Upcoming Events

Decorating With Nature


camellia blossoms on the shrub

November 14th from 9 am  to 11 am in the Extension Auditorium. 

Learn to collect plant clippings and materials from nature to create beautiful décor.

Demonstrations on Garland and wreath making along with other ideas.

Bring a bucket of your own clippings from your yard or just come and watch Mallory work her magic. Click on the link below for more information and registration.

Decorating with Nature- Tallapoosa

Master Naturalist Course Returns October 26th

UPDATED – New Starting Date.

After a well received and highly successful initial program last year, the Tallapoosa County Extension office will again offer the Alabama Master Naturalist Course beginning October 26, 2017.  The eight session course will be hosted by the Alabama Cooperative Extension and be held on Thursdays either once or twice a month.  Classes will be held at Wind Creek State Park in Alexander City from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The Alabama Master Naturalist (AMN) program is a statewide program whose goal is to help promote awareness, understanding, and respect for Alabama’s natural world among Alabama’s citizens and visitors.  In addition, the AMN program will also develop a statewide corps of well-informed volunteers providing education, outreach, and service dedicated to the beneficial management of natural resources and natural areas within their communities.

To become a fully certified Alabama Master Naturalist typically takes 1 full year, but it may take longer depending on the training regiment and track each participant chooses to follow.  A participant starts by completing a 40-basic training course that is offered through Extension.

In addition to the 40-hours of basic training, participants are also required to complete 30 hours of volunteer service during the first year (these hours will be split between a class project and other volunteer opportunities that meet the programs requirements). Once the basic training and the volunteer hours are completed during the first year, each participant will be identified as an Alabama Master Naturalist in Training.

During the next three years, an additional 30 hours of advanced training will also be required to become a fully certified Alabama Master Naturalist.  In addition, each AMN will be encouraged to complete a minimum of 40 hours of volunteer service as described in the AMN program per year.  AMN’s that complete and report their 40 hours of volunteer service per year will be eligible for special benefits associated with the AMN Program.

Classes topics will include:

  1. Taxonomy, Botany and Native Plants
  2. Freshwater Ecosystems and Living Streams
  3. Invertebrates (including Insects)
  4. Birds and Mammals
  5. Amphibians and Reptiles
  6. Alabama’s Cultural Landscape
  7. Geology, Soils and Weather
  8. Forests and Ecosystems

More details can be found in the 2017-18 East Central Alabama Master Naturalist Course Pamphlet. Cost of this course is $30 per day or $200 for all 8 sessions.

Alabama full or part-time residents who are interested in nature, enjoy the outdoors, and have a desire to help with natural resource management and conservation in Alabama are the perfect candidates to become Alabama Master Naturalists.  The AMN Program is open to adults who reside or work in Alabama for at least part of the year.  It is open to all adults regardless of race, color, national origin, gender, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, or marital or family status.

If you are interested in participating in the 2017-18 Master Naturalist Program, participants should call the Tallapoosa County Extension office at (256) 825-1050.  Space is limited.

RCS Alabama Announces Drought Funding


Eligible Landowners with Grazing Lands Encouraged to Apply

WASHINGTON, June 27, 2017 – USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) State Conservationist for Alabama Ben Malone announced that the agency is providing funding to assist landowners impacted by last year’s extreme drought. Agricultural producers statewide suffered losses from months with low rainfall. Eligible landowners are encouraged to apply by July 28, 2017. Alabama landowners living in counties identified as high priority will be assigned the highest priority for financial assistance because they were impacted the most by the drought.

Funding will be provided through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and will address fencing, water troughs, pasture, hay land re-establishment, wells, and prescribed grazing. In addition to others, these practices will not only help landowners recover losses from the drought, they will serve as a proactive step to help landowners in the event of future drought situations. Measures such as planting drought affected cool season grasses such as fescue and installing water tanks and fencing will make lands more sustainable.

“Landowners across the state have weathered the drought for months and these funds will assist them in replenishing losses and doing what they can to help their grazing lands recover,” said State Conservationist Ben Malone.

During the worst of the drought, USDA reported more than $30 million in disaster funds were distributed nationally for livestock feed programs and non-insured disaster support. In addition, because livestock feed was in short supply, cattle sales were 19% ahead of 2015. This impacted the value of livestock that was sold.

Alabama landowners who are interested in applying for drought funding should contact their local USDA NRCS service center in Tallapoosa County at 256-329-3084, Ext 2, Monday-Friday 7:30 – 4:00 and in Coosa County at 256-377-4750, Monday, Wednesday & Friday, 7:30 – 4:30 to learn more.

USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender. To file a complaint of discrimination, write to:  USDA Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Stop 9410, Washington, DC 20250-9410, or call toll-free at (866) 632-9992 (English) or (800) 877-8339 (TDD) or (866) 377-8642 (English Federal-relay) or (800) 845-6136 (Spanish Federal-relay).

Youth Kayaking Lessons Top 4-H Summer Activities

Kayaking continues to be one of the fastest growing outdoor recreational activities.  It has always been very popular with adults but has increasingly become a great way to introduce youth to water sports and experience the outdoors.  The demand for kayaking programs is so great that the Tallapoosa County 4-H Team will host and teach multiple 4-H RiverKids kayaking lessons this summer across Tallapoosa County.

Kayaking Kamp

Our 3rd Annual 4-H RiverKids Kayaking Kamp returns on June 27-28th. This fun filled event is designed to introduce youth to the world of paddle sports. The half day program in Dadeville will teach water safety, how to paddle a kayak, and include a fun 2 mile float trip down Sandy Creek. Kayaks, life jackets, and shuttle service are provided. Cost is $10 for 4-H youth ages 9 to 18 (includes lunch).  Registration deadline is Friday, June 23, 2017 and spots will fill up quickly.


4-Her’s will participate in a ½ Day Camp. Date and time preference will be assigned upon received registration.

River Kids_LOGO_COLOR copyJune 27th   –    Session A   –   8 a.m. – 1 p.m.

June 27th   –    Session B   –   12 noon – 5 p.m.

June 28th   –    Session C   –   8 a.m. – 1 p.m.

June 28th   –    Session D   –   12 noon – 5 p.m.

Review this Kayaking Kamp promotional flyer & agenda for more details and schedule.

Kayaking 101

Tallapoosa County 4-H will also host youth 4-H RiverKids Kayaking Lessons at Wind Creek State Park and Willow Point Cabana in Alexander City this summer.  One event will be Tuesday, June 2oth @ Wind Creek State Park and another event will be on Thursday, July 27th at Willow Point Cabana.The program will teach water safety, how to paddle a kayak, and include a fun 2 mile float trip along Lake Martin.  Kayaks and life jackets are provided.

Review these flyers for more details and schedule:

June 20th – Wind Creek State Park – Kayaking 101

July 27th – Willow Point Cabana – Kayaking 101

To participate in any 4-H RiverKids Event, a parent or guardian of each youth participant must complete and sign the:

Completed forms must be turned in to the Tallapoosa County  Extension Office prior to the event. Space is limited. Contact the Tallapoosa County Extension office at 256-825-1050 to sign up or for more details.

First 4-H Camp-Out at HBNMP a Success

Horseshoe Bend National Military Park and the Tallapoosa County 4-H program partnered for the first-ever camp out for children at the park last weekend.

“It was great,” Jennifer Stroud said of her and her daughter Jania’s experience. “It was our first time camping ever. We loved it. We walked the trails and threw horseshoes.”

“It was great,” HBNMP’s Heather Tassin said. “It is the first time ever that we have done a campout with kids.”

Tassin said the park’s mission and that of 4-H worked out well for the event.

“The history and interpretative program of the park went well with the outdoor programs of 4-H,” Tassin said. “We had a 1814 militia encampment set up and 4-H had archery and other things.”

Christy and Michael Champion accompanied their three children to the park this past weekend for the campout.

“We really enjoyed it,” Christy said. “The kids really enjoyed the astronomy program.”

The Champions have been around 4-H for a couple years.

“We started with our daughter in the fourth grade and she is now in sixth grade,” Christy said. “We have taken part in speech contests, photography contests, cook-offs and the cookie contest.”

Stroud is happy that Jania has been taking part in 4-H activities for the last year.

“She has done kayaking,” Stroud said. “She loved camping. At the park we tried archery and horseshoe throwing. I would not trade Shane for the world.”

Tallapoosa County 4-H Agent Assistant Trent Carboni was happy that everything went off without a hitch.

“I think everything went very well for a first-time event,” Carboni said. “We look forward to expanding and doing more of these types of events in the future.”

Tallapoosa County Commissioner John McKelvey grilled hamburgers and hotdogs but brought out wild game also to give back to a program that he grew up in.

“We had a ball,” McKelvey said. “We cooked up some deer steak, deer rollup with peppers and onions, quail and I gave them some summer sausage that I make.

“Some tried the wild game and liked it.”

McKelvey is no stranger to 4-H having been part of the program as a kid and is happy to help out with 4-H programs.

“It is part of the youth programs that we (county commission) help sponsor,” McKelvey said. “It is something you got to do with the youth. You have to start with them there as youth to develop them because it is hard when they get to be 20 or so.”

-Article written and posted in the Alexander City Outlook on April 6, 2017 by Cliff Williams.

Winter is the Time to Punish Privet

As I sit on my front porch looking out into a drizzly sky, I am reflecting on what to write to you this month.  A few hardwood leaves remain in my trees; their lifeless forms clinging to the branch not wanting to cascade to the forest floor.  Silhouetted against a gray sky, is the green of my mountain top pines. Winter is a great time to assess the amount of pine in the forest.  I lost a few pines to lightening this past year, but as I count the trees from my porch I can see my financial friends standing proudly and increasing their value.  Winter is not just a good time to assess pines, but it is also a good time to punish privet hedge.

Chinese (Ligustrum sinense) and Japanese (Ligustrum japonicum) Privet were brought into the U.S. in the 1800s as a landscaping plant.  In our yards, under the strong hand of the hedge shear, the shrub can be pretty.  It grows thick, becoming an evergreen living fence, separating neighbors in closely packed neighborhoods.  Privet has a bountiful supply of pretty, fragrant white flowers in spring and an equally bountiful supply of blue-black berries in the fall and throughout the winter; which birds love.

Apart from the strong hand of the hedge shear, privet can grow to a height of thirty feet and can provide so much shade that nothing will grow under these shrub-trees.  These shrubs like moist soils, many times we find them growing along streams and creeks in the forest.  One time I found a thirty-acre privet patch growing under a canopy of large cypress and tupelo trees west of Tuscaloosa.  The normally open “park-like” stand of large trees with young trees under them was so crowded with privet, I had to machete my way through this death zone as I appraised the large cypress.  My advice to the landowner was to kill the privet first, allow regeneration to begin, then harvest the mature timber.
Privet, occupying one million forested acres, is second only to Japanese honeysuckle as an invasive plant in Alabama.  Privet is a BIG problem.

How do we get rid of privet?  One landowner at a time.  First for all you homeowners, please do not plant privet in your yards, and if you consider re-landscaping remove your privet and replace it with a native species.  Now for all the rural landowners out there, please get in the battle against this invasive.  Privet is easy to see this time of year, it’s one of the few green plants in the winter woods, and because the plants tend to be shallow-rooted they can be easily pulled.  Small plants can be hand pulled.  Wrist size plants may require the help of a metal weed-wrench tool.  Chainsaws can tackle the largest of plants.  This method of removal is labor intensive and time-consuming. It works well in small areas and with lots of labor.  For those of us doing this by themselves, I recommend using herbicides.

Extension has a publication entitled:  ANR 1468-Control Options for Chinese Privet.   This publication lays out all of the options before us as we begin to tackle the privet problem.

by Andrew J. Baril, Regional Extension Agent, Forestry, Wildlife and Natural Resource Management

Fire Alert Issued as Drought Conditions Worsen


UPDATED 10/11/16

Above normal temperatures have combined with the below normal rainfall to worsen drought conditions across Central Alabama. These conditions have made it a very favorable risk for the occurrence of wildfires. Just this week, the Alabama Forestry Commission has upgraded the Fire Danger Warning, issuing a Fire Alert for 46 counties in north Alabama effective immediately due to the very dry conditions.

The latest U.S. Drought Monitor indicates that drought conditions have worsened during the past two weeks. As of October 4th, 2016, areas of Central Alabama are in a moderate drought to severe drought, with some locations in an extreme drought.  Rainfall deficits of 5-15 inches for the year are now being reported in most areas of Central Alabama. Soil moistures are running well below normal for this time of the year across most sections of Central Alabama with the greatest deficits in the eastern sections.

According to AFC fire officials, the Fire Alert was issued because of the current drought situation, continued lack of precipitation, high probability of fuel ignition, and shortage of available firefighting manpower and resources. With this extremely dry weather, conditions are such that any fire can quickly spread out of control, not only resulting in damage to our forests but also threatening and destroying homes. Over the last seven days, 307 wildfires have occurred across Alabama burning approximately 3,698 acres.

The fire danger warning is for 46 Alabama counties and includes: Autauga, Bibb, Blount, Calhoun, Chambers, Cherokee, Chilton, Clay, Cleburne, Colbert, Coosa, Cullman, Dallas, DeKalb, Elmore, Etowah, Fayette, Franklin, Greene, Hale, Jackson, Jefferson, Lamar, Lauderdale, Lawrence, Lee, Limestone, Lowndes, Macon, Madison, Marion, Marshall, Montgomery, Morgan, Perry, Pickens, Randolph, Russell, Shelby, St. Clair, Sumter, Talladega, Tallapoosa, Tuscaloosa, Walker, and Winston.

This Fire Alert will remain in effect until rescinded by the State Forester, at which time conditions will have changed sufficiently to reduce the occurrence and frequency of wildfires. The Commission is urging everyone to exercise all necessary safety precautions when doing any type of outdoor burning, and to call the Alabama Forestry Commission to obtain a burn permit. While under the Fire Alert, permits for outdoor burning in these counties will be restricted and issued on an individual basis.

Some safety tips during dry weather conditions to prevent wildfires are:

  • Comply with all local laws and regulations including burn bans.
  • Check the weather. Do not start outdoor fires during windy conditions and low humidity.
  • Avoid burning household trash, leaves, or brush piles.
  • Keep campfires contained and completely extinguish it with water and dirt before leaving the campsite.
  • Never leave a gas grill or charcoal grill unattended.
  • Never throw a lighted cigarette out of the window of a vehicle.
  • Avoid driving and parking a vehicle on dry vegetation.

The drought conditions are also already having an impact on the landscape. In addition to the risk of wildfires, the latest USDA reports indicate that the drought conditions are continuing to harm many crops across the area. Many pastures are reported as burned up, with some cattle producers already having to feed hay to their stocks. The dry weather is also impacting late soybean crops that are trying to fill out. Many trees that normally have beautiful fall color are going dormant early and shedding brown leaves.  Some woodland trees and landscape plants are suffering and dying due to lack of moisture.

It seems every possible rain shower in the area has bypassed or fizzled out before reaching our area of Tallapoosa County, especially the Dadeville area.   With October traditionally being the driest month, an end to this pattern of dry conditions may not end any time soon.

Tips for Hunting Safely this Season


Hunting season is right around the corner. Regardless of game, ammo or method, safety is always a top priority.  Bow season opens October 15 and gun season opens November 19.

Marisa Lee Futral is the coordinator of hunter education for the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. Futral says there are 10 commandments of firearm safety to create a safe hunting experience. (Photo: Denis Waldrop)

Ten Commandments of Firearm Safety

  1. Treat every firearm with the same respect as a loaded firearm.  If you become careless with unloaded guns, you will soon become careless with loaded guns.
  2. Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot.
  3. Identify your target and what is behind it before you shoot.  Never shoot at movement and make sure you know what is behind your target before you shoot.
  4. Be sure the barrel and action are clear of obstructions. Only have ammunition of the proper size for the firearm you are carrying.
  5. Unload firearms when not in use.  Leave the action open.  Firearms should be carried unloaded and in a case to and from the shooting or hunting area.
  6. Never point a firearm at anything you do not wish to destroy.
  7. Never climb a fence or tree or jump a ditch with a loaded firearm.  Always unload the firearm before you cross a ditch, and never pull a firearm towards you by the muzzle.  Never lean a firearm against a tree, fence, wall or automobile.
  8. Never shoot a bullet at a flat, hard surface or at water.  Bullets can ricochet at odd angles.
  9. Store firearms and ammunition separately. Keep them beyond the reach of children and inexperienced adults.
  10. Never mix gunpowder with alcohol or drugs.  No one should drink alcoholic beverages or take drugs while hunting. Never go hunting with anyone that does.

read more: Hunting Safety 

Yellow Fall Wildflowers Add Interest to Countryside

yellow wildflowers

Driving or riding along the road, one can’t help but notice that the countryside is changing slowly to a more autumn setting. Many trees are beginning to show signs of changing colors as well as are dropping leaves.  But much of one’s attention is drawn to the color yellow that has lately become much more prominent.  Dotted along the country roads, ditches, and old fields, you’ve likely seen masses of yellow flowers. What’s blooming are goldenrods and swamp sunflowers.


Blooming goldenrod plant on blue sky background

Although some might call it just a pretty weed, goldenrod is a spectacular wildflower. It is a native perennial that lights up the countryside when you least suspect it – late summer and fall.   Plus, there is just something about the way the color yellow is displayed on its tall stalk.  It’s unique, it’s attractive, and it’s wild.

The beauty of goldenrod is very much ignored mainly because of a false reputation. Many folks who suffer from allergies mistake blooming goldenrod as the culprit that has gotten their sinuses all aggravated. But bright yellow goldenrod isn’t the cause of hay fever. It has been wrongly accused for the pollen problems created by ragweed and various grasses. Goldenrod has brightly colored flowers to attract color-sensitive insects. Its pollen grains are relatively large, heavier than air, because they are designed to be carried off by flies, bees, butterflies, even ants or birds, but not by the wind. Ragweed, which blooms about the same time, can usually be found growing next to goldenrod along the road.

Most people know about goldenrod but rarely consider it worthy of being planted in the home landscape.  In fact goldenrod has many attributes that make it a very good choice for gardens, especially natural ones.   Since it is native, it can survive in some of the poorest soils and harshest areas.  It being found growing along highways is evidence enough to prove that point.  Goldenrod is also very tolerant of our Southern summers, whether they be hot and dry or wet and mild.

Goldenrod blooms each September and October regardless of its living situation. It is also low maintenance; it’s a tough old weed that keeps on thriving with very little to no care.  Lastly, goldenrod’s long sturdy stems make it a top pick for fall flower arrangements.  Its cut flowers will last more than a week in a vase.

Swamp Sunflowers

The other stunning yellow fall wildflower is the swamp sunflower. What makes them different is they blend in with all the other “weeds” throughout most of the year and suddenly flower in the fall when very little else is in bloom.  Their yellow color goes well with the green landscape background and all the other shades of autumn.  It even gives goldenrod a run for its money as to which yellow wildflower is the best looking.

Swamp sunflower, also known as narrow-leaved sunflower, can be found growing throughout much of the eastern United States. It is most commonly found along roadside ditches, but also thrives along fence rows, in swamps, wet pinelands, coastal salt marshes, and moist disturbed sites. It is a native wildflower; an upright perennial that can be between 4 to 6 feet tall. It has dark green leaves that are narrowly lanceolate with a rough, sandpapery texture.  It produces 2-3 inch yellow flowers on dark yellow to brown disks in late summer and autumn.

These sunflowers prefer to grow in moist, sunny locations; however, they will live in well-drained soil if adequate water is supplied during dry spells. They are hardy in USDA zones 6-9.  Being a perennial, after the first frost they will die back to ground but will return in the spring. They propagate by seed and vigorous underground runners.

Although swamp sunflowers can be found growing in the wild, they can also become a part of your home landscape.  They look great when mass planted, placed along borders, or cascading over walls.  They can even be mixed in with your other perennials. These sunflowers also attract butterflies so they would be a nice addition to your butterfly garden. You can cut the plants back in June so they will be bushier when they bloom later in the year in October. Then they will take center stage and brighten everything around them.

Enjoy the sights and sounds of autumn. It only occurs once a year and lasts for just a short while.

By Shane Harris, County Extension Coordinator for Tallapoosa County.







Take Caution Against Lightning During Thunderstorms


With all the pop up thunderstorms we have been having lately, one has to be very cautious against one of the nation’s deadliest weather phenomena – lightning.  Summer is the peak time for outdoor activities and also happens to be the peak season for lightning. According to the NOAA, over the last 20 years, the United States averaged 51 annual lightning strike fatalities, placing it in the second position, just behind floods for deadly weather.

NOAA’s National Weather Service has discovered that 64 percent of lightning deaths since 2006 occurred while people were participating in leisure activities. The number one leisure activity was fishing followed by camping  and boating.  Between 2006 and 2012, 82 percent of people killed by lightning were male.

Let’s be careful and make sure that none of us have the unpleasant opportunity.  Be smart and follow these lighting safety tips:

  • Watch for environmental clues, such as increasing wind, flashes of lightning, sounds of thunder, darkening skies, and AM radio static.
  • Stay indoors. Don’t go outside unless absolutely necessary.
  • Stay away from open doors, windows, and patios, fireplaces, radiators, stoves, metal pipes, sinks and plug-in electrical appliances.
  • Unplug all unnecessary appliances BEFORE the storm approaches.
  • Don’t use plug-in electrical equipment like hair dryers, electric tooth brushes or electric razors during the storm.
  • Don’t use the telephone, especially corded ones, during the storm. Lightning may strike telephone lines outside.
  • Don’t take laundry off the clothesline.
  • Don’t work on fences, telephone or power lines, pipelines or structural steel fabrication.
  • Don’t use metal objects like fishing rods and golf clubs. Golfers wearing cleated shoes are particularly good lightning rods.
  • Don’t handle flammable materials in open containers
  • Stop tractor work, especially when the tractor is pulling metal equipment, and dismount. Tractors and other implements in metallic contact with the ground are often struck by lightning.
  • Avoid water! Get out of boats and swimming pools and away from water.
  • Stay in your automobile if you are traveling. Automobiles offer excellent lightning protection. The rubber tires DO NOT protect you, it’s the roof.
  • Seek shelter in buildings. If no buildings are available, your best protection is a cave, ditch, canyon or under head-high clumps of trees in open forest glades.
  • When there is no shelter, avoid the highest object in the area. If only isolated trees are nearby, your best protection is to crouch in the open, keeping twice as far away from isolated trees as the trees are high.
  • Avoid hilltops, open spaces, wire fences, metal clothes lines, exposed sheds and any electrically conductive elevated objects.
  • If you feel your skin tingle or your hair stands on end, squat low to the ground on the balls of your feet. Place your hands on your knees with your head between them. Make yourself the smallest target possible, and be sure to minimize your contact with the ground!

People struck by lightning receive a severe electrical shock and may be burned. However, they don’t have an electric charge and can be handled. Prompt mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, cardiac massage and prolonged artificial respiration can revive a person who appears dead. If lightning strikes a group of people, treat those who appear dead first. Those with vital signs will probably recover without treatment. However, their burns and other injuries may require treatment. Except for impairment or loss of sight or hearing, recovery from lightning strikes is often complete.

Louder or more frequent thunder means lightning activity is approaching, increasing the risk for lightning injury or death. If the time delay between seeing the lightning and hearing the thunder is less than 30 seconds, you are in danger. REMEMBER: If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to the storm to be struck by lightning!!!

References: NOAA study finds fishing tops U.S. lightning death activities