1. Published

    Retirements are bittersweet. It is a special time to reflect on the impact of someone’s career while having to say goodbye. Seven University of Illinois Extension staff in the Fulton-Mason-Peoria-Tazewell Unit finished up their lengthy Extension careers this summer. The group combined has over 200 years of work invested in impacting the people and communities in our unit.

    Janis Blout, Sheila Bolliger, Kathie Brown, Margaret Cover, Deb Donaldson, Irene Edwards, and Cathy Ludolph are now officially Extension retirees.

  2. Published

    When Therkildsen Field Station at Emiquon requested assistance with renovating their landscaping, University of Illinois Extension Master Gardeners (EMG) Carla Presnell, Allie Goudy, and Lisa Davis stepped in to help and brought their knowledge of native plants with them. The team created a native plant demonstration garden that will educate visitors and provide ecological benefits and beauty.

  3. Published

    For many years, University of Illinois Extension has utilized social media to share educational content. Last year, the state horticulture team started the Illinois Extension Horticulture Group on Facebook that has taken this approach to the next level. Extension educators across the state synergize their areas of expertise to moderate the group and provide information and resources to thousands of people.

  4. Published

    The social and emotional health of youth and families are critical pieces of overall health, and never more so than with the unusual challenges of 2020. CEO of the CASEL Initiative (Collaborative for Academic Social and Emotional Learning) Karen Niemi stated, “when physical distancing is deemed necessary, social and emotional connectedness is even more critical.” University of Illinois Extension 4-H staff in Fulton, Mason, Peoria, and Tazewell counties responded to thi

  5. Published

    Hands-on, experiential learning is at the core of the 4-H program. When programs were transitioned to virtual, local 4-H staff developed an innovative program called 4-H Spark Camp that upheld the 4-H learning style that youth and their families could do together at home.

  6. Published

    The opportunities are vast when it comes to inspiring others to enjoy nature. University of Illinois Extension Master Naturalist (EMN) Pam Tomka uses her grant writing skills to help Wildlife Prairie Park make facility improvements, which in turn will draw more people out into nature.

  7. Published

    Accidents can happen in a split second. It is never too young to start learning how to be situationally aware and safer. For the past 30 years, University of Illinois Extension and Illinois Farm Bureau have made it a priority to teach area youth how to be safe around the farm and beyond.

  8. Published

    Rural communities throughout Illinois and across the nation struggle to maintain population, jobs, and schools. The COVID-19 pandemic created even more challenges; however, a collaborative group of community leaders in Fulton County was already at work addressing the challenges, positioning their communities for growth through the challenges. That advance work helped obtain state and federal funding support, that yielded four grants worth more than $8 million.

  9. Published

    After months of being sheltered in place in 2020, Mason 4-H Federation teens were feeling the emotional effects and decided to do something to help others who may be feeling the same. Combining their leadership and program planning skills with their creative skills and empathy, they launched The Joy Project 2021 in April.

  10. Published

    What one eat plays a critical role in a person’s health. Unfortunately, not everyone can easily afford healthy, fresh produce. University of Illinois Extension Master Gardeners provide many people with free produce through several “giving gardens.” Thanks to a partnership with Tazewell County Health Department, one of these giving gardens has expanded its offerings and is gearing up to add gardening and cooking lessons.

  11. Published

    Each year in the United States, over one million acres of native habitat are transformed into urban and suburban lawns. The loss of these native plant resources is directly related to the decline of the native bird population by 3 billion birds. As news of species decline becomes more common, University of Illinois Extension has significantly increased the native plant educational programs to address this concern.

  12. Published

    Pets bring a lot of joy to the homes where they live. When young family members help take care of pets, they learn valuable responsibility skills. 4-H provides tools and learning opportunities for youth to develop those skills.

  13. Published

    Once a 4-Her, always a 4-Her. According to the Illinois 4-H Alumni Association, 25 million Americans share the unique bond of being a 4-H alum, each with a unique story. Whether it's spending time at 4-H camp, conquering public speaking fears, leading as a club officer, traveling the world as an exchange member, competing at the county fair, or working with 4-H club leaders; 4-H experiences played a part in personal development.

  14. Published

    The best leaders are those who also serve others. 4-H offers a wide variety of opportunities for youth to develop those servant leadership skills. The four 4-H Federation groups in Fulton, Mason, Peoria, and Tazewell counties have worked hard over the past year encouraging others through 12 various service projects and special events, which also provided an avenue for the teens to build their leadership skills.

  15. Published

    Horticulture has been a part of Tara Heath’s life since she was a little girl. After a 20 year career focused on landscape management, Tara has joined the University of Illinois Extension team as the horticulture program coordinator serving Fulton, Mason, Peoria, and Tazewell counties.

  16. Published

    Education and beauty go hand-in-hand with the new native plant landscape project at Morton Public LibraryUniversity of Illinois Extension Master Gardeners in the Fulton-Mason-Peoria-Tazewell Unit worked to beautify the landscaping at the library while educating the patrons about the benefits of native plants.

  17. Published

    Youth and families are currently impacted by a variety of stressful events outside of their control. Changes in normal routines, limited social interaction with friends and families, and missed significant life events can all increase the stress and anxiety children and families are feeling. University of Illinois Extension Youth Educators Judy Schmidt and Emily Schoenfelder have started a new blog dedicated to helping families cope with stress and anxiety.

  18. Published

    While it is important to educate people about nutritious eating, it is equally important to teach them how they can afford nutritious foods on a budget. Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program—Education (SNAP-Ed) staff at University of Illinois Extension staff offer Healthy Cents 12-part series to adults in an online format.

  19. Published

    The University of Illinois Extension Master Naturalists of Fulton, Mason, Peoria, and Tazewell counties were honored in January 2021 by Pollinator Partnership for Project Wingspan as the Most Engaged Volunteers in 2020.

  20. Published

    The number of people going through online training to become a University of Illinois Extension Master Gardener increased in 2020.  Since the summer of 2020, twelve people have enrolled in online training program from Fulton, Mason, Peoria and Tazewell counties. This is an increase from 2019 when two people enrolled in the online training.