Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Fall 2014 Drug Take-back Days

Help us keep pharmecutical and control-substance drugs off the streets and out of the rivers! No questions will be asked, and any prescription and over-the-counter medications and medical supplies can be turned in anonymously. 


Saturday, October 25th

10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

  • Food Lion, Boone (Blowing Rock Rd)
  • Food Lion, Deep Gap (HWY 421)
  • Food Lion, Blowing Rock
  • Foscoe Fire Department 

Appalachian State University

Monday, October 20th

11 a.m. - 2 p.m.

         Plemmons Student Union
         For more info visit SustainASU

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Make Breakfast Too Easy to Skip

If you are too rushed to eat in the morning, or just don’t feel hungry, you’re not alone. According to a marketing research company study (NPD Group), 14 percent of children aged 14 - 17 skip breakfast. Eighteen to 34 year old males have the highest incidence of skipping (28 percent). Older adults skip breakfast the least (11 percent for males, ages 55 and older, and 10 percent for females in this age range).

As a whole, people who enjoy breakfast weigh less than those who skip it. But eating a healthy breakfast has many benefits besides weight control, including better mental and physical performance at the beginning of your day.

Breaking the fast is particularly important for children. Studies have shown those who regularly eat breakfast have significantly higher test scores. They also make healthier dietary choices. Breakfast skippers consume 40 percent more sweets, 55 percent more soft drinks, 45 percent fewer vegetables and 30 percent less fruit than people who eat breakfast.

These quick or prepare-ahead breakfast ideas will fit into the busiest of schedules:

Whole grain bread topped with peanut butter (or any kind of nut butter) and fruit
Bagels, English muffins or toast topped with scrambled eggs
Bagels topped with reduced-fat cream cheese and fruit
Yogurt with fresh fruit, cereal and nuts mixed in

Overnight Oats
Serves 4
2 cups oats
2 cups low-fat milk, almond, or soy milk
2 ½ tablespoons nut butter (almond, peanut, cashew, or sunflower)
2 tablespoons natural maple syrup or honey
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
One grated apple, or equivalent applesauce
½ cup dried fruit of choice (cranberries, raisins, mixed fruit pieces)
Nuts of choice for topping
Prepare the evening before serving for breakfast in a container with a lid. Mix together milk, nut butter, cinnamon, nutmeg and sweetener. Stir in oats and grated apple and place in refrigerator. Heat in microwave to desired temperature the next morning. May top with nuts and additional fruit, if desired. Keep in refrigerator for up to 5 days.

PB & J Energy Bars
 Serves 8
1¾ cup pitted dates (soaked in warm water for 15 minutes, then drained)
½ cup unsweetened dried cranberries
¼ cup natural peanut butter (no added sugars or oils, just peanuts
¼ cup whole raw almonds
½ cup instant plain oats
Soak the dates in warm water for 15 minutes, and drain.
Place dates, dried cranberries, almonds, peanut butter, and oats in a food processor and blend until combined well.
Scoop mixture into a square baking pan, and firmly press down to make an even layer.
Place in the freezer for 30 minutes to set, then cut into 8 rectangle bars.
Store in the freezer or fridge.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Two Rivers Kinders Discover the Wonders of Wetlands at Boone Presbyterian Church

Kindergarteners from Two Rivers Community School watch in awe as Doug and Connie Hall show them all the life that lives in the newly constructed stormwater wetland behind the Boone Presbyterian Church.
There are thousands of tadpoles - American Toad, Pickerel, Bullfrog, and Wood Frog - throughout the pools of the constructed wetland.  Adult Red-Spotted Newts were also found throughout the pools.

Volunteer Emily Sutton shows off a dragonfly larvae to the kids while the thousands of American Toad Tadpoles thrive in the shallows. 
The vegetation planted in the wetland was all grown from seed in the Boone Stormwater Wetland Floating Islands that the Cooperative Extension cares for throughout the growing season. 

The constructed stormwater wetland and the First Presbyterian Church of Boone captures and mitigates over eight acres of impervious surfaces including rooftop, parking lots and driveways.   Since construction and planting, there has been numerous programs for youth to learn hands-on methods to protect water quality and the importance of habitat for wildlife. 

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

2014 Watauga Riverfest a Success

Chloe teaches about precipitation in the water cycle obstacle course

Megan demonstrates infiltration with the groundwater flow model as part of the water cycle obstacle course

Laura demonstrates the non point source pollution Enviroscape to youth and adults!  Janie is playing cornhole in the background. 

Connor from Brushy Fork Environmental demonstrates erosion and runoff with the water cycle obstacle course.

Jonathan with the North Toe Partnership found some fishes in Dutch Creek to show folks!  Of course they were released at the end of the day!

The Sunshine that drives the water cycle was found hanging out with Mandy the Mayfly at the river station of the water cycle obstacle course!

Lots of local non profits and organizations set up displays, booths, exhibits, demonstrations throughout the day!

The Hands-Free Watermelon Eating Contest was a sure success!  Four winners received a coupon for a free pound of candy from the Candy Barrel at Mast General Store!
Snotty the Hellbender from the NC Zoo made an appearance at Riverfest!!!

Bettie Bond watercolors the Mandy the Mayfly Adventure booklet!  Thank you to the High Country Water Media Society for funds to have the custom book printed!

Will and Bon show kids whats living in Dutch Creek.  Elderberry is in full bloom on the right.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Valle Crucis Community Park Wetland: A Case for Mucking it Up

If you’ve been to the Valle Crucis Community Park this summer you may be wondering why the water level in the park’s pond has been falling. This intentional lowering of the pond’s water level marks the beginning of a two-year project to convert the man-made pond into a natural wetland habitat.   
For over 20 years, the constructed pond received a constant flow of water from the Watauga River. Unfortunately, this was not healthy for the river. Cold water from the river flowed into the pond and heated up, and then that warm pond water flowed back into the Watauga River. The river supports trout and other species that need cold water to survive and, according to Wendy Patoprsty, Watauga County Extension Agent, thermal pollution is one of the main issues impacting Western North Carolina trout streams. With increased development, excess stormwater runoff, and decreased stream bank vegetation, stream temperatures are at their height by mid-summer and many areas are unable to support wildlife dependent on cold water.

In 2007, the river was cut off from the pond during a stream bank restoration project. This was a good step to protect aquatic life in the river, but negatively impacted the pond. Without the river water flowing into the pond, the water gets very stagnant and smelly, and aggressive invasive species have been choking out plant diversity. “For the past few years we’ve been actively removing invasive plants and replanting with native species,” says Bon-Scott Hartwig, Maintenance Director at Valle Crucis Community Park.

Caroline Gandy, the park’s Executive Director, has a vision of increasing habitat diversity and wildlife populations within the Valle Crucis Community Park, stating that “this pond conversion will serve a valuable ecological function for not only bird migration but also amphibians in the floodplain corridor.”

The next step in the project will be the installation of native wetland plants such as arrow arum, swamp hibiscus, cardinal flower, pickerel weed, duck potato, and native rushes and sedges to create a natural design and patterns of color and textures. The High Country Audubon has been very supportive of this project because many of the plant species that will be incorporated are excellent bird habitat. 

Wetlands are incredibly important ecosystems that provide habitat for many species of birds, plants, amphibians, mammals, reptiles, and insects while also keeping our water clean and helping to store floodwater. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, the lower 48 states contained over 220 million acres of wetlands in the 1600s. In 2009, surveys found only 110.1 million acres of wetlands, the result of hundreds of years of filling wetlands to make room for farming and development.

For more information, or if you’re interested in helping with planting this summer, please contact Wendy Patoprsty at the Watauga County Cooperative Extension at 828-264-3061.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

A&T Small Farms Field Day Showcases Innovative Farm Practices

On Thursday, 6/19, North Carolina A&T State University hosted its annual Small Farms Field Day. Here are a few pictures from the event, showing some of the innovative and effective strategies that they demonstrate as part of their outreach and Extension.

St. Croix Sheep have a reputation for being parasite-resistant and high-quality. Like other 'hair sheep' breeds, they do not require shearing but instead shed their wool naturally in the springtime.

Dr. Sanjun Gu, horticulture specialist at A&T, describes an agroforestry model comparing Pecan tree production on its own (foreground) and an integrated system combining Pecans with vegetables (in the distant background). In the High Country region, hardier nut tree species would be chosen, perhaps to include hazelnuts or coppiced Chinese Chestnuts.

The A&T farm recently added a rainwater collection system to some of the high tunnels at the University Farm. Rain water from the gutters mounted above the roll-up sides flows to an underground cistern, where it is filtered and available for reuse as irrigation water inside the hoop houses.

 While hoop houses are valuable real estate on any farm, cover crops can still play an important role in maintaining soil health and fertility there. Here, one of the A&T University Farm Organic hoop houses grows a summer cover crop of Millet and Soybeans.

A close-up of the Millet/Soybean organic cover crop.

Organic tomatoes and cucumbers at the A&T University Farm.

Organic peppers and cucumbers at the A&T University Farm.