Upcoming Events

Health & Wellness Across the Life Span

Many of Extension’s efforts to improve health and wellness are focusing on obesity, the state’s number one health problem, which is directly related to a number of chronic conditions. Special emphasis is on reversing the trend of childhood obesity. We in Extension are working to help you, our consumers. The following are programs that we are eager to offer. We can present these programs to groups of 5 or more people at one time. It can be a church group, after-school group, community group, a sorority, fraternity or individuals looking for help to improve their lives. If you are interested in scheduling a program, please call the Escambia County Extension Office at (251) 867-7760. The programs are:

  • The “DEEP” (Diabetes Education Empowerment Program) – In cooperation with Atom Alliance and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid (CMS), the Alabama Cooperative Extension System will be offering free diabetes education classes in Alabama. You can receive eight hours of diabetes self-management training in your community. These classes are designed to: * Educate on how to best control blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels; * Empower you to establish relationships with your primary care provider; *Encourage better nutrition and regular exercise; *Encourage lifestyle changes that lead to the reduction in the number of diabetes complications (heart disease, blindness, nerve damage, etc.) and limb amputations; and * Express the importance of developing support networks of family, friends, and existing community-based social services. These six (6) classes present information in simple medical terms and concepts using props and pictures in a way that is conducive to better understanding and make learning fun. The classes are 60- 90 minutes long. If you have diabetes or pre-diabetes, we invite you to contact us for more information; or if you are an organization that wishes to become a community partner and provide a location for diabetes education. Cost – Free
  • Eat Healthy Be Active Community Workshop – This program was developed by the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. This research-based workshop was designed for individuals and families to come together in a fun and interactive setting to learn about eating healthier and ways to put more activity into their everyday. The six-week sessions will discuss making healthy choices, reading the Nutrition Facts label, how to make quick healthy meals, how to lose weight and keep it off and other essential topics. An exercise component has been added. Cost – Free.
  • The Right Bite Diabetes Cooking School – The Right Bite Healthy Diabetes Cooking School was designed to show people how to enjoy consuming healthy food. Through hands-on experiences the group will prepare delicious meals and snacks to control and prevent diabetes and other chronic diseases. Through four 2-hour sessions this series covers information on portion control; reading labels; uses of sweeteners; selecting healthier food at the store and preparing recipes lower in fat, cholesterol, sugar, sodium, etc. Cost – $10.00
  • Color Me Healthy – This program works with Day Care Providers and Head Start Teachers. Color Me Healthy is a program designed to reach children ages four and five. It provides fun, innovative, interactive learning opportunities on physical activity and healthy eating. The program is designed to stimulate all of the senses of young children: touch, smell, sight, sound, and, of course, taste. Color Me Healthy uses color, music, and exploration of the senses to teach children that healthy food and physical activity are fun! Color Me Healthy (CMH) is a research-tested intervention designed to improve fruit and vegetable intake and increase physical activity among the preschoolers. Cost – Free
  • Rethink Your Drink Exhibit – An effort to help decrease obesity by recognizing the consumption of sugar in beverages.
  • Dangerous Look-A-Likes – The Dangerous Look A-Likes Program is a Poison Prevention and Awareness Program. Many times product packages and sometimes actual products can look so much alike that a small child or an adult with poor or failing eyesight may be unable to tell the difference. This program gives tips for people of all ages to stay safe and to poison proof their home!

Grilled Foods for Tailgating

Whether you are an Auburn fan or an Alabama fan, Saturdays are known for football and grilling. Finger foods are perfect for keeping football party guests happy during and after the game. They are portable, easy to handle, and offer guests the option to try a wide variety of foods. The possibilities are endless – meats, cheeses, fruits, and vegetables of all types imaginable can be engineered to be grill friendly. Here are a few ideas that will help make your football party a TOUCHDOWN (even if your team loses).

  • Roll pieces of sausage in thin bacon, use a toothpick to hold it together, sprinkle with brown sugar. Grill on low heat until the sausage and bacon are fully cooked.
  • Slice jalapenos long ways, remove the seeds, fill with a mixture of cream and cheddar cheeses, throw in bacon bits and top with a dash of Cajun seasoning for a special twist. Grill until the cheese has melted and slightly brown on top. This time of year jalapenos can be super-hot. Try parboiling them before stuffing to reduce the heat.
  • Slice peppers, mushrooms, okra, tomatoes, squash, and anything else in your vegetable garden. Marinate for a few minutes in your favorite mixture (Italian dressing works great). Grill until light brown.
  • Wild game is another grilling favorite. Try using small strips of venison cubed steak to wrap a slice of jalapeno and chunk of cream cheese. Then wrap the venison in bacon. Put a toothpick through the middle to hold everything together. Grill until the venison and bacon are fully cooked. Dove breasts are also very tasty prepared this way.
  • Sliced pineapple, peaches, and strawberries can be put directly on the grill for a unique finger food. This sweet treat will be sure to be a hit.
  • For the kids, try something simple like pieces of hot dog on a toothpick.
  • For dessert, s’mores are excellent to grill. Just put a little chocolate and marshmallow between 2 graham crackers and then warm until melted.

Food items such as these are great to cook a few at a time throughout the game. You can impress guests by passing them around on a plate and surprising guests with new items every so often. The great thing about all of these ideas is that the prep can be done a day ahead of time so that your cook isn’t stuck in the kitchen all day. Still, be sure to position the grill so that the cook can see the game!

The House of Horrible Germs


The House of Horrible Germs Program teaches children about the importance of proper hand washing for good health. The “HOG” exhibit is an 8 X 8 foot tent decorated inside with pretend germs and black lights. Children apply a black light sensitive lotion to their hands and enter the tent and see pretend germs. After students wash their hands, they re-enter the tent to see if all the germs are gone. This interactive exhibit is used in school settings, festivals, fairs and other community events.

Congratulations Graduates!

Congratulations Graduates!

We would like to extend our congratulations to ALL graduates reaching this milestone.  We wish you the best in your future endeavors.

Memory Boosting Foods

If you’re feeling forgetful, it could be due to a lack of sleep or a number of other reasons including genetics, level of physical activity, and lifestyle and environmental factors. However, there’s no doubt that diet plays a major role in brain health.

The best menu for boosting memory and brain function encourages good blood flow to the brain — much like what you’d eat to nourish and protect your heart. A recent study found that the Mediterranean Diet helps in keeping aging brains sharp, and a growing body of evidence links foods like those in the Mediterranean Diet with better cognitive function, memory and alertness.

Strengthen Recall by Adding These Foods to the Rotation

Eat your veggies. You’re not likely to forget this message. Getting adequate vegetables, especially cruciferous ones including broccoli, cabbage and dark leafy greens, may help improve memory. Try a raw kale salad or substitute collard greens for the tortilla in your next sandwich wrap. Broccoli stir-fry is also an excellent option for lunch or dinner.

Be sweet on berries and cherries. Berries — especially dark ones such as blackberries, blueberries and cherries — are a rich source of anthocyanins and other flavonoids that may boost memory function. Enjoy a handful of berries for a snack, mixed into cereal or baked into an antioxidant-rich dessert. You can reap these benefits from fresh, frozen or dried berries and cherries.

Get adequate omega-3 fatty acids. Essential for good brain health, omega-3 fatty acids, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in particular, may help improve memory in healthy young adults. DHA is the most abundant fatty acid in the brain. It makes sense that if you have higher levels of DHA in the blood, then the brain will operate more efficiently.

Seafood, algae and fatty fish — including salmon, bluefin tuna, sardines and herring — are some of the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Substitute fish for meat a couple of times each week to get a healthy dose. Grill, bake or broil fish for ultimate flavor and health. Try salmon tacos with red cabbage slaw, snack on sardines or enjoy seared tuna on salad greens for dinner. If you don’t eat fish, discuss supplementation with your doctor or registered dietitian nutritionist. You can get omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil, seaweed or microalgae supplements.

Work in walnuts. Well known for a positive impact on heart health, walnuts also may improve working memory. Snack on a handful of walnuts to satisfy midday hunger, add them to oatmeal or salad for crunch or mix them into a vegetable stir-fry for extra protein.

These foods are not just good for the brain; they also sustain a healthy heart and all parts of the body. While there’s no guarantee that these foods will help you remember where you put your keys tomorrow, over time they can support lifelong good health. Source: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

For more information, please contact Carolyn Bivins.


Don’t Get Taken By Travel and Vacation Scams


Don’t get taken on your vacation. Before you do business with a travel company, check it out with the Better Business Bureau.

Travel and vacation scams usually are characterized by free or exclusive offers or unrealistic low prices.

Often these scams are linked to prize promotions or sweepstakes offers.

“Regardless of how they are offered, these types of scams have common elements, they fail to disclose certain fees, conditions and restrictions apply; and they misrepresent the nature or quality of the travel and hotel accommodations,” said Rick Zapata, an Alabama Extension regional agent  in consumer science and personal financial management. “You might have to spend one of the two free days in Florida attending a time-share presentation or else pay for your hotel. A cruise to the Bahamas may turn out to be a short ferry ride,” Zapata added.

Most travel and vacation scams also misrepresent a consumer’s ability to book the offered package. For example, a discount travel package may require reservations be made within a year and 90 days before the requested travel dates, or require three alternative travel dates. A fraudulent company fails to reply to the travel reservation requests consumers submit, replies too late for consumers to make personal travel arrangements, determines the reservations were not submitted within the 90-day period or determines the requested travel dates are fully booked.

In the worst case, the fraudulent company confirms the reservations with the consumer and doesn’t deliver the promised airline tickets. The consumer, who had made the necessary personal travel arrangements, arrives at the airport or hotel to find there are no reservations.

“The consequences of most, if not all, travel and vacation scams are consumers don’t receive the represented goods or services and can’t recover their money from the companies perpetrating these scams. Consumers routinely lose hundreds of dollars in these scams,” said Zapata.

If you can pay for the service with a company like Pay Pal, you might have some added protections if the services offered are really a scam.

For free information about avoiding travel and vacation scams, contact the Federal Trade Commission  or the National Fraud Information Center.


Planning the Garden to Preserve the Harvest

iStock_000017358071_MediumSpring is on its way and now is the time to plan what produce you may want to plant in your garden. In order to get the most out of your garden space, it’s important to plan what to put in the ground, and also plan how to preserve the bountiful harvest. Careful planning and careful attention throughout the growing season can provide your family with delicious home grown fruits and vegetables throughout the year.

Two resources can help with your planning. The first is the Alabama Extension publication “The Alabama Vegetable Gardener”. It gives vegetable yields per 100 feet of land – an essential planning tool for the home food producer. For example, 100 feet of tomatoes should yield 100 pounds of tomatoes. The publication also contains information about planting, soil fertility, weed control, disease control, and insect control.

Based on what is planted, plans can be made to preserve the produce. To can the tomatoes in the above example, the 100 pounds of tomatoes will make about 35 quarts of whole canned tomatoes. A yield chart, canning recipes, and freezing instructions can be found in the Alabama Extension Home Food Preservation book. More information on canning and home food preservation can be found in ACES Publications or by visiting the ACES Food Safety website, including food storage charts showing how long you can safely keep different foods in your pantry, refrigerator, or freezer. Additionally, there are recipes and resources can be found online at the National Center for Home Food Preservation hosted by the University of Georgia.

Want to plant more and provide your local community with fresh fruits and vegetables?  Think about selling some of your excess at a Farmers Market?  It’s a great way to earn a little extra money this summer and help build our local food system. Farmers markets are located throughout the state. For more information on farmers markets, for both farmers and consumers, or to find a farmers market near you, visit the ACES Farmers Market website. If you are interested in selling prepared foods such as baked goods, sauces, jams & jellies, etc., see our publication on Cottage Food Law in Alabama.

For more gardening and food preservation information, or call Amelia Mitchell, Regional Extension Agent, at 251-574-8445 or mcgreaj@aces.edu.

Youth and the Media it’s Time to Talk

Tragic news seems to be everywhere lately. Adults have the capacity to sort through the many news events we watch on television and read on social media, but what about our most vulnerable population our precious gifts, our children. Have you taken the time to really talk with your children about the events that are happening all around the community, state and nation?

We are all over exposed to news involving tragic events and this can lead to added anxiety, fear, stress and uncertainty for our children and ourselves. Take time now to sit with your children and try and reassure them that you are here for them and they can talk to you about any fears they may have.

National advocates suggest that we be mindful of age and appropriateness of the talk for each child and their maturity level. Listen actively by acknowledging each child’s thoughts and the concerns they express. Let children tell you what they have heard and what it means to them. Reassure children by repeating what they have stated and let them know you understand their concerns, but use discretion in trying to explain complex topics. Age and maturity are the factors to consider whether you can go into an honest portrayal of your understanding of events and the amount of details needed.

The Alabama Cooperative Extension System offers resources that you can view on our website that offers information that can help parents and the community to develop a meaningful conversation about family well-being and communication with children and youth at different age levels.

Positive youth development activities are available through 4-H, our umbrella for all youth activities through the Alabama Cooperative Extension System. On June 23-25, 2015 Alabama youth are invited to be a part of the Teens and Tweens Making Impact Empowerment Conference on the campus of Alabama A&M University. For more information on this event and other summer activities, contact Amanda Outlaw, Urban Regional Extension Agent, at 251-574-8445 or outlaac@aces.edu for more details.

Dangers of Texting and Driving

dangers of texting and driving

We hear about texting and driving all the time.  Law enforcement is taking notice of drivers who are texting.  Parents warn their children………children warn their parents.  Have you ever thought about the real dangers of being distracted? The following numbers are very alarming!!

Here’s a scary statistic:

If you text and drive, you are 23 times more likely to have a car crash.  Texting while driving has become the number one driving distraction for many people. Drivers need to be aware of the dangers and keep their attention on the road, not on their cell phones or other mobile devices.

In 2012, 3,328 people were killed in crashes involving a distracted driver in addition to 421,000 people being injured in motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver.  Each day in the United States, more than 9 people are killed and more than 1,153 people are injured in crashes that are reported to involve a distracted driver.  Distracted driving is driving while doing another activity that takes your attention away from driving. Distracted driving can increase the chance of a motor vehicle crash.

There are three main types of distraction:

  • Visual: taking your eyes off the road;
  • Manual: taking your hands off the wheel;
  • Cognitive: taking your mind off of driving.

Distracted driving activities include things like using a cell phone, texting, and eating. Using in-vehicle technologies (such as navigation systems) can also be sources of distraction. While any of these distractions can endanger the driver and others, texting while driving is especially dangerous because it combines all three types of distraction.

CDC Distracted Driving Study

A CDC study analyzed 2011 data on distracted driving, including talking on a cell phone or reading or sending texts or emails behind the wheel.

  • 69% of drivers in the United States ages 18-64 reported that they had talked on their cell phone while driving within the 30 days before they were surveyed
  • 31% of U.S. drivers ages 18-64 reported that they had read or sent text messages or email messages while driving at least once within the 30 days before they were surveyed.

For more information on Family & Child Development programs, contact me atodommar@auburn.edu or 251-604-5226.

Nuts as a Healthy Snack

Nuts are a fun-to-eat and healthy snack that can help meet daily nutrient needs. “Choose fruits, vegetables and a variety of nuts. Be sure to use snacks to compliment meals, not replace them, said Tera Glenn, a regional human nutrition, diet and health agent with theAlabama Extension.

Nuts, such as pistachios and almonds, are good sources of minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, copper, zinc and selenium. Pistachios, pecans and walnuts provide folate, which can help reduce the risk of birth defects.

Nutrient-rich nuts are also good sources of energy that contain protein, carbohydrates and fat. Nuts, seeds and vegetable oils contain mainly monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Fats and oils, chosen carefully eaten sparingly, are essential in a healthy eating pattern.

Cashews, peanuts or pistachios can provide a high energy boost before beginning physical activity. Nuts can be added to salads, pasta, entrée and vegetable dishes as well as all types of baked breads and muffins. “Combine fresh fruits and nuts for a snack after school or work. Glenn said she enjoys a good trail mix.  “It is a good snack and you can make it at home or buy at it at the store.

“Remember, each serving is a tasty source of fiber, vitamins and minerals. A serving size of nuts is a small handful or 1.5 ounces or 2 Tablespoons of nut butter. And, always, everything in moderation is key to a balance diet,” she added.

Fat carries vitamins E and A and beta carotene from food into the bloodstream. Eating snacks with less fat makes sense; however, you should not eliminate fat from your eating pattern. You can choose fats carefully and balance your snack choices.

Snacks containing mostly saturated fats, such as those from animal products and those made with coconut and palm oils should be eaten sparingly.

Snacks can be part of a healthy eating plan, providing energy and nutrients for adults and children. About 75 percent of adults eat at least one snack a day. Children need to eat about every three to four hours because of their small stomachs. That means they need two to three snacks a day.

Eat Healthy Be Active Community Workshop


The “Eat Healthy Be Active Community Workshop (EHBA)” has been revised! In our revised 6-week program you will participate in more Exercises!  After all, “Physical Activity is Key to Living Well”.   You will also have fun learning:  “Tips for Losing Weight and Keeping it Off”, “Eating Healthy On a Budget”, reading nutrition facts labels, modifying recipes, tips for eating out, and much, much more. The program will last only one hour.  The EHBA workshop is ideal for civic clubs, senior sites, church groups, Homemakers clubs, and YOU!

I would like to challenge you to join us and get started exercising, eating better and becoming a healthier you! Please call the Baldwin County Office and sign up today. Our number is (251) 937-7176. The “Eat Healthy Be Active” Community Workshop (EHBA) is sponsored by the Alabama Cooperative Extension System – Baldwin County Office.

Just Thirty Minutes a Day

If you could increase your quality of life, would you? Would you like to add extra years to your life? Dedicating just 30 minutes of your day to exercise can do this for you and more! The National Institute on Aging states, “If exercise could be packed into a pill, it would be the single most widely prescribed and beneficial medicine in the nation.” Such a true statement! So, what is the best exercise you can do? It’s the one you’re going to do!

There are many excuses we use for not exercising; the weather is too hot or too cold, kids, too fat, don’t have the money, too old, too tired and the list goes on! The number one excuse for people not exercising is – yes, you guessed it – time. If there is something you really want to do, don’t you find a way to do it? Just 30 minutes a day should be carved out of your day for exercise. We are creatures of habit. Once you get in a daily routine exercising, it will become a habit!

There are so many benefits of exercise you’ll wonder why you haven’t been doing it! Exercise strengthens the heart and lungs; it keeps you from getting tired; helps you sleep better, and it protects against the start of Type 2 diabetes and certain cancers. It helps control blood pressure; helps improve digestion and elimination. Research has shown people who exercise have a better memory, better reaction times and better levels of concentration than non-exercisers. Exercise improves posture, coordination and appearance; it improves our range of motion, mental alertness and self-confidence.

Exercise also helps us cope with stress, depression and anxiety. The big bonus is exercise enhances your quality of life; it helps you lose weight, and it helps maintain body weight. Whew! Can you believe exercise does all this!

For all of you who are still convinced you don’t have time to exercise, break your time up into 10-minute increments of fitness throughout the day. For example, during TV commercials, I try to get in arm curls, side bends, sit-ups, leg lifts, jogging in place, or anything that gets my heart rate up.

You need to incorporate aerobic, muscle-strength and flexibility exercise into your weekly workouts for total overall fitness. Aerobic exercise works your heart and lungs. Exercise examples include walking, jogging, raking, swimming dancing, cycling, mowing (push-mower), and treadmill.

Have you noticed as you age you are losing muscle tone? When you wave does your arm keep waving? Muscular exercise helps build and maintain muscle strength. It increases bone density and helps improve balance. Check with your doctor before adding a weight training component to your exercise routine. The key to weight training is getting the movements down correctly. Start off practicing the exercise without weights until you get the movement down correctly. This helps prevent injuries. Flexibility exercise warms up the muscles, improves range of motion and prevents muscle tightness. We stretch the muscle before we exercise and stretch after the exercise. It is important to consult your doctor to be sure you are healthy enough to start an exercise program.

Here are a few tips for an enjoyable exercise experience: Stretch, drink plenty of water while exercising; drink water before your work out, during workout and after. Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing. Cotton is great for absorbing moisture and dries quickly. Wear a good supporting sneaker shoe; one that fits correctly and is comfortable.

Now, I would like to challenge you to join us at an “Eat Healthy, Be Active Community Workshop”!  Let’s get started exercising, eating better and becoming a healthier you!  Call the Baldwin County Extension Office at 251-937-7176 and register today.