Upcoming Events

September 4-H Newsletter

Check out the September 4-H Newsletter to see what’s coming up for Marion County 4-H’ers: http://offices.aces.edu/marion/wp-content/uploads/sites/56/2017/09/September-2017-4-H-Newsletter.pdf

Contact the Marion County Extension Office (205)921-3551 or rgd0007@aces.edu for questions.

2017 Farm City Poster, Essay, and Multimedia Contest

Marion County Rules: http://offices.aces.edu/marion/wp-content/uploads/sites/56/2017/08/Combined-Rules-1.pdf

State Rules: http://alabamafarmcity.org/

County Prizes Provided by the Marion County ALFA Farmer’s Federation

1st Place $50.00

2nd Place $25.00

3rd Place $15.00

**ALL submissions must be made to the Marion County Extension Office by October 31st, 2017. The Marion County Farm City Committee will select the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners. 1st Place work will be submitted by the Marion County Committee for state submission. **

DUE: October 31st, 2017 to the Marion County Extension Office.

The Alabama Farm-City Committee is excited once again to offer a Multimedia Contest, Poster Contest and Essay Contest to Marion County Youth. The contest is sponsored by Alabama Farmers Cooperative and complements the Farm-City poster and essay contests by providing students another channel to express their creativity. The 2017 theme for all three contests is “Agriculture: Food for Life.” The 2017 National Ag Day and Farm-City Week theme of “Agriculture: Food for Life” captures the essence of farming. No other industry or activity is more connected to “life” than agriculture. Farmers produce the grains, protein, fruit, vegetables, nuts and dairy products that sustain life. The food we eat is literally fuel for our bodies. Without it, life would be unsustainable. But agriculture is intertwined to “life” in other ways, too. Private farms and forestland provide habitat and food for wildlife, and support the lives of all nature’s creatures. Through conservation and environmental stewardship, farmers protect the life-giving water, air and soil on which we all depend. Life, however, is not merely a physical existence. It’s also emotional and spiritual experiences, working together to provide a healthy, well-balanced life for Earth’s inhabitants. Agriculture provides food for the “lifestyles” we enjoy because modern farming and forestry practices allow 99 percent of Americans to pursue other occupations, hobbies and volunteer activities. Without farmers providing “food for life,” our economy and culture would suffer. Food is essential. Out of necessity, people would forego science, art and other pursuits if they were forced to gather or hunt their own food. In this way, agriculture is foundational to civilization. Still, agriculture’s contributions to life continue to expand. Through biotechnology, farming is improving life around the world. Disease- and drought-resistant plants provide “food for life” in some of the poorest regions on the planet. Improved plant and animal breeding addresses nutritional and human health needs. Farms and forests generate alternative energy sources. And agricultural products are utilized every day in not only food, but also pharmaceuticals, textiles and industrial applications. Agriculture touches every aspect of our lives. From the clothes we wear and the food we eat, to the homes where we live and the cars we drive, agriculture and forest products are ever present. Farmers help conserve the resources we need and the nature we enjoy. As we celebrate National Ag Day and Farm-City Week, it’s a great opportunity to remember the diversity of “Agriculture: Food for Life.”


Call or email the 4-H Agent with any questions regarding this contest. (205)921-3551 or rgd0007@aces.edu Office Hours 7:30am-12:00pm 12:30pm-4:00pm Monday-Friday

Fall 4-H Horse Camp October 21st

When: Saturday, October 21st, 2017 9:00am-3:00pm

Where: Alexandria Farms 850 Grady Williams Road Hamilton 35570

Ages: 9-18

Cost: $40

What To Wear: Long Pants, Boots/Tennis Shoes (NO open toed shoes)

Payment Due: Tuesday, October 17th by 4:00pm to the Marion County Extension Office 372 7th Avenue SW Hamilton, AL 35570

Forms Completed by a parent/guardian: Friday, November 4th 4:00pm

REQUIRED FORMS: http://offices.aces.edu/marion/wp-content/uploads/sites/56/2017/08/Horse-Camp-Forms-and-Directions.pdf

Map from Marion County 4-H Office: http://offices.aces.edu/marion/wp-content/uploads/sites/56/2016/10/Map.pdf

                        *Make checks payable to: Allie Trentham *

For more information call or email the Marion County Extension Office 205)921-3551 or rgd0007@aces.edu Open Mon.-Fri. 7:30AM-4:00PM 372 7th Ave. SW Hamilton, AL 35570 For more specific Horse Camp questions you can call Allie Trentham (205)495-2830


Garden Talk: Danger Follows the Buzz of Summer

By Andrew J. Baril

Every summer here in Alabama, there is an eerie buzz in the woods.  Those living close to water are used to the regular serenade of croaking frogs.  Their croaking usually begins just before sundown and continues until its crescendo around the crowing of the early morning, 3:00 am rooster.  This croaking however is not the buzz I am hearing.  The eerie buzz occurs in both hardwood and pine forests.  It sounds off in both the city and the country.  It happens close to water and in the driest ecosystems.  The buzz I am thinking about is the mating call of the Periodical and Annual Cicadas.

Periodical cicadas are broken into two groups based on its 17- or 13-year periodic appearances.  Seventeen-year cicada tend to live up North while the 13-year cicada lives in the South.  Most of the cicadas in Alabama belong to what scientists call ‘Brood XIX’.  This brood last appeared in 2011, and should return in 2024.  One thing I find interesting about these cicadas is that all of the adults come out of the ground around May 1, and they are gone by the beginning of June.  Adults appear only to reproduce.  At this time, the cicada crawls out of the soil up a tree or other structure, then it sheds it exoskeleton and emerges with wings.  Once the wings are dry, the male cicada begins to sing to attract a female.  After breeding, the female lays her eggs on a small branch of a hardwood tree.  Adult cicadas die shortly after mating, but the eggs remain.  In six weeks, nymphs hatch and fall to the ground, and begin their life in the soil.

Annual cicadas are what we typically call ‘dog-day’ cicadas.  There are several species of these insects, and they take two to five years to complete their life cycle.  However, the annual cicadas overlap their cycles, so every summer we hear adult cicadas singing in Alabama.  This all male choir began their song a few weeks back and should continue through mid-September.  They complete/begin their life cycles just like the periodical cicadas.  Therefore, every summer we have cicadas, but some summers we have more.

In my title, I said there is a danger following the buzz of summer.  Here is the danger: copperhead snakes.  Any time God gives us a bounty, he expects us to either collect the harvest or he sends another collecting – nothing is wasted.  Salmon runs in Alaska attracts brown bears.  Cicada runs in Alabama attracts copperheads.  I have not seen this yet this summer at my cabin in the Talladega woods, but my friends on the Bankhead have shared this on Facebook: ‘a picture of a copperhead sitting at the base of a white oak waiting for a newly emerging cicada to climb up their tree’.  It is a feast fit for a king.  If you are lucky, and wearing a headlamp, you might even get to witness a king snake catching, killing, and eating a copperhead.  Nights in the forest can be exhilarating.  By morning, the snakes have all but retreated to the cool safety of the den to sleep off their nightly meal.  Be warned!  As long as the buzz continues, the snakes will come out to feast each evening.

Garden Talk is written by Andrew J. Baril of the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, C. Beaty Hanna Horticulture & Environmental Center, which is based at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens.  This column includes research-based information from land-grant universities around the country, including Alabama A&M and Auburn Universities.  Email questions to ajb0012@auburn.edu, or call 205 879-6964. Learn more about what is going on in Jefferson County by visiting the ACES website, www.aces.edu/Jefferson or checking us on Facebook and Twitter.  The Alabama Cooperative Extension System (Alabama A&M and Auburn Universities), is an equal opportunity employer and educator.  Everyone is welcome!

4-H RiverKids August 4th-5th!



WHO: Any Marion County youth ages 9-18 as of 1/16/17 are eligible to participate. (Youth MUST know how to swim to participate/sign up)

WHAT: This program provides the chance for youth to experience Marion County’s abundant water resources while acquiring paddling skills, learning about water safety, and enjoying outdoor recreation.

WHEN: August 4th-5th: Friday, August 4th 9:00am-12:00pm (Upper Bear Creek Reservoir-Twin Park) Saturday, August 5th 9:00am-11:30pm (Float down Bear Creek Canoe Run) Paddling instruction and water safety will be taught before water entry.

WHERE: Specific Float location details will be disclosed at time of registration. Youth must complete all forms and payment by Tuesday, August 1st, in order to participate.

COST: $5 per child-includes instruction, paddling equipment, PFD (personal flotation device), kayak, paddle, snacks, and BCDA permit. Make checks/money order payable to: Alabama 4-H Foundation

REGISTRATION INFORMATION: Limit of 10 youth spots are available. They will be filled on a first PAID-first served basis. ($5 even if you bring your own equipment to help cover the costs of lunch/snacks)

REQUIRED FORMS: Completed forms must be filled out by a parent/guardian and returned to the Marion County Extension Office by Tuesday, August 1st. Download Forms: http://offices.aces.edu/marion/wp-content/uploads/sites/56/2017/05/RiverKids-Form.pdf

SUGGESTED ATTIRE:  Hat, Sunglasses, Bathing Suit underneath quick dry type shorts and shirt, and water Shoes-no flip flops. Bring a dry bag or some type of container for your phone/keys/etc. if you need it!

EQUIPMENT: Marion County 4-H will provide each youth with their own kayak to use, paddle, and PFD (personal flotation devices must be worn at all times on the water-even if you bring your own equipment to use). A shared first aid kit and emergency throw ropes will be used by screened/trained 4-H leaders/volunteers for added safety. If you have your own kayak and paddle feel free to bring it, but please know you can’t participate in RiverKids without wearing a PFD-safety first!

TO REGISTER: ALL Forms and Payment is due to the Marion County Extension Office by Tuesday, August 1st, by 3:30pm. Address: 372 7th Avenue SW Hamilton, AL 35570 (across the street from the Hamilton Recreation Center)

QUESTIONS: Contact the 4-H Agent Rebecca Danley (205)921-3551 or rgd0007@aces.edu                                                                             

Garden Talk: Nighttime Howlers

Photo credit: Alabama Extension

Garden Talk: Nighttime Howlers

By Andrew J. Baril

Summer is on its way in Alabama.  Those of us who live in central Alabama have the typical hazy, hot, humid days of summer headed our way.  Soon the ‘dog days of summer’ will be upon us.  Thinking of dogs and having Buster sitting here with me on my front porch prompted this article.  Each night I hear coyotes howling in the night.  Coyotes are nothing new for us here in the Talladega Mountains, but for my urbanite friends in Birmingham, they can be quite a scare.  Let’s look at coyotes.

According to Dr. Mark Smith, Extension Specialist, at Auburn, coyotes (Canis latrans) are everywhere in the state. Yes, as a Regional Extension Agent, I have responded to coyote questions throughout my region, including Homewood, Vestavia Hills, Mountain Brook, and Hoover.  With the extirpation of the red wolf and mountain lion from Alabama, coyotes have moved in, and in the last fifty years, they have become the largest carnivore in the state.  They range in size from 20 – 50 pounds.  Coyotes have succeeded in filling this niche because the coyote is an opportunistic omnivore; in other words, they will eat just about anything.  They have been known to eat grass and other light herbaceous vegetation, fruit (including your watermelons), seeds, reptiles, rodents, rabbits, birds, dog & cat food (and occasionally the small pet), carrion, white-tail fawns, sheep, goats, poultry, and calves.  Recently research has shown that coyotes do play a role in the decrease of the doe/fawn ratio. Large hunting clubs should maintain a trapping program if it desires to grow a large deer herd.  Ranchers understand the coyote problem and attempt to minimize losses with guard dogs, donkeys, and llamas.

Coyotes mate in February/March and pups are born April/May.  Pups are born with their eyes closed and are completely dependent upon milk for the first few weeks.  The family unit or pack consists of the Alpha male and female, this year’s pups, and possibly last year’s pups if they have not bred.  During the fall/winter the adults chase off the pups to establish new territory and find a mate.  In prime habitat (farm/forest cover), coyotes can live in high densities up to 15 per square mile (640 acres), and they normally live less than three years.

Dangers normally occur when coyotes become habituated to humans.  Do not leave pet food out at night!  Outside cats and small dogs need a ‘safe spot’ and a fenced yard for their security.  Large dogs need to be trained not to follow coyotes into the woods.  A good livestock dog will run the coyote off away from the livestock, but not chase it through the woods.  Dogs that roam rural communities are fair game.  Should one of a farmer’s livestock die, bury the animal properly.  Do not give coyotes a reason to live close to your farm.  In the city, keep your garbage in the garage over-night (this is also good advice if you have roaming dogs or raccoons in the neighborhood).  Garbage trucks are not running at 4:00 AM.  Place your garbage curbside during the daylight hours.  Any source of food is an encouragement for coyotes to relocate to your property.

Finally, let me put the coyote issue in proper perspective.  Nationally 15 – 20 people die every year from dog attacks, whereas one or two people are non-fatally attacked by coyotes.  We need coyotes.  Coyotes fill the role that the mountain lion and wolf once filled.  Not only do coyotes help keep down the surplus rodent population, they also eat the dead stuff (carrion) that we hate to have around.  Coyotes are here to stay, let us learn how to safely live with them.

Garden Talk is written by Andrew J. Baril of the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, C. Beaty Hanna Horticulture & Environmental Center, which is based at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens.  This column includes research-based information from land-grant universities around the country, including Alabama A&M and Auburn Universities.  Email questions to ajb0012@auburn.edu, or call 205 879-6964. Learn more about what is going on in Jefferson County by visiting the ACES website, www.aces.edu/Jefferson or checking us on Facebook and Twitter.  The Alabama Cooperative Extension System (Alabama A&M and Auburn Universities), is an equal opportunity employer and educator.  Everyone is welcome!


Garden Talk: Life (and Death) of our Trees

By Andrew J. Baril

Tree Physiology is the study of tree characteristics and how those trees grow.  From my class at Auburn in the early 1980s, I remember looking at numerous pictures and slides under the mircoscope of plant cells, and hearing from our professor how these trees grew.  While I working in the timber industry, I rarely thought of trees dying.  Normally we cut the trees in a harvesting operation way before the trees could die of old age, disease, or insects.  What I was looking at were the large trees.  I never thought of the thousands of ‘little’ trees that died so that one big tree could become big.  Today I would like to speak to y’all about your forest and yard trees, and what could be the reason they are dying.

Here in Alabama, the vast majority of the state is covered with trees.  For simplicity, south to north in the state, our trees go from a majority of pines to a majority of hardwoods.  All of these trees grow in competition with each other.  Lobloly pine (Pinus teada) and white oak (Quercus alba) both cast off around 20,000 seeds each year.  A large porition of these seeds are eaten by other animals and insects, but most of these seeds land on the soil, germinate, and begin to grow.  Because all plants get their food from the sun through the process of photosynthesis, the amount of shade is a large determiner on who will survive.  Another arena where trees compete is in the soil.  Trees need water and nutrients from the soil to mix with sunlight in the leaves to produce the sugars and starches needed for plant growth.  If a tree is photosynthesising well, it’s roots are growing faster and out-competing a poorly synthesizing tree.  Again trees are in a life and death struggle every day.  Last fall north central Alabama expeirienced a severe drought.   Trees were fighting for water.  The trees that did not receive their daily requirement of water were put under stress.  Trees harmed by human activity before the drought were placed in double jeopardy.

The greatest human activity affecting a growing tree is planting a tree in the wrong location.  Planting a shade loving tree in the sun, or planting a moisture loving tree on a hill is a death sentence.  Many times we plant cool weather trees like Leyland cypress, Arborvitea, spruce, or fir down here in the sunny South and expect them to live.  Trust me, as a “Yankee come South”, most of the Northern Hardwoods and all of the conifers will not grow long down here; its just too hot for them.  Trees in stress are subseptable to a whole host of diseases and insect damage.  Last month I wrote how southern bark beetles attack weakened pines.  Currently, I am seeing a lot of Hypoxylon Canker in red oaks.  This fungus grows slowly in many hardwoods.  With the decrease in tree moisture due to drought, the fungus takes off and kills the tree.  You can notice Hypox canker by seeing flat black or gray patches growing on the bark of your trees.  Should you find these patches on your hardwoods, start getting prices for tree removal.  As I stated in the beginning, all trees are in a daily struggle to survive.

Garden Talk is written by Andrew J. Baril of the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, C. Beaty Hanna Horticulture & Environmental Center, which is based at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens.  This column includes research-based information from land-grant universities around the country, including Alabama A&M and Auburn Universities.  Email questions to ajb0012@auburn.edu, or call 205 879-6964. Learn more about what is going on in Jefferson County by visiting the ACES website, www.aces.edu/Jefferson or checking us on Facebook and Twitter.  The Alabama Cooperative Extension System (Alabama A&M and Auburn Universities), is an equal opportunity employer and educator.  Everyone is welcome!

4-H Shotgun Club

            Marion County 4-H Shotgun Club Meeting      

When: Saturday, June 3rd 1:30pm-3:30pm

Where: The City ‘s Field beside DHR in Hamilton (760 Industrial Drive, Hamilton, AL 35570)                                                                                                           

Ages: 9-18 (Youth ages 9-15 MUST be accompanied by an adult)

Cost:  Free

REQUIRED Forms: (MUST be filled out by a parent/guardian in order to participate)

1.  Completed Youth Consent Form

2. Completed Shooting Sports Liability Form

3. Provide Copy of Insurance Card

(Required Forms can be filled out and turned in ahead of time or copies of forms will be available at the event location-make sure you bring a copy of your insurance card. Forms can also be emailed to the 4-H Agent ahead of time or dropped off at the Marion County Extension Office)

What To Bring:                                                                                                                          

-You must provide your own firearm. Anything from a .410 gauge up to 12 gauge.

-You must supply your own ammunition. Anything from 6 shot up to 9 shot. Preferably 7.5-8 shot.

-Safety glasses and ear protection must be worn at all times on the range. If you don’t have them they will be provided for you.

For more information call or email the Marion County 4-H Foundation Regional Extension Agent, Rebecca Danley (205)921-3551 or rgd0007@aces.edu

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2017 Marion County Round-Up

PHOTOS from the 2017 Marion County 4-H Round-Up Event: https://www.facebook.com/pg/marioncountyal4h/photos/?tab=album&album_id=1698085383818391

When? May 16th, 2017 8:00am-1:30pm

Where? Hamilton Recreation Center (317 7th Ave SW Hamilton, AL 35570)

EXAMPLES: http://offices.aces.edu/marion/wp-content/uploads/sites/56/2017/03/2017-Marion-County-4-H-Round-Up-information-and-examples.pdf

County Round-Up Event Schedule May 16th, 2017

8:00am – 9:00am           Registration

9:00am – 9:15am            General Assembly/Set up Exhibits

9:15am – 11:30pm          Competitions/Outdoor Games

11:40pm-12:40pm          Lunch

1:00pm – 1:30pm             Awards in the Gymnasium (Parents are welcome to attend)

County Round-Up is a reward for active 4-H members! It’s also a celebration of what 4-Her’s have learned and the skills they have developed throughout the 4-H Year! The Marion County 4-H Round-Up is a great place for each Marion County 4-H member to “show off” their talents. Junior winners are selected in each event and will advance to the Regional Competition in June at Bevill State Community College in Sumiton, AL. Senior winners are selected in each event and will advance to State Competitive Events Day in July at the Alabama 4-H Center in Columbiana, AL.

Youth attending 4-H Round-Up MUST compete in at least ONE competition, and may compete in up to TWO competitions. Youth MUST sign up for their County Round-Up Competition with their 4-H Teacher/Sponsor/School Secretary by April 10th (they will have the sign up sheet after your scheduled March 4-H Meeting). Spaces will fill up quickly so register ASAP!

All youth are expected to follow the 4-H Rules found below for their selected competition. Please call or email the Extension Office if you would like the rules printed and delivered to your school (205)921-3551 or rgd0007@aces.edu. Please click on the name of the competition below to view the rules.

4-H Competition RULES




Click HERE for a Brief Description of Each Competition

Don’t Forget to bring your CAC Community Service items to County Round-Up on May 16th to help DHR! 

Call the Marion County Extension Office or email your 4-H Agent if you have any questions. The Marion County Extension Office is open Monday through Friday from 7:30 am to 4:00 pm. (Closed 12:00-12:30 pm daily for lunch) (205)921-3551 or rgd0007@aces.edu