UNL Extension Webster County

April 2022 Newsleter

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
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UNL Extension in Webster County Calendar of Events

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Tailgate Talks - Dr. Lindsay Waechter-Mead

Check out what our Beef Educator, Dr. Lindsay Waechter-Mead, has to share about calving season and colostrum management in the video above.

How Valu-Bull are Breeding Soundness Exams?

We may be finishing the calving season, but it is never too early to be thinking about the breeding season. With the breeding season comes getting those bulls scheduled for their breeding soundness exam (BSE) and ensuring your bull battery are satisfactory breeders.

Breeding Soundness Exam

The American Society for Theriogenology has developed minimum guidelines for a bull to be classified as a satisfactory breeder. A veterinarian will evaluate the bull on the following criteria: a physical examination, scrotal circumference measurement, and evaluate semen quality for motility and morphology. To successfully complete a BSE, a bull must have at least 30% progressive motility (does the individual sperm move in a forward progression), 70% normal sperm morphology (are there any problems with sperm formation), and a minimum scrotal circumference based on age. If a bull does not meet the minimum requirements, he is either classified as deferred (meaning it is recommended that the bull be evaluated again) or as an unsatisfactory potential breeder.

The scrotal circumference tells us the testicular mass. As it increases, so does the daily production of high-quality sperm. Scrotal circumference is also an important measure because it is directly related to the onset of puberty in the bull and his female offspring.

The physical exam is an important part of a BSE. Bulls should be athletic, with sound legs and feet, excellent eyesight and in adequate body condition. The demands of breeding season are extreme, and bulls need to be able to maintain condition throughout the entire season.

Want to read more of this article? Check it out here: https://beef.unl.edu/beefwatch/2022/how-valu-bull-are-breeding-soundness-exams

*Article written by Kacie McCarthy & Lindsay Waechter-Mead

*Photo Credit Troy Walz

UNL Beef Extension

Want to see what is new in the UNL Beef Extension world? Check it out by clicking on the button below.

Crops & Water Systems

Private Pesticide Training

Miss the in-person trainings and still need to take your PSEP training? No worries! You may also re-certify by completing an online course found at http://pested.unl.edu or taking an exam at the NDA office in Lincoln. The cost for the online course is $50.00. Exams, provided at no cost, must be scheduled by calling NDA at 402-471-2351.

UNL Crop Watch

Want to see what is new in the UNL Crops world? Check it out by clicking on the button below.

Community Environment/Horticulture


The temperatures this year have been a rollercoaster. In a matter of a week, we went from higher than average temperatures to subzero temperatures. That type of temperature fluctuation is not only hard on us; it is also hard on our landscapes and those that live in it.

While the snow was on the ground, pesky critters were at work. Rabbits have been hard at work munching on your landscape plants during the winter. Rabbits will feed on pencil sized branches and will leave a clean 45-degree angle cut. They can also strip the bark from around the base of trees and shrubs as high as 3 feet tall. Cottontails may be cute, but if there is heavy enough feeding, they can cause some serious damage. Fencing the plants that are the most munched by rabbits will keep them from becoming lunch. Be sure to bury the fence at least 1 foot in the ground and have it stand at least 2 feet tall to help prevent feeding damage.

Oh deer. These ‘large rabbits’ also feed on vegetation. Compared to rabbit damage, deer browsing results in torn or jagged edges of twigs. Deer damage can occur from ground height up to 6 feet tall. Deer can also cause other damage to plant material in the landscape. Male deer antlers develop with a velvet-like coating that must be rubbed off before fall. ‘Buck rub’ damage is common on smaller diameter trees. The rubbing of the deer’s antlers against the tree can remove the bark and outer most water moving vessels of the tree. If severe enough, it can remove all the bark from the tree and eventually kill it. Be on the lookout for the telltale signs of deer activity and consider excluding or putting protective fencing around prized plants.

Voles are a little harder to spot in the winter. Voles are small creatures that look like a short-tailed mouse. They make runways between the turf and the snow cover that are about 1-2 inches wide. Once the snow is melted it looks like a tiny maze of runways zigzagging between plant material. In the areas of the runways, the turf will be nipped off close to the crown of the plant. Normally, the turf will repair itself in the spring and the damage isn’t permanent. If the feeding is excessive, the turf can be over seeded in those areas. Voles can also eat away at the green inner bark of trees and shrubs just like rabbits. If the feeding damage is great enough, it can kill young trees and shrubs. If severe damage is noticed, allow the wound to remain open to the elements and breathe. Avoid covering the damaged areas with tree wraps or wound dressings and paints. Voles also steal bulbs from the ground and eat them. If your prized tulip doesn’t come up this spring, blame the voles.

What’s black with white stripes and is a stinker? You guessed it, the skunk. The well-known smell is enough to warn any passerby of its presence. Skunks are active from dusk until dawn and feed on a wide range of insects. Skunks can cause damage to turf while digging for their next meal. Since they don’t feed on landscape plants, why do you need to know about skunks now? We are in the prime mating season of the skunk. Males will travel up to 5 miles in search of females, many times over our lovely highways or through landscapes.

Some critters have been busy this winter munching and snacking. Check your landscape plants to see if there is any damage left behind from these critters and try to steer clear of our little smelly friends, their mating season will soon be over.

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.


Spring is here and you know what that means… it’s asparagus season. Asparagus is the favorite perennial vegetable. If you happen to be one that loves this vegetable, you can grow it yourself with a little know how.

Asparagus is a unique plant. It was once classified in the Lily family, but has been split out into its own family, Asparagaceae. This perennial plant is dioecious, which means it has separate male and female plants. The sex of the plant is important when you start choosing hybrids. The male asparagus varieties will produce more spears than the female varieties. Some of the more common hybrids include ‘Jersey Giant,’ Jersey Supreme,’ ‘Jersery Knight,’ and my favorite ‘Purple Passion.’ If you have an older female hybrid that gets red berries (seeds), it is probably a ‘Martha Washington.’

The location is just as important as the type of asparagus that you plant. The plants require a site that receives full sun, at least 6-8 hours of sunlight, and has good quality, well-drained soil. Asparagus does not do well in heavy clay or soggy soils. In less-than-ideal conditions, asparagus may still produce, but it won’t be as prolific.

Planting your own asparagus bed will ensure you will have a constant supply. Seeds and crowns are a couple of options when it comes to purchasing asparagus. As soon as the soil can be worked in the spring, the asparagus can be planted. Planting seeds will require more time until you can harvest compared to using crowns. Seeds will need to be planted indoors then transplanted into the location. Crowns should be planted 12-18” apart in a trench 4-6” deep, but only covered with one inch of soil. Once the crowns start to grow and emerge through the soil, cover with an additional soil a little at a time. Throughout the summer, gradually cover the plants with a little soil as they emerge until the furrow is filled. Once planted, water thoroughly and be sure to water throughout the season. Water stressed plants are more susceptible to insects, disease, and weed pressures and drought stress can even influence next years’ yields.

The next step requires a little patience on your part. For the long-term success of the patch, a newly planted asparagus patch should not be picked in the first year of establishment. It might be tough, but you want the asparagus to put all of its energy into producing a good root system instead of those yummy spears. Allow the plant to produce its fern-like foliage and let them stand throughout the rest of the growing season. The following year, year two, you can harvest lightly for about a 2 week period then allow the spears to turn to ferns. Finally, in year three you can harvest spears normally, stopping harvest when the spears become woody and tough.

To ensuring a successful asparagus patch for years to come, allow the patch to ‘fern-out’ and stand at the end of the season. This allows the plant to produce food and store it its crown, ensuring a good crop next year and for years to come. Once the foliage turns yellow in the fall, it can be cut back if desired or allowed to stand for winter interest then be cut back early the following spring before spears emerge.

Contrary to popular belief, salt is not the best option for controlling weeds in asparagus. Asparagus has a deep root system and is somewhat salt tolerant. When salt was applied to the asparagus patch, the shallow rooted weeds die, and the asparagus would appear to be unharmed. This is not a recommended method of controlling weeds in the asparagus patch. Salt damages the soil structure and it can also create a crust that doesn’t allow water to be absorbed. Do not use salt or apply salt water to your asparagus beds for weed control.

With a little know how and patience too, you can grow scrumptious spears for years to come.

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


My name is Jason Tuller, and I am a University of Nebraska – Lincoln Extension Educator. I work in the Rural Prosperity Nebraska program. I have a ten-county area that I am responsible for, those counties include Kearney, Adams, Clay, Fillmore, Saline, Franklin, Webster, Nuckolls, Thayer, and Jefferson. This month I’ll talk about Housing.

During my community visits one topic seems to come up more often than others. That is the topic of a lack of housing in the community. It has been a hot topic in Nebraska’s economic development circles for decades. So far, no one has come up with a silver bullet to fix housing in Nebraska. There are many different approaches that have been successfully tried. In this column we can look at several different strategies.

One of the first strategies is to fill empty houses. This might sound too simple, but it is one of the fastest ways to find extra housing in your community. In most communities there are houses that are not occupied. They may be owned by a family who has moved away, they are part of an estate, or maybe they just aren’t on the market. You can work with the county assessor or their GIS website to find the owner of record. Send them a letter mentioning the tight housing market and asking them if they would consider selling their property. Even if you only get one house to sell, it is one more available house in your community. In addition, maybe there is a closed hotel or nursing home that could be repurposed as apartments in your community.

A longer-term strategy is an Owner-Occupied Rehabilitation program. These programs are usually funded through highly competitive grants from the state. The idea here is to rehabilitate housing up to the grant’s standard so that these houses are available well into the future. We have all seen houses that become more and more damaged through the years. These grants can help repair the damage and preserve the house for future generations. Most housing grants in Nebraska are given to governmental entities and are not available to the general public. For example, your community could get an OOR grant, then from there they offer that to their citizens.

In-fill housing development is another strategy. I see quite a bit of that development happening in Hebron. There are empty lots scattered through the town and a couple of construction firms buy those lots and build spec homes on the lots. They then sell those homes. In-fill housing takes advantage of already existing infrastructure in the community. They don’t have the costs of running new water/sewer/electric/gas lines to the new home.

A new housing development is another way that communities work on their housing issues. This is the most expensive housing strategy, and it is one that takes a long time. While I was the Community Development Director for the City of Imperial, we did a new housing development in our mixed-use development area. It took more than a million dollars of infrastructure investment to develop those lots. We were able to work with a developer to build more than 20 homes in that area, but in order to make it financially feasible the developer had to use multiple financing and grant programs to make it work. Unfortunately, large developers can make more money faster by building 100 homes in Omaha than they can by making 2 homes in a small community. Not to say that it can’t be done in your community…it is just difficult.

Housing isn’t a simple or easy fix. I just covered some of the main strategies in Nebraska. Every town has unique options and situations. Housing is a difficult problem in rural Nebraska. 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. You can reach me at jason.tuller@unl.edu or at the Thayer County office at 402-768-7212.

Food, Nutrition, and Health

Spring Recipes

Spring is officially here! Check out the following recipes, tips and resources for making this season fun, healthy, and active: https://food.unl.edu/spring-food-fitness
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Jelly Making

Many Nebraskans are excited at this time of the year to begin preparations to preserve the great flavors of the growing season at home. One must follow step-by-step instructions from approved, research tested recipes to assure they preserve a safe home canned product. The Nebraska food preservation team is happy to announce the first class in their virtual series: Jelly making LIVE! Register to participate in a live demonstration of making jelly. Our food preservation experts will be available to answer all of your questions! Watch the class from the comfort of your own home!

Freezer Tips

A simple quick-cooking technique is to make extra food at one meal and freeze for future meals. Or, to prepare food ahead and freeze for enjoying at a later time. One easy method of freezing foods is using freezer bags. We've got tips! https://go.unl.edu/freezer-bag-tips

The Learning Child

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Check out this amazing program for Pre-school teachers and childcare providers who care for 4-5year old’s.
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Foam Blocks

Children benefit from playing with blocks made with different types of material. Foam blocks can be soft and safe for children to use. Learn more about the benefits of children playing with foam blocks here: https://go.unl.edu/blockfoam

Unit Blocks

Unit blocks are a great STEM tool for children to learn size, measure, and build patterns. Learn more about unit blocks here.... https://go.unl.edu/blockunit


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Webster County 4-H April Newsletter

Check out what's happening in Webster County 4-H by clicking on the button below!
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An upcoming online training by Nebraska Extension will teach participants how to recognize and respond to potential signs of crisis and suicidal behavior.

Life can be stressful in the best of times. For Nebraskans, the last few years have been particularly challenging. The recent disasters and the pandemic have changed how we work, juggle family and finances, manage our health and the health of our loved ones. These challenges can contribute to being overwhelmed and increase one’s anxiety.

In response to addressing life’s uncertainty, Nebraska Extension will offer an online “Question. Persuade. Refer.” training. QPR is a suicide prevention program that teaches participants three steps to help save a life from suicide.

An individual who is trained in first aid, CPR or the Heimlich maneuver can help save lives. And people trained in QPR learn how to recognize the warning signs of a suicide crisis and how to question, persuade and refer someone to get help.

This 90-minute training will be held online, via Zoom, on April 12 at 10 a.m. Central time. There is no cost to attend the training, but registration is required at https://go.unl.edu/qpr21. The class is limited to 30 participants.

This material is based upon work supported by USDA/NIFA under Award Number 2020-70028-32728.

Midwest’s Biggest Garden Event

LINCOLN — Spring Affair, the Midwest’s largest plant sale and garden event, is back in-person April 28-30 in Lincoln.

There’s a plant for every garden, with more than 600 different varieties of perennials, herbs, grasses, succulents, trees and shrubs available. They are selected for regional suitability, uniqueness and popular demand and provided by Bluebird Nursery, Inc., of Clarkson, Neb. The event is sponsored by the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum as an educational tool, fundraising event and to promote regional plants.

Admission to the April 29-30 sale is free. The plant sale, educational booths and garden vendors are in Pavilion I of the Lancaster Event Center, 4100 N 84th St. in Lincoln, with plenty of free parking.

For best plant choices, there’s a Spring Affair Preview Sale Thursday, April 28. This ticketed event from 6-9 p.m. offers first selection of plants for tickets ranging from $32-$42.

From novices to Master Gardeners, there are lots of landscape resources for personal enjoyment as well as for broader environmental benefits like helping pollinators, conserving water, feeding wildlife and reducing chemical applications. Full information with the plant list, garden tips and more at https://plantnebraska.org/

PHOTO AND CUTLINE: Pasqueflower is one of the first wildflowers to bloom in spring, and a sure sign that spring is coming.

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The Webster County Extension Office and courthouse will be closed Friday, April 29th in observance of Arbor Day.

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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 new 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.

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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