30 Jun

On Wednesday, June 23, torrential rains swept across central and southern areas of the Mountain State causing severe flooding, loss of life and extensive damage to many West Virginia communities.

As the water recedes, WVU Extension Service faculty, staff and volunteers continue to mobilize with the rest of the University to provide flood relief and aid to fellow West Virginians in need.

As the University’s outreach entity in each of the state’s 55 counties, we have the unique opportunity to reach thousands of West Virginia citizens during this time and unite efforts to support those who are dealing with the aftermath of the disaster.

Those who would like to support WVU Extension Service’s flood relief efforts may donate at WVU alumnus and native Ken Kendrick has committed to making a $500,000 donation to flood relief efforts in southern West Virginia to match gifts made by fellow WVU alums and donors up to that amount.

If you’d like to learn more about how to help in your community, contact your local Extension Office.


18 Mar

by Inetta Fluharty, ATP, West Virginia AgrAbility Program Specialist

Thinking of getting an early start on gardening, spring cleaning or outdoor activities? Before any project or activity is started, do some minimal exercise to to prevent injury and to prepare your muscles that have likely been resting all winter.

For each of these listed, you should complete at least four repetitions:

Trunk Rotation

  • Cross arms over chest or place hands on hips
  • Twist trunk (at waist) to look over one shoulder
  • Repeat in the opposite direction

Finger O

  • Touch tip of thumbnail to tip of index fingernail making an “O” shape
  • Open hand widely after each “O”
  • Repeat with each finger on both hands

Arm Circle

  • Rest hands on shoulders, elbows pointed out.
  • Make circles with elbows varying size and direction of circles
  • Increase the intensity by positioning arms outward at shoulder level and make circles

Hip Walk

  • Sitting up straight on a chair, “walk” forward to the edge of chair by lifting one hip up and moving forward, then the other hip.
  • “Walk” back, alternating with one hip up and the other on the chair.

Ankle Circle

  • While sitting or balanced on one leg
  • Move foot around in a slow, large circle
  • Repeat with other foot

These should be done before any activity to get the body ready for the task at hand.

Once the body is warmed up, it’s ready to get started, remembering to keep the tasks small at first. Other things to remember when doing any physical activity is that the blood flowing to the muscles increases during the activity while oxygen decreases. This can leave muscles sore. Also, the muscle soreness may be delayed, so you may not feel any pain until after you are finished with the task. If this happens, then you need to give your body a rest before returning to the activity. It is also important to be observant of what your body is telling you.

12 Jan

There’s an easy way to help ensure that your family stays healthy through the fall and winter. It’s important in preventing food poisoning and helps prevent the flu, other infections and diseases associated with animals.

What’s this magic bullet? If you haven’t already guessed, it’s hand-washing.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say keeping hands clean is one of the most important things we can do to stop the spread of germs and stay healthy.

You should wash your hands:

  • Before, during and after preparing food
  • Before eating
  • Before and after caring for someone who is sick
  • Before and after treating a cut or wound
  • After using the toilet
  • After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet
  • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
  • After touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste
  • After touching garbage

According to the CDC, washing hands with soap and water is the best way to reduce the number of germs on them. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers that contain at least 60 percent alcohol are recommended when soap and water aren’t available. While hand sanitizers can quickly reduce the number of germs on hands in some situations, they do not eliminate all types of germs. And hand sanitizers are not effective when hands are visibly dirty.

When it comes to hand-washing, the old fashioned way is still best. Wet your hands with clean running water and apply soap. Rub your hands together to make a lather and scrub them well. Be sure to scrub the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails. Continue rubbing your hands for at least 20 seconds. If you need a timer, you can hum the “Happy Birthday” song or the “Alphabet” song from beginning to end twice. Rinse your hands well under running water. Dry your hands using a clean towel or allow them to air dry.

Encourage all of the members of your family to make regular hand-washing a habit. It’s an easy way to stop spreading germs and stay healthy.

More resources

1/12/16/reviewed Litha Sivanandan

5 Jan

West Virginia 4-H is inviting youths and family members to get a behind-the-scenes look at the West Virginia University Creative Arts Center on Saturday, February 6.

Participants will be given a tour of the new WVU Art Museum followed by admission to Dance Now, a performance at the WVU Creative Arts Center celebrating the talents of dance students, choreographers, and faculty and guest artists.

The price is $10 per person. Attendees should arrive at the Creative Arts Center no later than 12:15 p.m.

To register online, visit The registration deadline is Friday, January 22.

For questions, contact Brittany Furbee at 304-293-2694.

7 Dec

It can be difficult to remain spirited through the holidays once high expectations allow stress to become an obstacle. However, West Virginia University Extension Service Family and Human Development Specialist Jane Riffe, Ph.D., says it’s possible to stay grounded if you follow simple steps this holiday season.

Set expectations

It may seem hard to avoid getting hopeful for a flawless family feast, but with ample communication to family members, it is possible to have everything go smoothly—even if it’s not the exact vision everyone expects.

“It’s what we expect of ourselves, or what we think mother or father are expecting of us that can be the most stressful because if we get caught in the crossfire of all that, someone will be disappointed,” Riffe said.

Talk to family members early to dodge the disappointment. By explaining to them that you may have to leave dinner early or that you won’t have time to make the pumpkin pie because of other obligations, you can avoid hurt feelings in the end.

Set a game plan

Planning in advance can save a lot of trouble for families who need to divide time. Whether it’s a traditional, blended or separated family unit, the essential thing to remember is to think ahead and know that juggling time can be an issue.

Couples should talk to each other first, before any promises are made to a parent, grandparent and so on. They should decide as a unit where and when they’re going before anyone mentions that they will definitely be able to make it to the event a relative is hosting.

“Keep in mind that splitting time between families will never be fair and reach anyone’s hopes if they’re set too high,” Riffe said. “Time can’t be split 50/50, so the family has to keep talking about it and do the plan that’s best for them.

Set boundaries

Couples should show both sides of the family that they make decisions together, and those decisions should be supported and respected once they’re made.

“You have many years to negotiate holidays,” Riffe said. “If you don’t set boundaries in the beginning, the pressure will likely get worse.”
Remember that staying positive and flexible will help, but it’s crucial to create those limits as a united front at the beginning of the holiday season to avoid your preferences being overlooked.

Set priorities

When discussing holiday plans with a partner, it’s important to take note of traditions that mean the most to him or her. That doesn’t mean neglecting your own family traditions, but finding a middle ground between the two to reach a compromise is a key priority.

Another priority Riffe stresses is to stick together during the holiday season. Sometimes the pressure of trying to please many people at once can be so overwhelming that couples will decide to tackle the holidays alone with their own sides of the family. Riffe recommends staying united and using it as an opportunity for growth in your relationship.

“It’s not healthy to split up because you’re sending the message that ‘my family origin is more important than my partner relationship’ and you’re missing making the holiday magic with your new family,” she said. “How a couple tackles this task can be predictive of how they will handle future conflicts.”

Whatever your family decides is best when handling the holidays, try to keep stress at a minimum when possible. The holidays are meant to be full of cheer, not worry and fear; so, apply these tips and aim for a happy holiday.

For more information on family-related stress, visit or contact your local WVU Extension Service office.

*-WVU- *


CONTACT: Cassie Thomas, WVU Extension Service

Follow @WVUToday on Twitter.

1 Dec

Healthful Holiday Eating

December 1, 2015

The holidays often provide opportunities to consume excess calories by eating mindlessly. Small snacks, like office cookie trays or holiday appetizers, can add up quickly if you aren’t aware of your consumption, warns West Virginia University Extension Service Public Health Specialist Kristin McCartney.

Americans can gain seven to ten pounds through the holidays, according to McCartney, and she warns that it’s harder to take the weight off than it is to put the pounds on.

turkey “People think that they’re being careful with their weight if they just limit themselves to fewer snacks or don’t add ice cream to their apple pie,” she says. “Those are fine first steps, but people still need to be careful when it comes to calorie consumption during the holidays.”

In order to help combat this, McCartney provides tips for holiday meals like Thanksgiving. Her tips will not only keep turkey, stuffing and gravy on the menu, but also leave guests satisfied after the traditional meal.

“It’s all about healthy preparation and substitutions, reducing the fat and sugar in your meal and taking a healthier mental approach,” McCartney explains.

Small changes can make meals healthier without compromising quality. For example, steam, bake or broil foods instead of frying them. Skim the fat off gravies, soups and stews.

For healthier and tastier vegetables, leave out butter, oil and lard. Instead, substitute low-fat and low-sodium broth to retain flavor while trimming fat.

gingerbread Try new spices to give food more pizzazz without adding fat or salt. Avoid adding additional sugar to sweet dishes; add vanilla, cinnamon or nutmeg instead.

“Using nonfat or low-fat counterparts of pantry staples is a hassle-free way to retain flavor while making the dish healthier overall,” says McCartney.

Items such as salad dressing, mayonnaise, whipped topping, butter, sour cream and cheese all have low fat counterparts readily available. Artificial sweeteners provide an alternative to sugar when preparing desserts.

Substitute white meat for dark, load up on vegetables and watch portion sizes on gravy and starches, such as stuffing and sweet potatoes.

“Limit your desire to overeat by grabbing a healthy snack before you head to a dinner party,” McCartney explains. “Wear clothing that fits you a little bit tighter so you notice yourself feeling full faster.”

While these are just a few ways to help your waistline during the holiday season, it’s also important not to lose perspective.

“Most importantly, remember that you’re sharing meals to spend time with family, so slow down while eating and enjoy visiting with them,” McCartney says. “There’s plenty of time to enjoy non-food related activities, too. Play games, watch movies, walk outside or play football.”

To learn more about how WVU Extension Service Family Nutrition Programs help citizens of the state make choices to improve their health, visit or call your local office of the WVU Extension Service.

30 Oct

Grab an “ear” if you’re a Mountaineer at the WVU Collegiate 4-H Club’s annual Corn Roast during Mountaineer Week this fall.

The 4-H Corn Roast will kick off on Friday, Oct. 30 and will go through Sunday, Nov. 1. The Collegiate 4-H Club will be set up outside the Mountainlair during those days selling corn for $2 per cob with the help of Monongalia County WVU Extension 4-H Agent Becca Fint-Clark.

Fint-Clark, who is also the 4-H Club’s co-advisor along with her husband Brent, re-invented a tradition that got lost in time by starting the annual Corn Roast during Mountaineer Week when she was a club member in graduate school.

The Corn Roast, along with a Council Circle, was an early tradition during Mountaineer Week. According to Fint-Clark, somewhere over time it was forgotten, so she revived it.

“It’s a great way to get students acquainted with our club on campus, and now it’s something people look forward to every year,” she said.

The Corn Roast is almost completely handled by the 4-H Club, led by WVU senior psychology major and Club Vice President Joshua McCartney.

According to McCartney, the Club members work diligently to ensure the Corn Roast is a success. They rise early to start the fire, soak the corn and then put it on the fire in order to sell corn throughout the day.

“The best part is the experience of it,” McCartney said. “Being able to wake up in the morning and see the University come to life by an open fire is amazing.”
Fint-Clark said the main goal of the Corn Roast is to promote 4-H and its Appalachian roots.

“4-H clubs originally started as corn clubs, so although it has evolved from that, it’s important for people to learn our history,” Fint-Clark said. “It’s great that we can do something that reflects our heritage – especially during Mountaineer Week.”

Mountaineer Week was founded in 1947 as a one-day festival. Its original intention was to stimulate school spirit before the football game against the University of Kentucky. It involved a pep rally, dance and parade.

Collegiate 4-H got involved with Mountaineer Week in 1975 and has contributed to the celebration of Appalachian heritage by teaching folk dancing, preparing traditional food, making crafts, quilting and eventually roasting corn.

Although the Corn Roast is mostly an event to publicize 4-H and its background, it will be raising money for club efforts. The members will use the funds toward social events, future promotion or community service project funds.

The Club’s next activity will be a Thanksgiving dinner social where they will make Linus Blankets to give to the WVU Children’s Hospital.

To learn more about the WVU Collegiate 4-H Club, attend their biweekly Tuesday meetings or visit To learn about 4-H in your community, contact your local WVU Extension Service Office.


CONTACT: Cassie Thomas, WVU Extension Service

Follow @WVUToday on Twitter

6 Oct

Ghosts trick or treat and goblins aren’t always the scariest part of the Halloween holiday. Parents and homeowners often have to worry about the safety of their homes and families.

WVU Extension Service offers up tips and tricks to make Halloween a treat for everyone involved.

Candy—Safety and Alternatives

It’s important to consider your child’s health when it comes to all the candy they will collect on Halloween. Not only do you need to inspect it for any tampering, but you need to consider what you will do with all of it. Experts suggest a good meal before trick-or-treating. Afterward, let your child pick a few favorite pieces, but then put away the rest. Allowing candy to sit out where children see it is often too tempting to pass up.

Treat kids to candy alternatives, such as popcorn, trail mix, or pretzels, this this Halloween. Explore healthier options that might trick picky eaters into enjoying a better snack.

Download a PDF of Halloween Candy Alternatives.

Light the Night

Drivers may not easily see trick-or-treaters. For improved visibility, children should carry a flashlight, glow stick, or wear reflective tape on their costumes. In addition, trick-or-treaters should stay on sidewalks and cross streets only at crosswalks. Finally, children should be supervised by an adult and walk in large groups, which are easier to see than individual pedestrians.

jack-o-lantern Fire Safety

According to West Virginia University Safety and Health Extension experts, costumes aren’t always the scariest part of Halloween.

The National Fire Protection Association makes numerous suggestions to keep your children and homes safe.

Suggestions include: purchasing flame-resistant, or flame-retardant costumes; using battery-operated candles in decorations, and more.

Learn other Halloween fire safety tips.

Stranger Danger

Halloween is a fun night to gather with neighbors, but be sure to remind children of “stranger danger.” Remind children that they should never enter a house or a car of someone they do not know. Children should stay in well-lit, populated areas and stick to a pre-planned route.

Costume Safety

  • If your child wears a mask, make sure the viewing area is big enough so that your child can easily see where he or she is going.
  • Be careful of tripping hazards. To lessen the possibility of a fall, wear shoes with a low heel and be sure that the costume does not drag on the ground.
  • Props should be made of plastics or foam material to reduce the risk of an injury of a child falls.
  • Reflector strips help drivers see trick-or-treaters.

Information provided by

Fincham, Hannah This information has been provided by WVU Extension Service Agent Hannah Fincham. Hannah serves as the Families and Health agent in Randolph County. Call 304-636-2455 to speak with her.
9 Sep

According to data from the Coronary Artery Risk Detection in Appalachian Communities (CARDIAC) Project, nearly half of West Virginia fifth graders are overweight or obese. Obesity puts children at a much higher risk for type II diabetes, heart disease and hypertension, all of which used to be considered strictly adult diseases. September has been designated as Childhood Obesity Prevention Month to educate the community on the dangers of childhood obesity and to provide various strategies on how to prevent the disease. Studies have shown that people who adopt a healthy lifestyle as children grow up to be healthier adults. Teaching children about nutrition and physical activity is therefore crucial in creating healthy futures.

Children learn and mirror behaviors of influential adults in their lives. Therefore, family lifestyle plays a key role in the health habits of children, which can be a useful tool in the fight against childhood obesity. Below are some basic health behaviors that should be a part of a family’s daily routine.

Incorporate Physical Activity Daily

Research has shown that children need 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity a day. Taking a brisk family walk, jumping rope, playing a physically exerting game such as tag, or playing a sport such as soccer can help fulfill the daily activity requirements. Parents should try incorporating some structured physical activity into their child’s daily routine as well as encouraging them to go outside and play on their own.

Limit Screen Time

Allowing only two hours of recreational screen time a day is another way parents can encourage their children to get up and move. Screen time includes watching TV, playing video games, and using the computer for non-homework related activities. In addition, research has shown that screentime is also associated with overeating amongst both children and adults.

Make Healthier Food Choices

Humans were designed to live off of the land, and as technology has expanded so has America’s waistlines. It is important for Americans to get back to eating fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean meat instead of consuming highly processed foods. Role modelling healthy eating behaviors for children is important. A few simple steps to a healthier family are keeping sugary beverages such as soda out of the home, making fruits and vegetables readily available, buying low fat or fat-free dairy products such as milk and yogurt, eating lean meats, buying whole grain and high fiber bread products, and cooking with plant fats such as olive oil and flaxseed oil instead of animal fats such as butter and shortening.

It is recommended that children consume five servings of fruits and vegetables throughout the day. To help reach this daily goal, put blueberries or a banana on a serving of whole grain cereal for breakfast, provide an apple or a bag of grapes for lunch, prepare celery sticks filled with low-fat peanut butter for a snack, include a vegetable stir fry as a side dish for dinner, and give your child a slice of watermelon or pineapple for a sweet yet healthy dessert.

11 Aug

Mason County 4-H invites the public to register for the Dining Hall Dash, a 5K run/walk created to raise funds to construct a new dining hall at the Mason County Youth Camp in South Side, West Virginia.

“It’s our job to ensure our facilities meet the needs of our 4-H campers,” said Lorrie Wright, WVU Extension agent of 4-H youth development. “This event will help us improve and expand our dining hall as our number of campers continues to grow each year.”

The run/walk will be held Saturday, Sept. 5 at the West Virginia State Farm Museum. Day-of registration opens at 8 a.m. and the race begins at 9 a.m.

Registration papers can be found at the Mason County Extension Office in Point Pleasant, West Virginia. Interested Individuals may pre-register before Friday, Aug. 21 or may register the day of:

  • Pre-registration for adults $20
  • Pre-registration, 12 and under $10
  • Day-of registration for adults $25
  • Day-of registration, 12 and under $15

Awards will be given for top overall male and female, and the top three participants in each age group.
For more information, contact Lorrie Wright at or 304-675-0888.