Are you ready for Real Food?

Real Food logo with hand-drawn look, second O in FOOD is pattern of fruits, vegetables.


UW Extension invites Niobrara and Converse county residents to make their own tortillas, granola, meatballs, and other recipes during the Real Food five-week healthy eating and cooking program in Lusk and Douglas.


The free series starts Tuesday April 18 at the Niobrara County Fairgrounds. Classes are 5:30-7:30 p.m. every week through May 16.


The free series starts Wednesday April 19 at the Douglas campus of Eastern Wyoming College. Classes are 5:30-7:30 p.m. every week through May 17.


Participants learn nutrition basics and what healthy eating really means, said Denise Smith, UW Extension nutrition and food safety educator. The goal is to get started preparing and eating more fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains and local meat and eggs, she said.


Activities cover these and other “Real Food” topics:

  • distinguishing whole foods from processed
  • decoding ingredient lists and embracing nutrition labels
  • avoiding untrue packaging claims
  • planning menus and keeping within a budget.


The program is sponsored by the John P. “Jack” Ellbogen Foundation. For more information, contact Smith at (307) 334-3534 or


Wild West Gardening helps gardeners, sellers gain ground

Stylish advertisement for event shows the words Wild West Gardening surrounded by roses in a caligraphy-like design. All is white on a dark blue background.

The Wild West Gardening Conference Saturday and Sunday April 22-23 at Laramie County Community College in Cheyenne is for anyone who wants to be a better gardener or sell what they grow.


“This conference is meant to challenge, inspire, motivate and take participants to the next level of gardening success,” said Catherine Wissner, UW Extension horticulturist. It is for everyone from beginners and backyard and community gardeners to small acreage growers and farmers market gardeners, she said.


The $90 conference fee includes dinner, breaks and two lunches. To learn more about Wild West Gardening, special hotel rates and registration, go to


The event features local, regional and national presenters in concurrent sessions and is hosted by the Laramie County Master Gardeners and the University of Wyoming Laramie County Extension office.


Keynote speaker Neil Diboll of Prairie Nursery in Wisconsin champions prairie plants, trees and shrubs and wetland plants in contemporary landscapes. He emphasizes their value to native bees and Monarch butterflies and advocates for genetic diversity of plant breeding stock.


Five hands-on workshops get participants started with specialty crops and culinary, decorative and craft products. Workshops are Get Your Lavender On; Garlic Gourmet; Microgreens; Medicinal Teas and Tonics; and Flower Projects. An additional $25 materials fee is payable directly to workshop leaders.


Demonstrations of hot water bath canning, pressure canning and steam bath canning are aimed at helping gardeners take advantage of recent food freedom and cottage food laws that make it easier to sell their products.


For those wishing to produce fermented products such as beer, wine and whiskey, the Wyoming liquor commissioner reveals the ins and outs of in-state and out-of-state sales.


Conference activities include a Saturday afternoon tour of the Paul Smith Children’s Garden at the Cheyenne Botanic Gardens.


For more information, contact Wissner at 307-63­3-4383 or

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

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 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

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.