February 2013 archive

Sussex County 4-H celebrate young public speakers

Did you know that staying eight seconds on a rodeo bull causes numerous requests for a young man’s autograph?  And “No Plate Like Home,” isn’t about Oz, it’s about what it feels like sliding into home plate at a softball game. From family pets, honoring historical figures, and relating stories of leadership and bravery – including taking a polar plunge – 23 4-H youth  participated at the 2013 Sussex County 4-H Public Speaking Contest, held on Saturday, Feb. 16 at the University of Delaware Carvel Research and Education Center in Georgetown.

From left to right, Aydan Vanderwende, Jill Koski, Mikayla Ockels and Stephen Magee

A large crowd of supporters and family members braved the falling snow to support to support the young speakers, who competed in four age divisions; beginner (8-9), intermediate (10-11) junior (12-13) and senior (14 and older) Extemporaneous speaking debuted this year as a county-level category and challenged three candidates to sharpen their skills and think on their feet in front of an audience. Extemporaneous topics were assigned only 20 minutes before going on stage.

Meredith Carey, Age Division 10-11, topic was “A Leader and a Role Model.”Meredith is from the Bridgeville 4-H Mustangs

4-H'er at a lectern and microphone

This was Aydan Vanderwende’s first 4-H Public Speaking Contest, entering at the Beginner Age Division 8-9. His speech was entitled “Must Love Dogs” Aydan is a member of the Dublin Hill 4-H Club in Bridgeville.


The fear of public speaking is often cited as one of the most common phobias!

For 4-H youth members however, speaking before a crowd is easier thanks to the experience and public speaking practice learned at the club and county level.

Jill Koski, Age Division 12-13, talked about softball in “There’s No Place Like Home.” Jill lives in E. New Market, Md. and belongs to the Seaford Blue Jays 4-H Club


Aside from the new category, 4-H members select a topic of their choosing, focus their research and practice their oratory before presenting to an audience and a panel of judges. The speeches of the older age divisions are longer in length. 4-H contestants are evaluated on subject matter, thoroughness of their research, poise, appearance and natural delivery. Each year as 4-H’ers move up through the divisions, their confidence and ease at speaking before an audience is a proud and noticeable accomplishment.

Stephen Magee had only 20 minutes to prepare for his assigned topic, Favorite Family Memory. Stephen was one of three participants in a new Extemporaneous category. Stephen is a member of the Harbor Lights 4-H Club and lives in Lincoln.

“A lot of people do not realize the preparation time that goes into this event,” says Mary Argo, Sussex County 4-H Agent. “They select a topic and spend hours writing, organizing and practicing their speech. Knowing how to speak and speak well is a skill that will last them a lifetime,” Argo says.

Mikayla Ockels, Age Division 14-19, spoke on “Your True Nature”. Mikayla is from Milton and belongs to the Harbor Lights 4-H Club







The following 4-H youth have won their age division and four will repeat their speech and compete at the state level during the Delaware State Fair in July, 2013.


Winners are:


Name/Hometown/Division/Title/4-H Club:

  • Mikayla Ockels, Milton, Senior Division, “Your True Nature” Harbor Lights
  • Jill Koski, E. New Market, Md. Junior Division, “There’s No Plate Like Home” Seaford Blue Jays
  • Meredith Carey, Bridgeville, Intermediate Division, “A Leader and Role Model”! Bridgeville Mustangs
  • Aydan Vanderwende, Bridgeville, Beginner Division, ”Must Love Dogs” Dublin Hill
  • Stephen Magee, Lincoln, Extemporaneous Division, “A Favorite Family Memory” Harbor Lights

Other participants were: Jenna Anger, Rebecca Arpie, Kyle Morris, Autumn Lenhart, Micah Magee, Alanna Vanderwende, Kaylabeth Lubiniecki, Adrianna Cannon, Thomas McCabe, Joe Anderson, Meredith Carey, Luke Stachow, Kaitlyn Willin, Alexandria Nechay, Cline Broussard, Erin Carey, Matthew Rieley, James Rieley,  Olivia Goehringer.

2013 Sussex County 4-H Public Speaking winners will vie for state honors in July at the Delaware State Fair alongside the 4-H Public Speaking winners from Kent and New Castle County.  View the entire photo gallery here.

Photos by Jackie Arpie, 4-H Youth Photographer
Article by Michele Walfred


AgrAbility to hold Mental Health First Aid Webinar



DATE:              FEBRUARY 27, 2013 at 2:00 p.m., EST

SPEAKER:         Lea Ann Browning-McNee, Mental Health Association of Maryland


Farming is a stressful occupation due to so many unknown variables that farmers face – weather, market prices, crop diseases, insects, workplace hazards, and the many personal challenges that confront each of us.

Consequently it is not surprising that farmers are often at risk to mental health challenges.  Studies have shown that farmers experience one of the highest rates of suicide of any industry and there is growing evidence that those involved in farming are at higher risk of developing mental health problems.  The suicide rate among farmers in several studies has been reported to be from 40% to 200% above the national average and during downturns in the farm economy, it is significantly greater.

This free webinar overviews Mental Health First Aid, a national program that helps laypersons identify and respond to people who are showing signs and symptoms of mental illness or are experiencing a crisis — much as CPR helps non-clinicians respond to medical emergencies.  Webinar participants will be introduced to the signs of mental stress and specifically red flag behaviors, how to support a person experiencing a mental health problem and what steps to take until professional treatment is received.  You’ll also learn how to earn your certification in the program and how to bring Mental Health First Aid to your community.

This course will benefit a variety of audiences, including Extension agents, Agrability staff and partners, case managers, farm leaders, service providers, health organizations, agriculture professionals, care givers, first responders and the general public.

Don’t miss this exceptional opportunity to learn from mental health professionals about identifying symptoms and risk factors and supporting farmers under stress.


Lea Ann Browning-McNee is the deputy director for the Mental Health Association of Maryland, the state’s oldest and largest mental health education and advocacy group. Prior to joining MHAMD, she was the outreach and development officer for the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare, where she helped lead the launch of Mental Health First Aid- USA and created other new education and outreach programs. Lea Ann has more than 15 years of experience in public education and social marketing and currently serves as adjunct faculty at the George Washington University Graduate School of Political Management. Lea Ann received her Bachelors of Science and Masters Degree from Towson University.



Please go directly to http://ag.udel.edu/rec/Staff/Jester/mentalhealthwebinar.html and register for the event.  The webinar is free but registration is required.  Also registration is limited so please register as soon as possible.

Information an accessing the session will be sent to registrants by February 20.  If you have any questions, please contact Ron Jester, Mid-Atlantic Agrability at 302-856-7303 or email rcjester@udel.edu.

Sussex Master Gardeners announce winter-spring workshops series for 2013

Master Gardener logo

Community & School Garden Information Event     register online    Thank you!
Saturday, February 9, 2013, 9 a.m. to noon
Information session designed for educators, community members  and gardeners starting or maintaining a community or school garden.

Houseplant Care     register online
Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013  7 p.m. Conference Room 3
Presented by Fran Meehan.
Bring your tired, your sick or your just plain lousy looking house plants for a little TLC!   The class will diagnose and help solve your specific plant problems and then cover general house plant growing concerns. We will have an abundance of information available to help you grow beautiful indoor gardens.

Plants with Winter Interest in Your Garden     register online
Thursday, March 7, 2013.
Presented by Eddie Filmyr and Gayle August.   Noon. Conference Room 3.
Presenters will share through photographs and discussion a selection of shrubs, trees and perennials that are stars in gardens in winter. A plant list will be provided for you to use to plan additions to you garden. Come learn and enjoy! 

Tools & Tips    register online
Tuesday, March 12, 1 p.m. Conference Room 3.
Presented by Ingrid Hetfield.
The right tool for the right gardening job makes your outdoor work a breeze. How to select tools for your particular garden, from the houseplant corner to the tree- shaded lot, and all the growing things between, and information on sharpening and maintenance of your hand tools.

Soil Test, Taking the Tests, Using the Results   register online
Presented  Tracy Mulveny
Tuesday, March 26, 2013. 30,  7 p.m.  Demonstration Garden
Learn about soil tests, why you should do one, how to and then how to use the results.

MAHVELOUS Moss   register online
Presented by Mary Hall
Tuesday, April 9, 2013, 1 p.m.
Got moss? Instead of trying to get rid of it, come learn about all of its advantages and the benefits of having it in your landscape. We’ll also discuss its environmental needs and care, companion plantings, and show examples of ways to use magical, mahvelous moss.

The Master Gardeners Demonstration Garden    register online
Presented by  Members of the Garden Committee
Tuesday, April 30, 2013. Noon.
A panel discussion with some of the gardeners responsible for the demonstration garden The discussion will focus on the successes and failures in the garden last year and the plans for the coming gardening season

Growing Healthy Snacks    register online
Presented by Ana Dittel and Linda Peters
Wednesday, May 15, 2013.  7 p.m.
Learn about the nutrition values in small fruits and vegetables that can easily be grown in your garden, how to grow them, and a few recipes to try.

Hypertufa    register online
Thursday, June 13 and June 20, 2013.  Limit 20 Participants    Cost $15
Presented by  Jackie McPeake  
Hypertufa is a mixture of cement, sand and water, formed into a mold to make a container for a plant or a garden ornament (mushroom). It is lighter than terra-cotta and can withstand winter weather. At the conclusion of this hands-on workshop you’ll have made a pot or mushroom to take home. Bring Heavy-Duty Latex Gloves

Herbal Vinegars     register online
Tuesday, June 25, 2013. 5:30 p.m.
Presented by Donna Fellows and Emily Peterson and Susan Trone
Spend an afternoon discovering herbs and their use in flavored vinegars.  Learn selection and preparation techniques which will allow you to go home with your own special blend.