More ISU Extension Office News and Notes Print
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Joy Venhorst   
Saturday, 28 May 2011 12:30

Five Iowa Horses Being Monitored for Equine Herpes Virus

Several horses recently competing in the National Cutting Horse Association Western National Championship in Ogden, Utah, on April 29 to May 8, have been diagnosed with Equine Herpes Virus (EHV-1), according to 2011 Incident Information. Reports of affected horses have been received from multiple states and western Canada, with several fatalities. At this time, Animal Health Monitoring and Surveillance (APHIS) understands the virus to be present in horses that attended the cutting horse event and horses that came into contact with those that attended the event.

Dr. David Schmitt, DVM, Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship was notified about some horses that developed the neurologic form of Equine Herpes Virus (EHV-1) after attending a national cutting horse event in Utah. “Five of the horses that attended the event are located at stables in Iowa,” Schmitt said. “The good news is that I have still not had any reports of clinical disease in any of these horses in Iowa.”

Peggy Miller-Auwerda, Iowa State University Extension equine specialist, said the APHIS situation report also indicates that the Iowa horses are under voluntary or state quarantine and are being monitored. “The virus can spread through the air, contaminated equipment, clothing and hands,” Miller-Auwerda said. “EHV-1 infection in horses can cause respiratory disease, abortion in mares, neonatal foal death and/or neurologic disease.”

EHV-1 is endemic to the United States and is usually handled by the states involved; USDA becomes involved in cases involving multiple states or movement of horses across state lines. APHIS will continue to monitor the situation and work with the states to make decisions as needed to control the spread of the virus. USDA has posted links with information about EHV-1 and a copy of the situation report at http://www.aphis.usda.gov/vs/nahss/equine/ehv/.

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Two Science of Parenting Publications Now Available in Spanish

AMES, Iowa – Two popular publications from the Science of Parenting are now available in Spanish. “Video Games and Other Media: Pros and Cons” and “Obesity and Overuse of Electronic Media” are available online at the ISU Extension Online Store in both English and Spanish versions.

“ISU Extension is trying to expand its outreach efforts to Latino youth and families,” said Kimberly Greder, associate professor of human development and family studies. “Translating more of our educational materials is one step.”

Video Games and Other Media: Pros and Cons

“Video Games and Other Media” advises parents on the meanings behind video game ratings, warning signs of too much screen time, side effects of video game playing and what to look for when buying children games. It also lists a guideline for healthy and helpful videogames. Download the PDF for free from the ISU Extension Online Store.

Obesity and Overuse of Electronic Media

“Obesity and Overuse of Electronic Media,” explains how much screen time children of various ages should have each day. It also lists the risks of obesity and the benefits of exercise. Download the PDF for free from the ISU Extension Online Store.

“Parents of all race/ethnicities and economic status are not fully aware of the effects of media on children,” Greder said. “Many parents do not realize their children are learning through media, especially media use at home and outside of the school day. The publications are one way to share that information.”

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Mono-slope Project Open House Features Air Quality and Cattle Performance

ORANGE CITY, Iowa — Managing mono-slope barns to improve air quality and cattle performance will be featured at an open house on June 22. The open house will be at the Ron and Clayton Christensen barn near Royal, Iowa, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Iowa State University (ISU) Extension beef program specialist Beth Doran said the barn is one of four involved in the Tri-State Air Quality project.

“This project is being conducted cooperatively by ISU Extension, the Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering  epartment at South Dakota State University and the USDA Meat Animal Research Center at Clay Center, Neb.,” Doran said. “It involves monitoring air emissions over a two-year period to determine baseline data for gases and dust produced in the facility. The study also will evaluate two manure-handling systems to determine which emits lower levels of gases.”

In addition to beef producers, Doran said agribusiness staff and policy makers also will be interested in the project  pen house.

“Although water quality regulations have been quite visible recently, attention to results from studies and projects like  his is increasing,” she said.

To provide topic-specific information, the open house will consist of seven 15-minute stations focusing on different  spects of managing the mono-slope barn. Stations will operate from 10 a.m. to noon and again from 1 to 3 p.m. The stations topics are:

  • How the barn is managed
  • The air quality project and air quality regulations
  • Cost-sharing opportunities
  • Managing the pack for animal comfort and reduced emissions
  • Stockpiling manure
  • Value and nutrient management of mono-slope manure
  • Analyzing the gases and particulate matter (dust)

From noon to 1 p.m. lunch will be provided and the following open house sponsors will be recognized: Animal Medical  enters at Spencer, Clay County Cattlemen’s Association, Clay County Farm Bureau, Coalition to Support Iowa’s  Farmers, Farm Credit Services at Emmetsburg, Spencer Ag Center and the Spencer Chamber of Commerce Ag Committee.

There is no charge to attend, but preregistration is required by June 15 to have an accurate count for lunch and  aterials. To preregister, contact Doran by phone at 712-737-4230 or by email at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . You can view and download a flyer describing the event, its location and preregistration requirements.

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Tick Publication Helps with Prevention, Identification

AMES, Iowa — As Iowans head out into wooded areas this spring and summer in search of mushrooms, for a weekend hike or simply to enjoy nature, they should keep an eye out for some common, tiny pests — ticks. This time of year is when all three tick species that commonly attack humans are becoming more active, and care should be taken to prevent and detect ticks.

Iowa State University Extension offers a publication, “Ticks and Tick-borne Diseases,” that focuses on the three main species: blacklegged (deer) ticks, American dog ticks and lone star ticks. The publication discusses biology, habitat, detection, prevention and risks of all three species. The publication is free for download from the ISU Extension Online Store, www.extension.iastate.edu/store.

“Of the three species, blacklegged ticks are of greatest concern because they can transmit Lyme disease,” said Jon Oliver, entomology graduate student and member of the Medical Entomology Laboratory. “Starting about now and lasting for the next two months, immature, nymphal blacklegged ticks will be active. Because of their small size — smaller than a sesame seed — the nymphs are hard to detect and often remain attached to people long enough to transmit the disease.”

Oliver said blacklegged ticks require high humidity to survive, so are almost exclusively found in thickly forested areas, particularly areas with lots of oak trees.

Medical Entomology Laboratory

Oliver and other scientists at the Medical Entomology Laboratory at Iowa State University track ticks and mosquitoes, the two leading carriers of diseases to humans in the United States. They also track which counties in Iowa have had ticks infected with Lyme disease, information that is included in “Ticks and Tick-borne Diseases” and on their website, www.ent.iastate.edu/medent/ticks_IA.

Iowans can assist the lab with the Lyme Disease Surveillance Program by submitting ticks they find. The lab relies on submitted specimens to track tick distribution and infections status in the state. Information on how to submit can be found on the lab’s website at www.ent.iastate.edu/medent/surveillance.

“If you find a tick on yourself, a friend, a family member or a pet, we will gladly take the tick and identify it for you,” Oliver said. “When you find a tick of any sort, wrap it in tissue, add a blade of grass, seal it in a zip-top bag and mail it to us.”

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12 Iowa High School Students Chosen for Trip to China

AMES, Iowa — Visiting farmers’ markets, exploring farming practices and interacting with other cultures are just some of the activities 12 Iowa high school students are looking forward to during their summer trip to China. The trip is part of a program designed to help Iowa youth gain the necessary international knowledge and skills to meet the demands of the new global economy.

“Today’s youth increasingly have a need to understand the growing global economy, their place in it and how they can  meet its needs,” said Kirk Leeds, CEO of the Iowa Soybean Association. “Students have a great opportunity to be exposed to new and different cultures and experiences during this trip, which will help equip them to analyze issues from a global perspective.”

Twelve students from Iowa high schools were selected to take part in the Global Youth Excellence Program’s China Leadership Experience. The Global Youth Excellence Program is sponsored by Iowa State University Extension, Iowa Farm Bureau Federation and Iowa Soybean Association. Leaders from all three sponsors will accompany the students on the trip to China from July 31 to Aug. 9.

“Giving Iowa high school students an opportunity to gain a better understanding of other cultures will pay great dividends as Iowa continues to play a critical role in the fast growing global food system,” said Jerry Miller, interim vice president of Iowa State University Extension. “The pool of applicants was impressive and I am confident we have selected a terrific group to represent Iowa agriculture and the state of Iowa.”

A call for applications went out in March and ended April 29. Sixty-nine students applied for the opportunity and the 12 participants and two alternates were chosen by a group of four representatives of the sponsors. Eligible students are entering their sophomore and junior years in fall and each student had to complete an application and answer five essay questions.

“The Iowa Farm Bureau Federation is pleased to be part of this important youth program. We are very hopeful that this group will greatly expand their knowledge of China and share what they learn with others,” said Craig Lang, president of Iowa Farm Bureau Federation.

Students selected for the trip:

Carrie Adrian, a freshman from Knoxville, attends Knoxville High School and is active in band, choir, soccer, cross country, 4-H and her church youth group. She likes sharing what she has learned by making presentations to local communities and at the Iowa State Fair. She is excited to tell her stories to people when she returns. Adrian plays the tuba and is “not afraid to be noticed or to speak out and be heard – just like my tuba.”

Nicholas Ahern, a freshman from Avoca, attends AHST Community High School and is an active Boy Scout and currently working on becoming an Eagle Scout. He has competed in the FCCLA at the national level and has also competed in the Iowa High School Battle of the Books at the state level. In addition, Ahern plays the saxophone and the piano, and is active in the community’s swim team. This trip will help him “develop the skills to interact with people of other cultures” and help fulfill his dream of becoming a foreign ambassador one day.

Bradley Aronson, a freshman from Albert City, attends Sioux Central High School, is a member of the FFA and has received several awards including the Star Green Hand Award and the Ag Sales Proficiency Award for high fruit sales. Recently he has been selected to be part of the Iowa Youth Technology Team. Aronson enjoys volunteering and is currently raising funds to do community service work in New Orleans in the summer of 2012. In his free time he enjoys woodworking, welding, architectural designing and spending time with his dog. He attributes his communication and organizational skills to 4-H. Aronson hopes to visit the Chinese farmers' markets, learn how they market their produce and “bring back this knowledge to share with others.”

Brandy Childers, a sophomore from Red Oak, attends Red Oak High School, is very involved in numerous school and community activities and is a secretary in the FCCLA. She also is an active volunteer in her community. She looks forward to sharing with her community what she will learn on this trip and “perhaps change any misconceptions people may have [of the Chinese culture].”

Izak Christensen, a freshman from Osage, attends Osage High School, is an active 4-H member and serves as the vice president of the club. He also serves on the Mitchell County Council where he helps plan and supervise community activities. In addition to the many community service projects he is involved in, Christensen helps out in his family farm and looks forward to seeing the Chinese farming techniques and “what their farms actually look like with my own eyes.”

Kelsey Dennis, a sophomore from Ames, attends Ames High School, where she participates in sports and is very involved in music activities. Dennis also is involved in SHEPH: Students Helping to Eliminate Poverty and Hunger; a school-sponsored club at Ames High. She is passionate about working with children and teaching, and is currently a student teacher for a kindergarten class and a Hebrew teacher for a third grader. She hopes that this trip will give her a chance “to experience something [she is] not even capable of dreaming about.”

Jared Gradeless, a sophomore from Melrose, attends Wayne Community High School and is currently the president of the Washington Willing Workers 4-H Club and involved in many activities in school. Gradeless “loves to help others by volunteering in the community” and helps out with the family farm when he is not in school. He believes that “one person can truly make a difference in this world”, and he aspires to be that person. Gradeless hopes to share information about his town and “how we farm and protect the environment,” with the Chinese students he will meet during the trip.

Sarah Rethwisch, a sophomore from Fort Dodge, attends Fort Dodge Senior High. She is currently the president of her 4-H club and has taken a number of presentations to the State Fair. She was involved in the People to People Student Ambassador Program that aims to get to know other cultures and promote world peace and earned her tuition by selling fleece blankets and scarves. She hopes to learn and understand the Chinese people better and share this knowledge through the Lion’s Club, 4-H club, school, churches and people within the community.

Hannah Riensche, a sophomore from Jesup, attends Jesup High School. She has held and continues to hold several leadership appointments including president of the freshman class and is currently vice president of the sophomore class and the chapter vice president of the FFA. She contributes to the community through teaching Sunday school. The budding agriculturalist is “eager to learn more about the differences and similarities between agriculture in China and the U.S., and the ways we can work together.”

Preston Schaaf, a freshman from Tabor, attends Fremont Mills High School where he serves on the student council and has been a class officer. He competes in high school policy debate at the national level, and will be attending a six-week debate camp in Atlanta in the summer. Schaaf is currently the secretary of the Riverside Rockets 4-H club, and has served as the reporter, historian and photographer and is involved in regular volunteer activities. Schccaaf also is one of the 16 students selected to serve on the 2011 Iowa Youth Technology Team. Having lived in the “relatively non-diverse Midwest,” he hopes to “break down the walls of our small community … and be able to share” these experiences with the others in his community through this “tremendous opportunity.”

Mandy Thompson, a freshman from Pleasantville, attends Pleasantville High School. She has been a Girl Scout for the last eight years and has been volunteering at Toys for Tots the last five years. Thompson attributes her leadership development to agriculture classes and FFA, and continues to broaden her leadership skills by attending conferences. Involvement in school and community are very important to Thompson and she hopes to gain “global travel experience and relate to others with the same aspirations and commonalities” with this trip to China.

Michael Tupper, a freshman from Ionia, attends New Hampton High School. He is involved in numerous activities  including 4-H, FFA, student senate and church youth group. He believes that these activities have helped him become a “strong team player and a strong individual leader.” His achievements include winning the junior and intermediate swine showman, and he placed econd in the northeast district livestock judging contest. Tupper hopes to “step out of [his] box and try to gain a new experience” to reach his “full potential of making an impact on the world” through this trip to China.

For more information or questions, please contact Sok Leng Tan at 515-231-3670 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

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4-H’ers Use GIS on iPhones to Map Trees at Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge

AMES, Iowa – Teenage 4-H scientists say they are “restoring something old with something new.” The something old is a bur oak savannah in the Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge. The something new is geographic information systems (GIS) mapping using mobile phones.

The Iowa 4-H’ers are one of four teams of 4-H members in four states that are carrying out GIS mapping with national wildlife refuges, fish hatcheries or other ecological services offices, said Jay Staker, director of Iowa State University Extension Science, Engineering and Technology (E-SET). ISU Extension is leading the effort with the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA NIFA) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Kansas, Minnesota and New York also are involved in the project. The four states are sharing the $73,000 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service grant that funds the effort.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service has stated that GIS soon will become so prevalent in natural resources management that organizations without some GIS capability will be at a severe disadvantage.

Karen Viste-Sparkman, a wildlife biologist at Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge, was glad to receive the call from Staker. “He was working with 4-H groups and they had a grant to work on a national wildlife refuge. We got excited about it because they wanted to do GIS work … and that’s one of the things we really need more of here,” Viste-Sparkman said.

The Iowa 4-H’ers are using GIS on iPhones to map the locations of remnant bur oak and shagbark hickory trees that have been invaded by exotic non-fire tolerant trees in the wildlife refuge.

4-H Works with GIS Technology at Wildlife Refuge from Iowa State University Extension.

“We have an iPhone app that talks with the ISU GIS department server, so we get real-time interaction,” said 4-H Tech Team member David Runneals. “What’s cool about this project is we actually get to use technology and that we also get out in the field to get experience.”

Volunteer 4-H leader Debbie Stevens noted the need for GIS, “but a lot of folks, especially nonprofits or governmental entities cannot afford to just hire someone. Our youth in 4-H are learning real world skills. This is a professional-level occupation now. … So not only are they having fun, they’re gaining knowledge, they’re learning technology skills, information management and personal development for future careers.”

The 4-H’ers will continue to do GIS mapping over the summer months to identify the locations of as many bur oaks, hickories and other species as possible, Stevens said. Then in the winter months when the ground is frozen, the refuge staff can do maintenance, removing dead or diseased trees as well as trees that don’t belong in a bur oak savannah.

“This GIS mapping project engages 4-H youth as citizen scientists to conduct relevant research that will have an impact for both the Fish and Wildlife Service and the 4-H’ers,” Staker said. “The Fish and Wildlife Service gets data for habitat protection, conservation, restoration and other uses. The youth get opportunities to serve their states with meaningful research. They also develop skills that could lead them to pursue degrees and careers such as wildlife biology, natural resource management, science, community planning, recreation or agriculture.”

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Music and Child Development:  Music helps children with multiple areas of development:

Language Skills: New vocabulary words are introduced through songs.

Thinking Skills: Experimenting with instruments helps children understand that different objects make different sounds.

Social and Emotional Skills: Soft music can calm a child, while upbeat music can energize them. Music is used to transition children from on activity to another.

Movement: Coordination improves with clapping, marching, or dancing to the beat.

Rhyming Words:

Rhyming words in songs or poems helps children expand their vocabularies and introduces them to reading and writing. Reading stories with rhymes or making up your own song with rhyming words are good ways to engage children in these types of thought processes.

Tips for Parents:

  • Listen to a variety of music at home and in the car.
  • Sing with and to your child, use hand motions with songs such as “The Itsy-Bitsy Spider.”
  • Help your child make his own instrument.
  • Dance together.
  • Attend free concerts in your area.

Contact Information:  Cornell Cooperative Extension of Jefferson County, phone: 315-788-8450 email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

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