AgriLife Extension Service Honors Superior Service Award Winners

By:  Blair Fannin, Associate Director for Communications, TAMU

The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service recently presented its Superior Service Awards, the highest employee honor conferred by the agency.

The awards recognize AgriLife Extension faculty and staff members who provide outstanding performance in Extension education or other outstanding service to the organization and to Texans.

“Whether its individuals, teams or partners, Superior Service is the hallmark of an organization in being recognized for continued exemplary work,” said Jeff Hyde, Ph.D., Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service director. “The personnel receiving awards this year represent exactly what Extension is and does. They do their jobs with servitude and heart and go above and beyond providing Superior Service to Texas.”

We are proud to recognize Chelsea Dorward of Bosque County and honor her for the Superior Service that she provides as an Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension Agent!

Homeowner Maintenance of Aerobic Treatment Units

The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service is offering a homeowner education event discussing the operation and maintenance of aerobic treatment units.  The “Homeowner Maintenance of Aerobic Treatment Units” workshop will be held on Thursday, February 6 from 8:30am to 3:30 p.m. at the Meridian Civic Center, 309 W. River Street, Meridian, TX.

The workshop will be of interest to homeowners who want to learn more about the components and maintenance of an aerobic treatment unit and spray field. It is important for homeowners to properly maintain their onsite wastewater treatment systems to help protect public safety, public health and water quality.

The purpose of the course is to present information on the function, operation and maintenance of aerobic treatment units, and to provide hands-on demonstration of evaluation techniques to determine operational status of the treatment system. Topics will include the importance of maintaining the treatment system, health and safety considerations, basic concepts about the aerobic treatment processes, and treatment system testing and reporting. It also will address “care and feeding” of the aerobic treatment unit, system evaluation tools and supplies, and how effective wastewater treatment protects water resources.

The course fee is $100. Class attendance is limited, so attendees are required to pre-register to ensure adequate space. To register, please visit OSSF.TAMU.EDU. For additional information, contact Ryan Gerlich, Extension Program Specialist, 979-458-4185.

Private Applicators Pesticide Training

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service in Bosque County, will be hosting a Private Applicators Pesticide training on Friday, January 31 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 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 to register:


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.

Realistic New Year Weight Loss Plan

It is OK…. everyone breath; it is here again; the beginning of a New Year and countless resolutions to lose weight.  Remember that our weight loss journeys are noble pursuits…and a tremendous way to care for our health and ourselves.

How much do I need to lose?

We know that even as little as 5% of body weight loss is shown to reduce risks of chronic disease like Type II Diabetes and Heart Disease. For someone that is 200 pounds…that’s 10 pounds of weight loss. That amount is realistic, it is attainable, and very likely to improve your health. More importantly, you show yourself that you are capable of weight loss, that those changes you made to your lifestyle, like avoiding high calorie beverages and upping your fruits and veggies, can make a difference.

Resolve to be Specific

Everyone is, in fact different, but we know that extra calories will cause anyone to gain weight. Therefore, finding a way to reduce your calorie intake should be specific to your habits and taste preferences.  Replacing high calorie drinks with water, cutting restaurant portions in half, and avoiding sides like fries or chips are specific and can help if these are part of your everyday routine, but they might apply to everyone. In that case, take a good and honest look at your food habits and make some substitutions or reductions. If skipping fries is a non-starter then you can reduce the portion size or plan to balance them out throughout the day.

Be Patient…This is a Long Game

Half a pound of weight loss a week is fantastic progress, but especially appropriate for those that are small in stature or older. Half a pound a week might not seem like a lot, but that amounts to 2 pounds of weight loss each month.  In 5 months, that will turn into 10 pounds of body weight loss. Think about that. If someone had told me at the beginning of August that I could lose 10 pounds by the beginning of the year, I would have been thrilled.

That slow, realistic, and consistent change is the reason that “Step Up Scale Down” lasts 12 weeks. “Step Up Scale Down” is a New Year Weight Loss Program provided by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service. It covers the basics of a balanced and portioned plan of eating that encourages fruits and vegetables and personal physical activity goals. The program also provides encouragement and accountability in a group setting for the community or worksites.

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service – Bosque County will be holding a “Step Up Scale Down” program starting on February 7th at noon at the Extension office in Meridian. For more information, or to sign up, please contact County Extension Agent – Family and Community Health Chris Coon at 254-435-2331 or at chris.coon@ag.tamu.edu

Safe Handling of Wild Game This Hunting Season

It is that time of year, hunting season! For many, it is considered the best time of year. The majority of individuals who hunt do so to provide food for their families. Many prefer the taste of venison over other choices of meat. Venison is high in many vitamins and minerals our bodies need, such as thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, iron, and calcium. Venison is traditionally lower in cholesterol than many other meats, thus making it a more desirable product.

To have a quality, safe meal this hunting season, there are several things you must do to ensure your kill is safe to consume. Follow these tips from field to plate this hunting season.

  • Never handle or consume wild animals that appear sick or that were acting
  • Practice good personal hygiene in the field by packing disposable gloves and sanitizer
  • Have clean knives/tools to use while field
  • Carry a tarp or something to place between the carcass/tools and the ground to help prevent contamination.
  • Pay attention to the weather. Field dress as soon as possible to help reduce body heat. When temperatures are above 40°F, pathogens have the opportunity to grow more rapidly, potentially causing a health
  • Never wrap the carcass in plastic or a tarp to “keep clean” during transport. This does not allow the carcass to start cooling properly; it only traps the heat, keeping the meat at temperatures in the danger zone (40°F-140°F). Packing ice in the carcass will help keep meat cool during transport.
  • Be sure the internal temperature is cold prior to placing cuts of meat in insulated coolers. Always use ice or blocks of ice to keep cool during
  • Do not hold/store carcasses outdoors in warm temperatures. Process the carcass as soon as possible.
  • Do not handle or eat brain, spinal cord, spleen, or lymph nodes of
  • Use a meat thermometer to cook meat to proper internal temperatures (minimum 160°F for all types of meat from ground or fresh venison; 165°F for the breast of game birds, waterfowl, and whole birds), as this will help ensure harmful bacteria are killed and meat is not overcooked. The color of meat is an unreliable indicator of proper

The next time you go hunting, plan ahead for your safety and the safety of the meat you are harvesting. Hunting takes time, hard work, dedication, and patience to be successful. The last thing you want to do is to mishandle the carcass/meat, which could possibly lead to foodborne illness.

For more information on food safety while hunting, contact your local Texas A&M AgriLIfe Extension office at 254-435-2331

Blackland Income Growth Conference January 14-15 in Waco

The Blackland Income Growth Program seeks to improve the overall agricultural and agri-business economy of the Blackland area.  This Annual BIG Conference is scheduled for January 14-15, 2020 at the Waco Convention Center.

On Tuesday, January 14, commodity groups will offer educational programs, including a session on Wildlife, Cotton, Beef Cattle, Grain, Horticulture, Rural Land Management and Forage. The first day of the conference starts at 9:00 AM and runs until 4:00PM and registration includes lunch. Registration for the commodity sessions on January 14 is $25 and includes lunch, registration opens at 8:00AM.

This year’s keynote speaker, which will be featured during the lunch on January 14, is Dr. Jeff Hyde the newly named director of the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension. As director of the largest Extension agency in the nation, Hyde oversees agency programming in agriculture and natural resources, Family and Community Health, 4-H and Youth Development, and Community Economic Development. His research and extension education programs focused on factors affecting farm profitability, including new production technologies and business or marketing planning.

On day two of the conference, a 5 Hour Recertification Program will be held for those with a pesticide applicator license. Pre-registration is $60 and includes lunch or $70 at the door. Call 254-757-5180 to pre-register. Also, on January 15, a private applicator training will be held. Registration is $75 and includes lunch. Preregister by calling 254-582-4022.

For more information contact:  Chelsea Dorward, Bosque County Extension Agent (254) 435-2331

Water Conservation

The 40 Gallon Challenge is a nationwide call for residents and business to reduce water use by 40 gallons per person, per day. Drought conditions, increased water demands, and water wasting habits put strains on our region’s water supply and this can have negative impacts on our energy consumption, the local environment, and our wallets.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, water delivery and treatment consumes a considerable amount of energy, about 56 billion kilowatt-hours per year or roughly enough energy to power 5 million homes for a full year. Running a faucet for five minutes uses roughly the same amount of energy as letting a 60-watt lightbulb run for 14 hours.

As our water resources become strained, water levels can lower, therefore increasing the concentration of water pollutants. Higher pollutant concentrations can affect the safety of animals and the safety of the community if these pollutants are passed on during consumption of polluted animals.

The economic strain may not be so apparent when you look at the monthly water bill, but if you take a moment to add up how much you are spending across the year, you might be surprised. The EPA states that, on average, a household will spend $500 a year on water services. However, using water saving habits at home can affect your wallet and the community at large.

A few tips that can save water throughout the day include: running the dishwasher only when it’s full, taking shorter showers, fixing those leaky faucets and toilets, or even installing low-flow toilets and showerheads. We can all help conserve a very precious resource just by taking a few small steps to reduce our consumption.

To make a pledge, or for more helpful tips on how to conserve water, please visit www.40gallonchallenge.org today.

Turkey Day Trouble

“Back in my day our milk was unpasteurized, we thawed our meat right there on the counter, and the Thanksgiving leftovers were left right there on the table until after the Cowboys beat the Redskins.” These are some common sentiments I hear when talking about food safety, and there is some validity to food safety being lax in the past. Grandma most likely knew exactly where and from whom the meat, dairy, and eggs were coming, the conditions they were processed in, and the conditions of how they were delivered. With the advent of modern food production, we do not always have the luxury of knowing exactly how, when, and in what condition our food gets to our table, and that comes with the unknown risk of foodborne illness causing pathogens. Food safety precautions are important in order to keep our family, our friends, and ourselves healthy. A foodborne illness can be as mild as a rough night spent in the restroom or as serious as a hospital ICU visit. The latter case can be more prevalent for those with weaker immune systems: very young children, the elderly, pregnant women, and those with compromised immunities. With that in mind, let us talk about some ways to reduce the risk of foodborne illnesses this holiday season.

For most of us, Thanksgiving dinner prep begins several days before when we start thawing our turkey. The safest way to thaw anything is in the refrigerator, allowing one day for each 4-5 pounds of weight. Sure, you may have to reorganize a bit, but thawing foods in the fridge is the safest way because it keeps foods out of the “Temperature Danger Zone”: a temperature range of 41oF-135oF in which bacteria multiply most rapidly. Other acceptable methods of thawing include thawing in cold water provided that the food is kept in its original wrapping, the water is kept below 70oF, and changed every 30 minutes (allow 30 minutes per pound), or you can thaw using a microwave’s defrost function with the caveat that you remove the outside wrapping and cook the food immediately after thawing (allow 6 minutes per pound).

Ensure that your food is reaching the proper internal cooking temperature before serving it. You cannot tell if a turkey is done by its color, the internal temperature is the only way to ensure it is safe to consume. Using a metal probe thermometer, check three different places on the bird: the thickest part of the breast, innermost wing, and the innermost thigh. Clean and sanitize your thermometer between each use to reduce the risk of cross contamination. The proper internal cooking temperature of poultry is 165oF.

When the meal is all said and done, and your guests are still in a jolly mood, put everyone to work to make sure that all leftovers are cooled and stored at 40oF or below within two hours of serving. Separate large portions into smaller, shallower sizes in order to speed up the cooling process. Do no place still piping hot portions directly into the fridge as this will just increase the risk of the fridge warming up instead of the food cooling down. If you’ve followed the food safety precautions so far, leftovers should be consumed within the next 6 days.

Reheating those leftovers is much simpler. Whether on the stovetop, oven, or microwave, any and all reheated food must reach an internal temperature of 165oF in order to be food safe.

All that aside, we here at the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service – Bosque County would like to wish you all a happy Thanksgiving. It is the season of gratitude, and I for one am exceptionally grateful for such a great community. If you have any questions about food safety, please contact County Extension Agent – Family and Community Health Chris Coon at 254-435-2331 or at chris.coon@ag.tamu.edu.

Livestock Antibiotics Will Soon Require Prescriptions

No longer will producers who need injectable antibiotics for their cattle be able to just grab them at their local feed store or order them online.

The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service wants producers to be aware that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is continuing the phasing in of a law that requires a prescription for any antibiotic use in animals raised for human consumption, as well as for all companion animals.

A prescription is already required for most antibiotics delivered to livestock, and the remaining three categories of injectable antibiotics available over-the-counter will soon be joining the list of medically important antimicrobials that require a veterinarian’s prescription.

“It will cause a little bit of difficulty because producers who want and need to use antibiotics are going to have to work with their beef cattle or livestock veterinarians and develop a veterinary client-patient relationship in advance of any disease issues,” said Joe Paschal, Ph.D., AgriLife Extension livestock specialist, Corpus Christi.

Paschal recommends producers should, if they haven’t already, develop a relationship with a local veterinarian to be prepared for these changes. People should also be aware that these laws apply to companion animals like horses.

“This means that your veterinarian knows who you are, knows the kind of livestock you are raising and what you are doing with them, understands your management, and that you agree if they come out to diagnose an illness and use an antimicrobial to treat a disease or illness, you will follow their directions including dosage, duration and withdrawal,” he said.

The FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine stated a two-year phase-in period would be allowed once the FDA Government Guidance document is finalized. A draft version is currently available online.

The FDA has had a law in place since 2017, which made most antibiotics administered to livestock by prescription only. These new guidelines further extend the need for veterinarian oversight by including the remaining injectable antibiotics.

“The amount of antibiotics used by agriculture has been dropping in recent years,” said Thomas Hairgrove, DVM, AgriLife Extension specialist, College Station. “The producers I’ve spoken with don’t seem concerned that these remaining injectables will now require a prescription too.”

After a peak in 2015, FDA studies show antibiotic use has declined. In 2017 alone, use of medically important antibiotics dropped 33%.

Tylosin, penicillin and tetracyclines are among some of the more popular antibiotics still available over the counter as injectables – for now. In 2018, the FDA published a five-year plan for phasing out all antibiotics without a veterinarian’s prescription. The plan should be fully implemented by 2023, although compliance is expected as soon as 2020.

“In the long run, practicing good biosecurity, correctly diagnosing illnesses and the proper prescription of the right antibiotic may help shorten the incident of the disease, improve the productivity or return of the health of the animal, and reduce overall antibiotic use in livestock, pets and in humans,” said Paschal.

Since some antibiotics are used in both livestock and humans, the FDA’s concern is that antibiotic-resistant bacteria could develop more quickly from the widespread use of certain antibiotics that are medically important to humans – negatively affecting both humans and animals.

“Antibiotic resistance is not new, penicillin was discovered in the late 1920s and widely used in humans by the 1940s,” said Paschal. “By 1950, the first case of resistance was discovered in humans. This is a step in the right direction to protect these valuable compounds to prevent diseases.”

The greater the use of antibiotics, across all species, the greater the number of antibiotic-resistant bacteria or “superbugs” that can develop.

“Although the percentage of antibiotics used in agriculture is declining, we want to continue to use them judiciously and intelligently,” said Hairgrove. “Data shows ag is responding in a positive way, and I think our industry is doing a heck of a job.”

Farm and Ranch Seminar

A multi-county Farm and Ranch Seminar for farmers and ranchers conducted by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service in District 8 is scheduled December 12, 2019.  The District 8 Farm and Ranch Seminar will be offered at 13 locations across Central Texas.

Private Applicators License holders must obtain 15 hours of CEUs every five years to renew/recertify their license; including two hours of Laws and Regulations, two hours of Integrated Pest Management (IPM), and any mix of these and General hours to equal the required 15 hours of CEUs. Licensed commercial and non-commercial applicators are required to recertify every year by obtaining five continuing education credits with one credit each from two of the following categories: laws and regulations, integrated pest management or drift minimization.

The December 12th seminar will provide participants with the opportunity to receive up to seven (7) CEUs.
Of these seven (7) hours, two (2) hour will be in General, two (2) hours in IPM, two (2) hours in Laws and Regulations and one (1) hour in Drift.  Licensed commercial and non-commercial applicators will be able to obtain their required five hours within the first five hours of the program.

Topics and speakers include:

  • General Laws and Regulations, Mark Matocha, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, Ag and environmental Safety Specialist.
  • Ticks of Texas and the Disease They Carry, an IPM Approach, Sonja Swiger, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, Extension Entomologist.
  • Laws and Regulation Updates and Complaint Process, Perry Cervantes, Texas Department of Agriculture, Coordinator for Pesticide Certification & Compliance. 
  • TDA General Laws and Regulations Compliance, Elizabeth Prokop, Texas Department of Agriculture, Certification Compliance.
  • Pasture Weed and Brush Herbicide Update, Josh McGinty, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Specialist.
  • Pasture Pest Management, David Kerns, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, Entomology Department. 
  • Pesticides from the Ground UP, Scott Nolte, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, Weed Specialist.

Program registration cost is $50, which includes lunch, breaks and handout materials.  Registration will begin at each of the 13 locations at 7AM with presentations starting at 7:30AM and running till 3:00PM.

Persons interested in attending one of these programs on December 12th can pre-register by contacting the location you plan to attend.  Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service county offices hosting meetings are listed below.

Individuals with disabilities requiring an auxiliary aid or special accommodations in order to participate in this program are asked to contact the Extension Office in charge of the location you plan to attend to determine how reasonable accommodations may be met.

                           

RSVP to the location you will be attending.

Participating Counties Physical Locations RSVP
Phone Number
Johnson, Bosque, Somervell Cleburne Senior Center,
1212 Glenwood Dr, Cleburne, TX 76033
817-556-6370
Comanche
Eastland
Cook’s Fish Barn
3669 TX-36, Comanche, TX 76442
325-356-2539
Bell Bell County Expo
301 W Loop 121, Belton, TX 76513
254-933-5305
Williamson Georgetown Annex
100 Wilco Way, Rm 226, Georgetown, TX 78626
512-943-3300
Navarro Navarro County Youth Expo
4021 W Hwy 22, Corsicana, TX 75110
903-654-3075
Coryell Gatesville Civic Center
301 Veteran’s Memorial Dr, Gatesville, TX 76528
254-865-2414
Ellis Ellis County Extension Office
701 S I-35, Waxahachie, TX 75165
972-825-5175
Freestone Fairfield Civic Center
500 Oak St, Fairfield, TX 75840
903-389-3436
Robertson, Milam,
Leon, Falls
Pridgeon Community Center
351 Cooks Ln, Franklin, TX 77856
979-828-4270
McLennan MCC Emergency Services Bldg
7601 Stienbeck Bend Rd, Waco, TX 76401
254-757-5180
Hill Hill County Fairgrounds
1180 South Waco St, Hillsboro, TX 76645
254-582-4022
Limestone Limestone County Courthouse
200 West State St, Groesbeck, TX 76642
254-729-5314
Erath, Hood,
Hamilton
Texas A&M AgriLife Research Center
1229 N US 281, Stephenville, TX 76401
254-965-1460