From the Desk of the Director

A Perennial Invitation

Marlin Bates

County Extension Director

As summer officially winds down and we all transition into what, to me, is the most beautiful season, we hope to entice you to consider something new. Throughout this newsletter, you’ll learn about the successes we’ve enjoyed lately and the plans we have laid for the future. Certainly, you’ll find news that you can use, but we ask that you pay special attention to the invitations for your participation. We’re creating community – and it’s better with you alongside us. 

At this time of year, our Extension Council swings into full recruiting mode for the upcoming elections to the Council. You may have seen them at the Douglas County Fair or at their Open House, or maybe you have only heard a little bit about the opportunity to help create an Extension program in Douglas County that is timely, relevant, and responsive to the needs of our neighbors.

Within our four program areas there are hundreds of residents just like you who have served on this Council and made our office what it is today. I encourage you to consider learning more about how you might help craft our efforts for the future. 

Throughout our office you’ll find friendly faces who are specialized in creating opportunity for you. Whether you are seeking a solution to a technical issue, interested in moving the needle on a community-wide problem, or looking for a group to join, opportunity abounds at the Extension Office. Regardless of how you might engage, you’re sure to learn and develop alongside us and others with similar interests. Learning is very much at the heart of why we are here, but the first things you’ll notice is the connection to community. We hope that this community-first experience enriches you and draws you in and helps you create more connections across Douglas County. 

Nutrition | Health | Safety

A Summer of Interns

Kaitlyn Peine

Community Health & Wellness

Extension Agent

It’s not unusual to have an intern or two on our team at K-State Research and Extension Douglas County. We are in close proximity to three universities, and we do great work in our community. These factors allow us to be great host for interns. Last summer our team hosted The Summer Engagement Program that is funded by the Kansas State Department of Education and hosted through the State 4-H Office. When the opportunity to reapply for the grant, it was an easy yes for our team. For the summer of 2023, The Summer Engagement Program provided $50,000 in grant funding for Douglas County including five paid intern positions and a budget for program materials.  

The Summer Engagement Program provides direct education to youth populations throughout the summer months. The program is indented to provide supplemental learning experiences to make up for learning loss due to the disruption of in person learning during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In Douglas County we are fortunate to have two agents providing support for The Summer Engagement Program, Nicking Harding our 4-H Youth Development Agent and myself. Serving a larger county and our agent support positioned our team to host five summer interns. Nickie provided support for our science programming efforts, and I supported the healthy living programs.  

In the winter months the intern positions were announced, and we conducted interviews in collaboration with the state program coordinator. Our team of five interns included four Douglas County 4-H alumni and an intern who returned from last summer. The Summer Engagement Program provides paid internship experiences, a benefit we are not always able to offer our office interns. We had a great intern team and they each did an outstanding job during their internship. 

Read More Here

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SNAP-Ed News

Nutrient-Rich Breakfast for All

Hilary Kass

SNAP-Ed Nutrition Educator

Kids are back to school which is a great time to try a few new ideas for keeping everyone well-fed and happy. MyPlate shows how to balance out the 5 food groups: fruit, vegetable, grain, protein, and dairy. Following this eating pattern is a good guide to healthy weight and good energy throughout the day. 

Check out this link- lots of great information to use and share: Back to School My Plate Article

Here are a few of the nutrient-rich breakfast ideas that our SNAP-Ed Team is sharing this month with families at Heartland Community Health Center, Edgewood, Boys and Girls Club, Babcock, and The Merc Co+op. 

Overnight Oats: In a jar, mix ¼ c oats with 1/2 cup yogurt, 1/3 cup milk, ½ cup fruit, 1 Tbl honey. Stir. Refrigerate overnight. Ready to go in the morning. 

100% Whole Wheat Toast: Top with peanut butter, banana and honey. 

Frittata: Sauté 1-each: chopped carrot, red pepper, zucchini. Pour 4 beaten eggs over the vegetables, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Mix gently to cook eggs. Sprinkle a bit of grated cheese.  

Cinnamon Raisin Baked Oatmeal:

1.5 unsweetened apple sauce 

2 eggs 

¼ cup brown sugar 

1 tsp cinnamon 

½ tsp salt 

¾ tsp baking powder  

1 cup low-fat milk 

¾ cup raisins 

2 cups rolled oats 

½ cup chopped walnuts or pecans. 

In a large bowl, mix all ingredients together. Pour into an oiled 8X8” pan. Bake at 375F for about 45 minutes. Cool. Cut into squares and enjoy. Leftovers can be refrigerated for 3 days or frozen for 3 months. Re-heat in microwave to 165F 

(Adapted from MyPlate Super Simple Cookbook) 

Making Nutrition Learning Fun

Sofia Diaz Buezo

SNAP-Ed Nutrition Educator

There is nothing better about learning a new subject than by doing it in a fun way. Individuals are more likely to remember and apply knowledge they are gaining in the classroom if they actively participate through hands-on activities during the lesson. This is something that SNAP-Ed strives to incorporate in each of the lessons and curriculum it teaches to the members of the community, as it will allow them to be more connected and interested in learning the nutrition concepts taught at each class session. 

This summer, I was given the opportunity to start my new employee training by teaching Teen Cuisine to Van Go’s JAMS employment youth. During each nutrition session, I provided the material in a lecture way, and then I asked the students to actively participate in discussion and activities, such as cutting apples for one of the meals, measuring teaspoons of sugar in beverages, and using their hands as guidance for measuring portion sizes.  

These hands-on activities not only provided me with the opportunity to learn the content I needed to teach within the Teen Cuisine curriculum, but it provided an opportunity for the teens to ask questions and feel like they had the opportunity to give their “two-cents” during discussion.  

Teen Cuisine is one of the curricula taught by SNAP-Ed which focuses on empowering teens to adopt healthier lifestyles by teaching them the skills and the knowledge to prepare nutritious meals and snacks at home.

It is designed to teach youth from grades 6 to 12 important like skills to promote optimal health both in the present and future. The curriculum includes key concepts such as nutrition, food preparation and cooking, food safety, and physical activity using approaches and strategies to enhance learning and behavior change.  

For Douglas County SNAP-Ed Updates, Click the icon below!



Play With Your Food: Engaging Families and Youth at the Lawrence Farmers’ Market 

Ginny Barnard

Executive Director

LiveWell Douglas County

A walk through the Lawrence Farmers’ Market in late summer provides a feast for the senses – aroma of just-picked tomatoes, a rainbow of carrots, fresh baked products to taste, handmade crafts to touch and the sounds of local musicians. But this season you might have also noticed an opportunity for younger visitors.

Play With Your Food was a children’s program offered at the Lawrence Farmers’ Market twice a month. It focused on providing three experiential learning activities – Explore, Learn, and Taste. “Combined, these activities are designed to get children excited about the farmers’ market, learn how their food grows and gets to their table at home, and have an opportunity to taste a new fruit or vegetable,” according to Emily Brinkman, Play With Your Food Program Coordinator. 

Creating a family-friendly farmers’ market environment is important to Emily Lysen, Director of Development for the Lawrence Farmers’ Market. “We really want children to enjoy visiting the market and hope it’s something families look forward to every week.”

Read More Here

4H of Douglas County

2023-2024 4-H Year is set to Kick Off October 1

Nickie Harding

4-H Youth Development

Extension Agent

As fall begins, families begin a new series of activities. With so many extracurricular programs available for youth to choose from, it can be difficult and overwhelming when selecting new activities. 4-H programs are an excellent option for young people and offer something for everyone in the family. 4-H had its beginnings in rural America, but it now serves youth in urban, suburban, and rural communities. 

4H programs are grounded in the belief that kids learn best by doing. Youth complete hands-on projects in areas like science, health, agriculture, communications, and civic engagement. Projects and activities are held in a positive environment where youth receive guidance from adult and teen mentors and are encouraged to take on proactive leadership roles. Kids can concentrate on one project area or several throughout their 4H experience. 

4-H project work is how 4-H’ers learn subject matter which is significant and of interest to them. Projects are a way for youth to learn, set goals, and gain other valuable life skills through hands-on learning experiences at their own pace and skill level.

In Douglas, County youth participate in 4-H programming through many avenues. Some of those opportunities include in-school programming, day camps, and specific project-related training. The most common avenue is by joining a 4-H club, which can help guide them through the 4-H experience. 4-H club meetings provide opportunities to share their project work (speak), plan service-learning activities, and practice running effective meetings. Some clubs may have ‘sub' clubs for individual projects, led by adults or teens. For some specialized projects like horses, Douglas County has a county-wide project club that operates similarly. 

Read More Here

Douglas County 4-H Volunteering

Nancy Noyes

4-H Youth Development Program Assistant

Volunteerism -noun- the use or involvement of volunteer labor, especially in community services. 

I realize the audience of this newsletter is already giving of their time and talents; however, I want to utilize this forum to expand our view of volunteers within the 4-H organization.  

4-H is the largest youth development organization in the country- approximately six million strong! The Kansas 4-H Program supports over 70,000 members statewide with 6,500 volunteers assisting in the program.  

Sarah Maas, director of the Kansas 4-H, cited a study reporting that volunteers donate an average of nine hours per month, or an estimated 695,736 hours annually to Kansas’ largest youth development program. 

Also in 2022, Independent Sector – a coalition of nonprofits, foundations, and corporate giving programs – released findings indicating that the value of one volunteer hour in the United States is $29.95. Doing the math, the annual contribution of volunteers to the Kansas 4-H program tops $20.8 million.  

National Volunteer Week Article

Volunteers and parents, often one-in-the-same, are valuable partners in the 4-H program. Their contributions have a profound impact on the lives of young people long after they reach adulthood. One study found that youth who have relationships with three or more caring adults who are not their parents are more likely to develop into healthy, caring, and responsible adults themselves and have success in subsequent college and career. 

Read More Here

4-H of Douglas County Updates

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Horticulture & Natural Resources

Land Stewardship Assistance Program Funding

Sharon Ashworth

Horticulture & Natural Resources

Extension Agent

Douglas County Extension has received funding from the Heritage Conservation Council of Douglas County (HCC) to initiate a Land Stewardship Assistance Program.

While Douglas County Extension strives to provide landowners with information on best practices to sustainably care for their land, the resources available are scattered across different program areas within Extension and among our partnership organizations.

The goal of the Land Stewardship Assistance Program is to provide contemporary land stewardship services and resources to the residents of Douglas County. We aim to connect rural landowners and agricultural producers in Douglas County with financial and technical resources, partner organizations, and each other with the common goal of maintaining and improving land stewardship. 

The proposed project aims to help landholders in Douglas County preserve or restore native vegetation, improve soil health on farms and grazing lands, enhance water access and management, and improve the viability of businesses engaged in agricultural production. These activities will help preserve the biodiversity, food systems, and rural character of Douglas County. 

Read More Here

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Don't Fall Behind

Planning for your Spring Garden

Niki Kenniff

Agriculture & Horticulture

Program Assistant

It is the perfect time for gardeners to start thinking ahead as summer slides into fall. You can begin soil preparation for spring right now. A soil test is a great place to start. If you haven’t had your soil tested in three years or more, it’s time to get a sample to your local K-State Extension office. Lawn & Garden Soil Test ( . You have time to make the necessary adjustments and amendments now if the test indicates a pH or nutrient imbalance. 

Fall is also a great time to add compost or other green materials, such as grass clippings or raked leaves to your garden. The cycle of freezing and thawing throughout the winter months will break down and move nutrients and organic matter into your soil. A maximum of six inches of shredded leaves or other vegetation can be spread over the garden and allowed to compost naturally into the soil over the winter.

Incorporation of the materials into the soil is beneficial, either by hand with a spade or with a tiller, but be mindful to not over till as this can damage the soil structure, leading to reduced available nutrients, loss of pore space, compaction and an inability of the soil to hold moisture. Also, never work the soil if it is wet. Tilling when the soil is wet can lead to compaction, large clods and limited root growth for further plantings. 

Read More Here

Extension Master Gardener Resources & Updates

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Fall and Winter Forage Production and Utilization 

Margit Kaltenekkar

Agriculture Extension Agent

Although east central Kansas may fair better than western or south-central Kansas, we all know the drought continues to linger. Hopefully some mid-summer Sudan grass was seeded to supplement lower than average hay yields. Following are a few strategies to consider in preparing winter forage supplies, besides corn silage. 

A classic strategy in the fescue belt is stockpiling fall fescue for later winter grazing. Mid-late August is the time to remove cattle from pastures (or clip the pastures by September 1, if you haven’t yet). Test soil nutrients and apply 40% the recommended rate of nitrogen, along with P2O5 and K2O, ahead of the next forecast rain. Then wait for growth to take off October through November, as cooler temperatures and fall rains return. There are many advantages to this strategy besides strengthening root reserves of the fescue ahead of spring grazing.

One of the advantages includes reduced risk of ergovaline, the toxic alkaloid produced by fungal endophytes. These endophytes are shown to be lowest in late winter when supplemental forages are most needed.


Other supplemental forage strategies includes sowing winter Cereal rye or triticale this late August or early September for fall and/ or later winter grazing, following corn or soybeans. The planting window is open until October, but best yields are predicated upon early establishment by mid-late September.

Both are quick to establish following best practices, and can provide supplemental grazing within 4 – 6 weeks of establishment holding back winter grazing until February or March guarantees heavier yield and increased forage utilization. Yields of 3,000 - 4,000 lbs/ acre for stockpiled grazing can be estimated, depending on the moisture, etc. University of MN has excellent guidance on maximizing yield and estimating nutritive value for Cereal Rye in this publication

Local County agencies like Douglas County Conservation District and the Upper Wakarusa or Middle Kansas River WRAPS projects have cost-share assistance for sowing winter cover crops including some alternate forages for winter grazing mixes. Prepare now to get the temporary fencing and watering lines in place to strip graze that extra forage! 

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Kansas State University is committed to making its services, activities, and programs accessible to all participants. If you have special requirements due to a physical, vision, or hearing disability, contact K-State Research and Extension Douglas County, 785-843-7058. Notify staff of accommodation needs as early as possible. Kansas State University Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service K-State Research and Extension is an equal opportunity provider and employer.