University of Illinois Extension

Photo by Mike Erskine on Unsplash

Some people share their days of old at family gatherings. An organization serving northwest Illinois counties is offering those residents a chance to document this history.

The University of Illinois Extension is offering “Share Your Life Story: A Writing Series” workshops starting this month. Sessions take place in different locations during the spring and fall. 

Karla Belzer is the family life educator with the Extension. She said documenting your own stories is not just for loved ones.

Connie Kuntz

The University of Illinois Extension wants you to know your trees. They are offering a winter tree identification webinar series. Christopher Evans is a forestry and research specialist with the Extension and he is teaching the class. He said the classes are free and "totally open to anyone."

"As long as they're interested in learning about trees and willing to listen to me talk for an hour, they are welcome to take it," he said. "There is no age limit."

A 'Toddler Garden' Is Coming To DeKalb

Dec 21, 2020
Jenna Dooley

The DeKalb County Community Gardens isn't just about food. They also have a hand in a new collaboration called The Basics Toddler Garden Project. Spokesperson Jackie DiNatale said the garden in Welsh Park will be for kids up to age five -- and their caregivers -- and fits in with the overall DCCG mission.

The University of Illinois Extension is offering a Holiday Mash-Up Mini-Camp for kids aged eight through 12. It’s through 4-H, but Carroll County 4-H Program Coordinator Molly Sedig said you don’t have to be in 4-H to participate in the virtual camp.

"We are all going to sign into Zoom," she said, "and have fun with some STEAM activities."

STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics.

Water Your Trees Before The Next Freeze

Nov 2, 2020
Connie Kuntz

Eastern white pine trees are a fast growing, long-lived species. They’re native to northern Illinois, but you’ll find them throughout the state. And even though they are “evergreen,” they do go through changes in the fall.

How To Pick The Perfect Pumpkin For Carving

Oct 14, 2020
Connie Kuntz

Illinois is the top pumpkin producing state in America and Grant McCarty is a local foods and small farms educator with the University of Illinois Extension. He said when we talk about pumpking producing, we're really talking about pumpkin processing.

"We're talking about the pumpkin that ends up in the cans of Libby that you'll find at grocery stores," he said.

The University of Illinois Extension is launching a community food map on its website so people can find nearby food sources. U of I Extension SNAP-Ed Specialist Caitlin Kownacki called it a "one-stop shop."

"I can take this map and plug in my zip code and say, 'Where are all of the places in my community -- all of the resources that I need to be able to put enough food on my table for my family?'"

Connie Kuntz

Illinois is home to many pollinators like butterflies, bees, moths, wasps and flies. Though tiny, each creature plays a critical role in the production of fruits and vegetables. As pollinators, they carry pollen from the male part of a flower (stamen) to the female part (stigma) of the same or different flower .

Doug Gucker is an educator with the University of Illinois Extension. He is on the local food systems and small farms team. He said this movement of pollen must occur for the plant to become fertilized and produce fruits, seeds and young plants.

Why Did The Turtle Cross The Road?

Jun 19, 2020
Connie Kuntz

Here's a joke: Why did the turtle cross the road?

Answer: To find food, water, a mate and a nesting location.

Of course, that's not really a joke. Turtles all across Illinois are making their way across the state's 140,000 miles of roadways. Some are looking for food and water, but it's also breeding season. That means turtles are looking for mates and trying to find places to lay their eggs.

Master Gardener Has Advice About What To Plant When

Apr 28, 2020
Connie Kuntz

Gardening is widely regarded as a rewarding and healthy activity, but it can be frustrating if you have questions and don't know where to turn. Good news: Experts from the University of Illinois Extension Master Gardener Helpline are available to provide you with answers and solutions. 

Jeff White has been a master gardener with the Illinois Extension for 10 years. To him, the program is about providing information to his community and "helping people achieve what they want to achieve in their garden."

Guy Stephens

The second season of legal hemp growing is coming in Illinois. State experts are sharing what they know -- and don’t -- as more people express interest in growing it. 

Corey Hanson

Livestock mortality is an issue many farmers deal with. Yet when it happens, many don't know how they should dispose of the animal. Some farmers are now looking at composting as a means of getting rid of deceased livestock. 

Composting brings up images of buckets of scrap food and lawn trimmings. But the University of Illinois Extension Office took the idea one step further as they showed farmers how to compost livestock. 

Brian Gordon is a farmer in Iroquois County.

Susan Stephens

The University of Illinois Extension Master Gardeners have kicked off their summer produce collection for the “Plant a Row for the Hungry” program. 

It’s meant to inspire gardeners and farmers to “plant an extra row” to provide fruits and vegetables for people in need.  All the food collected for the program is donated to local food pantries. 

Margaret Larson is the County Extension Director for University of Illinois.  She says they have partners in the community who weigh the produce, keep track of it, and deliver it to the pantry at the end of the day.

Guy Stephens / WNIJ

After numerous delays caused by wet weather, almost all of the corn and much of the soybean crop has been planted in northern Illinois. Predictions are that the 2017 corn and soybean harvests in the region won’t match recent record-breaking yields but could still be good. Right now, though, progress is uneven. 

Scott Schirmer / Illinois Department of Agriculture

Corn may be ubiquitous in DeKalb County, but it isn't immune to external threats.

A sample from a corn field recently tested positive for bacterial leaf streak. DeKalb is the first county in Illinois to have a USDA-verified case of the disease.

It’s similar to symptoms of gray leaf spots – which farmers come across frequently – except bacterial leaf streak cannot be treated with fungicides.