Extension Educator, Horticulture
February 22, 2007
In the Minneapolis/St. Paul area, a resident came home from a three week vacation and made a startling discovery in their toilet.
February 15, 2007
February 15, 2007
The plant that smells like rotting meat is blooming again at Lincoln Park Conservatory. What smells is the Devil's Tongue "Amorphophallus rivieri". This plant has a big maroon spike in its center. The smell helps to attract flies and beetles that help with pollination.
February 14, 2007
University of Illinois scientist Soo-Yeun Lee has cooked up a "recipe" for just such a cereal, one that's passed the taste test of her sensory panel.
"There are lots of good reasons to eat soy--and even more reasons to consume soy protein at breakfast," said Soo-Yeun Lee, a U of I assistant professor of food science and human nutrition.
"Research shows that soy decreases the risk of breast and prostate cancers and lowers cholesterol and triglycerides. Diets high in soy protein are also effective in combating obesity. Soy protein is very high-quality protein, and high-protein meals eaten early in the day stick with you so you eat less," she said.
Even though it's important that people consume protein in the morning, the scientist said most breakfast foods--cereals, muffins, waffles--are high in carbohydrates.
So why don't more breakfast foods contain soy?
"If we incorporate too much soy in a product to increase its protein content, off-flavors and off-textures can develop, which may result in less consumer acceptance of the product," the researcher said.
Lee has accomplished a lot then in getting 10 grams of protein (6.5 grams of it soy protein) and 5 grams of fiber into one serving of a cereal that people find appealing. In doing so, she also met the requirements for the FDA's soy, high-protein, and fiber health claims.
Other products have used soy as a fortifying ingredient rather than a major base ingredient, she said.
How does she know her soy-based cereals appeal to consumers? The researcher asked 120 people to take part in a sensory panel to evaluate her four formulations--both unflavored and cinnamon-flavored cereals served with and without skim milk. A second consumer evaluation pitted Lee's cereals against five cereals that are already commercially available and marketed for their healthful properties.
"We know we need to do some tweaking but, even at this stage, one of our formulations did better than a product that's already on store shelves. We're still experimenting with different flavors and sweeteners, but I'm confident that soy-based, high-protein cereals can not only optimize nutrition, they can also taste good," she said.
Lee said that her formulations were taste-tested as stand-alone cereals but could also be used as supplements to boost the protein and fiber content of other cereals.
"Because most Americans eat cereal for breakfast, we thought it made sense to boost the protein content of the food they're used to eating," said Lee.
Besides, a breakfast food that is high in soy protein has advantages over other protein sources (think bacon and eggs) that are high in fat and cholesterol, she said.
Lee collaborated on the project with her husband, U of I food processing engineer Youngsoo Lee, and graduate student Katherine Yeu, who has gone to work in Kellogg's sensory testing department. Yeu's graduate work was supported by a Becker Fellowship, given to students who want to work in product development and food engineering.
Source: Soo-Yeun Lee, (217) 244-9435, firstname.lastname@example.org
News writer: Phyllis Picklesimer
phone: 217-244-2827; email: email@example.com
February 13, 2007
Researchers are scrambling to find the cause of the ailment, called Colony Collapse Disorder.
February 12, 2007
February 11, 2007
First came word that a rare frog (Amolops tormotus) in China sings like a bird, then that the species produces very high-pitched ultrasonic sounds. Now scientists say that these concave-eared torrent frogs also hear and respond to the sounds.
The findings, to appear in the March 16 issue of Nature, represent the first documented case of an amphibian being able to communicate like bats, whales and dolphins, said corresponding author Albert S. Feng, a professor of molecular and integrative physiology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Feng, a researcher at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology, was introduced to the frog species by Kraig Adler, a Cornell University biologist who had learned about it while conducting a survey of amphibians in China. Feng continues to study frogs and bats to understand how the brain processes sound patterns, especially in sound-cluttered environments in which filtering is required to allow for communication.
Feng and colleagues previously reported that males of the species make these high-pitched bird-like calls, with numerous variants in terms of harmonics and frequency sweeps. Some sounds exceeded their recording device's maximum capability of 128 kilohertz. Human ears hear sound waves generally no higher than 20 kilohertz. The frogs studied inhabit Huangshan Hot Springs, a popular scenic mountainous area, alive with noisy waterfalls and wildlife west of Shanghai.
"Nature has a way of evolving mechanisms to facilitate communication in very adverse situations," Feng said. "One of the ways is to shift the frequencies beyond the spectrum of the background noise. Mammals such as bats, whales and dolphins do this, and use ultrasound for their sonar system and communication. Frogs were never taken into consideration for being able to do this."
Adler had drawn attention to the species because the frogs do not have external eardrums, raising the possibility of unusual hearing abilities. "Now we are getting a better understanding of why their ear drums are recessed," Feng said. "Thin eardrums are needed for detection of ultrasound. Recessed ears shorten the path between eardrums and the ear, enabling the transmission of ultrasound to the ears."
To test if the frogs actually communicated with their ultrasonic sounds, Feng and colleagues returned to China with their recording equipment and a special device that allowed playback of recorded frog calls in the audible or ultrasonic ranges. They observed eight male frogs under three experimental conditions (no sounds, playback of calls containing only audible parts and playback of just ultrasonic frog calls).
During playback, the researchers watched for evoked calling activity in which a male frog begins calling upon hearing calls from other frogs in the area. Five frogs responded to ultrasonic and audible sound ranges, with four responding with calls in both ranges. One frog called 18 times to ultrasonic calls, including four very telling rapid responses, Feng said. Another frog did not respond to ultrasonic stimulation but produced calls 18 times to an audible prompt.
Clearly, Feng said, some of the frogs indeed communicated ultrasonically. They have the ability to do so, but for some reason some frogs do and some don't, he said. "We believe that all of them have the capacity to respond to the ultrasound."
Ultrasonic communication likely will be found in other amphibians and birds, Feng said, but, until now, no one has bothered to look into it.
"Humans have always been fascinated by how some animals can discern their world through a sensing system vastly different from our own," Feng said. "The electromagnetic sense in fishes and homing pigeons, polarized light vision in ants, chemical sensing of pheromones in insects and rodents, echolocation by ultrasound in bats and dolphins, are just a few examples.
"That frogs can communicate with ultrasound adds to that list and represents a novel finding, because we normally think such ability is limited to animals equipped with a sophisticated sonar system," he said. "This suggests that there are likely many other examples of unexpected forms of communication out there."
The eight authors were Feng; Wen-Yu Lin, a senior research scientist in Feng's lab; Peter M. Narins of the University of California at Los Angeles; Chun-He Xu of the Shanghai Institutes of Biological Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, in Shanghai; and Zu-Lin Yu, Qiang Qiu, Zhi-Min Xu and Jun-Xian Shen of the State Key Laboratory of Brain and Cognitive Science, Institute of Biophysics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, in Beijing.
Feng and Narins received funding from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, one of the National Institutes of Health. Feng also was funded by the National Science Foundation. Additional Chinese grants from the State Key Basic Research and Development Plan and the National Natural Sciences Foundation to Chun-He Xu and Shen, respectively, supported the work.
Source: Jim Barlow, Life Sciences Editor
February 10, 2007
What is the purpose of this program?
This GreenNet mini-grants program is supported by Prince Charitable Trusts to help urban gardeners working in publicly accessible green spaces receive funding for gardening materials and activities.
What is needed to qualify for a grant?
Projects must be located in Chicago in a schoolyard, community garden, or other community greening project. Applicants:
Must own or have permission to use the land
Must represent a group such as a block club, garden club, faith-based group, school or other youth group.
Applications will only be considered for existing (rather than proposed) gardens or greening projects that need additional materials, programming, or other support. Applications should indicate that gardens demonstrate sustained and regular use. Tell us how important your garden is to your group and surrounding community!! Beautification projects without evidence of participation from the community or student body are not likely to be funded.
What can be funded?
As in prior years, grant money may not fund an entire project, but may provide a jump-start to further fundraising. Carefully consider alternative options for your project should you only get some – not all - of the money you request. Your grant money could buy seeds or plants, lumber or mulch, compost bins, buckets, nails, schoolbooks that promote gardening, or even a garden festival for the community.
How much money will be available?
These grants are intended to fund a small project or a special part of a larger project. Last year, awards ranged from $100 to $1000. Grant proposal requests should demonstrate that gardeners have considered creative economical use of available resources to accomplish their garden's goals. Your proposal should show active, involved participation by gardeners. The mini-grants evaluation team has extensive knowledge of garden pricing and feasibility and will evaluate the amount requested for its intended use. Therefore, it is best to request a close approximation of costs, rather than a higher, hoped-for award.
Any other questions?
A GreenNet Mini-Grant workshop will take place in the front classrooms of the Garfield Park Conservatory, 300 N. Central Park, on Thursday, March 2 @ 6:30 p.m. This is the best opportunity to ask questions about this grant and the application process.
What are the important dates and deadlines for the GreenNet Mini-Grants?
Thursday, March 1, 2007 6:30 P.M. - Grant writing workshop; question and answer session
Thursday, March 15, 5:00 P.M. - Application Deadline
Week of April 9, 2007 - Grant notification letters sent out
Thursday, April 19 1-7 P.M. - Check pick up, downtown at Openlands, see address below.
Fill out the attached three-page form and return (postmarked or hand-delivered) by the deadline: March 15 - 5:00 P.M. No applications will be accepted after that time, and we will not accept any faxed applications.
GreenNet Mini-Grants Program
c/o Openlands, 25 E. Washington, Suite 1650
Chicago, IL, 60602
February 10, 2007
February 9, 2007
Greencorps Chicago's Job Training Program is recruiting for 2007 crew members.
Chicago citizens over 18 years of age should contact (312) 744-8691 to sign up for the February 14th Open House to learn about this paid training program in landscaping, horticulture and other environmental services.
Greencorps Chicago offers workshops, plant materials, technical assistance and educational programs. Organizations working in a public space--including schools, faith institutions, libraries, public housing communities and block clubs--may participate in our activities .
The following programs are offered by Greencorps Chicago:
For more information, to get involved in any of these programs or to be placed on their mailing list, please call (312)744-8691 and let them know which program interests you. Send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
February 8, 2007
I just wanted to let everyone know that Nancy Kreith, Extension Program Coordinator was recently elected President of GreenNet: Chicago's Greening Network.
GreenNet members include Openlands, the Chicago Botanic Garden, Chicago's Green City Market, the Chicago Park District, Friends of the Park, City of Chicago's Greencorps program, Chicago Department of Planning and Development, Heifer International, Shedd Aquarium and NeighborSpace.
Nancy started working for me as student intern at the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences. She attended the University of Illinois and received her degree in Landscape Architecture. She has worked as an Extension Program Coordinator since March 2006.
February 6, 2007
Join educators, garden designers, and children's garden advocates for the American Horticultural Society's 15th annual National Children & Youth Garden Symposium, "Widening the Circle," hosted by the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum's Public Policy Programs in Chaska, Minnesota on July 19-21, 2007.
Come discover "who is teaching who" as youth share their experiences of teaching and leading children's garden programs. Listen and learn as the circle continues to grow, gathering people from across the nation from various institutions, traditions, and cultures, to exchange ideas for programs in children and youth gardening.
For more information or to be added to the mailing list, click here.
February 6, 2007
The Perennial Plant Association's Perennial Plant of the Year Program promotes the use of perennials. Four perennials are selected by the Perennial Plant of the Year Committee from an extensive list of nominations made earlier by PPA members. Each year members cast their vote for one of the four selected plants with the following attributes:
The Perennial Plant of the Year for 2007 is Nepeta 'Walker's Low'
February 5, 2007
February 4, 2007
The American Community Gardening Association's 28th Annual Conference, Beantown Digs Community Gardens, will be held in Boston, Massachusetts on August 9-12, 2007.
The AGCA's Annual Conference brings together hundreds of individuals from across the United States, Canada, and abroad, who are engaged in all aspects of gardening and greening. The conference includes hands-on workshops, keynote speakers, a film festival, and visits to parks, school gardens, community gardens, and other green spaces in the Boston area.
More information to come.
February 4, 2007
Looking for a source of accurate, up-to-date horticulture information.
E-Answers will allow you to search over 250,000 pages of information from universities across the United States
E-Answers is a dynamic, online resource that brings more than 250,000 pages of university information and education into your home or office – when and where you need it. The practical, current, and unbiased information in this site represents the work of Extension Service and Agricultural Experiment Station professionals at more than 50 Land Grant universities throughout the United States.
February 3, 2007
The United States Department of Agriculture has an excellent website with a variety of links to soil education information. Highlights include the following:
February 3, 2007
National Garden Month (NGM) is one of many ways in which National Gardening Association promotes gardening. This annual celebration is a medium through which businesses, nonprofit organizations, communities, and individuals collectively promote gardening. Hundreds of local NGM-related programs and activities around the country each help to transform America into a greener, more livable place, where the act of nurturing plants can influence education, health and nutrition, community, and local food sources. It is this phenomenon that inspired the theme of NGM 2007, "When you Garden, you GROW" – an acknowledgment that gardening has a profound effect on quality of life for adults and children alike.
Each year, NGA hosts a major, celebratory kick-off event as part of National Garden Month. For the second consecutive year, we are partnering with New York City Parks and Recreation to present the 2007 NYC GROWS Garden Festival. This citywide celebration of gardening features free family-oriented activities and workshops offered by local and national organizations. For more information visit the About National Garden Month Web page.