Extension's mission: Enriching Kansans' lives






Finney County Extension Office

Most Kansans may not realize the significance of a congressional act signed 100 years ago.

In 1914, U.S. Sen. Hoke Smith of Georgia and U.S. Rep. A.F. Lever of South Carolina authored the Smith-Lever Act to expand the "vocational, agricultural and home demonstration programs in rural America." The act assured delivery of research-based knowledge of the land-grant universities to people where they live and work.

This mission enables Kansas State University through its K-State Research and Extension program to enrich the lives of Kansans. Extension focuses its work on finding solutions for topics important to Kansans, using its statewide network to share information.

"As a system, K-State Research and Extension works with Kansas farmers and ranchers to improve practices, establishing Kansas as the breadbasket of the world," said John Floros, director of K-State Research and Extension and dean of the College of Agriculture. "Our families programs help people lead productive lives, while 4-H programs lead youth into adulthood.

"Our citizens have told us there are five grand challenges facing Kansas. We built our strategic plan around finding solutions to these challenges," Floros said.

Kansas Extension programs and efforts are focused on these five areas, Floros said.

* Global food systems: With a goal of feeding the world's growing population, work focuses on improved food and agricultural systems.

* Water: With an eye on the future, efforts look at decreasing water needs or costs for livestock, crop production and municipal water systems.

* Health: Quality of life, healthy development and behaviors for all life stages to reduce health problems and associated costs are the focus of programs.

* Developing tomorrow's leaders: Kansas looks to emerging leaders to lead the state forward. 4-H youth are learning leadership skills. Other efforts assist Kansas' community leaders with economic development issues.

* Community vitality: Kansas' rural, suburban and urban communities face many challenges. A variety of Extension programs work to enrich Kansas communities.

There are currently 106 land grant colleges and universities serving 50 states, six U.S. territories and the District of Columbia.

Walk Kansas

Just a reminder to mark your calendars for the closing day with a celebration party at 5:30 p.m. today at the 4-H Building at the fairgrounds.

Budgeting money

When someone mentions living on a budget, what image comes to mind? Budgeting is not just about saving money, it's about choosing where your money will go. It is a tool for making the most of your money.

No one is born with natural money management skills. You may have learned some money management skills from your family. You also may have learned some money management skills at school or through life experiences. Developing good money management skills takes time, practice and patience.

If you run out of money before all the expenses are paid, you are not alone. While people work hard to earn an income, they often do not work at planning how that income will be spent. A budget is nothing more than a plan — a series of steps to help you choose how your money is spent. The basic steps in successful budgeting include:

* Get organized. Gather your bills and financial records together. Have a designated box, basket or file where your bills are placed when they arrive. Open the bill and mark on the outside of the envelope the date the bill should be paid. If you are going to mail the payment, rather than pay it in person, the date you write down should be four or five days before the due date to allow time for it to arrive and avoid a late fee.

* Track your daily spending. Tracking your spending helps you see where your money goes. One easy way is to take a sheet of paper and fold it in half three times. This will give you eight sections. Write the days of the week on seven sections and "totals" on the last section. Keep it in your pocket or purse, and every time you spend money, write down how much and what it was spent on. Be sure to record purchases made in cash and by check, credit card or debit card. Record the weekly totals. Ask each member of the family to do this for one month to get a picture of how you are spending your money.

* Record all income. Record your income from jobs, child support, Social Security, investments and any other sources. Total the income for the month.

* Compare income to expenses. If your expenses are more than your income, look for what you can cut. Determine what expenses are absolutely necessary, such as housing, utilities and food. Decide which other expenses can be cut to meet the necessary expenses.

* Make a plan for next month. Write down your planned expenses and expected income. Try to match the money going out with the money coming in.

* Monitor income and spending. As money is received and spent throughout the month, record it on your planning sheet. At the end of the month, subtract your expenses from your income and determine if you were successful in staying with your plan.

* Make adjustments, if necessary. Review your expenses and income for the month to see if any changes need to be made. Do you need to cut some expenses or increase income?

For more information, call Léhisa de Fornoza at 272-3670.

Irises in bloom

Irises are blooming and brightening landscapes across Finney County. The dominant iris color of purple together with white iris blooms makes the whole area ablaze with K-State's colors.

My favorite flower of all is the iris. Iris is a large family of flowers. In fact, there are nearly 300 separate species of iris identified across the globe. Notice this is separate species, not varieties. German bearded irises by themselves have literally thousands of varieties.

German bearded iris with its unique flower design and interesting petals and blooms is the most commonly grown iris type. There are many different types of irises, including reticulated iris that blooms nearly as early as crocus in the early spring. Dutch irises are often used in cut floral arrangements. Both reticulated and Dutch irises are propagated from bulbs instead of from tubers like bearded iris.

German bearded irises come in many different sizes and colors. Miniature irises are only about 6 inches high with dainty little blooms. The largest German iris varieties have flowers 3 feet off the ground. So whatever place you want to plant irises in your landscape, you can find the right size to fit.

Purple is the most common color for iris. But check out a catalog for German irises and you can find colors all across the rainbow, from white to nearly black, with reds, blues, yellows and even many with two-toned ones. Newer developed varieties can have flowers nearly 6 inches wide and tall.

Another relatively recent development in German bearded iris is varieties that re-bloom. If you are not aware of this development in German iris, you are missing a delight. About the only negative item for German iris is that they bloom for such a short time in the spring. Each variety only lasts for about two weeks. Re-blooming irises answer that problem by blooming again later in the fall. Fall-blooming irises often bloom for a month or more due to the cooler fall temperatures. They can even withstand a light freeze down to about 28 degrees before the blooms are hurt.

The fact that irises need dividing after a few years is another great reason to grow them. I always grow divisions that came from clumps once growing at my parents' house. And some of those came from my grandparents and great-grandparents. Along with having irises grown by our ancestors, so do my children have irises growing in their yards that came from plants we gave them.

Enjoy the irises blooming across the county. Plant some more, especially the re-blooming types and then pass them on to your family and friends.

If you have any questions about growing irises or any other concerns, contact David Coltrain at 272-3670 or email coltrain@ksu.edu.

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