A transformative gift Creates the Herbert College of Agriculture

*Source:UT Institute of Agriculture’s website.

The Herbert College of Agriculture becomes the third named college in the University of Tennessee’s 224-yearhistory and only the second land-grant agricultural college in the nation named from a philanthropic gift. This gift elevates the College into an elite group of the very best public land-grant colleges of agriculture in the nation.

Jim and Judi Herbert met at UT and have been so loyal in their support as alumni that in 2017 the university named them Philanthropists of the Year.  This year, the Herberts decided to make a significant gift in support of Jim’s home college, the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources.  “To whom much is given, much is expected,” said Jim Herbert, the co-founder and executive chairman of Neogen Corporation.  “We are proud to invest in the university most of my family has called home.”

Following the Herberts’ most recent gift, the Board of Trustees voted on April 17, with the formal announcement made on June 22, to name the college in their honor.  The Herbert College of Agriculture becomes one of only two land-grant agricultural colleges in the United States to be named following a philanthropic gift.   “This transformative gift will establish the Herbert College of Agriculture as one of the top institutions of its kind in the country,” said UT President Joe DiPietro.

Jim Herbert grew up on a farm outside Memphis and began his UT career earning room and board by watering the plants in an Institute of Agriculture greenhouse.  He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in animal husbandry in 1962.  Judi graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English in 1963.

In 1982 Jim co-founded Neogen, a pioneer in rapid diagnostic testing focused on the development, manufacturing, and marketing of products for food and animal safety.  “Jim’s vision in providing agricultural advancements for the health of humans and animals has had a global impact,” said Institute of Agriculture Chancellor Tim Cross in 2016, when Herbert received the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources’ first-ever honorary doctorate.

During the university’s 2017 Big Orange Give campaign, the Herberts’ $500,000 challenge grant made it possible to expand the scope of UT’s Writing Center to include more students.  The naming gift will create an endowment focused on strategic initiatives to enhance student and faculty learning experiences.  It also will provide programs that equip students with the knowledge to meet the world’s most pressing agricultural issues.

“The Herberts’ engagement and expectations of our college will help advance our land-grant mission to address real-life solutions,” said Caula Beyl, dean of the Herbert College of Agriculture.  “We will be able to attract and retain students and faculty who will impact our state, nation, and world.”

The Herbert College of Agriculture is a partnership of the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture and the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

August is nationwide school bus safety month

School Bus

School bus drivers must meet strict licensing requirements, including successful completion of driver training, background checks, and drug and alcohol testing. Photo by Tamas Mondovics

By Tamas Mondovics

As school goes back into session this month motorists are reminded to take note of the increase in local traffic including children walking or on bikes hurrying to get to school before the bell rings or parents trying to drop their kids off before work. The start of the school year also includes the addition of yellow school buses picking up and dropping off students prompting officials to urge motorists to be ever more vigilant on the roadways. With August considered a national school bus safety month, the Tennessee Department of Education (TDE) student transportation appropriately put bus safety the department’s number one priority.

According to TDE data, Tennessee schools transport approximately 700,000 students a day on approximately 8,700 bus routes in districts and charters across the diverse terrain of city, urban, and rural routes. The department’s student transportation office is responsible for overseeing all school bus inspections and determining whether public school bus systems are in compliance with the safety requirements set forth in the Tennessee Code. With all this in mind, the department is promising its continued commitment to provide all transportation supervisors with high-quality training and necessary resources to ensure that all buses are properly maintained. Drivers must meet strict licensing requirements, including successful completion of driver training, background checks, and drug and alcohol testing. As local schools often have their own, very specific drop-off procedures for the school year, motorists and parents are urged to be sure of knowing them for the safety of all kids. By exercising extra care and caution, drivers and pedestrians can co-exist safely in school zones. Below are some reminders about bus safety, rules, and regulations:

Know When to Stop:
•When the red lights are flashing, and the stop arm is extended.
•Motorists must stop their cars and wait until the red flashing lights are turned off, the stop arm is withdrawn, and the bus begins moving before they start driving again.
•When a school bus is stopped at an intersection to load and unload children, drivers from all directions are required to stop until the bus resumes motion.
•When driving on a highway with separate roadways for traffic in opposite directions, drivers must stop unless there is a grass median or physical barrier.
•A road that is a multi-lane or shared median, vehicles traveling in both directions must stop.
•The Tennessee Highway Patrol (THP) wanted to make drivers aware of the rules and penalties for improperly passing a school bus. Tennessee Law 55-8-151 addresses the overtaking and passing school buses while unloading/loading passengers and the penalties.
The Tennessee law states: “The driver of a vehicle upon a highway, upon meeting or overtaking from either direction any school bus that has stopped on the highway for the purpose of receiving or discharging any school children, shall stop the vehicle before reaching the school bus, and the driver shall not proceed until the school bus resumes motion or is signaled by the school bus driver to proceed or the visual signals are no longer actuated. Subsection (a) shall also apply to a school bus with lights flashing and stop sign extended and marked in accordance with this subsection (a) that is stopped upon property owned, operated, or used by a school or educational institution, if the bus is stopped for the purpose of receiving or discharging any school children outside a protected loading zone.
It is a Class C misdemeanor for any person to fail to comply with any provision of this subsection (a) other than the requirement that a motor vehicle stops upon approaching a school bus.

It is a Class A misdemeanor punishable only by a fine of not less than two hundred fifty dollars ($250) nor more than one thousand dollars ($1,000) for any person to fail to comply with the provision of this subsection (a) requiring a motor vehicle to stop upon approaching a school bus.”

It is noteworthy that while much emphasis is put on motorists—and for a good reason—such does not exclude parents, guardians as well as students from being aware of guidelines in connection with school bus safety. With a new safety law in effect since January 1, 2018, there is much expected of each child while riding a school bus including no profanity used on the bus at any time for any reason. Students are asked to get seated as quickly as possible and to stay in their seat while the bus is moving. Riders are to wait until the bus stops before going to the front to exit and to exit as quickly as possible.

Other requirements include: keep your hands to yourself; absolutely no horseplay or bullying will be tolerated; do not get things out of your backpack; no eating or drinking on the bus, which is a state law. Officials explained that buses may be taken off the road due to food and candy being on the floor (it attracts insects). To keep the noise level to a minimum is a no-brainer as screams and loud noises are very distractive to the driver.

School Bus

School bus drivers must meet strict licensing requirements, including successful completion of driver training, background checks, and drug and alcohol testing.
Photo by Tamas Mondovics

For a complete list of rules, please visit www.tn.gov/safety/tnhp/cvemain/pupiltransport.html.

Senior Spotlight

2017 Senior Center Luau

Boys just want to have fun too. Pictured above: Willie Hammons, Walter Simcox, Dennis Henson and Clarence Braden.


2017 Senior Center Luau

Positive Thinkers volunteer with the Senior Center for the 2017 luau and will be hosting again this year on April 10 along with sponsors Ballad Health and Food Lion. Photos courtesy of the Senior Center.

Chicken soup is good for more than the soul

chicken soup

Cold season never seems to take a year off. Experts estimate that colds are so widespread that very few humans escape infection. Some people come down with colds more than once per year. That should not come as too great a surprise, as there are now thought to be more than 200 different strains of cold. For the past 50 years, researchers studied two classes of viruses responsible for a total of roughly 100 different incarnations of the common cold. Two years ago, after development of molecular techniques to look at the viral genome, researchers found a third class of rhinoviruses, according to James Gern, MD, an asthma specialist at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. This discovery doubled the number of potential cold viruses.

While there’s no cure for the common cold, cold remedies have been around for centuries. Chicken soup remains one of the more popular cold remedies. Grandmothers have long espoused the virtues of chicken soup with regard to treating colds, but now research is backing up those claims. Researchers have long examined the potential health benefits of chicken soup in an attempt to understand why it seems to be such an effective tonic at treating colds. A 1998 report found that broth may help improve the function of the tiny hairs in noses called cilia. The cilia help prevent contagions from getting into the body. Hot fluids also can help increase the movement of nasal mucus, helping to relieve stuffiness and congestion.

Chicken soup also can help reduce inflammation, which often results as the immune system works to fight the cold virus. A study in the journal Chest found that chicken soup appears to inhibit neutrophil chemotaxis, which is the movement of certain immune cells to mucus membrane surfaces. As a result, mucus production is inhibited and cold symptoms are reduced.

Chicken soup is loaded with immune-boosting vegetables and other ingredients that provide phytonutrients. The American Cancer Society defines phytonutrients, or phytochemicals, as plant compounds like carotenoids, lycopene, resveratrol, and phytosterols that are thought to have health-protecting qualities. Chicken soup may also contain onions and garlic, which are believed to have natural antibacterial or antiseptic properties. An easily digestible comfort food, chicken soup also helps a person feel better because it effectively delivers vitamins and minerals.

While some profess that homemade chicken soup is the key to fighting a cold, many commercially-made soups fit the bill as well. The salt, steam, vegetables, chicken protein, and soothing broth combine to form a worthy adversary to the common cold.

Reading more books can improve your health

The availability of digital content has made it easy to forget how pleasurable it can be to pick up a good book and get lost in a story. In fact, a 2015 Huffington Post/YouGov poll of 1,000 adults in the United States found that 28 percent hadn’t read a single book in the previous 12 months. Researchers at the Yale School of Public Health analyzed 12 years of data from the University of Michigan’s Health and Retirement Study concerning reading habits. Among the 3,600 participants over the age of 50, those who read books for as little as 30 minutes per day over several years were living an average of two years longer than those who didn’t read.

Studies have shown that reading improves fluency and story retention while providing a host of additional benefits to young children. However, the perks do not end with the passing of adolescence. Data published in the journal Neurology found reading regularly improves memory function by working out the brain. This can help slow a decline in memory and other brain functions. Frequent brain exercise can lower mental decline by 32 percent, according to research published in The Huffington Post.

Studies even suggest that reading can help a person be more empathetic to others’ feelings. Research published in the journal Science showed that reading literary works (not popular fiction) cultivates a skill known as “theory of mind,” which is the “ability to ‘read’ the thoughts and feelings of others.”

Reading also can be calming, helping to reduce stress as a result. By losing oneself in a book, worries and stress can melt away, says research conducted in 2009 at the University of Sussex. Measuring heart rate and muscle tension, researchers discovered that study participants needed just six minutes to relax once they began reading. There are many other reasons why reading is good for the mind and body.

The following tips can help men and women find more time to read:

· Find small minutes to read. Busy people may think they don’t have the time to devote to reading, but if they read in small intervals, the amount of time will add up. Read during commutes (if you’re not driving), while in physicians’ waiting rooms or during a lunch hour.

· It’s okay to quit. If you’re a few chapters into a book and it’s not striking your fancy, it’s okay to trade up for a more interesting tale. Don’t feel obligated to finish a book if you are not engaged.

· Read paper books. Reading printed books can be a welcome, relaxing change from looking at screens all day. This may inspire you to read more and for longer periods of time.

· Join a book club. A book club in which you engage with fellow readers can motivate you to read more often.

My piece of the world: God is rearranging His furniture

By Jinifer Rae

That is how I described thunderstorms to my children when they were small. If the booming and crashing sounds made during a heavy storm can be scary for adults, just imagine how terrifying a severe storm can be for children.  I recently had the memory of those words during a rainstorm here in my new home. Even though my babies are grown, storms can still be a frightening event. My son and I watched through the window as the wind blew the trees so hard and fast that it almost looked like they might bend in half. In fact, that actually did happen. While visiting friends and neighbors, I noticed quite a bit of destruction in the storm’s wake. My heart almost broke when I learned that some of the mutilation done was beyond repair. One friend had several mature trees snap in half. The damaged trees would now have to be uprooted and removed.

Sadly, the bent trees may not have the resources to repair themselves. However, I learned that some plants do have the ability to stand up straight after the rain stops.
The corn, for example, growing in my neighbor’s garden was pushed so far down by the heavy rain and wind that I wondered if the crop was ruined. The thought of the storm squishing that beautiful garden made me feel sad because up to that point it looked magnificent. Not one day passes that I don’t look upon that garden and contemplated how beautiful it is.

When asked if the corn was ruined, my neighbor replied with a “Nah, a little bit of sunshine, they will stand straight back up again.” Apparently, corn has multiple flanges of roots that shoot out to anchor the stalk from being windblown. Sure enough, a couple of days later, my neighbor’s corn looked as tall and possibly even standing straighter than before the rain.

To sum things up, the scenery of my daily walk indeed took on a much different appearance after the storm. From the corn bowing down
low to the ground, or the branches that were strewn from one end of the street to the other, there was nothing the wind did not touch and reshape.
As I ponder the changes, both big and small, I can’t help but think that God really did rearrange the furniture.

The connection between eating and energy levels

The right snacks can provide an energy boost that lasts until meal time comes around again.

The connection between energy and eating is significant. A healthy diet and approach to eating can vastly improve energy levels, while a poorly planned diet that lacks nutrition can contribute to feelings of fatigue and increase a person’s risk for various ailments.

The Harvard Medical School notes that different kinds of foods are converted to energy at different rates. That’s why some foods, such as candy, provide quick boosts of energy while foods such as whole grains tend to supply the body with energy reserves that it can draw on throughout the day.

It’s not just what people eat but how they eat that can affect their energy levels. In addition to choosing the right foods, men and women can try the following strategies as they look to eat to boost their energy levels.

· Eat smaller, more frequent meals

Avoiding the traditional three meals per day approach may help improve energy levels, especially for people who tend to eat sizable meals once, twice or even three times every day. According to the Cleveland Clinic, the metabolisms of people who do not eat regularly will slow down, as the body absorbs and stores more of the food it eats. Those stores include cholesterol and fat, which can be unhealthy and contribute to weight gain. However, by eating small meals more frequently, one’s metabolism speeds up and more calories are burned. The body recognizes more food is soon on the way and, as a result, it does not need to store as much cholesterol and fat as it would if meals were eaten less frequently.

· Avoid a big lunch

The Harvard Medical School notes that, while the reasons are unclear, research has indicated that the circadian rhythms of people who eat big lunches indicate a more significant drop in afternoon energy levels than the rhythms of people who eat smaller midday meals. Men and women who eat big lunches and find their energy levels waning later in the workday can try to eat smaller midday meals to boost their energy.

· Be careful with caffeine

The foods people eat are not the only components of their diet that can affect their energy levels. Caffeinated beverages can provide a temporary boost of energy as well. However, men and women who drink coffee or other caffeinated beverages to boost their energy levels should avoid doing so in large amounts after 2 p.m. That’s because caffeine can cause insomnia, and insufficient sleep can dramatically affect energy levels.

· Choose the right snacks

Eating smaller, more frequent meals may compel some people to snack. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics notes that snacks are important as long as they’re the right snacks. Avoid snacks that are just empty calories in favor of foods that contain protein
and fiber-rich carbohydrates.

Such snacks, which may include fruits such as apples and fresh berries or protein sources like nuts and Greek yogurt, can provide lasting energy. It’s also important that men and women not snack to fill themselves up, but rather to quell any hunger pangs and get an energy boost between meals.

The foods people eat and when they eat them can have a dramatic impact on their energy levels.

TUFC Certifies new arboreta, new tree sanctuary, and recertifies existing arboreta

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Urban Forestry Council (TUFC) has certified 4 new arboreta throughout the state, recertified 9 existing arboreta and certified 7 tree sanctuaries. With the four additions to its arboreta program, the TUFC has a total of 91 throughout Tennessee. To become certified, each arboretum much meet strict guidelines, one of which is to have a specific number of tree species based upon the level of arboretum designation.

“TUFC’s arboretum program is an excellent way to recognize the educational and research efforts of the arboreta, as well as their environmental contributions to their respective communities, by providing unique opportunities for children and adults to observe the distinctive qualities of trees.” said Urban Forester Brian Rucker with the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, Division of Forestry. This is the 17th year TUFC has certified arboreta in Tennessee.New certified arboreta include: Level 1-Mabry Hazen House (Knoxville), Level 1-Oaklawn Garden (Germantown), Level 2-White House Greenway (White House) and Level 3-Cooper-Young Historic District (Memphis).

Arboreta recertified by the TUFC are: Level 1-Chucalissa Tree Trail (Memphis), Level 1-Monteagle Sunday School Assembly (Monteagle), Level 1-Sycamore Shoals (Elizabethton), Level 2-Deerwood Arboretum (Brentwood), Level 2-East Park (Tullahoma), Level 2-LaGrange Cemetery (LaGrange), Level 2-Okeena Park (Dyersburg), Level 4-Cheekwood Estate & Gardens (Nashville), and Level 4-Reflection Riding Arboretum & Nature Center (Chattanooga).

Tree Sanctuaries are home tree collections. Currently there are 11 tree sanctuaries throughout the state of Tennessee.In addition to a specific number of tree species for each level of arboretum (TUFC certifies arboreta at four levels.), universal standards for arboreta include: trees must be properly labeled for public educational purposes, and the site must be properly maintained throughout the certification period. Other standards may include providing a map for self-guided tours or staff for public educational programs.

TUFC’s arboretum certification program is sponsored by the Tennessee Urban Forestry Council in partnership with the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, Division of Forestry. For more information on arboretum certification, contact the program coordinator Jill Smith at (615) 638-8027, or email JillSmith.tufc@gmail.com. Visit the TUFC website at www.tufc.com/arboreta for information on creating or visiting an arboretum.

3 techniques to help your children concentrate during the school year

Classrooms are now vastly different from the ones today’s parents were accustomed to when they were children. Technology has changed the face of classrooms, and while digital classrooms have revolutionized the ways kids learn, they also can make it more difficult for students to concentrate.Computers, tablets and smartphones can be invaluable resources for teachers and students. But when such devices compromise student’s ability to concentrate, parents may need to embrace various techniques aimed at improving kids’ ability to concentrate.

1. Discourage personal devices in the classroom.

Computers and tablets can expand learning opportunities in the classroom, but parents who want their kids to focus on lessons can discourage the use of personal devices, such as smartphones or personal tablets, in the classroom.As noted by the Child Mind® Institute, apps and web content are designed to be user-friendly and addictive. In addition, modern youngsters socialize through their smartphones. Alerts or messages from social media apps or friends can distract kids from their lessons, which may adversely affect their academic performance. Unless teachers ask students to bring their personal devices to class, parents can discourage, if not restrict, their children to bring their smartphones or tablets with them to class.

2. Limit multitasking.

A 2009 study from researchers at Stanford University found that heavy media multitaskers were more susceptible to interference from irrelevant environmental stimuli and from irrelevant representations in memory than light media multitaskers. Students who try to do too much at once may think they’re getting a lot done, but dividing their attention among several subjects may make it harder for them to fully understand or learn their class lessons.

When studying, students who concentrate on one subject or task may understand materials more fluently than those who divide their attention among subjects or those who focus on studying while also performing other tasks.

3. Encourage strategic breaks.

The Academic Success Center at Oregon State University notes that taking breaks can improve concentration and make studying more efficient and effective. When taking study breaks, students should set time limits on their breaks and change their scenery.

Walking away from a book, device or computer screen for 10 minutes can help students avoid fatigue that can develop when they study for too long without a break. That fatigue can affect students’ ability to absorb the lessons they’re trying to learn, so parents can encourage students to take strategic breaks. Once per hour might be enough, but some students may benefit from more frequent breaks.

The competition for kids attention in the classroom is greater than ever before. As a result, parents may need to encourage their children to embrace various strategies that can improve their concentration

Johnson County continues to be a great place to visit or live

By Jack Swift
Johnson County Historian

Along with Johnson County, Tennessee, there are several counties named Johnson County in The United States of America. I found eleven: Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Nebraska, Wyoming and Texas. I’m sure the people of those counties are proud of their respective counties. But, I believe we would find that the fine folks of Johnson County, Tennessee are Just as proud of their county or more-so than any of the others mentioned. And well Johnson Countians should be!

Among Johnson County’s many great attractions is Backbone Rock that was hewn from a solid rock formation. It was originally carved out for a railroad bed. Now it is a source of fun for folks who want to get in on some camping, fishing, picnicking or hiking. As a child one of my favorite memories was when my family (my father, mother, brother and I) would get into our 1932 Ford coupe and set off with a visit to the “Rock.”

Watauga Lake is another attraction that is partially within Johnson County. Folks come from far and near to take advantage of the many activities that the lake affords.Watauga Lake was formed when the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) decided to build the lake to produce hydroelectric power, to curb flooding and to provide recreation. The dam that holds back the water was originally began in 1942 but because of World War II, construction was stopped. It was until 1946 that construction was resumed and the dam was finally completed in 1948. It was a sad time when many residents of Butler were displaced by the lake. While Jonesborough is the oldest town in Tennessee, Trade, Tennessee is the earliest settlement in Tennessee. It gets its name due to it being a trading site for the pioneers and Indians. Johnson County is surrounded by Carter County and Sullivan County, Tennessee; Washington County, Virginia; and Ashe, Watauga, Grayson and Avery County North Carolina. Mountain City, the county seat, was originally Taylorsville but was renamed Mountain City in 1885. Johnson County was named in honor of Thomas Johnson a respected Citizen of what was then Carter County.
The information in this column is to remind those of us who live here of some of the nice things about living in this great county. Moreover, it’s to define some of the great things about Johnson County for newcomers and visitors to this area.

July is Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Month in Tennessee

By Tamas Mondovics

July is Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Month and Tennesseans have been busy working to shed light on the impact the disease has on communities statewide; and, for a good reason. According to a recent release, officials said that more than one in eight women in the U.S. are affected by breast cancer in their lifetimes. More than 154,000 women across the country are dealing with metastatic breast cancer, also known as advanced stage or stage IV breast cancer.

In Tennessee, it is expected that at least 5,500 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer just this year and that more than 900 Tennessee women will die of breast cancer, nearly all due to metastatic breast cancer,

“It is important that Tennesseans are aware of and informed about metastatic breast cancer,” Jennifer Murray, president of the Tennessee Cancer Consortium said. “Patients and families across the state are grateful to Governor Haslam for making this proclamation to help get the word out about this devastating disease.These patients face unique challenges with the emotional and physical demands of continual treatment along with the fact that breast cancer can spread quickly to other parts of the body, regardless of the treatment or preventative measures taken.”

Metastatic breast cancer, or advanced stage or stage IV breast cancer occurs when cancer spreads beyond the breast to other parts of the body, including the bones, lungs, liver and brain. The median survival after a diagnosis of metastatic breast cancer is approximately three years.
Officials emphasized that survival times vary greatly from person to person, however, and some research indicates that up to 40 percent of women will survive 5 years after a diagnosis and possibly longer.  Metastatic breast cancer frequently involves trying multiple treatments and patients usually fluctuate in and out of remission.

Currently no cure exists for metastatic breast cancer, however, treatment advances have been made in addressing specific types of metastatic breast cancer, and extensive research efforts are underway to address this high unmet need more generally.
Patients, family members and the public can find information about current clinical research studies at https://ClinicalTrials.gov, a searchable database.

Surprising health risks your mobile devices may cause

According to the latest annual visual networking index forecast from Cisco, there will be four networked devices and connections per person across the globe by 2021. While there is no denying the many positive attributes of electronics and global connectivity, research indicates that some health concerns may be tied to our devices.

Cancer from phones
Smartphones, flip phones and their predecessors give off a form of energy known as radiofrequency, or RF. As the amount of time spent on phones has increased, concerns have been raised as to the possible health ramifications of RF exposure on the body. The American Cancer Society says RF waves are a form of non-ionizing radiation. They are different from the stronger, ionizing types of radiation that can affect the chemical structure of DNA in the body. But there is some concern that RF may contribute to the formation of cancer in the body.

A large study by the US National Toxicology Program (NTP) exposed large groups of lab rats and mice to RF energy over their entire bodies for about nine hours a day, starting before birth and continuing for up to two years. Results indicated an increased risk of tumors called malignant schwannomas of the heart in male rats exposed to RF radiation.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer has classified RF fields as “possibly carcinogenic to humans.” Although cancer risk is very low and not undeniably linked to phone use, it is something for people to keep in the back of their minds, and limiting phone use may help reduce risk.

Mobile device use and social media addiction
Increased use of technology may be linked to decreases in attention and increases in behavior and self-regulation problems for adolescents already at risk for mental health problems, says a study from Duke University.

One hundred fifty-one adolescents were studied using digital technologies for an average of 2.3 hours a day. The researchers found that, on days when adolescents used their devices more, both when they exceeded their own normal use and when they exceeded average use by their peers, they were more likely to exhibit conduct problems such as lying and fighting.

Also, as published in Psychiatric News, time spent on multiple social media outlets is considered a risk factor for mental health problems. Researchers found people who reported using the greatest number of social media sites (seven to 11) had more than three times the risk of depression and anxiety.

Other health concerns
Neck pain, wrist and elbow strain, eye strain, and other fatigue factors have been linked to computer use.

A study published in the U.S. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences showed that people using tablets for at least four hours before bedtime took longer to fall asleep than people who hadn’t used them.

And recently, popular exercise tracker FitBit® came under fire when people were shocked while wearing the devices, and these types of trackers may cause people to micromanage their fitness, detracting from the psychological benefits of exercise.

Electronics are important components of daily life. But devices may contribute to serious health problems.

Tri-State Beef Conference scheduled for August 9

By Rick Thomason
University of Tennessee
Johnson County Ext. Director

The University of Tennessee along with Virginia Tech and North Carolina State University will be conducting the Tri-State Beef Conference on August 9, 2018 at the Ron Ramsey Regional Agriculture Center located at 140 Spurgeon Lane, Blountville, TN 37617.  The conference will focus on areas of interest to both cow/calf producers and stocker operators.

This year’s conference will be a one-day event and will include educational sessions covering such topics as Beef Cattle Outlook, Ag. Policy Impacting the Beef Industry, Breeding Soundness Exam, Management Intensive Grazing, Stocker vs. Feedlot Health, Aerial Chemical Applications for Pastures and Rough Terrain and Virtual Tours of 3 Beef Cattle Operations (1 from each state).

A trade show will be open during the conference, with many of the animal health, feed, and marketing organizations involved in the region’s beef industry there for you to meet and learn more about their products and services.

Brochures along with registration information can be obtained at the Extension office, Tri-State Growers Coop or the Garden Barn in Mountain City.  You can also access the brochure from the following website: https://ag.tennessee.edu/arec/Pages/tristatebeefconference.aspx
The registration fee is only $20 per person if received prior to July 27th and $25 after this date.  This fee covers all of the educational sessions, trade show, refreshments and a steak lunch.  Please contact Rick Thomason at (423) 727-8161 or rthomaso@utk.edu if you have any questions about the conference or need additional information.

First responders stress health risk

Emergency responders,which includes the police, firefighters and paramedics who are the first to arrive at the scene of an incident, are in the business of protecting others and helping to save lives. These workers are on call during natural disasters, technological failures, terrorist attacks, and many other potentially traumatic events. Emergency responders are the unsung heroes of many communities that they work hard to keep safe and secure.

While emergency responders are heroes, it’s important that people know these brave men and women sometimes need assistance, too. The pressure and stress associated with being an emergency responder can sometimes be overwhelming, and it’s times like that when emergency responders need help.

Comprehensive statistics on stress-related medical conditions among first responders are difficult to tabulate because many incidents go unreported or unshared. However, pressures of the job and post traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, can take its toll on paramedics and law officials. EMS World reports that, between January and September of 2014, the United States had around 58 documented fire/EMS suicides. In Canada, 25 first responders were known to have committed suicide in a five-month period in 2014.

Addressing the stress of being an emergency responder can help responders and their families better cope with the pressure and stress of the job. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health recommends that all workers involved in first-responder activities should help themselves and others to reduce the risk of stress-related psychological and physical health effects from their jobs.

Certain symptoms and behaviors may present themselves when emergency responders are having difficulty coping with the demands of the job. These symptoms may include:

· Changes in sleeping patterns

· Passive or fatalistic behavior

· Frequent conflict and argumentative behavior

· Limiting social networks and general withdrawal

· Poor problem-solving abilities

· Poor concentration
· Inability to rest

· Self-medicating with alcohol

While there is no single method to cope with the physical and psychological demands of a first reponder’s job, a combination of therapies can help. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises that responders need to take care of their own health to maintain the constant vigilance they need for their own safety. These steps can put workers on the right track.

·Form a support network in which each responder looks out for one another. Knowing support is available can be a big help.

·Take frequent breaks to clear the mind and rest the body. Try to take breaks away from a work area.

·Accept what cannot be changed, such as chain of command or long hours.

·Take advantage of mental health support services when they are made available. Recognize that it is not indicative of weakness to discuss difficult emotions.

·Maintain a healthy eating pattern and try to get adequate sleep.

· Exercise, which can reduce feelings of stress and be a healthy way to clear the mind and strengthen the body.

Recognizing that emergency responders are not invincible and may need some emotional support can be the first step in getting these workers the help they need and deserve.

Just saying “Eat Your Vegetables” wasn’t enough

Dr. Joseph Galati was talking to one of his patients about the need to put more vegetables into her diet and mentioned that cooking eggplant would probably be a good idea. The patient had never cooked eggplant before and had no idea how to do it.

“That is when I realized that I had to do more than just tell people to eat more vegetables,” says Galati (www.drjoegalati.com), author of Eating Yourself Sick: How to Stop Obesity, Fatty Liver, and Diabetes from Killing You and Your Family. “My patients that did try to eat more vegetables would rely on only one or two kinds and they got bored with it so they stopped. They were unaware of the variety of vegetables available and how to prepare them.”

With more knowledge about what kinds of vegetables to select and how to cook them, Galati believed more of his patients would comply with his prescription that they eat more vegetables. So he started the “Great American Produce Giveaway” promotion in his office. He bought a bushel of squash, and then gave his patients a squash in a brown paper bag along with instructions on how to
cook it.

Different types of vegetables were given away regularly when his patients visited his office. It resulted in more of his patients eating a greater variety of vegetables. Patients reported back that this was the jump start they needed to improve their nutrition and health.

“We had to give them really specific recommendations,” he says. “We have to realize that we are living in a new era of an under-educated and under informed public when it comes to nutrition.”

Dr. Galati offers these tips on getting more vegetables into your diet:

Snack with veggies and fruit

Instead of chips or cookies, have healthy alternatives around the house like baby carrots and hummus, celery and peanut butter or a piece of fruit. And leave these healthy snacks in plain sight. You are more likely to snack on fruits and veggies if they are on the counter instead of tucked away in the cupboard.

Make soup

Homemade soups can be a great way to increase your vegetable intake. New veggie of the week. Try to experiment with a new fruit or vegetable each week. Experiment and find interesting recipes for this week’s selection.

Vegetable kabobs

Grill colorful vegetable kabobs packed with tomatoes, green and red peppers, mushrooms and onions. Galati says many of his patients enjoyed learning more about vegetables and how to cook them. He added that everybody knows they should eat more vegetables, but a surprising amount of people do no know how to prepare those vegetables with a meal. But, he says, with a little research on the Internet or with a cookbook, preparing vegetables can be fun, tasty and easy.

Harvesting garden vegetables at the right time

*Source: 2018 W. Atlee Burpee & Company article on “Harvesting Vegetables”

When harvest time comes for your vegetable garden, it comes big-time. For many gardeners, the challenge may now be staying ahead of a tsunami of vegetables that need harvesting. A great practice in harvesting vegetables is taking a basket out to the garden every day to see what has ripened. Picking vegetables as soon as they are ripe often encourages the plant to produce even more.

Bigger doesn’t necessarily mean better. Most vegetables are at their peak of tenderness and flavor when they are relatively small. Zucchini, for example, are best when they are no more than six or seven inches long. As they get larger, then they get tough. If you discover an overlooked whopper, grate it and make zucchini cookies or zucchini bread.

It’s crucial to keep track of what you planted and when it was planted. Keep the seed packet so you know what to expect in terms of when it is ready for harvest. There are many cultivars of vegetables today, bred for different characteristics such as size and flavor.

When you harvest, look out for signs of trouble, such as yellowing leaves or rotting fruit, and remove the problem parts. Even if it’s something you can do little about such as blossom end rot or cracking from too much rain, there’s no point in letting the plant put energy into fruit you won’t be able to eat.

More tips for harvesting vegetables from your garden:

•Herbs. Pinch or cut back herbs frequently to keep them producing more stems and leaves (the parts we eat) and to keep them from blooming, which changes the flavor. Basil, especially, needs frequent pinching back to keep it bushy and productive.

•Tomatoes. There is a huge range of tomato varieties. Many kinds are red when ripe, but some are orange, yellow, striped or even green. So learn what to expect from your variety and monitor the plant closely as its due date nears. Generally, a tomato is fully ripe when it releases easily from the stem. If you misjudge a bit it’s no tragedy, because tomatoes will ripen somewhat after picking, but they develop the fullest sweet flavor if they ripen in the sun on the vine.

•Peppers. Peppers are mature and ready to eat when full-sized but still green. If left on the vine longer, they will change color to red, orange, yellow or brown, depending on the variety, and will deepen in flavor and become less crisp in texture.
Hot peppers left to change color will get hotter. So whether you pick at the green stage or later will depend on the variety and what you plan to use the pepper for.

• Lettuce. It’s important to pick lettuce before hot weather encourages the plant to “bolt,” or develop a flower stalk, which makes the leaves taste bitter. With leaf lettuce and many other greens, you can “cut and come again” while the leaves are young and tender, no more than five inches long. Use scissors to cut the largest leaves individually from the plants. When the smaller leaves get big enough, harvest those. You may be able to come back to a plant two, three or four times, a few days apart, before it gives up in the summer heat. To prolong the lettuce harvest, look for bolt-resistant varieties and sow seeds several times at two-week intervals. A tent of shade cloth or translucent row cover or a site in part shade may also delay bolting in hot climates. In late summer, sow seeds again for a fall crop.

•Green beans. Green beans are an easy vegetable to harvest. Pick the pods when they are a little shy of their maximum size, to be sure that they are tender, with immature seeds. If you delay, the seeds will mature and harden and the pod will become tough. Don’t pick green beans in the morning when the dew is still on the vines; wait until they are fully dry to avoid spreading disease. Be sure to keep up with regular picking to encourage the vine to keep flowering and producing pods.

•Peas. For garden peas, pick a test pod and open it when the seeds have begun to swell inside. You’re looking for peas that are round but still tender. Pick peas just before you are ready to shell and cook them. For snow peas and sugar snaps, taste a pod when it nears full size. You want a crisp, crunchy, fresh-tasting pod, in which the seeds have started developing but are nowhere near round. Pods left too long on the vine get tough and stringy.

•Cantaloupes, muskmelons and honeydews: Harvesting melons can be tricky, even for melon farmers. You can thump the melon and listen for a dull, hollow sound or sniff it to see if it smells sweet. A ripe cantaloupe or muskmelon will begin to have a tan or yellowish color beneath the corky “netting” on its skin. A honeydew will feel smooth, not hairy. Cut the stem rather than breaking the fruit off, which creates a wound that invites the fruit to rot. Let the fruit ripen for another day or two at room temperature before cutting into it.

•Watermelons. When the spot beneath the melon, where it sits on the ground, turns yellowish, rather than white or green, the melon is close to ripe. The rind also gets tougher, so test it with your thumbnail to how easily it dents. For old-fashioned full-sized watermelons, the traditional ripeness test is to thump and listen for a dull, hollow sound, but this may not work as well with the smaller “icebox” varieties. Ultimately, you’ll have to cut one open and decide if it’s ripe, and use that as a standard for the rest of the crop.

•Cucumbers. Check the seed packet to see how large your variety of cucumber will get and how long that is expected to take. But bear in mind that you can pick cucumbers at any stage, depending on what you want to use them for. Smaller ones will be more tender, with thinner skins and few or immature seeds. Too-old cucumbers get dry and seedy. Like melons, cucumbers should be cut from the vine, not pulled.

•Sweet corn. Timing is everything with sweet corn. The kernels begin to lose sweetness and flavor the instant the ear is picked, so the great advantage of growing your own is so you can wait until the last minute. Sweet corn is ready to eat when you can feel full, rounded kernels beneath the husk; the silk at the top of the ear is drying out; and a squished kernel produces a milky sap.

•Root vegetables. Read the seed packet to see how long it should take before you start checking to see if your variety of carrots, beets, turnips, radishes or parsnips is ready for harvest. When it’s about time, loosen the soil gently and pull one up to see how big it is. Root vegetables are more tender and delicate in flavor if eaten younger and smaller; as they get older and larger, they get tougher. You can store some root crops right in the cold ground after the tops die. Spread a thick layer of leaves, straw or other mulch to keep the ground from freezing so you can still dig them up, and you may be able to harvest carrots, turnips or parsnips at Thanksgiving.Happy harvesting.

5 Ways Cooking Benefits Your Mental State


It’s no secret that cooking healthy food provides benefits to our bodies, but there’s also evidence that the act of preparing meals can benefit our minds as well. Mental health experts credit cooking with helping to relieve depression, anxiety, eating disorders and other conditions. As various forms of meditation have become in vogue as ways to relax in our busy world, cooking is joining that genre, according to health professionals, working adults and people who cook for a living.

“Cooking at its core is comprehensive meditation with the assurance of a good, healthy meal as the reward,” says Zipora Einav (www.chefzipora.com), a chef to celebrities and author of Recipe for a Delicious Life. “Cooking can lift you to a meditative place you often don’t get in the outside world. It starts with the environment you create in your kitchen. Mine is filled with music. Combining cooking with music provides the optimal environment to experience the many benefits of meditation.

“However you cook, do it with real peace and genuine happiness for yourself in mind. You’re giving to others; now give some of this to yourself.”

Chef Zipora lists five mental health benefits that cooking brings:

Relieves stress
Cooking can clear the head and relax the body. Family therapist Lisa Bahar toldPsychology Today that a mindfulness on the moment – kitchen tasks such as chopping and stirring – makes the act of cooking meditative. “You are present in the task, doing something physical, and not distracted by the stresses of the day,” Zipora says. “It’s a nourishing, centering act that gets you to slow down.”

Gives joy
It’s easy to dismiss cooking as just another household chore, but you may derive joy from cooking that you don’t get from mundane tasks. “Cooking is an innately rewarding experience,” says Zipora. “You can enhance it however you like. Music happens to be the seasoning of my life. Classical puts me in a zone when I’m cooking. When you’re enjoying working in the kitchen and listening to your favorite music, all of a sudden you’re not just cooking, it’s like you’re flying with your feet on the ground. Cooking has all the ingredients of good vibrations.”

Provides better brain health
The clearest link between cooking and mental health is good nutrition; numerous studies have found compounds like antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamins and minerals found naturally in food can help protect your brain. “It’s easier to control the quality of your diet when you prepare much of the food yourself,” Zipora says.

Makes you more creative
Part of the fun of cooking is thinking outside the box. “Cooking should be considered an art, and with new ingredients, you can explore new areas of cooking and surprise your family with a meal that they will have never seen coming,” Zipora says. “Perfect recipes, come up with new ones, and let your creative juices flow.”

Boosts self-confidence
“You feel a strong sense of accomplishment when you’ve prepared something satisfying,” Zipora says. “When you’ve prepared a nice meal for several people that confidence will surge, and it can spread into other areas of your life. It will inspire you to try new things.”

“Cooking without a doubt nourishes your psychological well-being,” Zipora says. “At the end of a long work day, it soothes the soul and the mind.”

My piece of the world

By Jinifer Rae

My neighbor gave me a swing. This may sound like a simple thing, but to me, it was a wonderful gift. Some of the best gifts are bestowed out of need, and my swing was no exception. Upon arriving at my new home in Mountain City, I quickly discovered none of my outdoor furniture made it on the moving truck. This was almost a crisis. I love being outdoors, even if I only have ten minutes to sit on the porch, I find those few minutes can revitalize me. But if I thought being outdoors was special before I moved here, I had a lot to learn. The town of Mountain City is a treasure trove of wonderful things to experience and see.

The views from my former home’s porch had nothing in comparison to the beauty of God’s country found in Tennessee. In the past, I would sit on my porch and watch people walk their dogs, or see children playing in the park. Occasionally I would smell the fresh cut grass as a neighbor manicured their yard. Never to be taken for granted, it was always a joy to behold the beauty of the neighborhood. However, my new home had an unexpected surprise in store.

A beautiful brook runs the entire length of my backyard. The water that surges over the pebbles and rocks makes the most peaceful sound. Bella, my husband’s dog, and I walk down to the edge of the water and enjoy this special spot. Up until I received my swing, I sat on a bump of a log. While not the most comfortable of seating arrangements, sitting on that hard piece of wood was my absolute favorite place to be. Anyone who has come to see our home has been given a three-second tour of the house, and then I drag them outside to show off the water. After compelling them to plop down on that log, I ask them to listen, just listen, to the birds and the water. Nature makes her own music with that babbling brook, and the stress just melts away while listening and swinging. The brook combined with the birds singing is the most soothing, relaxing sound I have ever heard. I decided that this special area of the yard would be the perfect spot for my swing.

Maintain routines on Summer break

Beth Hail, LCSW

Summer break is in full swing—and some parents have already started the countdown to their child’s first day of school!
Without the routine and structure of going to school, summer break might not feel like a break at all and can
present stressful moments for both parent and child. Recent studies have found that
having a normal daily rhythm can help diffuse stress and depression. Routines can also contribute to multiple health benefits and improve an individual’s mood and cognitive functions.
Here are several ways parents and children can incorporate and maintain healthy routines to help reduce stress during the summer break:

Time off from school doesn’t mean time off from sleep. Keep a bedtime routine during summer to help maintain balance and reduce stress. According to the Centers for Disease Control, short sleep duration can be associated with greater likelihoods of frequent mental distress. The bedtime routine may vary depending on a person’s age, but everyone needs regular sleep which serves as the body’s reset button. A good night’s rest supports mental and emotional resilience.

Family Time
Unplugging from technology and spending quality time with loved ones can help shrink stress and anxiety, and it can boost the mental and physical health of the entire family. Traditions and rituals like vacations can enrich relationships and provide opportunities for family members to talk with one another, discover new interests, explore places together and create new memories.

Playtime has powerful benefits for children and adults by providing life balance. Amidst the hectic schedules and daily demands of life, take time out to play and enjoy the freedom from time, rules and responsibilities. Children who see adults having fun, laughing and enjoying life can learn valuable lessons about their own lives. Many times, children communicate their thoughts and feelings through play more naturally than they do through verbal communication.
Routines let you know what to expect, but they should be flexible and adjusted when necessary. Some stress is normal for all of us, but when stress constantly interrupts a person’s daily life, professional help may be needed. Centerstone’s staff is trained to help anyone deal with stress in a healthy way and to incorporate successful routines tailored to an individual’s needs.

This summer, assess which routines should be incorporated to make the break an enjoyable one for you and your family.
Beth Hail is regional vice president for Centerstone, serving its central Tennessee region. She holds a master’s degree in social work administration and is a licensed clinical social worker. For more advice on health-related topics, visit centerstone.org.

Add space, beauty and ease with elevated gardens

Elevated Gardens

By Melinda Myers

Elevate your gardens to waist high level for convenience and easy access. Elevated gardens are easy on your back and knees and are perfect for the patio, balcony, deck or any area where a bit of planting space is desired. Place them near your kitchen door, grill or table for easy cooking and serving access. You’ll be able to plant, weed and harvest with minimal bending or even from a chair.

Purchase one on wheels or add casters to the legs of your elevated garden for added mobility. Then wheel it into the sun or shade as needed each day or out of the way when you entertain. Set the garden in place first. Once it’s filled with soil, it will be very heavy and difficult to move. Those gardening on a balcony should confirm the space will hold the weight of the elevated garden you select when filled with soil and mature plants.

Make sure you have easy access to water. Since this is basically a container, you will need to check the soil moisture daily and water thoroughly as needed. Fill the elevated garden with a well-drained planting mix that holds moisture while providing needed drainage.

Incorporate a low nitrogen slow release fertilizer like Milorganite (milorganite.com) at planting. It contains 85% organic matter, feeding the plants and soil. Slow release fertilizers provide plants with needed nutrients for several months, eliminating the need for weekly fertilization.

Grow a variety of your favorite herbs and vegetables like basil, parsley, compact tomatoes, and peppers. Support vining plants or try compact ones like Mascotte compact bush bean. Add color and dress up your planter with flowers like edible nasturtiums and trailing herbs like thyme and oregano which will cascade over the edge of the planter.

Maximize your growing space by planting quick maturing vegetables like radishes, beets and lettuce in between tomatoes, peppers, cabbage and other vegetables that take longer to reach their mature size. You’ll be harvesting the short season vegetables just as the bigger plants need the space.

Further increase your garden’s productivity with succession plantings. Fill vacant spaces that are left once a row or block of vegetables are harvested. Add more planting mix if needed.

Select seeds and transplants that will have time to reach maturity for harvesting before the growing season ends. Broccoli, cabbage, compact Patio Pride peas, lettuce, spinach and other greens taste best when harvested in cooler fall temperatures.

Replace weather-worn flowers with cool weather beauties like pansies, nemesias, dianthus, alyssum and snapdragons. Fertilize the whole planter so new plantings and existing plants have the nutrients they need to finish out the season.
Protect your fall flowers, herbs and vegetables from hard frosts with floating row covers. These fabrics allow air, light and water through while trapping the heat around the plant.

Once you discover the fun, flavor and ease of waist high gardening, you’ll likely make room for more elevated planters for your future gardening endeavors.