UNL Extension in Webster County

April 2023 Edition Newsletter

Happy April!

Welcome to the Webster County Extension Newsletter! This newsletter contains information regarding upcoming programming in all areas of Nebraska Extension. This will be separate from the Webster County 4-H Newsletter to provide information to clientele interested in extension programming outside of 4-H. We hope this is convenient way to keep everyone in the loop on upcoming opportunities in Nebraska Extension. We hope you enjoy this newsletter!


The Webster County Extension Staff

Radon Kits

We have partnered with South Heartland Health District and we have Radon Kits available at the office! Stop by and grab yours for $8. Protect your home and health!
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BeefWatch Podcast of the Month

The BeefWatch Podcast is an audio companion to the UNL BeefWatch newsletter. It provides the same timely information as the newsletter, just in a downloadable audio form. Information is geared to helping beef cattle producers improve the sustainability and profitability of their operations.

As a busy rancher, you have limited time to spend reading. You often have time available to listen while in the pickup or tractor cab. The BeefWatch Podcast brings you the information you need in a format you can use.

Check out the podcasts here https://blubrry.com/unlbeefwatch/

Understanding Scours

Understanding Scours

Dr. Halden Clark, Assistant Professor of Practice & Health Stewardship Veterinarian, GPVEC

Dr. Lindsay Waechter-Mead, Nebraska Livestock Systems Educator

Neonatal calf diarrhea, or scours, is a common concern among cow-calf producers. Understanding why scours occurs is the first step in preventing the problem. Calf scours outbreaks are the result of a contaminated calving and nursing environment. This environmental contamination develops following a period of pathogen (germ) buildup, or amplification. Cows shed relatively small amounts of these bacteria and viruses into the environment often without showing any clinical symptoms. Other scours-causing pathogens, such as coccidia, can persist in the environment year after year. As calves are born, they are exposed to these pathogens and begin the cycle of replication and shedding of disease potentials. They shed many times more germs than they were originally exposed to, which is why we call this “amplification.” The first calves born may not show clinical symptoms of scours because the pathogen load may not be high enough to overwhelm the immune system. However, as more calves are born and stocking density increases, the pathogen load can become too much. This is when a scours outbreak occurs.

Reducing the risk of scours can be accomplished by addressing different areas of management. One way to do this is by following the Sandhills Calving Method, or a modified version of it. The concept is to place calves into similar age groups, calving on clean environments with each group. Ideally, calves should be within 10-14 days of age in each calving area. Late gestation cows will then be moved away from new babies to calve in a fresh environment and begin another age group, and so on. This will allow reduction of pathogen shedding and exposure dose. The original concept can be modified to fit most operations by having an idea of calving dates and a little creativity.

Limiting stress during calving is another preventative measure. One example of stress includes weather concerns. Having a place for calves to get out of storms and mud may help. This can be accomplished by utilizing shelters or creating a calf escape area by adding a hot wire in the corner of the lot where calves can freely enter but cows remain outside the space. Shelters can become sources of contamination if left unclean and wet. Because ventilation and sunshine are vital factors in keeping calves healthy, moving shelters or utilizing open air concepts have been shown to be beneficial.

Testing is necessary to get a final diagnosis on what pathogens are causing problems and often the condition contains two or more species of bacteria, viruses, or protozoa. Age of calf is helpful in knowing what may be causing the problem as each pathogen affects calves at different time frames. Understanding crucial management areas and establishing prevention protocols with your veterinarian are essential for your operation’s calf health plan.

Crops & Water Systems

Updated Land Values, Cash Rents in New Real Estate Reports

The Nebraska Farm Real Estate Survey’s 2023 preliminary report was published with updated land values and cash rental rates. Land is up 14% across the state compared to the prior year. The full results are published on the Center for Agricultural Profitability’s website at https://cap.unl.edu/realestate.

There is also a new Cornhusker Economics article that offers additional analysis: https://agecon.unl.edu/nebraska-farmland-values-and-cash-rental-rates-2023.

Trends in land values and rental rates will be covered, along with other land management and leasing issues, in a couple of virtual workshops: https://cap.unl.edu/land23.

Community Environment/Horticulture

Cultivar, Variety, Hybrid

So many decisions, so little time. Seed catalogues are appearing in mailboxes by the dozens. What to select? Red or yellow? Determinate or indeterminate? Hybrid, variety, cultivar, or heirloom? What do these terms mean? Knowing the difference between hybrid, variety, cultivar, and heirlooms will help to decide what selection works best for you.

There are many choices when it comes to what you put into your garden. The vegetables you select for the garden are there because you or someone in the family likes them, but they should have specific characteristics that make it valuable to have them there in the first place. You should look beyond the bottom dollar price and make your decisions based upon several characteristics.

Variety, cultivar, hybrid, heirloom… what do all of these terms mean? The terms variety and cultivar are often mistakenly used interchangeably. Variety is a naturally occurring variation of individual plants within a species. The distinguishing characteristics are reproducible in offspring. One common example is the thornless honeylocust, Gleditsia triacanthos var. inermus. It is a naturally occurring thornless honeylocust.

Cultivar comes from the term ‘cultivated variety.’ These plants are selected through specific hybridization, plant selection, or mutation, to achieve specific characteristics or traits. An example of a cultivar is Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ or Husker Red penstemon. ‘Husker Red’ was a particular selection of penstemon that was picked for its red foliage and white blooms.

Hybrids are crosses between two species or distinct parent lines and can be developed from a series of crosses between parents. Seeds saved from hybrids usually don’t ‘come true from seed’ meaning seeds saved and planted from hybrids won’t yield the exact same fruit as the year before. One of my favorite tomatoes, ‘Sungold,’ is an example of a hybrid. These plants were specifically bred for their size, color, crack and disease resistance.

Lastly there are the heirlooms. These plants are varieties that are the result of natural selection that has been in cultivation for 50 years or more. Seeds saved from heirloom varieties will ‘come true from seed’ and you will have the same plant as the previous year. One of the more popular heirloom tomatoes is the Brandywine. Often these plants may have the best flavor, but they often lack the disease resistance that the hybrids offer.

Why do hybrids often cost more than varieties? The major reason for the price difference between hybrids and standard varieties all comes down to time. The higher price is related to the amount of time that it takes to produce new hybrids. The carefully selected parent plants must be cross-pollinated by hand to produce offspring with the desirable characteristics. Then the seeds from those crosses have to be grown out and the plants have to then be evaluated to ensure that the resulting plants have the right combination of characteristics. The breeder then has to produce enough seeds to sell to meet the demand. Open-pollinated varieties are planted in a field and then Mother Nature does the work moving the pollen around. The fruits are then harvested and the seeds are collected.

Your expectations of the plants can help you decide which type of plant to select. Gardeners who want to harvest seeds from this years’ garden to plant next year, might want to stick with open pollinated varieties or heirlooms. Hybrids offer improved disease resistance and are more adapted to environmental stresses. If you buy fresh seed every year and you want the most productive, least problem prone garden, hybrids are probably the way to go.

With a little research up front, you can select the best plant for your garden and your gardening goals.

Elizabeth Exstrom is the Horticulture Extension Educator with Nebraska Extension in Hall County. For more information contact Elizabeth at elizabeth.exstrom@unl.edu, her blog at http://huskerhort.com/, or HuskerHort on Facebook and Twitter.

Rural Prosperity

Extension Connectying to University

You may have seen recent press about Nebraska Extension and The Big 3. This is our new strategic direction which can be boiled down to three ambitions, which we are calling, “The Big 3”. The Big 3 are: Strengthen Nebraska Agriculture and Food Systems, Inspire Nebraskans & Their Communities, and Enhance the Health & Wellbeing of All Nebraskans. You can watch videos explaining our strategic direction here: https://extension.unl.edu/our-strategic-direction/.

In my Rural Prosperity Nebraska work, I mainly work in the Inspire Nebraskans & Their Communities realm, but community work touches all The Big 3. Speaking of being inspired, I recently attended the Amplify conference hosted by Nebraska Extension. This conference was held at the Nebraska Innovation Campus (https://nebraskainnovationcampus.com/). If you haven’t been there you might want to check it out. The campus is located on the former State Fair Grounds in Lincoln. There is a new hotel, The Scarlet, and a conference center as well as the Food Innovation Campus, the Greenhouse Innovation Center, the Innovation Advancement Suites, and the Nebraska Innovation Studio.

During the Amplify Conference I was able to do a tour of the Nebraska Innovation Campus. We didn’t get to see the whole thing because we decided to stay indoors due to the extremely cold weather. We toured the Innovation Advancement Suites which is business incubator space that can be rented by those with or without a connection to the University of Nebraska, although they do have specific spaces available to those with a connection. They have a lot of business support services if you have a business that is looking to expand. The building is built with moveable walls in some areas so you can start out with one employee and a desk, and as your company grows, they can just move a wall to give you more space.

I was more excited about the Nebraska Innovation Studio. It is a giant maker space. If you’re unfamiliar with that terminology, just imagine a giant garage with all of the tools you’ve ever dreamed about available to use. Not only does the space contain specialized tools like 3D printers, laser cutters for wood and metal, welding training tools, etc., it also has a wide selection of hand tools, clamps, drill presses, lathes and even a room for quilting and sewing and screen printing. Why is this so exciting? One, the cost, it is less than $100 per month to have a membership to the studio. If you’ve ever had to buy a new tool for a project…that you’ve used only that one time…then you realize the value. If you have an idea that you need to prototype for your business. The Nebraska Innovation Studio has the tools to build it, and they will also train you to use the equipment safely and properly. The membership includes the tools, but you’ll have to purchase your own materials. In just a few days or hours you could get your money’s worth out of that studio. Using their tools to build a jig or a hard to find machinery part could save you many hours and dollars.

Yes, you would have to go to Lincoln to benefit from Nebraska Innovation Studio, but if you could spend a week there and get several months’ worth of work done at a fraction of the cost it would be worth it. Part of the job of Nebraska Extension is to extend the work of the University out to the rest of the state of Nebraska. I think in this case, the Nebraska Innovation Campus is something that may be very valuable, even if you have to go to Lincoln to experience it.

If your community could benefit from any of the Rural Prosperity Nebraska ideas that I’ve discussed in this column, please reach out to me. I’d love to speak to your community about these topics. You can reach me at jason.tuller@unl.edu or at the Thayer County office at 402-768-7212.

Jason Tuller is an Extension Educator for the University of Nebraska – Lincoln. He works in the Rural Prosperity Nebraska program and covers ten-county area including Kearney, Adams, Clay, Fillmore, Saline, Franklin, Webster, Nuckolls, Thayer, and Jefferson Counties.

Early Childhood Extension


Music encourages activity and movement! Make up and record your own unique version of a song or write your own and share it! https://learningchildblog.wordpress.com/2022/11/01/creative-preschoolers/ #fitandhealthykids

Nutrition & Fitness

With the rise in childhood obesity, you can encourage healthy nutrition and fitness habits at home and in the classroom. Create your own healthy snacks and share the recipes and photos of your creations! Cooking together also builds skills in math, science, and literacy! https://food.unl.edu/article/family-fun-run/get-kids-kitchen #fitandhealthykids


Building materials are everywhere! Children can use tree branches for forts on the playground, block cities in the classroom, or even couch pillows at home for a hideaway. Build with your children and share pictures of their creations! https://learningchildblog.com/2020/11/01/3-teaching-strategies-for-supporting-childrens-tinkering-making-and-engineering-in-makerspaces/ #fitandhealthykids


On Artsy Thursday, celebrate the joy and learning children experience when engaged in creative art-making. Use any materials—from crayons to paint, clay to crafts! Create and share photos of your children’s creations! https://learningchildblog.com/2020/08/01/culturing-creativity/ #fitandhealthykids


Early Childhood professionals recognize family members’ role as young children’s first and most important teachers. Share pictures and stories about your family.
https://child.unl.edu/family-relationships​​ #fitandhealthykids


Learning in the Heartland is a program designed to bring books to life with virtual field trips! Children create garden markers and visit a greenhouse as they learn how to grow plants https://fitandhealthykids.unl.edu/learning-in-the-heartland #fitandhealthykids

Food, Nutrition, and Health


Celebrate #eggs this spring by adding them to your menu. They are a source of high-quality protein and a number of other nutrients, all for 70 calories per large egg. Check out our cooking tips and recipe ideas: https://food.unl.edu/tags/egg


Spring is upon us! Are you ready to celebrate the warmer weather? Check out our recipes, tips and resources for making this season fun, healthy, and active: https://food.unl.edu/spring-food-fitness

Colorectal Cancer

The American Cancer Society estimates there will be 950 new cases of colorectal cancer diagnosed in Nebraska in 2023. If you are 45 or older, or have a family history of #ColorectalCancer, talk to your doctor about getting screened. Learn more: http://bit.ly/3DqOMxX #FightBackNE #GetScreened #ColorectalCancerAwareness


Check out our Spring Physical Activity Bingo cards in English and Spanish to help keep your family moving this season: https://go.unl.edu/bingo-cards


Webster County 4-H Newsletter

Check out what's happening in Webster 4-H below!
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Nebraska Extension Spotlight- Meet Jason Tuller

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Regional Experts

Megan Burda

Engagement Zone 10 Coordinator

Megan is a Nebraska Extension Educator with a passion for fashion! She holds a Master of Arts degree in Textile and Apparel Design from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a specialization in entrepreneurship. Megan serves as an Engagement Zone Coordinator in Zone 10 with a focus on staff development, stakeholder connections, and UNL engagement. She is a maker, entrepreneur, Husker sports fan and baking enthusiast.

Photo and Bio from UNL Extension

Lynn DeVries

Early Childhood Extension Educator

Lynn is an Extension Educator on The Learning Child Team, University of Nebraska Extension in South Central Nebraska. Lynn has a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Nebraska Kearney in Vocational Family and Consumer Science Education, and a Master’s Degree in Curriculum and Instruction from Concordia University Nebraska. Lynn works with families, child care providers, teen parents and schools to promote developmentally appropriate practices and enhance parent involvement throughout the child’s education. Lynn has 11 years of experience teaching Family and Consumer Science in the public schools, and 10 years of experience coordinating programming and curriculum with the Head Start programs.

Photo and Bio from UNL Extension

Elizabeth Exstrom

Horticulture Extension Educator

I am Community Environment Extension Educator with a horticulture focus who works in the Nebraska Extension office in Hall County. I provide horticulture related programs for youth and adults, act as the Central Nebraska Master Gardener Coordinator, and answer horticulture-based related client questions. I am a Nebraska Arborist Association Certified Arborist and a member of the International Society of Arboriculture and Nebraska Nursery and Landscape Association. You might recognize me because I am regular panel member on NET's Backyard Farmer program and even filled in as host a few times. I received my Bachelor’s Degree in Horticulture with a landscape design emphasis and my Master’s Degree in Public Horticulture from the University of Nebraska—Lincoln.

Photo and Bio from UNL Extension

Ron Seymour

Crops & Water Systems Educator

Ron Seymour is a cropping systems Extension Educator with emphasis on corn and soybean production. Ron also works extensively in crop pest management with specific expertise in insect issues. Ron has an interest in developing areas that border field crops as habitat that promote populations of beneficial arthropods.

Photo & Bio from UNL Extension

Jason Tuller

Rural Prosperity Nebraska Extension Educator

Jason has been working in the economic development field in rural Nebraska for more than a decade. He has worked as a small business consultant and as a rural economic developer. His goal now is to help grow stronger communities in Southeast Nebraska and throughout the stat

Photo and Bio from UNL Extension

Cami Wells

Food, Nutrition, and Health Extension Educator

I am a Nutrition, Food and Health Educator and Registered Dietitian located in Hall County. Part of my time is allocated to the Nutrition Education Program (NEP) that provides nutrition education to limited-resource families in central Nebraska. I teach a variety of food safety and nutrition programs to adults and youth as well as serve on the media/marketing team that develops content for our food.unl.edu website. I graduated from University of Nebraska–Lincoln with a Bachelor’s degree in Nutritional Science and Dietetics and earned a Master’s degree in Nutrition and Health Sciences from Northern Illinois University.

Photo and Bio from UNL Extension

Meet Our Team in Webster County

Dr. Lindsay Waechter-Mead

Beef Systems Educator, DVM

Lindsay Waechter-Mead is the Beef Systems Educator in Webster County and serves surrounding counties in this region. She is excited to bring her interests surrounding cow/calf health and preventative medicine to the Beef Team. Her current work involves looking at environmental effects on neonatal calf immunity and colostral transfer. She is also passionate about rural agriculture and what the veterinary profession can do to positively influence rural communities to ensure that generations can continue to enjoy the life that she loves.

Beth Janning

4-H Youth Development Extension Educator in Adams/Webster Counties

Beth Janning is a 4-H Youth Development Extension Educator. She provides programming in school enrichment, after-school, and traditional 4-H Programs. Her topic areas include but not limited to animal science, science, engineering and volunteer development.

Photo and Bio from UNL Extension

Alexa Pedersen

Office Manager

Alexa Pedersen is the Office Manager for the Webster County Extension Office. Alexa provides help in assisting clientele with questions that can be forwarded to a specific educator. She assists educators in programs that are put on in Webster County, such as pesticide training, and beef programs. She also provides knowledge in the 4-H world by helping families with any 4-H questions that come in. She is skillful in 4-H Online, ShoWorks, and helps prepare for 4-H programming, county fair, and state fair. Alexa is also a part of the 4-H Data Dream Team for Nebraska 4-H as well as the State Fair 4-H Beef Team.

Katie Bolte

4-H Programming Assistant

Katie Bolte is the 4-H Programming Assistant for the Webster County Extension Office. Katie is at the extension office on Mondays and Tuesdays. Katie provides programming in school enrichment, after-school programs, and 4-H workshops. She is knowledgeable when answering any 4-H questions that comes in and helps prepare for programs, county fair, and state fair.
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