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Extension ExPress, September 2020

Director’s Message

September is National Suicide Prevention and Awareness Month. Suicide has been identified as a critical public health issue in the United States and in Idaho. According to the Centers for Disease Control, suicide was the second leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 10 and 34, and the fourth leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 35 and 54.

Idaho continually has some of the highest suicide rates in the United States. In 2018, 418 Idahoans died by suicide and Idaho had the fifth highest suicide rate in the United States. Suicide was the seventh leading cause of death among Idaho residents in 2018 (PDF) and Idaho’s rate of suicide is 1.5 times higher than the national average.

In 2019, one in five Idaho high school students had considered suicide, one in six had a suicide plan and one in 10 had attempted suicide.

At our University of Idaho Extension advisory board meeting last fall, our board members recommended that UI Extension address death by suicide in Idaho. Even though we are not mental health professionals, we can educate to raise awareness of suicide, help individuals recognize warning signs when friends and family members may be considering suicide and can refer individuals and families to professionals where they can receive help.

In response to this request, we formed a team in January 2020 to develop a strategy to address farmer, rancher, logger and youth suicide in Idaho. We decided to use a multipronged approach which includes:

  1. Training our volunteers in the Question, Persuade and Refer (QPR) Suicide Awareness program.
  2. Increasing the capacity of our UI Extension faculty by training them to teach the Mental Health First Aid program.
  3. Working with selected communities to host community conversations to develop a strategy to address mental health in their community.

I am very pleased to report that we have made excellent progress on our plans. We have secured 5,000 free QPR trainings for our volunteers from the Idaho State Department of Health and Welfare and we received $10,000 in funding from INNOVIA towards the Mental Health First Aid training for 16 UI Extension educators. In addition, we are included in year three of a grant that will support our work with 17 Idaho communities. It is our hope that our efforts will result in fewer Idaho individuals and families being impacted by death by suicide.

As you are enjoying the fall weather, I hope you have the opportunity to enjoy the articles in this newsletter. In the midst of COVID-19 and the wildfires, we are very grateful for you and the opportunity to work with you in building a thriving, prosperous, healthy Idaho.

Barbara Petty

Associate Dean & Director of UI Extension

Ag Science, Room 52


COVID-19 Response

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, UI Extension quickly pivoted to provide Idahoans with classes, resources and information in a digital format. Despite the adjustments made to help reduce the risk and spread of COVID-19, UI Extension continued to provide valuable research-based information and programs to Idahoans. Learn about a few of the ways UI Extension responded during the pandemic.

Preparing Young Cattle Producers

The Idaho Young Cattle Producer Conference, a partnership between University of Idaho Extension and the Idaho Cattle Association, was created in 2017 to educate and provide young cattle producers with the knowledge and resources they need to be successful in establishing and growing their own operation

Read story

Prescription for Produce

Participants in University of Idaho Extension nutritional education classes in Twin Falls County are often referred from an unlikely source — their child’s doctors. Instead of prescribing medicine, they prescribe more fruits and vegetables — and nutrition classes to help caregivers understand why this improves children’s health.

Read story

LifeSmarts for Young Adults

The University of Idaho Extension 4-H Youth Development program recently launched a new program called LifeSmarts, a free consumer education program designed to create consumer savvy youth who will be well equipped for adult life in today’s global marketplace. The program covers topics related to personal finance, consumer rights and responsibilities, technology, health and safety, and the environment. Learn more about this program at

LifeSmarts: Learn it. Live it.

Protecting Water Systems

UI Extension delivers programs and conducts research to help protect our water for the future.

Faculty Spotlight

UI Extension is pleased to welcome Albert Adjesiwor and Jared Spackman.

Albert Adjesiwor is the new UI Extension specialist in weed science, studying and providing information on best weed management practices in sugarbeets, dry beans, corn and small grains. Adjesiwor received his bachelor’s from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Ghana and his master’s and doctorate degrees from the University of Wyoming. He is based at the U of I Kimberly Research and Extension Center.

Jared Spackman is the new UI Extension barley specialist and new Idaho Barley Commission Endowed Professor. Spackman received his bachelor’s degree from BYU-Idaho and a master’s and doctorate degree from the University of Minnesota. He is originally from Burley and will be based at the U of I Aberdeen Research and Extension Center.

Featured Publication

Pasture and Range Plants that Endanger Livestock in Southwestern Idaho (BUL 960)

Learn about 35 common toxic plants found in southwestern Idaho pastures and rangelands. A must-have resource for Idaho ranchers and landowners to protect your family and your livestock.

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University of Idaho Extension

Physical Address:
E. J. Iddings Agricultural Science Laboratory, Room 52
606 S Rayburn St.
Moscow, ID

Mailing Address:
University of Idaho Extension
875 Perimeter Drive MS 2338
Moscow, ID 83844-2338

Phone: 208-885-5883

Fax: 208-885-6654


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Barbara Petty