Back-to-school budgeting made simple with advice from WVU Extension Service experts

Morgantown, W.Va.— Back-to-school time can be exciting for parents and students alike. With so many things to prepare for, shopping for school items might seem overwhelming—but it doesn’t have to be, according to West Virginia University Extension Service experts.

David Roberts, WVU Extension agent for Lincoln and Boone counties, says it all starts with planning ahead.

“Gone are the days when all a student needed were a couple of notebooks and number two pencils,” said Roberts. “Fortunately, families can still take simple, yet effective steps to cut costs and be prepared for the school year.”

Start with a list.

“Most schools offer a ‘school supply shopping list’ for items students are expected to arrive with on the first day—but what those lists don’t say is that every item must be brand new,” said Roberts. “Assessing what you already have can help prevent getting caught up in the back-to-school rush and making expensive last-minute purchases.”

Roberts recommends families look at the suggested school supply shopping list and assess the supplies they already have on hand. Sometimes this means recycling gently used folders, backpacks and other items from older siblings or gathering pens, pencils and paper from the home office space.

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WVU Extension Service offers flood recovery tips for gardeners and farmers

Morgantown, W.Va. – Floods have far reaching effects that extend past the immediate damage and danger that high water presents at the crest stage. In addition to the clean-up efforts afterwards, there are agricultural considerations for the home gardener and farmer with livestock.

The West Virginia University Extension Service has resources available and residents affected by flooding can get in touch with their local WVU Extension Service office for additional information about how to handle their land, plants and animals after a flood event.

Flooded fields are a concern for producers if they’re used for hay or pasture. If the field is used for pasture, it should be cut to 2- to 4-inch stubble and allowed to decompose after a flood. Once the grass has regrown to 8 to 10 inches and the damaged forage has fully decomposed, livestock may return to the pasture to graze.

In the case of harvested hay, do not feed any bales that have come in contact with flood waters, including inline wrapped bales that aren’t sealed on the ends and unwrapped bales. Individually plastic-wrapped bales may be safe to feed, but closely inspect bales for punctures or separation in the plastic layers. If either is present, discard the bale.

Soil and sediment is generally moved with flood debris, so exposed livestock should be vaccinated for clostridial diseases, including tetanus. Livestock that were not exposed to flooded areas during the event, but will be placed on a pasture that was previously flooded should also be vaccinated prior to being placed there. All age classes of livestock should be vaccinated. Consult a local veterinarian should questions arise regarding animal health.

Gardeners wondering if their produce is safe to eat after a flood should exercise extreme caution if any of their garden comes into contact with flood water. According to WVU Extension experts, the safest answer is no — discarding all produce that was touched by flood water eliminates any and all risks and is the only surefire way to ensure they, and their families, don’t become ill from eating these items.

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West Virginia 4-H hosts 4th annual Rush Run 5K in memory of Monongalia County 4-H’er

Morgantown, W.Va.—Registration is now open for the 4th Annual Rush Run 5K run/walk, held Friday, Aug. 18, 7 p.m. at Hazel Ruby McQuain Amphitheater at the Wharf District in Morgantown.

Organized by Monongalia County 4-H Teen Leaders, a program of West Virginia University Extension Service’s 4-H unit, the race was created in memory of West Virginia 4-H’er Sydney Rush, who died following a tragic car accident in September 2013.

A dedicated 4-H member, Rush attended Clay-Batelle High School where she was a member of the state championship cheerleading squad, Young Life youth group and a state track champion. 

According to Monongalia County 4-H Teen Leader Angie Inskeep, the event is a way to honor and remember Sydney by uniting in celebration of two things she loved—running and West Virginia 4-H.

“Our 4-H members and campers miss Sydney so much, and this event has served as a positive way to take the time and remember her,” said Fint-Clark. “We are able to provide 4-H camp scholarships in Sydney’s memory because of the great support we receive from community members, organizations and businesses that come together and support the race. We are grateful for those who support the run/walk and we are looking forward to the race this year.

Proceeds from the event benefit the Sydney Rush Monongalia County 4-H Teen Leader Memorial Fund, which helps provide four camp scholarships to Monongalia County youths each year. As of 2017, the Monongalia County Sydney Rush Teen Leader Memorial Scholarship is endowed and youth camp scholarships are fully funded.

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WVU Extension Service hosts kids markets during National Farmers Market week

Morgantown, W.Va.— West Virginia youths at select schools, day care centers and community events can shop for fresh produce through the West Virginia University Extension Service Kids Koupons program during National Farmers Market Week, celebrated Aug. 6 to 12. 

Thanks to a grant from the Eye Foundation of America, the school-based farmers market voucher program offers kids buying power by providing them with “kids koupons” to spend on fruits and vegetables available at school farmers markets.

According to WVU Extension Service public health specialist Kristin McCartney, the program is a way to expose kids to new, healthy options often unavailable to them at home.

“Children develop food preferences by observing adult role models consuming healthy foods, which aren’t always the most affordable or accessible,” said McCartney. “When there aren’t any fruits and vegetables in the home, there is less of a chance kids will choose them later in life— but we’re trying to change that.”

Several of the farmers markets will be held during National Farmers Market Week, an annual celebration sponsored by the United States Department of Agriculture that highlights the role farmers markets play in the nation’s food system.

The Kids Koupons program addresses recent research from the ongoing Behavior Risk Factor Surveillance System that ranks West Virginia as fourth in the nation for number of adults that eat less than one fruit or vegetable daily, a major risk factor for high rates of obesity, diabetes and heart disease in the Mountain State.

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Fairgoers can celebrate WVU’s 150th at 2017 State Fair of West Virginia

Morgantown, W.Va.— Fairgoers can play games and activities at West Virginia University exhibits, learn about WVU Extension Service programs and celebrate WVU’s 150th birthday at the State Fair of West Virginia, Aug. 10-19 in Fairlea, West Virginia.

The WVU Building is open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., with the exception of Thursday, August 10 when the building opens at 2 p.m. (official start of the State Fair) and the final day of the fair when the building closes at 5 p.m.

On Thursday, Aug. 17, President Gordon Gee will make a special appearance during Governor’s Day. The Mountaineer Mascot will also stop by and visit for the remainder of the week.

WVU Extension Service will provide advice and information on canning and food preservation, introduce families to new recipe ideas and provide engaging, expert demonstrations.

Live food demonstrations will be held at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. each day.

In the Cecil H. Underwood Youth Center, WVU Extension 4-H Youth Development will feature more than 2,500 award-winning 4-H projects from West Virginia youths covering everything from food products to rocketry.

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Tara Curtis named WVU Extension Service director of communications and marketing

Morgantown, W.Va. – At the heart of the West Virginia University Extension Service is a passion for the state and its people. That statement also holds true for Tara Curtis, the new director of communications and marketing for the University’s main outreach arm, bringing more than 20 years of public relations, communications and marketing experience to the unit.

Not only is she a Mountaineer through and through in regards to her work experience and academic career, but she’s also acutely aware of Extension’s mission as she spent part of her youth growing up in West Virginia 4-H programs.

According to Curtis, it’s a foundation that will serve her well as the University and Extension Service work tirelessly to improve the lives of all West Virginians.

“The work done through WVU Extension is vital to our state. Our educational programs, resources, outreach initiatives and research open doors to opportunity for our fellow West Virginians,” said Curtis. “I’m looking forward to working with the Extension team to showcase these amazing stories while connecting people to the wonderful things we offer.”

WVU Extension Service Dean and Director Steve Bonanno expressed that he was delighted with the hire, and knows full well the capabilities that Curtis brings to the WVU Extension Service.

“Tara is well respected in the WVU community for her professionalism and passion for the University’s mission,” said Bonanno. “But, what gives me the most confidence in her is the fact that she’s so active in numerous community and charitable organizations around town — that demonstrates a character that aligns with the core of what we’re all about.”

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WVU Extension Service expert advises residents on reducing tick populations

Morgantown, W.Va. – There’s a lot of talk about ticks in the news and on social media this year after a milder than usual winter and increasing public attention to Lyme disease and Powassan virus. However, these parasitic pests are common in West Virginia and an integrated control approach can help homeowners protect themselves and their family.

According to Daniel Frank, West Virginia University Extension Service entomology specialist, West Virginia has three species of ticks that are frequently encountered. These include the American dog tick, the blacklegged or deer tick, and the lone star tick.

Different species can be more common depending on the habitat. The American dog tick is the most commonly encountered and can be found predominantly in grassy fields and other open areas around shrubby or woody habitats. Deer ticks prefer mixed forests and woodland edges, and lone star ticks primarily stick to dense woodland and animal nesting sites.

Just as they prefer different habitats, ticks can carry different pathogens. For instance, the American dog tick and lone star tick can be a carrier for the bacteria that causes Rocky Mountain spotted fever and tularemia. Deer ticks are the species that may carry the pathogen that causes Lyme disease and can also transmit Powassan virus, among others.

Ticks need to feed on blood to develop on to the next stage of their lifecycle, which generally takes one to three years to complete. That’s how they come to feed on animals, including humans. Contrary to popular belief, Frank noted that ticks don’t drop from trees onto their hosts. Instead, they quest.

“Questing is when ticks wait on vegetation with their front legs stretched out waiting for a host to brush by so they can latch onto them,” said Frank. “And they’re receptive to things such as body heat, carbon dioxide from exhaling, movement and other cues. Once they sense that a host may be near, they’re more likely to quest to find a meal.”

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WVU Fire Service Extension increases firefighter training with new, mobile equipment

Morgantown, W.Va. – Firefighters across the state will soon be able to better handle a variety of emergency situations as the West Virginia University Fire Service Extension expands their footprint by bringing new, mobile equipment and training to volunteer units in rural communities.

According to Mark Lambert, director of the Fire Service Extension, the ability to reach more firefighters directly in their communities addresses a critical, unique training need for the majority of West Virginia.

“An overwhelming majority of firefighters in West Virginia are part of volunteer companies in rural parts of the state, and they are instrumental in protecting the property and livelihood of many residents,” said Lambert. “Often times it’s very difficult to get to training because of funding and the distance they’d have to travel to reach a central location — we simply need to adapt and bring the necessary training to them and make it easier for them to protect their communities.”

Part of that includes a new, state-of-the-art mobile fire training unit to augment the one unit the Fire Service Extension already has. One of the units will be positioned in the southern part of the state, allowing trainers to easily adapt and offer additional basic training to busy volunteer departments at their local stations.

Lambert explained that the mobile fire trainers are safe, adaptable and realistic — smoke, flames, sights, sounds and obstacles present firefighters a chance to sharpen their skills and an observer can shut down and ventilate benign smoke from the interior in under a minute making it safe environment to train in.

Also augmenting training capabilities for the whole state are several mobile training props that can simulate hazardous material spills, car fires and a helicopter crash. Lambert noted that a set of oil and natural gas fire training equipment is not only a new addition, but necessary for much of West Virginia.

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West Virginia 4-H'ers capture two titles at national competition

Four Monroe County youths added to a legacy of West Virginia University Extension Service  4-H teams who have fared well in land judging and homesite evaluation contests by winning the national championship in both categories at the National Land, Range and Homesite Evaluation Contest held in Oklahoma on May 4.

Reagan Ernst, Kris Hoke, Andrew Wrzosek and Cameron Wickline practiced for more than 10 months to take home the top honors, including an extra week of practice on site in Oklahoma to acclimate to the wide variety of soils they’d be asked to judge.

Land judging and homesite evaluation programs educate youths about soil properties, and typically in West Virginia, these practices are often used when building homes or for farming and agricultural purposes.

But it’s more than evaluating soil textures, composition, permeability, erosion characteristics and the slope of the land — for many youths it’s a basis in the sciences and being good stewards of the earth explained coach, and WVU Extension Service Monroe County Agent, Brian Wickline.

“The point of the contest is for youths to comprehend the dynamics of the soil in front of them and give recommendations on how to manage it,” said Wickline. “Not only does it teach good soil conservation practices and proper land management decisions, but for some it can turn in to a lifelong interest.”

He added that the youths’ dedication is evident by learning about something that not a lot of peers take interest in. The team practiced four hours a week since January when they started to seriously prepare for the competition.

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WVU Safety & Health Extension protects workers from fall hazards through free event

Fatalities caused by falls continue to be the leading cause of death for construction workers, and to help protect workers in our area, the West Virginia University Safety and Health Extension will help them identify fall hazards and prevent fall fatalities through a free, educational event on Monday, May 8.

Construction workers, employers and safety professionals are invited to join WVU Safety and Health Extension specialists at CSC Home and Hardware in Morgantown from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. that day as part of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s 2017 National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction campaign.

Safety demonstrations, giveaways, free fall hazard awareness training, safety technology showcases and other resources to educate workers and employers about prevalent fall hazards are scheduled. In addition, attendees can browse various informational stations to learn about safety measures for ladders, scaffolds, aerial lifts and more.

According to organizers, violations associated with fall prevention safety standards continue to be among the top 10 OSHA issued citations nationwide, a trend that can be addressed through education.

“The goal of OSHA’s National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction campaign is to raise awareness among workers and employers of the danger posed by falls on the jobsite and to highlight mechanisms to prevent them,” said Wayne Lundstrom, WVU Safety and Health Extension associate professor and director of the National Resource Center – OSHA Region III Training Center. “Falls on the jobsite can be fatal, and our goal is to educate about these risks and how to create a safe work environment. Too many workers continue to die every year from preventable falls on construction sites.”

While events are happening across the nation as part of the larger campaigns, all employers are encouraged to talk directly to employees about safety, including hazards, protective methods and the company’s safety policies and goals during the week. It can also be an opportunity for employees to talk to management about fall hazards they see around the workplace.

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