UW, Virginia Tech employ team competition to foster nutrition, activity

Laura Balis

Individuals can step-up fitness levels and increase nutrition by competing in a national program through UW Extension and Virginia Cooperative Extension.

The team environment and online tracking are meant to spur efforts in the FitEx competition April 2-May 27. Registration is at www.fit-ex.org.

UW and Virginia personnel are challenging each other and all county offices, but competition is open to everyone.

The program offers a chance to start setting goals, having an accountability system and improving health for a better well-being, said Laura Balis, UW

Extension nutrition and food safety educator in Fremont County.

“FitEx’s purpose is promoting healthy lifestyles in a fun, challenging way,” she said. “It’s designed to improve the health of everyone by increasing participation in physical activity and eating fruit and vegetables each week.”

The Surgeon General suggests making walking a national priority, she said. Thirty minutes or more moderate physical activity five days a week and increasing fruit and vegetable consumption are the program goals.

Teams of four to eight from ages 5 to older adults are encouraged.
Choose a team name and captain that best represents the team and create individual and team goals for physical activity and fruit and vegetable consumption, said Balis. Competitors can track on the FitEx website their daily minutes of physical activity and intake of fruits and vegetables.

The registration fee is $5 and includes weekly newsletters, feedback on goals and friendly competition for motivation, she said.
Contact Balis at 307-332-2363 or at lbalis@uwyo.edu for more information.

UW researchers discover ‘switch’ that allows microbes to recognize kin

Daniel Wall

How one-celled microbes recognize their kin is described in a paper by University of Wyoming scientists and published online this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

Molecular biologist Daniel Wall and Ph.D. student Pengbo Cao solved a piece of the mystery surrounding how bacteria recognize family members, helping them band together for protection and even unite to become true multicellular organisms for survival.

“Self-identity reprogrammed by a single residue switch in a cell surface receptor of a social bacterium” describes a lone amino acid switch they found can govern how the soil bacterium Myxococcus xanthus recognize their kin. The article is available online at http://bit.ly/pnaswall.

Microbes have a bad rap for being socially inept, but actually many of them live quite social lives.

“If they really want to thrive, they need to come together, recognize each other and assemble into multicellular structures to form something that’s beyond the ability of the individual,” said Cao. “I was pretty amazed how such a small, single cell microbe could exhibit such sophisticated social behaviors.”

Efforts built on an earlier discovery by Wall and colleagues in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources that found a particular cell receptor called TraA facilitated recognition among M. xanthus cells and allowed them to come together and exchange proteins and other components, a process called outer membrane exchange.

Cao noted different strains have different TraA sequences.

“The TraA receptors ensure when cells come in contact the sharing of cellular resources only occurs with close relatives that have identical or very similar TraA receptors,” said Cao.

Continue reading UW researchers discover ‘switch’ that allows microbes to recognize kin

Cheyenne sessions highlight increased property value, natural resource protection

Tips and techniques small-acreage landowners can use to improve property values and protect natural resources are featured at a Cheyenne workshop in April.

“Habitat Restoration on Small Acreage” is 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday, April 25, on the Laramie County Community College campus, said Kristina Hufford, University of Wyoming Extension specialist in restoration ecology.

Topics include soil management, value of native plants, adapting large-scale seeding practices for small acreages, managing livestock to preserve land value, weed management, and conservation tools for private land and areas of concern, such as riparian and wetland sites.

The workshop is a collaboration between UW Extension and the Wyoming Reclamation and Restoration Center in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

“The workshop will provide tools for regional landowners who want to enjoy the outdoors and protect natural resources on their properties,” said Hufford, an associate professor in the Department of Ecosystem Science and Management in the college.

For more information, contact Hufford at 307-766-5587.

Wyoming Bee College is back, bigger

This year’s event is bigger, said Catherine Wissner, UW Extension educator. National and regional experts present five concurrent tracks on Saturday and four concurrent tracks on Sunday geared toward every level of beekeeper, wanna-bee, gardener and pollinator advocate.

For a “degree in bees,” University of Wyoming Extension offers 2017 Wyoming Bee College Saturday and Sunday, March 18-19 at Laramie County Community College in Cheyenne.

The $75 conference fee includes a dinner and two lunches. There is no charge for Bee Buddies ages 7 to 15 accompanied by an adult. To learn more about Wyoming Bee College, special hotel rates and registration, go to bit.ly/BeeCollege.

Speakers and workshop leaders bring current research on pollinators, long-time beekeeping experience and expertise on conservation and habitat development. Participants learn best management practices and how to build their business through new products, certification and food safety. New or aspiring beekeepers get hands-on demonstrations of the basics.

Author and “Bee Culture Magazine” contributor James E Tew is the keynote speaker both days. “He is truly a beekeeper with his boots on the ground,” said Catherine Wissner, UW Extension educator. “His knowledge is research-based and practical, plus he brings beekeeping humor, tips, wisdom and stories from the hive,” she said.

Author and beekeeping expert Les Crowder teaches a half-day course on top bar beekeeping, which is a low-cost, high wax yield system that mimics a hollow log.

The Denver Butterfly Pavilion presents classes on butterflies, native bees and habitat development and how to help them and native bees.

For more information, contact Wissner, the “dean” of Wyoming Bee College, at 307-63­3-4383 or cwissner@uwyo.edu.

WAES friends, staff honored with awards, recognition

Rochelle Koltiska (left) and Joanne Newcomb (right) received the Kathleen Bertoncelj AES Staff Award. Bertoncelj (center), whom the award honors, presented the award with Bret Hess, Wyoming Agricultural Experiment Station director.

Shiny belt buckles specially designed for friends of Wyoming Agricultural Experiment Station (WAES) and a first-time award lit up the ballroom at the University of Wyoming Conference Center in Laramie February 15.

UW President Laurie Nichols and Pepper Jo Six, UW Foundation major gift officer, helped Bret Hess, associate dean of research in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources and WAES director, honor two people he said “went well beyond the call of duty to help us celebrate our 125th anniversary.”

Friends of AES Recognized

Leesa Zalesky and David Kruger were each presented a “Friend of AES” belt buckle.

Zalesky helped care for Pistol and Pete, the WAES Haflinger draft horses that made appearances throughout the state in 2016, often pulling the college’s sheep wagon refurbished for the 125th celebration. She launched the pair into celebrity by creating their Facebook page, a factsheet, and traveling banner. Hess credits her for helping Pistol and Pete become “icons and exceptional ambassadors for WAES.”

Kruger documented WAES history in the book 125 Years of the Wyoming Agricultural Experiment Station. He viewed the project as part of his responsibilities as UW library liaison with the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources and attended WAES field days and other events to sign the book and share WAES history. Hess acknowledged Kruger as one of WAES’s “best ambassadors.”

Kathleen Bertoncelj AES Staff Awards Presented

Friends and supporters of a former WAES staff associate, led by former WAES director Steve Miller, made gifts to establish the Kathleen Bertoncelj WAES Staff Award. The inaugural award was presented to Rochelle Koltiska, Sheridan Research and Extension Center (ShREC) office associate, and Joanne Newcomb, administrative associate for WAES. Bertoncelj is a former senior office associate in the WAES. She worked at UW for 38 years, the last 16 in the WAES.

Koltiska embodies the spirit of the award by providing outstanding service and commitment to the improvement of WAES and its endeavors, said Hess. He noted when she arrived she was tasked with building an efficiently running office in the midst of great transitions, which included multiple station directors and a change in structure of the ShREC.

She has adapted procedures to meet the center’s expansion and has met the challenges of her own expanding roles, said Hess.

“Our team has complete confidence in her ability to ensure every detail is attended to for any of our public events, as this is an area where she really shines,” he said. He also acknowledged her contributions are helping grow the ShREC internship program.

Newcomb was praised for her professionalism and skill for anticipating needs. Newcomb ensures major programs and initiatives run smoothly and are efficient, effective, and highly professional, said Hess. He called her “the ultimate planner and organizer” and noted her ability to manage details.

“Anybody who has had the pleasure of working with Joanne can rest assured every possible scenario has been thoroughly explored and adjustments made before any possible situation is encountered,” said Hess.

He concluded, “When someone always knows your name and makes you feel as though you are friends, even when she works with hundreds of people, you know she is good at what she does.”

Staff Years of Service, Careers Recognized  

5 years with WAES: Rochelle Koltiska, Joanne Newcomb.

10 years with WAES: Kelly Greenwald, administrative associate at the James C. Hageman Sustainable Research and Extension Center (SAREC); Larry Miller, assistant farm manager at SAREC; Keith Schaefer, assistant farm manager at the Powell Research and Extension Center; and Travis Smith, assistant farm manager at the Laramie Research and Extension Center (LREC).

20 years with WAES: Mike Moore, manager, Wyoming Seed Certification Service.

WAES employees who retired in 2017 are Denny Hall, manager, Wyoming Seed Laboratory; Dale Hill, assistant farm manager, LREC; and David Perry, grants coordinator, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.