​​Spotlights

4-H club provides outlet for children in East Chicago

Members of the J.U.B.I.L.A.N.T. 4-H Club at the Roberto Clemente Center in East Chicago hold up some of their crafts. Club leader Luz Wilson (center) said the projects help children express themselves positively.
Members of the J.U.B.I.L.A.N.T. 4-H Club at the Roberto Clemente Center in East Chicago hold up some of their crafts. Club leader Luz Wilson (center) said the projects help children express themselves positively.

Luz Wilson has worked with kids for more than 20 years, but considers her current assignment one of the most rewarding. As leader of the J.U.B.I.L.A.N.T. 4-H Club in East Chicago, Ind., “Ms. Luz,” as she is called by the children, teaches the youth how to positively express themselves, be creative and stay healthy.

Working together is a big part of the learning, “and there are no negative words here,” she said. Children in the club learn skills from making baskets to robotics.

The 4-H club is one of three located in Lake County funded by a national grant from the National 4-H Council and Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. Purdue Extension received funding, based on the proven success of 4-H mentoring programs, to provide this opportunity to youth in Lake County who might not otherwise be able to participate.

Wilson said her club has made a difference in the lives of local 10- to 14-year-olds. “When they see they have finished a project, they feel good about themselves,” she said.

Club member Sandra Olivarri said, “I have learned to better express myself, be active and healthy, and work together with other kids and get along.”​ 

By Beth Forbes


College of Agriculture enrollment increases

Enrollment in the Purdue University College of Agriculture increased slightly for the 2012-13 academic year, led by higher numbers of freshmen and graduate students.

Agriculture enrollment is 3,289, compared with 3,283 last year. Agriculture students represent 8.4 percent of the 39,256 students at Purdue’s West Lafayette campus.

“Enrollment across agriculture and related majors remains strong, and interest continues to grow as evidenced by the size of the incoming class,” said Marcos Fernandez, associate dean and director of academic programs.

Freshman enrollment is 499, up 3.3 percent from last fall’s incoming class. Graduate student enrollment grew from 596 to 631 in that same period.

Eighty percent of undergraduate agriculture students are from Indiana.

“This is an exciting time for students coming into agriculture because the opportunities that are out there for them continue to expand,” Fernandez said.

Freshman, grad student enrollment up in College of Agriculture

By Steve Leer


​​​Farmland values rising at record pace

Farmland values rising at record pace
Farmland values rising at record pace.

Many farmland investors in Indiana and surrounding Corn Belt states plan to continue buying despite some concerns that the market might not be able to sustain recent, rapid price increases, according to a Purdue University  agricultural economics study, “Farmland Values: Perspectives from the Field.”

Farmland values have risen considerably in the past decade nationwide, especially throughout the Corn Belt, including Indiana. The most productive farmland in Indiana doubled from 2004 to 2011, increasing from an average of $3,278 per acre to $6,521. From 2010 to 2011 alone, Indiana farmland values jumped by 22.8 percent.

“The rapid increases have led some people to speculate that the farmland market is in a bubble,” said Brent Gloy, professor of agricultural economics and director of Purdue’s

Center for Commercial Agriculture, which conducted the survey. “This study helps us answer questions about what’s driving farmland prices.”

Gloy said the findings indicate that the market is still searching for equilibrium prices after the dramatic crop price increases over the last decade. The limited amount of farmland for sale further complicates the situation.

Survey:  Indiana farmland values, cash rents soar

By Megan Sheridan


Buoy provides real-time data for Lake Michigan

A new buoy four miles off the coast of Michigan City, Ind., in Lake Michigan provides real-time information on lake conditions for boaters and others interested in near-shore waters.
A new buoy four miles off the coast of Michigan City, Ind., in Lake Michigan provides real-time information on lake conditions for boaters and others interested in near-shore waters. 
Photo by Anjaanette Riley

Boaters and beach-goers visiting the Indiana shoreline of Lake Michigan now can learn current conditions such as water temperature, wind speeds and other information provided by a new environmental sensing buoy.

Placed four miles off the coast of Michigan City, the buoy is the first of its kind in the Indiana waters of Lake Michigan. 

Jointly operated by Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant and the Purdue University Department of Civil Engineering, the buoy will advance the understanding of near-shore waters, alert the public to hazardous conditions, protect water quality and improve weather forecasts.

Snapshots of lake conditions—wave height, wind speed and surface water temperature—updated in 10-minute increments are available on the Sea Grant website to swimmers, boaters and anglers.

A webcam allows visitors to see the area surrounding the buoy in real-time.

“People can easily access information and better understand the effect real-time data collection has on near-shore research and recreation,” said Carolyn Foley, assistant research coordinator for Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant, based in the Purdue University Department of Forestry and Natural Resources. “We plan to include additional tools and applications that could be used to teach people about near-shore ecology. We’re working with stakeholders to ensure that what we develop is useful in terms of what data we collect and display.”

By Anjanette Riley


​​Purdue hosts school for top-notch lumber graders

Jeremiah Bockman, Syracuse, N.Y., and Eugene Troyer, Shipshewanna, Ind., check their measurements while grading pieces of lumber at Purdue’s John S. Wright Forestry Center.  
Jeremiah Bockman (right), Syracuse, N.Y., and Eugene Troyer, Shipshewanna, Ind., check their measurements while grading pieces of lumber at Purdue’s John S. Wright Forestry Center.

Purdue University partnered with national and state hardwood lumber industry groups this past summer in a training school that teaches students how to grade lumber.

The National Hardwood Lumber Association’s Inspector Training School is a 10-week course designed to teach students how to follow and use NHLA rules for hardwood lumber grading. The Indiana Hardwood Lumbermen’s Association is a partner in the school. Indiana ranks ninth nationally in total lumber production and third in hardwood lumber production.

At the training school, students learn which rules to apply in grading lumber and how to apply them, said Dan Cassens, a Purdue Extension wood products specialist.

“In the lumber grading process, students have to measure a board according to the rules, then do calculations to determine the grade of the board,” Cassens said. “Normally, they are looking for clear material between the various knots and defects, and the grades they assign are tied to the price of the lumber.”

In addition to classroom work, sessions were held at Purdue’s John S. Wright Forestry Center, a 424-acre research and teaching property about eight miles west of campus. Students used their newly gained knowledge to hone their lumber-grading skills.

Bonus Text: School draws students from around the world

The Inspector Training School began with two sessions of lectures and quizzes summer 2012 at Pfendler Hall on the Purdue campus. The third and fourth sessions were held at Martell Forest, and the students are using their knowledge to practice grading lumber as they continue to be tested on their classroom learning.

Most of this summer's students come from the Midwest, said instructor Rich Hascher, who has taught at the school for 20 years. The class demographics are not always so uniform.

"I've taught students from China, Japan, Holland, Germany, Myanmar, Peru, Argentina. Name a country - I've probably taught a student from there," Hascher said. "Approximately 50 to 60 percent of U.S. grade lumber is exported every year, and our international students are eager to learn how to grade our lumber and bring that knowledge back to their countries."

For student Jeremiah Bockman of Syracuse, N.Y., the school offers a chance to put himself on equal footing with other professional graders around the world.

"I've graded some lumber at my place of work, but attending the school has given me the solid foundation of an NHLA certification​," Bockman said. "I feel like now I'm on par with everyone else rather than only knowing how it's done at one place. It's brought me closer to other graders who are building on this same foundation."​

                                                                                                                                              By Jessica Merzorf


Mentoring program helps prepare young moms for parenting

​Thirty percent of all new mothers in Grant County are teens.

“These moms are not equipped to be parents; they just don’t have the skills,” said Vicki Shafer, family nutrition advisor for Purdue Extension-Grant County.

Jim Mintert
Mentoring program helps prepare
young moms for parenting.

The children of teen mothers often face more difficulties than their peers, such as higher rates of abuse, increased school dropout rates and the likelihood that they will live in poverty. So Shafer offers Purdue’s Moms Together program, which provides young mothers with mentors who help them develop needed skills. This free program provides a safe atmosphere where pregnant or parenting girls can share experiences and support each other.

“There’s a huge need for these girls to have someone come alongside of them to show them how to parent,” Shafer said.

Classes cover nutrition, child development, school readiness, stress management, communication, raising safe children and more. Mentors also encourage the young mothers to continue their education and to become self-sufficient. Teen mothers who participate learn how to raise healthier children and gain confidence in their abilities.

“The program is teaching me about children and how to deal with them and how to be a better parent,” said Hannah, a program participant. “It makes me more confident about being a parent.”  

                                                                                                                                              By Becky Goetz​


Mintert leads Purdue Extension in interim

Jim Mintert
Jim Mintert

Jim Mintert, assistant director of agriculture and natural resources for Purdue Extension since 2009, has been appointed interim associate dean of the College of Agriculture and interim director of Extension.

He replaces Chuck Hibberd, who accepted a similar position at the University of Nebraska, effective Oct. 1.

Mintert will serve until a permanent replacement is hired. A search committee has been appointed by Jay AkridgeGlenn W. Sample Dean of Purdue Agriculture.

Mintert’s work most recently includes coordinating Purdue Extension’s response to this past summer’s drought, the worst in more than 50 years. “It is an effort that has been both important to our state and well received by our stakeholders,” Akridge said.

Before joining Purdue, Mintert spent 23 years at Kansas State University as professor and Extension state leader for agricultural economics. He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Purdue and a doctoral degree from the University ofMissouri.

                                                                                                                                                By Keith Robinson


Lab solves mystery of damaged trees

When Bob Andrews needs to solve a lawn-care mystery, he turns to the Purdue Plant and Pest Diagnostic Laboratory.
Bob Andrews trusts the Purdue Plant and Pest Diagnostic Laboratory as an independent source of information.
Bob Andrews trusts the Purdue Plant and Pest Diagnostic Laboratory as an independent source of information.

“The lab is an independent source of information,” said Andrews, executive director of the Indiana Professional Lawn & Landscape Association. “The public looks at the lab as being something they can rely on and put their faith in.”

That faith was tested in 2011 when the industry group was inundated with complaints from professional lawn-care providers who suspected the herbicide Imprelis was damaging trees and shrubs near where it was applied on lawns.

“We didn’t know what we were looking at because the damage didn’t look like normal herbicide damage,” Andrews said. Samples were submitted to the PPDL, which determined that an herbicide was indeed present. The Office of Indiana State Chemist—also based at Purdue—confirmed it was Imprelis, which was soon banned from use in Indiana.

“It’s reassuring to know that we can turn to the diagnostic lab in a time of crisis,” Andrews said.

Imprelis herbicide banned fromsale, use in Indiana​​

By Keith Robinson


Purdue provides nutrition advice for those in “food
deserts”

Purdue Extension-Marion County joined with Indiana University Health to provide nutrition information for IU Health’s Garden on the Go® program.

Garden on the Go is a mobile produce market that improves access to fruits and vegetables in “food deserts” throughout Marion County. A food desert is an area that lacks access to affordable, healthy foods.

Purdue Extension-Marion County partnered with Indiana University Health’s Garden on the Go® to improves access to affordable fruits and vegetables in Marion County.
Purdue Extension-Marion County partnered with Indiana University Health’s Garden on the Go® to improves access to affordable fruits and vegetables in Marion County.

Purdue Extension staff provide education to those who may not have regular access to fresh foods. They teach patrons how to prepare the produce and why it is important to eat fresh foods. The lessons helped Val Zilausis of Indianapolis cook more nutritious and interesting meals on her fixed income.

“I’ve become such a good cook—and I’m diabetic—so these programs are really great,” she said.

By Beth Forbes​ 



 


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