Extension ExPress, October 2021
During the good times and the bad times, University of Idaho Extension is here to help you navigate what life throws at you.
While the shortage of hospital beds and the increasing cases of COVID-19 have populated our daily news stories, we have also experienced a change in our weather pattern that has greatly impacted our agricultural production. Last year, the growing conditions were perfect for growing a crop that set records for yields. It wasn’t too hot, it wasn’t too cold, and there was sufficient water to produce a great crop. This year was a completely different story as the days were unseasonable hot and the rain was almost non-existent. These conditions left farmers raising a crop that produced in many cases, half of the yield of the previous year.
UI Extension faculty quickly responded to the conditions and produced eight videos to address the impact of drought on livestock. Topics covered include possibilities of grazing CRP during a drought; drought resources for livestock producers; early weaning; feeding straw during drought; ammoniating straw for beef cows; supplementation for drought and dormant season grazing; utilizing drought damaged feeds; and culling and marketing strategies. The team is working on a new series to be released later this fall.
Our faculty also provided information on how a heat wave impacts crops and animals; the effects of drought stress on degradation of corn starch; the impact of drought in barley; the implications of drought on wheat crops and the economy; drought effects on cattle producers; managing yard water; tips on conserving water; an Idaho irrigation update; expected water shortages; water in the garden; and the value of water.
While this is a long list, it is just an example of a few of the ways UI Extension has provided information in response to our current growing conditions. Drought will also be the topic of this fall’s Rangeland Fall Forum.
Even in dry conditions, it is our joy to work with you as we are building a thriving, prosperous, healthy Idaho.
Associate Dean and Director
University of Idaho Extension
4-H Opportunities Expand
The Idaho Community Program supports efforts to help children bounce back from a tumultuous school year through educational activities that support learning and behavioral health.
“That sounds a lot like 4-H, doesn’t it?” said Jim Lindstrom, director of the UI Extension 4-H Youth Development program.
State officials clearly agree. The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare program solicited agencies and organizations to submit proposals for activities to help children regain their educational momentum after a pandemic year.
The UI Extension 4-H Youth Development program responded with 14 initial proposals for projects. Some will reach across the state, others will focus on the county level. The state agency’s program funded all of them.
For generations of state residents, a century-long history of 4-H clubs and activities make the 4-H clover one of the nation’s most recognized youth organizations. The 4-H youth development program now reaches more than 70,000 young people across Idaho through club activities, after-school programs and informal science education efforts.
The funding will allow 4-H to fully put into play more educational programs focused on science, technology, engineering, art and math or STEAM projects already in progress. Others struggled unsuccessfully to find funding. And still others will help 4-H fully realize the potential of efforts already underway.
An example of the last would include a statewide fleet of Think Make Create trailers designed to help schools, clubs and organizations offer children the chance to use high-tech equipment.
“The original plan was our partners would provide the supplies for the children to do their projects,” Lindstrom said. “The funding will allow us to send the trailers out with everything youth need for the activities.”
Other projects will equip 4-H educators and UI Extension offices with kits to teach groups of young people. Schools or groups will borrow the boxes to offer lessons focused on specific topics and designed for different age groups.
Another 4-H program will build on 4-H ties to federal child nutrition programs and deliver innovative programs. One such effort, Soccer for Success, provided adults to oversee a soccer program that also offered nutrition education along with healthy snacks.
In all the original proposals and three more announced just this week will provide nearly $7 million in funding during the next year. The money will launch activities available statewide and regionally, and others for smaller-scale projects in 19 of Idaho’s 44 counties.
“This is a game changer for us,” Lindstrom said. “I would say it's unprecedented. In the past we always came up with great ideas and ways to help Idaho’s kids and then we cobbled together support.”
“This support will help us show we can really step up to help youth in urban areas and in rural areas,” he said.
Idaho Food Safety Cooperative Helps Food Manufacturers
Small food manufacturers encounter many roadblocks as they build their businesses. They are often one-person operations and wear many hats from research and development, marketing and sales, to logistics and food safety. As their businesses grow, they need to be able to manage different state and local regulations and audits required by large retailers.
A partnership between University of Idaho Extension and TechHelp provides budding Idaho food entrepreneurs with assistance on creating food safety plans and establishing their businesses. The Idaho Food Safety Cooperative (IFSC) helps manufacturers by providing basic food safety understanding and certifications for compliance with the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).
Smaller manufacturers often don’t have a food safety background and navigating the different regulations and science of making a product safe for human consumption can be daunting. In 2020, lacking a hazard analysis, a very large component of a food safety plan, was the number two most cited violation reported by the FDA.
In response, the IFSC program was created with help from a National Institute of Technologies grant to TechHelp, Idaho’s manufacturing Extension partnership. The program includes necessary curriculum and templates to create a food safety plan that will comply with FDA requirements, a required third-party certificate and free consulting from experts. The grant has allowed UI Extension to offer the program free of charge, if participants meet basic requirements, a value of $10,000.
“Trying to start a small manufacturing endeavor seemed insurmountable, but this made it seem doable and really helped me as a small business see things that wouldn't have even been on my radar without it,” said Heidi Tubbs, managing partner at Tubbs Berry Farm in Twin Falls
The program began in 2019 with six companies and jumped to 16 in 2020. There are currently 10 companies enrolled in a modified course for 2021 due to COVID-19 concerns. Instead of holding six in-person classroom sessions, the curriculum was split into 26 shorter, more targeted sessions. This method allows business owners to interact with videos and complete the curriculum at their own pace and review curriculum when it’s most convenient for them.
Past participants have reported $109,800 in new sales, $122,500 in cost savings and $979,200 in retained sales because of the skills learned through the program.
“Until taking this class, I didn't realize how ignorant I was about food safety,” said Sevana Saroyana, co-owner of SEVZ Kitchen in Boise. “As a result of this class however, I have revamped my food safety practices. The instructors are highly knowledgeable and have a desire to see the success of businesses such as mine. I would highly recommend this as a priority to all who are considering the food industry.”
Learn more about UI Extension food manufacturing programs at https://www.uidaho.edu/cals/food-manufacturing.
Plan the Garden, Preserve the Harvest
In 2020, COVID-19-related lockdowns resulted in a sudden surge of home gardening and food preservation interest across the United States. While numbers of home gardeners and food preservers increased drastically, many consumers lacked knowledge or awareness of available resources for their newly acquired hobbies.
The increased interest also resulted in necessary supplies becoming scarcely available through commercial outlets. This shortage left many consumers confused about purchasing options for essential equipment and supplies to conduct these activities.
In response, University of Idaho Extension educators with expertise in horticulture and family and consumer sciences developed a cross discipline program, Plan the Garden, Preserve the Harvest. The virtual program included introductory horticulture content followed by an overview of home food preservation options.
In January 2021, one presentation was delivered via Zoom, with more than 150 participants attending. The success of the program resulted in another offering in March with over 50 participants.
A survey was sent to all participants following the program, with responses indicating that gardening knowledge was very highly or highly improved by over 78% of respondents. Food preservation knowledge was very highly or highly improved by over 67% of respondents.
“My knowledge on these topics was improved by the class. My skills on the topics will improve as I put them into practice,” said one participant.
Additional content-specific classes are being offered virtually to extend the foundational information shared during the initial program.
UI Extension continued to provide research-based information to Idaho citizens in 2020, despite challenges presented by the pandemic. Learn more about our impact in your community with our Extension Trends publication.
Shaping Food Systems and Landscapes
University of Idaho Extension provides programs and research on small farms and horticulture to help Idaho citizens shape local food systems and ensure healthy landscapes for the future.
Insect Photos Needed
University of Idaho researchers are developing a system to automatically identify insects in cereal crops and need help from our growers. Please consider submitting cell phone photos of insects in your crops to help develop this useful tool.
Congratulations to Kate Painter, UI Extension educator, who retired at the end of August after 12 years of service to the University of Idaho. Kate joined the U of I Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology as an agricultural economic analyst in 2009 before taking a position as Extension educator in Boundary County in 2015 where she covered programming in farm management, cereal and forage production, livestock, horticulture and small farms.
Welcome to Sawyer Fonnesbeck, recently hired as the Extension educator for UI Extension, Oneida County with a focus on livestock production, grazing management and 4-H youth development. Sawyer is originally from Rigby and earned a bachelor’s degree in animal science from BYU-Idaho and a master’s degree in animal health and nutrition from Utah State University.
- Rangeland Fall Forum | Oct. 5, 6, 7
Join UI Extension for the virtual 2021 Rangeland Fall Forum: From Drought to Resilience to learn about drought impacts for rangelands and strategies for moving towards resilience.
- U and I Together | Weekly Oct. 5-Dec 7
Join UI Extension for a series of fun, virtual activities for all ages. Learn about visual arts, healthy snacks, orienteering and more.
- Heritage Orchard Conference | Monthly Oct. 20-March 16
Join the University of Idaho Sandpoint Organic Agriculture Center for a free monthly webinar series focused on a range of topics from identifying trees to mapping and cataloging heirloom cultivars.
Visit the UI Extension calendar for a complete listing of upcoming events offered online and across the state.
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Livestock Care for Beginning and Small-Scale Producers
Owning and caring for livestock involves a lot of responsibility and exposes producers to a steep learning curve, especially for those just starting out. This bulletin details five principles that will help you meet those demands, like developing your observation skills (identifying danger signs in an animal’s health), biosecurity, injury prevention and professional outreach.