Archive for April, 2010

Oil Spill Update  

The Gulf of Mexico Sea Grant programs have established a portal on their regional website to the latest information about the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The portal links to updates on the spill, information on seafood safety, volunteer cleanup opportunities and more. The portal can be accessed at http://gulfseagrant.tamu.edu/oilspill/index.htm.

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The second day of the 2010 LMG conference is going well. Excellent speakers and hands on workshops were the majority of the day. Dan Gill was one of the featured speakers this morning.

Several master gardeners learn how to save Hibiscus seeds from LSU AgCenter horticulturist Denyse Cummins.

Dan Gill discussed perennials for Louisiana Landscapes this morning.

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We had a great evening at the West Monroe convention center as the 2010 LMG conference began with greetings from the Mayor of West Monroe, Dave Norris. Conference co-chair Harold “Buck” Bounds was the emcee for the evening. My hats off to Steve Hotard, Rafash Brew and the entire planning team for putting together a great program. Looks like over 150 LMG volunteers registered for the conference. There was a great meal and we had a live band for entertainment plus the educational and vendor exhibits were open.

We kick off the morning with breakfast at 8:15 AM and have Dan Gill as our keynote speaker to cover “Outstanding Old and New Perennials for Louisiana” at 8:30 AM tomorrow. Check back tomorrow for more details.

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LSU Day Postponed 

LSU Day, which was scheduled for Saturday, April 24, will be postponed until the fall, due to expected severe weather. LaHouse will be open its regularly scheduled hours of 9-2 on Saturday.

Although LSU Day was billed as a rain or shine event, safety is the university’s top priority and after consulting with the Louisiana Office of State Climatology and the National Weather Service, the university has used all information currently available to make the difficult decision to postpone the event because of the potential for hail, lightning, damaging winds and tornadoes.

While the worst of the severe weather is expected early Saturday morning, ground conditions, including possible flash flooding, may hinder extensive set-up scheduled to take place late Friday into early Saturday. The safety of event staff and volunteers and guests on campus is of foremost importance to the University.

We will announce a rescheduled date at a later time through LSUDay.com, LSU.edu, local media, and broadcast e-mail.

In the interest of cost efficiency, the university is asking volunteers and exhibitors to hold onto your LSU Day T-shirts and exhibit materials for use in the fall. Parking passes and meal vouchers that were distributed for Saturday are void, and we will issue new ones prior to the rescheduled date. Please help us spread the word to friends, family and colleagues about the postponement.

Thank you in advance for your understanding and patience; we regret any inconvenience this postponement causes, and we hope you will make plans to participate this fall.  

Activities Still Scheduled to Take Place April 24

  Ag Center LSU AgCenter’s AgMagic
Parker Coliseum
Come to AgMagic to see and learn where your food and fiber really come from! Walk through the “forest,” see eggs hatch, and make animal prints while taking an interactive journey through Louisiana agriculture at LSU AgCenter’s Ag Magic.

  Ag Center BodyWalk to “Body Walk at AgMagic”
LSU AgCenter’s Mini-Farm
While visiting LSU AgCenter’s AgMagic, don’t miss the Body Walk. Take a walk through the human body and learn how your brain, heart, lungs and other body parts work together. Body Walk is part of the Smart Bodies program, a joint initiative of the LSU AgCenter and BlueCross and BlueShield of Louisiana Foundation, designed to help prevent childhood obesity.

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School gardens are a buzz this time a year.  Share your best practices, experiences or advice with thousands of people from across the nation.  The Learn and Service 4-H Seeds of Service School Gardening Grant is working on putting together “School Garden Best Practices.”  The publication will be shared with the Louisiana SERVE Commission and posted on the National Service-Learning Resource website.  

You don’t have to be associated with 4-H or the 4-H Seeds of Service grant to share your ideas, thoughts and tips.  Please send in your   “best practice(s)” with your name and title by April 30, 2010 to jfox@agcenter.lsu.edu.   Thanks in advance for your assistance.

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Throughout the United States 94,865 Extension Master Gardener volunteers contributed 5,197,573 hours educating the public, providing youth programs and facilitating produce donations to food banks, according to the 2009 Extension Master Gardener survey. These efforts are estimated to have contributed 101.4 million dollars in value to the public. Full report, click here. Louisiana Master Gardener volunteers (1500 active) reported over 50,000 volunteer hours having an extimated value of over $1 Million in 2009. This time is equivalent to 30 Full Time Equivalents (FTE’s) or having 30 full time agents! View the report here.

Flicker Extension Master Gardener site, click here. Several Louisiana Master Gardener program are highlighted.

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Ag Magic starts today at 8:00 AM in Parker coliseum on the LSU campus. I just got back from checking out the exhibits and Dr. Todd Tarifa, Frankie Gould and team have done a great job in making preparations. Directions and parking information can be found here. Check out their website. Ag Magic is open to the public this weekend.

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The extension service’s programs help local gardeners grow

By Adrian Higgins, Thursday, April 1, 2010

The reach of the local extension agent has been greatly enhanced by the creation of Master Gardener groups. Frequently established as their own nonprofit organizations, they rely on the extension service for training, curriculum and science-based help in such new areas as organic pest control.

In Fairfax County, for example, two separate Master Gardener programs with 400 trained volunteers work closely with Adria Bordas, the horticultural extension agent, to reach tens of thousands of homeowners through plant clinics, talks and displays. They also teach fourth-graders how to grow plants.

Master gardener training program by the Montgomery County Master Gardeners, which is a University of Maryland extension. (Montgomery County Master Gardeners)

In its recently concluded session, the Virginia General Assembly considered legislation to close extension offices in the state’s most populated areas (including Arlington and Alexandria, Fairfax, Prince William County, Richmond and Norfolk), eliminate lawn and garden programs statewide and consolidate the offices that remained.

The state government backed away from such explicit program cuts but decided the extension service would suffer reductions of $1.1 million in the fiscal year beginning July 1 and $5.5 million the following year. The legislature also instructed the folks at the Virginia Cooperative Extension, in the midst of a strategic reorganization, to place “priority on the historic mission of extension.”

That sounds like a directive to imagine and serve a wholly agrarian society, though Virginia Tech’s Alan Grant, head of the Virginia Cooperative Extension, tried to put the cutbacks in the best light in a letter to the extension community. He wrote that the reductions notwithstanding, “extension will continue to provide community-based programs focused on current and emerging needs.”

Among the current needs, I would argue, is a need to maintain services in the most populated cities and suburbs. The need there is inherently great, and so too is the risk of well-intentioned homeowners armed with fertilizers and pesticides fouling public waters and killing beneficial insects, including pollinators. An underlying motive of extension agents in the region has been to reduce the effects of horticultural pollutants in our public waters while showing homeowners how to stop killing their plants.

The emerging needs? You need only look to the vegetable garden at the White House and first lady Michelle Obama’s crusade against childhood obesity to see that there is a deep desire to take back control over our diets and try to grow our own food. In recent decades, people turned to vegetable gardening as a hobby and a source of pride; now the gardeners I talk to want to put fresh, nutritious food on their families’ tables. They believe growing your own can make your body healthier while also, in a small but cumulatively meaningful way, make the Earth healthier, too. Novice gardeners need help. Experienced gardeners need help.

Showing new generations how to protect the environment and feed themselves in the crowded city and suburb may be as vital in the 21st century as helping farmers to cultivate the fruited plains in the 19th.

Full article.

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Dr. John Barnett is interviewed by channel 10 in Monroe regarding budget cuts potential impacts to the LSU AgCenter. Click here to watch video.

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Are you looking to get some continuing education hours? If yes, check out the LMG video webpage and you can view several video recorded presentations from the East Baton Rouge LMG program. Let me now what you think once you view them by emailing me at bhfletcher@agcenter.lsu.edu.

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