Youth Sports Week

During Youth Sports Week, July 16-22, thousands of youth sports coaches, and parents are showing their support with a focus on P.L.A.Y.S. ~ Physical activity, Living healthy, Access, Youth development, Safety. Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service recommends starting this week off by listening to the needs and wants of the youth participants in order to strengthen the skills and bonds created by youth sports.

Youth sports participation has positive impacts on health, fitness, character development and other traits that contribute to success in school and adulthood.  “Sports are a wonderful way for children to stay healthy, but most importantly, we need children to have activity that they enjoy and in which their bodies, muscles, and brains are used in a variety of ways”, said Erica Reyes, Extension Program Specialist for Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service.

In 2014, The International Olympic Committee (IOC) met to advance a more appropriate and optimal, evidence-informed approach to youth athlete development. The IOC guidelines include:

  1. Consideration of individual and constantly changing rates of growth, maturation and development
  2. Holistic and diverse development of the athlete and person
  3. Individual and flexible frameworks of athlete development
  4. Mitigating injury risk and promoting health through sport
  5. Advocacy for a wider definition of athletic and sport success

Reyes states “in looking at these guidelines, think of the total child’s needs.  Each is different with their interests, physical development, ability, and maturation.  Also important is making sure they follow healthy eating guidelines, keep hydrated, and get enough rest”.

It is important to engage youth athletes in learning the importance of proper nutrition and hydration for maximum athletic performance and for general health and well-being. Proper nutrition is vital for youth athletes because they need extra nutrients to maintain and sustain performance and endurance. As the youth athlete takes in the proper nutrition before and after physical activity, they need to combine it with fluid intake before and during physical activity. The youth athlete may become dehydrated with the loss of water through sweating and breathing if the appropriate amount of fluids is not consumed. Without the proper amount of fluids, the body will not work to its full potential.

Key messages for proper nutrition include; make half your plate fruits and vegetables, switch to fat-free or low-fat milk, make at least half your grains whole grains, compare foods for choices lower in sodium, and drink water instead of sugary drinks.

Remember proper hydration before, during, and after practice or games.  Make sure you watch for signs of dehydration which include; thirst, dry mouth, flushed skin, fatigue, headache, dizziness/weakness, high body temperature, and an increased breathing rate.

Lastly, in celebrating youth sports week this July, and youth sports in general, there should be a combination of healthy competitiveness, fun, family/team bonding, and safety!

For more information, please contact Family and Community Health Agent Chris Coon at 254-435-2331 or at

Central Texas Stocker Cattle Seminar

The 7th Annual Central Texas Stocker Cattle Seminar will be held Wednesday, June 26th at the West Auction Barn located at 20645 N. I-35, West, Texas 76691. This multi-county programming effort will be hosted by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service Beef and Forage Committees in Bell, Bosque, Falls, Hill, Limestone and McLennan Counties.  Cost for the program is $10.00 per person, payable at registration.

Speakers and topics for the program will be The Affect of Nutrition on Performance/Health of Stocker by Levi Trubenback, Livestock Nutrition Center; Economics of Stocker Cattle Production, by Paul Burroughs, National Finance Credit Corp; Benefits of Individual Animal Carcass ID, Heath Crumley of Creekstone Farms; Cattle Market Update by TCU Ranch Management Professor; Phenotypic $Value of Cattle, Live Cattle Demonstration, Brian Upmore, Auctioneer and Manger of West Auction Barn.

Those in attendance will receive one (1) General Continuing Education Credit.  Breakfast will be provided by Ag Southwest and the workshop will conclude with lunch. RSVP is required for the meal by June 21, 2016 by calling (254)435-2331.

Individuals with disabilities who require an auxiliary aid, service or other accommodations are encouraged to contact the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service at (254)757-5180 prior to the event.

Keeping Summer’s Bounty Safe to Eat

Fresh melons and berries fill the aisles of grocery stores and markets. Roadside produce stands full of home grown fruits and vegetables are seen along the highway. All of these are signs that summer is here and so is a bounty of fresh produce. Summer’s harvest of fresh fruits and vegetables is an important part of a healthy diet. Just remember to handle fresh produce safely to prevent foodborne illness.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that there are 48 million cases of foodborne illnesses each year resulting in 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths.

Although not traditionally associated with foodborne illness, fresh fruits and vegetables have recently been linked to several outbreaks. That’s because fresh produce is often eaten raw. In fact, in recent years a number of outbreaks have been traced to fresh fruits and vegetables that were processed under less than sanitary conditions.

To help consumers keep fruits and vegetables safe to eat, the Partnership for Food Safety Education ( gives six recommendations for safe handling of fresh produce: Check: Food safety for fresh fruits and vegetables begins at the store. Before purchasing, make sure the produce is not bruised, cut, or damaged. If purchasing items that are pre-cut, such as melons, or packaged, such as salads, buy only the items that have been kept refrigerated. Clean: Hands should be washed in warm, soapy water for at least 20 seconds before and after handling fresh produce. Make sure cutting boards, counter tops, peelers and knives are also clean before using them.

Fresh produce should be rinsed under running tap water before you eat it. That’s also true for fruits and vegetables that have rinds or skins that will not be eaten. People don’t realize they need to scrub the outside of melons with a vegetable brush or rub them with their hands under running water. If bacteria contaminate the outside of a melon for example, when you slice into it you have the potential of bringing that contamination into the fruit.

Clean firm-skinned produce with a clean vegetable brush or rub it with your hands under running tap water. Do not use detergent or bleach to wash fresh produce. After washing, dry fruits and vegetables with a clean cloth or paper towel.

Vegetable brushes can be purchased at your local variety store for two to four dollars. They are an inexpensive tool that can help you keep your fresh produce safe to eat.

Separate:  In the grocery cart, keep fresh fruits and vegetables away from such items as cleaners, detergents, and raw meat, poultry, and fish. At home, that advice also holds true during storage in the refrigerator and during preparation: Keep fresh produce away from raw meat, poultry and fish. Do not use the same cutting board for produce and meats unless it is cleaned with hot, soapy water before and after food preparation. Cook:  If fresh produce has been in contact with raw meat, poultry, fish, or their juices, throw it away or cook it thoroughly. Chill: To prevent bacterial growth, store all cut, peeled, or cooked produce in the refrigerator within two hours. Throw away:  Fresh fruits and vegetables that have not been refrigerated within two hours of cutting, peeling, or cooking should be thrown away. Remove and throw away bruised or damaged portions of fresh produce before cooking or eating them raw. Any fruit or vegetable that will not be cooked and that has been contaminated by raw meat, poultry, fish, or their juices should also be thrown away. If in doubt about the safety of a fruit or vegetable, throw it out!

For more information on safe handling of fresh produce, contact your local County Extension Agent Chris Coon at 254-435-2331 or via email at

Bosque County Hay Show Scholarships

The first Bosque County Hay Show was held in Clifton in 1979 and was sponsored by the Bosque County Hay Show Committee, Bosque Soil and Water Conservation District, and the Texas Agriculture Extension Service, Bosque County. Forty years later, the next hay show is tentatively planned for October 2019, in Meridian, Texas.

The purpose of the Hay Show has been to provide producers information as to the quality of the hay they are producing. By knowing the quality, producers know if their hay has adequate protein or if they need additional supplements to meet the requirements of their livestock.

The hay from this show is auctioned and proceeds, along with sponsor donations, are used to offset expenses in addition to providing scholarships for FFA and 4-H high school seniors in Bosque County. Over the years, a total of 346 scholarships in the amount of $208,850 have been provided to high school seniors in Bosque County! To the senior class of 2019, sixteen $750 scholarships were awarded.

Congratulations to this year’s recipients!  From Bosque 4-H:  Hunter Bridgefarmer, the Jon F. Henderson Memorial Hay Show Scholarship; Maggie Chaffin, the Bosque County Hay Show Scholarship; Sydney Harris, the Bosque County Hay Show Scholarship.  From Iredell FFA:  Viviana Benitez, the John D. & Murlene Smith Memorial Hay Show Scholarship, Colten Fowler, the Sandra S. Shrank Memorial Hay Show Scholarship.  From Morgan FFA:  Dustin Brown, the Carroll M. Olson Memorial Hay Show Scholarship; Dariela Ramirez-Guillen, the Bosque County Hay Show Scholarship, Diana Sarinana, the Bosque County Hay Show Scholarship.  From Cranfills Gap FFA:  Ashlee Earp, the Wade Lee Memorial Hay Show Scholarship; Jerry Johnson, the Marc Johnson Memorial Hay Show Scholarship.  From Clifton FFA:  Kathryn Hill, the Homer and Vera Erickson Memorial Hay Show Scholarship; Mallory Knox, the C. Pernell and Rosalie Aars Memorial Hay Show Scholarship; Holden Rogers, the Bosque County Hay Show Scholarship.  From Valley Mills FFA:  Karissa Schlasman, the J. B. Wood Memorial Hay Show Scholarship.  From Kopperl:  Brittney Holmes, the Bosque County Hay Show Scholarship.  From Walnut Springs FFA:   Kaitlyn Whitt, the Kenneth Shrank Memorial Hay Show Scholarship.


With all the recent rains mosquitoes are abundant. Mosquitoes are not only an annoyance, but can leave itchy bites and transmit diseases.

Since mosquitoes will attack all warm-blooded vertebrates, livestock, pets and humans are all susceptible. In livestock, large populations of mosquitoes can cause irritation and extensive blood loss, which can result in reduced productivity and sometimes death. Diseases affecting livestock from mosquitoes include Easter Equine Encephalomyelitis (EEE) virus, Western Equine Encephalomyelitis (WEE) virus and Venezuelan Equine Encephalomyelitis (VEE). These are not exclusive to horses as the EEE has been reported in dogs and pigs. Heartworms in dogs are caused by the transmission of the filarial nematode by mosquitoes. These are just a few examples.

Now how to control mosquitoes, make certain that you are not contributing to the problem. All a mosquito needs to breed is a few leaves or small amount of organic material and water. Be certain to dump or drain any standing water. Also change out bird baths weekly, pet’s water bowls and check seals on cisterns and rain barrels. In low areas and ditches that cannot be easily drained consider filling in with gravel or soil. There are several products available for treating standing water that cannot be easily drained or filled.

Other backyard devices sold for mosquito protection include candles, bug zappers, ultrasonic mosquito repelling machines and mosquito suction devices. While some of these items have demonstrated relief in studies, the area of relief is minimal.  A few things we can do to help ourselves is to limit outdoor activities during evening and morning hours when mosquitoes are most active. If you must be outdoors during these times, wear protective clothing (long-sleeved shirt and pants) or a proven insect repellent.

For livestock the use of biological control can be used. Fish such as mosquito fish, goldfish, tilapia and others can be used to kill the larvae or the vegetation from areas where the larvae harborage in stock tanks and ponds. Chemical products can be found in many formulations (dust, powder, water soluble liquid, emulsion, oil-soluble liquid, granule, pellet, briquette).  The rate of usage will be dependent upon the biology of the target mosquito, the kind and size of habitat, the method of application, the chemical composition of the water and the presence of non-target organisms.

And whether in backyard or on the farm it’s best to rely on more than one control tactic when treating. For more information contact Chelsea Dorward at the Bosque County Extension Office at 254-435-2331.

Summer Cooking, Having a Blast – Summer Cooking, Got Sick So Fast

Unless another cold front comes bustling in out of nowhere, spring and summer temperatures are here and that means fun activities outdoors, including firing up the grill and cooking outdoors! One thing that is never fun, regardless of the time of year, is a foodborne illness. Research from the United State’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, roughly 1 in 6 Americans get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die annually from a foodborne illness. We can reduce our risk of obtaining a foodborne illness by following the principles of separate, chill, clean, and cook.

Food safety’s first step in our homes occurs before food even gets in the door. When purchasing foods that require temperature control like meats, fish, poultry, dairy, and eggs it is important to separate them from our other items so that they don’t leak and potentially transfer bacteria. Utilize plastic bags in the meat section to sequester those products to keep everything else clean.

These products are sensitive to temperature and as a result should remain below 40oF until the time of cooking. When meat products fall into the 40oF to 135oF range, they are in what is called “the temperature danger zone”. This is the range of temperatures in which foodborne illness- and spoilage-organisms reproduce at a much higher rate. Reduce the time products spend in this temperature range by putting them in the shopping cart last, and in the home fridge first! If you are cooking outside and away from easy fridge access, utilize an insulated cooler or bag to protect your products.

Ensure that all work surfaces, dishes, utensils, and hands are clean before and after handling raw meat, seafood, poultry, and eggs. Do not use the same cutting board to make a salad that just had raw chicken on it. After you are done with a task, clean the utensils, the area, and yourself before proceeding in order to reduce the risk of cross contamination. Do not use the same plate you brought the burgers out on to bring them back in the house! You laugh now but I have seen it happen too often to tell.

Finally, make sure that your food is reaching the proper internal temperatures required to significantly reduce the risk of a foodborne illness. Utilize a food thermometer inserted into the thickest portion of meat to check the temperature and clean the thermometer probe between checks to reduce cross contamination. Whole cuts of beef, pork, lamb, veal and fish should reach 145oF, hamburgers, ground meats, and sausages should reach 160oF, and all poultry products should reach 165oF.

When it comes to leftovers, divide extra food into smaller portions and place in covered, shallow containers or bags. Place them in the fridge or freezer within two hours of cooking.

For more food safety tips and information please visit or contact Chris Coon, County Extension Agent in Family and Community Health at

High Blood Pressure: Do You Know Your Numbers?

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According to the American Heart Association, nearly half of American adults are living with high blood pressure (also called hypertension), yet many are unaware that they have it. In kids and teens, elevated blood pressure is becoming increasingly common, which may lead to health problems later in life. During May’s National High Blood Pressure Education Month, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension is working to raise awareness and share the most important tips to prevent or manage high blood pressure.

Knowing your risk factors is the first key prevention strategy. “Besides age, genetics and a family history of high blood pressure, there are lifestyle risk factors that you can control, such as obesity, poor diet, physical inactivity, smoking, and excessive alcohol consumption,” said Dr. Sumathi Venkatesh, a health specialist with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service. “Certain medical conditions like diabetes can also increase the risk of developing high blood pressure,” she added.

Because there are no obvious symptoms or warning signs for high blood pressure, it’s often called a “silent killer.” That’s why regularly monitoring your blood pressure and understanding your results is another key prevention strategy. A blood pressure measurement includes two numbers: The top number measures systolic pressure, which is the force of the blood against the arteries when the heart beats, and the bottom number measures diastolic pressure, which is when the heart is relaxing between beats. A blood pressure reading of 120/80 is considered normal, while readings above 130/80 mean a diagnosis of high blood pressure.

Knowing your numbers could save your life. “Chronic uncontrolled high blood pressure can damage blood vessels and result in heart attack or stroke, the two leading causes of death in the U.S.,” said Dr. Venkatesh. “High blood pressure may also contribute to kidney disease, vision problems, and peripheral artery disease, but the good news is that high blood pressure can be controlled by taking prescribed medications and following a healthy lifestyle.”

Following The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, or “DASH” dietary pattern, is one of the best ways to prevent or treat high blood pressure. This healthy approach includes eating plenty of fruits and vegetables plus whole grains, nuts, fish, lean meat and low-fat dairy products, while limiting added sugars and saturated fats. Sodium intake should not exceed 1500 mg per day, so it’s important to check the sodium content listed on the nutrition facts label for any packaged foods. Other key prevention strategies include maintaining a healthy weight, exercising for at least 30 minutes a day, and avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol consumption. Finally, be sure to talk with your doctor if you have any health concerns or challenges. Healthy blood pressure is a target within reach.

Private Applicators Pesticide Training

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service in Bosque County, will be hosting a Private Applicators Pesticide training on Wednesday, May 29, 2019 at the AgriLife Extension Office, located at 104 S Fuller in Meridian. Registration will begin at 8:15 a.m. with the training starting at 8:30 a.m. and will continue until noon.

The training is open to the public. The cost of the class is $75.00. A Laws and Regulation Manual and a Private Applicator Study guide is mandatory, and included in the class cost. It is recommended that the manuals and study guide be picked up at the Bosque County Extension Office, 104 S Fuller, Meridian, Texas, prior to the training.

To register or if you need more information, please call the Bosque County Extension Office at (254) 435-2331 or complete the form below:

Individuals with disabilities who require an auxiliary aid, service or other accommodations in order to participate in Extension sponsored events are encouraged to contact the County Extension office a week prior to the class to determine how reasonable accommodations may be made.

Vines and Wines Program

The 2nd Annual Vines and Wines program will be May 16th at Mike and Lory Latimer’s Vineyard located at 3032 Rice Road, Riesel, Texas. Topics and speakers include Impact of Grapes in Texas with Fran Pontasch and Michael Cook, Extension Viticulturists; Vineyard Management by Mike Latimer; Table Grapes and Vineyard Soil with Justin Scheiner, Extension Viticulturist; Building Grower Relationships from a Buyer’s Perspective presented by Roxane Myers and Gene Estes of Lost Oaks Winery; Benefits of Forming a Grape Growers Association by Katy Jane Seaton, High Plains Wine Growers; and a panel discussion on Lessons Learned From the Vineyard.

Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. and the program starts at 9:00. Registration is $25.00 and includes lunch. This multi-county programming effort will be hosted by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service Horticulture Committees in Bell, Bosque, Falls, Hill, Limestone and McLennan Counties and Master Gardeners of McLennan County. Capital Farm Credit will provide breakfast. Please RSVP before May 9th. For any question or to confirm your attendance please contact the Bosque County Extension Office at 254-435-2331 or pre-register below:

20th Annual Central Texas Beef Cattle Meeting

The 20th annual Central Texas Beef Cattle Meeting will be held on Friday, May 3rd at the Fall Creek Ranch located at 9301 Langdon Leake Court in Granbury, Texas.  Registration will start at 5:30PM with Dinner at 6:00PM and Programs at 6:30PM.

This annual event is hosted jointly by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Services in Bosque, Hood, Somervell and Johnson Counties.  This year’s program will include the following presentations:  Hot Industry Topics and Optimizing Herd Health with a Production Calendar by Dr. Eric Kneese, DVM Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine and Future Beef Market Outlook & Updates by Dr. Jason Johnson, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Agricultural Economist.

Cost of the program and meal is $10.00 and can be paid at the door.  Please confirm your attendance by contacting the Bosque County Extension Office at 254-435-2331 no later than May 1st, or for any other information concerning the workshop.  You can also pre-register below:

Individuals with disabilities who require auxiliary aid, service or accommodations in order to participate in this event should contact Chelsea Dorward in the Bosque County Office of the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service no later than April 30, 2019 at (254)435-2331.