March 2012 archive

Our Groundwater Resources – Current and Future Status

“Our Groundwater Resources – Current and Future Status” will be the second in a series of seminars that focuses on coastal resource issues in Delaware.

The seminar will take place Wednesday, April 4, from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Virden Center at the University of Delaware’s Hugh R. Sharp Campus in Lewes. The event is hosted by the Delaware Sea Grant College Program and Delaware Geological Survey.

Coastal scientists from UD, federal and state agencies will provide a primer on groundwater, a coastal groundwater resource inventory, current use and potential impacts from land use, saltwater intrusion, weather and climate change.

The intent of the Focus on the Coast seminar series is to provide relevant science-based information to support and inform local decision-makers and concerned citizens.

The seminar is free but seating is limited. Advance registration is required by March 30.

For more information and preliminary program, visit, or contact Michelle Scorziello at 302-645-4346 or

Sussex County to celebrate Extension Homemaker Heritage

Sussex County Cooperative Extension, will celebrate an Extension Homemaker Heritage Reunion – 85th Anniversary, on Tuesday, April 24, 2012, to honor local Sussex County women who formed and were active in local clubs dedicated to sharing new “home economics” information and technologies with local families.

Though only a small part of the programming that Cooperative Extension supports, the legacy of these “homemaker clubs” as they are often called, endures in the memory of families throughout the county.  The lessons they taught, skills they shared, and lives they changed, immeasurably helped Sussex Countians’ quality of life during an era of rapid change. The 85th Anniversary celebration, including refreshments, is scheduled from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Carvel Research and Education Center,  16483 County Seat Highway, Georgetown. There is no cost to attend. Former club members, their families and anyone who would like to share a story about the long legacy of Extension Homemaker outreach is welcome to attend.

“I am hoping that the adult children of past members would like to share their memories,” said Anne Camasso, Extension agent in Family and Consumer Sciences at Carvel. “I’ve talked to a few people who remember their mother taking them to meetings. We would love to have these stories included in the program.”

In 1917, Cooperative Extension hired its first home demonstration agent, Miss Gertrude Blodgett,  who traveled by horse and buggy to remote locations in Delaware, providing valuable information about the changing technology in modern, electrified kitchens, textile and clothing techniques, food preservation and other various  home economic topics updates.

Ten years later, Cooperative Extension had placed an agent in each county, and the Extension outreach model had expanded to include community-based clubs. These community clubs, commonly referred to as “Homemaker’s clubs” “Home Demonstration clubs” “Young Homemaker clubs” or “Home Economics Extension clubs”  were responsible for learning– and then passing on–  changing trends and practical science-based information needed in the home and community.

The clubs and their volunteer members helped Sussex County families through the Great Depression era, through World War II and responded to the expansion of families and technology in the 1950s. While a glimpse into their archive can be amusing, with topics such as “underwear patterns” or “charm through good grooming,” the majority of their focus in outreach clearly marks them as ahead of their time. Records show progressive interests in such areas as: teaching home and automobile safety, nutrition and drug interaction, growing Victory Gardens,  how to recycle clothing and household goods, solar heating, consumer fraud,  addressing marital and domestic abuse and active civil defense groups.

Members of the Nanticoke Home Demonstration celebrate their 25th Anniversary in 1956. Many black and white photos exist with well-known Sussex County surnames written on the back of the photos.

Their club names provide a clue to their wide reach in Sussex County: Angola, Blue Hen, Broad Creek, County Seat, Ellendale, Harbeson, Indian River,  Laurel, Mt. Pleasant, Nanticoke, Piney Grove,  and Reliance, to name a few. Other clubs such as the Blue Hen, served the Bethany Beach area, the Atlanta club, western Sussex and the Hearth and Home club of Milford.  In all, more than 30 clubs and their members were proactive –continually updating their education by attending short courses at the University of Delaware, and by participating in several educational field trips. Curious and committed to training, homemaker club members cared to share.  In addition to direct contact with local families, Sussex clubs were active in charity drives and community service, including Red Cross flood relief, TV Fund for Veteran’s Hospital in Elsmere, planting of community trees and replacing the contents of a residential kitchen damaged by fire.

In an undated photograph, FCE members review food values during a meeting at the former Extension office location.

As Extension changed and modernized, so too, did the nature and name of homemaker clubs, officially becoming ” Family and Consumer Educators” (FCE).  Today, remaining FCE  members continue to meet socially and fondly remember their association with outreach education with the support of Cooperative Extension.

It is a partnership worth remembering and celebrating, and on Tuesday, April 24, 2012, the public is welcome to join Sussex County Cooperative Extension in paying homage to the efforts of these extraordinary volunteer educators. For more information and to register to attend, please contact Kim Lewis at (302) 856-7303.  Visit our Facebook gallery and help us identify some of the club members!


File photo dated "1940-42?" lists the names (l-r) Gertrude Holloway Johnson, agent; Myrtle Messick, Nanticoke; Helen West, Georgetown; and Viola Ocheltree, Greenwood. Several photos exist in the archive, which are not labeled or dated.


LEADelaware seeks new generation of agriculture leaders

LEADelaware, sponsored by the University of Delaware, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, UD Cooperative Extension, and the Delaware Department of Agriculture is seeking new candidates to train as agricultural leadership fellows for its two-year program. The program is scheduled to begin September, 2012.

As an industry, agriculture contributes $8 billion dollars annually to the Delaware economy, according to a 2010 University of Delaware study. Continued effective and progressive leadership in the agriculture sector is essential.

LEADelaware is an agricultural and natural resource leadership program designed to help build the next generation of leaders within the food and fiber industries.

During the two-year training program, fellows will participate in teamwork and leadership capacity building exercises. They will be provided opportunities to practice these skills and will visit local and regional agribusinesses, and meet with policy makers that affect the agriculture industry. In the second year, the LEADelaware class will plan an international trip to experience diverse agricultural practices, thus broadening their perspectives. The first and second classes visited Chile and Peru, respectively.

“LEADelaware is an opportunity to learn and experience leadership,” says Bill McGowan, UD community development Extension agent in Sussex County and part of a three-member leadership team that will conduct class sessions beginning in September, 2012.

McGowan explained that LEADelware fellows will work together over two years on a variety of agriculture and natural resource issues, all the while developing and enhancing personal and organizational leadership skills.

“People come together as strangers or acquaintances and form long-standing relationships that expand their capacities, help them to engage on issues critical to Delaware and regional agriculture, and gain an international perspective as well, “ McGowan said.  “LEADelaware is a great start for those ready to expand their horizons and embark on a continual learning adventure.”

Joining McGowan in coordinating the program and leading the sessions are Tom Ilvento, chair of UD’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources Department of Food and Resource Economics, Laurie Wolinski, UD Extension Associate in Food and Resource Economics.

Past fellows have included agricultural Extension agents, high school agriculture teachers, farmers, agency personnel representing USDA Farm Service Agency, Natural Resource and Conservation Service and Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Delaware Department of Agriculture and Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, MidAtlantic Farm Credit, an aerial applicator, and commercial agriculture industry professionals.

The LEADelaware programs seeks to fulfill its third class, recruiting 15-20 individuals from diverse agricultural professions.

For more information about LEADelaware and the application process for Class III, contact Laurie Wolinkski at or call  (302) 831-2538.  Application deadline is August 10, 2012. You may also visit LEADelaware’s website.

How NOT to grow your grapes!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012. 7 p.m. at the Carvel REC Meeting Room 2.

Dixie Gildon  has been growing grapes for 20 years! That’s a lot of grapes! Get the goods on grapes from this volunteer Sussex County Master Gardener!

This workshop is free, as most workshops are!  But we appreciate preregistration. You can register online for this and the remaining spring Sussex County Master Gardener workshops!

Or you may visit the Sussex Master Gardener website and view all workshop descriptions and download the brochure in PDF

Master Gardeners are working volunteers and are supported by Delaware Cooperative Extension through the University of Delaware and Delaware State University Extension offices.

In 2010 Sussex County Master Gardeners provided outreach to 5, 315 participants via 59 workshops.  Collectively, in 2010 Master Gardeners donated 5,631 hours of expertise to local Sussex communities.

UDel offers produce food safety training – good agricultural and handling practices

2012 Produce Food Safety Training Session 2012

Good Agricultural Practices (GAP’s) – Good Handling Practices (GHP’s)

All produce growers who did not attend voluntary produce food safety (GAP/GHP) training sessions in 2011 or previous years are encouraged to do so in 2012.  This training program is offered by the University of Delaware Cooperative Extension, and the training certificate is issued by the Delaware Department of Agriculture.

The textured skin of cantaloupes requires careful handling and processing

Training covers microbial food contaminants, outbreaks associated with produce, how produce becomes contaminated, Good Agricultural Practices in the field (water sources; animals, manures, and compost; field sanitation; and worker hygiene) and Good Handling Practices from harvest to sales (packing area sanitation, worker hygiene, storage, handling, and shipping).  For wholesale growers, this training certification program satisfies some wholesale buyer requirements that growers attend GAP/GHP training.

For those expecting to go through an audit this year, this program will help you to know what is covered in an audit and how to develop your farm food safety plan.  Smaller growers who market locally are also encouraged to become trained and learn about best ways to keep produce safe from foodborne pathogens.


March 21, 2012, 6:00 – 9:00 p.m.  All growers large and small.  Sessions at the University of Delaware, Carvel Research and Education Center, 16483 County Seat Highway, Georgetown 19947.  Call Karen Adams at (302) 856-2585 ext. 540 to register.  Contact Tracy Wootten or Cory Whaley (302) 856-7303 for more information.  A second session to fulfill requirements for wholesale growers will be scheduled as needed.

By: Gordon Johnson, Extension Vegetable and Fruit Specialist, University of Delaware