As I write this, the 2013 Fillmore County Fair is in the books! I would like to thank all of the volunteers for making it a success, especially the Fair Board members, 4-H Council, superintendents and extension staff, Linda and Megan. Without the hard work of these people, the fair wouldn’t come together, as it takes a lot of teamwork! Every year, I enjoy seeing how much youth have grown from year to year and the pride they have in their projects. We were blessed to have decent temperatures this year as well. The county fair is one of the most visible, if not the most visible part of a County Extension Office’s job, but our work is not done. First of all, there is all of the paperwork, etc. for getting things wrapped up and then its “back to the real” world of Extension. People often ask, what do you do now? So this week I’ve decided to share a little bit about some of the programming that resumes after fair.
Within my programming there is the irrigated crops component which involves helping producers with some of the irrigation management equipment they use – the watermark sensors and ET gage. In addition, the past 2-3 years, my role in youth crops education has taken off statewide. Some of those key programs I work with are the statewide conferences – Excellence in Ag Sciences Day which I coordinated and facilitated for Nebraska agricultural education instructors. This past year, I successfully received a $75,000 grant from the Nebraska Environmental Trust which has allowed me to expand the Nebraska Agricultural Water Management Network into the hands of teachers who in turn will teach their students about irrigation management. I continue to work with those teachers as questions, etc. arises as well as creating more online resources and curricula.
Last year, I launched the Nebraska Innovative Youth Corn Challenge which again is being funded by the Nebraska Corn Board. With eight teams participating, youth are implementing their research or demonstration to find economic, environmentally friendly ways to improve corn yields. In addition to this, I coordinate the cropwatch.unl.edu/youth website; more information for teachers, club leaders and youth is posted as it becomes available. The past three years I have worked with and continue to work with the Nebraska Agricultural Education Soils Project and continue to update that website and assist in coordinating curricula development on soils education for Nebraska ag teachers and others needing soils education content.
The Nebraska On-Farm Research Network is a statewide program I also participate in and am working on an app which would complement this program. I work with agricultural producers in other areas as the need arises and also help clients find research-based answers to various questions they might have. During the winter months, I coordinate the Farmers & Ranchers College which is a popular regional program that reaches on average 400 people every year on risk management education. During late summer/early fall, programming plans are underway. In the winter months, I also teach pesticide safety education programs to producers who need to recertify their private pesticide applicator’s license.
Other youth programming in the areas of agricultural literacy are conducted which include, but are not limited to are Progressive Agriculture Safety Day, Ag Venture Day in collaboration with South Central Cattlewomen, local workshops, Water/Earth jamborees, etc. The Nebraska State Fair and Aksarben are other livestock-related events I assist, but there is more to the 4-H program than showing livestock. Youth who take advantage of the numerous opportunities are actively involved in the program year-round.
There are other components I’m leaving out, but just wanted to give you an idea of some of the key programming that occurs throughout the year; of course this is just programming that I do and doesn’t even get into the programming that occurs from my other colleagues in areas of foods/nutrition, water/climate/environment, livestock, community development, other crops programming, and 4-H youth development. For more information about programs UNL Extension offers, go to extension.unl.edu, locally fillmore.unl.edu, or visit our Extension Facebook pages or for youth programming. You can also follow me on twitter.