Panhandle Perspectives - Dec. 13, 2016

Finishing one year and looking forward to another

Dave Ostdiek, Communications Associate
Panhandle Research and Extension Center, Scottsbluff

Around the western Nebraska countryside, fields and pastures are mostly silent, resting and hopefully collecting moisture and regenerating for 2017. In a matter of weeks, calving season will begin for some. Then spring will be back sooner than anyone expects.

Panhandle Perspectives
Dave Ostdiek

As December passes, Nebraska Extension in the Panhandle is wrapping up its work for 2016 as well – regenerating, taking stock, and looking forward to workshops, field days, meetings, and other educational events in 2017.

Every fall and winter brings a full schedule of workshops. After a busy several months, this year’s events are mostly wrapping up as the holidays approach.            Some Extension events are hosted at the Panhandle Research and Extension Center in Scottsbluff. Many others are hosted locally by the 12 county-based offices in the 16-county Panhandle Extension District that extends from Kimball north to Harrison, east to Valentine, and south through Thedford to Chappell.

Many are related to crops, livestock and water, but Nebraska Extension also focuses on bringing research-based information in the focus areas of food, nutrition and health; community vitality; 4-H; and youth and early childhood.

A few examples of recent educational opportunities:        The second Nebraska State of the Beef Conference in early November at North Platte; workshops in Valentine, Thedford and Scottsbluff on calculating unit cost of production for calves; Western Nebraska Early Childhood Conference in Gering; ServSafe training for food service managers and workers in November in Scottsbluff. Several workshops were aimed at helping agricultural producers understand the finances of their operations.

Meanwhile, county staff have been helping 4-H members summarize their year’s activities and receive recognition for their accomplishments. After-school groups provide opportunities to learn and succeed throughout the school year. Educators help their clientele learn how healthy eating, physical activity, and caring for their health can improve their lives. Beef Quality Assurance has been helping producers get ready to comply with the Veterinary Feed Directive, a new set of federal rules that take effect Jan. 1, 2017.

Year’s end is also when Extension professionals recharge their professional batteries at the annual Extension fall conference and professional conferences in their academic disciplines. Faculty members who conduct research are reporting data to commodity organizations and stakeholders, and requesting funding for continued research.

Finally, the Panhandle Research and Extension Center at Scottsbluff will shut down, as it does every year, between Christmas and New Year’s. This year the center will be closed beginning Monday, Dec. 26, and will reopen Tuesday, Jan. 3. The shutdown coincides with the closing of the university’s main campus in Lincoln.

But research goes on year-round, even during the shutdown and the break in public educational events. Trials are being conducted at the Panhandle Research Feedlot. Plant breeders continue to develop breeding lines for new crop varieties. Entomology, plant pathology and other research crews tend their projects in the greenhouses.

When the Panhandle Center reopens in 2017, expect a busy schedule of educational events, starting right away. First out of the gate is a grain-marketing workshop on Jan. 3 at the Panhandle Center. More Quicken workshops will follow later in January. A Crop Production Clinic Jan. 4 at Gering will feature agronomic, pest management, and farm management information to help growers make smart decisions to improve their bottom line.

The Ranching for Profitability series beginning Jan. 17 will bring information on grazing, reproduction, economics, and cattle health to workshops at O’Neill, Ainsworth, Valentine, Brewster, Gordon, Kimball, Burwell, Broken Bow, Lexington, and Brady. A Land Applicator Field Day is set for Jan. 31 at Scottsbluff.

At the Feb. 7 Dry Bean Day in Gering, research specialists will share the latest information around dry bean production nutrition and other topics.

Feedlot roundtables are being planned in February at the Panhandle Center and elsewhere around Nebraska. Beef feedlot managers, owners, employees and supporting industry personnel will learn the latest in feedlot nutrition, health, and economics.

Training for pesticide applicators takes place in numerous sessions from late January through April throughout western Nebraska, for licensed applicators seeking first-time certification or renewal of their license for 2017. Master Gardener training gets under way in late February for people who have an interest in lawn or gardens, are willing to become a trained volunteer, and who like to help people in their communities.

Meanwhile, Extension 4-H staff will be working with youth in camps, clubs, school-enrichment and after-school programs. Community Vitality educators will be helping Nebraska communities and businesses grow in areas such as on-line marketing, customer service, recruiting and retaining residents, and raising a new generation of entrepreneurs. Classes and workshops put on by food and nutrition educators will help SNAP-Ed clients with meal planning, show how to manage Type 2 diabetes, and encourage physical activity.

There will be many other educational opportunities. This is just a sampling. At the local level, the public can learn about these opportunities, and how to participate, through several channels. Extension makes extensive use of local news media, both print and broadcast outlets. Some counties publish newsletters as well.

And Extension programs are widely available on the World Wide Web at these sites: