Tuesday, December 22

Supermarket Savings Tips

By Celia Jackson
SU Ag Center
Nutrition Educator

The key to stretching your food dollars is planning and awareness.  Taking the time to plan your family’s meals, budget your food dollars, and write out a grocery list can save your family money on the grocery bill.  The following tips are things you should think about before making that trip to the supermarket. Remember, changing habits is hard!  Try one or two of these tips during each supermarket trip.  Soon you’ll see some relief in your grocery bills.

 1. Plan your menus.  Remember to consider what you have on hand, your family’s food preferences, your time schedule and MyPyramid when planning meals. 

2.     Keep a grocery list.  Creating a grocery list saves you time and money at the supermarket.  Keep your grocery list where it’s easily accessible, such as on the refrigerator, this will help you to keep an on-going list of items as your supply becomes low. Remember to stick to your list.

3.     Know the regular pricing of items you normally purchase.  Keeping tabs on pricing of common items you purchase can save you money by recognizing savings or price increases.

4.     Be alert for unadvertised specials in the store. 

5.     Be aware of supermarket advertising gimmicks.  For example buy one get one free deals.  Pay close attention to price of the items, this deal usually includes a price increase for one item to compensate for the free item.

6.     Compare prices of different sizes and brands of the foods you’re buying.  Find the best priced item by comparing the unit prices.  Unit pricing is located on the shelf tag.  The shelf tag shows the total price (item price) and price per unit (unit price) for the food item.

7.     Ask for rain checks.  If a specially priced item is sold out, ask for a rain check.  It allows you to purchase the item at the sale price at a later date.

8.     Check expiration dates.

9.     Buy the store brands.

10.  Shop in season.  Fresh produce tastes better and costs less when it’s in season.

11.  Avoid convenience foods.  The cost is higher for individually packaged items, such as 100 calorie packs.  Cut cost by buying in bulk and making individual packets using plastic snack or sandwiches bags.

12.  Invest in staple foods when the price is right.  Foods such as canned goods can last an extended period of time on the shelf; so, stock-up when the price is right.

13.  At checkout do a quick inventory of your cart.  Remove any impulse items, such as magazines or candy bars.

14.  Check receipt for correct prices.

15.  Do not shop when hungry!  Shopping when hungry encourages impulse buying of foods that are not on your grocery list.

Contact:  Celia Jackson, MPA, LDN, RD, Southern University Ag Center, FF-NEWS Nutrition Educator, East Baton Rouge and East Feliciana Parishes, celia_jackson@suagcenter.com

Friday, December 18

Grants, loan guarantees available

USDA Rural Development is taking loan guarantee and grant applications for the Rural Energy for America Program, or REAP, for projects to be awarded in 2010.

USDA Rural Development's Renewable Energy for America Program (REAP) offers grants, guaranteed loans, and combination grant/guaranteed loans to help agricultural producers and rural small businesses purchase and install renewable energy systems and make energy efficiency improvements. 

In  2009, producers and businesses in Louisiana received $308,273 in REAP grants for renewable energy systems, energy efficiency improvements, feasibility studies, and energy audits.

Businesses and producers in rural Louisiana looking to create renewable energy or make energy-saving improvements may be able to finance up to 75 percent of eligible project costs through the program.  Stand-alone grants can be awarded up to 25 percent of total eligible costs.

To qualify for financial assistance through REAP, project costs must be greater than $6,000 for energy efficiency projects and $10,000 for renewable energy projects.

Details are available online at:  
http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/la/REAPinfo.htm or by contacting the Renewable Energy Coordinator Kevin Boone at (337) 262-6601 extension 133.

USDA Rural Development provides a full range of rural development credit services in rural Louisiana.  Area Offices are located in Monroe, Natchitoches, Lafayette, and Amite; and the State Office is located in Alexandria.  For more information on USDA Rural Development's loan and grant programs, visit 

Monday, December 14

Data reveals decrease in Louisiana’s African-American smokers

Since the inception of the SU Ag Center’s Communities of Color Network in 2003, Louisiana has seen a significant decrease in the prevalence of tobacco use among African Americans. According to Tonia Moore, grants and contract coordinator with Louisiana Public Health Institute, Louisiana has witnessed a large volume of African-American callers to the Louisiana Quit Line in the last four years (approximately 31-37% of the callers are African Americans).  

“This speaks volumes to the number of Louisianans who are ready to kick the habit and improve their overall health,” said Moore. 

Although the numbers continue to decrease, African Americans in Louisiana are twice as likely as other races to die from tobacco-related illnesses such as cancer and cardiovascular diseases. According to data from the 2007-2008 Adult Tobacco Survey, African-American nonsmokers are more likely to be exposed to secondhand smoke at work than white non-smokers. African-American smokers are less likely to have smoke-free homes than white smokers.  According to the 2009 Louisiana Youth Tobacco Survey, 49% of African-American middle school smokers usually smoke menthol cigarettes and 64% of African-American high school smokers usually smoke menthol cigarettes.  African-American youth are much more likely to smoke Black & Mild cigars than white youth.  

“The data reflects the need to build awareness and implement community and organizational policies among African-American communities,” said Moore. 

Wednesday, December 9

Animal science program to enhance small meat goat producers

The SU Ag Center's animal science program in collaboration with four institutions, was awarded a three-year, $388,000.00 USDA AFRI integrated re-search project grant with $45,000 coming to the Center. The project is titled “Enhanced economic benefits for meat goat producers through production, meat yield and palatability, and consumer information.”  

This is a joint project of five institutions: LSU Ag Center, SU Ag Center, Angelo State University, Fort Valley State University, and Tuskegee University. The lead institution is LSU Ag Center.  The SU Ag Center research team members are: researchers Fatemeh Malekian and Sebhatu Gebrelul, and research associate Janet Gager.    

This project will identify production practices and product traits at each segment of the meat goat industry that will increase the net economic benefits and productivity of meat goat producers. 

The meat goat industry is the most rapidly growing livestock category in the U.S., but is highly unstructured compared to other livestock industries. Specific information is needed about each segment so that potential common market and product linkages can be identified and relative product values in each segment can be distinguished. The research will determine purchase and consumption patterns for goat meat through a national survey of consumers; to evaluate live, carcass, and meat traits of kid and yearling goats representative of meat goats being marketed in the U.S.; and to survey producers on production and marketing practices needed to increase net margins and productivity within the next five years. 

This information will allow cohesion in communication and linking of product valuation among the production, processing, and retail market sectors. The multistate investigation will integrate research and outreach activities by using extension personnel to identify producers to answer additional questions about production and marketing after initial producer and consumer survey queries and analyses of animal and product characteristics have been conducted.  

Contact: Fatemeh Malekian, associate professor, SU Ag Center, (225) 771-2242 ext. 265 or fatemeh_malekian@suagcenter.com

Tuesday, December 8

Maintaining Weight during Winter Months

By Celia Jackson
Nutrition Educator
SU Ag Center

Not everyone has a gym membership; therefore winter weather can make it difficult to participate in outside activities. If your workout plan includes outside activities such as walking, jogging, swimming, or biking don’t let the cold weather break your routine. Avoid inactivity during the cold season. Develop a workout plan specifically for the cold season and avoid making excuses for not exercising. When planning your winter exercise plan think of all the benefits you will enjoy from exercising on a regular basis.

First, think about the goal you will like to set for yourself when thinking of your cold season exercise plan. We set goals for ourselves to provide us a finish line to work towards. Whether your goals are to lose weight or to improve your blood pressure, remember to be realistic. Setting unrealistic goals such as a 20 pound weight loss in a short period of time sets us up for failure. Start off slow and work your way up to the larger goals.

The next task is to determine what physical activity you can and will enjoy doing during the winter season. You should also consider available blocks of time you have for accomplishing physical activity when choosing an exercise routine. Some great indoor exercise activities that can keep your routine going are dancing, Pilates, yoga, jump roping, or mall walking. To relieve boredom try choosing 3-4 activities for you to do on different days of the week. Invest in some dumbbells and a stash of fitness DVDs to create a at home gym.

If time is an issue try bringing your athletic shoes to work and taking a short brisk walk on your lunch break. If space allows team up with your co-workers and do a short aerobic DVD during your breaks. You can also exercise throughout the day. Try exercising for 15 minute intervals at least 2-4 times throughout the day. And do not count out the family. Build your exercise routine around family time. Exercise as a family, this allows you to spend time with your family while becoming physically fit and showing your children model behavior. Remember, some physical activity is better than none.

Some other tips to remember while planning and achieving your winter exercise routine are to maintain hydration and purchase the appropriate exercise wear for the season. It’s easy to remember to drink fluids when it’s hot outside. However, in the middle of winter, you might forget. Proper hydration means drinking fluids before you feel thirsty. A minimum of 64 ounces of water or water-based beverage per day is a good start. Any amount of physical activity increases your hydration needs. Also, sport drinks can provide hydration, but be aware of the extra calories. Choose some of the low calorie options available. Beware of “designer water!” These products promise hydration and 100% intake of a variety of vitamins and mineral, but are usually full of sugar. Stick to consuming vitamins and minerals the old fashion way, by eating a healthy diet with a variety of foods.

If you do choose to conduct physical activity outside during the winter season dress properly. Long sleeve shirts, gloves, hats, pants, and thicker socks can help you avoid feeling cold or experiencing dry skin or wind burns to your skin.

Aim for at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) of moderately intense physical activity per week. Participating in 150 minutes of moderately intense physical activity can result in an increase in health benefits caused by increased physical activity. A low level of physical activity can contribute to the onset of chronic diseases, thus decreasing your quality of life. Being physically active during the winter season can be simple and enjoyable with a well thought out plan that is best for you. Most importantly enjoy the benefits of maintaining your exercise routine such as keeping off the winter weight.

Sources: www.eatright.org and www.americanheart.org

Contact:  Celia Jackson, MPA, LDN, RD, Southern University Ag Center, FF-NEWS Nutrition Educator, East Baton Rouge and East Feliciana Parishes, celia_jackson@suagcenter.com

Friday, December 4

Center trains agents on emergency preparedness

In order to teach local communities, families, school leaders and childcare center employees how to respond to emergencies, the SU Ag Center Family and Human Development program hosted a three-day emergency preparedness training for Extension agents who work through-out the state. 

“It makes no difference what the disaster is, but it does matter that all of us learn to mitigate and pre-pare in order to remain safe and healthy,” said Chancellor Leodrey Williams. 

As a result of hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Gustav, the Southern University Agricultural Research and Extension Center collaborated with the Department of Health and Hospitals and the Center of Emergency Preparedness to reduce the hardship and struggle caused by disas-ters along with the poten-tial spread of the H1N1 threat faced by citizens of this state and others nationally. 

“The last decade has brought to the forefront horrendous weather condi-tions that have prompted many families and other individuals to learn emer-gency responses to various hazards,” said Kasundra Cyrus, Ed.D, Family and Human Development Specialist, and training organ-izer. These conditions have included natural, man-made and technological conditions in addition to the risk of pandemic type situations. 

Each agent received a cur-riculum resource guide to teach citizens how to make advanced preparation for their communities’ different needs and various dis-asters. According to Cyrus, provisions are made for the resource curriculum guide to offer directions for com-munity-centered trainings, but each agent or educator should have a knowledge base and a set of skills in disaster preparedness and readiness. 

“It is our responsibility to assist the community and ensure that home environ-ments are safe and secure. To promote these safe environments, the curriculum guide focuses on the pre-ventive measures of disaster planning and emergency readiness,” said Cyrus. 

Although the training did not highlight every kind of disaster that can occur, it provided program partici-pants with an overview of hazards, knowledge, training, and skill building. 

Extension agents were trained on seven lessons designed to help teachers, directors, families, and community advocates discover ways that will make emergency preparation easier for the residents of their community and children under their care.  Topics and presenters included: Overview of Emergencies Preparedness Response and Mitigation: What do we need to know? by Mary Wells, facilities planner, Southern University System Health Challenges and Pandemics: Is it the H1N1 Flu? by Sherhonda 
Harper, statewide nurse consult-ant; Agricultural Emergency Preparedness by Diane Stacey, DVM, Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry; Knowing What to Say about Emergency Preparedness and Mitigation by Ken Pastorick, public information officer; Chemical Spills and Other Hazards by Stephen Phillipe, Office of Public Health, Center for Emergency Preparedness; Emergency Preparedness Response Curriculum Guide and Program Evaluation, by Cyrus; What Should You Tell Farmers About Sheltering Livestock from the Disaster? by Renita Marshall, DVM, assistant professor, animal science, and di-rector of livestock programs, Christie Monroe, assistant live-stock program director, and Antoino Harris; Learning About Data and Data Entry by Wilbert Harris and William Augustine, Ag Center technology staff; Food and Water Safety During Disasters, De’Shoin York, assistant nutrition specialist, and Fatemeh Malekian, PhD, associate professor, Ag Center; What Should You Know about Crop Damage? by Chris Robichaux, PhD, county agent, SU Ag Center; Emergency Preparedness for Youth by Joanie Ledet, parent educator, SU Ag Center; Emergency Preparedness for Families by Delores Johnson, parent educator, and Sarah Sims, extension agent, Southern University Ag Center. 

The agents returned to their parishes prepared to provide classes that will enable citizens to prepare for and mitigate any emergency situation over time. 

Sunday, November 22

Thanksgiving and Christmas eating without the weight

By Celia Jackson
Nutrition Educator

A study conducted by National Institute of Child Health and Human Development shows that Americans gain about one pound during the winter holiday season, this is big differences from the previously belief of five to ten pounds.  However, this does not mean we can have more to eat this Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday.   A weight gain of one pound during the winter holiday season can accumulate and eventually lead to obesity.  Remember, it is always easier to gain weight than to lose weight. 

The average holiday dinner equals to about 3,000 calories and 230 grams of fat and this is only one trip to the dinner table. Therefore, if you eat twice on Thanksgiving or Christmas Day you have potentially consumed 6,000 calories and 460 grams of fat. To avoid consuming so many calories try some of these Holiday Survival Tips:

  • Eat a light, healthy snack before dinner.  This will help curb you hunger.
  • Use smaller dishes to serve your dinner.  This will help control portions.
  • Limit alcohol and only drink diet sodas or water.  This will help eliminate some calories.
  • Try using healthier recipe substitutions, such as Splenda instead of regular sugar. (Healthy Ingredient Substitutions will be in next week tips)
  • Remember to celebrate and focus on what the holidays are really about, spending time with family and friends.

* Sources: American Dietetic Association and National Institute of Child Health and Human Development

Contact Celia Jackson, MPA, LDN, RD, FF-NEWS Nutrition Educator, East Baton Rouge and East Feliciana Parishes, (225) 389-3055 or celia_jackson@suagcenter.com

Wednesday, November 18

Enjoy Healthy Holiday parties

By Celia Jackson

Nutrition Educator

The holiday season is here, and with the holiday season comes the joyful holiday parties.  If you are like many people, you will attend a holiday party or two during the months of November and December where the menus at these parties ordinarily will not include the most figure-friendly foods.  So here are some tips to enjoying the party without throwing your healthy diet out the window:

  • Go easy on the alcoholic drinks. Remember alcoholic beverages provide calories.
  • Eat a snack or a salad before attending the party, this will curb your appetite.
  • Remember your portion sizes.
  • Try only one dessert, if several choices are available.
  • Avoid overeating by doing activities such as socializing and dancing.

 Keeping these simple and easy tips in mind will help you to enjoy your holiday parties without regret.  Remember to keep up with your exercise routine during the holiday season.  

To avoid a break in your routine, plan ahead.  Develop a workout plan specifically for the holiday season and avoid making excuses for not exercising.  

When developing a workout plan consider your family’s holiday arrangements. Try to make adjustments to your workout plan to accommodate these arrangements. 

Use this time to experiment with new activities, such as dancing, Pilates, yoga, jump roping, or mall walking.  Invest in some dumbbells and a stash of fitness DVDs to create a at home gym.    

You can also exercise throughout the day.  Try exercising for 15-minute intervals at least 2-4 times throughout the day.  Also, don’t count out the family! Build your exercise routine around family time.  Exercise as a family. This allows you to spend time with your family while becoming physically fit and showing your children model behavior.  Remember, some physical activity is better than none. Continue to motivate yourself by thinking of all the benefits you will enjoy from exercising on a regular basis.

For more tips, contact  Celia Jackson, MPA, LDN, RD, FF-NEWS Nutrition Educator, East Baton Rouge and East Feliciana parishes, (225) 389-3055 or celia_jackson@suagcenter.com

Tuesday, November 17

Harrell takes Smoke Out, CoC Network message to airwaves

Communities of Color Network Region 6 coordinator Shawntell Lewis Harrell joined local radio station personalities in promoting this week's Great American Smokeout challenge. Harrell also shared the  information on the CoC Network and its 100% Tobacco Free Church initiative. Hear the interview here. For more information on the Great American Smokeout, visit http://www.cancer.org/docroot/subsite/greatamericans/Smokeout.asp. 

Monday, November 16

Take better digital photographs

The Southern University Ag Center professional development speakers series brings the second "How to Use a Digital Still Camera" lesson on Thursday, November 19, at 3:30pm in Room 191 of the Ag Center. Chris Rogers, director of technology services, will teach the Rule of 3s; how to set the computer, download, save and email pictures; and proper camera care. This is a hands-on training, come with your camera and all accessories.

Parish seminar to address community needs

Map of Louisiana highlighting Calcasieu ParishTo answer requests from Calcasieu parish residents, the Southern University Agricultural Research and Extension Center will host a free parish seminar on Thursday, December 10.

partnerships among business leaders, policy makers, and residents.This seminar will address specific needs of Calcasieu parish and identify various resources available within the parish and state. Participants will also establish ways to develop 

“Public dialogues like this enables communities to bring about specific changes and improvements that are needed within Calcasieu,” said Kenyetta Smith, Ph.D., community and economic development assistant specialist, Southern University Ag Center. “It also allows the residents to develop businesses, gain more money from taxes, improve their health, and locate resources for community needs,” she said.

Speakers will discuss the Diabetes Education Empowerment Program, 
Earned Income Tax Credit, healthcare and the community, 
grant opportunities for non-profit organizations.

The seminar begins at 8:45am at the Living Word Dream Center, 1639 Ryan St.
 in Lake Charles. To register, contact Carol Sensley, assistant area agent, Southern University Ag Center, at (337) 475-8812 ext. 15

Friday, November 13

What TI won't tell you

watch.jpgSU Ag Center and Communities of Color Network supporter Dr. Victor DeNoble candidly reveals how the tobacco industry targets African Americans for its poisonous cigarette sales. DeNoble is the famed whistleblower against the tobacco industry (TI). His lawsuit resulted in the industry being fined billions of dollars. View it at The Truth about Menthol. For more information on CoC Network, read www.suagcenter.com/communitiesofcolor.html

Thursday, November 12

Tree planting honors plasticulturalist, entomologist

Elementary and middle school students will join researchers at the Biosecurity Symposium in planting a Bald Cypress tree in front of Southern University’s horticulture building, at noon today, near the Southern University Ag Center.
The tree planting honors the life and research of plasticulturalist Clauzell Stevens II (pictured at top) and entomologist Lincoln Moore (pictured at bottom).

“We are recognizing these gentlemen’s outstanding research and contributions to research education and outreach, ” said Daniel Collins, symposium organizer and urban forestry professor at Southern University. “They have been dedicated mentors who have encouraged so many young, African Americans to go into entomology and plant pathology as careers.”

Stevens’  research in plasticulture and post harvest pathological studies became legendary. He pioneered the application of low dose UV-S to control decay and spoilage, while improving shelf life of fruits and vegetables. His research spearheaded a new nonchemical technology that are now practiced in Italy, France, Great Britain, Belgium, Mexico, Spain, Isreal, Canada and Turkey.

Moore was a survey entomologist for the US Forest Service and the Plant Data Center on Southern’s campus. His research focused on plant protection and designing strategies for insect control.

The Stevens and Moore families, researcher mentees including Jimmie Alphine with the United States Department of Agriculture, and current graduate students will also attend the ceremony.

For more information, contact Daniel Collins, Ph.D., (225) 771-2242 or daniel_collins@suagcenter.com.

Wednesday, November 11

Annual Livestock & Poultry Quiz Bowl scheduled

The 3rd Annual Livestock & Poultry Quiz Bowl will be held Friday, November 13, 2009 at 9am in the Southern University Ag center studio. Teams will travel from North Central High, Church Point High, Clinton High, Northwest High, Port Barre High, and West Feliciana High schools. Contact Renita Marshall DVM, livestock show programs director, (225) 771-2242 ext. 330 or renita_marshall@suagcenter.com

Friday, November 6

Fall Horse Clinic scheduled for Nov. 14

Area horsemen are invited to bring their herd to the Southern University Ag Center's Fall Horse Clinic on Saturday, November 14, 8 am -  noon, at the M.A Edmond Livestock Arena in Alsen, Louisiana.

Staff from the Livestock Show Programs Office and Center veterinarian Renita Marshall will administer vaccinations, Tetnus shots, micro-clipping, and Coggins exams.

"This is an affordable opportunity for our herdsmen to take care of their horses and to insure that the herd stays healthy this winter," said Christie Monroe, assistant director, livestock show programs.

Contact Monroe at (225) 771-2242 ext. 328 or christie_monroe@suagcenter.com for more information on registration and fees.

Wednesday, November 4

Chancellor's Wellness Challenge Tip 1: Portion Control

By Celia Jackson
Nutrition Educator

Practicing portion control can be the start of developing healthy lifestyle habits.  You have all heard the saying, “no food is bad food, as long as you practice moderation.”  This statement is true when practicing portion control.  Controlling your food portions involves being knowledgeable of what the correct food portions are.    However, knowing correct portions and actually observing correct portions on your dinner plate can seem distorted.  In the nutrition education community this is referred to as “portion distortion.”  Do not become a victim of portion distortion.  Use the following links as simple on the go guides of correct portion sizes: http://www.webmd.com/diet/printable/portion-control-size-guide

To prevent portion distortion follow these tips:

  • ·       Practice using measuring cups and spoons to portion out your food.  This will allow you to actually visualize the correct food portions.
  • ·       Weigh your portions (if you have a scale available).  If you do not have a scale compare your food portions to common items such as a standard deck of playing cards, which represents a 3oz serving of meat.   Other examples are available in the guides referenced above.
  • ·       Use a smaller plate.  The standard dinner plate is too large.  The smaller plate provides less space to add more food.
  • ·       Use plastic snack size bags to pack snacks for school or work.  Having the entire package of snack crackers may tempt you to eat more.  Leave the box at home and pack a 1-2 oz portion in a plastic snack bag.
  • ·       Continue to use measuring cups and spoons to portion out your food occasionally.  As we discontinue this practice our portions tend to get larger.  Using the measuring cups and spoons will serve as a reminder of the correct portion.
  • ·       When eating out request a take-out box when your entrĂ©e is served.  Removing half of the large restaurant portions before you start eating will prevent you from overeating.
  • ·       At fast food restaurants stay away from the Biggie and Supersize options.  Avoiding these options will prevent consumption of extra calories and will save you money.
  • ·       Prepare a healthy plate.  A healthy plate consists of ½ vegetables and/or fruits, ¼ starches, and ¼ meats or other protein.

Contact Celia Jackson, MPA, LDN, RD, FF-NEWS Nutrition Educator, East Baton Rouge and East Feliciana Parishes, (225) 389-3055 or celia_jackson@suagcenter.com

Thursday, October 29

2010 Louisiana Farmer of the Year

Nominations for the 2010 Louisiana Farmer of the Year are being accepted now through Dec. 11, 2009. Application forms can be obtained at any parish LSU AgCenter Extension Service office or online at www.lsuagcenter.com/farmeroftheyear. Producers from all areas of agriculture are eligible to enter. Three finalists will be recognized at White Oak Plantation in Baton Rouge on Feb. 26, 2010, with the winner receiving a cash award and other prizes.

Tuesday, October 27

Symposium focuses on threats to agriculture, natural resources

BATON ROUGE— Scientists and professionals who are working on the frontlines of biosecurity research will gather at Southern University on November 10-12, 2009, to uncover potential threats to our nation’s natural resources and agriculture. They will participate in the university’s third annual Frontline Biosecurity Symposium.

This symposium features presentations and demonstrations from researchers at universities and federal and state agencies who are monitoring high consequence plant pathogens, insect pests, and invasive weeds that threaten our nation’s agriculture and renewable natural resources, says Daniel Collins, professor of plant pathology and symposium organizer.

Because U.S. crop production and forest ecosystems are vulnerable to deliberate and natural plant pathogens and pests capable of causing significant economic damage, plant biosecurity protects plants from exotic pathogens or pests whether they are introduced intentionally by an agro-terrorist, accidentally, or by natural means, says Collins. This event is a key factor in preparing professionals in defending the nation and preparing students for plant biosecurity positions,” Collins says, “this is an important venue which provides an opportunity to network with scientist and professionals addressing research, educational, and career opportunities.”

The symposium is free and open to the public. Registration form, locations and schedules are posted online at http://www.urbanforestry.subr.edu/biosecurity.htm

Workshop topics include:
        Microbial Forensics and Plant Biosecurity
        Sudden Oak Death: A Threat to Our Forest Ecosystems
        Strategies for Safeguarding American Plant Resources
        Food Biosecurity and Fresh Produce Safety
        Training The Next Generation: Educational and Career
        Opportunities in Plant Biosecurity

Participating in the symposium are representatives from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, USDA ARS and APHS offices, Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry - Horticulture and Quarantine Programs, US Customs and Border Protection, Department of Homeland Security,  and Howard, Louisiana State University, Oklahoma State, and Pennsylvania State universities.

Disruption of US agriculture by the unintentional or intentional release of high risk plant pathogens would be catastrophic to the US/global economies and stability.  Preparedness is a critical strategy in defending the nation against intentional or unintentional release of exotic plant pathogens that pose a threat to plants (crops) important to our nation’s agriculture.  Many reports have addressed the need to provide more   post baccalaureate training, and experiential learning in plant health management at the U.S.  land-grant universities to counter the threat of high-risk plant pathogens to our nation’s agriculture.   Southern University and A&M College and other land-grant institutions are key components in training the next generation of scientists and professionals in   plant health management to protect our nation’s domestic food supply, and renewable natural resources.
The Plant Biosecurity Symposium is sponsored by a grant awarded to Collins by the U. S. Department of Agriculture,  National Institute of Food and Agriculture  1890 Teaching Capacity Building Grants Program for enhancement of the M.S. and Ph.D. degree programs in urban forestry at Southern University through plant biosecurity training.

For more information, contact Collins at (225) 771-2262 ext. 268 or Daniel_Collins@suagcenter.com

Thursday, October 22

Technology helps homeowners, provides experiential learning

New technology that can depict structural defects in trees is available now at the Southern University Urban Forestry Program to assist homeowners in tree diagnosis.

Known as Tree Resistograph, the instrument measures wood resistance and can identify where decay, cracks and hollowness exist within tree trunks.

Recently, the Ag Center chancellor Leodrey Williams received a call from a homeowner concerned about
the structural soundness of two large water oak trees (3ft in diameter) in his backyard. Yadong Qi, Ph.D., professor of urban forestry, and Yongsheng Li, doctoral student, surveyed the site and tested the trees using the Resistograph.

The team discovered the main  trunks of both water oak trees were solid and sound, without decay at
the base. However, they suggested that the homeowner contact an arborist to prune the trees and
lighten up the crowns above.

The homeowner received the good news with a smile.

“The tree survey using the Tree Resistograph technology enhances our ability to help home owners in making informed decisions about their trees,” said Williams.

The Tree Resistograph has also been used in class lectures to provide hands-on experiential learning opportunities for urban forestry students at Southern University and A&M College. “This instrument
is a new addition to our existing Picus Sonic Tomography system which will augment our capacity to
conduct research, education and outreach in urban forestry,” said Qi.

The Picus Sonic Tomography is another technology that can detect the soundness and structural defects of tree trunks. Both instruments were funded by the SU HBGI program. For more information, contact Qi at yadong_qi@suagcenter.com.

Monday, October 19

School garden nurtures community

The principal and teachers of St. Helena Central Middle School collaborated with Angela Myles, area youth agent, to establish a junior master garden club. Today, mustard greens are sprouting in the garden which doubles as a community garden. The garden is used to nurture community spirit, common purpose and culture appreciation among the diverse populations in the parish.

The children involved in the school-based 4-H Club, along with their parents, said the vibrant garden would be an environmental classroom for tangible educational projects, service learning and leadership development.

Several community leaders and local businesses are excited about volunteering in the garden project as a way of giving back to the community. The mission of the community garden is to bring school children and community members together to work for a sustainable planet. The project is designed to motivate and equip St. Helena residents to take action on behalf of youth at the community, organizational, family and individual levels.

As an outside classroom, the vegetable garden provides real life, hands-on experience to study health and nutrition, oral health, science, mathematics, ecology, agriculture and more.

The concept builds upon the existing community resources and assets; it has the power to change peoples’ lives and can affect St. Helena children in profound ways," said Myles.

Friday, October 16

Eubanks discusses Managing in Tough Times

Gina E. Eubanks, Ph.D., vice chancellor for extension, recently participated in a panel discussion addressing “Some Marketing Ideas” along side Linda Fox, Washington State University, Dennis Calvin, The Pennsylvania State University, and Paul Coreil, LSU AgCenter. The panel was part of  Managing in Tough Times National Extension Initiative webinar, sponsored by Extension Committee on Organization and Policy Program Subcommittee on September 15.

Thursday, October 15

Agent pieces parenting tips, quilting

Bossier Parish parent educator Katherine Ervin has been busy teaching residents from varied background, age groups, education and culture how to quilt. They gathered at the Martin Luther King Center for some educational sessions. The sessions began with the group being reminded that challenges and problems in life have a purpose and a lesson.

Cocaine, crack and marijuana pose a major illicit drug problem in Bossier Parish. Women with children make up half the number of people admitted for drug abuse treatment.

These negative behaviors are key indicators of the need for the Southern University Ag Center’s Full Circle Parenting classes which help individuals “piece it together,” said Ervin. In September, three educational sessions were conducted including self-esteem, anger management, family values and simple scrap quilting to empower these parents to take control of their family situations.

An overwhelming number of today’s parents and grandparents believe it is more difficult to raise a family now than it was a generation ago. All parents want their children to succeed.

But knowing how to help them make smart choices and avoid pitfalls is not easy. These parenting sessions equip parents and guardians to strengthen relationships with children and other family members, improve communication, and manage family stress. 

After a few sessions, participants said they would apply the new techniques to parenting and share with family members. During the Scrap Quilting classes, participants enjoyed choosing colors, cutting, and laying out the pieces for their scrap quilt tops. Piecing the patterns together brought smiles to many faces. “The lesson learned was that hard work pays off like the beautiful quilt as the finished product,” said Ervin.

Wednesday, October 14

USDA grant supports ongoing business development

The Center for Rural and Small Business Development at Southern University Ag Center has been awarded a $100,000 economic development and business promotion grant by the United States Department of Agriculture.

Only 13 other 1890 institutions received the competitive award. "These funds help provide entrepreneurship
training and benefits to rural youth," said USDA secretary Tom Vilsack. "President Obama believes our nation's economic competitiveness and the path to the American dream depend on providing every student with an education that will enable them to succeed in a global economy. Using these funds, students will learn to take advantage of existing economic development opportunities in their communities - such as renewable energy resources - as well as the vast business knowledge and connections that these schools and their faculty members have."

The grant, provided through USDA Rural Development, will help the Center for Rural and Small Business Development continue creating businesses, promoting cooperatives and providing jobs training. For more information, visit http://crsbd.com/ or www.suagcenter.com

Wednesday, October 7

USDA announces National Institute of Food and Agriculture


Thursday, October 8, will be a very important day for USDA science, with the formal launch of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture .  USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack intends to deliver a major address on the future of USDA science at the National Press Club.  

The event – including the Secretary’s remarks – will be webcast live at www.Visualwebcaster.com/NIFA-Rollout  beginning at 2 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time.  

NIFA replaces USDA's Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Services. Like CSREES, NIFA focuses on investing in science and solving critical issues impacting people's daily lives and the nation's future. For more information, visit www.nifa.usda.gov.  CSREES continues to fund programs at the Southern University Ag Center throughout the state.

Tuesday, September 29

Software training gain momentum

The Southwest Center for Rural Initiatives’ basic computer software training is gaining momentum throughout the Center’s 10-parish reach. 

Since November, more than 200 citizens have participated and benefited, said class organizer Latonia Morrison-Frank. Many participants are using this new training on their jobs, businesses and for self improvement. 

“Participation in these basic courses are yielding a more confident citizenry in using Microsoft Word and PowerPoint to create and edit documents, forms, business advertisements, presentations, and tracking of data,” she said.

The chambers of commerce in several of the parishes served have founded the trainings positive for their communities. Each session is met with increased participation from local sheriff departments, governmental departments, banks, businesses and other community entities. 

Due to limited number of computers, the majority of the trainings can only accommodate ten participants per session. However, this has not impacted the interest. In Acadia and Allen Parishes, the Chamber of Commerce wants the Southwest Center to “keep coming back”. They are anxious about future offerings of the trainings and eager to get the word out to the community, said Morrison Frank.

For more information, contact Morrison-Frank, regional market/analyst developer, at the Southwest
Center for Rural Initiatives (337) 943-2410 or latonia_morrisonfrank@suagcenter.com

Monday, September 28

Bourlaug Fellows train at Southern University

The Southern University Center for International Development Program hosted the 2009 Borlaug Fellows Women in Science Fellowship and the Southern University Ag Center provided assistance and training to the Fellows.

The Fellowship provides training to agribusiness entrepreneurs from the African countries of Kenya and Malawi. 

Four fellows were selected based on their leadership skills and business experiences. The group travelled to Southern University's Center for International Development Program for six weeks, ending this month. During this period, they attended lectures, went on field trips and shadowed trainers assigned to them.

Program participants included: Eunice Mwongera, Managing Director of Hillside Green Growers and Exporters Company, exporter of fresh fruits and vegetables from Kenya. She came to gain knowledge that will assist small scale farmers to increase and improve the quality of their fruit and vegetable products for export; and to improve business skills and ability to mentor other female business entrepreneurs.  

Stella Kachoka, Traditional Authority Coordinator for “Concern Worldwide,” Malawi, interested in crop diversification techniques, specifically in cassava and sweet potatoes. She came to gain increased understanding of food production that matches domestic and export market needs. Patience Mgollimwale, Farmer Organization Development Coordinator with Malawi Enterprise Zones Association, came to seek skills in farmer cooperative development and trade policy issues related to agricultural exports.

Maness Nkhata, Managing Director for Kakoma Estate, a company that specializes in livestock and crop production, wanted to gain knowledge in business development, management and financial resource mobilization,specifically microfinance for small to medium-scale businesses. 

The program was coordinated by Rufus Nwogu, PhD, assistant director, Southern University Center for International Development Programs. Several faculty from the Southern University Agricultural Research and Extension Center provided training.  Fatemeh Malekian, PhDfood scientistprovided the ServSafe Essentials for food handling. Adell Brown, PhD, vice chancellor for finance and administration, and Oscar Udoh,PhD, coordinator for planning and evaluation, provided lectures on risk management, forming cooperatives, marketing and building trade capacity. James McNitt, PhD, retired animal science professor, provided a series of farmer training modules for production of safe food. Renita Marshall, DVM, director of livestock programs, and Mila Berhane provided tours of the Experiment Station and Horticulture area.

The program is administered by USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service in cooperation with the U.S. Agency for International
Development, the U.S. Department of State, and the U.S. Trade and Development Agency. To read more about the Borlaug
Fellowship Program, visit: http://www.fas.usda.gov/icd/borlaug/borlaug.htm