For many 4-H and FFA youth, projects have been well underway since the first of the year and beyond. 4-H and FFA youth enroll in projects, utilize curriculum and resources designed to help youth grow essential skills needed to enter exhibits at the fair which showcase their knowledge and skills gained. Extension staff and 4-H volunteers have offered numerous educational workshops for youth in a wide variety of topics from computer coding, cupcake decorating, plant science investigation, sewing, fishing and others. Youth have also participated in public speaking, a culinary food challenge and soon the clothing and fashion day.
Amusement park with ferris wheel background with copy space.
Probably the most visible part of the 4-H youth development program is the county fair. The fair provides youth the opportunity to showcase their exhibits with community members. In our area, fairs are rapidly approaching.
During the summer, our crops extension team has some great field days to share research and management strategies to farmers. One of those opportunities to learn more about weed management and cover crops will be on June 28 at the South Central Agricultural Laboratory near Clay Center. There is no charge for the field day with registration beginning at 8 a.m. and field day from 8:30 a.m.-12:15 p.m. Lunch will be served which will then be followed by a cover crop field day from 1-3 p.m. The weed management field day will include on-site demonstrations of herbicides for weed control in corn, popcorn, and soybean as well as a view of ongoing cover crop research. An early morning demonstration will focus on weed control in soybeans followed by a demonstration of projects for weed control in corn, popcorn and sorghum. Onsite demonstration of cover crop research will highlight the afternoon session.
Soybean demonstrations will include an unbiased comparison of herbicide programs of different companies for weed control in Roundup Ready, Liberty Link, and Xtend soybeans. Weed control and crop safety in Roundup Ready 2Xtend Soybean, Balance Bean, Bolt Soybean, and Conventional Soybean will also be discussed.
Corn demonstrations include an unbiased comparison of several herbicide programs by different companies for weed control in glyphosate- plus glufosinate-resistant corn. Effect of row spacing and herbicide on weed control in popcorn, DiFlexx DUO for weed control in corn, INZEN sorghum, and injury symptoms of dicamba or 2,4-D on a number of crops will also be discussed.
Afternoon demonstrations of cover crop research will include cover crops in corn and soybean systems including planting dates, plant populations, and maturities. Participants will walk cover crop experiments planted in corn and/or soybean. Cover crop pluses and minuses: Bio-mass, nitrogen for the following crop, nitrates, erosion, water use, and crop yields will also be discussed.
Certified Crop Advisor (CCA) continuing education units will be available. There is no cost to attend the field day, but participants are asked to register at http://agronomy.unl.edu/fieldday. The South Central Agricultural Laboratory is 4.5 miles west of the intersection of Highways 14 and 6, or 12.4 miles east of Hastings on Highway 6. GPS coordinates of the field day site are 40.57539, -98.13776.
Other programs relatively close to our area include: June 22: Cover Crop Conference, 2 p.m., Holthus Convention Center York. July 18: Crop Management Diagnostic Clinic: Soil Health, ARDC (now ENREC) near Mead
One of the many projects I have been working on this spring has been some lessons how plants and animals react to the sun, especially with regards to a total solar eclipse. You may or may not be aware, but over 200 Nebraska communities fall within path of totality, or the path of the shadow where observers will see the moon completely over the sun for roughly two and a half minutes. During the total solar eclipse, the moon’s umbral shadow will fly across the United States from Oregon to South Carolina, in a little over 90 minutes. This is the first eclipse through the contiguous United States since 1979, according to NASA records.
In response to this rare and unique opportunity, Nebraska Extension and Raising Nebraska are partnering with the Hastings Museum to offer solar eclipse training for teachers and youth professionals in advance of the total solar eclipse on Aug. 21. The training will provide participants with eclipse resources and lesson plans they can use in their classroom, after-school setting or organization.
The total solar eclipse is a remarkable phenomenon that not many have the opportunity to witness. Nebraska’s wide open spaces will be one of the best places to view the eclipse so we want to help youth professionals capitalize on this exciting teaching opportunity. The training will educate participants on exactly what the eclipse is and how they can take lessons from concept to application. The curriculum will also be applicable beyond the Aug. 21 event, covering topics such as nocturnal animals, how sundials work and why sunlight is critical for plants.
All trainings are free to attend and will be held from 2 – 4 p.m. Training dates and locations are:
June 1: Raising Nebraska, Nebraska State Fairgrounds, 501 E. Fonner Park Rd., Grand Island
June 15: Hastings Museum, 1330 N. Burlington Ave., Hastings
June 18: Raising Nebraska
July 27: Training via Zoom video conference
To register for the June 15 training at the Hastings museum, please call 402-461-2339. To register for all other trainings, visit go.unl.edu/solareclipse. Space is limited.
For more information contact Beth Janning, Science and Agriculture in Action Educator at Raising Nebraska at 308-385-3967 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Raising Nebraska is a joint effort of Nebraska Extension within the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, the Nebraska Department of Agriculture and the Nebraska State Fair.
One of the statewide programs I coordinate is the Youth Crop Scouting Competition which engages youth in the crop sciences. It provides youth with real-world scenarios in crop production as they diagnose plant diseases, crop disorders, identify insects and weeds and other challenges producers currently face.
Registration is now open for the 2017 Youth Crop Scouting Competition to be held this August in eastern Nebraska. The contest is open to FFA and 4-H club members and will help those interested in crops test their skills and those new to crops better understand crop production.
To prepare for the contest youth are encouraged to learn about crop growth and development and basic crop scouting principles. If a group doesn’t know a lot about crops, they’re encouraged to ask a local agronomist to assist by providing a short lesson on crop production at regular meetings or outside of the meeting.
The crop scouting contest will be held at the Eastern Nebraska Research and Extension Center (ENREC, formerly ARDC) near Mead on Aug. 1. The event will include both indoor and outdoor events. Teams of three to five junior high or high school students (those completing 7-12th grades) from across Nebraska are invited to participate.
FFA Chapters or 4-H Clubs may enter a team composed of three or four participants. An adult team leader must accompany each team of students. Team leaders could be FFA advisors, crop consultants, extension staff, coop employees, etc.
Top-scoring teams win prizes: $500 for first, $250 for second, $100 for third place. The top two teams will be eligible for regional competition in August at Indiana.
Teams will be expected to know the basics of scouting corn and soybean fields. This includes crop staging; looking for patterns of crop injury; disease, insect and weed seedling identification; etc. Other topics may include but are not limited to pesticide safety, nutrient disorders, and herbicide injury.
More information about the crop scouting competition and instructions on how to register a team are available online in the Youth section of CropWatch under “Crop Scouting Competition” and in the contest flyer. The program is limited to 10 teams so be sure to register soon! Teams must be registered by July 20.
Attention wheat growers! Nebraska Extension is again hosting some wheat field days within the area in collaboration with various business and industry partners. There are 4 field days in the Panhandle area, 2 in west central Nebraska and 2 in the eastern part of the state with the closest one in our area located in Jefferson County.
Wednesday, June 7th at 6:30 p.m. at the farm of Mark Knoble will be a wheat field day. From Fairbury, head north on NE 15, turn west onto 721st Road, dive 1.9 miles and the destination is on the left. For more information, contact Randy Pryor, Extension Educator in Saline County at (402) 821-2151. For details on all of the field days and to see a list of sponsors, go to agronomy.unl.edu/wheatdays.
In an effort to promote the wide variety of programming Nebraska Extension offers, this week’s column features a brief summary from Kayla Colgrove, extension educator in the foods and nutrition area. Nebraska Extension is increasing its healthy lifestyle programming to combat childhood obesity across the state by implementing programs to improve healthy eating and physical activity patterns in youth. Extension professionals focused on food, nutrition, and health, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program, 4-H and The Learning Child are teaming up to create healthier home, school and community environments to make healthy choices, the more desirable choice.
“There is a critical need to reduce childhood overweight and obesity rates by encouraging healthy habits,” said Nebraska Extension Educator Kayla Colgrove. “Extension programming not only improves eating patterns and increases physical activity in youth, but it also helps create those environments that support healthier living.”
Through statewide programming and dynamic partnerships, Extension team members reached over 63,000 Nebraskans with programs focused on healthy habits in 2016. The programs are designed to teach children and youth how to choose healthy food and beverages, prepare food safely, fun ways to be active, alternatives to screen time and more.
Along with the focus on community and home, Extension is also focused on helping to create a healthy environment in Nebraska schools. Recently, a collaboration between Extension, Tri County Public Schools, Nebraska Team Nutrition and several local businesses culminated in a farmers market at the school. During the lunch hour, nearly 400 Tri County students were able to sample a variety of locally grown food, including vegetables from the school’s new hydroponic garden system.
During the farmers market, Colgrove shared smoothie samples with the students that featured spinach as a main ingredient. Other samples included hummus, whole grain bread, local meats from Frank’s Smokehouse, cheese sticks from Classic Dairy and ice cream from Prairieland Dairy. The farmers market was a way to show students the different types of vegetables they could grow in their own garden. The school district’s goal is to grow vegetables that could be introduced into their school lunch program. Their hydroponic garden is soil-less, and feeds plants in water. They are currently growing heads of lettuce.
Extension is also helping Nebraska schools implement smarter lunchroom strategies. This effort is the result of a partnership between Extension, 4-H, SNAP-Ed, Nebraska Department of Education (NDE) Team Nutrition, and Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). The smarter lunchroom strategies provide low to no cost solutions to reduce food waste and increase the consumption of healthy foods. Extension staff provide technical assistance to schools by helping the food service staff identify and diagnose school lunchroom challenges, and develop strategies to promote healthy choices.
Additionally, school enrichment kits are available for elementary school teachers to assist in teaching nutrition and physical activity in their classrooms. The kits are designed to meet national health and state science standards. The kits include education on MyPlate food groups, basic nutrients, label reading, and planning a balanced meal. All materials needed to teach each lesson are included in the kits.
The goals of these efforts are for children and youth to increase consumption of healthy foods and beverages, engage in healthy levels of physical activity, and make the healthy choice, the more desirable choice. To learn more about Extension’s efforts in this area, watch a video at http://go.unl.edu/issue2.
Statistics from those impacted by a farm-related injury or death are sobering. Many know someone who was impacted by a farm accident that in many cases could have been prevented. This is why I feel so passionately about conducting the Annual Progressive Safety Day each year. The Progressive Agriculture Foundation provides safety and health information to rural communities that need it, which is why I’ve teamed up with them. The mission of Progressive Agriculture Days is simple – to provide education, training, and resources to make farm and ranch life safer and healthier for children and their communities.
During the program’s first year, a total of 2,800 participants and volunteers were reached throughout the South and Midwest and now the program impacts close to 110,000 annually. To date, the program has impacted more than 1.3 million children and adults.
Current 1st through 6th graders are invited to attend Progressive Agriculture Safety Day on Thursday, May 25, 2017 at the Fillmore County Fairgrounds. Youth will participate in a variety of events designed to help them be aware of safety in potentially hazardous situations such as bike riding, agricultural settings, electrical safety and others. This year, youth will walk away with an emergency disaster kit to use in the case of storms and other emergencies. Registration and consent form is REQUIRED by all youth who participate. This can be found at fillmore.unl.edu or by stopping by the Extension Office in Geneva or Clay Center.
April 21st is early bird registration at only $5 per child that includes a t-shirt, lunch, snack and goodie bag. After April 21st registration increases to $10 per youth in order to participate.
This event is conducted by Nebraska Extension in Fillmore/Clay Counties, Shickley and Fillmore Central FFA chapters, 4-H and W.I.F.E. For more info or to register, call 402-759-3712 or email email@example.com.