UACES Facebook Blue Letter - September 2017

Sept. 2017 Blue Letter nameplate

Blue Letter - Sept. 2017 - No. 3785

Rick Cartwright's column is on hiatus this month. 

Rick Cartwright
Rick Cartwright

Stink bugs, models, floods and fairs! What a month!

Bill Robertson at Runway for the Cure

Above: Bill Robertson in Runway for the Cure.

Gus Lorenz speaking at stinkbug emergency forumGus Lorenz at stinkbug emergency forum; lower left, damage from Harvey.


Polk County agent Josh Yates working the swine class at the county fair.

Polk County Fair - CEA Josh Yates at work.



  • Sharp County 4-H’er overcomes hearing loss to achieve goals
  • Produce safety: answers to farmers’ questions
  • Benton County Master Gardeners Helping Hands garden
  • Greene County 4-H’ers exhibit swine at National Junior Summer Spectacular
  • What’s New in Publications?
  • Rice Quiz Bowl winners
  • 4-H livestock contest and scholarship winners
  • Benefits Corner
  • Poinsett County Extension coordinates agriculture and nutrition day at county fair
  • Verma Award for Excellence in Global Engagement created
  • Arkansas ag teachers trained as Beef Quality Assurance trainers
  • Extension Service to sponsor five tax update schools
  • The new look of LeadAR
  • Grants and contracts
  • Personnel changes

Sevier County billboard

The Sevier County 4-H’ers are fortunate to have supporters such as First State Bank in De Queen, who recently put up a billboard on the main highway in De Queen. And boy is it green! Thanks to First State Bank for showing support for our Sevier County 4-H’ers.  

Image of Sevier Co billboard featuring group of 4-H members

Sharp County 4-H’er overcomes hearing loss to achieve goals

       Sharp County 4-H’er Katelyn Rogers was born with unilateral hearing loss, but that hasn’t stopped her from achieving her goals. Katelyn has used her issues with hearing loss – from struggling in the classroom and on the softball field to being bullied because of her disability as motivation.

       This year she competed at the county, district and state 4-H O-Ramas, giving an illustrated talk in the Health event about her struggles and the bone anchored hearing aid that has changed her life. She placed first at all three levels of competition, a goal she had set for herself a few years ago.

       Katelyn now begins her journey to fulfill a lifelong goal as she begins college at the University of Arkansas. She plans to pursue a doctorate in pediatric audiology to help children just like her. She says, “4-H has given me confidence in many areas of my life, especially in my abilities as a public speaker. 4-H has also allowed me an outlet to talk to others about my hearing loss, mentor younger children with similar issues and prepare me for a future where I will be able to put all the life skills 4-H has taught me to work.”


Produce safety: answers to farmers’ questions

       As Dr. Amanda Perez settles into her new role as produce safety educator, she has received questions about the Produce Safety Rule.

Q:        If my farm is GAP/GHP* certified or audited, must I attend the FDA Produce Safety training?

            *Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) and Good Handling Practices (GHP) are voluntary audits with standards set by USDA that verify that fruits and vegetables are produced, packed, handled and stored to minimize food safety risks.

A:         Yes, farmers will need to attend a Produce Safety Alliance (PSA) Grower Training if the farm is not exempt. While the GAP/GHP requirements are similar to PSA, qualified farms must meet the requirements for completing a one-day PSA Training, having a produce safety plan and undergoing an Arkansas Plant Board Inspection.

Q:        When will PSA Grower Trainings be provided in Arkansas?

A:         Plans are underway to host trainings by the end of 2017. Dates will be contingent on the completion of a Lead Trainer Certification for Dr. Perez. She is hopeful to receive this designation by October 1.

Q:        What are requirements for Agricultural Water?

A:         Read “Fixing Ag Water” in the Important Updates section at 

            Please send questions to Dr. Perez at


Benton County Master Gardeners’ Helping Hands garden

Last year Helping Hands NWA, a Benton County nonprofit organization that helps those in need, approached Benton County Master Gardeners about producing fruits and vegetables on land behind their retail shop in Bentonville. Since then, BCMG have built forty 4'x16' permanent raised beds to grow produce year round for the recipients of Helping Hands charitable work. For the second consecutive year, BCMG has donated more than 2,000 pounds of produce from the Helping Hands garden.

In addition to growing food for those in need, the Helping Hands garden has a devoted children’s garden used for weekly educational programming. This garden also served as a demonstration garden this year and helped educate the public on drip irrigation installation and maintenance, insect identification and control, season extension and cover cropping. 

Funding for the garden came from the BCMG Annual Garden Expo and Plant Sale as well as the “Ask a Master” garden tour.  Future plans for the Helping Hands Garden include additional garden beds and the buildout of a two-room garden shed for both tool storage and classroom space.

Greene County 4-H’ers exhibit swine at National Junior Summer Spectacular

       In July several Greene County 4-H’ers excelled in aspects of their livestock program. Greene County 4-H’ers exhibited swine projects at the National Junior Summer Spectacular in Louisville, Kentucky. Youth who participated at this event were Katie Head, Kera Bell Head, Hudson Tritch, Reesie Tritch, Fisher Tritch, Mathew Exum and Will Exum.

            Placings at this event follow:

  • Hudson Tritch – 8th place, Yorkshire barrow
  • Reesie Tritch – 9th place, Yorkshire gilt
  • Mathew Exum – 6th place, Yorkshire barrow; 9th place, Yorkshire gilt
  • Will Exum was a showmanship finalist
  • Katie Head – 1st place, Yorkshire barrow; Grand Champion, Yorkshire barrow; and Reserve Grand Overall. She won $2,000 and an aluminum truck popper valued at $2,500. She also had a 4th place York barrow and an 8th place Yorkshire gilt.

What’s new in publications?

Find out at:

Rice Quiz Bowl winners

The Second Annual Arkansas 4-H Rice Quiz Bowl was held during the 2017 Rice Expo. Five teams representing three counties competed for the top spot. Competitors answered a variety of questions about the rice industry, including its history, production and state records. The first place team included youth from Desha and Arkansas counties. At right is a representative from Horizon Ag, who generously sponsored the event. 

Bradley County wins Arkansas 4-H State Livestock Judging Contest

This year 11 teams and 50 individuals competed in the state livestock judging contest. This number is up from last year. Participants evaluated six classes, gave reasons on three classes and had one questions class.

Bradley County came out on top and will represent Arkansas at the National 4-H Livestock Judging contest in Louisville, the American Royal 4-H Livestock Judging contest in Kansas City and the AKSARBEN 4-H Livestock Judging Contest in Grand Island, Nebraska. Team members included Abby Johnson, Lupe Martinez, Madison McGhee and Selby Best.

Washington County placed second and is eligible to represent Arkansas at the Western National Round Up 4-H Livestock Judging contest in Denver and the AKSARBEN 4-H Livestock Judging Contest in Grand Island, Nebraska. Team members included Ana Maqueda, Raegan Rochier, Rebekah O’Neal, and Nicholas Pohlman.

The third place team was Greene County. Greene County is eligible to compete at the AKSARBEN 4-H Livestock Judging contest in Grand Island, Neb. Team members included Baylee Mangrum, Callie Newsom, Jessica Griffin and Katie Head.

2017 Arkansas 4-H Livestock Judging Team champions, left to right: Bryan Kutz, UA Livestock Judging coach; Taylor Gwin, Bradley County coach; Lupe Martinez; Madison McGhee; Selby Best; Abby Johnson; and Chelsey Ahrens, 4-H livestock specialist

Above: 2017 Arkansas 4-H Livestock Judging Team champions, left to right: Bryan Kutz, UA Livestock Judging coach; Taylor Gwin, Bradley County coach; Lupe Martinez; Madison McGhee; Selby Best; Abby Johnson; and Chelsey Ahrens, 4-H livestock specialist 

Grant County wins Arkansas 4-H State Livestock Skillathon Contest

Eight county teams and one combined county team, for a total of nine county teams, competed in the 4-H State Livestock Skillathon Contest. There are six individual activities and five team activities that must be completed.

Grant County will represent Arkansas at the National 4-H Livestock Skillathon Contest in Louisville. Team members included Katlyn Hicks, Mackenzi Delony, Brooke Ashley and Juliann Hale.


Rainbolt named 2017 Mr. Bill Outstanding Animal Science 4-H’er Award and Scholarship recipient

Laykyn Rainbolt of Searcy County was named the 2017 Mr. Bill Outstanding Animal Science 4-H’er Award and Scholarship recipient.

Laykyn has raised and exhibited Angus cattle for the last 14 years. Her future plans include attending North Arkansas College then transferring to the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. Her dream is to become an animal behaviorist and work with cattle and dogs.

Laykyn said in her application that “Because of the amazing opportunities the Arkansas 4-H Department and the Arkansas State Fair have given me, I am a totally different person. My future is so much brighter due to these two organizations.” She was recognized and received her award during the 2017 Arkansas 4-H State O-Rama.


Seven 4-H’ers to attend junior college on Livestock Judging scholarships this fall

Some people think livestock judging is a complete waste of time and do not understand the importance of the contest. Seven 4-H’ers can argue this statement as they have received livestock judging scholarships to judge at various junior colleges this fall. We are proud of these 4-H’ers and know they will do well on their respective teams over the next couple of years.

  • Kinder Harlow, Washington County – Connors State College
  • Jacob Marley, Washington County – Fort Scott Community College
  • Jeffrey Marley, Washington County – Fort Scott Community College
  • Mesa Kutz, Washington County – Fort Scott Community College
  • Dixie Miller, Washington County – Hutchinson Community College
  • Abby Taylor, Polk County – Eastern Oklahoma State College
  • Austin Cook, Faulkner County – Eastern Oklahoma State College

Benefits Corner

Upcoming Events

  • Join Fidelity and TIAA on Sept. 22, 2017 at 10 a.m. for an educational Zoom session, where you will learn about the upcoming University of Arkansas System 403(b)/457(b) Plan changes. Retirement changes will be effective starting Oct. 2, 2017.
  • Join LegalShield for an informative Zoom session on Oct. 6, 2017. There are two available sessions, one at 10 a.m. and another at 1:30 p.m. LegalShield is a new voluntary benefit that is available to benefits-eligible employees. LegalShield provides advice on an unlimited number of legal topics.
  • Flu Shot Clinic – Flu shots will take place at the Little Rock State Office in conference room 107 in the main building on Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017, from 10 a.m. until 12 noon.
  • Biometric Screenings and Health Risk Assessments must be completed by Sept. 30, 2017. Although our Biometric Screening Clinic took place on Sept. 7, UMR participants may still register for a biometric screening located at other UAS screening sites or with your own physician. The Physician’s Screening Form can be found on your Onlife Health member portal at
  • Open Enrollment is right around the corner!

More information on all events coming soon!

Make sure your address is up to date in Banner!


Poinsett County Extension coordinates Agriculture and Nutrition Day at county fair

With most individuals at least three generations removed from the family farm, the credible agriculture knowledge of today’s citizens is sometimes very limited. The Poinsett County Extension Service, in coordination with over 30 volunteers from various educational organizations, 4-H and FFA youth, Eagle Seed Company, Farm Bureau and Craighead County Master Gardeners, provided an opportunity for the county’s first, second, and third grade students to learn about Arkansas agriculture and the link to nutrition and health.

Approximately 350 students, faculty and parents from Harrisburg, Tyronza and Weiner elementary schools experienced interactive sessions, such as the Farm Bureau dairy cow, combine simulator and cotton gin, in addition to honey bees, water conservation, commodities, composting, animal discovery zone, nutrition, exercise and farm safety.


Verma Award for Excellence in Global Engagement created

An award named for a University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture professor and his wife has been presented for the first time.

The Lalit and Aruna Verma Award for Excellence in Global Engagement is an eponymously named award recognizing “outstanding contributions made toward global advancement and recognition of the profession of agricultural and biological engineering, and excellence in global engagement and international education, outreach and research,” according to information from the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE).

Dr. Lalit Verma, head of the Biological and Agricultural Engineering department at the University of Arkansas Fayetteville, is a former president and Fellow of ASABE. The award’s inaugural recipient is Bill A. Stout, an agricultural engineer who is a 62-year member of ASABE.

Verma is known for his instrumental role in organizing the Engineering and Technology Innovation for Global Food Security Conference, held last October in South Africa. The conference marked the ASABE’s first action as part of the Global Engagement Initiative. The conference was co-sponsored by the Division of Agriculture, the College of Engineering and other institutions. The next meeting of the Global Engagement Initiative, which will meet biennially, is scheduled for October 2018 and will focus on water security.


Arkansas ag teachers trained as Beef Quality Assurance trainers

Thirty-six high school teachers from across the state attended a short course on Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) August 1 at Camp Couchdale in Hot Springs. The course was taught by Dr. Heidi Ward, Extension veterinarian and Arkansas BQA coordinator, as part of the Arkansas Vocational Agriculture Teachers Association Conference.

Since assuming the role of coordinator in 2015, Dr. Ward has been the only person in the state qualified to teach BQA programs to beef cattle producers. She has since received funding from the Arkansas Beef Council to certify additional educators to teach BQA to students and livestock producers.     

The course was designed to instruct trainees on the core principles of BQA, including best practices around good record keeping and protecting herd health in order to produce safe and wholesome beef. The course also focused on different teaching methods for visual, auditory and tactile leaners. Each trainee received a cow ear model for growth implant demonstrations and a skin simulator for injection demonstrations.

The program was a success with a 100% passing rate for the qualifying examination. Attendees were given certificates signifying they are official BQA trainers.

More information about this program can be found at


Extension Service to sponsor five tax update schools

Know a professional tax preparer, farmer, small business owner or anyone else interested in income tax preparation? You can refer them to one of our two-day Income Tax Schools.

Each class runs from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and meets the guidelines for 16 hours of continuing professional education. Registration is $220 per person.

The instructors are tax experts with extensive experience with the Internal Revenue Service. Representatives from Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration will also conduct sessions. We are an approved IRS Continuing Education Provider. n

School dates and locations:

  • Fayetteville – Nov. 13-14
  • Fort Smith – Nov. 16-17
  • Jonesboro – Nov. 27-28
  • Little Rock – Nov. 30 - Dec. 1
  • Hot Springs – Dec. 4-5

Additional information, including registration information, can be found on our website:

For more information, contact Kristen Kiefer or Kim Magee at (501) 671-2299.

The new look of LeadAR

Evaluation recommendations, interviews with other state program directors and an extensive review of published leadership development research led to several changes for LeadAR, Extension’s leadership program that is now recruiting for Class 18.

LeadAR will continue to offer face-to-face seminars, national and international study tours and individual leadership/community service projects. In addition to using the latest research on leader and leadership development, program changes include an online classroom, coaching and mentoring from LeadAR alumni, developmental assessments and video conferencing.

LeadAR is a two-year program designed to educate emerging leaders on public issues and develop their expertise in addressing critical problems facing Arkansas communities.

We are accepting applications for the next LeadAR Class, which will start in February 2018. Our selection criteria focuses on reaching a diverse group of individuals in terms of race, gender, geographic regions of the state, leadership experience and community involvement. Tuition is $3,000. Actual cost of the program averages $20,000 per participant, but each class is generously supported by LeadAR alumni, corporate donors, foundations and the UA System Division of Agriculture.

If you or someone you know would benefit from LeadAR, please refer them to for more information.


Grants and Contracts for Month Ending Aug. 31

Project Title

Award Amount

Principal Investigator

Granting Agency

Project/Testing Protocol  Attachment A-22

$    5,800

Bob Scott

BASF Corporation

Clay County 4-H Youth Leadership Citizenship Program


Debbie Baker

East Arkansas Planning and Development District

Development of a Model Responsive Web-Based APP for DD50 Program Based on the Bootstrap Grid System


Jarrod Hardke

Rice Research Promotion Board

Field Trial Contract No. 17-06


Jarrod Hardke

Valent U.S.A. LLC

FY 17 Arkansas IFA Grass Sod Treatments


Kelly Loftin


Arkansas 4-H Health Action Plan


Lauren Copeland

National 4-H Council

FY18 Livestock and Poultry Show - 4H Trip Funds


Michael Looper

Arkansas Livestock and Poultry Commission

Scott County Data Analysis - Related to County Status Change From Dry to Wet


Wayne Miller

City of Waldron

Total Awards for August 2017






Personnel changes

Please welcome the following:

  • Michelle Baskin, County Extension Agent, Columbia County, effective July 3, 2017.
  • Brandy Batts, Payroll Services Specialist, Financial Services, effective July 17, 2017.
  • Shelbi Booker, County Extension Agent, Nevada County, effective August 1, 2017.
  • John Farabough, County Extension Agent - Agriculture, Desha County, effective July 17, 2017.
  • Clay Gibson, County Extension Agent - Agriculture, Chicot County, effective August 1, 2017.
  • Linda Oliphant, Administrative Specialist, Benton County, effective August 1, 2017.
  • Jerica Robertson, Program Assistant, Franklin County - Ozark, effective August 1, 2017.
  • Amy Williams, Administrative Specialist, Van Buren County, effective July 3, 2017.

Extension says goodbye to:

  • Saundria Ash, Administrative Specialist, Baxter County, effective August 31, 2017.
  • Loren Cain, EFNEP Program Assistant, Pulaski County, effective August 1, 2017.
  • Lauren Cannon, County Extension Agent - 4-H, Pope County, effective August 11, 2017.
  • Michael Chaney, Program Associate - 4-H and Youth Development, effective August 18, 2017.
  • Ashley Hobbs, Program Associate, Bio and Agricultural Engineering, effective August 18, 2017.
  • Vickie Huddleston, Administrative Support Support Supervisor, Union County, effective August 31, 2017.
  • Leadra Martin, County Extension Agent - Staff Chair, Ozark District, effective July 31, 2017.
  • Stephanie Prince, Program Technician - APAC, Community and Economic Development, effective August 25, 2017.
  • Katie Rodriguez, Administrative Specialist, Crop, Soil and Environmental Sciences, effective August 30, 2017.
  • Cynthia Rorie, County Extension Agent - 4-H, Crittenden County, effective August 21, 2017.
  • Sarah Wright, County Extension Agent - 4-H, Washington County, effective August 31, 2017.

University of Arkansas, United States Department of Agriculture, and County Governments Cooperating

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs and services without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.