Category Archives: Feature

Cooperative Extension visits Read House for a taste of the past

With a focus on 18th century foods and preservation, the second annual Farm 2 Fork event was held Sept. 24 at the historic Read House and Gardens in New Castle, Delaware.

Cheryl Bush, UD Cooperative Extension educator and registered dietician in Family and Consumer Sciences, and Carrie Murphy, UD Extension Master Gardener coordinator and horticultural educator, were invited to participate by Katie McDade, head of Read House and Gardens and public programming with the Delaware Historical Society.

Farm 2 Fork event occurred on the same day as Smithsonian’s Museum Day Live!, in which multiple museums and cultural institutions across the country participated. More than 200,000 Museum Day tickets total were downloaded from Smithsonian’s website for this nationwide celebration.

Sally Reiss and Michael Hadley, both Master Food Educators, provided an in-depth and historically relevant demonstration on food preservation and preparation. The presentation took visitors back to the 1700s, offering a look at what food was grown, how it was preserved, and what was consumed.

Michael Hadley, a Master Food Educator, prepares for a Farm 2 Fork presentation.
Michael Hadley, a Master Food Educator, prepares for a Farm 2 Fork presentation.

Hadley, a personal chef, provided a demonstration on how to prepare autumn chopped apple salad, served in clear cups with red forks to complement the fall-themed recipe, which was created by Gail Hermenau, a Master Gardener and Master Food Educator.

Reiss said she found that many of Delaware’s earliest food and recipes were drawn from German and English influences, as many Germans initially settled in Pennsylvania and northern Delaware. Broiled chicken with sour-milk biscuits was a staple, and steamed crabs were a seafood favorite in the summer.

Some examples of popular recipes from the time include apple fritters, “sweet-meat” pudding, and potato soup.

The people of the 17th and 18th centuries did not have the modern technology of refrigeration, so other methods of preservation had to be used, including underground cellars packed with straw, salting, and pickling. Meat had to be consumed or preserved within 24 hours to prevent spoiling.

McDade said she believes the Farm 2 Fork event was very important and beneficial in helping the public understand history. “To know where we’re going, we have to know where we’ve come from,” she said. “To understand the community that we’re a part of, our sense of our identity, how we fit into our communities, and how we move forward, we need to know our past.”

In support of the project, Lori Ennis, Kent County Master Gardener and former John Dickinson Plantation interpreter, provided the Cooperative Extension with invaluable information about crops used from the time period. “John Dickinson and George Read were actually very close friends and it was very common practice to send plants back and forth among friends,” said Ennis, who added that common crops grown included cabbage, garden cress, carrots, turnips, radish, leeks, pumpkin and onion, just to name a few.

“It was a great opportunity get families to come out and see the garden, because the garden doesn’t typically get much public exposure through specific programming,” said McDade.

Providing information at the Farm 2 Fork event are Lynne Perry, Karen Curtis and Carrie Murphy.
Providing information at the Farm 2 Fork event are Lynne Perry, Karen Curtis and Carrie Murphy.

Also at the event, Murphy and Master Gardener volunteers Karen Curtis and Lynne Perry provided information on gardening at home. Murphy and the Master Gardeners discussed food-oriented gardening, provided soil test kits and information, and offered literature on vegetable gardening, backyard composting and pest management.

“Gardening know-how isn’t intuitive for most” Murphy said. “Many people make simple mistakes because they just never knew any different. Someone might buy a plant for the aesthetic look without understanding its needs. And many people inherit their landscapes with their homes so sometimes people don’t know where to start. Our goal is to help educate people on gardening, which can be intimidating sometimes.”

The event proved to be a huge success and plans are in the making for the third annual Farm 2 Fork next year. “I’m really excited and pleased to have worked with the UD Cooperative Extension. Hopefully this is a sign of more to come. Next year perhaps we can collaborate with some more partners and make it a more coordinated effort, as well as a larger event,” said McDade.

Those with interest in becoming Master Food Educators can contact Bush at and those with interest in becoming Master Gardeners can contact Murphy at or 302-831-COOP.

Originally posted on UDaily

Article by Courtney Messina

Fruit Rots on Pumpkins

Pumpkins are one of our favorite fall decorations, food sources, and animal feed sources inpumpkin-fruit-rot Delaware. Agro-tourism, including fall hayrides, pumpkin picking, and other activities are strong sources of farm income. Fruit rots caused by fungi and bacteria can diminish profits of farmers, especially in seasons with wet weather, high humidity and fluctuating temperatures.  Fruit rots also disappoint consumers who expect a purchased pumpkin to last a long time. Micro organisms can cause problems during storage post-harvest.  Avoid wounding pumpkins at harvest, during transit, and keep in a cool location. Wounds allow micro organisms to enter.

The fungus-like organism Phytophthora capsici has a very wide host range, including cucurbits such as pumpkin, watermelon, squash, and tomatoes, beans, and other vegetables. If a pumpkin develops a white powdery soft rot such as in the picture, it may be due to Phytophthora. Discard it in the trash, do not compost in gardens or use the seeds to start plants for next season. Phytophthora is not harmful to humans or animals, but secondary fungi can move in. The black specks in the picture show some secondary fungi that have started to grow on the affected area.

N Gregory 10/21/2016

A duck call for new 4-H members

4-H members of the Junior Duck Stamp Club show off their duck decoys in progress
4-H members of the Junior Duck Stamp Club show off their duck decoys in progress

About the 4-H Junior Duck Stamp Club:

Delaware 4-H announces a welcoming ‘duck call’ to all Delaware youth ages 8-19 to join the New Castle County 4-H Junior Duck Stamp Club.  The Federal Junior Duck Stamp program is a national conservation program through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that uses art and STEM activities to increase youth interest in and understanding of wetland and waterfowl conservation for kindergarten through 12th grade. The club utilizes activities from the Federal Junior Duck Stamp curriculum as well as nature field trips and art workshops to engage the participants in hands-on experiential learning.  The end goal for the youth is to create an artwork that will compete in the statewide (and potentially national) competition to become the next Federal Junior Duck Stamp.

A 4-H member of the Junior Duck Stamp Club observes waterfowl in its natural habitat
A 4-H member of the Junior Duck Stamp Club observes waterfowl in its natural habitat

How to Participate in the Club:

Although you do not need to be a 4-Her to participate in the state Federal Junior Duck Stamp Program art and conservation message competitions in March, you do need to be a 4-Her to attend 4-H Junior Duck Stamp Club meetings, nature field trips, and art workshops.  Any 4-Her can attend the club meetings for free (thanks to the generosity of the 4-H Foundation), they only need to fill out the 4-H enrollment form found here. You only need to attend one club meeting to be considered a member of the 4-H Junior Duck Stamp Club!

The field trip to the DuPont Environmental Education Center costs $8 for programming provided by the Delaware Nature Society, and the field trip to Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge is $4 for parking. The art workshop is a NCC 4-H Winter Workshop for 4-Hers and will have a small cost associated with it to cover the cost of supplies (to be determined).

Junior Duck Club Meeting Schedule

Time: 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Location: New Castle County 4-H Office, 461 Wyoming Road, Newark, Del. 19716
Cost: None
Ages: 8-19
Enrollment: 4-H enrollment and health form completed through 4HOnline
2016: Oct. 27, Nov. 17, Dec. 15
2017: Jan. 19

Nature Field Trip – DuPont Environmental Education Center
Date: Sunday, Nov. 6, 2016
Time: Noon to 2:00 p.m.
Location: 1400 Delmarva Ln, Wilmington, DE 19801
Cost: $8
What: Learn photography skills and how to compose outstanding photos where the city, river and marsh meet. Capture the Russell W. Peterson Urban Wildlife Refuge and waterfowl through the lens of a digital camera. Dip-net for waterfowl foods and learn about aquatic plants in the marsh (2:00 to 3:00 p.m.).
Who: Registered 4-H members
Contact Autumn Starcher by October 28th to participate

Nature Field Trip – Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge
Date: Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016
Time: Noon to 2:00 p.m.
Location: 2591 Whitehall Neck Rd, Smyrna, DE 19977
Cost: $4
What: Explore the Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge trails, observation towers, and nature center.  Discover numerous waterfowl species in the peak of fall migration.
Who: Registered 4-H members
Contact Autumn Starcher by November 18th to participate

Winter Art Workshop
Date: Feb. 18, 2017
Time: 9 a.m. to Noon
Location: New Castle County 4-H Office, 461 Wyoming Road, Newark, DE 19716
Cost: TBD
What: Create a work of art and conservation message that will compete in the Delaware Federal Junior Duck Stamp Competition in March 2017.  This piece can also be used as a Delaware State Fair entry!!
Who: Registered 4-H members
Register with the NCC 4-H Office to participate


For more information, please contact Autumn Starcher.   Click here>>> Junior Duck Stamp Club flyer 2016-17

Extension offers Equine series this fall

Equine Series Annie’s Project

Annie's Project EquineA Cooperative Extension partnership between the University of Delaware and the University of Maryland Extension will offer a unique Equine Annie’s Project specific to horse farm owners and managers. Download the Annie’s Project Equine Series brochure.

The program blends friendly discussions over dinner with various guest speakers and will focus on topics of farm insurance and liability, credit, financing, social media, and marketing. Each scheduled evening session offers a different discussion topic.

Information presented on these risk management topics will allow equine owners and managers to strengthen their skills to successfully manage risk to promote farm growth and success! Equine Annie’s Project is designed to empower women in agriculture to manage information and learn about agriculture in a relaxed local network. The target audience is women with a passion for agriculture (but all including men are welcome to participate). Don’t manage a large horse farm? Individual horse owners are welcome too.

Two locations are available: Dover, Del. and Salisbury, Md.. Sign up for the closest location to you! The equine series is being held November 1, 3, and 9, 2016 from 6 to 9 p.m. Cost is $60.00 per person for the 3-day series and includes dinner along with all course materials.

Pre-registration is required for meal planning. Register online at Don’t miss out on this great program being offered to our horse community! This program is open to all. Please contact Susan Garey (302) 730-4000 or Jessie Flores (410)632-1972 if you have special needs in accessing this program.

Become a Master Food Educator

Dan Towers Master Food Educator
Dan Towers Master Food Educator
Are you interested learning more about Nutrition and Food Safety? Become a Master Food Educator Volunteer!

Would you like an opportunity to share important information with Delawareans? The Master Food Educator volunteer program might be right for you! This program is for individuals who have an interest in nutrition, food preparation, health, food safety, wellness and the education of youth and adults.  Whether you are a foods or nutrition professional or an individual without professional training, University of Delaware Cooperative Extension educators will provide participants with the information and training needed to help expand the nutrition education efforts of Cooperative Extension.  The Master Food Educator volunteers work in local communities and with organizations assisting with the ongoing initiatives of our organization.

Since the inception of the program Master Food Educators have staffed educational displays at locations such as the Delaware State Fair, Ag Day, health fairs and expos at schools and businesses.  Additionally, Master Food educators have assisted with or conducted workshops or demonstrations on topics such as food safety, food selection and preparation, nutrition and diet and stretching your food dollar.  They have also offered school based educational programs and assisted with the development of new educational resources.

Registrations for the newest Master Food Educator Training courses are now open.  Training will be offered in Newark beginning in January for New Castle County residents and in Georgetown beginning in March for Kent and Sussex County residents.

Individuals who are interested in nutrition, diet and health issues, want to learn, would enjoy working with and helping others and want to be affiliated with a professional organization are perfect candidates for this program.  Applications must be received by January 4, 2017 for New Castle County and February 28, 2017 for Kent/Sussex Counties.

Courses are open to the public without regard to race, color, sex, handicap, age or national origin. This program provides participants 36 hours of training in the areas of nutrition, diet, health, food safety, food selection and preparation. Cooperative Extension is looking to those who would be willing to take the course and then volunteer 40 hours of time over the next year. Volunteers can choose how they give back time but suggestions might include assisting with the presentation of workshops such as Dining with Diabetes, Mindful Eating, Cooking for One or Two and others or participating in other public programs sponsored by Cooperative Extension.

For more information about this training and to obtain an application please visit the Master Food Educator Volunteer Program webpage, where you can download the program brochure and application.

Master Gardeners teach children at ELC about plants, wildlife

Children learn about plants and wildlife through a Master Gardeners program.
Children learn about plants and wildlife through a Master Gardeners program.

Since its inception in 2009, the Master Gardeners’ Vegetable and Fruit Demonstration Garden located next to Newark’s James Hall Trail has served as an outdoor classroom, educating members of the community about the importance of plants and wildlife.

One of the most beneficial ways that the garden has been used has been to educate local youths from the University of Delaware Early Learning Center (ELC) and the UD Laboratory Preschool, located next door to the New Castle County Cooperative Extension building.

Now, thanks to a partnership with the ELC’s prekindergarten program, the UD Master Gardeners will continue that education. The partnership was initiated by Phyllis Roland and Cathy Coppol, both ELC teachers in the pre-kindergarten class. Their goal is to help children learn how to increase the sustainability of the ELC garden, increase food production, and share fresh produce with the schools and local community.

Roland got the idea when she and her class passed the demonstration garden while walking along the James Hall Trail. She thought it would be “nice to partner with [the Master Gardeners] so they could help us to learn more about gardening. I stopped over to see Pat [Pat Cavanaugh, a Master Gardener], and she agreed to come and look at our garden and talk about their garden.

One of the things that we’re really excited about in our project is to help the children understand how to provide resources to the community. The Master Gardeners contribute to the area Food Bank, so we got on board with that. We bring some of the produce from our garden to contribute and add to what they’re harvesting,” said Roland, who added that they’ve grown broccoli, string beans, lettuce, cucumbers, zucchini, radishes, beans and carrots in the garden. They also have a flower garden and grow herbs.

Roland’s class visits the demonstration garden every Monday morning. The Master Gardeners talk about their gardening projects and introduce the children to processes such as composting, pollination and cultivation, and to various wildlife that help to enhance the garden.

Lynn Hessler, a Master Gardener, shared about a time when the children encountered a monarch butterfly.

“They were able to touch it and we showed them how to hold it and the butterfly wouldn’t fly away. It must’ve thought, ‘I’ve got food, I’ve got water, people love me. Why would I leave?’ So we all sat there and watched it,” said Hessler.

The most beneficial aspect of the partnership has been providing students the experience of growing food from seed to fruit.

“It helps with their social, emotional development,” said Roland. “They have an opportunity to try fresh produce that they may not get at home and we bring food into the classroom. We cook with them and they understand how to process the environment for planting, maintaining the garden, and then eventually harvesting the fruit. It helps to generate excitement and they’re not thinking everything is just instant gratification but they’re looking at processes and I think they’ve grown a lot in that experience.”

Peggy Bradley, ELC director, said that it’s been “a lovely partnership” between the ELC and the Master Gardeners.

“We really appreciate their contribution to our program and it’s a very nice intergenerational connection for our children, as well as an educational connection,” said Bradley.

Bradley also said that research shows that there is “so much cognitive development that can come out of those sensory experiences of gardening. From the beginning planting the seed stage all the way through the picking and smelling and tasting.”

Garden Gals

The demonstration garden is currently being overseen by Cavanaugh, Hessler, Sally Reiss and Ruth Zorzi, all of whom are Master Gardeners and are known collectively as the “Garden Gals.”

There are a total of 27 Master Gardeners who help out with the garden and have interacted with the groups from the ELC and the UD Laboratory Preschool. Zorzi said she enjoys being able to show the children who visit the garden where their food comes from.

“You’re not just getting something out of the supermarket, you see that it grows out of the soil and you can take it in the kitchen and cook it and taste it and get different varieties,” said Zorzi.

Reiss said that it is one thing for a student to learn about science from a book in a classroom but it is another to give them a hands on learning experience at a young age.

“When they can see how the plants actually grow, it’s just the wonder of how all plants can be so different and we can show the kids stuff about caterpillars and talk about how they’re going to become butterflies. You just never know with kids what they’re going to remember but it’s a nice hands-on experience that they otherwise wouldn’t get,” said Reiss.

When they travel to the ELC, the Master Gardeners teach the children how to do things such as pick flowers, beans, cucumbers and tomatoes so that they aren’t pulling out the whole plant.

“They were all involved with picking the marigolds and taking them home for their parents and then a couple of the boys decided it was great fun to throw the marigolds like balls. Of course, by doing that, they were spreading the seeds so we said, ‘OK, this is a good thing,’” said Cavanaugh.

Gail Hermenau, who led the installation of the garden back in 2009 after helping to create a demonstration composting area, said the garden has been used by the ELC since the very beginning.

“When I was there on a regular basis, people from the James Hall Trail would come over, and we engaged a lot of people in the garden and it was just sort of a regular thing that we always worked with the children from Fran Walls’ classroom so I’m really glad that they still are doing different workshops with the kids,” said Hermenau.

“We would bring vegetables back into their class and show them the different insects and caterpillar larvae, the chrysalis if we could find them – whatever we could use that was taking place. It is like a living classroom out there for children and adults,” said Hermenau.

The Master Gardeners design and maintain gardens and a compost demonstration site for the purpose of teaching good horticultural practices. Those interested should stop by the demonstration site at the Cooperative Extension office, 461 Wyoming Road in Newark on the University of Delaware campus to learn more about growing fruit and vegetables, composting and plants native to our region.

Those interested in becoming a Master Gardener should contact Carrie Murphy, Extension Educator, Master Gardener Coordinator at or 302-831-COOP.

Story by Adam Thomas, Photography by Wenbo Fan

Originally posted on UDaily

Making a Smart Health Insurance Decision

Click here to register for FREE session October 25 or October 26! Noon to 1:30 p.m.

The health insurance market is confusing! Open enrollment for both Medicare and the Health Insurance Marketplace starts soon and with so many ads on television, many consumers who are not covered by an employer’s health insurance plan are confused about which process to use and which plan to pick.

The Medicare insurance program is a federal program open to people 65 and older or for those under 65 with disabilities. Medicare provides a certain level of insurance coverage and many people choose to buy additional supplemental (Medigap) plan and prescription drug plan that increase the breadth of coverage. Open enrollment is from October 15 to December 7 and this is when all people with these supplemental plans can change their coverage for the following year to better meet their needs. It is important to review your current plans each year because Medicare supplemental health and drug plans often change cost, coverage, and what providers and pharmacies are in their networks.

The Health Insurance Marketplace (in Delaware, this can be found at was established through the Affordable Care Act and since 2014, individuals under age 65 have had this venue to choose health insurance plans. Open enrollment runs from November 1 to January 31, 2017. These dates are for both on and off the Health Insurance Marketplace plans – meaning you can purchase plans through the Marketplace and potentially receive tax credits and premium subsides, or you can purchase your plan independently from a broker or health insurance provider. In Delaware, the deadline to enroll in a plan with a January 1, 2017 start date will be December 15, 2016.

health-insurance-policyNo matter what your age or ability, making a decision about which plan to enroll in does take a little time, so start now to begin this process. Most people make a decision based on the premium and whether or not their doctor is in the network. While these two criterion are an important place to start, there are a few other things to consider. Here are a few additional steps to take in order to make an effective choice:

  • Who you have to cover and what are the health care needs. Make a list of who you need to cover in your family and from there, identify what their health care needs are. For example, what kind of doctors are they seeing and how often; what types of services are they using or might they use (i.e. mental health, hospitalization, emergency room or urgent care, maternity, surgical, specialists, medical equipment, prescription drugs, dental care etc.). Creating this list will also help you estimate some additional out of pocket costs (see 3 below). Also consider if you travel and if you are likely to use out-of-network providers.
  • Once you know the types of health care services you need and how often you may use them, you can begin to narrow down the type of plan you may need. If you don’t travel a lot and you would like to have a primary care doctor be the point person for all your health care needs, you might consider an HMO plan. For these plans, unless it is an emergency situation, there is only an “in-network” option; so you’ll also want to be sure your favorite doctors or services are within the network. An Exclusive Provider Organization (EPO) is similar to a HMO plan because there are only in-network options. However, with these plans, you have the option to see specialists without getting a referral from your primary care doctor. For the Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) plans, there are in-network and out-of-network options- though you will pay more if you use an out-of-network provider. For this plan, you also do not need to see your primary care doctor for a referral prior to seeing a specialist. For those consumers who have complicated health care needs, having a PPO will give you the ability to seek treatment out-of-network.
  • Determine the monthly premium but also what the other out-of-pocket costs might be. Ways that health insurance companies share the costs with consumers is through the deductible, copayments and coinsurance amounts. When the deductible is high, you as the consumer are taking on more of the costs, because for most plans, you will be paying the full amount of the deductible before the health insurance company pays for anything- unless it is for certain preventative care services (like your annual checkup or immunizations). In step 1, you counted up the number of times you and your family visited the doctor or used services. Use these numbers to estimate your usage for next year and do a little math using the deductible and copayment amounts provided in the plans you are considering. For example, if you and your family went to the doctor 10 times last year and the copayment amount is $25 per visit, then you can guess that next year you may have $250 worth of copayments on top of the deductible and premiums.

Once you know these figures, you can match it with your savings and your monthly budget. For example, one plan may have a $250 monthly premium ($3000/year), a $6000 deductible and $250 ($25 x10 visits) worth of copayments. That would be a total of $9250 per year if the worst happens and you need to pay out the full deductible amount.

Another plan may have a $400 a month premium ($4800/year), a $1000 deductible and $300 worth of copayments ($30 x 10 visits) totaling $6100 per year.

You see, premium isn’t everything. You need to crunch some numbers. Finding $400 per month for the premium may feel really uncomfortable on a monthly basis, but in the long run if the worst happens, your bottom line will be better off.

  • Learn more! If you want to learn more about making a Smart Choice about Health Insurance, you can tune in to our upcoming webinar: You and Health Insurance Making a Smart Choice. It is free and will be offered from noon -1:30 pm on both Oct 25 and Oct 26th. You can go to our website to register: or click here to register.

On our Cooperative Extension website is a My Smart Choice Workbook which provides more information about plans and provides worksheets that will help you work through these steps for your family.  For more information about our health insurance programs, please feel free to contact Maria Pippidis, University of Delaware Cooperative Extension Educator.

Cooperative Extension hosts healthy recipe demos at farmers markets

1474981785299The University of Delaware’s Cooperative Extension Family and Consumer Sciences program has been making its rounds to farmers markets throughout New Castle County, preparing ingredients and conducting demonstrations in order to raise public awareness about healthy eating.

The program is led by Maria Pippidis, New Castle County Extension director and a family and consumer sciences extension educator, who said that the demonstrations “promote easy and simple no-cook recipes that use seasonal ingredients and provide visitors with the chance to taste the recipes and maybe even try an ingredient they haven’t tried before.”

Overall, several volunteer UD dietetics students have visited 18 different markets throughout the county during the summer months, reaching 809 visitors and distributing 400 copies of healthy recipes.

Monica Marcial-Gutierrez, a UD alumnus who graduated in 2016 with a degree in dietetics and now works with Cooperative Extension, and Regina Santangelo, a volunteer for the demonstration who also graduated in 2016 with a degree in dietetics, led a demonstration in Rockwood Park, where they presented a corn and black bean salsa recipe.

“The whole point of doing these demonstrations is to show people what to do with in-season vegetables and also to encourage them to buy local produce. Our aim is also to show people how to make it, and just how easy it can be,” said Marcial-Gutierrez.

At Rockwood, the corn and black bean salsa was served with a side of chips for sampling and the ingredients were simple, fresh and easy to find.

One of the goals of Cooperative Extension is to educate the public on just how easy healthy eating can be. “Salsas like this are very popular, and you don’t have to be a cook in order to do it,” said Santangelo.

In some areas of Delaware, finding fresh food can be difficult, and all that may be available is fast food or processed food.

“I think it’s important for people to have access to fresh and healthy food. Some people don’t even know what to do with the food once they have the ingredients,” said Marcial-Gutierrez. “We get many questions from our visitors. For example, a visitor may ask, ‘Where do you get [the ingredients] and what do you do with it?’ I tell them, ‘You can get it right here, and here’s a nice recipe you can make with some of the ingredients.’”

“Cooperative Extension has a long history of helping local agricultural producers grow foods and be profitable, as well as providing nutrition education,” Pippidis said. “This project has helped us address both initiatives by linking local growers who are glad to have new clientele visit their booths for ingredients they just learned about from our farmers market food demonstration project.”

UD Cooperative Extension will hold demonstrations on Friday, Sept. 30, from 4-6 p.m., and Friday, Oct. 29, from 4-6 p.m., at the Southbridge Youth Farm Stands at the Neighborhood House in Wilmington.

Originally posted on UDaily

Joy Sparks Spirit of 4-H Award

Rita lofland on stage with award
Rita Lofland, center, is presented with the 2016 Joy Sparks Spirit of 4-H Award in Sussex County. With her, L-R are: Doug Crouse, 4-H Program Leader, Lindsay Gooden Hughes, Spark’s niece, and Alex Gooden, Sparks’ brother

Rita Lofland, of Greenwood was honored as the Sussex County recipient for the Joy Sparks Spirit of 4-H Award. Lofland was surprised by the recognition which was presented in front of the Sussex 4-H community during their annual achievement event on Sept. 25, 2016 at the University of Delaware Carvel Research and Education Center in Georgetown.

“It is an honor to be the 2016 recipient,” Lofland said. “I worked with Joy for 13 years and I always respected her knowledge and passion for Delaware 4-H.”

The Joy Sparks Spirit of 4-H Award was established in 2009 in memory of Sparks, the Delaware 4-H program leader who died in February of that year. The honor recognizes outstanding achievement in individuals who exhibit dedication, enthusiasm and embodiment of 4-H values. The four H’s of the program represent “Head, Heart, Hands and Health,” which members and volunteers pledge to dedicate to their club, community and country through leadership, citizenship and the furtherance of life skills and community service.

Lofland, who retired as the Sussex County 4-H program assistant in 2016, has a long relationship with the program. At age eight, she joined as a member of the Peach Blossom 4-H in Kent County where her parents, Bobby and Ruth Ann Messick were club leaders. Both of her parents were recipients of the Joy Sparks Spirit of 4-H Award while they were volunteer leaders. As a 4-H’er, Lofland was active in the fashion revues, foods projects, talent shows, 4-H camps and showed sheep and ponies at the Delaware State Fair.

“Joy and I were in 4-H together in Kent County,” Lofland said, noting they were a few years apart and in different clubs. “Her brother Alex Gooden and I were in the same year together as Kent County 4-H’ers.”

In 1987, Lofland became a volunteer 4-H leader when her two children joined their local club, the Greenwood Hi-Flyers. Her dedication to 4-H was recognized by Sussex County 4-H agent Mary Argo (also a 2013 honoree) and Argo hired Lofland in 1996 for what would be a 20-year career as a part-time 4-H  program assistant at the University of Delaware Cooperative Extension.

“Rita has been a valuable asset to Sussex County 4-H,” said Jill Jackson, Sussex County 4-H educator. “When I joined 4-H at eight years old, Rita was my club leader and was always looking for ways to promote 4-H values to our club members. She always goes above and beyond to help club members and leaders,” Jackson continued, adding, “We are blessed to have wonderful leaders such as Rita who put their time and talents into helping our members ‘Make the Best Better’!”

Lofland contributions to 4-H were innumerable. She helped put together the monthly newsletter, managed the county 4-H bookkeeping, planned events, worked with volunteers and promoted many 4-H project areas, in particular anything to do with horses. The 4-H Horse Show, state judging contests at the Delaware State Fair and organizing Breyer Horse shows, Breyer paint nights, and working with youth on numerous horse bowl teams.

Her family’s love of horses led Rita and her husband Donnie to chaperone the 1st Delaware Appaloosa youth team and attended the national show in Oklahoma in 1998. The Loflands continue to own two Appaloosa horses along with four miniature pet donkeys.

Although her retirement from 4-H administrative work concluded in 2016, Lofland remains an active 4-H leader of the East Coast Riding Club.

While Lofland received many formal accolades over the years, including the National Association of Extension 4-H Agent’s Award for support staff, and the Salute to Excellence Lifetime Volunteer Award for Sussex County, the Joy Sparks Spirit of 4-H is especially significant to Lofland and her family.

“My parents both received this award during their lifetime. I am going to place mine right in the middle of theirs,” Lofland said. “This is very special to me.”

Article & photo by Michele Walfred

Honoring 21 Laureates on October 1

DE4H_HallFame_emblem2C_smallIt’s an event so special to your 4-H heart that you won’t want to miss it!  The Delaware 4-H Hall of Fame will be held on Saturday, October 1, 6:30 pm, at the Modern Maturity Center, 1121 Forrest Avenue, Dover.  Laureates from across the state will be honored this night.  This event is being sponsored by the Delaware 4-H Foundation.  Reserve your seat by calling 302-831-2509.  Credit Card payments accepted.

Please join the Delaware 4-H Family and many others on Saturday October 1, 2016, for the induction of the third class of laureates into the Delaware 4-H Hall of Fame.  This event will be held at the Modern Maturity Center beginning at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $50 and will include dinner, entertainment, and a visual history of Delaware 4-H. This event is sponsored by the Delaware 4-H Foundation to honor people who were active and influential in Delaware 4-H. The legacy that these laureates have left and in some cases continue to leave is what makes Delaware 4-H a premier positive youth development program.  On this evening, 21 of the pillars of Delaware 4-H will be honored.  Please come out and honor their achievements.  Nominations for this important honor came in from across the state.

2016 Delaware 4-H Hall of Fame Laureates

Mary Frances Argo – Sussex County

Dean Belt – New Castle County

Helen Blessing – Kent County

Margaret Carey – Sussex County

Patricia Mae Correll – Sussex County

Fred Grampp – Kent County

Dan Hudson – Kent County

Leona Hudson – Kent County

Betty Jestice – Sussex County

Jim Kemble – New Castle County

Sue Ann Clendaniel McClements – Kent County

Virginia Melson – Sussex County

Franklin E. Melson, Sr. – Sussex County

Evelyn Messick – Sussex County

LeRoy Messick – Sussex County

Betty Niblett – New Castle County

Richard Niblett – New Castle County

Harold Palmer – Kent/Sussex Counties

Joyce Simpson – Sussex County

Mary Thomas – Kent County

Barbara Tatman Warren – Kent County

You may call the State 4-H Office (302-831-2509) to reserve your space.  Credit card payment accepted over the phone.