Welcome to the
Arkansas County, Arkansas
Cooperative Extension Service
We are part of the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service’s statewide network and the University of Arkansas System’s Division of Agriculture. Our mission is to provide research-based information through non-formal education to help all Arkansans improve their economic well-being and the quality of their lives. Whether it is agriculture, 4-H, health and living, or community development, the Arkansas County Extension Office is at your service!
Master Gardeners Graduate New Crop
The Arkansas County Master Gardeners graduated a new crop of members on July 7. The group of eleven participated in 40 hours of intensive training through five sessions held each Thursday over five weeks. The training covered all aspects of horticulture including soil fertility, insects & diseases, fruits, vegetables, flowers, beekeeping, butterflies, hummingbirds, container gardening, landscape design, and more. The presentations were given by Extension specialists, fellow MG and others with expertise in a particular area of horticulture. These new Master Gardeners will now join forces with their peers doing community project work and educational programs while sharing their newly gained knowledge to benefit others.
Photo: Jackie Johnson, Owner of Lauren’s Garden, gave a colorful demonstration on making container gardens.
Conserving Water for the Future
For many decades farmers have known that water conservation would become an issue and irrigation education is now viewed as a top priority. Groundwater is cost prohibitive to pump and surface water supplies are being stretched to the breaking point in hot, dry summers. To address this water conservation need some producers have been building more surface supply and utilizing tail water recovery systems to keep all the water on the farm. Irrigation efficiency has increased by conducting demonstrations utilizing computer hole selection which allows the field to irrigate in a uniform manner. Producers have gone from not knowing how they operated to making plans to buy them for their farm operations. In 2015, computer hole selection acres increased to 15,000 acres in soybeans and corn. On average, times to water fields have decreased 40% saving water and fuel in the process. Producers have seen how surge valves can reduce water runoff due to increased water infiltration increasing their irrigation efficiency in the process. With the utilization of computer hole selection and surge valve usage in Arkansas County we can decrease our yearly water usage by 30% and help conserve water for future generations.
Photo: Arkansas County Staff Chair Chuck Capps discusses irrigation with a local farmer.
Gardening for Community and Health
Obesity is one of the leading social issues in Arkansas County contributing to medical issues such as diabetes and heart disease. This leads to higher medical costs for individuals and society as a whole. Reduced life satisfaction due to obesity is also a concern.
In 2014, the Holman Community Center with assistance from the Cooperative Extension Service and the community started a garden to help raise fresh vegetables for their Sunday community lunches and to educate patrons on healthy lifestyle choices. In 2015, the Holman Community Center continued their garden with Extension help. This has reached approximately 2,000 participants with healthier eating habits which results in a healthier lifestyle. These participants have come from ten other counties and three countries: Guatemala, Ghana and Australia. A comment from an international traveler was that “fresh Sunday lunch was the best ever while traveling”.
The Holman Community Garden has helped to educate over 3,500 patrons on healthy eating choices. In addition to having fresh locally grown vegetables to eat, the garden has provided exercise to twenty-eight volunteers who maintain the garden and serve meals. This garden has provided 740 community service hours with a value over $17,000 being returned to the community. Individuals have switched to baking instead of frying, eating a variety of fresh vegetables and significantly reduced sodium consumption. As a result, seniors feel that their longevity and well-being are being increased.
Photo: Vine ripened produce.
Yoga for Kids...Health to Better Living
Children and adolescents need at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day. Most children fall short of this recommendation and are not active enough. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, children should include three types of physical activity: aerobic, muscle strengthening and bone strengthening.
The staff at the Arkansas County Extension office responded by conducting Yoga for Kids classes. Classes were held at DeWitt Middle School each Thursday for six weeks with a class of 7th-9th grade students. Additional classes were held each Tuesday in May for youth ages 5-8 at the Arkansas County Cooperative Extension Service. Youth practiced yoga to help improve flexibility, strengthen muscles, improve balance, reduce anxiety and negative behaviors.
Because of Yoga for Kids classes, 18 youth learned to better regulate their emotions, calm themselves, manage stress and felt less depressed and happier. Participants were more likely to choose better foods to eat and engage in more physical activity to help their overall well-being. Practicing yoga helped children and teens increase physical activity to meet recommendations and improve physical fitness by increasing strength, flexibility and aerobic activity. As a result, more Yoga for Kids classes have been requested. Read more about Arkansas County 4-H and Youth Development.
Photo: Yoga for Kids is a fun, noncompetitive way to be physically active. Yoga is inexpensive, requires no special equipment and can be preformed anywhere. Eighteen youth participated in Yoga for Kids classes in Arkansas County in 2015.
Extension Get Fit
Arkansas County's population is 35% obese and 36% physically inactive. Obesity and inactivity can be a disastrous combination for heart disease as well as other chronic illnesses. By increasing understanding and education, risk levels can be decreased. Increasing physical activity has been shown to promote a healthy weight and lessen the risk of chronic disease. The Extension Get Fit Strong Women & Men program will help increase your strength, bone density, balance, energy and you will look and feel better! The current Extension Get Fit Strong Women & Men Class schedule for Arkansas County is as follows: Phillips Community College, DeWitt, Tuesday/Thursday - 8:00 a.m.; DeWitt Community Center – Tuesday/Thursday – 9:00 a.m.; Cooperative Extension Service Tuesday/Thursday – 5:30 p.m.; Planters & Merchants Bank, Gillett, Monday/Wednesday/Friday – 8:30 a.m.; Casscoe Community Center – Monday/Wednesday/Friday- 8:00 a.m.; First Baptist Church, Stuttgart, Tuesday/Thursday – 9:00 a.m.; Baptist Health Medical Center, Stuttgart, Tuesday/Thursday – 5:30 p.m. Read more about Arkansas County Family & Consumer Sciences programs.
Photo: Strong Women Training participants from U of A Phillips Community College at DeWitt.
Prairie Gems Extension Homemakers Club Hosts Bib Workshop
Prairie Gems Extension Homemakers Club hosted a Bib Workshop on May 19, 2016 at the U of A Cooperative Extension Office in DeWitt. Prairie Gems organized the community service project and extended the invite to all EH Clubs in the Arkansas County. Other volunteers in attendance included members from New Providence/Turley, Key, and Maguire EH Clubs. After completion of the workshop, the group delivered to the DeWitt Nursing Home. The staff and residents were very grateful for the care and love the group put into each bib. The terry cloth bibs included colorful bindings that showed the heart of the EH Club members and their continuous efforts to give back to Arkansas County. Arkansas County has five active EHC clubs that meet monthly for educational programs and enjoy doing a number of service projects in the community. If you would like additional information on becoming involved and sharing your gifts in the EH program, contact the Extension Service at 870-946-3231 or 870-673-2346 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit our Website at http://www.uaex.edu/health-living/extension-homemakers/default.aspx.
Photo: Arkansas County Extension Homemakers deliver bibs to Nursing Home Residents.
2016 Miss Arkansas County Rice
Torri, a senior at DeWitt High School was crowned the "2016 Miss Arkansas County Rice". Her rice dish is "Wild Rice Casserole". She will make appearances in Arkansas County, promoting the use of rice by preparing her dish for various clubs and organizations. A state contest will be held in August, and promotional activities are a large part of judging. The purpose of the contest is to promote interest in rice cookery and rice promotion among the youth in the rice producing areas of Arkansas and to focus the attention of the general public of Arkansas on the importance of the rice industry to the economy of our state. Anyone interested in scheduling an appearance may contact Torri by calling the University of Arkansas, Cooperative Extension Service in Arkansas County at (870)946-3231 or (870)673-2346.
Photo: 2016 Miss Arkansas County Rice