Knowledge for Life

April 2024 - V. 2 (with update and correction)


Yesterday's email mistakenly stated that Dennis, our longtime, beloved colleague and friend, passed away May 16, when it should have said March 16. We apologize for the error and confusion it caused. 

While we have you...

The Kansas City Gardener magazine will publish a tribute section for Dennis. Magazine owners Elizabeth and Mike Cavanaugh are seeking input from community members, asking for "specific examples where Dennis impacted or influenced your gardening over the years."

Click here to access the survey and provide your comment.

There is a word limit to the question. There is also a deadline of noon on Monday, April 8.

A loss for the Extension family and community

“Because of the way he wrote and taught, people felt like they knew him. If you had one conversation with Dennis, you were his friend.”

On March 16, longtime Extension Horticulture agent Dennis Patton passed away. Dennis was well known for his weekly columns in The Kansas City Star and exceptional programming, including his mentorship of the Johnson County Extension Master Gardeners -- one of the most successful programs of its kind in the nation. He was also a nice guy, whose presence is missed in the office, gardens, and community to which he devoted so much time.

Read more about Dennis' life and work.

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The 12th Annual Kansas Healthy Yards Expo offers free resources for you

Saturday, April 13, 2024

9 AM to 2 PM

Shawnee Civic Centre

13817 Johnson Drive, Shawnee, Kansas

Discover simple practices for achieving a nice yard and home, while protecting our water, air, and healthy soils. Attend the Expo to:

  • Drop off a soil sample, and we will send it to the lab for testing. Johnson County residents receive one free test each year. Results will explain your soil's nutrient levels with recommendations for fertilization and care.
  • Meet representatives from your local city government.
  • Shop for native plants, which are beautiful and suited to our local climate.
  • Chat with Extension Master Gardeners, Extension Master Naturalists, and Extension Master Food Volunteers for education, resources, and advice.
  • Get cool giveaways (free tree seedlings!) and sign up to win door prizes.

Learn more

Can't attend? All Johnson County residents receive one free soil test per year (courtesy of Johnson County Stormwater Management). Drop off your soil sample at the Extension office in Olathe, Monday through Friday, 8:30 AM to 5 PM.

Natural Resources

Poison Ivy: What’s all the itch about?

For some, running into poison ivy means nothing at all. For others, it means going to the doctor for cortisone cream or oral steroids. Why is this?

The American Skin Association estimates that around 85% of our population is allergic to poison ivy.

The main cause for those itchy rashes and blisters is an oil the plant produces called urushiol. Learn more

Keeping Ponds Healthy

We help solve common pond problems. This month there are two free workshops featuring K-State Research and Extension Wildlife Management Aquatic Specialist, Joe Gerken. Both events include a presentation followed by a pond field trip.

Managing an HOA Pond: Thursday, April 11: 4-6 PM

Managing a Fishing Pond: Thursday, April 25: 3-5 PM

Nutrition, Food Safety, and Health

Three tips for more physical activity

We are not doing great as a society moving our bodies and meeting physical activity recommendations. In fact, the average Kansan spends more than 13 hours sitting each day! 

Most of us know that physical activity is good for our bodies and minds. Despite the benefits, we are often faced with many barriers. Here are three common barriers and tips for how to overcome them. Learn more

Have nutrition, food safety, or health questions?


Contact us for answers. Call (913) 715-7000 or email

[email protected]

Lawn and Garden

Tickets are on sale for the Public Garden Tour!

Purchase tickets here

Tour six of the most beautiful private gardens in Kansas City on Friday, May 17 and Saturday, May 18. Tickets are $25 each if purchased by April 30. May 1, ticket cost goes up to $30 each. All proceeds benefit Extension Master Gardener projects and programs in the community.

This year we have added an Extension Expo with educational stations, located at the Garden Gallery Demonstration Garden. The Garden Thyme Marketplace will sell garden themed, hand-crafted products. Learn more

Seasonal Resources:

Community Gardeners wanted!

The Sunset Community Garden educates and feeds the community through its quarter-acre fruit and vegetable farm -- situated between the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment and Extension Office in Olathe.

We welcome new volunteers at our Tuesday morning workdays. No garden experience required! It's fun, healthy, and an easy way to put some good into the world. Learn more

New podcast option for gardeners

On the go, but still wanting your fill of horticultural tidbits? Agent Anthony’s show on High Plains Public Radio is also a podcast! Catch all editions of “Planting the Plains.

Supporting the next generation of horticulturists

The Johnson County Extension Master Gardeners will offer three scholarship awards to current horticulture students enrolled in Johnson County Community College and Kansas State University. Applications are due by May 17. Learn more

Buyback opportunity for invasive Callery/Bradford Pear trees

Once thought to be the 'perfect tree,' Callery / Bradford pears have taken over the landscape. You likely noticed all those white blossoms last month.

Make no mistake, said our late Horticulture agent, Dennis Patton: "No matter how pretty, it is time to help correct one of man’s greatest plant mistakes and remove all ornamental pears." Learn more about the April 27 buyback in Fairway, KS.

You have questions. The Gardening Hotline has answers.

Our Extension Master Gardeners staff the Gardening Hotline, ready to take your questions. Contact us for answers about your yard, garden, trees, shrubs, pests, and lots of other topics. Call (913) 715-7050 (9 AM to 4 PM, Monday through Friday) or email your questions to: [email protected].

4-H Youth Development

Volunteer Appreciation

Johnson County 4-H relies on caring adults that generously donate their time to continue delivering engaging programming for our youth. With almost 300 registered adults in the Johnson County 4-H program, we are lucky to call all of those dedicated individuals volunteers.

In addition to these wonderful adults that give their time, we would also like to spotlight the youth in Johnson County 4-H that spend their time giving back to their community. Benefits earned by youth volunteers have a positive impact on them personally-- both immediate and into the future. Learn more

Family and Community Wellness

Your Digital Inventory

As technology has become an integral part of our daily lives, the importance of having a digital estate plan has grown. As a result, it is important to consider who has access to your online accounts and how your accounts will be handled in case of incapacitation or death. Learn more

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Learning to sew? We have a class for you!

Tuesday, April 23

6 to 8 PM at the Extension office

The Olathe Quilters Guild will offer a free class for beginning sewers at the Extension office in Olathe. Learn to make a standard pillowcase (known as a "burrito" pillowcase) with all enclosed seams. Sewing machine required. Learn more

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Silver Clovers

WITS Workout: An Apple a Day

Monday, April 8, 2024

Two identical afternoon sessions, online via Zoom

You are never too young or old to start training your brain. WITS Workout is an online, small group "workout," with most of the activities related to the apple in one way or another, and diet as it relates to brain health.

Register for Session A

1:00 PM - 2:30 PM

Register for Session B

3:00 PM - 4:30 PM

Silver Clovers from Johnson County Extension offers special opportunities for adults ages 50 and older.

Support the Johnson County Extension Education Foundation

Your membership helps to create awareness and provide financial support for Extension programs. Together, we can work to improve the lives of our Johnson County neighbors. Join now

Volunteer with Extension

Johnson County Extension Volunteer Recognition is April 23!

We are grateful for our incredible volunteers! Please join us for a celebration in your honor: On April 23, stop by anytime from 3:30 to 5:30 PM in the Pavilion at the Extension office. There will be snacks and door prizes. RSVP here.

Are you looking for a way to give back to your community, while having some fun and learning new skills? Explore our many Extension volunteer opportunities, including three K-State Master Programs. We would love to have you!

Upcoming Events | view complete list here

Lawn & Garden Events

April 2, 9, 16, 23, and 30: Sunset Community Garden Tuesday morning volunteer workdays

April 2: Extension Master Gardeners: Summer Bulbs (FULL)

April 3: K-State Garden Hour Webinar Series: Companion Plants in Your Garden (virtual)

April 13: Healthy Yards Expo

April 17: Dig Your Dinner: Pristine Potatoes (virtual)

Family and Community Wellness Events

April 18: Simple Home Modifications

April 23: Sewing Class: Pillowcase

Agriculture / Natural Resources Events

April 11: Managing an HOA Pond

April 25: Managing a Fishing Pond

April 27: Birding 101 Nature Program

May 4: Flint Knapping 101

Nutrition, Health, and Food Events

April 6: Kitchen Restore Drive

April 13: Kids in the Kitchen: Air Fryer

April 16: Preventing Diabetes with Simple Lifestyle Changes

April 17: Dig Your Dinner: Pristine Potatoes (virtual)

April 18: 20 Minute Meals

April 18: Kitchen Restore Drive

April 25: Four-Course Living

Community Vitality

April 5: First Friday e-Call: CDBG Housing Grants (virtual)

April 9: Trail Talk Tuesday (virtual)

Silver Clovers (Ages 50+)

April 8: WITS Workout: Apple a Day (virtual)

View all Events
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We are dedicated to a safe, sustainable, competitive food and fiber system and to strong healthy communities, families, and youth through integrated research, analysis, and education.

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K-State Extension, Johnson County is an organization of dedicated, passionate, hardworking staff who collaborate and connect people with university supported education, resources, and services – through volunteers, community, and partner organizations.

Kansas State University Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service. ​

K-State Research and Extension is an equal opportunity provider and employer.​