Posted in Crops, Horticulture, Irrigation, Livestock, Uncategorized, Youth

Celebrate Agriculture!

The Agriculture Council of America (ACA) hosts National Agriculture Day on March 21, 2017. This marks the 44th anniversary of National Ag Day, which is celebrated in classrooms and communities across the country. The theme for National Ag Day 2017 is “Agriculture: Food For Life.” The purpose of National Agriculture Day is to tell the true story of American agriculture and remind citizens that agriculture is a part of all of us. A number of producers, agricultural associations,Ag Day2017 corporations, students and government organizations involved in agriculture are expected to participate.

National Ag Day is organized by the Agriculture Council of America. ACA is a nonprofit organization composed of leaders in the agricultural, food and fiber community, dedicating its efforts to increasing the public’s awareness of agriculture’s role in modern society. The National Ag Day program encourages every American to:

  • Understand how food and fiber products are produced.
  • Appreciate the role agriculture plays in providing safe, abundant and affordable products.
  • Value the essential role of agriculture in maintaining a strong economy.
  • Acknowledge and consider career opportunities in the agriculture, food and fiber industry.NewAgDay_Original.jpg

Since National Ag Day is one day out of the year, it is important for us to note that we everyday we should promote agriculture and share our story. Did you know how amazing Nebraska agriculture is?  The Nebraska Department of Agriculture publishes some statistics that are interesting to read! For example, nationally, Nebraska ranks first in popcorn production, Great northern bean production and commercial red
meat production. Nebraska ranks second on pinto bean production, number of head of bison and proso millet production. We rank third for corn grain production and corn exports and fourth in cash receipts for all farm commodities. Nebraska ranks fifth soybean and grain sorghum production.

Cash receipts from farm marketings contributed over $23 billion to Nebraska’s economy in 2015 and 6.1 percent of the U.S. total. Every dollar in agricultural exports generates $1.22 in economic activities such as transportation, financing, warehousing and production. Nebraska’s $6.4 billion in agricultural exports in 2015 translate into $7.8 billion in additional economic activity.

One in four jobs in Nebraska is related to agriculture, thus the importance agriculture has on our economy. In Extension, we have several great programs that not only teach youth the importance of agriculture, but also strive to make youth aware of the numerous career opportunities in agriculture. As technology continues to advance, types of careers in agriculture will also continue to expand.

In conclusion, while March 21st is one day devoted to celebrating agriculture, we should celebrate agriculture everyday. If you ate, thank a farmer or rancher who produced your food. From the food we eat to the clothes we wear, tires on our cars, toothpaste, crayons, windshield wiper fluid, etc., we need to thank our American farmers and ranchers for providing us with products that are affordable and good for the environment. Thank you farmers and ranchers!

Posted in Uncategorized, Youth

4-H celebrates Nebraska’s 150th birthday with 4-H Clover Chase

NE 150.pngNebraska will commemorate its Sesquicentennial with a yearlong celebration throughout 2017 involving a wide variety of programs and events across the state. Nebraska 4-H youth and volunteers in all 93 counties will have the opportunity to join the Nebraska 150 Celebration by participating in the 4-H Clover Chase developed by Nebraska Extension 4-H Youth Development, in partnership with the Nebraska 4-H Foundation. The 4-H Clover Chase will run from March 1, 2017, until August 15, 2017.

The 4-H Clover Chase is an original event created just for those engaged in 4-H and the Nebraska 150 Celebration. We hope to build a link between 4-H members and the Nebraska 150 celebration. This interactive scavenger hunt will encourage a connection to Nebraska’s history and heritage while fostering a spirit of community involvement and enrichment. The most exciting part is that we will get to see Nebraska through the eyes of 4-H youth.

4-H Clover Chase participants begin by downloading an app that contains a list of over 25 specific challenges. Challenges include taking a photo of a local celebrity, a leading industry, the tallest building in the county, and many more. Each challenge has a point value. Submitting a photo on the app, cloverchase.pnggives participants the allotted points, the goal is to complete enough challenges to reach 150 points. The submitted scavenger hunt photos that will be displayed in the 4-H building during the 2017 Nebraska State Fair, and also on social media using #NE4HChase. Participants have 150 days to complete the “chase.”

Each participant who completes the chase will receive a “4-H Clover Chase” commemorative water bottle. Everyone who receives a prize for completion will be put into a drawing to win a drone with video capability. The county Extension Office with the highest percentage of participation wins a free National Youth Science Day kit.

For more information about the 4-H Clover Chase, contact Nebraska Extension Educator Megan Burda or go to the Clover Chase webpage.

The Nebraska 4-H Youth Development Program strives to empower youth to reach their full potential working and learning in partnership with caring adults. 4-H programming is present in all 93 counties across Nebraska. To learn more visit www.4h.unl.edu.

Posted in Crops, Uncategorized, Youth

Innovative Youth Corn Challenge

iycc-17-promoAttention 4-H and FFA members! Do you enjoy being outside? Learning new things about crops? Considering a career involving crops, insects, diseases, soils, water or more? Do you want to help figure out how to feed our world’s growing population in a sustainable way?

Nebraska Extension and the Nebraska Corn Board are offering the sixth Innovative Youth Corn Challenge contest. This contest, open to 4-H members (age 10 & older as of Jan. 1st) or FFA members (in-school members), guides participants through all aspects of corn production, as well as agricultural careers related to corn production.

As a team (2 or more participants), youth will be challenged to implement a production practice different than normal to determine if they increased their yield. Economics and sustainability of the practice will also be considered. Yields, cropping history, and production information will be collected in the Corn Yield Challenge management summary.

Each year youth are surveyed and an overwhelming majority indicate an improvement in knowledge in the areas of: economic thresholds to treat pests, crop scouting procedures, financial record keeping, determining if practices on a field are profitable and how to evaluate new products/practices on a field. One youth stated, “I learned about how much time and hard work is needed to care for corn.” Several other youth enjoyed meeting new people (as a result of the Innovative Youth Corn Challenge). Another participant said, “I realize what I do today matters for tomorrow.”iycc-cover

Cash prizes and plaques will be given to the first, second, and third place teams. First place will receive $1,000, second place will receive $500, and third place will receive $250. Sustainability, crop scouting and “extra mile” awards will also be given, each worth $200. A webpage and FaceBook page are available with resources to help participants complete their project that can be found at cropwatch.unl.edu webpage under “related topics” titled “youth and youth activities”.

To participate in 2017, youth must complete an online entry form by March 15th to the Fillmore County Extension Office in Geneva, NE. Hard copy forms can also be downloaded. For more information, contact me at brandy.vandewalle@unl.edu.

Posted in Uncategorized, Youth

4-H Teaches Life Skills

The 4-H youth development program uses resources of the land-grant university and the time, talent, and dedication of Extension staff, screened and hardworking leaders and volunteers to teach youth life skills. Nebraska 4-H engages youth through 4-H programs and activities by building positive youth relationships between youth and adults and providing needed support for youth to develop their strengths. Through development of positive partnerships and development of strengths, 4-H programs in Nebraska are developing life skills that help youth become competent when they transition from child to adulthood. A skill is a learned ability and life skills are competencies that assist people in functioning well in the environments in which they life.Kick off graphic 2017.jpg

The life skills model for 4-H as developed by Hendricks (1998) is used in Nebraska. This 4-H framework incorporates the four “H’s” of the clover, head, heart, hands and health. The skills are grouped as they follow below:

HEAD. Thinking skills are as broken down as follows: Learning to learn, decision-making, problem solving, critical thinking, and service learning.
Managing skills are as follows: Goal setting, planning/organizing, wise use of resources, keeping records, and resiliency.

HEART. Relating skills are as follows: Communications, cooperation, social skills, conflict resolution, and accepting differences.
Skills that promote caring include: concern for others, empathy, sharing, nurturing, and relationships.

HANDS. Skills that enhance giving are community service/volunteering, leadership, responsibility, and contribution to a group.
Skills that promote working are: marketable/useable skills, teamwork and being self-motivated.

HEALTH. Living skills youth learn include: healthy life-style choices, stress management, disease prevention and personal safety.
Skills that teach youth a sense of being are: self-esteem, self-responsibility, character, managing feelings and self-discipline.

Posted in Crops, Livestock, Programming, Uncategorized

Tips & Tricks for the Ag Women

The last Farmers and Ranchers College program of the season is a special program for the ladies in agriculture and will be February 27, 2017 at Lazy Horse Vineyard near Ohiowa, NE with registration at 5:45 and program starting at 6:00 p.m. Why a program for “just women”?

According to a 2016 Cornhusker Economics article:
“The involvement of women in agriculture nationwide and in Nebraska has increased in recent years. According to the 2012 Ag Census, there are approximately 47,000 operators in Nebraska– 20,000 are women who partner with their spouses or other business partners. In addition, 4,091 women are the primary operators of their agricultural operation. Many women comment that business and estate planning is an issue that is the most difficult to tackle with their partners and family members, but is the most important.” womenagprogram

Also according to the 2012 Ag Census, approximately 1 million women in the United States are involved in agriculture and women principal operators of U.S. farms account for around $13 billion in annual agricultural product sales.

According to the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), when women have more decision-making power in agriculture, there are positive effects on child health, nutrition and agricultural productivity. IFPRI’s research also found that women’s “innovative group-based approaches can help women’s capacity for risk management by safeguarding their control over critical assets.”

While there are hurdles women have overcome in agriculture, one way for women to face the stress and pressure of stigma is through peer social networking. For example, last year I conducted Annie’s Project, which is a 6-week program in which women learn risk management principles with their female peers. This program is successful largely due to the fact women are able to comfortably learn from each other.

Whether women (participants) want a chance to socialize with peers about agriculture or take some time to reflect on the important role they have in the ag industry, this final Farmers & Ranchers College program will feature Debbie Lyons-Blythe who is a mom, wife and rancher from Kansas. As a blogger since 2009, Debbie provides tips and trick for the ag woman in answering questions from people who don’t live in rural areas. Her blog can be found at kidscowsandgrass.com. Registration for this free program is appreciated by February 20th for meal planning purposes.

The Farmers and Ranchers College Committee consists of Fred Bruning of Bruning, Bryan Dohrman of Grafton, Sarah Miller of Carleton, Jennifer Engle of Fairmont, Ryne Norton of York, Jim Donovan of Geneva, Bryce Kassik of Geneva, Eric Kamler of Geneva, and Brandy VanDeWalle of Ohiowa.

Hope to see the women of ag at the Tips and Tricks for the Women in Ag on February 27th! To register, call the office at (402) 759-3712 or online.

Posted in Crops, Livestock, Programming, Uncategorized

Managing for Difficult Times

According to the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, one in four jobs is related to agriculture in Nebraska. This signifies the importance of agriculture to Nebraska’s overall economy. Current market conditions are a challenge for many agricultural producers. In response to the economic downturn, Nebraska Extension has developed an initiative focused on strengthening Nebraska’s agricultural economy.strong-neb-ag-twitter

A new series of educational materials is featured on the Nebraska Extension CropWatch and Beef websites. Nebraska Extension specialists and educators from across multiple disciplines share research-based information to help producers reduce input costs, increase efficiencies, and improve profitability of farm and livestock operations. In planning for the coming season, consider how you can incorporate the strategies that best match your cropping systems, livestock operations, and management styles into your operation.

These educational materials will be available on CropWatch.unl.edu and on Beef.unl.edu. Find related information on Twitter at #StrongNebAg.

As this initiative is being developed, Fillmore County will be hosting a program, building off these same materials, titled Managing for Difficult Times on February 22nd starting at 9:30 a.m. at the Fillmore County Fairgrounds in Geneva, NE. During this program, Nebraska Extension faculty will present topics to help improve profitability such as cutting out production practices that are not economically feasible. Land leasing updates and strategies will be presented in addition to a review of basic financial recordkeeping. This program will equip farmers with strategies for reducing stress and keeping our families healthy during difficult times. Finally, tips on preparing for farm loan renewal time will be given.

A local update on the progress of the Fortigen fertilizer plant will be given. Nebraska AgrAbility resources will be shared as well. As always, all programs are free due to the generous support of Farmers and Ranchers College Sponsors. Registration is due February 16th for a meal count and can be done online through fillmore.unl.edu or by calling the office at (402) 759-3712.

The Farmers and Ranchers College Committee consists of Fred Bruning of Bruning, Bryan Dohrman of Grafton, Sarah Miller of Carleton, Jennifer Engle of Fairmont, Ryne Norton of York, Jim Donovan of Geneva, Bryce Kassik of Geneva, Eric Kamler of Geneva, and Brandy VanDeWalle of Ohiowa.

Next week’s post will provide details about the last Farmers and Ranchers College program of the season which is a special program for the ladies in agriculture and will be February 27, 2017 at Lazy Horse Vineyard near Ohiowa, NE with registration at 5:45 and program starting at 6:00 p.m.