Impaired Driving: A Deadly Danger at Thanksgiving

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have joined forces this Thanksgiving holiday to remind drivers that whether under the influence of illegal drugs, prescription drugs, or alcohol, any form of impaired driving is deadly and dangerous — and illegal.  Their message is clear:  If You Feel Different, You Drive Different. Drive Sober During Thanksgiving.

Drunk driving-related crashes spike during the Thanksgiving holiday.  According to the NHTSA, from 2013 to 2017, more than 800 people died in alcohol-impaired driving crashes during the Thanksgiving holiday week — Wednesday, 6 p.m., to Monday, 5:59 a.m. — making it the deadliest holiday on not only Texas roadways, but across the U.S.  In fact, during 2017, more than one out of every three traffic fatalities during the Thanksgiving holiday week involved an alcohol-impaired driver.

Also, a new threat is emerging:  Drug-impaired driving.  From 2007 to 2016, marijuana usage doubled among drivers killed in crashes, and in 2016, 42 percent of the drivers killed in fatal crashes who were tested revealed to test positive for drug-use while driving.

Excessive alcohol and drug intoxication are also prevalent over Thanksgiving, due in part to cultural phenomenon’s like “Blackout Wednesday” which highlight and even encourage the heavy consumption of alcohol and marijuana throughout the holiday weekend.

That is why this Thanksgiving holiday, the NHTSA and its partners are doing even more to save lives on the road.  A nationwide social media blitz, featuring the hashtags  #BoycottBlackoutWednesday and #DitchDanksgiving, will help deliver some new life-saving messages into the public conversation and encourage positive actions that can help reduce the danger of impaired driving on the roadways.

Impaired driving, in any form, is illegal in all 50 U.S. states. Whether a person is feeling a little high, buzzed, stoned, wasted, or drunk, he or she is impaired and should never get behind the wheel.

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension’s Watch UR BAC program recommends these simple tips to stay safe on the road while celebrating this Thanksgiving:

  • Plan a way to safely get home before the Thanksgiving festivities begin.
  • Always designate a sober driver.
  • If you are impaired, call a sober friend or family member, use public transportation, or utilize a ride sharing service.
  • Download the NHTSA’s SaferRide mobile app, which helps identify a sober ride home and a location for pickup.
  • If a driver on the road appears impaired, contact local law enforcement.
  • If someone you know is about to drive while impaired, take their keys and help them make safe, sober travel arrangements to where they are going.

By working together, everyone involved can save lives and help keep America’s roadways safe.

For more information, please visit: or


Small Acreage Landowner Education

Do you know the transportation laws in Texas?  Have you ever been known to use a “cheater” bar to tighten equipment, if so, come learn what is legal and not legal at the upcoming Small Acreage Landowner program on November 16th.  We’ll also be discussing leasing, estate planning and marking your property and/or product.

This program will be held on Friday, November 16, 2018 at the Meridian Civic Center. Registration will start at 8:45AM with program to follow at 9:00AM and should conclude by noon.  One General CEU will be offered for individuals holding a Private Applicator’s Pesticide License. Cost of the program is $15.00 and can be paid at the door. For any question or to confirm your attendance please contact the Bosque County Extension Office at 254-435-2331 or pre-register on the form below:


Curbing Holiday Weight Gain

The holidays are a time to celebrate and spend time with family and friends alike.  However, the holiday season and winter months often bring more high calorie “party” and “comfort” foods to the table and less physical activity which can result in weight gain.

To help curb holiday weight gain, concentrate on family, friends, and reasons for celebrating the holidays, rather than what kind and how good the foods served will be.   In other words, shift the focus of your holiday celebration away from food and more on the people you are celebrating with.   Use these tips to make your holiday celebrations a little easier on your waistline:

  • Plan before you feast. If you are going to a holiday party, don’t go on an empty stomach. Skipping meals may cause you to overindulge. Instead, eat small amounts of healthful foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables, cereal, yogurt, or a small wrap or sandwich before the event.  Once you arrive at the party, look at the foods being served and decide what you will eat ahead of time.  This will help you maintain control of your eating while still enjoying your favorite
  • Avoid extra calories from drinks. Alcoholic drinks and other holiday favorites like eggnog taste great but provide extra calories and few nutrients.  One 6 oz. glass of wine has 150 calories, and an 8 oz. glass of eggnog provides 350 calories!  In addition, regular sodas contain on average, 140 calories per can.  Consider limiting these high calorie beverages so that you can save some of them for the meal.
  • Be a healthy helper. One way to ensure that a healthy option will be available at the party is to offer to prepare and bring a dish.  Your host will appreciate your help and you will have one dish that is a healthy alternative.
  • Stick to your routine. The holiday season can be challenging for anyone trying to maintain their weight, but especially so for a person trying to lose weight. Do your best to stick to your routine during the holiday season. Continue to be physically active as much as possible, ideally for 30 minutes five days per week. Maintain your healthy eating habits at home by focusing on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein sources, and low-fat or fat-free milk products.

Use these tips to curb holiday weight gain while still enjoying your favorite foods in moderation.  Remember to focus on friends and family and stick to your routine to celebrate holidays now and for many years to come.

Nominate a Volunteer

Each year, the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service in Bosque County and the Commissioner’s Court host a Volunteer Recognition Banquet to recognize outstanding volunteers who serve the residents of Bosque County.  These volunteers give their time and energy to serve in civic and community organizations and to improve our communities.  The Volunteer Recognition Banquet is a special time to honor these extraordinary volunteers.

We invite organizations or individuals in Bosque County to nominate outstanding volunteers in the following categories:

  • Agriculture & Natural Resources
  • Civic Organizations & Community Service
  • Community Festivals & Events
  • Fire Department & First Responders
  • Family & Health Services
  • Youth Services
  • Other

You may nominate a volunteer by completing the form below or you can print a form to complete and send or bring into the AgriLife office (104 S. Fuller, Meridian, TX  76665).  If you have any questions feel free to call us at 254-435-2331.  Nomination forms are due back to the Extension Office by November 19, 2018.  The Leadership Advisory Board of Texas A&M AgriLife Extension will review each nomination and select the awardees to be recognized at the 2018 Volunteer Recognition Banquet on Monday, December 10.  Tickets for the event are $10 and are available at the Extension Office or at the door the evening of the event.


Form to print and mail in:  2018 Volunteer Category Descriptions and Form

Past Honorees – 2018

Talk to Your Teen About Safe Driving Habits

Teen Driver Safety Week is October 21-27, 2018

This week is a great opportunity for parents to start – and hopefully, continue – having conversations with their teens about the importance of driving safely.  No matter what we’re driving the rules stay the same, and no one should have the keys if they don’t know them. The greatest dangers for teen drivers are alcohol consumption, improper seat belt use, distracted or drowsy driving, speeding, and driving with passengers in the vehicle. Motor vehicle crashes continue to be the leading cause of death for teens 15-to-18 years old in the U.S. and in Texas.

Parents can be the biggest influencers on teens’ choices behind the wheel if they take the time to talk with their teens about some of the biggest driving risks, including:

  • Alcohol and Drugs: All teens are too young to legally buy, possess, or consume alcohol. However, nationally, in 2016, nearly one out of five teen drivers of passenger vehicles involved in a fatal crash had been drinking. But alcohol isn’t the only substance that can keep your teen from driving safely:  In 2016, 6.5 percent of adolescents ages 12 to 17 were current users of marijuana. Like many other drugs, marijuana affects a driver’s ability to react to their surroundings. Driving is a complex task, and marijuana slows reaction times, affecting the driver’s ability to drive safely. Remind your teen that driving under the influence of any impairing substance – including illicit, prescription drugs, or over-the-counter medication – could have deadly consequences.
  • Seat Belts: Wearing a seat belt is one of the simplest ways for teens to stay safe in a vehicle. Yet too many teens aren’t buckling up. In fact, there were 569 passengers killed in passenger vehicles driven by teen drivers, and more than half (54%) of those passengers who died were NOT buckled up at the time of the fatal crash.
  • Distracted Driving: In 2016, among teen drivers involved in fatal crashes, 10 percent were reported as distracted at the time of the crash. This age group  also has the largest percentage of drivers who were distracted at the time of a crash. The biggest distraction for teens is other teens in the vehicle.
  • Speeding: In 2016, almost one-third (31%) of all teen drivers of passenger vehicles involved in fatal crashes were speeding at the time of the crash.
  • Passengers: Teen drivers transporting passengers can lead to disastrous consequences. The likelihood of teen drivers engaging in risky behavior triples when traveling with multiple passengers.
  • Drowsy Driving: Teens are busier than ever, and with increased activity, teens tend to compromise something very important — sleep. This is a dangerous habit that can lead to drowsy driving. Even after 7-8 hours of quality sleep, people are most likely to feel drowsy between the hours of 2 p.m. and 6 p.m., which is generally when teens are driving home.

What’s the solution?  Talk regularly to your teen about the dangers of driving and set the tone. Self-reported surveys show that teens with parents who set and enforce firm rules for driving typically engage in less risky driving behaviors and are involved in fewer crashes.

Parents should start the conversation with their teen about safe driving habits during National Teen Driver Safety Week, but continue the conversation every day throughout the year. It is never the wrong time to talk about safety.

For more information about National Teen Driver Safety Week and to learn more safe driving tips for your teens, please visit .

New and Small Acreage Landowner Series Coming

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension of Bosque County will be hosting a two part New & Small Acreage Landowner Series this November at the Meridian Civic Center.  Registration will start for each session at 8:45AM with program to follow at 9:00AM and should conclude by noon.

Topics to be discussed at this first session will include:  Dynamics of the Aquifer in Bosque County by Stephanie Keith from the Middle Trinity Groundwater Conservation District; Beekeeping 101, from local beekeeper Weldon Hamilton; Common Tree Diseases for Bosque County; by Renee Burks of the Texas Forestry Service.  One General CEU will be offered for individuals holding a Private Applicator’s Pesticide License during the first session on November 2, 2018.

The second session will be held on Friday, November 16, 2018 with topics that include:  Estate Planning & All You Need to Know About Leasing Your Property, by Jason Johnson, Extension Economist with Texas AgriLife Extension; DPS Laws & Regulations with Livestock & Equipment Hauling, by local DPS Troopers.  One General CEU will be offered for individuals holding a Private Applicator’s Pesticide License.

Cost of the program is $15.00 per session and can be paid at the door.  For any question or to confirm your attendance please contact the Bosque County Extension Office at 254-435-2331 or pre-register below:

Lone Star Ag Credit will be providing breakfast burritos to those attending each session.

Pond Management Program

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Offices of Bosque, Somervell, Hood and Johnson Counties will be hosting a Pond Management Program on Thursday, November 1, 2018 at the Flat Top Ranch outside of Walnut Springs, Texas located at 298 Private Road 2640-A.

The registration will start at 8:45am with the program to start at 9:00am.  Presentation topics will include Pond Stocking Rates & Onsite Aquatic Management by Steven Smith, Wildlife & Fisheries Consultant with the Noble Research Institute.  After lunch we will hear about Pond Planning & Construction presented by Mike Otto of Otto’s Dirt Service.  Two CEUs will be offered to those holding a private applicators pesticide license.

Registration fee is $15 and includes a noon meal.  Please RSVP by October 26th for meal planning by calling the Bosque County Extension Office or complete the form below. For more information contact the AgriLife Extension Office – Bosque County at 254-435-2331.

Lone Star Ag Credit will be providing breakfast burritos to those attending.

Individuals with disabilities requiring an auxiliary aid or special accommodations to participate are asked to contact Chelsea Dorward by October 26, to determine how reasonable accommodations may be met.

40th Annual Bosque County Hay Show and Scholarship Auction

40th Annual Bosque County Hay Show

The 2018 Bosque County Hay Show will be held at the Bosque Bottoms Pavilion in Meridian on Monday, October 15, 2018. This year 97 hay bale samples were entered into the contest.

This event is open to everyone, so please make plans to come out and participate in the 40th Annual Bosque County Hay Show beginning with the BBQ meal at the Pavilion at 5:30 p.m.  Tickets for the BBQ meal are available at the Bosque County Extension Office (104 S Fuller, Meridian) or may be purchased onsite for $10/each.

This year’s program will be presented by Dr. Jason Johnson, Texas AgriLife Extension Service Economist.  Dr. Johnson will speak on “Economics of Hay Baling & Marketing.”  One Laws and Regulations (LR) CEU will be offered for those with a pesticide applicator’s license.

Prior to the educational program, the 40th Annual Bosque County Hay Show winners will be recognized. At 7:00 p.m. the Kenneth Shrank Memorial Scholarship Auction, which supports the youth of Bosque County, will be held.  To date, 330 scholarships for $199,850 have been awarded to Bosque County High School Seniors from the Hay Show.  If you are an individual who would like to help contribute to this scholarship auction please let the Extension Office know. For more information on this year’s event, contact Chelsea Dorward at the Bosque County Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Office in Meridian at 254-435-2331 or James Greenwade, Hay Show Representative.

Private Applicators Pesticide Training

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service in Bosque County will be hosting a Private Applicators Pesticide training on Thursday, October 25 at the Bosque County Sheriff’s Training Room located at 266 FM 2840 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 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.

Fall Recipe Alterations


As the first days of fall are upon us already, I am sure many of us are ready for the hearty soups, sweet quick breads, and nap-inducing meals that are synonymous with this time of year. This excitement about food, for me at least, is paired with the dread of fall and winter weight gain. But fear no more! Here are some tips and tricks we can use to help us maintain a healthy diet while still enjoying our favorite seasonal dishes.

Soups and stews are infamous for their high amounts of sodium, especially canned options. If you are buying canned soup, make sure to look for the “low sodium” and “reduced sodium” options. Even so, make sure to read the nutrition facts label on the back as some brands are crafty and reduce the sodium, but then increase the fat and sugar to maintain taste. The same can be said for homemade soups; opt for lower sodium broths and stocks to maintain a healthier sodium intake.

For quick breads and muffins, we can reduce the amount of fat by using non-fat yogurt or fruit purees. If you are using a fruit puree, like pumpkin or banana, make sure to add 1-2 tablespoons of oil and applesauce to maintain moisture and reduce the amount of added sugar by the same amount of puree added. Reducing the baking temperature by 25 degrees will also prevent these reduced-fat breads from drying out. It would also be prudent to check your bread or muffins for doneness earlier than you normally would. Quick breads and muffins are also a great place to sneak in servings of fruits and vegetables. By adding dried fruits, grated carrots and zucchini, and even applesauce, we can use their natural sweetness to reduce the added sugars needed and sneak some important nutrients into our diet without even noticing!

Fall meals often entail heavy entrees and heavy sides, but this does not always have to be the case! With the changing of the seasons comes the change in seasonal vegetables. Broccoli, cauliflower, squash, Brussel sprouts, green beans, and hearty leafy greens like Swiss chard are in-season from September to late November and are an easy way to freshen up the plate. These vegetables can be cooked in a variety of ways but a simple and healthy way to go is to oven roast these veggies with a small amount of oil, salt, and pepper. Oven roasting brings out the natural sweetness of the vegetables by mellowing their natural bitterness without the need for the high amounts of cooking fat present in other methods of cooking. Alternatively, if you are still trying to soak up the grilling season like I am, most fall vegetables stand up beautifully to grilling and make wonderful sides to the last cookouts of the year. For more information, check out the Texas Farmers’ Market website ( to see what’s in season and when available in our fair state.

Happy cooking!