Category Archives: Family

Energy Masters Program energizes Arlington County

white woman installing a shower head.

A Master Energy Volunteer installs a low low-flow shower head.

Written by Emily Halstead, a senior in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences and a communications intern for Virginia Cooperative Extension.

Volunteers in Arlington County are making a difference — one light bulb and toilet tank at a time. With more than 6,000 hours of volunteer service under their belts, these masters of energy efficiency have been helping low-income families improve their comfort levels and reduce their water and energy bills.

The Energy Masters Program, funded by the Arlington County Community Development Fund, has made strides in improving energy efficiency for residents living in affordable housing units in Arlington County neighborhoods. The program is a collaborative effort between the Virginia Cooperative Extension Arlington County Office and two county nonprofit organizations — Arlingtonians for a Clean Environment and Arlington Thrive.

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Extension agents reach out to unlicensed child care providers

Caring for children can be a stressful and difficult job.

But, when a child care provider tries to care for too many children, accidents can happen. According to a study by The Washington Post, about 60 children died in Virginia day care settings between 2004 and 2014. Nearly 75 percent of these deaths occurred at unlicensed homes, where child care providers faced no inspections or background checks.

As a result of these tragic accidents, several new, stricter state laws were passed in Virginia in 2015. As this issue was recognized, Karen DeBord, Virginia Cooperative Extension family and human development specialist, saw a need to reach out to and provide education to unlicensed child care providers.

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Virginia Cooperative Extension offers tips to prepare for El Niño winter

Do not overexert yourself when shoveling snow or stay outdoors for long periods of time. Photo credit: Extension Disaster Education Network

Do not overexert yourself when shoveling snow or stay outdoors for long periods of time. Photo credit: Extension Disaster Education Network

Virginia Cooperative Extension at Virginia Tech has a number of tips to help people prepare for the winter and keep their families, property, and animals safe.

El Niño is coming and this year the warming of the equatorial eastern Pacific Ocean will likely affect the mid-Atlantic states to a degree not seen in 20 years. This has the potential to bring a wetter than normal winter for Virginia, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Temperatures in Virginia are projected to be close to normal along with other mid-Atlantic states. Because of the projected increase in precipitation, however, Virginia is vulnerable to significant winter conditions such as snow and ice this year.

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Taking the bite out of bedbugs

While bedbugs have largely been the bane of landlords and hoteliers, researchers from Virginia Cooperative Extension have discovered that bedbugs are increasingly popping up in spaces such as health care facilities — and that has a lot of people scratching their heads about how to contain the annoying bugs.

Dini Miller, professor of entomology and Extension entomologist, trains health care and social workers on how to get rid of bedbugs and prevent future infestations.

Dini Miller, professor of entomology and Extension entomologist, trains health care and social workers on how to get rid of bedbugs and prevent future infestations.

This latest development means the training and research that Dini Miller, professor of entomology and Extension entomologist, conducts at the Dodson Urban Pest Management Laboratory is more necessary than ever for those looking to contain the urban pest problem.

According to Miller, bedbugs have increasingly spread from individual homes to places where people gather to use social services, such as women’s shelters; medical care facilities, like dialysis centers; and lower-income, elder care facilities. Elderly populations are at high risk for bedbugs because their bodies might not react to the bites with the usual red welts, and poorer eyesight means they don’t see the bugs well enough to report them.

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Virginia Cooperative Extension offers 10 tips for consumers using new credit chip cards

Travis Mountain

Travis Mountain

Credit and debit card holders will have an added measure of safety this holiday shopping season in the form of an embedded chip that makes the cards difficult to counterfeit and protects consumers from fraudulent transactions.

Millions of new cards will be issued in the coming years as the old ones with magnetic strips are slowly phased out.

“Consumers who receive cards encoded with the new chip technology from their credit card companies should welcome this latest development as a further safeguard against credit card fraud,” said Travis Mountain, a Virginia Cooperative Extension specialist and assistant professor of agricultural and applied economics in Virginia Tech’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. “But with new technologies come new challenges and there are certain things consumers need to be aware of.”

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