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Category: Extension

Madison looks for new ways to support Black business owners

Wisconsin State Journal

Diana Hammer, an associate professor for UW-Madison Extension in Fond du Lac, has studied the needs of Black business owners throughout Wisconsin. She list three keys for business owners: networks, access to good information and access to financing. But those three things can be difficult for Black entrepreneurs to access, especially financing.

“There was a very large sense of distrust of banks and just a huge preference for self-financing,” Hammer said.

David Lloyd Ankley

Wisconsin State Journal

David started his 32 year UW-Extension career in Marinette County in 1965, eventually becoming Portage County’s Agriculture Agent in 1970, retiring in 1996. The highlight of his career was being Executive Secretary of 1982s WI Farm Progress Days.

Agricultural Educators show-off hemp research crops


Quoted: “We’re looking at 18 different varieties from around the world and which ones can maybe produce the best grain or the best for future use if industrial hemp becomes more of a mainstream crop,” UW-Madison Extension Chippewa County Agricultural agent, Jerry Clark, said.

UW-Madison Extension Buffalo County Agricultural Educator, Carl Duley, says the fiber and grain produced from industrial hemp has many different uses.

“Right now they are approved for human food, not for animal feed at this point, but they are used a lot in health food stores like granola,” Duley said. “There’s a lot of flour made after the oil is squeezed out.”

UW-Madison program creates water quality outreach team


With water issues a concern for much of the country, Wisconsin is also taking a look at how to protect the state’s water quality.

The University of Wisconsin-Madison Division of Extension has created four new roles within the Agriculture Water Quality Program to promote outreach and environmentally-friendly farming practices. The program is led by co-program managers John Exo and Amber Radatz.

Plastic has made farming easier, but what happens to the material after it’s used?

Wisconsin Public Radio

Quoted: Melissa Kono is a community development educator in Clark and Trempealeau counties for the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Division of Extension.

She said farmers use plastic sheeting to protect hay and silage from the elements in order to feed their livestock all winter. Some forms of these plastics include top covers for silage bunkers — think white tarp covering mounds of silage with tires holding the tarp down — long bags that hold long, skinny rows of silage and wrap for individual hay bales.

“Their other option for silage would be a silo and those are very costly to construct,” Kono said. “Having a silage pile makes it easier to access, especially if farmers don’t have a lot of space, or makes it more accessible to feeding animals, which helps cut down on time and cost. I just think because farmers are stretched so very thin these days, having plastics to use has probably made it more economical.”

How To Save Your Garden Plants During Drought and Heatwaves


Quoted: “Extended drought can lead to the total collapse of the photosynthetic machinery and it can take long time for the plants to rebuild their roots and internal mechanisms,” Vijai Pandian, a horticulture educator at the University of Wisconsin–Madison Division of Extension, told Newsweek.

“This can cause long term impacts … and the drought effect symptoms often continue for [the] next few years,” he said.

New tool shows Wisconsin farmers financial benefits of letting cows graze

Wisconsin Public Radio

Quoted: John Hendrickson, farm viability specialist for UW-Madison’s Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems, helped develop the tool for the Grassland 2.0 project. Started in 2020 using a $10 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the collaboration between researchers from UW-Madison and other universities, farmers and agriculture industry leaders is working to encourage farmers to adopt the use of grasslands.

“We want farms to be financially viable and sustainable for the long term,” he said. “But of course the Grasslands 2.0 project also has this larger look at the entire landscape and climate change and soil erosion and what can we do to have a more sustainable agricultural system on the landscape.”

Social impact worker cooperatives gain adherents in Madison with accelerator kickoff, growth

Wisconsin State Journal

The recent interest in worker co-ops is driven by several factors, said Courtney Berner, executive director of the University of Wisconsin Center for Cooperatives, adding there are just over 700 businesses in the state that have incorporated as cooperatives. “I’ve seen that interest increase since the (2008) recession … a push back against Wall Street,” she said. “There’s the trend of baby boomers that are retiring. How do we retain those businesses?”

Linda Martin Clauder

Wisconsin State Journal

Linda spent her entire professional career in public broadcasting, beginning in the WHA Radio record library in Old Radio Hall, through her leadership of Wisconsin Public Radio and Television’s cultural programming. She initiated recording and broadcast of statewide festivals and concerts and helped found the popular series “Sunday Afternoon Live” from the (then) Elvehjem Museum.

UW ag experts say spring planting dates still on track

Wisconsin State Farmer

Although April has been cold and wet, University of Wisconsin-Madison agronomists say farmers shouldn’t start stressing out just yet.

“Despite the fact that we are about two weeks behind where we were a year ago, we are still on track for maximum yields for corn and soybeans,” says Shawn Conley, UW Soybean and Small Grains Extension Specialist.

According to Joe Lauer, UW-Madison Agronomy Professor, “last year we were earlier than normal – in fact, it was one of the earliest planting seasons on record.”

Report: Pandemic triggers record spike in Wisconsin entrepreneurship

The Capital Times

“We might have expected uncertainty about the pandemic and its effects on employment, income, healthcare, and safety to have stifled entrepreneurial activity. Entrepreneurship, which is already seen as risky, could have appeared even more so during the global COVID-19 pandemic,” wrote authors Hannah Julian, Ted Callon and Tessa Conroy in a report for UW-Madison Extension’s WIndicators series.

Mental Health First Aid training for WI Ag Community set for April 12

Wisconsin State Farmer

There is no doubt that farming can be extremely rewarding, yet also stressful and demanding. Various risk factors including weather, economic uncertainty, as well as, ever-evolving supply and demand changes, can take a toll on farmer’s mental health.

In order to address some of these issues, the University of Wisconsin–Madison Division of Extension will be offering virtual and in-person educational programs to help the Wisconsin agricultural community identify and respond to a variety of behavioral health challenges.

Report: Amount of Wisconsin land being farmed declines in 2021

Wisconsin Public Radio

Quoted: Heather Schlesser is an agriculture educator for the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Division of Extension in Marathon County. She said the state has seen many producers transition out of dairy farming, which requires a lot of land for growing feed.

“They were transitioning out of dairy, making that decision to retire because they’re getting older. Or maybe they’re still younger, but they’re switching into beef production,” Schlesser said. “You can only do that for so long before you’re like, ‘You know what, I really don’t need this land. I don’t want to deal with the renters anymore. There’s no one new coming on the farm.’ And then they’re just deciding to sell it off.”

Dairy industry helps offset high fertilizer costs with manure in Wisconsin

Wisconsin State Farmer

Quoted: While other states brag big dairy and crop industries, Wisconsin’s insulation from fertilizer price spikes is thanks to having more cows per acre than corn per acre, according to Paul Mitchell, a professor in the UW-Madison department for Agriculture and Applied Economics.

“About a third of our nitrogen for corn comes from dairy manure,” Mitchell said. “And we have more cows per acre of cropland.”

However, manure isn’t easily accessible. It’s difficult to transport due to its high water content and therefore large volume, so it can’t usually go beyond it’s own farmland or crop farms neighboring dairy farms.

But it’s lack of transport ability shouldn’t dissuade you from seeking it out, according to Matt Ruark, a professor of soil science at UW-Madison and soil nutrient expert.

“We think of [manure] as a waste stream, but it is has relatively high nutrient value in terms of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Those are big three nutrient inputs into our corn production systems,” Ruark said.

A rural Wisconsin syrup producer wants more to tap into the business

Wisconsin Public Radio

Jeremy Solin’s earliest memory from his family’s longtime syrup business is with his grandma, sitting at a kitchen table, pounding a nail through the top of a metal Folgers coffee can.

They wound a piece of wire through the can so they could hang it from the spout on a tree.

“We just used whatever we had, right?” he said.

Solin is a fourth-generation syrup producer with a farm just north of Antigo. He’s the maple syrup project manager for the University of Wisconsin-Extension and he runs Tapped Maple Syrup in Stevens Point.

Report: More Wisconsin women hold elected office. But the state is still far from equal representation.

Wisconsin Public Radio

Quoted: Victoria Solomon is a community development educator for the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Division of Extension in Green County. She has studied women’s participation in local elected office and what barriers keep more women from running.

Solomon said one of the biggest factors affecting the number of women running for office is the fact that women are less likely to be asked to run for office.

“Having people who are thinking about who to ask to consider running for office, having those people think about starting with strengths and perspectives and experiences, and looking at diversity amongst those,” Solomon said. “We know that having diverse voices at the table helps build better decisions.”

Talking turkey: UW Extension offers Thanksgiving tips

Channel 3000

“Having that meat thermometer is going to be really important for turkey, because it’s not going to cook as fast as chicken. And if you forgot to thaw it all the way and you pop it in the oven, there’s that possibility that some parts aren’t going to be done,” said UW Extension educator Heather Quackenboss.

Here’s how Milwaukee bakers prepare their favorite lebkuchen — a classic German gingerbread with many varieties

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Noted: Sugar does reduce water activity, and water is what lets microorganisms do their thing, said Barbara Ingham, professor of food science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a food safety specialist for UW’s Division of Extension. (“Just don’t eat raw dough,” she noted, since flour can be the subject of recalls for E. coli.)

Fall armyworm population wreaking havoc on Wisconsin crops


Noted: This year in Wisconsin, a fall armyworm population is present unlike anything most entomologists have ever seen. The pests are doing damage to alfalfa, winter wheat and other cover crops around the state. Bryan Jensen, UW-Extension Pest Management Specialist, shares that this warmer fall weather has helped to create a perfect storm for fall armyworms to thrive. Fall armyworms are different from the normal armyworms seen during late spring. The good news, according to Jensen, is they will most definitely not over-winter here in Wisconsin: they are a warm weather species, and will not survive the winter

Apartments are in short supply in Northeast Wisconsin. Here are some tips from housing experts that could help your search.

Appleton Post-Crescent

Noted: If you have a variable income, it’s best to base your budget on the lower end of how much you expect to be making so you can still over all your expenses in case your hours get cut or you get fewer tips than you were expecting, said MaryBeth Wohlrabe, a positive youth development educator who runs the Outagamie County Rent Smart program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Division of Extension in the county.

‘Everybody pray for rain’: Southeastern Wisconsin crops and gardens could be damaged if drought and dryness continue

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Quoted: Joe Lauer, an agronomist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, acknowledged that farmers are anxious about the dry weather, but said that he’s not concerned … yet.

“One of the characteristics of a record-breaking year (for corn) is a mini-drought during the months of May and June,” he said. Lauer explained that a dry spring allows farmers to plant without fighting wet fields.

If you are worried about your garden or lawn, horticulture educator Vijai Pandian from the UW-Madison Extension has some tips to mitigate drought stress on landscape and garden plants.

Development agencies will use pandemic relief funds to study region’s economic potential

The Capital Times

The funds will also allow MadREP to update its comprehensive economic development strategy, called Advance Now 2.0, as well as the extensive accompanying reports on industry sectors. The 900 pages of reports, released in 2019 after years of research by MadREP and University of Wisconsin-Madison Extension, examined several key sectors for the region. Now, with new data released since, the agency would like to refresh those reports before acting on their findings. The agencies have not yet determined what contractors they will hire to conduct the studies.

Get some dirt under your nails

Hoard's Dairyman

Perhaps you are a person who works full time at another job but dreams of owning a small farm someday. Or maybe you already operate a farm but want to add another enterprise or start a side business. Whatever your aspirations may be, some of the first steps in making this goal a reality is to create a plan and secure funding.

That was the topic discussed in a University of Wisconsin Division of Extension webinar, titled “Your farm startup: where to begin and who can help?” One of the speakers was Andy Larson, the Farm Outreach Specialist for the Food Finance Institute at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. With personal experience as a banker, extension educator, and farmer, one of his first pieces of advice was to “get some dirt under your fingernails.”

“Try it first,” Larson said. “Only real-life, on the ground experience can tell you whether your passion stands up to the daily grind.”

UW-Extension to host new farm management AgriVision podcast series

Chippewa Herald

UW-Madison Division of Extension has a new farm management podcast series based on the Wisconsin Agriculturist magazine’s Agrivision column. Katie Wantoch, associate professor and agriculture agent in Dunn County, hosts the podcast episodes and chats with fellow Extension educators to answer questions from farmers and share their knowledge and expertise on how farmers can improve their farm management skills.

Here’s how a Waukesha Neighborhood Watch Program is going ‘modern’ with Ring doorbell cameras

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Noted: Because the association wants to equip as many homes as possible with the Ring devices, leaders had to seek out grant funding to buy the equipment. Salb said Steve Chmielewski, a community educator with the University of Wisconsin-Madison Division of Extension Waukesha County, has helped facilitate that process, which involves Community Block Grant Funds.

Zoombombing an unwanted ‘education’ for Platteville

Telegraph Herald

Quoted: Whether a registration requirement complies with open-meetings statute has not been tested in the Wisconsin court system, said attorney Philip Freeburg, with UW-Madison Division of Extension’s Local Government Center.

“The main thing about open meetings is to provide open access,” he said. “If you’re putting up barriers to that, I think you may be at some risk.”

Digital divide: Health, education, prosperity depend on high-speed internet

Wisconsin State Journal

But the problem may be worse than we thought, according to a new UW Extension study, with implications for health, education and prosperity — problems that are further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has pushed nearly every aspect of daily life — from business to school and even health care — online. “People are choosing to live in places they can have access,” said Tessa Conroy, an assistant professor of applied economics and the lead author of the study. “More and more it’s connected to so many facets of life.”

State Report: Housing, Child Care Shortages Among Challenges For Rural Wisconsin Communities

Wisconsin Public Radio

Among other recommendations in the report, the commission also called for the creation of government programs designed specifically for rural communities; the easing of local levy limits to give local governments greater flexibility to fund innovative programs; and boosting state funding for the county-level education programs of the University of Wisconsin-Madison known as the Division of Extension

75 in Wisconsin died from farm activities in 2017-18, new report says

Wisconsin State Journal

Agriculture workers are up to eight times more likely to die on the job than workers in other industries, according to the National Farm Medicine Center in Marshfield. The center, along with the Marshfield Clinic Research Institute, the UW-Madison Division of Extension and UW’s College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, restarted the annual reports to bring attention to farm fatalities and ways to prevent them.

It wasn’t just toilet paper. People stocked up on eggs during pandemic, sending wholesale prices skyrocketing

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Quoted: “I think a lot of that first buying was people loading up and now I think that demand has decreased,” said Ronald Kean, a University of Wisconsin Extension poultry specialist. “Some of our large egg producers sell a lot of liquid eggs, but that has dropped off because that’s mostly used by restaurants and schools.”

Wisconsin farmers prep for potential wet, cold weather

Associated Press

Kevin Jarek is the agricultural agent for University of Wisconsin-Extension in Outagamie County. He said some farmers are worried about another late planting season this year because the National Weather Service has reported precipitation numbers that are above average.