Agriculture students excel at 2014 National MANRRS Conference

April 7, 2014

Christopher Wong and Robert Woodie McClennon Jr., College of Agriculture and Human Sciences (CAHS) students, received accolades at the 29th Annual National Career Fair and Training Conference of the Society for Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences (MANRRS) March 27-29 in Birmingham, AL.

Wong won 1st Place and a $300 monetary award in the Undergraduate Research Poster Contest for his research on “The Effect of Heat Treatment on Oil Absorption of Agricultural Fibers.” He conducted his research as a Prairie View A&M University (PVAMU) Honors Program student during a 2013 summer research program at North Dakota State University. Wong is a sophomore agriculture major with a concentration in agronomy.

McClennon won 2nd Place and a $200 monetary award in the Impromptu Public Speaking Contest for his discussion of the following question: “Across the country, some 23 million Americans live in inner city and rural locales where the scarcity of supermarkets drives people to convenience stores, pharmacies and fast food restaurants as their vendors of first resort. What programs should be implemented to promote broad based access to healthy food across different socio economic groups?” McClennon advanced to the national competition after winning 1st Place in the MANRRS Regional Competition in Austin, Texas, in October 2013. He is a senior agriculture major with a concentration in animal science.

The two students were among eight PVAMU students attending the conference which included approximately 850 representatives from government, industry and higher education institutions around the United States. The 2015 MANRRS Conference will be hosted March 26-28 in Houston.

2014 MANRRS Contest Winners

2014 MANRRS Contest Winners Christopher Wong, left, and Robert McClennon Jr., right.

25% of College Students Infected??

April 4, 2014


Panthers United is a campus recognized student organization, supported by the College of Agriculture and Human Sciences (CAHS). The organization’s primary focus is to exemplify leadership while impacting the lives of limited resource families through support and service to Prairie View A&M University and the local community. Panthers United has undergone several major transitions over the years. It has recently elected new leadership as well as a new advisor; a Program Specialist within the CAHS. In the past three semesters, Panthers United has accomplished many programming and service goals. Currently, the organization is in the process of planning their activities for the 2014-2015 school year. Programs of interest for next year include a reading program with Jones Elementary School and free technology classes for senior citizens.

Alexandria and Gabrielle with STD Awareness Campaign.

Alexandria and Gabrielle with STD Awareness Campaign.

Did you know that 25% of college students in the U.S. are infected with an STD?

In collaboration with Prairie View Student Nurse Association, Panthers United, hosted an information booth referred to as “Candy and Condoms” in the Memorial Student Center on March 31, 2014. Student leaders, Gabrielle Scott, Committee Captain-Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) Awareness, and Alexandria Hall, Vice President, successfully guided the organization so that the booth attracted over 100 individuals. The information booth provided general STD education, resources for common STDs and prevention tips to reduce transmission. Recent statistics report that in the U.S., 25% of college students are infected with an STD. Sexually transmitted diseases on campus are becoming a major problem and the issue is not getting the coverage and attention that it deserves.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the most common STD on college campuses is Chlamydia, Genital Herpes and Human Papillomavirus (HPV); when HPV does not go away, it can cause genital warts as well as cervical cancer. With nearly one in every 5 students infected with an STD on campus, it is important that student organizations, like Panthers United, to take the initiative and provide awareness and empower students to think twice before engaging in risky behaviors. Please take a moment to congratulate Panthers United for their continued efforts in supporting the CAHS vision of meeting needs and changing lives.

Click here to visit Panthers United on Facebook!

Click here to visit Panthers United on Facebook!


Remember: It’s not who you are but what you do that puts you at risk of contracting an STD






DanielleHairstonGreenBy Danielle Y. Hairston Green,
Program Specialist, Family and Consumer Sciences
Cooperative Extension Program

Visit us online at

Natural Hair, Nutrition, and Coconut Oil?

April 3, 2014
Danielle and Domonique

Natural hair experience!What’s On Your Plate Today? (April Edition)

What’s On Your Plate? (April Edition)

I spent a few years debating if I wanted to allow my hair to go natural or not.  My daughter has always been natural and my mother wore her hair natural for several years. I’ve always been completely fascinated by those who were brave enough to take that leap. Just recently I decided to give it a try. After a year of not chemically processing my hair it has turned out beautiful. I’ve been on the internet for weeks trying to find the best product for my “new” natural hair.  At the same time my daughter was looking for ingredients to make homemade lipsticks. How ironic that we stumbled across the same product that works for both; coconut oil, and it was in the food section of Walmart. Really?

Of course my curiosity has been peaked and I wanted to find out if there were any significant health benefits of coconut oil. This is what I have discovered. According to some websites including Organic Facts, there are several health benefits of organic coconut oil and those benefits include “hair care, skin care, stress relief (now that is interesting), cholesterol level maintenance, weight loss, boosted immune system, proper digestion and regulated metabolism”. What’s really interesting is that in the 70’s coconut oil was considered pretty harmful for the human body due to its high saturated fat content until about ten years ago when those claims were questioned.

According to research conducted by Dr. Lita Lee, coconut oil was used as cooking oil for thousands of years until the anti-saturated fat campaign. The Wall Street Journal published an article that quoted Dr. Glen D. Lawrence, chemistry and biochemistry professor, stating that coconut oils appeal to consumer is because it has “medium chain fatty acids,” which is a designation that relates to the number of carbon atoms in the fat. According to Dr. Lawrence most of the foods Americans consume have long-chain fatty acids.coconut

The USDA has indicated that for nutritional purposes coconut oil should be considered a solid fat since it is high in saturated or trans fatty acids. Although there are opposing views about the nutritional health benefits of coconut oil many sites have supported that coconut oil (filled with antioxidant benefits and vitamin E) is GREAT for the hair; nourishment, shine, and overall health. Check out the sites below and let me know what your thoughts are about coconut oil and its nutritional value.



DanielleHairstonGreenBy Danielle Y. Hairston Green,
Program Specialist, Family and Consumer Sciences
Cooperative Extension Program

Visit us online at




Organic Facts

Wall Street Journal

Choose My Plate


Prairie View Hosts Its First FFA Career Development Event

April 3, 2014



On February 28, 2014, Prairie View A&M University hosted its first Future Farmers of America Career Development Event. Almost 700 high school students and several teachers from different high schools around Texas came to participate in the event.  FFA CDEs are events at which high school students can come learn valuable information regarding careers in the Agriculture field and skills that can make them more attractive to potential employers in a competitive job market. Career Development Events are also meant to show students how to apply what they have learned in the classroom to the “real world.”

The students get an opportunity to identify and resolve problems related to their specific area of study in Agriculture, and an opportunity to compete with like-minded peers. The participants took handwritten tests to assess their knowledge on different agriculture-related subjects. The students competed in activities, such as, poultry inspection in which they were tasked with grading raw chickens based on their appearance and rating the chickens by class. The participants competed in several other career-related activities, such as: Home site evaluation, land evaluation, wildlife evaluation, extemporaneous public speaking, prepared public speaking, veterinary tech, nursery landscape, and farm management.  Prizes were given to the winners of each category.

After a long day roaming around PVAMU’s campus, the students were able to take away key information and skills that will help them in their future careers and endeavors. The faculty and staff at CAHS enjoyed working with the FFA students and teachers and look forward to doing so again in the future.

Texas Sustainable Strawberry Production

March 31, 2014

strawberryPrairie View A&M Unversity’s Cooperative Extension Program along with the Cooperative Agricultural Research Center in the College of Agriculture and Human Sciences is partnering with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension to conduct research on ways to increase the production of strawberries, a highly valued commodity, in Texas. This project is being funded by a one-year grant from the National Strawberry Sustainability Initiative funded by the Wal-Mart Foundation and administered by the University of Arkansas Center for Agricultural and Rural Sustainability.  The university farm at Prairie View is just one of several project locations that have been set up around the State to utilize both university research facilities and the resources of farmer’s sites in the community.

The project is evaluating a number of different variables such as locations within the State, different varieties growing in fields vs. high tunnels, plastic culture, row covers, and organic production. One of the primary objectives of the project is to uncover some of the common problems a producer is likely to experience growing strawberries in a given region of the state; then document these issues along with recommended solutions increasing the likelihood of success once the producer goes into production.

Very few strawberries are produced locally in Texas and most are imported from California or Mexico making them very expensive for local consumers.  Fact is, strawberries are a very attractive, “high value”, alternative crop for Texas producers.  With high value also comes “high risk”. One of the goals of this project is to identify the production risk associated with growing strawberries and develop production practices that mitigate the risk.  As this project develops, coordinators will be seeking to recruit more producers to participate in the project.

Follow this project on facebook at

Billy Lawton By Billy Lawton,
Program Leader, Agriculture and Natural Resources
Cooperative Extension Program

Visit us online at

Does your tummy hurt?

March 13, 2014

Doe your tummy hurt?What’s On Your Plate? (March Edition)

I have had many friends tell me about their experience with food poisoning; and most of their stories sound pretty frightening. I have never had food poisoning and hope to never suffer from this illness. However, during the past week, I have been having some really weird things happen with my tummy and a little nausea. So, I googled some things to both identify a few home remedies and learn some important facts to help me ease my discomfort. I came across several websites and fact sheets that were very interesting. I realized that my symptoms weren’t in line with what experts have indicated as food poisoning symptoms but the information that I came across, about Botulism, peeked my curiosity.

What is Clostridium Botulinum? According to the USDA this bacteria is “anaerobic, meaning they live and grow in low oxygen conditions. The bacteria form protective spores when conditions for survival are poor. The spore has a hard protective coating… [and is] able to survive for years” (para. 2).  Did you know that botulism is life threatening? The USDA has indicated that even the smallest amount of this bacterium can cause illness or death. What’s more interesting is that botulism illness has been linked to aluminum foil covered “baked potatoes [and] honey (the primary cause of botulism in infants)” (para.3). Wow, I didn’t know that!

The CDC has reported that there are five main kinds of botulism and they include foodborne botulism, infant botulism, wound botulism (I never ever heard of this one) adult intestinal Toxemia botulism and iatrogenic botulism (…or this one).” In the United States, an average of 145 cases of botulism are reported each year and approximately 15% of these cases are foodborne, while 65% are infant botulism and the remaining 20% are wound botulism cases” (CDC).

MSN’s Healthy Living website listed their top eleven food poisoning culprits in an article published this year. However, I found four of the foods really interesting:

Baby Formula: When it comes to fighting infection, infants and toddlers have insufficient immune systems. So, food-handling precautions are especially important for the very young.

Bacteria can quickly grow in formula that is left out at room temperatures, so bottle-fed babies are at a higher risk for foodborne illnesses.

Leafy vegetables:Nearly half of foodborne illnesses stem from produce, especially leafy greens, according to the CDC. Experts suggest buying from a reputable source, keeping produce refrigerated and rinsing it in cold water before eating. If you buy pre-washed spinach, don’t wash it again at home, where new contaminants might be introduced.

Home Canning: In the early 1900s, insufficiently cooked canned foods led to big botulism outbreaks. Government regulators cracked down on the canning industry and the botulism problem was mostly eliminated. However, home canning still results in occasional cases of botulism.

Baked Potatoes: Clostridium botulinum grows in soil and other places where there’s no oxygen, forming heat-resistant spores. Potatoes, which grow underground, can come into contact with these spores. So be careful when baking potatoes.

To avoid spore growth, don’t leave foil-wrapped baked potatoes sitting out at room temperature. Eat the potatoes within two hours of cooking. If you need to save them for later, keep them at 140 degrees or hotter, or refrigerate the baked potatoes within two hours of cooking (CDC, MSN).

Classic symptoms of botulism appear 18 hours to 10 days after eating the bad food. They include double vision, blurred vision, slurred speech, drooping eyelids, difficulty swallowing, dry mouth and weak muscles. Untreated, victims may be paralyzed or die. If caught early enough, doctors can treat botulism with an anti-toxin made from horses (CDC, MSN).

So, does your tummy hurt? If it does hurt it may not be caused by botulism but you may want to check out the websites below and find out more about botulism. If the discomfort in your tummy persists, you should always consult your doctor.


MSN Healthy Living

DanielleHairstonGreenBy Danielle Y. Hairston Green,
Program Specialist, Family and Consumer Sciences
Cooperative Extension Program

Visit us online at

Extension, Edgewood ISD ‘shoe’ their generosity to Title 1 students

February 17, 2014

Elementary, middle and high school students from Title 1 schools in the Edgewood Independent School District received an early Christmas present thank to the Prairie View A&M University Cooperative Extension Program, the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and Edgewood ISD.


Elementary school children from the Edgewood ISD in San Antonio try on their new shoes during the Great Zapato Roundup

Fifty-six pairs of new tennis shoes, donated by AgriLife Extension, Prairie View A&M College of Agriculture and Human Sciences, the Prairie View A&M Cooperative Extension Program 4-H and Youth Development advisory committee, Bexar County Master Gardeners and area 4-H clubs, were distributed to students from throughout the Edgewood ISD the evening of Dec. 19. Distribution took place in the cafeteria of Emma Frey Elementary, 900 S. San Eduardo Ave. in San Antonio, where more than 200 students and family members had assembled for the free shoe giveaway. Additionally, many gift cards for purchasing new shoes were donated by Edgewood District Alumni Association and the Compadres for Scholarships program.

“Many students in the Edgewood ISD are in need of new shoes and these donated tennis shoes will be a useful and practical early Christmas gift for those students,” said Desiree Rucker, Prairie View A&M Cooperative Extension Program 4-H and Youth Development agent for Bexar County. “Extension promotes physical activity as a means of improving youth health and well-being, so providing tennis shoes was also a true ‘rubber meeting the road’ incentive for getting more young people to exercise.”


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