4-H Keeps Active Despite Fridgid Winter

March 19, 2014 in New Castle County, New Castle County Slideshow

4-H Favorite FoodsA little snow and ice never put a damper on the 4-H spirit! Despite the artic weather, 4-Hers have been busy this winter with lots of events and competitions.

In January, 4-H members from around the region met in Rehoboth for Delaware’s first 4-H Youth Adult Partnership conference. It was a fun-filled weekend that focused on healthy living and making a difference in the community.

The weather worsened as February loomed, but 4-H didn’t slow down. Adults and kids braved the elements and brought their most heartwarming dishes to a snowy Favorite Foods competition. A few winning entrees were from Olivia Ferrier, of the Bunny Bunch in the Beginner’s Appetizer division; Tyler Melson of the Meado-Larks for his Junior Breads offering; and Meredith Burns and Sarah Apps from the Summit Bridge Club for their Cloverbuds Table Setting. For a complete listing of winners, please see the February Newsletter .

Soon after, 4-Hers showed bravery of a different kind by participating in the 2014 Public Speaking Contest. Eason Li of  the Woodworking Club won the Beginners category. Matthew Johnston took home the win for the Junior category, and Bobby Johnston won in the Senior category. Both are from the Clover Quest 4-H Club.

The Photography contest had 20 participants, all of whom took some beautiful photos for several different categories. The Delaware Diamonds secured wins in both the Beginner and Junior Division, with wins from Lindsey Kaufmann and Sidney Kaufmann, respectively. The Senior Division was won by Caitlin Aber from the Bunny Bunch.

Saturdays in February have been the stage for the 4-H Winter Workshops. Workshops have featured exciting subjects such as jewelry making, public speaking, robotics, digital photography, a Health Rocks “Train the Trainer” course… and often, a little snow.  The final two workshops, on creative pet crafts and the amazing variety of soil colors, took place under decidedly warmer conditions.

The winter this year has been unusually miserable, but not for 4-Hers! The spring holds the promise of sunny skies, warmer temperatures… and more great 4-H activities. Keep your eye on our website for upcoming events, “like” us on Facebook for updates, and get involved. http://extension.udel.edu/4h/new-castle-county-4-h-youth-development/


Look What the Master Gardeners Are Doing Now!

March 19, 2014 in New Castle County, New Castle County Slideshow

CANRimages_061 (1)Over the last several years, the monarch butterfly population has dwindled at an alarming rate. The New York Times detailed this in a fascinating article titled, “The Year The Monarchs Didn’t Appear”.

New Castle County Master Gardeners are taking an active role in helping to save the monarchs, as well as spreading the word to school-aged children through the Junior Gardener program.

Specifically, the Master Gardeners are growing 3 species of milkweed from seed in the Fischer Greenhouse and will be purchasing asters and goldenrods to provide free milkweed and nectar plants for selected schools. They have arranged to visit the schools that will be receiving the free plants and will work with them to create Monarch Waystations on their school grounds.

Master Gardeners are also assisting the New Castle County 4-H with a Science Saturday Workshop entitled “Project Butterfly WINGS” where kids can explore the butterfly habitat at the Lepidoptera Garden and take home milkweed to support their own monarch habitat.

They will also be creating a Monarch Waystation in the Master Gardener Native Plant Teaching Garden at the New Castle County Extension Office.

Look for the Master Gardener tent at the University of Delaware’s Ag Day 2014 on Saturday, April 26 and for their “Save the Monarchs” feature. Monarch Watch has generously donated brochures and other materials for handout at this and other workshops and events to help raise awareness and give information on what the casual gardener can do to help.2013-04-27 10.13.24

Interested in the Junior Gardeners program for your school? See our Spring Brochure, or call 831-2667.

Information on the Master Gardener program, along with lots of resources and information for both home and commercial gardeners can be found by following the link for Lawn & Garden.

UD Cooperative Extension Welcomes New Agriculture Agent

March 13, 2014 in New Castle County, New Castle County Slideshow

Dan SeversonThe University of Delaware Cooperative Extension is proud to welcome Daniel Severson as a new agriculture agent for New Castle County. Severson brings with him a wealth of experience and knowledge in the agricultural field, as well as a long history with the University of Delaware.

Severson was born and raised on a small farm outside Dover, Del. where his family grew hay and raised chickens and dairy cows.  He earned his bachelor’s degree in animal science at UD in 1994. After college, he held various positions in the agricultural field, including managing a dairy farm, running a feed mill, and working at DuPont Pharmaceuticals. Everything came full circle when he returned to UD in the Department of Animal and Food Sciences as their laboratory coordinator. While working at UD, he earned his master’s degree in education, specializing in science education.

Severson has returned to Extension because he missed working with agricultural producers. “The ag community is full of wonderful people who have great stories,” said Severson. “I love to visit with farmers and help them with whatever issues they are having. The farm has always been a fun place for me, and to work with and educate producers on agriculture is a plus.”

Severson brings with him strong practical knowledge from living on a working farm, as well as spending a great deal of his career in the dairy industry. He feels his experience and education are his best assets. He looks forward to the opportunity to learn new concepts in his position as an agriculture agent that he can pass along to local agriculture producers. Seeing them incorporate new ideas into their production and succeed is something that he finds very rewarding.

He is married, with four children and lives on a small working farm in Cecil County, Maryland, where he raises goats, chickens and pigs.

Please visit http://extension.udel.edu/ag/ for more information on UD Extension’s Agricultural programs and resources.

Delaware Produce Food Safety Training

February 24, 2014 in Feature, New Castle County Slideshow


vegetablesIn 2014, three initial training opportunities will be offered for produce growers on food safety and good agricultural practices and good handling practices (GAP’s and GHP’s) by the Delaware Cooperative Extension.  Training covers microbial food contaminants, outbreaks associated with produce, how produce becomes contaminated, Good Agricultural Practices in the field (water sources; animals, manures, and compost; field sanitation; and worker hygiene) and Good Handling Practices from harvest to sales (packing area sanitation, worker hygiene, storage, handling, and shipping).

For growers who have attended previous trainings, we are having two update sessions which will provide the latest information on produce food safety science, industry actions, audit requirements, and the status of the FDA rule.  A portion of the session will be spent on recommendations for produce wash water disinfection and produce contact surface disinfection.  Recertification credits will be given.

All Sessions will be held at University of Delaware County Extension Offices

New Castle: 461 Wyoming Road, Newark, DE — Kent: 69 Transportation Circle Dover, DE— Sussex: 16483 County Seat Highway, Georgetown, DE

 Dates and Locations:

Initial sessions for those who have not attended training in the past:

NEW CASTLE COUNTY – April 3, 6-9 p.m. basic session.  Phone (302) 831-2667 to register.

KENT COUNTY – March 31, 9 a.m.-noon for the basic session with an additional 3 hours for those selling to wholesalers from 12:30-3:30 p.m.  Phone (302) 730-4000 to register

SUSSEX COUNTY – March 27, 6-9 p.m. for the basic session with an additional 3 hour session for those selling to wholesalers on April 1 from 6-9 p.m.   Phone (302) 856-7303 to register.

Update sessions for those that have already attended trainings:

KENT COUNTY – March 25, 9 a.m.-noon   Phone (302) 730-4000 to register.

SUSSEX COUNTY – March 19, 6-9 p.m.  Phone (302) 856-7303 to register.

Delaware Master Gardeners Donate to the Food Bank of Delaware

January 15, 2014 in New Castle County, New Castle County Slideshow

112013-ncc-demo-gardenAt the end of the growing season, Delaware Master Gardeners harvested parsnips, kohlrabi, Swiss chard, spinach, lettuce, and pak choi from their demonstration vegetable garden at the Extension Office to donate to the Food Bank of Delaware.

Altogether, in 2013, Master Gardeners harvested and donated more than 700 pounds of fresh produce for the Food Bank of Delaware.

Delaware 4-H Leader Forum

December 13, 2013 in Feature, Kent County, Kent County Slideshow, New Castle County, New Castle County Slideshow

Be a part of Delaware 4-H’s tradition of excellence and attend the upcoming 2014 Delaware 4-H Volunteer Leader Forum!

YoUDee mascot wearing a 4-h apron

YoUDee is simply floored by Delaware 4-H volunteer leaders! We couldn’t do it without you!

A winter tradition, our forums offer a full day of educational workshops and fellowship with 4-H volunteers and a larger Extension family of experts, agents and educators. The location of the forum rotates annually among our three counties. This year, Kent County 4-H serves as host at the Polytech High School in Woodside, Delaware.

Delaware 4-H is pleased to offer diverse workshops. We encourage our 4-H volunteers to learn a new skill to take back to your 4-H clubs! The Delaware 4-H Leader Forum is open to all Delaware 4-H volunteers and also to adults who are considering joining our fantastic volunteer force. We will also continue our recognition in leader excellence by announcing the county and state 2014 Salute to Excellence winners.

Questions or comments? Contact Ernie Lopez, Delaware 4-H Extension Specialist (302) 856-2585 x 561

Top 4 Tips for Managing Holiday Stress

December 4, 2013 in Family and Consumer Sciences, Feature, New Castle County, New Castle County Slideshow

stressThe 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 the meaning of the holiday.
      • Have each person think about the most essential things about the holiday to him/her.  What would really be missed if you 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.
    • 2. 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 to children, but they may need to evolve as families change.
      • Stay within your budget.  Feeling in control of your money (no matter how much you have) is a priceless feeling.
    • 3. Eat healthy foods, exercise regularly and get enough sleep!
      • 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.
    • 4. 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.  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.

Happy Holidays!

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

Master Food Educators accepting applications for winter 2014 session

December 2, 2013 in New Castle County, New Castle County Slideshow

Be a part of one of Delaware’s fastest growing volunteer forces! Become a Master Food Educator!

Master Food Educators Tom and Kris present "Do You Do Dairy?" at a local elementary school

Master Food Educators Tom and Kris present “Do You Do Dairy?” at a local elementary school

Many people have heard about Extension’s Master Gardener program. While the Master Gardeners offer information about best practices in gardening, similarly,the Master Food Educator program is for individuals who have an interest in nutrition, food preparation, health, 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 UD. The volunteers work in local communities and with organizations assisting with the ongoing initiatives of our organization.

Since the inception of the program in Delaware, 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, foods selection/preparation, nutrition and diet and stretching your food dollar. They have also offered school based educational program and assisted with the development of new educational resources.

Registrations for the newest Master Food Educator Training courses are now open. Winter 2014 training includes 14 weeks of Extension expert training beginning January 28 through March 23. Programs will be offered in Newark (for New Castle County residents) and in Dover (for Kent and Sussex County residents). Hear what current Master Food Educators say the program, and volunteering in Delaware means to them. We’d love to have you join this great Extension team of volunteers:

Individuals who are interested in nutrition, diet and health issues, want to learn, would enjoy working with and helping others or want to be affiliated with a professional organization are perfect candidates for this program. Applications must be received by January 17, 2014.

Courses are open to the public without regard to race, color, sex, handicap, age or national origin. This program provides participants 30 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, Eat Smart for a Healthy Heart, Stretching Your Food Dollar and others or participating in other public programs sponsored by Cooperative Extension. Read the rest of this entry →

UD Cooperative Extension Offers “Clueless in the Kitchen” Workshops

August 13, 2013 in Family and Consumer Sciences, New Castle County

Feeling Overwhelmed and Clueless in the Kitchen?  We Can Help!

Cooking shows abound and have increased interest in food preparation. But there are many individuals who don’t feel confident when making food choices and preparing their own foods.  Whether you’re single, recently married or widowed; you want to save money by preparing foods at home; or you want to prepare more healthy foods that provide more variety, it’s all about knowing the basics and feeling confident. The Clueless in the Kitchen series will improve your knowledge and skills.

UD Cooperative Extension Master Food Educator volunteers have been working on developing a four-part series for those who need answers. Through hands‐on learning and guidance by our Master Food Educator volunteers, you’ll have the opportunity to learn about cooking tools and methods, kitchen and food safety, and terminology so you can begin to gain experience in preparing quick, easy, and convenient recipes.

Clueless in the Kitchen will be offered Wednesday evenings, October 23, October 30, November 6, and November 13, from 6:30 pm to 9:00 pm. The cost will be $70 and the program will be held at the New Castle County Extension Office, 461 Wyoming Road, in Newark.

Each evening, we’ll focus on a different cooking technique and you’ll get practice by helping to prepare recipes.  Along the way, you’ll be introduced to different styles of cooking as well as techniques. Session I will focus on basics. You’ll learn how to read recipes and determine if a recipe would be easy or complicated to prepare; explain standard measurements and terminology used in recipes; understand the concept of a pantry and what items should be considered standard “pantry” items; understand knives as tools and practice cutting with various types of knives; food safety.

In Session II, we’ll teach a simple stir fry technique. You’ll build on the skills practiced in the first session and you’ll prepare vegetables for stir fry and prepare grains to serve with them. You’ll better understand stir frying as a cooking technique and gain experience about preparing simple foods quickly. You’ll learn a bit about different grains and how best to cook them.

Session III will focus on pasta and Italian sauce, and will include recipes, concepts and basic cooking methods. We will discuss types of pasta, herbs, oils, canned tomatoes and parmesan cheeses. You’ll prepare various types of pasta and some quick, simple and tasty basic sauces.

“Let’s Cook with Meats” is Session IV. Basic information on selecting, safely storing, and preparation methods for beef will be the focus of this session. You’ll practice knife skills when working with beef. You’ll learn which cooking techniques work with which cuts of meat and how to prepare healthy, easy beef recipes.

You’ll be learning about food safety, cooking techniques and items to keep in your pantry over the series. Of course, you’ll get to eat the foods you prepare!  Everyone is welcome to attend. If you’re interested in attending, please call the office at 831-1239 for registration information. Register early because seating is limited.

University of Delaware Cooperative Extension provides information on agriculture, gardening, 4-H and youth development, nutrition and food safety, personal finances, child care, and related subjects.  For more information, visit:  http://extension.udel.edu/index.php

Article by Maria Pippidis





Preserving and Canning Classes to be Offered at NCC Cooperative Extension

June 24, 2013 in New Castle County, New Castle County Slideshow

Filling the Pantry with Your Harvest

By Maria Pippidis

UD Cooperative Extension


Are you thinking “what am I going to do with all of that produce?” Many families have started gardens this year and though the harvest isn’t in full swing yet, it won’t be long before you have tomatoes, peppers, corn and beans. It can be a challenge eating them all up as soon as they come in the door. Freezing or canning your harvest is the best way to “put foods up” for later.

We have had many calls already for people interested in learning how to preserve food safely. Canning can be daunting if you’ve never done it before. And with the risk of botulism it’s important to get it right. Your grandma’s recipes should be placed in a memorial recipe book and the new approved recipes followed. Preserving foods properly will ensure their safety in the future.

For approved recipes go to the National Center for Home Food Preservation website at: http://www.uga.edu/nchfp/ or to USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning at:

http://www.uga.edu/nchfp/publications/publications_usda.html. Ball has some excellent tested recipes as well.

Be careful though. I’ve seen some downright wrong recipes and techniques on the web. It’s important to follow tested recipes because test labs have reviewed the ingredients and procedures. By following the recipes and following the steps you reduce the chances of Clostridium botulinum reproduction and thus the development of the neurotoxin that can cause severe illness and even death.

For those who want a hands-on learning experience, I’ve set up two learning opportunities. Food Preservation Basics 101 will be held on June 29th, 2013 from 9:30 am to 4:00 pm. I’ll provide you with the reference materials you need and you’ll get a chance to participate in the process of using the boiling water bath canning. Pre-registration is required and there is a fee of $45 to cover the costs of the reference text book and materials. Call the office for information at 831-1239.

For those of you who are interested in learning how to can tomatoes and salsa, the Canning Tomatoes and Salsa workshop will be your best bet. This class will be held on Wednesday, July 17, 2013 from 6:30 pm—9:00 pm at the NCC Extension Office. The charge will be $20. We need to know you’re comings so pre-registration is required for both workshops.

Freezing Foods Safely will be held on July 24th from 6:30-9pm. The cost is $15. You’ll learn best strategies for freezing foods to ensure their quality and longevity in the freezer.

I’ll also be hosting a “Check Your Pressure Canner” open house on July 11, from 10 am to 3pm. This is for people who have dial gauge pressure canners. I’ll inspect your canner and test the gauge to be sure it’s reading correctly. Just call to let me know you’re coming.

If canning is something you don’t want to take on, freezing may be your best bet. The two reference websites above also provide guidance on effective freezing. Though there isn’t the concern about botulism when freezing, there are techniques that will ensure product quality over time. Blanching is one strategy that kills enzymes and will reduce discoloration of products. Each product has different blanch times so look them up. Packing product tightly and reducing air within the container also helps reduce freezer burn. You can find simple directions at our Cooperative Extension website: http://extension.udel.edu/fcs/food-safety/food-preservation/

Canning and freezing food is a great way to preserve your harvest so you can enjoy it throughout the year. With some practice and patience you’ll be preserving your harvest in no time at all. But of course, if you still have extra produce after you’ve eaten your fill or filled your pantry, you can donate it to the Food Bank of Delaware. They are collecting and redistributing fresh produce to families in need.