Friday, June 28, 2013

The Importance of Using Booster Seats

Unfortunately, seat belts do not come in one-size-fits-all.  In fact, the seat belt that is designed to save an adult’s life in a crash does not fit a young child.  And, the poor fit of the seat belt can actually cause serious injuries or even death during a crash.  Many parents are under the impression that a child can be moved to the vehicle seat belt system when they have outgrown the weight limits of their child safety seat. Most conventional forward-facing child safety seats have a 5-point harness system that can be used until 40 pounds. However, most children weigh 40 pounds long before they are tall enough to fit in the vehicle lap/shoulder belt.
Children do not fit well in the vehicle lap/shoulder belts that were designed for adults who are at least 4 feet 9 inches tall. Instead of fitting properly over the lower hips, the lap belt rides over the soft tissues of the abdomen and can cause severe injury or death. The shoulder portion of the belt hits the child’s neck or face instead of lying flat across the chest. This causes many children to place the shoulder belt behind their back, leaving them with no upper body protection. A booster seat ‘boosts’ the child up so the lap/shoulder belt will fit correctly and provide protection in a crash.
Using a booster seat correctly can protect a child from being thrown around the vehicle or being totally ejected in a crash. In a crash, children who are incorrectly restrained by a lap/shoulder belt are likely to sustain serious injuries to internal organs as well as the head and spinal cord.
Motor vehicle crashes continue to be the leading cause of death for children ages three and up. Child safety seats, including boosters, have been proven to be effective in preventing injuries and deaths, yet in 2011, 41% of Texas booster-seat age children killed in motor vehicle crashes were unrestrained. Studies show that booster seats can reduce the risk of injury by 59 percent for children ages 4-7, but children in this age group are the least likely to be properly restrained. Surveys conducted in Texas in 2012 by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute found that only 33.4 percent of our booster seat age children were restrained.
The law in Texas requires children under age 8, unless taller than 4’ 9” to be in a child restraint system according to the manufacturer’s instructions. According to the law, an 8 year old can legally ride in the seat belt, but only a small percentage of 8 year olds are 4’9”. The average child reaches 4’9” at age 11!  Best practice is to keep the child in a booster seat until the lap/shoulder belts fits.
The injury rate and high costs associated with medical care and lost productivity for families is huge. Booster seats are an affordable solution to protecting children in the 4-8+ age group. The cost of booster seats is low–generally between $15-$40. It is estimated by Safe Kids Worldwide that a $30 booster seat generates $2,000 in benefit to society from reduced health-care expenses. Booster seats offer a low-cost solution to a high-cost problem.
When is your child ready for the seat belt?
Take the Five Step Test
  1. Does the child sit all the way back against the auto seat?
  2. Do the child’s knees bend comfortably at the edge of the vehicle?
  3. Does the belt cross the shoulder between the neck and arm?
  4. Is the lap belt as low as possible, touching the thighs?
  5. Can the child stay seated like this for the whole trip?
If you answered ‘no’ to any of these questions, your child needs a booster seat to make both
the shoulder belt and the lap belt fit right for the best crash protection. Your child will be more comfortable, too! Source: SafetyBeltSafe,U.S.A,
For a free child safety seat inspection contact the Extension office at 940/627-3341 to set up an appointment.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Detoxing with a Balanced Diet

From time to time I hear someone mention that they have either fasted or gone on a restricted diet to “detox” — and, of course, to lose a lot of weight relatively quickly. The following article from Ohio State University provides useful   information to help us understand how a balanced diet can ensure that our body systems will take care of the detox.  
Any diet that promises a quick fix, encourages a severe restriction of calories, advises you to eat only certain foods or requires that foods be eaten only in specific combinations screams “fad diet”. Detox diets claim to “detoxify” the body, allowing toxins and contaminants that have accumulated over time to flush out. You can find many versions of the detox diet, but they usually start with a very low calorie fast followed by drinking juice and eating small amounts of fresh produce.
The body already has some perfectly good systems in place to detoxify the body. They’re called the liver, the kidneys and the colon. Although supporters of detox diets disagree, there’s no evidence to support the idea that those systems need a substantial restriction of food and calories to help them remove harmful substances from the body.
Some people claim the detox diet helps them feel healthier and more energetic, but there could be several explanations for this. Their normal diet might be heavy in saturated fats, refined grains and heavily processed foods. Taking a break from those foods would certainly make your body feel different. Eating fruits and vegetables after severely restricting food intake for an extended period might also make someone feel better.
But putting yourself on any very low calorie diet has its downsides. One is that you may lose muscle, which would cause your metabolism to dip and make it easier to gain weight. The only way to build that muscle back would be to start a regimen of weight-bearing exercise — not a bad thing in and of itself, but probably not the result you were hoping for.
Instead of detox or other fad diets, nutritionists recommend eating a balanced diet centered on lean proteins, vegetables and whole fruits, whole grains, and a modest amount of healthy (unsaturated) fats. Also, don’t skip meals, especially breakfast, and limit portions to a sensible size. Finally, if you are thinking of making drastic changes to your diet, it’s always a good idea to talk with your doctor first.
For additional information on tips for consuming a balanced diet, contact the Extension office at 940/627-3341.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Pond Weed Control can be a ‘Sticky’ Problem

It is nice to be able even think about weed control in stock ponds; however because of the wonderful rainfall we have recently received has filled some of our tanks in the area.  Even though treating earlier would be better it is not too late to think about pond management.  With the runoff of rains our tanks are sure to show new plant growth.  I came across this article that Dr. Michael Masser, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service fisheries specialist wrote a couple of years back and thought it would be important for pond owners this year.
            "Aquatic vegetation are the 'yin and yang of ponds," said Dr. Masser. "It would be nice to have some aquatic plants for esthetics and wildlife, but too many are a nightmare."
            But control of moss and other aquatic plants need not be expensive or complicated, he said. Such vegetation can be controlled by mechanical, biological or chemical methods – either singly or in combination – in an integrated pest management approach.
            Pond moss and aquatic weeds can not only turn a pleasant day of fishing into a perpetual snag, they can make swimming and boating impossible too.
            "Ten to 15 percent pond coverage of rooted aquatic vegetation would probably be good from a fish and wildlife standpoint, but ponds typically start out with almost none and after a very few years are almost entirely covered," he said.
            There's a misconception, Masser said, that ponds and lakes can't be cleared of all rooted vegetation without critically reducing the food chain. True, plants are the beginning of any food chain, he said, but rooted vegetation tends to take over small ponds.
            Too many rooted plants not only disrupt recreational activities, but also increase sedimentation, disrupt the oxygen balance and prevent largemouth bass from finding prey fish, such as sunfish.
            And also contrary to popular belief, bass do not need rooted vegetation to spawn.
            "No, actually bass have to remove weeds to build their nests," Masser said. "In fact, scientific research has shown that the most productive bass and sunfish ponds are actually those that have little or no rooted aquatic vegetation and instead have green water or planktonic algae blooms."
            Other research has shown that the same stringy, filamentous algae – what most would call "pond scum" – produces a more constant food supply than rooted vegetation, he said.
            Counter intuitively, one of the easy ways to prevent root vegetation from taking over a pond is to fertilize, he said.
            "Note, that I said ‘prevent’ not ‘control,’" Masser said. "Proper fertilization creates green planktonic algae blooms. The algae blooms shade the pond bottom in areas over 2 or 3 feet deep and keep rooted weeds from getting started along the bottom."
            Because fertilizing promotes algae growth, it also builds the food chain and enables the pond to support more fish, he noted.
            An option is to use non-toxic chemical dyes to shade the pond bottom. The dyes do not promote green algae growth as does a fertilization program, however. So the treatment will promote higher fish populations.
            There are mechanical methods to control rooted vegetation, but they all require considerable industriousness on the part of the pond owner, Masser said. Weeds can be pulled or grubbed by hand or hoe. Some suppliers of mechanical cutters use a sickle wire or blade to shred the weeds. The cutters are usually hand-held and are labor-intensive. And like a home lawn, the vegetation is continually growing, so cutting has to be done again – and again. The heavy, water-laden cuttings have to be removed from the pond.
            "If you like mowing your lawn, you're going to love mowing your pond," Masser said.
            There's only one biological method of pond weed control in Texas: the triploid grass carp, he said.
            Sometimes called the white amur, grass carp eat most submerged aquatic weeds. They cannot eat weeds that are on or project above the water surface, such cattails and lily pads.
            Because it is feared the species might take over ponds and streams and crowd out game fish, only sterile, triploid grass carp are legal.
            To purchase the fish, pond owners must get a permit from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. The species is only legally available from certified dealers.
            Though sterile, the grass carp live as long as 10 years. Typically, Masser said, they control weeds for five to seven years, but are not effective for all species of weeds.
            "This type of biological control is inexpensive from the standpoint of labor and chemical costs," Masser said. "Many pond owners, after years of frustration of trying to control aquatic weeds by other means, have found grass carp to be a simple and effective answer to their problems if stocked in sufficient numbers."
            And then there's chemical control, Masser said. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has registered only nine active herbicide ingredients for aquatic weed control. All have been extensively tested and are safe if properly used.
            "However, many of these herbicides still have water-use restrictions of a few days to several months for uses like livestock watering, fishing, swimming and irrigation that may make them unacceptable to many pond owners," Masser said.
            And there is also the risk of killing too many weeds too fast with chemical controls. Rapid decomposition of plant material in a small pond or lake can cause oxygen depletion and kill fish.
            Masser offered these guidelines when using chemical controls.
            – Treat early in the year, April or May.
            – Treat a small section of the pond – about a quarter at most – at one time.
            – Allow time for the decomposition process to complete before treating the next section.
            – Follow herbicide labels that state the entire pond must be treated at once to get effective          control.
        Always read and follow label instructions to letter.

For more information contact the Wise County Texas AgriLife Extension office at 940-627-3341.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Free Youth Cow Horse Clinic



Friday, June 7, 2013

Annual Teacher Workshop

       Join us for our third annual Teacher Workshop hosted by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension office! This year the workshop will be held on July 17th & 18th from 8:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m at the Weatherford College Campus in Wise County (located in between Decatur and Bridgeport). Cost is $30 and includes lunch and materials. The workshop is open to all teachers and child care providers that work with youth in Kindergarten through 8th grade. The workshops will be filled with FUN hands-on activities that are lessons out of the various curriculum offered by the Texas Farm Bureau, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and the 4-H program. The workshop will focus on soil and plant science, bullying, life cycles, water conservation, mobile classrooms, health and nutrition and everything in between!

To register, contact the Extension office, 940.627.3341, or email Andrea at  and please provide your name, email address, address, school and the grade you teach! Please make sure to send contact information that is good for the summer months!

Beef 706 event

Beef 706 is a Beef Checkoff funded program available to you.  You can learn about beef quality and safety issues and how they affect your operation.  By attending Beef 706 you will have a unique opportunity to not only see, but to experience the quality challenges facing the beef industry.  You will learn what factors affect beef’s palatability and receive information to help you utilize your herd’s genetics, feedyard performance, and carcass characteristics.  In addition, you will work with five other Texas beef producers to fabricate a carcass with the help of a cutting instructor.  By the time you leave the program, you will have created a new network of industry professionals.  I hope you will take advantage of this opportunity to learn more about your beef industry.  

Check out the website:  for more information or to register.