IFAS News

University of Florida

UF/IFAS scientists write document explaining Zika virus; urge vigilance

Topic(s): Entomology and Nematology, Extension, IFAS, Pests, RECs, Research

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Although the Zika virus is spreading, even into Florida, it does not appear to have been transmitted from mosquito to person or person to person in Florida. But that could happen any time, University of Florida scientists say. Thus, they urge everyone to stay alert.

“We should remain vigilant and informed,” said Jorge Rey, entomology professor and interim director of the Florida Medical Entomology Laboratory (FMEL) in Vero Beach, Florida, part of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

Public concerns about Zika triggered UF/IFAS scientists to write a new Extension document to explain the virus. The paper can be found at http://bit.ly/1QTLDqO. FMEL scientists also have crafted a new question-and-answer document for their website, http://bit.ly/1O0eLbi.

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UF/IFAS researcher says some people are single on Valentine’s Day and just fine with it

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

A woman paddleboards in Biscayne Bay.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — With the most hyped romantic day of the year fast approaching, some people who are single are perfectly happy that way – and not buying into the all the ads, stuffed animals, candies or cards.

Assistant Professor Victor Harris, an Extension specialist with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences’ Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, said there are ways to short-circuit the “mind traps” that often accompany a day set aside for couples. (more …)

UF/IFAS study: “Green Industry” generates nearly $200 billion; 2 million jobs nationwide

Topic(s): Economics, Extension, Families and Consumers, Green Living, IFAS, Landscaping, Lawn & Garden, Research

Landscaped yards and homes in Florida.  Landscaping, plants, gardens, neighborhoods, communities, development.  UF/IFAS Photo: Tyler Jones.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — What economists call the “green industry” – nursery and greenhouse production, landscape services and horticultural product distribution − is bringing plenty of green to a lot of people across the country. A new study by the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences shows that the industry generated $196 billion in revenues annually, and more than two million jobs in the United States.

“Our study demonstrated that this industry is a very large employer,” said Alan Hodges, Extension scientist with the UF/IFAS food and resource economics department and lead author of the study. “It exists in virtually every community in the U.S. The rise of large retail chain stores with garden departments has made plants and other horticultural products more readily available to consumers than ever before.”

Green industry products include sod, flowers, bedding plants, tropical foliage, trees and shrubs, among other types of plants. The industry also includes many businesses that provide services such as landscape design, installation and maintenance, plus firms — such as lawn and garden stores — for wholesale and retail distribution of horticultural products, Hodges said.

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Florida consumers prefer “Fresh from Florida” plants

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

 

Various Fresh from Florida labeling upon orange juice and citrus containers.

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Consumers prefer plants with the “Fresh from Florida” label, according to a new survey by a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences economist.

In the survey, summarized in a UF/IFAS Extension document, 83 percent of respondents recalled noticing the “Fresh from Florida” logos on plants in retail garden centers. To be designated as “Fresh from Florida,” 51 per cent of the product must originate in the Sunshine State, according to Florida Department of Agricultural and Consumer Services guidelines.

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has partnered with the Florida Nursery, Growers and Landscape Association to include horticulture plants in the state’s “Fresh from Florida” campaign.

Hayk Khachatryan, an assistant professor of food and resource economics at the UF/IFAS Mid-Florida Research and Education Center in Apopka, Florida, co-authored the document with his post-doctoral research associate, Alicia Rihn. As part of a larger study, they wrote the document after surveying 301 Florida horticultural plant consumers in June and July 2014 in Orlando and Gainesville.

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Florida Agricultural Hall of Fame adds 4 new inductees on Feb. 9

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Crops, Extension, Honors and Appointments, IFAS, Livestock

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The Florida Agricultural Hall of Fame is honoring four new inductees in Tampa on Feb. 9 who have ties to the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

The Florida Agricultural Hall of Fame honors men and women who have made lasting contributions to agriculture in this state and to the mentoring of youth, who represent the future of agriculture in Florida. All four inductees have played major and vital roles in mentoring young people through Extension, 4-H, at UF or on their ranch. The 2016 Florida Agricultural Hall of Fame inductees are: (more …)

Mother-daughter team teaches the art of canning food

Topic(s): Extension, Families and Consumers, Food Safety, IFAS, Nutrition, Vegetables
UF/IFAS Extension Agents Melanie Thomas, left, and her mother, Jackie Schrader teaching canning classes in Duval and Clay counties. Photo courtesy Melanie Thomas

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — As a little girl, Melanie Thomas would ladle hot fruit into glass jars with  her grandmother or watch from afar as her parents canned fruits and vegetables in the kitchen.

“I was one of those who was afraid of the pressure canner and left that job up to my mom and dad,” said Thomas.  “They always seemed like they knew what they were doing and had it under control.”

Now Thomas is a fearless advocate of preserving your own food.  She and her mother, Jackie Schrader, join forces each month to teach canning classes through a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension program.  Once every month, they gather students in either Duval or Clay County to instruct on everything from pressure canning low acid foods, including vegetables, meats and soups, to adding just the right amount of sugar and spices.

Their next class is scheduled for January 22 at 9:00 a.m. at the Clay County Extension office in Green Cove Springs. The February class is set for the 12th in Duval County. (more …)

UF Cattlewomen take 2nd place in online scholarship program

Topic(s): Agriculture, CALS, Extension, Families and Consumers, Honors and Appointments, Livestock

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The University of Florida Gator Collegiate Cattlewomen took second place in the recent College Aggies Online scholarship competition that recognizes outstanding use of social media and community involvement to promote agriculture.

Gator Collegiate Cattlewomen is a group of 51 students in the UF College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, part of the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. For their honor, the UF group won $2,500.

The awards, announced Dec. 2, culminated the nationwide initiative that helps college students share agriculture’s story.

“After nine long weeks of advocating, and help from all the club members, we were thrilled to find out that all of our hard work paid off,” said Samantha Dailey, vice president of the UF Cattlewomen. “The $2,500 will allow our club to take advantage of more educational opportunities and help our members to become leaders in the beef industry.”

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UF/IFAS Extension Family Nutrition Program faculty, staff help during holidays

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

Displays of fresh vegetables and produce. Photo taken 10-01-15.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — In keeping with the yuletide spirit of giving, faculty, staff and interns with the UF/IFAS Extension Family Nutrition Program are helping others this month, including adopting a family and collecting and distributing hygiene items.

Here are a few examples of how FNP personnel are assisting others this holiday season:

 

  • UF/IFAS Extension Leon County Director Kendra Zamojski said her office is adopting a family for Christmas. Faculty and staff will purchase food and gifts for a family in need. Contact: hughson@ufl.edu; work: 850-606-5201.

 

  • On Christmas Eve morning, intern Brianna Posadas will work with the Santa Paula Rotary Club, distributing Christmas presents and food to deserving families in Santa Paula, California. Contact: Brianna Posadas, M.S. candidate and a research assistant on the FNP Evaluation Team. bposadas@ufl.edu; cell: 951-387-0022.
  • FNP Program Assistant JoLynn Peoples and her family volunteer every year at an event called “A Night of Blessing,” a Christmas party for homeless families in Santa Rosa County. This year, the event is on Dec. 18 at a local school. They provide a Christmas dinner, gifts, coats and blankets for the children. It is hosted by a local church, but was started by a small group of people. Contact: jolynnp@santarosa.fl.gov; 850-485-0039.
  • Ashley Avant, an FNP program assistant for UF/IFAS Extension Osceola County, said she will collect family-sized personal hygiene items to give to the Community Hope Center in Kissimmee, Florida. “In Osceola County, we have a large number of our students and parents living in hotels throughout the county. The Community Hope Center provides these families with resources that they need,” Avant said. Avant and company will collect supplies at the Osceola County Fair office in Kissimmee through Dec 18. Contact:  aavant@ufl.edu; cell: 407-456-4620.

FNP faculty and staff typically teach participants who qualify for the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as the Food Stamp Program, how to eat healthy on a budget. As a major part of the education, participants are encouraged to increase their consumption of whole grains, fruits, vegetables and fat-free or low-fat dairy foods.

FNP is the SNAP-Ed (the nutrition education component of SNAP) in Florida.

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Sources: Multiple, see above

For a happier holiday, keep the kids, pets safe from certain plants

Topic(s): Extension, Families and Consumers, IFAS, Safety

A mature poinsettia planted outside of a home.

Please see cutline below

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Those plants you bought to beautify your home during the holidays may look lovely, but they can pose dangers to your pets and children, a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences expert says.

Wendy Wilber, statewide master gardener coordinator for UF/IFAS Extension, warns of four types of holiday plants that could bring peril to your dog, cat or small child, if they eat parts of them:

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