Top Tips for Managing Holiday Stress

November 18, 2014 in Family and Consumer Sciences, Feature

o-HOLIDAY-STRESS-facebookThe stress of upcoming holidays can overshadow the joy of spending time with family, exchanging gifts, nibbling on holiday goodies and relaxing with friends. No one wants to be too frazzled to enjoy what the holidays are all about. Here are some tips for memorable holidays.

  1. Sit down with your family and talk about what this holiday means.
  • Ask each person to share, “What are the most essential (important) parts of this holiday?” “What would really be missed if we didn’t do it together as a family?”
  • What can you do for others who may find it difficult to have a happy holiday? Not only will this be helpful to others, but it will also be a big boost to your health and happiness.
  • What will each person do to help get ready for the holiday? Make a list of who will do what when.
  1. Whittle down the plans until you feel confident you can accomplish them. This will give you a sense of “being in control” (one of the key characteristics of good stress managers) — rather than feeling overwhelmed (which is a major stress generator).
  • One of the biggest sources of stress is unrealistic expectations – trying to accomplish more than is reasonable – and trying to have everything perfect. Some things may need to be postponed for the next holiday.
  • Are there family rituals that need to be dropped or modified? Family rituals are very important, but they may need to evolve as children grow up and families change.
  • Stay within your budget. Feeling in control of your money (no matter how much you have) is a priceless feeling.
  1. Eat healthy foods, exercise regularly, get enough sleep and relax deeply.
  • Taking good care of yourself is one of the cornerstones of stress management, and it’s especially important at holiday time – for you and everyone else in the family (especially children).
  • Your stress can splash over onto other family members – so it’s a kindness to everyone when you take good care of yourself. Too much stress can cause you to feel fatigued, can mess with your blood sugars and send your hormones out-of-whack.
  • Holiday stress and the elevated cortisol hormone that stress releases can cause people to eat excessive amounts of comfort foods and gain weight. Curb your hunger and overindulging at holiday gatherings by eating a light, low-fat snack such as soup, fruit, or cereal before parties.
  • When things get too stressful, call a 10-minute time out. Get a cup of tea, run around the block or just relax with your feet up. You will come back to face any challenge with a refreshed mind and body.
  • Plan time to relax deeply.
    1. Practicing meditation and mindfulness are well documented stress management strategies.
    2. If it fits in your budget, sign up for a massage. Massage can give a wonderful psychological boost and help reward you for all you’ve done to manage your stress in positive ways.
  1. Spend fun time together – and roll with the punches.
  • Planning time together with your family may be the most important thing you can do for each other.
  • The best laid plans of mice and people regularly go astray! Expect glitches and make the best of what comes your way. .

Happy Holidays!

Dr. Pat Tanner Nelson, Extension Family & Human Development Specialist


Cheryl D. Bush, MS, RDN, LDN

Extension Agent


Food Insecurity in Delaware

October 7, 2014 in Family and Consumer Sciences, Feature, Impact Stories

hunger awareness-nocropAccording to the United States Department of Agriculture, 14.3% of American households were considered to be food insecure in 2013. Food insecurity can be divided into two different categories:

  • Low food security: reports of reduced quality, variety, or desirability of diet. Little or no indication of reduced food intake.
  • Very low food security: Reports of multiple indications of disrupted eating patterns and reduced food intake.

The 2013 National percentage of 14.3% can be broken down specifically to 8.7% households with low food security and 5.6% households with very low food security. This hunger problem is an issue that Delawareans are faced with as well. In Delaware, 12.9% of households are food insecure, with 5.1% being very low food security. To put this in a different perspective, about 1 in every 8 Delawareans has experienced food insecurity in the past year.

How Does Cooperative Extension Help?

Through federally funded programs, Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed), Cooperative Extension educators increase participants’ knowledge of health and wellness. One educational focus of both the EFNEP and SNAP-Ed programs is to help participants develop necessary skills to use their resources wisely. Data from 2013 shows the impact that both programs have had on food and resource management for participants in Delaware:

  • 72% of EFNEP participants improved one or more food resource management skill
  • 38% of EFNEP participants ran out of food less often
  • 70% of SNAP-Ed participants improved one or more food resource management skill
  • 36% of SNAP-Ed participants ran out of food less often

How Can You Help?

R.A.I.S.E. awareness of food insecurity:

  • Recruit: Tell people about our EFNEP and SNAP-Ed programs
  • Advocate: Share your knowledge and awareness with others
  • Involve Yourself: Volunteer your own time to programs, shelters, food banks, and food kitchens
  • Support: Donate resources to programs, shelters, food banks, and food kitchens
  • Educate: Become aware of hunger problems and food insecurity, generally and locally

By: Sarah Bercaw

Fall Fertilize and Go Native

October 2, 2014 in Feature, Lawn and Garden

residential landscape

Fertilize in the fall to promote a healthy lawn

Fall is for fertilizer (and for planting native plants)! Now is the time to fertilize your lawn. Grass puts most of its energy into growing roots in the fall, so by fertilizing now you promote root growth, which helps establish a healthy lawn. A relatively new program –Delaware Livable Lawns—has been promoting this type lawn management to professionals and their campaign is now adding homeowners to its focus. If you want to manage your lawn as simply as possible, apply one application of a slow release fertilizer in September, using 2 pounds of nitrogen per 1000 square feet (for example, 12 ½ pounds of 16-3-7 fertilizer). If you don’t want to use a slow release fertilizer product, you can split the application of fertilizer into two applications-one in August/September and one in October/November. If this sounds complicated, watch the videos on the livable lawns website for a simple explanation (

A number of Delaware environmental agencies and organizations want to encourage you to apply the right amount of fertilizer to your lawn at the right time, as well as increase the number of native plants in Delaware’s suburban landscape. So this fall, Delaware Livable Lawns is launching a new program for homeowners. Your lawn can become a certified Livable Lawn; either by hiring a certified Livable Lawn company to manage your lawn maintenance (see for the certified company nearest you), or by managing your own lawn following the livable lawns guidelines ( If you become a certified Livable Lawn, the program will provide you a $50 voucher to purchase native plants from participating retailers to plant in your landscape.

Here’s how it works. This fall, you register online to agree to the Certified Livable Lawn requirements. If you haven’t taken a soil test recently, start with testing your soil to discover the nutrient status and pH. Once you have applied your fertilizer for the reporting time period (July 2014 – June 2015), you fill out the reporting form online and within 2-3 weeks you should receive a voucher for $50 to spend on native plants at a participating garden center (look at for a list of retailers). You can buy your plants this fall or next spring. If you chose to fertilize once in early spring for quick green-up, you will need to wait until that spring fertilizer application to fill out your reporting form and receive your voucher.

Check the Livable Lawns website ( for more details about this exciting new program.

Poultry Growers’ Field Day

September 26, 2014 in Agriculture and Natural Resources, Cooperative Extension Scholars, Feature, Special Events

University of Delaware Cooperative Extension, in partnership with Delaware State University, University of Maryland and Delmarva Poultry Industry, Inc. will hold a poultry grower’s field day on Friday, October 31, in Hurlock, Md.

The field day will concentrate on managing energy, labor and environmental resources.  Demonstrations and workshops will cover the following areas:

  • Solar panels in broiler houses
  • Managing LED lamps
  • Poultry farm energy audit
  • Fan and shutter operation and efficiency
  • Vermin control strategies for composters
  • Managing HUPs and on-farm manure storage
  • Dry cleaning broiler houses (Buffalo Turbine)
  • Rapid chick box feeding (Feed Caddy)
  • Comprehensive rodent control program
  • Assessing and troubleshooting poultry house tightness
  • Managing vegetative buffers

Maryland and Delaware Nutrient Management credits will be awarded to those attending the sessions.

There is no charge to attend this event, however, preregistration is required. A maximum of 225 people will be accepted. All registrations include the full-day program and lunch.
To Register: Contact  Lisa Collins by Friday, October 24,  2014.  (302) 856-2585 x 702

Event Information:  Download  Poultry Grower’s Field Day flier

Friday, October 31, 2014
10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Location: Maple Breeze Farm
6743-2 ENM Elwood Road
Hurlock, Md. 21643  Google Map

For more information contact: Bill Brown (302) 236-1887

Summer Turf & Nursery Expo

September 12, 2014 in Feature, Lawn and Garden

Extension agent, Dot Abbott and Hagley’s Richard Pratt demonstrate the proper pruning of crape myrtles and hydrangeas

Extension agent, Dot Abbott and Hagley’s Richard Pratt demonstrate the proper pruning of crape myrtles and hydrangeas

The Delaware Nursery & Landscape Association (DNLA) and UD Cooperative Extension joined forces for the Summer Turf & Nursery Expo which was held on August 13th at East Coast Garden Center in Millsboro. More than 140 green industry professionals visited with exhibitors and participated in advanced training classes led by industry professionals and extension staff. Topics covered were as follows:

  • LED Lighting – Maintenance & Troubleshooting
  • Designing with Conifers
  • Container Combinations
  • CNP Plant ID & Their Potential Pest
  • Health Insurance – Understanding Policies and your Options in the New Marketplace
  • Weed ID – A Process of Elimination
  • Winning Plants for the Landscape
  • Proper Pruning of Crepe Myrtles & Hydrangeas

Additional advanced training workshops for green industry personnel will be offered in November and January when the DNLA and UD Cooperative Extension team-up once again for the Ornamental & Turf Workshop (Nov. 19th in Hockessin, DE), and the DE Horticulture Industry Expo & Annual Pesticide Conference (January 28th & 29th in Dover, DE). For further information, contact Valann Budischak

21 named as 2014 Delaware 4-H Hall of Fame laureates

August 29, 2014 in Feature, Kent County, New Castle County

Delaware 4-H Hall of Fame logo
The Delaware 4-H Foundation is pleased to announce the selection of the 2014 class of laureates to the Delaware 4-H Hall of Fame. The induction ceremony will be held on Friday, October 3, 2014 at 6:30 p.m. at the Dover Downs Hotel and Casino. Tickets for the event will be available to the public beginning August 1 on the State 4-H website and reservations deadline is September 25, 2014. Please join us in congratulating these incredible people who have made Delaware 4-H not only the largest youth development program in the state with 41,000 members yearly, but also the most effective, based on data from the Tufts Study of Positive Youth Development. Following the names of the laureates are pictures from the inaugural 2012 Hall of Fame Ceremony.


2014 Laureates (in alphabetical order)

Frances Clinton* and Earl Clinton* – Kent County

H. Wallace Cook, Jr. (Hap) – New Castle County

H. Wallace Cook, Sr. (Wallace)* – New Castle County

Susan Benson Cox* – Kent County

Jane Everline* – Kent County

Lola Gibbs* – Kent County

Betty Lou Gooden* – Kent County

Jay Hukill – Sussex County

Carlene Jones – Sussex County

Ruth Ann Messick and Robert Messick* – Kent County

Frances Millman* – Sussex County

Sally Moller* – Kent County

Patricia Shaffer* – New Castle County

Barbara Taylor* – Sussex County

Grace V. Tinley* – Kent County

William (Bill) and Ellen Vanderwende – Sussex County

Carole Vincent – Sussex County

Betty Jo (BJ) Van Kavelaar – Kent County

* Deceased

Enjoy these photos from the first Delaware 4-H Hall of Fame ceremony in 2012:




Planning and Executing a Winning Tailgate Party

August 29, 2014 in Family and Consumer Sciences, Feature

tailgateEvery football fan knows that an unbeaten football team needs a powerhouse offense and a great defense.  Likewise, a successful tailgate party requires offensive moves to defend against harmful microbes that cause foodborne illness.  What are these offensive moves?

Keep Foods Cold

  • Keep cold perishable foods in an insulated cooler with several inches of ice, frozen gel packs, or another cold source.  Cold items should be held at 40°F or below in a cooler.  Use a refrigerator thermometer in your cooler to monitor the temperature.
  • Pack foods in your cooler in reverse-use order, which means packing foods first that you are likely to use last.  Remember to securely package raw meat and poultry to prevent cross-contamination with other items.  Or better yet, use a separate cooler for raw meat and poultry items.
  • Keep drinks in a separate cooler from foods.  Beverage coolers are opened frequently while the food cooler stays cold.
  • When traveling, transport the cooler in the coolest part of your vehicle.  Although the outside temperature may be quite cold, sunshine will heat up the trunk so it may not be the best place for the cooler.  Remember to keep the cooler out of direct sunlight.

Keep Food Hot

  • To keep home prepared foods like sloppy joes or chili hot, insulated thermos containers work well.  Fill the container with boiling water, let it stand for a few minutes, empty, and fill with hot food.
  • If electricity is available on site or you have an auto converter, slow cookers are an option for keeping hot foods hot.  To retain heat, keep the cover on the slow cooker until serving.
  • Hot foods should be held at 140°F or above.  Use a food thermometer to monitor the temperature.  Be sure to clean the thermometer after each use.
  • When grilling, the only safe way to determine doneness is to use a calibrated food thermometer.  When cooking meat, check the temperature in the thickest part, avoiding bone, fat and gristle.  Reaching a safe minimum internal temperature ensures that harmful bacteria will be destroyed.  These temperature are
All poultry (whole, parts, ground) 165 °F
Ground meats (beef, pork, lamb) 160 °F
Beef, pork, lamb and veal steaks, roasts, and chops 145 °F
Hot dogs and bratwursts 165 °F
All reheated items 165 °F


  • Grilled food can be kept hot until serving by moving it to the side of the grill rack, just away from the coals to avoid overcooking.
  • When bringing food to a tailgate, do not partially cook meats and finish cooking on the grill.  Partially cooked meats are at increased risk for bacterial growth.
  • Never let raw meat, poultry, eggs, cooked food or cut fresh fruits or vegetables sit out for more than two hours before putting them in the cooler (one hour when the temperature is above 90 °F).

Keep Food (And Everything Around It) Clean

  • Prevent cross-contamination by using clean utensils and platters for cooked food.  Never put cooked food on the same plate that held raw meat, poultry, seafood, or eggs.
  • Wash your hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds before and after handling food.  Prepare a tailgate handwashing station by bringing water, soap and paper towels.  Hand sanitizer and antibacterial wipes will work in a pinch, but they are not as effective at removing dirt and bacteria from hands.
  • Be sure to clean food-contact surfaces with water and soap or with disinfecting spray or wipes.

To celebrate a victory, bring non-perishable snacks for after the game, so you aren’t tempted to eat perishable food that has been sitting out for two or more hours.  You may experience the agony of defeat, by eating perishable food prepared when you arrived at the game unless it has been kept hot (140°F or above) or cold (40°F or below).

Fruit and Vegetable Open House – August 21, 2014

August 12, 2014 in Agriculture and Natural Resources, Feature, Kent County, Kent County Slideshow

Watermelons and lima beans will be featured among many other topics

Watermelons and lima beans will be featured among many other topics

Join the University of Delaware Cooperative Extension members of the agricultural community to see and hear about many of the UD’s Extension Vegetable and Fruit Program’s field research projects from the 2014 season. The program will be held on Thursday, August 21, 2014, from 4 to 8 p.m. at the Carvel Research and Education Center, 16483 County Seat Highway in Georgetown. Program highlights:

  • Watermelons: seedless variety trial, pollenizers, growth regulators, compost, irrigation, root stocks, hollow heart
  • Sweet Corn: processing corn nitrogen, tillage trials
  • Lima Beans: tillage, stress mitigation, rhizobium inoculants, regrowth cropping, variety evaluation and breeding for pole, Fordhook and baby lima types will be discussedPickles: parthenocarpic and gynoecious variety trials
  • Other: onion variety trials, zucchini variety trials
  • Fruit: blueberries, grapes, blackberries

We will also have graduate students on hand to discuss their research in these areas: Phytophthora capsici in lima beans, root knot nematodes in lima beans, and watermelon fruit set.

Dinner featuring local produce will be served. This program is sponsored by the Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association of Delaware. Please pre-register by contacting Karen Adams at 302-856-2585 ext 540.

New programs in Integrated Pest Management

August 8, 2014 in Feature, Lawn and Garden

Parasitized tomato hornworm

Parasitized tomato hornworm

A recent publication found that few homeowners know or understand the term IPM, and another publication found homeowners were unaware of what cooperative extension is or does. This year we started a couple new education programs for homeowners, school teachers, and green industry professionals.

Integrated pest management (IPM) uses the current knowledge of pest biology and the interaction with the environment to manage pest populations and their damage by the most economical means possible with a variety of techniques that minimizes hazards to people or the environment. The most common methods available to manage insect populations include: mechanical or physical removal of pests, cultural, biological, and chemical control tactics. Cultural control practices involve knowledge of the plants and where they would grow the best. Biological control tactics rely on existing beneficial insects to feed on pests and chemical control uses pesticides. The new programs focus education efforts towards Future Farmers of America (FFA) teachers, green industry professionals and the general public.

Allison Wagner searching for insects on a squash plant

Allison Wagner, Extension Scholar, searching for insects on a squash plant

The new program designed to provide new information about IPM to Future Farmers of America teachers occurs during the summer and fall. This group of workshops discusses a variety of pests and the potential biological control agents available to manage them. The greenhouse workshop also provides network opportunities between FFA teachers and green industry professionals.

The “Morning with an Expert” is a new program that provides homeowners with opportunities to ask insect or disease questions to cooperative extension specialist and agents in each county. The next event is scheduled on 27 August 2014 at 5:30 pm at Brandywine Garden located at 12th and Brandywine in Wilmington, DE. This event also will demonstrate the use of companion plants in an urban garden. Beneficial insects will be discussed and on display at the evening workshop. A goal of this program is to increase homeowner tolerance of insects and awareness of cooperative extension in Delaware.

The urban gardening project combines the use of herbs or common flower garden plants such as chrysanthemums with garden vegetables. One goal of this project is to increase the number of naturally occurring insect predators and parasitoids in vegetable gardens to reduce the number of pest insects. Another goal is to increase homeowner awareness of alternative methods to manage insect populations other than using insecticides. This new project also increases the chance for the general public to interact with and ask questions to cooperative extension personnel.

Healthy Habits and Routines Can Take the “Crunch” Out of the Morning Rush

July 29, 2014 in Family and Consumer Sciences, Feature

Finnegan Stephan, age 5, making banana bread.

Finnegan Stephan, age 5, making banana bread.

Want to cut hassles and make it easier for everyone to get off to a great start every day?   Here are some tips for great starts and happy endings.

Find a routine that works for you and your family.  Children thrive on routines. They like knowing what comes next.  A lot of hassles are eliminated when you avoid arguments about what time to go to bed and when to be dressed for school.  Routines take a lot of the stress and “chaos” away. Things can be calmer and more relaxed.

    • Set regular times for family meals, snacks,  reading (and story time) and bedtimes.
    • Plan evening routines that assure that everyone will get the amount of sleep that is just right for them.  The right amount of sleep makes our brains work better —  and makes it easier for us to learn and remember.  Aim for a calming evening routine that can get everyone in the perfect mood for good sleep
  • Infants and toddlers need about 10 hours of sleep at night, plus 3 or more hours of naps
  • School-age children need 9-11 hours    (Teens need as much sleep as toddlers!)
  • Adults need 7-8 hours
    • Checklists can be cool!  Have each child make a list of the things he or she needs to do every morning and evening. The morning list might include: Get dressed, eat breakfast, brush teeth, make bed, pack lunch, feed dog.  Ask your child to check things off their list.
    • Build on your natural energy cycles.   People are not machines.  We’re not built to go “full tilt” from dawn to dusk.   We work best when we have periods of activity and then periods of rest and relaxation.  When you reach those times in the day when you are too tired, don’t feel guilty about not being the “perfect parent.”  None of us are. Tell your child about your lack of energy and your need to have some time to relax before you can get back to moving again.

Here are some things to consider as you “tune up” your routines:

  •  Plan time for a daily dose of quality time – a relaxed time when you can talk and really listen to each other.    Story time before bed is a natural time for getting close and snuggling.  Happy family meals make kids feel loved and connected.
    • Use this “quality time” to talk with your child. Share experiences. Accent the positive. Your child will learn key social skills — like talking and listening.
    • Enjoy each other’s company. Avoid complaining and criticizing.
Braeden Mannering, age 10, helping cook dinner.

Braeden Mannering, age 10, helping cook dinner.

  • Help everyone find daily physical activities they enjoy.  Being active makes us feel good- – and our brains work better!
    • Build activity into your routines with family chores and family walks.
    • Think up ways to have active family fun.  Family fun times are like “family glue.”
    • Limit screen time for everyone in the family to less than 2 hours a day.  Avoid screen time for children under two.  No TVs or computers in bedrooms.  Limit children’s exposure to advertising.  Children will want what is advertised – whether it is healthy or not.
    • Make it “hard” to turn on the TV and easy and fun to move.
  • What will it take for everyone to look and feel good in their clothes?
    • Looking good and feeling good in the clothes you are wearing can help you act your best.
    • Sturdy, easy-care, mix and match clothes can allow kids to pick their own outfits – and they will nearly always look great.  Save money by choosing mix and match clothes that will allow lots of possible combinations.
  • Make a “launching pad” near the door where family members can place their books and other items to be taken to work or school. Get everyone in the habit of checking the launching pad before leaving the house.
    • When it’s time for the first person in the family to leave each morning, call a quick family group hug at the “launching pad.” It’s a great way to get launched each day!
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