College of ACES
College News

Workshops help landowners develop a property management plan

Published December 21, 2011
Small-acreage landowners will learn everything from stewardship practices to income opportunities during the Illinois Living on the Land 10-week course held Jan. 26 through March 29 on Thursdays from 6 to 9 p.m.

"The purpose of the course is to help people sustainably manage smaller-acreage properties from 1 acre to 50 acres," said University of Illinois Extension local foods and small farms educator Ellen Phillips. "Participants will gain a better understanding of how to manage their property from current landowners, local industry experts, agency professionals and U of I Extension educators teaching the course."

The session topics include inventorying resources; managing soil, pastures and lawns; living with streams and ponds; managing well and septic systems; controlling weeds; beginning a business using small acreages; and much more.

"This class is really helpful, especially if you are not from a farming background. It teaches you all kinds of things you should think about from where to put a well to what kinds of crops to grow based on your property's soil type. They have a little of everything," said Cindy Gustafson, a former Illinois Living on the Land participant.

The course will feature a farm tour and a "What We Wish We Knew" small acreage owner's panel. Participants will also develop a plan for their property using key information from the course. In addition, they will receive feedback, helpful resources and ongoing support.

"Before this course, we owned property, but we were just leasing the tillable acreage. Today, we sustainably farm more than four acres, sell produce at farmers markets, and run a hunting club," Gustafson said.

Four of the classes will be held at U of I Extension offices, including the Will Unit in Joliet, the Boone Unit in Belvidere, the Stephenson Unit in Freeport and the Sangamon Unit in Springfield. The remaining five classes will be taught through online webinars. The tour will be determined by each county.

A $200 registration fee is due by Jan. 23 for all 10 sessions, and additional family members may register for $100. This fee includes one handbook per family. You may also register for individual sessions featuring topics of interest for $30 per session. To register or get a brochure, go to

Participants will need a computer, Internet connection (or PowerPoint or PowerPoint Viewer) and a speakerphone to access the webinar classes.

For a complete listing of session topics, registration questions and additional information about the course or the equipment requirements, call the office where you wish to attend. For Boone County, call 815-544-3710; for Will County, call 815-727-9296; for Sangamon County, call 217-782-4617; and for Stephenson County, call 815-235-4125.

U of I offers online dairy courses

Published December 21, 2011
Applied knowledge, interaction with dairy professionals and a flexible schedule are three reasons why two online dairy courses will benefit students in the spring 2012 semester. The U of I is now offering Advanced Dairy Nutrition (ANSC 423) and Milk Quality and Mastitis (ANSC 435). Both will begin Jan. 23.

Advanced Dairy Nutrition will cover nutrient classes, phase feeding, dry cow feeding and health, and forages. The course will be coordinated by Mike Hutjens with collaboration from two instructors.

Milk Quality and Mastitis will cover all phases of lactation physiology, mastitis, immunity and nutrition, and health. This course will be coordinated by Dick Wallace with collaboration from two instructors.

Mike Hutjens, U of I professor emeritus of animal sciences, said these courses are certified by the U of I graduate school, allowing students to earn college credit at their respective university toward a graduate or undergraduate degree. Veterinarians and company personnel can earn continuing education credit for license certification or job related training. Dairy managers will find useful information that will return profits to their operation.

Lectures for the courses are recorded on a website with an Internet live class held during the 10 weeks of class on Monday from 6 to 7 p.m. CST (ANSC 423) and 8 to 9 p.m. (ANSC 435).

"These classes allow for students to study and attend on-line lectures with maximum time flexibility, without travel to campus and schedule conflicts," Hutjens said. "The course content is applied and can be used immediately by students."

To review the class schedule, topics and enrollment details visit


2012 Dairy Summit

10:00 AM - 3:00 PM
Highland Community College, Freeport, IL

Dairy managers, feed companies, veterinarians and others interested in the dairy industry are invited to attend one of the 2012 Dairy Summits, sponsored by the Illinois Milk Producers Association. These meetings will provide an update on dairy management and economics in Illinois.


2012 Dairy Summit

10:00 AM - 3:00 PM
Farm Bureau Building, Bloomington, IL

Dairy managers, feed companies, veterinarians and others interested in the dairy industry are invited to attend one of the 2012 Dairy Summits, sponsored by the Illinois Milk Producers Association. These meetings will provide an update on dairy management and economics in Illinois.


2012 Dairy Summit

10:00 AM - 3:00 PM
Kaskaskia Community College, Centralia, IL

Dairy managers, feed companies, veterinarians and others interested in the dairy industry are invited to attend one of the 2012 Dairy Summits, sponsored by the Illinois Milk Producers Association. These meetings will provide an update on dairy management and economics in Illinois.


UI Livestock & Meats Judging Teams Reunion

5:15 PM - 8:15 PM
Hawthorn Suites, Champaign, IL

Reception begins at 5:15 p.m., followed by dinner and a program.

Don't worry, be savvy: Farm savvy risk management

Published December 20, 2011
A webinar series addressing risk management will be held on Jan. 23, Jan. 30, Feb. 6, and Feb. 13, 2012. Co- sponsored by the Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance Foundation and University of Illinois Extension, this series of four webinars will provide a comprehensive look at methods of evaluating, managing, and reducing risk on small farms. They will help farmers to ensure their success by identifying, assessing, and addressing the risks that threaten their farms. In-person workshops will be offered in the spring to follow up on the materials presented in the webinar series and to address farmers' specific issues related to compiling a comprehensive risk management plan.

You can attend one or all of the sessions listed below.

Jan. 23 "Risk Management Basics"

Learn how to evaluate your capacity for taking risks, and obtain information about the various types of insurance available to manage your particular risks.

Jan. 30 "Risk Management in Production and Marketing"

Learn about how to manage risk using production and marketing practices.

Feb. 6 "Financial Risk Management"

Learn about business and financial risk management practices, such as choosing the correct business entity and effective business planning.

Feb. 13 "Managing Human Risk"

Learn about human risk, focusing on contingency and estate planning and other personnel risks.

The webinars will be held from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. at 12 locations around the state. There is no fee for the programs. Visit for a complete list of locations and to register.

You may also attend the webinar from your home. You will need to have a computer with high-speed Internet access and a way to listen to the presentation (headsets are best, but speakers will work). After you register, you will receive instructions and a link for the webinar.

If you have any questions or would like more information, please email the contact person in your Extension Office. If your office is not listed, please contact Deborah Cavanaugh-Grant at

Wanted: 300 Pugs to Help Find Answers to Perplexing Eye Problem

Published December 19, 2011
An archive of Pet Columns from the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine is available online at Requests for reprints of this article may be directed to Chris Beuoy,

With their round faces and sorrowful gaze, pugs capture the hearts of many. Luckily for pugs, one such enthusiast is setting out to make a major contribution to pug health, and she's seeking assistance from 300 of these little charmers as she tackles the first phase of her work.

Dr. Amber Labelle, a veterinary ophthalmologist at the University of Illinois Veterinary Teaching Hospital in Urbana, says she is "owned by a five-year-old pug named Dexter."

She also says "most of the pugs we see at our hospital are afflicted with pigmentary keratitis, a condition in which a brown pigment forms on the surface of the cornea, the normally clear surface of the eye that allows light to enter the eye."

This disease can eventually cause blindness, if the pigmentation completely blocks light from entering the eye. The "keratitis" part of pigmentary keratitis refers to inflammation of the cornea, another aspect of this disease, which creates discomfort in the eyes of these animals.

Unfortunately, very little is known about pigmentary keratitis. "There was one academic paper published on pigmentation of the cornea in 1966, and that's it," says Dr. Labelle. "This is why there is such a huge need to learn more about the disease."

Clinical examination of affected pugs has shown that the pigment often begins to develop at the inner corner of the dog's eye, and slowly spreads closer to the center of the cornea. The amount of pigment in the cornea can be minimal or can block the entire cornea. Once pigment has settled into the cells of the cornea, there is no treatment that will completely reverse the effects.

Current treatment is aimed at preventing the spread of pigment across the surface of the eye using one of two prescription eye drops: cyclosporine A and tacrolimus. These two medications are commonly used for other eye diseases because they change the way the immune system behaves on the surface of the eye. However, it is not known why these medications are effective against pigmentary keratitis.

"In most cases, these medications are fairly effective at preventing the spread of pigment, but they must be used daily for the rest of the dog's life," Dr. Labelle says.

Pugs also tend to have other eye abnormalities, such as abnormally positioned eyelids or eyelids that do not close completely, which may lead to irritation of the cornea. These issues are suspected to contribute to the progression of pigmentary keratitis, so Dr. Labelle recommends treating those problems as well to decrease the severity of the disease. One way to prevent this irritation is to perform a surgical procedure that corrects the way the eyelids sit on the surface of the eye, decreasing the amount of irritation that the eyelid causes.

"My goal is to put a stop to pigmentary keratitis," says Dr. Labelle. Over the next few months, she will examine the eyes of 300 pugs as part of a study of the disease. Each dog will have every aspect of its eyes inspected, ranging from the shape of the head to detailed examination of the surface of the eye. The results of those examinations will be analyzed to determine possible risk factors for pigmentary keratitis.

If you have a pug and would like to participate in the project, you can schedule an appointment to meet Dr. Labelle at the Milwaukee Pug Fest in May 2012. For more information on pigmentary keratitis and Dr. Labelle's study, visit the "Pigmentary Keratitis in Pugs" blog:

Much work lies ahead to save the vision of pugs affected by pigmentary keratitis, and Dr. Labelle is determined to achieve that goal. Meanwhile, pug owners should know that early detection and treatment are essential to prevent the progression of this blinding disease.

An archive of Pet Columns from the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine is available online at Requests for reprints of this article may be directed to Chris Beuoy,

Veterinary Extension/Office of Public Engagement
University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine

Enhance your relationships by taking care of yourself

Published December 19, 2011
URBANA - Whether you make resolutions or not, the beginning of a new year is a good time to focus on setting goals, said Rachel Schwarzendruber, a University of Illinois Extension family life educator.

"This year resolve to take better care of yourself," she said. "When you adopt positive mental and physical health practices, it's easier to care, share, and connect with others."

Sometimes we are so busy that we overlook the impact our long to-do lists have on us, she noted.

Here are some habits that don't require extra time yet move you toward taking better care of yourself while building relationships with others.

• Develop the habit of optimism. Individuals who are optimistic believe that when a bad event happens to them, it probably won't happen again and it has nothing to do with other areas of their lives, making them more resistant to depression. Optimism can be learned. Develop the habit of optimism by beginning and ending each day with a positive statement.

• Be flexible. Look for alternative ways of thinking about stressful situations. Be open to new experiences.

• Have realistic expectations. Know what you can control and don't spend time worrying about what you cannot control.

• Discontinue the use of words such as "should have," "if only," and "someday." Enjoy the moment rather than feeling guilty about the past or worrying about the future.

• Schedule time for fun with people who are important to you. Don't leave those enjoyable shared moments to chance. Plan for them.

• Develop healthy sleep habits. Relax with techniques such as imagery, reading a book, or meditating. When it is difficult to go to sleep, it's helpful to get up and do something else to relax. Then, when you are sleepy, go back to bed.

• Exercise with friends or family. This combination pays off in two ways. You can build a supportive relationship and also gain the physical benefits of exercise.

Taking care of yourself doesn't require time away from other important tasks nor does it require time away from significant people in your life, she said.

"Taking care of yourself does involve making choices that contribute to positive well-being so that you have the capacity to care for others," she noted.


Soil and water CCA credits offered at Illinois Tillage Seminars

Published December 15, 2011
Certified Crop Advisors needing CEU credits are encouraged to attend one of three Illinois Tillage Seminars focused on conservation tillage and agronomic stewardship from 8:50 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Jan. 23 in Mt. Vernon, Jan. 24 in Springfield, and Jan. 25 in Utica. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. Five CEUs in soil and water management will be available at Springfield and Utica. The Mt. Vernon location will offer four soil and water units and one unit in integrated pest management.

National-recognized and state-recognized agronomists, environmental leaders and researchers will be featured speakers at these seminars. Speakers and topics have been chosen specifically for each area. The seminars will also include producer panels discussing tillage management. In Springfield and Utica, topics will include "Nutrient Placement in Strip Till" by University of Illinois associate professor Fabian Fernandez, "Keep it for the Crop 2025 Program" by Jean Payne, president at the Illinois Fertilizer & Chemical Association, and "How to Make Soil Smoke!" by resource soil scientist Frank Gibbs.

In addition, learn about cover crops and no-till from Mike Plumer, a retired University of Illinois Extension natural resources educator and researcher. Discover post emergent nitrogen options from GROWMARK manager of agronomy services Howard Brown and drainage water management options from Richard Cooke, an associate professor at the U of I Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering.

The Mount Vernon seminar will also feature Gibbs, Payne, Plumer, and Brown, but Fabian Fernandez will discuss "Nutrient Placement on Karst and Sodic Soils" and Southern Illinois University weed scientist Brian Young will discuss Palmer Amaranth.

A $25 pre-registration fee is due by Jan. 18. Seating is limited so registration will be taken on a first-come, first-served basis. Register online at or send your name, check and seminar location to the Champaign County Soil & Water Conservation District at 2110 West Park Court, Suite C. in Champaign.

If special accommodations are needed to attend, contact Joe Bybee at Agri-businesses interested in exhibit space should contact Marty McManus in the Illinois Department of Agriculture at

The seminars are co-sponsored by the Association of Illinois Soil and Water Conservation Districts, Natural Resource Conservation Service, the Illinois Department of Agriculture, University of Illinois Extension, Farm Credit Services, and the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency.

For more information, go to or call 217-352-3536.