Virginia Cooperative Extension employees increase colorectal cancer screening rates by 20 percent

Colorectal cancer is the third-most commonly diagnosed and third-most fatal cancer in men and in women in the United States and Virginia. New screening methods have allowed for both the early detection of colorectal cancer and its prevention through the removal of intestinal polyps before they become cancerous. Early detection of colorectal cancer is crucial to successful treatment and increases survival rates from 13.1 percent, when discovered at an advanced stage, to 90 percent, if detected at an early, localized stage. In addition to screenings, a healthy lifestyle that includes regular exercise, a healthy eating pattern, and appropriate weight maintenance is pivotal to decreasing risk of colorectal cancer.

Eighty by 2018 emblem

In February 2016, Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE) joined the National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable’s “80% by 2018 Initiative” to eliminate colorectal cancer as a public health issue. Conducted for VCE employees, a colorectal cancer awareness campaign urged eligible members to get screened for colorectal cancer and encouraged everyone to adopt healthy lifestyle practices that reduce colorectal cancer risk. The campaign’s key message is that “colorectal cancer is preventable, treatable, and beatable.”

The campaign resulted in healthful changes in diet, exercise, and screening. VCE staff reported increasing the amount of fruits and vegetables they eat every day and substituting white meats for red and processed meats. Half of those asked said they had started exercising, and many increased the time or intensity of their exercise. Most importantly, the actual colorectal cancer screening rate among all VCE employees increased from 52.7 percent in fiscal year 2016 to 73.3% in fiscal year 2017 — a 20.6 percent increase in screening.

The goal within VCE is to reach a colorectal cancer screening rate of 80 percent by 2018, but we are going beyond just educating ourselves. Extension agents are introducing the initiative to the communities they serve. Agents will work with employers in their counties to conduct the “Colon Cancer Free Zone” worksite campaign, which increases employee awareness of colorectal cancer as a preventable disease and helps move them to action. If we work together, we can reach the goal of 80 percent colorectal cancer screening of all eligible Virginians by 2018.

If interested in conducting the “Colon Cancer Free Zone” campaign at your worksite, please contact Carlin Rafie at crafie@vt.edu or 540-231-3162.

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‘Designer manure’ could become fashionable on farms

Eugene Bowman’s family has owned a dairy farm in Franklin County, Virginia, for four generations, and Bowman wants to make sure that when he hands it over to his sons, the land is healthy for generations to come.

Jactone Ogejo

Jactone Ogejo

“It needs to be as good or better than when I got it,” he said.

So when his local Virginia Cooperative Extension agent told him about a research project Virginia Tech is undertaking to mitigate fertilizer runoff, Bowman jumped at the chance.

He is now working with Jactone Ogejo, an associate professor of biological systems engineering on a project to create the most fashionable thing to hit farms since Carhartts — designer manure.

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97th annual Virginia 4-H State Congress inspires true leaders

4-H members on drillfield standing in the shape of a 4-H clover

Virginia 4-H State Congress is the leading, statewide annual 4-H event for 4-H members and volunteer leaders.

More than 500 4-H’ers and adult volunteers will converge on Virginia Tech’s campus for the 97th annual Virginia 4-H State Congress to take place June 19-22.

Virginia 4-H State Congress is the leading, statewide annual 4-H event for 4-H members and volunteer leaders. Its mission is to provide competitive and non-competitive educational experiences to Virginia teens and the adults who work with them, helping them to develop life skills and leadership abilities to become contributing citizens in their communities.

Participants customize their 4-H State Congress experience by selecting activities from the dozens of workshops, showcases, and competitions offered. The activities provided cover topics such as communication and expressive arts, citizenship, healthy living, leadership, service learning, career/economic education, animal science, STEM, and environmental/outdoor education.

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Virginia Tech to host Beef and Forage Field Day at Kentland Farm on July 27

a bllack and white beef cow eating grassVirginia Tech will host a Beef & Forage Field Day July 27 at Kentland Farm in Blacksburg from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The public is invited to learn more about a variety of cattle- and forage-related topics and to experience Virginia Tech’s scenic Kentland Farm.

Topics will include

  • Economics of low-stress beef cattle handling.
  • Characteristics of quality feeder cattle.
  • The Virginia beef industry and market outlook.
  • Increasing pasture production with summer annuals and alternative forages.
  • Baling and bale-handling demonstrations.
  • Spray applications using boomless and aerial technology.
  • Practical and low-cost application of precision agriculture in livestock.
  • Precision technology demonstrations in forage systems.

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Scientists determine key factors of honeybee decline

Though a contributing factor, farmer-applied pesticides are not the primary cause of honeybee colony loss in Virginia, according to Virginia Tech scientists Richard Fell and Carlyle Brewster.bees

The scientists recently took wax, pollen, and bee samples from more than 110 hives across the state and have analyzed about half of them for pesticide residues.

“We did not find excessive amounts of agricultural pesticides in the hives, but we did find a significant amount of beekeeper-applied miticide,” said Fell, professor emeritus of entomology in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

Intended to kill the invasive, parasitic varroa mite, miticides can also be damaging to bees. Fell urged beekeepers to sample their colonies to determine mite infestation levels before treating. If treatment is necessary, beekeepers should use a miticide that does not cause residue problems, such as formic acid.

As more information emerges on the spread of the Zika virus, Fell also encouraged the public to be mindful that mosquito pesticides are toxic to honeybees and should only be applied when absolutely necessary.

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