red’ and ‘Bobby Boat’ for a tour of Florida’s aquaculture and seafood industries, part of the 14th annual Florida Agriculture Literacy Day on Tuesday, May 2.

To celebrate, participants from many sectors of Florida’s agriculture sector, including employees and volunteers from the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, will read to elementary schoolchildren in their classrooms.

They’ll read the book, “Drive Through Florida: Aquaculture and Seafood,” which features the animated red truck ‘Ole Red’ and his new friend, ‘Bobby Boat.’ Participants are encouraged to read the book ahead of time to familiarize themselves with the content before their classroom readings.

“Ag Literacy day is a great opportunity for students to learn about something they may not see in their daily lessons,” said Becky Sponholtz, executive director of Florida Agriculture in the Classroom. “Students enjoy the interaction with industry representatives, who often take the reading day as a chance to further engage students with hands-on examples of their commodities. Last year, volunteers across the state brought samples of Florida vegetables for students to taste and feel. This year some students may get to see and touch an alligator.”

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UF/IFAS to host farmer’s market food safety workshop on April 10

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

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Farmer’s markets have been growing in popularity over the past decade, as consumers discover the benefits of buying farm-fresh food from local growers. However, increasing popularity has also raised food safety concerns for produce sold at farmer’s markets.

The University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is hosting a one-day workshop from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday, April 10. The workshop will be held at the Power Plant Business Incubator, 2nd floor training room, 405 SE Osceola Ave., Ocala, Florida 34471.

Assistant professor Soo Ahn, in the food science and human nutrition department, and other UF/IFAS faculty will host classes on what matters most to consumers, food safety issues, safety guidelines for growers and vendors, and how to ensure products are in compliance.

Cost of attendance is $40 through March 31 for early registration; $50 starting April 1. Click here to register online. For more information, contact Soo Ahn at sahn82@ufl.edu or 352-294-3909.

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

The mission of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is to develop knowledge relevant to agricultural, human and natural resources and to make that knowledge available to sustain and enhance the quality of human life. With more than a dozen research facilities, 67 county Extension offices, and award-winning students and faculty in the UF College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, UF/IFAS works to bring science-based solutions to the state’s agricultural and natural resources industries, and all Florida residents. Visit the UF/IFAS web site at ifas.ufl.edu and follow us on social media at @UF_IFAS.

UF workshop to help homeowners navigate HOA issues for landscaping

Topic(s): Announcements, Conservation, Environment, Extension, Florida Friendly, Green Living, IFAS, Landscaping, Lawn & Garden, Plants, Vegetables

Landscaping at a home garden.

SANFORD, Fla. — Wondering if that new lawn will mean a discussion with your Homeowner’s Association? The University of Florida Florida-Friendly LandscapingTM  program offers a workshop on April 26 to help homeowners navigate the process.

“Legally Speaking: FFL in The Planned Community” will run from 12:45 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the UF/IFAS Extension Seminole County office. The location is 250 County Home Road, Sanford, Florida 32773.

“We are offering the course to help homeowners learn about current legal issues, and to give them strategies they can use when working with an HOA board to install a Florida-Friendly landscape,” said Claire Lewis, UF/IFAS statewide Florida yards and neighborhoods coordinator. “We want homeowners and HOA members to work together and also be able to avoid problems by learning the science-based ways to landscape.”

The workshop will include topics such as a review of issues and outcomes of installing a Florida Friendly landscape, a presentation by a community association attorney on disputes arising between HOAs and homeowners, and 10 strategies for working with an HOA.

Cost to attend is $5. Click here to register. For more information, contact Claire Lewis at clairelewis@ufl.edu or 352-273-4518.

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

UF/IFAS Global honors three faculty members for international work

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Departments, Extension, IFAS, Research

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Taking the charge to bring agricultural solutions to countries far and wide, three faculty members with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences have done just that. Thus, they were honored at the third annual UF/IFAS Global forum and awards ceremony in February.

Luke Flory, an assistant professor in the agronomy department, received the UF/IFAS Global International Achievement award for his work on reducing the effects of invasive plants around the world. His research has received international recognition, with invitations to speak at universities and organizations in Asia, Canada and Europe, said Rob Gilbert in a nomination letter.

William Giuliano, a professor and UF/IFAS Extension specialist in the department of wildlife, ecology and conservation, was named a UF/IFAS Global International Fellow. Giuliano secured substantial funding for, established, and now directs the Program for Tropical Ecology and Conservation Science and its associated two field stations in Belize. Also, he established a program to conduct research with and train Belizean scientists, said nominator and colleague Eric Hellgren.

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UF sets Family Fishing Day on March 18

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

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Always wanted to take the kids fishing, but can’t find the time? The University of Florida IFAS School of Forest Resources and Conservation will host Family Fishing Day from 8 a.m. to noon on Saturday, March 18.

The free, monthly event will be held at 7922 NW 71st Street Gainesville, Florida, 32653. Organizers will provide bait and tackle. Also, there will be a complimentary hot dog lunch.

“It’s a great opportunity to get families together on the side of the pond fishing together,” said Chuck Cichra, professor and fisheries UF/IFAS Extension specialist. “Also, it’s an opportunity to get kids outdoors away from computer games and TV sets, and introduce them to the sport of fishing.”

The event features a raffle for a chance to win stuffed tackle boxes. Proceeds support companion program Fishing for Success, a UF/IFAS program that shares the marvels of aquatic sciences with schoolchildren.

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Learn how to grow plants without soil at hydroponic farming workshop

Topic(s): Announcements, Crops, Economics, Extension, IFAS

LIVE OAK, Fla. — Do you want to know how to grow plants without soil? More and more, people want to start a hydroponic farming business. To meet that demand, the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension will host workshops this month to get you going.

This marks the ninth straight year that Extension faculty at the UF/IFAS Suwanee Valley Agricultural Extension Center will host the workshops. If you are interested, you can attend March 13-14 or March 17-18 at the center, 8202 County Road 417, Live Oak, Florida.

“We had great demand for information coming from growers and potential growers,” said center director and UF/IFAS Extension specialist Bob Hochmuth. “Although many growers are diversifying from traditional farming enterprises, I would say most are not coming from a traditional farming background.”

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UF CALS alumnus named vice president of national Society of American Foresters

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, CALS, Forestry, IFAS

GAINESVILLE, Fla. –  After a summer job working along the Oregon border in California for the U.S. Forest Service, Dave Lewis knew a career in forestry was his calling. With nearly 40 years of forestry experience, Lewis has continued to find the industry to be a rewarding profession.

Lewis will channel his passion for forest management into his new role as vice president of the national Society of American Foresters (SAF).

“Dave has a strong moral and professional character with outstanding leadership skills,” said SAF 2015 president Bob Alverts. “It was a well-informed choice to elect him. He has ideas to move this organization forward and grow it into one that is inclusive, benefits members and will continue to achieve objectives by having the resources with which to do so.”

Previously, Lewis served on the 2012-2014 SAF board of directors representing Florida, Georgia and Alabama. After his first year as SAF vice president, Lewis will serve for another two years on the board of directors as president and immediate past-president. Lewis said he is most looking forward to meeting and working with foresters from all over the country.

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New UF/IFAS scientist brings latest technology to battle against invasive species

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Crops, Departments, IFAS, Invasive Species, Pests

FORT PIERCE, Fla.— Carey Minteer, a research professor with expertise in the use of biological controls to manage invasive plants, has joined the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. Florida has the most invasive species in the country, with 28 ports of entry, including seaports, airports and train stations.

Minteer, who is also an expert in geographic information systems, is based at the UF/IFAS Indian River Research and Education Center in Fort Pierce, Florida. She is collaborating with professor James Cuda, UF/IFAS Extension agent Ken Gioeli and other scientists to fight the state’s most noxious weeds, including the Brazilian peppertree, one of Florida’s most widespread invasive plants.

“Dr. Minteer has demonstrated effectiveness in investigating the biological control of invasive weeds in the central U.S.A. and Florida,” said Ronald Cave, UF/IFAS Indian River REC interim director. “Her expertise in biological control is strengthened with her knowledge of sophisticated mapping technology for spatial analysis of large infestations, thereby bringing a new dimension of research capability to the laboratory.”

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Kakkar joins UF/IFAS Extension as invasive insect specialist

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Biocontrols, Crops, Environment, Extension, IFAS, Invasive Species, Pests

FORT PIERCE, Fla. – Garima Kakkar is joining the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences to help the state fight invasive pests. Kakkar, an expert in invasive insects, is a UF/IFAS Extension St. Lucie County Multicounty Agent.

Kakkar has a diverse range of experience in managing pest insects, and will now serve growers in the world’s premier citrus production region with the latest research findings. Her most recent assignment was working as a postdoctoral research associate for UF/IFAS, along with both UF and the U.S. Department of Agriculture in studies of an invasive whitefly, thrips vectors and a pepper whitefly.

“Dr. Kakkar has been synergistically blending research and practical information to create effective tools for the citrus and fruit crops industry,” said Ed Skvarch, director of UF/IFAS Extension St. Lucie County. “She believes that a channelized production system requires an Extension agent who is more than a liaison between different groups, researchers, growers or industry. Her goal is to develop programs that take research to the fields and industry, for the betterment of our agricultural production systems.”

Since taking her new position, Kakkar has focused on worker protection standards training, and she is organizing soil nutrition programs, developed in conjunction with the UF/IFAS Southwest Florida Research and Education Center in Immokalee, Florida, Skvarch said.

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UF/IFAS entomologist gets $200,000 to help develop rapid Zika detection

Topic(s): Announcements, Entomology and Nematology, Environment, Extension, Families and Consumers, IFAS, New Technology, Pests, RECs, Research

Please see caption below story.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences entomologist will use a $200,000 grant from the Florida Department of Health to improve tests for the detection of Zika virus.

In 2016, Florida saw 1,272 cases of Zika, which is usually associated with mild symptoms, although severe symptoms may also occur, including Guillain-Barré syndrome and birth defects in babies, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Of those, 256 were locally acquired. So far this year, four more cases have been reported, all travel-related.

Barry Alto, a UF/IFAS assistant professor of medical entomology, said scientists need better diagnostic tools to detect Zika virus to meet challenges to public health. He is working with collaborator Steven Benner at Firebird Biomolecular Sciences LLC to develop methods they hope should take about an hour – far less time than current testing methods. Existing methods require specialized equipment and highly trained personnel, so samples must be transported to specialized laboratory facilities to perform the tests.

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