REAP 2014, “Sowing Into Your Future”

August 1, 2014

REAP participantsThe Research Extension Apprentice Program (REAP) has just come to a close after 2 weeks of learning, fun, relationship-building, and skill development. REAP is a program for high school juniors and seniors that are interested in Agriculture and/or Human Sciences. The program is 2 weeks long and provides on-campus room and board for the students along with conducting many fun and educational activities. The goal of the program is to educate students in research and extension related topics in a fun and interactive way, and motivate them to pursue a career in Agriculture or Human Sciences.

From June 15th to June 27th, the students attended a series of workshops and activities that were designed to teach the students skills that can help them be more efficient and maximize their potential and introduce them to some of the basics of Agriculture and Human Sciences. They discussed topics such as, the power of meditation, basic nutrition, the benefits of juicing, the power of forgiveness, and effective time management. The students also attended curriculum oriented seminars conducted by CARC researchers and scientists where they learned the basics of different agriculture and human sciences. They learned about chemistry, different types of soils, natural resources, environmental systems, hydrology, veterinary medicine, growth and development of livestock animals, and more.

The students were also able to visit the George Bush Library in College Station where they toured the museum and learned about former President George H. W. Bush. They also took a trip to Peckerwood Gardens in Hempstead where they were able to observe several different types of rare and uncommon plants.

The program came to an end on June 27th with a closing program for the students, parents, faculty, and staff in which the students were able to give emotional speeches and reflect about their experience in the program. The closing program also featured speeches from faculty and staff members of CEP and CAHS including a motivational speech from Dean of CAHS, Dr. Alton B. Johnson. Some of the students also took turns as Master of Ceremonies, and some entertained the crowd with dance and spoken word performances.

REAP 2014 turned out to be a success, and all the participants enjoyed their experience and their time at PVAMU. They all left with new friends and new skills to help them stay motivated and be successful and attend college, hopefully, at PVAMU CAHS.

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More photos from the REAP 2014 event can be found at the CAHS Facebook and Instagram pages

By Jakari Bates

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Cooperative Extension Program welcomes Mart High School students to the real world

June 2, 2014

McLennan County’s Cooperative Extension Program and Mart High School, in Mart, Texas, conducted the Welcome to the Real World! financial literacy simulation. Sixty-eight high school juniors and seniors explored hands-on budgeting choices, as well as, career and lifestyle options.

Prior to the simulation, students assumed the role of single, 25-year old independent adults with no financial support from friends and family members, that had attained the basic educational requirements for their career of choice. After choosing a career, the students had their taxes, savings and student loan repayments deducted from the income, and students used the remaining income to determine their monthly budget and lifestyle choices. Even before the simulation some students were reconsidering their career choices.

“I thought I wanted to be a child care worker but I don’t know how I would pay my bills. I am thinking about a Plan B job choice,” said a Mart High School junior.

Mart High School housing seminar

Using their monthly budget students visited different stations that represented items on their monthly budget. More than 15 volunteers assisted students as they decided how to pay for housing, utilities, transportation, entertainment, groceries, insurance and clothing. Students also had the option of visiting a station to donate to charity. If they overspent their budget, a financial assistance station helped students with their budget for a $50 overdraft fee, per visit. The Reality Wheel station was used to represent unexpected life situations where students could lose or gain as much $250 from the wheel.

Community volunteers who manned the stations included a city council member, firefighter, local business executive, parole officer, pharmacy technician, grandparent, two parents and Mart Independent School District staff. Missy Canet, a Mart High School parent and Groesbeck High School counselor managed the Groceries station and was impressed by the simulation.

“The kids seemed genuinely interested and engaged in the program. I’m interested in doing this activity at Groesbeck High School next fall,” she said.

Mart Firefighter Phillip Burnett, who managed the Entertainment station also saw the students’ high level of engagement in the simulation.

“I witnessed several your adults realize the struggle of what their guardians go through to help raised them. This was a great exercise for young people to take a look in the ‘Real’ world,” said Burnett.

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service‘s Central Program Leader, Dana Tarter agreed. In her visit she mentioned, “the students I observed at the Mart High School event took the simulation to heart, they were engaged and worked diligently to make the best decisions and spend their money wisely.  I believe it was a real eye opening activity for some.”

On concluding the simulation, students and volunteers were able to reflect on their experience during a wrap-up session. Volunteers which included Ginger Rainey, a grandparent who managed the Reality Wheel station, advised students to watch their transactions and make sure they equaled out to their budget and account activities. Students also expressed their thankfulness. A Mart High School senior commented, “I believe this was an eye opener and a good way to show us how to manage our money.”


By Meilana A. Charles,
Extension Agent, Family and Consumer Sciences
Cooperative Extension Program

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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

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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

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Organic Facts

Wall Street Journal

Choose My Plate


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

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Nutrition and Allergies: Keeping Bailey and Baby

February 5, 2014
Bailey and Baby

Say Hi to Bailey and Baby!

I have suffered from allergies since I was an adolescent and am completely allergic to animals; especially cats even though we have had cats, dogs, rabbits, and birds in my house as far back as I can remember. I don’t remember too many things helping me with my sneezing attacks (which typically lead to Asthma attacks) aside from a hot face cloth and some tea or a nice dose of an antihistamine and a few pumps from my inhaler.

At some point my mother thought it would be best to simply pay for me to receive allergy immunotherapy which involved a series of shots over an entire year. The shots were administered weekly and then less frequent as the time progressed and by the end of the year I was able to be around cats and dogs without problems. According to the American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI), “occasionally doctors give cortisone-type shots that can temporarily reduce allergy symptoms. These types of shots are different and should not be confused with allergy immunotherapy injections” (para. 3). But receiving this therapy takes time, patience, and of course, MONEY.

As the proud owner of two new kittens (Baby and Bailey); I thought I would be okay due to the allergy immunotherapy treatment, however the allergies are kicking in strong. Trying to find a way to co-exist with my two new family members tends to leave me exhausted, congested, and unable to breathe. This past weekend I felt so terrible that I almost consumed and entire bottle of orange juice over a two day period, after which ironically I felt a little better. So of course that peaked my curiosity… can orange juice help to reduce allergy symptoms?

The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America suggests that: avoiding your allergens, vacuuming, and staying away from humid climate will help prevent your allergies from being triggered.  However, according to Providence Life Services, “…the right foods can help you minimize your body’s response to allergens” (para. 2). The AAAAI also supports the idea that your diet can have an impact on your allergy symptoms. Here are some foods to consider:

  • Onions, apples, citrus fruits, and broccoli contain quercetin, a bioflavonoid that can inhibit the body’s release of histamines, reducing allergic reactions.
  • Salmon, flaxseed oil, walnuts, pecans, and hempseeds contain omega-3 fatty acids, and there is evidence to suggest that omega-3s can help reduce inflammation of air passages.
  • Water — staying hydrated will thin mucus while hydrating your mucous membranes.
  • Fruit and fruit juices (as long as they are not loaded with high-fructose corn syrup) are rich in antioxidants that can reduce inflammation. Berries are particularly rich in antioxidants.
  • Spinach, sunflower seeds, pinto beans, and artichokes are high in magnesium. Some studies have linked a lack of magnesium to asthma. Adding magnesium to your diet may ward off asthma symptoms by relaxing the muscles around the bronchial tubes. (list provided by the Providence Life Services).

So, the answer is yes! Drink lots of orange juice without the high fructose corn syrup. You may also want to consider increasing your exercise to strengthen your immune system, and avoiding the excessive use of  alcohol and tobacco. indicates that excessive consumption of alcohol and tobacco can increase the release of histamine. Now I know what to do to keep Bailey and Baby and stay healthy. Check out these websites for more information about Nutrition and Allergies.


Providence Life Services
Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America

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

Visit us online at

CEP-FCS Participates In Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week

January 21, 2014

Did You Know It’s Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week?


Ready for tax season? If you haven’t heard about tax identity theft, you may not be. This week is Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week. Tax identity theft happens when someone files a phony tax return using your personal information — like your Social Security number — to get a tax refund from the IRS. It also can happen when someone uses your Social Security number to get a job or claims your child as a dependent on a tax return. Tax identity theft is the most common form of identity theft reported to the Federal Trade Commission. The IRS says tax identity theft is a top priority and says it has hired new staff, explored new technologies, and adopted new procedures to fight it. “Tax identity theft is a significant and growing issue,” said Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “It’s critical that we make sure consumers are aware of how they can prevent it, and if they are victimized, what steps they can take to recover as quickly as possible.”

Tax identity thieves get your personal information in a number of ways. For example:

  • Someone goes through your trash or steals mail from your home or car
  • Imposters send phony emails that look like they’re from the IRS and ask for personal information
  • Employees at hospitals, nursing homes, banks, and other businesses steal your information
  • Phony or dishonest tax preparers misuse their clients’ information or pass it along to identity thieves

So what can you do about it? To lessen the chance you’ll be a victim:

  • File your tax return early in the tax season, if you can, before identity thieves do.
  • Use a secure internet connection if you file electronically, or mail your tax return directly from the post office. Don’t use unsecure, publicly available Wi-Fi hotspots at places like coffee shops or a hotel lobby.
  • Shred copies of your tax return, drafts, or calculation sheets you no longer need.
  • Respond to all mail from the IRS as soon as possible.
  • Know the IRS won’t contact you by email, text, or social media. If the IRS needs information, it will contact you by mail.
  • Don’t give out your Social Security number (SSN) or Medicare number unless necessary. Ask why it’s needed, how it’s going to be used, and how it will be stored.
  • Get recommendations and research a tax preparer thoroughly before you hand over personal information.
  • If your SSN has been compromised, contact the IRS ID Theft Protection Specialized Unit at 1-800-908-4490.
  • Check your credit report at least once a year for free at to make sure no other accounts have been opened in your name.

What if you are a victim? Tax identity theft victims typically find out about the crime when they get a letter from the IRS saying that more than one tax return was filed in the their name, or IRS records show they received wages from an employer they don’t know. If you get a letter like this, don’t panic. Contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 1-800-908-4490.

More information about tax identity theft is available from the FTC at and the IRS at

Sabrina Simon By Sabrina Simon,
Program Specialist, Family Relationships
Cooperative Extension Program

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