June 26, 2008

Dishing out the Dairy

By Karen Saley, Pinellas County Extension, Families & Consumers, Educational Instructor

June not only marks the beginning of summer it is also Dairy Month.

How you may ask did June ever become Dairy Month and why?

“June Dairy Month, an annual tradition developed to celebrate the dairy industry and its many contributions to our society, originated in 1937. During its first two years, 1937 and 1938, it was called National Milk Month and ran from June 10 to July 10. The 1937 event, sponsored by chain stores, was given the theme "Keep Youthful - Drink Milk." Originally supported by the National Dairy Council (NDC), June Dairy Month was established to help stabilize dairy demand during periods of peak production.”

Although most people don’t realize that June is Dairy Month they have come to understand just how important dairy products are in maintaining health. Much research has been done over the years proving that getting adequate amounts of dairy plays a critical role in helping to prevent some very specific health conditions. Two major studies, the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) and the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) show that dairy foods are important components of diets associated with improved health outcomes.

Dairy products like milk, cheese, and yogurt contain nine essential nutrients which may help prevent osteoporosis, reduce your risk for high blood pressure, help you better manage your weight, and aid in preventing certain cancers.

Osteoporosis is a major public health threat, affecting more than 28 million Americans. One reason why osteoporosis rates are so high is that many people (especially teens, women and the elderly) have critically low calcium intakes. Although dairy products contribute 73% of calcium in the food supply, most people aren't getting enough in their diet.

High blood pressure, or hypertension, affects 50 million Americans and is a major cause of heart disease and stroke. The multi-center DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) study, found that a low fat diet providing 3 servings of low fat dairy products and 8 to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables, significantly lowers blood pressure as much as some medications, especially when combined with a low sodium intake.
According to several studies published in the last year, low fat dairy foods such as milk, yogurt and cheese, may help control body fat.

  • Women who consumed the most calcium and ate at least 3 servings of dairy foods per day were 80% less likely to be obese than those with the lowest intake.

  • Young women (18-31 years) enrolled in an exercise study who had high calcium intakes gained less weight and body fat than those with lower calcium intakes.

  • High calcium intake was consistently associated with lower body weight across 4 studies conducted in young, middle-aged and elderly women.

  • Researchers analyzed the diets of preschool children over a 3-year period and found children with higher dairy/calcium intake, had lower body fat than those children with lower dairy/calcium intakes.

The results of a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine show calcium may help reduce the risk of colon tumors.

Dairy’s importance in building strong bones and maintaining healthy weight has been reaffirmed in the Surgeon General’s Report on Bone Health, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005, and the new MyPyramid. All recommend eating three servings of milk, cheese or yogurt for optimum health.

Milk is loaded with the following nutrients and just three servings of milk each day will provide you with from 30% to 90% of these essential vitamins and minerals.

For those of you that feel you may be lactose intolerant take heart. A recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that for young adults who complain of gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms, intolerance to cow’s milk is rarely the cause. If, however, you suffer some distressing symptoms after consuming dairy products here are some suggestions to help you keep dairy in your diet.
  • Drink milk with meals and snacks instead of on an empty stomach.
  • Use aged cheeses like Cheddar and Swiss that are naturally low in lactose.
  • Add small amounts of dairy to your diet until you reach three servings a day.
  • Try lactose-free products
  • Try some yogurt which contains bacteria that help digest lactose.

Dairy products are not only good for you, but are delicious as well. Try a refreshing yogurt and fruit smoothie for breakfast, lunch, or snack and to beat that summer heat pour the smoothie into small paper cups, insert a popsicle stick, and freeze.

And now just for fun,

1. About how many squirts are there in a gallon of milk?
a. 100
b. 200
c. 350
d. 950

2. It takes about how many pounds of milk to make one pound of cheese?
a. 1
b. 5
c. 10
d. 15

3. What is the major nutrient found in milk, cheese and yogurt?

1. c. 350
2. c. 10
3. Calcium


June 23, 2008

Developing Good Habits in 4-H

By Eric Yuan, 4-H Youth Mentor

It is important for every individual to develop healthy habits within their lifestyle. People are full of habits, both good and bad. However, it is important that the good habits outnumber the bad habits and that the bad habits do not have an adverse effect on one’s life. The article “Tips for Breaking Bad Habits and Developing Good Habits” by Scott Young, points out that most of life is habitual, and that people always tend to repeat things that they have previously done or patterns of behavior that they have expressed before. Bad habits can often be hard to break and it always seems that good habits need to be forced. In 4-H, however, opportunities are readily available to develop good habits in strategic and subtle ways. The article by Scott Young emphasizes the fact that habits must be sufficiently conditioned over an extended period of time before it becomes a natural behavior for someone. Youth not only have the opportunity to develop good habits through participation in 4-H Clubs, they also learn valuable life skills. Youth who participate in 4-H Clubs are continuously conditioned in a variety of areas that instill healthy habits. 4-H youth master these habits and then apply what was learned to other aspects of their lives.

Youth who participate in 4-H will develop invaluable habits that will benefit them later in life. One of those experiences is the peer-to-peer interaction participants are exposed to. 4-H youth learn to work as a team with their club members, discussion ideas and opinions, and listen to others within the group. Positive habits developed through the peer-to-peer interaction will certainly benefit these youth in many future endeavors including school, socially, and especially in their future careers.

As a youth continues their 4-H experience, other opportunities are offered that allows for healthy habits to be developed. They are responsible for completing project books, attending club meetings, and participating in other club activities. The repetition of these ongoing experiences helps to form habits of time management, follow through, commitment, and giving back to the community.

The habits developed undoubtedly carry over from youth into adulthood. According to a study conducted by, youth who volunteer are more likely to continue to volunteer as adults and are more likely to donate a portion of their annual income to charities. Furthermore, The RGK Center for Philanthropy and Community Service at The University of Texas at Austin performed a noteworthy survey in 2001 and 2002 about college students' volunteer experiences. Included in the study were both volunteer habits and motivations. Out of the 1,514 university students, 76 percent who volunteered during high school continued to volunteer during college in the year of the survey. (RGK, 2002) Referring to the ideological motivators, 80 percent of the total number of students that volunteered in the previous year did so because they felt it was their "civic duty."

Clearly the good habits that youth develop during their time in 4-H can influence their future. 4-H not only helps youth acquire good habits that will build character and increase independence, but it also molds youth into responsible and able adults that will continue to have a beneficial impact on their community.


June 19, 2008

Five Native Plant Hedges that are Worth a Second Look

By Jean Field, Horticulturist II, Pinellas County Extension

Are you tired of leaf spot fungus on your Ligustrum and Oleander caterpillars on your Oleanders? Would you like a break from diagnosing what is wrong with your current hedges and shrubs? When planted in the right location, native plants will thrive on less and give you more.

Native plants are growing in popularity as homeowners, businesses and local governments prefer them for their low-maintenance qualities. When selecting native plants, match the conditions they grow in naturally to those in your landscape and they will thrive with very little care. Newly-installed native shrubs will need a period of establishment and careful hand watering to prepare them for longevity in your garden.

The five Florida shrubs discussed below will do nicely in a variety of areas and have been selected for a wide range of possible uses; points of each plant are listed in bullets for a quick reference.

Florida PrivetFlorida Privet, (Forestiera segregata) makes a dense hedge that is good for screening an unwanted view or providing privacy to a beach-side patio. Privet will provide erosion control or shoreline stabilization in harsh, alkaline conditions. Cold hardy to Zone 8B, the Florida privet will provide cover and fruit for a variety of birds. Since this plant tolerates pruning very well, it can be shaped into a formal hedge or foundation plant. Purple ½” fruit will attract birds in the summer.
  • Landscape use: Tall hedge, screen or small tree.
    Growth rate: Moderate
  • Native location: Upland, coastal habitats throughout Florida to zone 8b.
  • Lighting: Partial shade/full sun
  • Moisture: Moist preferred. Tolerates dry quite well.
  • Salt tolerance: High
  • Size and shape: 10 feet tall; 5 feet wide
  • Disadvantages: Leaves partially thin out in winter. Plant spacing for a hedge: 3-5 feet
Walters ViburnumWalters Viburnum, (Viburnum obovatum) is a thicket-forming shrub that tolerates formal pruning and provides small fruit for songbirds. It may sucker and spread to a larger area, so plan for a less formal hedge. Increasing in popularity, this fast-grower will provide a burst of white blooms in the spring. Black ½” fruit in summer will attract birds to your garden.

  • Landscape use: Tall hedge, screen or small tree.
  • Growth rate: Moderate
  • Native location: Coastal hammocks, woodlands, riverbanks to zone 7.
  • Lighting: Partial shade/full sun
  • Moisture: Highly drought tolerant. Can tolerate occasional wet feet.
  • Salt tolerance: Poor
  • Size and shape: 15 feet tall; 6 feet wide
  • Disadvantages: Tends to sucker in moist locations
  • Plant spacing for a hedge: 4-5 feet apart

Simpson's StopperSimpson’s Stopper (Myricanthes fragrans) is a versatile shrub that thrives in tough spots such as medians and parking lots. The white fragrant flowers and attractive 3/8” red fruit make this nearly ever-blooming plant a winner. The fruit are edible for humans and are relished by birds.

  • Landscape use: Medium hedge for foundation plantings or small tree.
  • Growth rate: Slow
  • Native range: Coastal hammocks to zone 8b.
  • Lighting: Part shade/full sun
  • Moisture: Highly drought tolerant. Well drained soil.
  • Salt tolerance: Good tolerance
  • Size and shape: Tree form: 25 feet. Shrub form: 5-10 feet.
  • Disadvantages: None
  • Plant spacing for a hedge: 3-5 feet

Yellow AniseYellow Anise (Illicium parviflorum) produces a dense hedge that grows moderately in rich, moist soil. In drier locations, Yellow Anise will require regular irrigation during drier months. With deep, infrequent watering, older plants can become more drought tolerant. Anise responds well to pruning and can be formally hedged. The blooms are ½ inch maroon drooping flowers borne in the spring. The leaves smell like licorice when pruned or crushed. Cold hardiness is a plus as this insect-free hedge will grow as far north as Louisiana (zone 7b).

  • Landscape use: Formally pruned shrub or informal screen.
  • Native range: Inland hammocks and swamps.
  • Lighting: Partial sun to full shade
  • Moisture: Prefers moist, rich soils. Older plants tolerate drier conditions.
  • Salt tolerance: Poor.
  • Size and shape: 6 to 15 feet tall; 6 feet wide
  • Disadvantages: Poor drought tolerance.
  • Plant spacing for a hedge: 4-5 feet

marlberryMarlberry (Ardisia escallonioides) will screen an unwanted view quickly in part shade or part sun. Easily reaching 15 feet in height, this wide shrub will grow near salt water in calcareous, high ph soils. The red ½” edible fruit can be eaten by people and will be relished by songbirds. The fragrant, ever-blooming white flowers make this large shrub a landscape favorite. It is cold-tender, so place it in a protected location in zone 10A or along the warmer coastal sites.

  • Landscape use: Tall, dense hedge or small tree
  • Native range: Tropical hammocks of S. Florida and the Caribbean
  • Lighting: Full to partial shade. Will tolerate morning sun
  • Moisture: Moderate. Older, mature plants will need less water.
  • Salt tolerance: Moderate
  • Size and shape: 8 to 15 feet tall as shrub. Can spread to 10 feet.
  • Disadvantages: Cold sensitive. Brittle wood.
  • Plant spacing for a hedge: 3-5 feet

Many native plants have exceptional wildlife value and will provide needed cover, food and nesting sites. Several fact sheets have been written on this subject (please see links listed below). Pruning native shrubs during the spring flowering season will reduce the small fruit that are relished by birds. Be sure and time your pruning to accommodate young nesting birds that are enjoying the cover your native shrubs provide. The less formally your native hedges are shaped and pruned, the more wildlife they will support.

Choosing a native hedge is a sustainable landscaping choice that will eventually pay for itself in savings of water, fertilizer and pesticides. There will be more time to enjoy the birds and butterflies now visiting your garden and less time spent trying to “fix” plants that may not be the right plant for the place it is planted. Native plants will give you slice of the Real Florida right in your own back yard!

Native Florida Plants for Home Landscapes:
Marlberry, Ardisia escallonioides:
Yellow Anise, Illicium parviflorum:
Florida Privet, Forestiera segregata:
Native Plants that Attract Wildlife: Central Florida,
The Florida Native Plant Society:

Florida Wildflowers in their Natural Communities, Walter Kingsley Taylor
Florida’s Best Native Landscape Plants, Gil Nelson

FDA Clears 37 States from Tomato Outbreak

By Janice Wade-Miller, Educational Instructor, Family and Consumer Sciences

Pinellas County Extension, Family and Consumer Sciences want you to be aware of all potential food hazards so that you can make knowledgeable decisions about the food you buy for your family. In an effort to keep you informed, we are releasing the following FDA tomato warning which was made public on Monday, June 9th. Please follow the FDA’s instructions so that you are not affected by this food borne illness.
tomatoThe U.S. F. D. A. added New Mexico, Indiana and one Mexican state, Baja California (Norte)**, to its list of places that are cleared of being the source of an outbreak of salmonella from contaminated tomatoes that has sickened 228 people since April.

At this time, FDA recommends consuming raw red plum, raw red Roma, or raw red round tomatoes only if grown and harvested from the following areas that HAVE NOT BEEN ASSOCIATED WITH THE OUTBREAK. See previous postings to this blog for those areas.

June 11 post:

June 12 post:

Shipments of tomatoes harvested in the following counties are acceptable with a certificate issued by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services:

Jackson, Gadsden, Leon, Jefferson, Madison, Suwannee, Hamilton, Hillsborough, Polk, Manatee, Hardee, DeSoto, Sarasota, Highlands, Pasco, Sumter, Citrus, Hernando, Charlotte.
Consumers who are unsure of where the tomatoes are from that they have in their home are encouraged to contact the store or place of purchase for that information. If consumers are unable to determine the source of the tomatoes, they should not be eaten. Consumers should also be aware that raw tomatoes are often used in the preparation of fresh salsa, guacamole, and pico de gallo, are part of fillings for tortillas, and are used in other dishes.
Types of tomatoes not linked to any illnesses are cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes, and tomatoes with the vine still attached.

Since mid April, there have been 228 reported cases of salmonellosis nationwide caused by Salmonella Saintpaul, an uncommon form of Salmonella. At least 25 hospitalizations have been reported.

If you have any questions or concerns on this issue, please call us at 582-2100 and we will do our best to help you.

** Product lots of tomatoes harvested in this State in Mexico are allowed export into the U.S. with a certificate issued by the Secretaria de Fomento Agropecuario del Gobierno del Estado de Baja California (Agency).

June 16, 2008

Tips for a Fun and Safe Summer

By Patti Neary, Education Instructor, Families and Consumers

children swimmingSummer is here and the kids are out of school! Summertime can be a fun time for
family and children, jam packed with enjoyable things to do. It’s also the time of year when children and teens are supervised less and have more time to engage in outdoor activities, which makes summertime a prime time for small and serious injuries. Talk with your children about safe practices and good choices to keep them safe and healthy.

Pool and Water Safety
  • Never leave children unattended in or near the water even if they know how to swim.

  • Always swim in pairs.
  • Avoid using inflatable swimming aids such as “floaties”. They give children
    a false sense of security. Get an approved life vest or personal floatation
    device (PFD). Use life jackets when out on boats, near open bodies of water and
    when participating in water sports.

  • Know which of your child’s friends and neighbors have pools. Make sure your child will be supervised by an adult when visiting.

  • Keep rescue equipment (long pole, life preservers, portable telephone) near the pool.

  • Do not let children dive into water unless the child has learned proper diving techniques and an adult is present.

  • If you have infants and young children at home install fencing that completely surrounds all pools, spas, whirlpools and hot tubs.

  • Pay attention to open water. Be aware of undercurrents and changing waves and undertows.

  • Learn infant and child CPR

Sun Safety

  • Encourage your child to wear a hat with a visor or adequate brim and sunglasses that filter out ultraviolet rays.

  • Apply sunscreen 30 minutes before going outside even on cloudy days; use a sunscreen with at least a SPF of 15. Reapply sunscreen every two hours or after swimming or sweating.

  • Stay in the shade whenever possible, and limit sun exposure during peak times, between 12pm and 4pm.

  • Be aware that exposure is intensified when sunlight is reflected off sand and water.

  • When it is hot outside do not leave children in a vehicle alone, or allow them to play in an unlocked car. Temperatures inside a car can reach 125ยบ in just 20 minutes, even with a window cracked.

Heat Stress in Exercising Children

  • Drink water, Drink water, Drink water!! Make sure kids are well hydrated during these hot summer months and water is one of the best drinks to do that.

  • Clothing worn should be light-colored and light weight when exercising or playing outside.

  • Before a prolonged physical activity, the child should be well hydrated, and should be encouraged to drink during the activity.

  • Sports practices, games and strenuous activities played in the heat should be shortened and frequent water breaks given.

Bicycle Safety

  • Buy a bike that is the right size, not one your child has to grow into. Oversize bikes are especially dangerous. For proper fit go to check out this website

  • Children should wear a helmet at all times. It helps protect them from serious injury.

  • When purchasing a helmet make sure it meets safety standards and is properly fitted.

  • Teach your child to check for traffic before entering a street or intersection by looking left and right.

  • Explain rules of the road to your child. Don’t overestimate your child’s bike riding skills!!

  • Older teens should wear light colored clothing and use reflectors so they can be seen at dusk.

Skateboard, Scooter, In-Line Skating, and Heelys Safety

  • Children and teens should never ride skateboards or scooters in or near traffic.

  • Make sure they always wear a helmet, protective gear, and wrist guards when skateboarding or using a scooter.

  • Many communities have skateboard parks so teens have a safe place to ride. See if there is one close to your home.

  • While inline skating or wearing Heelys (shoes that roll) wear appropriate protective equipment and use designated paths or rinks not on the streets.

  • Only ride during daytime hours.

  • Never wear headphones while skateboarding or skating; headphones block traffic sounds.

For more information on child safety issues contact the local Safe Kids Coalition:
boy wearing PFD
SAFE KIDS Florida Suncoast
Led by: All Children's Hospital of St. Petersburg
Coordinator: Jean Shoemaker
801 6th St SSt. Petersburg, FL 33701727-767-8581

Source for article-

June 12, 2008

FDA Tomato Warning Advisory Update

By Janice Wade-Miller, Educational Instructor, Family and Consumer Sciences

tomatoThe Pinellas County Extension, Family and Consumer Sciences Program wants you to be aware of all potential food hazards so that you can make knowledgeable decisions about the food you buy for your family. In an effort to keep you informed, we are releasing the following FDA tomato warning update which was made public on Monday, June 10th. Please follow the FDA’s instructions so that you are not affected by this food borne illness.

June 10, 2008 11:00 PM: The Food and Drug Administration has expanded its warning to consumers nationwide that a salmonellosis outbreak has been linked to consumption of certain raw, red tomatoes.

At this time, FDA is advising consumers to limit their consumption of tomatoes to the following types of tomatoes. The following types of tomatoes listed below are NOT likely to be the source of this outbreak.

  • cherry tomatoes
  • grape tomatoes
  • tomatoes sold with the vine still attached
  • tomatoes grown at home

FDA recommends consuming raw red plum, raw red Roma, or raw round red tomatoes grown and harvested only from the following areas that HAVE NOT BEEN ASSOCIATED WITH THE OUTBREAK:

Florida (counties of: Jackson, Gadsden, Leon, Jefferson, Madison, Suwannee, Hamilton, Hillsborough, Polk, Manatee, Hardee, DeSoto, Sarasota, Highlands, Pasco, Sumter, Citrus, Hernando, Charlotte)*
New Jersey
New York
North Carolina
South Carolina
West Virginia

Dominican Republic
Puerto Rico

* Shipments of tomatoes harvested in these counties are acceptable with a certificate issued by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

tomatoConsumers who are unsure of where the tomatoes are from that they have in their home are encouraged to contact the store or place of purchase for that information.

Consumers should also be aware that raw tomatoes are often used in the preparation of fresh salsa, guacamole, and pico de gallo, are part of fillings for tortillas, and are used in other dishes.

Restaurants, grocery stores, and food service operators have been advised by the FDA not to offer for sale or service raw red plum, Roma, or red tomatoes and products made from these types of tomatoes unless they are from one of the areas listed above.

Since mid April, there have been 167 reported cases of salmonellosis nationwide caused by Salmonella Saintpaul, an uncommon form of Salmonella. At least 23 hospitalizations have been reported.

If you have any questions or concerns on this issue, please call us at 727-582-2100 and we will do our best to help you.

June 11, 2008

FDA Warns Consumers Nationwide Not to Eat Certain Types of Raw Red Tomatoes

By Janice Wade-Miller, Educational Instructor, Families and Consumers

tomatoThe Pinellas County Extension, Family and Consumer Sciences Program wants you to be aware of all potential food hazards so that you can make knowledgeable decisions about the food you buy for your family. In an effort to keep you informed, we are releasing the following FDA tomato warning which was made public on Monday, June 9th. Please follow the FDA’s instructions so that you are not affected by this food borne illness.

The Food and Drug Administration is expanding its warning to consumers nationwide that a salmonellosis outbreak has been linked to consumption of certain raw red plum, red Roma, and red round tomatoes, and products containing these raw, red tomatoes.

tomatoFDA recommends that consumers not eat raw red Roma, raw red plum, raw red round tomatoes, or products that contain these types of raw red tomatoes unless the tomatoes are from the sources listed below. If unsure of where tomatoes are grown or harvested, consumers are encouraged to contact the store where the tomato purchase was made. Consumers should continue to eat cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes, and tomatoes sold with the vine still attached, or tomatoes grown at home.

On June 5, using traceback and other distribution pattern information, FDA published a list of states, territories, and countries where tomatoes are grown and harvested which have not been associated with this outbreak.
This updated list includes: Arkansas, California, Georgia, Hawaii, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Belgium, Canada, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Israel, Netherlands, and Puerto Rico.

This list will be updated as more information becomes available.

FDA's recommendation does not apply to the following tomatoes from any source: cherry, grape, and tomatoes sold with the vine still attached.

FDA recommends that retailers, restaurateurs, and food service operators not offer for sale and service raw red Roma, raw red plum, and raw red round tomatoes unless they are from the sources listed above. Cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes, and tomatoes sold with the vine still attached, may continue to be offered from any source.

Since mid April, there have been 145 reported cases of salmonellosis caused by Salmonella Saintpaul nationwide, including at least 23 hospitalizations. States reporting illnesses linked to the outbreak include: Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin. Salmonella Saintpaul is an uncommon type of Salmonella.

Salmonella can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections particularly in young children, frail or elderly people, and those with weakened immune systems. Healthy persons often experience fever, diarrhea (which may be bloody), nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. In rare circumstances, the organism can get into the bloodstream and produce more severe illnesses. Consumers who have recently eaten raw tomatoes or foods containing raw tomatoes and are experiencing any of these symptoms should contact their health care provider. All Salmonella infections should be reported to state or local health authorities.

FDA recognizes that the source of the contaminated tomatoes may be limited to a single grower or packer or tomatoes from a specific geographic area. FDA also recognizes that there are many tomato crops across the country and in foreign countries that will be ready for harvest or will become ready in the coming months. In order to ensure that consumers can continue to enjoy tomatoes that are safe to eat, FDA is working diligently with the states, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Indian Health Service, and various food industry trade associations to quickly determine the source of the tomatoes associated with the outbreak.
FDA is taking these actions while the agency continues to investigate this outbreak with state and federal partners. Such actions are a key component of FDA’s Food Protection Plan a scientific and risk-based approach to strengthen and protect the nation’s food supply.

If you have any questions or concerns on this issue, please call us at 727-582-2100.

June 10, 2008

Healthy Competition in 4-H

By Richard Livingstone, 4-H Youth Mentor

Power of 4-H logo Competition in 4-H is about as American as apple pie. In a society surrounded by competition it is important to emphasize the need for healthy competition and foster an environment in which to do so. Adults face competition in the workplace every day when finding and keeping jobs. However youth face competition at school, in academics, during extracurricular activities, and sports. Competition – where someone wins and others lose – as referenced in the Journal of Extension, is a significant part of American culture according to Robert J. Fetsch; Professor and Extension Specialist at Colorado State University and Raymond K. Yang; Professor at Colorado State University.

In that same publication proponents of competition claim that it contributes to learned democratic values, combats juvenile delinquency, and promotes physical fitness and learning. Opponents argue that competition decreases self-esteem and fosters individualism rather than cooperation—“the increasing complexity of social conditions in our local communities, states, nation, and world demand that we learn to live cooperatively.”

In an additional article titled “Competition and Cooperation: Helping Youth Strike a Balance” Karen L. Hinton sites “striving to achieve a goal is a productive form of competition where success is measured in growth and not by a ribbon or trophy. Individual differences are allowed for and individuals can build on their personal abilities, knowledge, and skills.” Karen bullets a few items in which competition becomes more effective if:

  • Winning is not stressed
  • Anxiety levels are low and the competition is used as an energy release or just for fun
  • It is used to increase performance or retention in simple drills or speed-related tasks for personal improvement
  • All participants believe they have a reasonable chance to win
  • Clear, specific rules are given and answers are available

  • Participants can monitor their own progress and grow through the experience
  • Guided by caring, sensitive, and informed adults
  • Results are not over-generalized and winning or losing does not make you a better or worse person

As referenced in the above bulleted list, competition only becomes negative when winning is the overriding goal. In many studies youth, however, rarely cite winning as a reason for participating. More often learning new skills or physical competence, being with friends in a group, fun and excitement, or staying in shape are reasons for their involvement.

In a study of the Attitudes of 4-H Participants About 4-H Competitive Events in the Journal of Extension conclusions and recommendations indicate that 4-H participants have positive attitudes about 4-H competitive events, as evidenced by strong agreement for statements that were positive and disagreement for statements that were negative. A closer examination of each statement suggests that 4-H participants believe that 4-H competitive events have benefits. Those youth who participated in 4-H events tended to place high value on competition compared to non-participants.

Volume 40 Number 3 of the Journal of Extension titled “The Effect of Competitive and Cooperative Learning Preferences on Children’s Self-Perceptions: A comparison on 4-H and Non 4-H Members” lists recommendations about what would a 4-H agent want to know about valuing competition, team learning, and cooperation and they include:
  • All programming and competitive events should be revisited and modified to correspond with current findings in research, especially related to competition and cooperation
  • Grade 3-5 4-H Club members (especially boys) should be provided more cooperative learning experiences and fewer competitive learning experiences
  • Parents of 4-H members are urged to continue to provide their unconditional parental support to their children—whether their projects place 1st or 4th. If they are supported either way, they grow in self-competence and self-worth
Much like in an article written by Caroline Payne and Kate Fogarty graduate student and associate professor, Department of Family, Youth and Community Science, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, IFAS, University of Florida titled The Importance of Youth Involvement in Sports, competition is essential in culminating a youth’s experience and growth in team sports activities just like 4-H competitive events. 4-H competitive events provide numerous opportunities for children and teenagers to grow socially, emotionally, and physically. Furthermore, they also allow youth to learn and practice in a competitive environment. While 4-H events may increase children’s positive social interaction with adults and one another, they can also create stressful environments for children. For example, adults may place unrealistic pressure on their children to perform. Parents and children must find a balance in regards to how many extracurricular activities children participate in. 4-H event participation can be an amazing tool that helps children grow and succeed in their everyday lives and in the future.


June 9, 2008

After the Hurricane: Are We Prepared to Feed Our Family?

By Janice Wade-Miller, Education Instructor, Families & Consumers Science

hurricaneWith the memory of the devastation left across the Gulf Coast by the hurricanes of 2004 and Katrina in 2005 still fresh in our minds, we can only reflect and ask ourselves, "Are we prepared to feed our family?” While most people are not prepared for hurricane season, there is still time to pull together a plan and a no-cook food kit.

Aside from physical safety, safe food for our family is all-important in making the days following a hurricane as comfortable as possible for our loved ones. All of us need to prepare a no-cook food kit which should contain non-perishable food and pet food for at least 4 days. You should also be ready to be self-sufficient for at least three days and have on hand at least one gallon of water per person per day. This kit can be used if you were asked to stay in your home for sheltering without electric power.

Here is a list of foods to consider assembling when you are readying your home for the upcoming hurricane season. Remember to keep in mind that canned foods, once opened, can be heated in their can over a fire with the can serving as a cooking pot. Pick and choose the food to buy based on your family’s food preferences and needs. All items listed here will keep indefinitely without refrigeration. Some items require hot water for reconstitution.

Bread, Cereal, Rice and Pasta Food Group
Granola bars
Breakfast bars
Pop tarts
Pastry Cold cereals
Instant hot cereals
Ramen noodles
Canned noodle soups
Instant noodle soups

Vegetable Food Group
Vegetable soups
Tomato soups
Small cans tomato, carrot, or V-8 juice

Fruit Food Group
Small cans of fruit
Boxed fruit juices
Small cans of fruit juice

Meat, Poultry, Dry Beans and Nuts Food Group
Canned tuna, salmon, clams, shrimp, sardines, pork and beans, chili, stew, ravioli, spaghetti, meat spreads, or chicken (Pack single servings as these products require refrigeration after opening.)
Peanut butter
Shelled nuts
Dried meat sticks (as long as they do not require refrigeration after opening)

Milk and Dairy Food Group
Powdered milk
Cocoa mix
Canned evaporated mild
Shelf-stable boxes of milk
Snack puddings
Parmesan cheese
Snack packages of cheese and crackers

Other foods (little nutritional value)
Instant coffee
Tea bags
Candy or Chips
Snack Jello
hurricane diagram
Here are some general food safety tips:

When in doubt, throw it out.
Don't eat food that may have been exposed to flood water.

Use bottled water if it is available. Don't drink water that may have been exposed to flood water. If you don't have bottled water, boil it for 1 minute before using, let it cool and put it into clean containers to make it safe for drinking and adding to canned foods. If you can't boil water, you can disinfect it using household bleach. Bleach will kill some, but not all, types of disease-causing organisms that may be in the water. If the water is cloudy, filter it through clean cloths or allow it to settle, and draw off the clear water for disinfection. Add 1/8 teaspoon (or 8 drops) of regular, unscented, liquid household bleach for each gallon of water, stir it well and let it stand for 30 minutes before you use it. Store disinfected water in clean containers with covers.

Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed. If the power goes out, keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible. Your refrigerator will keep food cold for about 4 hours if it's unopened. A full freezer will keep an adequate temperature for about 48 hours if the door remains closed.

Use appliance thermometers. Thermometers should be in your refrigerator and freezer. When power is restored, check your freezer thermometer. If it reads 40°Fahrenheit, the food is safe and may be refrozen. Refrigerated food should be safe as long as the power was out no more than 4 hours.

Keep coolers on hand. Coolers can help keep refrigerator food cold if the power will be out for more than 4 hours. Purchase or make ice cubes and store them in a clean cooler. This ice can be used for drinking. Freeze gel packs ahead of time for use in coolers. Clean and sanitize your bathtub and then fill it with clean water beforehand for use in adding to soups, hand washing and personal hygiene.

Throw out spoiled food. Discard any perishable foods—such as meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, or leftovers—that have been above 40°Fahrenheit for 2 hours or more.

food lineCooking and eating habits must change to fit the situation during a power failure. You may have no stove to heat food, no refrigeration, and limited water. In addition, health risks from contaminated or spoiled foods may increase. Use these ideas to prepare hot food during a power outage.

Fireplace -- You can cook on skewers; wrap food in foil and place in the hot coals, cook on a wire grill over the flames; or you can cook over the flames in heavy cookware such as cast iron or heavy aluminum. A Dutch oven is probably the best piece of cookware, because it can be used for baking, boiling, stewing, or pan frying.

Outdoor grills -- Foods can be cooked on outdoor grills, but use the grills outside. Do not use them in closed areas, not even in a garage.

Fuel-burning camp stoves or charcoal burners -- Use these cookers outdoors only. Fumes from these can be deadly.

Candle food warmers, chafing dishes, and fondue pots -- If using candle warmers (similar to canned candles) or chafing dishes to keep food hot and protect yourself from food borne illness, be sure to use a food thermometer and check frequently to make sure the food stays at 140 °F or above and out of the “temperature danger zone.”

Wood-burning stoves -- Most wood-burning stoves have a flat metal crown which can hold a metal cooking pot. Use this to warm or cook canned food when you need it.

University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Web site

Pinellas County Extension Web site

Hurricane Season Will Be “Well Above Average.”

Guidelines for Assembling No Cook Food Bags

Prepare for Hurricane Season: Advice From FDA

Emergency Disinfection of Drinking Water

June 2, 2008

Biofuels are Growing in Florida

By Mary Campbell, Extension Director, Urban Sustainability

JatrophaGas prices in the U.S have increased 20% in the past year. It is not just the US that has been impacted, and this has an effect on our economy as well. The price of gas in the UK is about $8.26/gal. and $9.45/gal. in the Netherlands. Many countries have experienced huge increases over the past two years. In January, 1996 the price of gas in the U.S was $1.27/gal. The increase cost of gas impacts the cost of all products that are transported.

Developing alternative sources of fuel to power our cars and trucks is of great interest with gas prices soaring and carbon dioxide emissions contributing to climate change. Biofuels are renewable liquid fuels made from plant matter rather than fossil fuels. Biofuels can help reduce air pollution, greenhouse gases, and the dependence on imported oil. Twelve grants totaling $25 million were awarded by the Florida Agriculture and Consumer Services as part of the state’s “Farm to Fuel” initiative in 2008. These projects will serve as a catalyst for major commercial investment in the biofuel industry in Florida.

There are two types of biofuels that are currently taking center stage in the push for alternative fuels – ethanol and biodeisel. Ethanol and biodiesel are completely different. Ethanol is a product of fermentation, and biodiesel is chemically-converted fat or plant oil. Currently, the biggest source of biofuel is ethanol — a liquid distilled from corn or other starchy crops. Proponents of biofuels suggest that they are the best, readily-available, renewable substitute for gasoline and conventional diesel. The most contentious issue surrounding biofuels is whether they, in fact, save fossil fuels. Some research reports that more fossil fuel energy is used to produce ethanol from corn than the energy it replaces. Flexible fuel vehicles (FFVs) are designed to run on gasoline or a blend of up to 85% ethanol (E85). logo for ethanol 85%Except for a few engine and fuel system modifications, they are identical to gasoline-only models. FFVs have been produced since the 1980s, and dozens of models are currently available. Since FFVs look just like gasoline-only models, you may have an FFV and not even know it. To determine if your vehicle is an FFV, consult your owner’s manual. FFVs experience no loss in performance when operating on E85. However, since a gallon of ethanol contains less energy than a gallon of gasoline, FFVs typically get about 20-30% fewer miles per gallon when fueled with E85. E10 (also called “gasohol”) is a blend of 10% ethanol and 90% gasoline sold in many parts of the country. All auto manufacturers approve the use of blends of 10% ethanol or less in their gasoline vehicles.

A method of turning biomass, such as yard waste and crop residues, into “cellulosic” ethanol is part of the research at the UF Florida Center for Renewable Chemicals and Fuels. A new facility to make biofuels from plant waste will begin construction in southern Florida under a $20-million state grant to UF. The use of waste from crops, such as sugarcane and wood, may provide the most practical and efficient source of biofuels. The first commercial cellulosic ethanol facility to convert waste wood materials into a renewable fuel went online near Upton, Wyoming in April, 2008.

Biodiesel is made from sources such as vegetables oils and can be blended with diesel made from petroleum. When the first diesel engines came along at the end of the 19th century, they were originally designed to run on vegetable oil. Biodeisel can be produced from crops such as soybean or Jatropha. Jatropha, or Physic Nut, is a plant of interest for Florida in the production of biodeisel. Jatropha is a drought-resistant perennial, growing well in marginal or poor soil. It is easy to establish and plants produce seeds with an oil content of 37%.

Another source of biofuels is used cooking oils. In San Francisco, SFGreasecycle is a free program in which the city picks up used cooking oil and grease from local restaurants, hotels and other commercial food preparation establishments. Those substances are then turned into biodiesel. Since 2002, Pinellas County has been using biodeisel purchased from a company that recycles grease waste into biodeisel.

Algae have also been reported as a source for biodeisel. Unlike some biofuel sources which require crops to be specially grown, which use more land, fuel, chemicals and fertilizers, the algae already exist. To get the fuel, the algae are processed into a pulp before lipid oils are extracted to be turned into biodiesel. The first algae-to-biofuel facility began operation in April 2008 in Rio Hondo, Texas, and is scheduled to produce an estimated 4.4 million gallons of algal oil and 110 million lbs. of biomass per year off a series of saltwater ponds spanning 1,100 acres.

There is not one single answer to the issues of dependence on foreign oil and greenhouse gas emissions. It will take a combination of improved fuel economy, investment in public transportation, new technology, and new fuel sources like biofuels and electricity to move us into a more sustainable future.

U.S. Department of Energy Alternative Fuels Data Center:

Florida Center for Renewable Chemicals and Fuels:

EPA Alternative Fuels:

IFAS team receives $1 million grant to unlock more energy from sugarcane:

New biodiesel crop Jatropha taking off in S.W. Florida: