March 26, 2012

Get Fit with Fiber

Shannon Slowey
Dietetic Intern at
Bay Pines VA Health Care System

What is fiber? The Food and Nutrition Board assembled a panel that came up with the following definitions:
  • Dietary fiber is made up of non-digestible carbohydrates and lignin that are basic and whole in plants. This includes plant non-starch polysaccharides (for example, cellulose, pectin, gums, hemicellulose, and fibers contained in oat and wheat bran), oligosaccharides, lignin, and some resistant starch.

  • Soluble fiber dissolves in water to form a gel-like substance. Sources of soluble fiber are oats, legumes (beans, peas, and soybeans), apples, bananas, berries, barely, some vegetables, and psylluim.

  • Insoluble fiber increases the movement of material through your digestive tract and increases your stool bulk. Sources of insoluble fiber are whole wheat foods, bran, nuts, seeds, and the skin of some fruits and vegetables.

As a general rule, a diet rich in fresh fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole-grain products is recommended. As portrayed in the USDA MyPlate, this should include 2 to 3 servings of fruit, 3 to 4 servings of vegetables, and 6 or more servings of grains each day.

Fiber for weight control
There is some evidence that "bulking up" could lead to slimming down. In a recent study of more than 1700 overweight and obese men and women, those with the highest fiber intake had the greatest weight loss over 24 months. A reason that fiber may have an impact on body weight is its ability to slow the movement of food through the intestines. The gel-like substance that soluble fibers form when they dissolve in water causes things to swell and move slower in the intestines. This increase in time that foods stay in the intestines has been shown to reduce hunger feelings and overall food intake.

Fiber for controlling diabetes
If you have diabetes, a high-fiber diet may be just what the doctor ordered to get your blood sugars under control. The best time to address type 2 diabetes is before it develops. Research has shown that high-fiber diets can help prevent this form of diabetes. A German clinical trial reported that eating fiber-enriched bread for only three days improved insulin sensitivity in overweight and obese women by 8%. If you have diabetes, the good news is that increasing fiber in the diet now can also prevent long-term problems and complications.

Foods with fiber
Foods that have fiber can help you control your weight, lower blood cholesterol levels and help control blood sugar levels. Increase the amount of the following foods to increase your daily intake of fiber:
  • Beans

  • Vegetables

  • Fruit (keep the skin on)

  • Nuts

  • Seeds

Snack with Success
Sneak fiber into your breakfast with these fun fiber food ideas:
  • 1 cup of a high fiber cereal (Bran flakes, fiber plus cereals)

  • ½ cup of oatmeal with ½ cup of pumpkin puree Add a tsp of brown sugar and cinnamon for flavor.

  • Add ¼ cup of mixed nuts to your low fat yogurt.

For information on fiber and the fiber content of various foods, check out the publications below.

March 20, 2012

April Is Water Conservation Month

Dale Armstrong
Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ Coordinator

It may be hard to believe, but the spring dry season is here! And given that central Florida experienced a very warm and dry winter, many of our landscape plants and grasses are already suffering from the reduced rainfall and higher than normal temperatures.

By incorporating some Florida-Friendly Landscaping strategies, you can not only beat the heat and drought, but also help shrink your water bill. April Water Conservation Month brings awareness that by using these strategies in your landscape you'll also do your part to help protect the environment.

Did you know?
  • Landscape sprinkler systems can account for up to 50 to 75 percent of many homes’ water usage during the spring dry season.

  • There are nearly 380 plants, trees, shrubs, flowers and more that are recognized as Florida-friendly. To access the database, and even build an online list for your landscape, visit

  • You don’t have to do it alone! To get more information about landscaping in central Florida visit:

    • AskExtension.Org - to review Frequently Asked Questions or ask your own question of Pinellas County Extension’s horticulture staff.
    • Florida-Friendly Landscaping's page and click on ‘Ask an Expert’ in the top-right corner to have your questions answered by Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ staff.

    Community Water-Wise Awards

    Tampa Bay Water, its Member Governments and the Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ program are sponsoring the 14th annual Community Water-Wise Awards. These awards recognize individuals and businesses with water-efficient, aesthetically pleasing landscapes.

    If you are interested in learning more about the awards program or would like assistance and information in creating a water-wise landscape, visit, or contact Dale Armstrong at Pinellas County Extension, (727) 582-2108.

    Do you think your landscape is water-wise? Fill out your free application at by June 30, 2012 to find out!

March 14, 2012

Plugging into the Ages and Stages of Youth

Jean Rogalsky
Extension Agent
4-H Youth Development

Adult volunteer leaders in 4-H have a tremendous responsibility. Leaders are expected to guide, mentor, and teach to a group of youth of varying ages. Some 4-H clubs are formed with existing friends and others with strangers. The task of the 4-H club leader is to create a sense of belonging and friendship in the club while offering exciting, fun, educational and community service activities. A project or activity leader focuses on educational and service activities, but still needs to know how to keep the group engaged and interested. Any 4-H leader will tell you that although 4-H volunteering is rewarding, it can also be challenging. A volunteer who is a parent of early elementary age children may have a good understanding of the development of his or her own children, but be completely flummoxed by the actions of middle school girls.

Fortunately, 4-H volunteers have resources and tools to help guide them while working with youth. Part of the training for 4-H volunteers is using and understanding “Ages and Stages and Youth”, a module in the Florida 4-H Recognition handbook. “Ages and Stages” covers the physical, emotional, and intellectual development and characteristics of children in five age groups and how volunteers can help the youth in each group. Not only will this information help with planning activities, it will also help the 4-H volunteer realize what the expectations are for each age group. It will also answer the question of why certain ages act the ways they do.

The age groups are set up a bit different than the 4-H age categories for competition. The first age group addresses 7-9 year olds. This group is still learning to master both fine and large motor skills. They are learning to sort and classify. While they can complete tasks, quality may be an issue. Emotionally, they need help to understand failure. A 4-H volunteer working with this age group will offer opportunities for this group to practice the skills they are learning. Collections are popular with this age, so ask each member to create a display of collections of shells, seeds, or leaf rubbings. Set guidelines and standards for them. Then help them keep track of their progress.

The 10-11 years olds are full of energy and need to keep moving and doing. They don’t have the time to sit and listen. This group will jump from one topic to another. Emotionally, they look for adult approval and feel embarrassed easily. While working with this group, keep activities hands on with physical involvement. Outdoor activities are great. Divide activities into segments to keep their attention. This group is the “thumbs up or thumbs down”. There is little in the middle. Your suggestion will either be embraced or immediately voted down. Recognition is important even for little things. Compliments are very much appreciated, but remember not to compare them to others in the group.

The 12-13 year olds are either the most exciting group to work with or the one that makes you want to pull your hair out. It’s not their fault; it is just that they are on a roller coaster of emotions and hormones. If you don’t know who they are anymore, it is because they don’t know who they are either. The opinion of peers is more important than the opinion of most adults. They are testing values and trying on new identities. At the same time, they do know they want to be part of something important. The values of justice and equality become important. The volunteer working with this group should be open minded, accepting, and willing to listen. This group wants to be independent, so offer opportunities to be more independent, but still offer guidance. They want to test new ideas (different from parents), so allow them to discuss new ideas, beliefs, or values. They will want to put their abstract thinking skills to the test. At this age, recognition may be tricky. Sometimes the ribbon earned may not be seen as a value put on a project, but as a reflection of one’s own worth.

The 14-16 year olds are very concerned with themselves and their own peer group. They want to be adult-like, but on their own terms. They are capable of setting their own goals, and completing tasks on their own. The volunteer can help this group learn to relate better to others not just to those on their circle. Encourage the 4-H’ers to plan together as a group and take responsibility for these plans. As the youth become more interested in the future and career exploration, help them make realistic plans and emphasize their own special talents and skills. The volunteer is more of a mentor or coach.

The 17-19 year olds are making the transition to adulthood. They are fairly independent, but need to form close relationships with others their age. While they are capable of making and carrying out important decisions, they still look to adults for support. In a club setting, the volunteer can rely on these teens as helpers. To help them, the volunteer should be available for support as a mentor and as a resource.

Most 4-H leaders are working with a variety of ages at one time. One of the strengths of the 4-H program is that with mixed ages together, older youth learn leadership skills and younger youth have role models to look up to. By utilizing the information in “Ages and Stages” 4-H volunteers can create a positive club experience for all ages.

Florida 4-H Recognition: Helping Youth Grow Module 2: Progress Toward Goals

March 5, 2012

Sustainable Floridians

Ramona Madhosingh-Hector
Urban Sustainability Agent

Get Started with Sustainability
For many of us, sustainability is a challenge and we don’t know where to start. The University of Florida recently introduced a new training program to help citizens learn about sustainability and connect with others who are already involved in local, sustainable community projects.

Sustainable Floridians is a 7-week course that provides a forum for education and action to address Florida specific concerns about water, transportation, energy, and land use. The program uses a hybrid teaching approach with instructor led sessions and facilitated peer-to-peer exchanges to create and provide a lively classroom learning experience. UF/IFAS Extension faculty teach all sessions and participants receive valuable sustainable living devices like rain barrels and energy materials to promote behavior change. Although this is a non-credit adult education program, UF faculty provide many opportunities for ongoing learning through the UF/IFAS Extension network and monthly mentoring meetings.

In order to be considered for the program, participants must submit an application to the program coordinator. This year, the Pinellas County Extension office will offer two training opportunities -

Classes meet every Thursday during the 7 week session from 9 am to 1 pm. Participants must complete the training and required volunteer hours to be considered a certified Sustainable Floridian graduate. Participants meet the 30 hour volunteer requirement and 15 hour ongoing training requirement by completing Extension approved projects. These may include working at community outreach events, writing articles, and working with schools to educate youth about sustainability.

Pinellas County Extension is currently the only Extension office in the Tampa Bay area that is providing this training. Since the pilot launch of this program last year, Pinellas County trained 47 volunteers who contributed more than 700 hours to extend the mission of Extension.

When you complete this program, you will be a sustainability aware citizen who will be able to work at the grassroots level to improve the resiliency of your local community.

Join us for this exciting program and become a part of the Sustainable Floridian network of graduates!

March 1, 2012

March Forward with Extension Classes!

Check out all the classes offered this March!  Just click on the title to register.

12520 Ulmerton Road, Largo FL 33774

March 3
Rain Harvesting Workshop:  9:00-10:30
By attending this workshop you will learn how to save that water in a recycled plastic barrel for later use. All attendees will receive set-up instructions and a reference booklet. If you would like a rain barrel for your household you may purchase up to two per person when you register for this class.  Location:  Pinellas County Extension

March 6, 20
Florida-Friendly Garden Tours at Florida Botanical Gardens: 9:00-10:30am
Enjoy a stroll through our garden of Florida native and Florida-Friendly plants.  Learn how you can incorporate some of these plants in your home landscape.  Observe how the same plants can survive under different light and water conditions.   Tours are limited to groups of 4-10 people.  Recommended for adults.  Free, advance registration required.

March 8
"Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ around Ponds" presented by Master Gardeners, Palm Harbor Library:  2:00-3:30pm and 6:15-7:45pm
Learn about some simple steps everybody can take to keep ponds and lakes “healthy”.  We will also cover plant selection and design ideas that can once implemented, lead to attractive and beautiful ponds in our communities.  Location:  Palm Harbor Library, 2330 Nebraska Ave., Palm Harbor, FL 34683 

March 13
Kill-a-Watt (TM) Campaign; Dunedin Public Library:  7:00- 8:00pm  Check your local library for Kill-a-Watt monitors that you may borrow to evaluate your home.  Classes are held at libraries throughout the county where these devices are available to be checked-out. Location:  Dunedin Public Library, 223 Douglas Avenue, Dunedin, FL 34698  Free.  Registration is required

March 15, 29
Herb and Tropical Fruit Garden Tours at Florida Botanical Gardens:  9:00-10:30am
Explore the Herb, Tropical Fruit Gardens and Florida-Friendly Landscape Plants here at the Florida Botanical Gardens.  Tours are limited to groups of 4-10 people.  Recommended for adults.  Free, advance registration required.

March 31
Kill-a-Watt (TM) Campaign; Clearwater East BranchLibrary:  1:30- 2:30pm.  Check your local library for Kill-a-Watt monitors that you may borrow to evaluate your home.  Classes are held at libraries throughout the county where these devices are available to be checked-out. Clearwater East Branch Library, 2251 Drew Street, Clearwater. Free.  Registration is required

March@Brooker Creek
3940 Keystone Road, Tarpon Springs

March 1, 8, 15, 22, 29
Book Time @ Brooker: 10:30-11:15am Children ages 3 to 5 connect to the wonders of the natural world through a story and a craft, game or other hands-on activity. Free; advance registration required. 

March 3, 24
Brooker Creek Guided Hike: 9:00-10:30am See how the land has changed over time and the ecological footprints left by those changes. Wear closed-toe shoes; bring water and a hat. Best for ages 6 and older. Free; advance registration required. 

March 3
Pre-historic Florida (Wild Florida Series - Program 3):  10:00-noon  Journey back into Florida's past when the saber cat, giant sloth, mammoth, giant tortoise and bison roamed the Sunshine State. Join Sensing Nature for this 3-part Brooker Creek Preserve Wild Florida series. Free; advance registration required 

March 10
Birds of Brooker Creek: 8:00-10:30am   Join us for a Beginning Bird Hike to learn how to identify common birds as we meander along a one-mile trail.  Bring water and binoculars if you have them. Free; advance registration required. 

March 10
Prevent Forest Fires with Smokey the Bear:  10:00-11:00am  Meet Smokey the Bear and his friends from the Division of Forestry as they talk about wildfires in Florida and the effects of these fires to local ecosystems and the wildland urban interface (WUI). Free but advance registration required.  For more information please contact (727) 453-6800

March 10
Discover Wildlife with Children: Stop by the classroom anytime between noon and 3 p.m. to participate in a variety of self-guided nature games and activities. A Brooker Creek Education Center volunteer will be available to answer questions. Free; advance registration required 

March 17
Native Plants of Brooker Creek Hike: 9:00-10:30am. Join us on a special hike led by the Brooker Creek hike guides to learn about the diverse native plant life found in the preserve and the natural communities they inhabit. Wear closed-toe shoes, bring water and a hat. Best for ages 6 and up. Free; advance registration required. 

March 17
 “Beyond Birding©” (Birds of Brooker Creek - Program 1):  10:00-noon.  Join Sensing Nature for this 3-part Birds of Brooker Creek series. Free, advance registration requested.  

March 31
Owl Cast Cafe (Birds of Brooker Creek Preserve - Program 2):  10:00-noon  From small screech owls to large horned owls, learn from a Sensing Nature biologist how these stealth hunters benefit both nature and us through their chosen diets. Join Sensing Nature for this 3-part Birds of Brooker Creek series. Free; advance registration requested

March@Weedon Island
1800 Weedon Drive, N.E., St. Petersburg

March 1- March 31
Discovery Reef Exhibit – Special Traveling Exhibit: For a limited engagement at Weedon Island, the Mote Marine Traveling Interactive Exhibit, Discovery Reef, promotes understanding of Florida’s coastal and marine environments. Visitors will discover amazing life forms, survival strategies and relationships on Coral Reefs, and their crucial role in the ocean food web. Exhibit available, Thursday – Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. No registration required. 

March 1
Salty Topics: Underwater Soundscapes of Coastal Florida: 6:45-8pm  Biological sources of sound production range from invertebrates to mammals, but the most prolific source is associated with courtship and spawning behaviors of fishes. Explore this topic with James Locascio who is currently a post-doctoral scholar at Mote Marine Laboratory. Free; advanced registration required.

March 3
Weedon Island History Hike: 9:00-10:30am Learn about early native peoples of Weedon Island and the colorful past of the 1920s. Hike past remnants of the Grand Central Airport and on the History Trail.  Be sure to bring water and a snack. A hat and closed-toe shoes are also recommended.  All ages welcome - children younger than 6 may find this hike challenging.  Free; advanced registration required. 

March 3
Celebrate Coastal Archaeology Tour:  11:00am and 2:00pm  Weedon Island Preserve is a significant archaeological heritage site on Florida's Gulf Coast. Join a Coastal Archaeology Tour of an archaeological excavation being conducted on-site at the Preserve. Morning and afternoon tours are free, but advance registration required. Each tour will take about 1 hour, wear sturdy walking shoes. 

March 8, 22
Wee-Time @ Weedon: 10:30-11:15am  Children ages 3 to 5 This program is designed to introduce pre-school children to the wonders of the natural and cultural world.   March 8 - "The Grouchy Ladybug" by Eric Carle.  March 22 "Busy Buzzers: Bees in Your Backyard" by Nancy Lowen. Free; advanced registration required. 

March 9
Great Weedon Bird Quest: 8:00-10:00am  Learn to identify marks and behaviors of birds by taking advantage of this guided hike. Binoculars available. Free; advance registration required. 

March 10, 17, 24, 31
Weedon Island Guided Hike: 9:00-11:00am   Learn about the ecosystems and the early residents of Weedon Island Preserve while hiking the coastal uplands and the boardwalks through mangrove forests. Best for ages 6 and older. Free; advance registration required. 

March 10
The Feathers of Florida - Past, Present and Future (Birds of Weedon Island Series - Program 3):  2:00-4:00pm From the plume trade to future trends, learn how Florida’s coastal birds have shaped our country’s conservation successes. After the indoor presentation, participants will experience Florida’s natural wonders on a nature walk.   Adults and families welcome. Limited space. No dogs, and please wear closed-toe shoes and appropriate clothing. Meet at Classroom.  Free; advanced registration required. 

March 15
Archaeology Lecture Series - Some Recent Surveys and Archaeology in the Galilee of Israel:  7:00-8:00pm  Recently Israeli archaeologists have been digging two ancient synagogues in the Galilee that have yielded their own surprises. Dr. James Strange presents new information about the Galilee of the Roman period with details of the local and regional trade routes.  Free, advance registration requested. 

March 17
Weedon Island - Restoring Nature's Balance© (3-part Weedon Island Series - "Guiding Nature - Mitigation, Restoration and Enhancement"):   2:00-4:00pm  Learn some of the important aspects about land management and improvement tools such as prescribed fire and how they are vital to our natural areas. This program includes a habitat hike of restoration in action!  Join Sensing Nature for this 3-part Weedon Island Restoring Nature's Balance series. Participants attending all three programs will receive a Florida restoration information packet. Adults and families welcome. Limited space. No dogs, and please wear closed-toe shoes and appropriate clothing. Meet at Classroom.  Free, advance registration requested. 

March 24
Photography Wildflower Hike: 8:00-10:00am   This hike is the perfect opportunity for adult photographers to hone their skills. After a brief classroom session highlighting wildflower photography, guides will assist participants in capturing the natural beauty in photos. Free; advance registration required. 

March 31
Weedon Island: Restoring Nature’s Balance©, 3-part Series ("Wildlife Sentinels" Weedon Island Series - Program 2):  2:00-4:00pm  Learn success stories about protecting our important Florida wildlife including the bald eagle, Florida black bear, gopher tortoise, Florida panther and others. Learn how we are helping these species, ways we still need to improve their protection, notice others that may need our help and discover ways to take action. After the indoor presentation, participants will experience Florida’s natural wonders on a nature walk.  Join Sensing Nature for this 3-part Weedon Island Restoring Nature's Balance series. Attend one, two or all three programs. Participants attending all three programs will receive a Florida restoration information packet. Adults and families welcome. Limited space. No dogs, and please wear closed-toe shoes and appropriate clothing. Meet at Classroom.  Free, advance registration requested.