Finney County Extension agents

In a world that seems to operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, life can become very hectic. Today's youth need a caring adult willing to teach them life skills, leadership and citizenship. By committing 360 minutes of your time to being a 4-H project leader, you can help youth develop into responsible, self-directed productive citizens of the community.

Learning by doing is the basic philosophy of the Kansas 4-H youth development program. 4-H project work occurs over a period of several weeks or months during the 4-H year. A minimum of six hours of adult-guided instruction is recommended by Kansas 4-H to complete a project.

Learning is a natural, lifelong process for everyone, young and adults. 4-H recommends allowing at least 60 minutes for each project learning session. Give 360 and connect with kids in a 4-H Club or county group and teach them skills for life.

The Project — A Cornerstone of 4-H: Within the 4-H project, youth learn things to do, things to make and things to explore. In 4-H, the project is where learning by doing takes place. As a project leader, volunteers can make a difference in what and how youth learn. Project leaders serve as mentors, coaches, resource partners, teachers and are positive role models to youth. A 4-H project is planned work in an area of interest to the 4-H member. It is guided by an adult volunteer, who is the project leader, to help youth reach goals.

As a volunteer, the return on your investment is something that money can't buy, knowing that you have made a difference in the life of a child. Invest in the future today.

Are you ready to do a 360? Pledge to share 360 minutes this year with 4-H'ers in Finney County. Contact Finney County 4-H at the Kansas State Research & Extension — Finney County Extension Office at 272-3670, 501 S. Ninth St., or at to learn more about becoming a 4-H project leader. Share your skills and take the 360 challenge today.

Summer stresses on pine, spruce and fir

Again, this year's heat and drought has been tough on trees, especially evergreens. Spruce, fir and pine are not well adapted to Kansas conditions, and high-stress years like this one can lead to decline and death. There are natural conditions that can make the tree look like it is dying that actually are not harmful.

According to Extension Specialist Ward Upham, if needles on the inside of the tree turn brown, but those on the outer branches remain green, the tree is going through natural needle drop. Natural needle drop does not harm the health of the tree and is a normal process as two- to four-year old needles are shed. Drought may increase needle drop, but in itself does not harm the tree. In some cases, all the needles on a branch are turning color. On pines, this may be due to pine wilt, a fatal disease found primarily on Scots and Austrian pine. Other diseases may cause similar symptoms. Often it is best to take a sample to your local K-State Research and Extension office to be diagnosed. This year, the cause of many evergreen problems is not disease, but stress. The heat and drought of this summer may have stressed trees to the point they may lose branches or die.

To tell if a stressed tree will survive, check to see if the branch with the browning needles is alive. Scrape off a small area of branch bark with a sharp knife. There should be green tissue immediately under the bark. This green cambium layer is quite thin with the underlying woody tissue being white. If there is no green, the branch is dead.

Also, check the ends of branches. Dry, brittle twigs are a sign that at least that part of the tree is dead. Dead branches should be removed. Major branch removal may destroy the aesthetics of the tree, making tree removal the only viable option.

To reduce stress, concentrate on good watering. During dry weather, including winter, water trees to a depth of at least 10 inches, with deeper watering preferred. Check water depth by pushing a long screwdriver, metal rod or wooden dowel into the soil. It will stop when it reaches dry soil.

During hot, dry weather, trees may need to be watered once a week. During a dry winter when temperatures are above freezing, water trees once a month. For questions or further information, contact

Celebrate Family Day

In 2001, the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) created Family Day — A Day to Eat Dinner with Your ChildrenâѢ as a national effort to promote family dinners as an effective way to reduce substance abuse among children and teens. Family Day was celebrated Monday, the fourth Monday of September.

Family Day emphasizes the importance of regular family activities and encourages Americans to make family dinners a regular feature of their lives. Parental engagement is the single most potent weapon in preventing substance use and abuse among youth! So by celebrating Family Day, you can become a STAR!

S — Spend time with your kids by eating together.

T — Talk to them about friends, interests, and the dangers of drugs and alcohol.

A — Answer their questions and listen!

R — Recognize that you have the power to keep your kids substance-free!

Here are 10 Tips for Quality Family Meals: Aim for four or more meals a week; make family meals a priority; keep a sense of humor and laugh a lot; cook it quick and eat it slow; work toward happy, relaxing conversations at meals; if time is an issue, make meals quick and easy; shop for food and cook together; take telephone calls later; turn the TV off; respect each individual's right to decide how much to eat.

K-State Research & Extension — Finney County is the front door source to your everyday questions for information and knowledge. Every question is of value to you and us. Give us a call at 272-3670, or better, walk in our front door at 501 S. Ninth St., for information to help you make a better decision.