Posted in Programming, Youth

This is 4-H

My colleague, Megan Burda in York County did a great job describing 4-H in one of her recent columns so I decided to share facts about 4-H in case you are unfamiliar or haven’t experience 4-H in many years, as it has changed and evolved with the times.4h_mark1

The 4-H Pledge – I pledge my head to clearer thinking, my heart to greater loyalty, my hands to larger service, and my health to better living, for my club, my community, my country, and my world.

Head, Heart, Hands, and Health are the four H’s that describe how youth are engaged in the 4-H program.  Using their heads they learn to manage many different things in their 4-H projects and life. Through their heart, they learn to relate to others and be caring to those around them and their projects.  With their hands, 4-Hers are able to work on various projects. By living healthy they are practicing being capable of caring for self and others.

How can being involved in 4-H foster youth’s success?  In 2002 the 4-H Study of Positive Youth Development longitudinal study began and was then repeated annually for eight years.  There were more than 7,000 adolescents from across 42 states in the United States that participated in the study. The Tufts research team examined how structured-out-of-school time learning, leadership experiences, and adult mentoring that young people receive through 4-H plays a role in helping them achieve success.

4-Hers practice responsibility by being involved in a variety of different projects offered through the program.  The project areas are Animal Science, Communication and Expressive Arts, Entrepreneurship, Environmental Education and Earth Sciences, Family and Consumer Sciences, Healthy Lifestyle Education, Leadership and Citizenship, Plant Science, and Plant Science and Technology.  If a youth chooses to participate in a Healthy Lifestyle Education project, they may learn the skill of meal planning for themselves and their family.  This skill could lead to them actually planning out healthy meals for themselves and their family members and may even include keeping a food budget for their family.

4-Hers practice responsibility by caring for animals daily in various animal science projects. 4-Hers make sure their animals have a safe place to be, have appropriate food and water, and that their animals are cared for and can be handled.  This takes much time and dedication by the 4-Her and their family and does not just happen one week out of the year at the county fair.  4-Hers in livestock projects take 4-H Livestock Quality Assurance to help prepare them for daily care and management.  They also work closely with their family members and veterinarian and participate in animal science contests throughout the year.

The Tufts research longitudinal study showed that compared to their peers, youth involved in 4-H programs excelled in several areas.

4-Hers are:

  • Nearly 4x more likely to make contribution to their communities.
  • About 2x more likely to be civically active.
  • Nearly 2x more likely to participate in science programs during out-of-school time, 2x more likely (Grade 10) and nearly 3x more likely (Grade 12) to take part in science program compared to girls in other out-of-school time activities.
  • Nearly 2x more likely to make healthier choices.

For information on how you can be involved in 4-H in Fillmore County, go to or for Clay County 4-H information, go to

 Source: The Positive Development of Youth; Comprehensive Findings from the 4-H Study of Positive Youth Development, Institute for Applied Research in Youth Development, Tufts University. 

Posted in Livestock, Programming

Cow/Calf College Moved

With the government shut-down, the Meat Animal Research Center is closed, thus we are forced to move the Cow/Calf College program to the Clay County Fairgrounds. The Fairgrounds are located on the west side of Clay Center, located off of West Johnson Street. Registration is filling quickly, so if you would like to attend, please register.2019 cow calf college agenda


Posted in Livestock, Programming

Cow/Calf College – January 14th

The annual Farmers and Ranchers Cow/Calf College “Partners in Progress – Beef Seminar” will be held at the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center and Great Plains Veterinary Education Center near Clay Center on January 14, 2019 with registration, coffee and donuts starting at 9:30 a.m. The program will run from 9:55 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. This program is sponsored by Nebraska Extension’s Farmers and Ranchers College and will feature several outstanding speakers discussing issues and management strategies that can affect the profitability of all beef producers. There is no cost for the event and the public is invited. It does include a noon meal, which means that early registration is necessary to reserve materials and a meal.

close up photo of white and brown cattle
Photo by James Wheeler on

The “Cow/Calf College” will begin at 10:00 a.m. with a welcome by Dr. Mark Boggess of USMARC and Dr. Dale Grotelueschen, Director of the Great Plains Veterinary Education Center. Mary Drewnoski, Nebraska Extension Beef Systems Specialist will kick off the presentations with “To Graze or Not to Graze?  Factors that Affect Risk Nitrate Toxicity in Annual Forages”.  Mary is a cattle nutritionist with expertise in growing calf and cow nutrition, currently focusing on use of cover crops and crop residues as forage sources.

Rick Funston, Nebraska Extension Reproductive Physiologist will present “Increasing Production Efficiency”. Rick has been honored for his beef and heifer management work and has helped provide ranchers new market options and reduced feed costs. He has been a leader in the concept of fetal programming, a concept in the livestock industry based on the notion that the nutrient status of gestating cows has various long-term implications on their offspring.

Lunch is provided and will be handled with a rotation system featuring a session on: “Family Farm Stress” from Nebraska Extension Educator, Brandy VanDeWalle. As margins continue to tighten, there is an additional amount of stress on producers and their families. Strategies for handling stress and open communication among family members is important to address.  

The afternoon session will start with Amy Schmidt, Associate Professor with Biological Systems Engineering and Animal Science with “Top 3 Environmental Considerations During Short-Term Cow-Calf Confinement”. Amy’s extension interests include manure management, nutrient management and water quality. Her areas of research and professional interest include nutrients fate and transport, pathogen fate and transport and water quality.Logo

Dr. Kip Lukasiewicz, Production Animal Consultation will lead you through “Animal Husbandry Strategies to Improve One’s Efficiency”.  Back by popular demand, Dr. Kip is sure to entertain you while being right on target to address some of critical information on cattle health, antibiotic use and also inform participants on effective animal husbandry and stockmanship techniques. Dr. Kip spends his days working with farmers and ranchers and teaches people to better understand our animals.

All presenters will then pull everything together, give their final thoughts and considerations and provide a coffee-shop style panel discussion during which cattlemen can ask questions and get answers on questions that came to them during the day’s sessions. A chance for door prizes will be awarded to those that stay for the entire event.

Preregistration is preferred by January 8th, to the Nebraska Extension Office in Fillmore County or call (402) 759-3712 to assure a seat and lunch. Walk-ins are accepted, but may not get a lunch. You may also complete your registration online on or  Remember, your contact information is required to be on the U.S. MARC property, so pre-registration is helpful and will save you time at the door!

Posted in Programming

Extension Recap from 2018

During the holiday season is often a time to reflect on the year. I have many blessings in my life. First and foremost, I would like to thank my family for being understanding with me as I often travel to evening meetings and conferences that pull me away from home. Secondly, I am fortunate to have great colleagues that help me out and work as a team. I’d also like to thank you, my readers, extension supporters, 4-H volunteers and others who have helped in some capacity with an extension or 4-H program. Without amazing Nebraska Extension supporters, programs wouldn’t be as successful as they are.

thank you text on black and brown board
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While I’m not one to boast, I’d like to mention that Nebraska Extension is one of the leading Extension organizations in the country! Utilizing cutting-edge delivery methods and programming ideas, we focus on critical issues identified by Nebraskans through periodic needs assessments. Nebraska Extension is nationally-leading 4-H youth engagement by reaching 1 in 3 youth between the ages of 8-18 and we have extension faculty with national and international reputations. Finally, Nebraska Extension engages a large number of Nebraskans in Extension programming every year – in fact 443,041 in Fiscal Year 2018. These are great accomplishments to look at from a balcony view, but what are some key impacts locally for Clay and Fillmore Counties?

Let’s describe some key accomplishments in Clay County. Nebraska Extension in Clay County (and Fillmore County) reaches 1 out of 2 age-eligible youth. In 2018, the Clay County 4-H program reached 65% of youth in the county.  This was accomplished through the use of afterschool, school enrichment and traditional 4-H programs.“4-H involves so many different areas.  Through the numerous programs and workshops offered, our family has gained interests in areas we never would have explored” according to a Clay County 4-H Parent. Over 85 youth participated in Shooting Sports training including Archery, BB Gun, and Air Rifle. Clay County has 18 shooting sports leaders, 13 of which are certified. “The 4-H shooting sports program has helped me improve my accuracy in both archery and air rifle. Throughout my years of shooting sports, I’ve made friends with fellow 4-Hers and also with my instructors” according to a youth participant.

IMG_2323Fillmore County Extension completed its fifth year hosting a community garden and raised over 115 pounds of produce in 2018, which was donated to senior citizens. In 2018, a Fillmore County 4-H’er (and parent) in the Nebraska Beekeepers Association youth program engaged Fillmore County 4-H with honeybee production. With support from the Geneva City Council and Fillmore County Supervisors, Fillmore County 4-H’s now have a hive north of the Fillmore County Extension office. The Fillmore County 4-H Council provided funds to start the project which has been able to educate 4-H youth and adult audiences. During honey extraction time, youth from a local childcare center even had the chance to extract honey from the frames. Over 20 frames of honey were extracted for a total of 14 gallons of honey to sell. Proceeds go back into the production of beekeeping so the project will be sustainable for the future.

The Farmers and Ranchers College is a unique opportunity to educate agricultural producers in south central Nebraska. Approximately three hundred producers participated in the 2017-18 Farmers & Ranchers College programs. Producers attending these workshops managed over 155,000 acres and managed nearly 15,000 head of beef animals. Participants surveyed indicated an average of $6.00/acre of knowledge gained from participating for a potential impact of nearly $1 million. The seventeenth annual Partners in Progress- Beef Seminar featured a variety of industry, University and agricultural organization presenters. Ninety-five percent of participants surveyed were very satisfied or satisfied with the program quality and seventy-six percent indicated that previous programming improved their knowledge of making risk management decisions.

Of course, there are numerous more impacts and programming results to report, but these are some that I decided to include this this week’s post.

Wishing you all a very Happy Holiday Season!

Posted in Crops, Irrigation, Programming

Successful Farmer Series

My colleague, Tyler Williams in Lancaster County is again providing a series of programs for the successful farmer to start in January at the Lancaster County Extension Office or available online. All programs will run from 9-11:30 a.m. and be at the Lancaster Extension Education Center in Lincoln or can be viewed online at A summary of the programs is provided below.

corn field
Photo by Todd Trapani on

January 4 – Cover Cropping 2.0 taught by Justin McMechan, Extension Cropping Systems SpecialistPaul Jasa, Extension Engineer sponsored by Sustainable Ag Research and Education (SARE).
Session Description: Utilizing cover crops has been a popular topic for many workshops and conferences. This session will focus on the next level of cover crops beyond the basics. Justin McMechan will provide an overview of pest and beneficial insects in cover crop systems, as well as strategies and practices for mitigation the risk of pests in cover crops. Paul Jasa will discuss the latest techniques to taking cover crops to the next level on your farm.

January 11 – Alternative Crops taught by Nathan Mueller, Extension EducatorStephen Baenziger, Professor of Agronomy  and sponsored by Farmers Union.
Session Description: Winter barley can be used for malting, as a feed grain, for forage, and as a component of a cover crop. Stephen Baenziger will discuss the benefits and needs for each of these uses, as will be the differences between winter wheat and winter barley production systems. Yellow field peas are another alternative crop gaining interest in the area. Nathan Mueller will share his knowledge on adopting this crop into your rotation.

January 18 – Spray Drift Management taught by Greg Kreuger, Associate Professor & sponsored by Nebraska Soybean Board.
Session Description: Featuring a mobile lab, this session will provide one of the most complete sessions on pesticide applications that can be found. Information will be given on the major factors influencing drift, an overview on nozzles that are used for broadcast applications, how to utilize the label to maximize pesticide applications, and points to consider when setting up to manage weeds. The session will also cover the latest research at the Pesticide Application Technology Laboratory located at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s West Central Research and Extension Center which one of the world’s leading research facilities on pesticide application technology.

January 25 – Changes in Ag taught by Tyler Williams, Extension Educator& Hilary Maricle, Commonground Nebraska with Ag Tech Panel: Joe Luck, Associate Professor, & Kelly Maaske, Midwest Farmers Cooperative, & a local ag producer and sponsored by  Midwest Farmers Cooperative.
Session Description: One thing that doesn’t change in agriculture is the fact it is constantly changing; however, it is changing faster than ever. Keeping up with the changes can be challenging, but a necessary part of a successful operation. This session will feature speakers talking about changes in our weather and climate, as well as changes in the consumer and their demands. There will also be a panel discussion on changes in ag technology featuring University and industry experts, as well as local producers.

February 1 – Disease and Nutrient Deficiency ID with Kyle Broderick, Coordinator, UNL Plant & Pest LabEllen Paparozzi, Professor of Agronomy & sponsored by Nebraska Corn Board
Session Description: What’s wrong with my plants? A new twist on old symptoms. Nutrient deficiency and disease identification is a key component to successfully growing crops in Nebraska and Ellen Paparozzi and Kyle Broderick will cover standard diagnostics and new theories for identification and management of crop disease and nutrient issues.

February 8 – Ag Marketing taught by: Austin Duerfeldt, ExtensionEducatorCory Walters, Associate Professor & sponsored by Farmers Cooperative
Session Description: We will discuss how to develop a written marketing plan and understanding basis and carrying charges, using location-and commodity-specific information. The session will also feature the Marketing in a New Era simulator and the Grain Marketing Plan smartphone application. All attendees will be given access to a computer to follow along.

For more information on these programs, call Lancaster County Extension at (402) 441-7180 or go to Cost is $15 for the series or $5/session at the door. Online viewing is free.