Category Archives: Feature

Commit to “Dining In” on Family & Consumer Sciences Day, December 3, 2016 #FCSday

dininginEating at home has become less frequent over the years.  With our fast paced lives little time has been devoted to food preparation and family gatherings with possible negative consequences. Eating out leads to consuming larger portions of often unhealthier choices which can result in overweight. Many chronic diseases are tied to obesity but healthy eating and physical activity can lower the risk of developing these related diseases. There are great psychological benefits for young people who eat with family members.  Teens who share meals with their family get better grades in school and are often learning lifeskills that will carry over into adulthood. And it saves money too!  Americans spent $659 billion dollars eating out in 2013.

What you can do…

  • Commit to “Dining In” on December 3rd
  • Prepare and eat a healthy meal with your family on December 3rd
  • Take a photo of your family preparing a healthy meal and post it on Facebook, Twitter and/or Instagram using #FCSday and #healthyfamselfie
  • Change your Facebook profile photo to the I’m “Dining In” logo
  • Ask your friends and family to “Dine In”
  • Pin your favorite family meal recipes to the “Dining In” Pinterest board
  • Visit for more ways to get involved and access resources

Let’s work together to continue to spread the word about the importance and benefits of family mealtime for the third annual Family & Consumer Sciences Day!

Delaware Junior Duck Stamp Program to host art and conservation competition

The Delaware Junior Duck Stamp Program will host an art and conservation statement competition, a national art competition that is held each spring to select the design for the next Federal Junior Duck Stamp.

Each state will submit its best of show artwork and statement for the national competition.

Competitors who participate will choose a waterfowl from a list of species on the official U.S. Fish and Wildlife webpage and draw a live portrayal of that species in its habitat demonstrating its natural behavior.

“For the judging process they’re not looking for just the waterfowl but its surroundings and behaviors, as well, because that’s the driver in conservation for the program, and showing that they learned something,” said Autumn Starcher, Junior Duck Stamp Program state coordinator.

Submissions must be post-marked to the state 4-H office no later than March 15, 2017. The judging event will be held on March 28 at the New Castle County 4-H office, and is open to the public.

The Delaware Junior Duck Stamp Program is seeking entries in its annual art and conservation statement competition. Shown is the winning state entry from 2016, "Joining the Flock," an oil pastel of a northern pintail duck by Iris Fang.
The Delaware Junior Duck Stamp Program is seeking entries in its annual art and conservation statement competition. Shown is the winning state entry from 2016, “Joining the Flock,” an oil pastel of a northern pintail duck by Iris Fang.

The 4-H Junior Duck Stamp Program is an art and science based program that encourages wetland and waterfowl conservation through sharing and expression with art. 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.

“Some kids might not be interested in science but they might really like art, so it engages the artistic kids in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and helps the science-oriented kids to be more creative,” said Starcher.

Each submission will be checked for plagiarism and put into groups based on age. This year there will be four groups: Group I (grades K-3), Group II (grades 4-6), Group III (grades 7-9) and Group IV (grades 10-12).

Those who submit artwork work are encouraged, but not required, to write a conservation message that expresses what the child has learned through research and planning for their Duck Stamp entries.

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.

K-12 youth who are U.S. citizens are encouraged to participate in the statewide art competition.

For more information on the Delaware Junior Duck Stamp Program or registration for the competition, see the website or contact Starcher at

Article originally posted on UDaily

Article by Courtney Messina

Photo by Wenbo Fan

To Wash, or Not To Wash: That Is the Question

The holiday season means family, friends and colleague celebrations, which often means cooking — or eating — special holiday fare with them.  The safety of the food being prepared or consumed is always a concern, but it is especially important at this time of year.  The question that arises is what needs to be washed, how to properly wash, and when it should be washed.

stopdonotwashTo Wash, or Not to Wash:  Thanksgiving turkey or holiday duck or goose – No matter what fowl or meat that is being prepared, do not wash before cooking.  Research indicates that there is risk of harmful bacteria being spread by spattering water during washing to counters and sinks.  If not thoroughly sanitized, these illness-causing bacteria may be transferred to ready-to-eat foods such as salad ingredients.

Cooking poultry to an internal temperature of 165°F kills bacteria such as Salmonella or Campylobacter.  Other meats need to reach 145°F except ground meats must to be at 160°F.  The only way to assure that the appropriate temperature has been reached is to measure it with a meat thermometer placed in the center or thickest part of the product.  For a whole bird the appropriate location is between the thigh and body.  Most turkeys have a temperature sensor in the breast that pops up during cooking; however, these devices are not always accurate and should only be used as a guide.  The only sure way is to use a meat thermometer.

washing-veggiesTo Wash, or Not to Wash:  Fresh fruits and vegetables – Definitely wash.  Each item, including those with skins or rinds that are not eaten, should be washed just before use by rinsing under running water.  Only wash the amount fruits and vegetables you plan to eat.  Firm-skinned fruits and vegetables should be rubbed by hand or scrubbed with a clean brush while rinsing under running tap water.  After washing, drain fruits and vegetables or dry with a clean cloth or paper towel. Do not use soap or bleach to wash fresh fruits or vegetables. These products are not intended for consumption.

To Wash, or Not to Wash:  Packaged fruits and vegetables Items labeled “ready-to-eat,” “washed” or “triple washed” do not wash.  Otherwise, wash as described above.

To Wash, or Not to Wash:  Hands – Wash thoroughly and often.  Thorough handwashing means wetting your hands with warm running water and applying soap then rubbing your hands together to scrub them well. Be sure to scrub the backs of your hands, between your fingers and under your nails.  Continue rubbing hands for at least 20 seconds – about the time it takes to sing the “Happy Birthday” song twice. Rinse hands under running water.  Dry your hands using a clean cloth or paper towel.

Video cameras placed in individual’s homes revealed that during food preparation food preparers rarely washed their hand or if they did, they only quickly rinsed them.  Hands need to washed before, during and after preparing food; after handling uncooked eggs or raw meat, poultry or seafood (or their juices); and before eating food.  Other times to wash hands include after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing; before and after treating a cut or wound; after touching an animal or animal waste; after touching garbage; and after using the toilet.

Enjoy the holiday season with family, friends and colleagues.  Know that if you followed the above guidelines you have done everything possible to reduce the risk of food-borne illness.

Written by Sue Snider, PhD

Simberloff lecture on biological invasions

simberloff-kudzu-1Noted biologist and ecologist Daniel Simberloff will discuss the effects of biological invasive species on the environment with his talk, “Shoot First and Ask Questions Later: Progress, Problems, Promise and Polemics in Managing Biological Invasions” at 5 p.m., Monday, Nov. 14, in Clayton Hall on the University of Delaware campus in Newark.

A reception in the lobby will begin at 4 p.m., followed by the lecture at 5 p.m. in Room 125.

“Dr. Simberloff is an ecologist with an international reputation,” said Jake Bowman, chair of UD’s Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology. “He continues to challenge our thinking about major ecological issues. His recent work is landmark. I look forward to hosting him and him sharing his inspiration and knowledge with our students. Then to follow that with a public seminar is a great honor for UD.”

This event free and is open to the public.

The seminar is sponsored by the Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology, housed in UD’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

Read more on UDaily.


Honoring United Way of Delaware

4-H Youth Development Friend of Extension

The Mission of the United Way of Delaware is to maximize resources to improve the quality of life for all Delawareans. Through a collective effort, the United Way, Cooperative Extension and many partners throughout the state work to change the lives of Delawareans for the better through Education, Income Development, and Access to Health Knowledge and resources. These focus areas align with those of
Cooperative Extension.

  • Powerful Partnerships – Because of the collaboration between Cooperative Extension and the United Way of Delaware, we have new relationships and partners. These include the Kent Kids Coalition, Sussex County Health Promotion Coalition, William Henry Afterschool Program, East Dover Elementary Afterschool Program, Capital School District, Caesar Rodney School District and Delaware Adolescent Program, Inc., to name several.
  • Champion of Youth – This partnership has enabled over 16,000 youth in Delaware to develop the assets needed to make positive decisions and learn about preventive health measures, nutrition, and positive life skills. The United Way estimates every $1 invested in early care and education programs can lead to $17 in savings on remedial efforts, such as special education and juvenile justice programs.


Join Fellow Delaware 4-H Teens

interview-peopleDelaware 4-H Interview Skills Workshop
Open to all Delaware 4-H Teens

Facilitated by Doug Crouse, State 4-H Program Leader and Ernie Lopez, State 4-H Volunteer Coordinator


Where:  Kent County 4-H Office/State Meeting Room

When:  Wednesday, November 30 OR Wednesday, December 14
Thursday, January 5, 2017, Mandatory
6:30 p.m. -8:00 p.m. ~ Dinner will be provided

Join fellow Delaware 4-H teens in learning important skills and techniques preparing you not just for mandatory interviews to National 4-H events, but also scholarship, college and other opportunities that are beneficial to your growth and success.

Attendance is required at either one of the November or December workshops (you only need to attend one), but everyone is required to attend the January workshop which will include mock interviews and specific recommendations tailored for each participant to take home and continue to practice.

Please click on the link Interview Skills Workshop or call Tammy Schirmer at 302-856-2585 x544 to register or email at

Questions about the workshops may be sent directly to Ernie Lopez at
We hope to see 4-H teens from all counties take advantage of this learning opportunity!

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.