County Extension Agent

Megan Dunn to the left in her 4-H jacket.August 4, 2017 - Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service is comprised of 12 districts covering all 254 counties in Texas, and Shelby County is part of District 5 which is composed of 22 counties in the East region. Recently, the district conducted a leadership camp in Laneville for youth in grades 9 to 12.  At the camp, participants learned the importance of being a leader for their community, what makes a good public speaker, and giving back to their counties through community service opportunities.  At the conclusion of the camp, these youth leaders were given the chance to present a speech on the importance leadership within their counties and participate in a peer-led interview. 

Megan Dunn, a Shelby County 4-H member participated in this opportunity and because of her motivating speech and outstanding interview, she was selected to represent the district as president.  In addition, Megan also selected for a position on the state 4-H council.  

The Texas 4-H Council is a team of 4-H members elected by their peers from across the state of Texas representing the twelve AgriLife Extension districts. Serving as ambassadors for the Texas 4-H program, members represent the organization statewide while collaborating with Extension faculty to plan, coordinate, and facilitate activities and events.

Megan also serves the state as a Texas 4-H Livestock Ambassador.  As a livestock ambassador, she is provided additional opportunities to develop and practice advanced leadership skills related to mentoring other youth and to advocate for animal agriculture.  We would like to wish congratulations to Megan for selection to these top district and state positions.   

If you have any questions regarding 4-H, please do not hesitate to contact the Shelby County Extension Office at 936-598-7744, Lane Dunn, Ag/NR Agent and Jheri-Lynn McSwain, FCS Agent.  Be sure to check us out on Facebook at Shelby Extension.

August 2, 2017 - Shelby County 4-H member, Blake Griffin wins big at the State 4-H horse show. The show was held in Abilene the last week of July. Blake places first in cutting, first in breakaway roping, second in team roping and second in tie down calf roping. 

Blake won the high point roper saddle for his efforts. As a result of these outstanding placings, Blake also won four belt buckles, a pair of Anderson Bean boots, and a head stall for his horse. The high point roping saddle has also been won by former Shelby County 4 H members Dakota Klein in 2000 and Blake’s uncle David Griffin in 1982.

In addition to his accomplishments at State, he also placed well at the District Horse Show winning two belt buckles for Senior tie down and team roper. Please help us congratulate Blake on a job well done.

If you would like to participate in this project or any other 4-H project in Shelby County, contact Lane Dunn, County Extension Agent – Ag/NR at 936-598-7744 or email at

The members of Texas A&M AgriLife will provide equal opportunities in programs and activities, education, and employment to all persons regardless of race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age, disability, genetic information, veteran status, sexual orientation or gender identity and will strive to achieve full and equal employment opportunity throughout Texas A&M AgriLife. The Texas A&M University System, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the County Commissioners Courts of Texas Cooperating. Anyone needing special assistance at an Extension Program should contact the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension office of Shelby County at (936) 598-7744 at least two weeks prior to the program or event.

Submitted by Lane Dunn

July 7, 2017 - (Flyer) - Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Shelby County will be hosting a canning workshop on Saturday, July 15, 2017 from 1pm to 4pm at the Extension office, 266 Nacogdoches Street, Center, TX 75935.

The focus of this fun, interactive workshop will be on making and canning tasty pickles, jam and salsa safely. An abundance of home grown fruits and vegetables often triggers the desire to can foods at home. While this can be a fun and rewarding way to keep foods long after the season ends, care must be taken to assure that foods canned at home are safe to eat. Attend this fun and informative food preservation workshop if you would like to learn hands-on how to make and preserve fruit and vegetables. The 6th edition of So Easy to Preserve by Cooperative Extension Service of The University of Georgia will be available for purchase at a discount of $15 per book.

Registration and payment in advance is required and due by July 12th. The cost for this workshop is $20 per person. Each participant will take home a jar of salsa, pickles and jam. A special thank you to Shelby County Farm Bureau for sponsoring this program. If you would like to register, please contact Daphne at 936-598-7744. For more information, contact Jheri-Lynn McSwain, CEA-FCS at 936-598-7744.

Helping Camille celebrate were (L-R) judge Joe Rathman, grandparents James and Becky Greer, Camille Greer, mom Courtney Greer, aunt Kristen Clark and dad Collin Greer. Not shown brother Carter Greer. Camille is a member of Shelby Co. 4-H.

June 28, 2017 - We would like to say congratulations on a job well done to Ms. Camille Greer of Shelby County 4-H and Greer Charolais.  Camille Greer showed her May 2016 heifer at the Texas Junior Charolais Show June 11 in Salado. The heifer was chosen by Judge Joe Rathman as Reserve Champion heifer of the show. She also placed second with her cow/calf pair.  Both females were bred by Greer Charolais.

Great day at the Charolais Junior National for Camille Greer and Greer Charolais. Class winner with the pair, GC Miss Roxy Firewater 511 P and bull calf, GC Mount Rushmore 707 P.  Fourth with GC Miss Kingsbury Sophie 608 P. All bred by Greer Charolais. Thanks to all the great people of Nebraska for a phenomenal Junior National!

Learn, Grow, Eat and Go!

June 23, 2017 - School gardens have arrived as a “must have” popular project to encourage student interest in science and nutrition. The Learn, Grow, Eat & GO! (LGEG) Program has multiple components including a garden, classroom curriculum, vegetable tasting & recipe demonstrations, student journal, books, family stories and Walk Across Texas! The LGEG classroom curriculum is designed for 3-5th grades with a focus on science, math, language arts and health. The WAT! Program is appropriate for all grades and has supporting activities for a variety of subject maters. The hands-on learning within the program has been shown to engage all students! These components can foster connections across the campus, district and within the community. Schools, students and families get the most benefit when LGEG and all components are fully implemented!

On Wednesday, July 19, 2017, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service will host a Learn, Grow, Eat & Go! hands on workshop and training for schools, youth development organizations, community partners and county agents from across the state. We will walk through the lessons, plant a container garden, taste vegetables and participate in food demonstrations.

This training will be located at the Nacogdoches County Extension office located on 203 West Main Street in Nacogdoches Texas. With the support of gracious donors from Nacogdoches County, LGEG Curriculum materials will be available for a reduced price at the training.

The training will be from 9:00 am – 4:00 pm with a fee of $25 to cover lunch and supplies. If you have any questions Jheri-Lynn McSwain, Shelby CEA-FCS or 936-598-7744 or CBEC Hours will be given and Certificates will also be available. Make checks payable to Shelby FCS Account and mail to: Nacogdoches County Extension Office, c\o LGEG, 203 W. Main Street, Nacogdoches, TX 77843.

Submitted by Deborah Sanford

May 23, 2017 - (Flyer) - Diabetes is a growing issue in American that is affecting more and more people every day. Living as a diabetic can be challenging and confusing. Trying to figure out what you can and cannot eat can present a challenge when you are not sure of the true facts regarding diabetes. To help educate the Shelby County community this topic, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service in conjunction with sponsor Nacogdoches Medical Center will present Cooking Well with Diabetes classes.

This will be a two-lesson series class presented July 22 and 29, 2017 at the Shelby County Extension office at their new location of 266 Nacogdoches Street in Center, Texas. The classes start at 9:30am and will conclude with lunch at 12:30pm. The cost of the classes is a one-time registration fee of $20. Topics will include recognizing carbohydrates in recipes and using sweeteners effectively, making recipes with fat better, reducing sodium and increasing fiber, and special event recipes that are healthy and delicious. These interactive classes will include research based information, delicious diabetes friendly recipes demonstrations and tastings, lunch, and drawings for various door prizes.  

For more information or to register for the classes, contact the Shelby County Extension office at 936-598-7744 or email Jheri-Lynn McSwain, CEA-FCS at Registration in advance is required to participate in these informative classes.

June 2, 2017 - Unfortunately, seat belts do not come in one-size-fits-all. In fact, the seat belt that is designed to save an adult’s life in a crash does not fit a young child. And, the poor fit of the seat belt can actually cause serious injuries or even death during a crash. Many parents are under the impression that a child can be moved to the vehicle seat belt system when they have outgrown the weight limits of their child safety seat. Most conventional forward-facing child safety seats have a 5-point harness system that can be used until at least 40 pounds. However, most children weigh 40 pounds long before they are tall enough to fit in the vehicle lap/shoulder belt. 

Children do not fit well in the vehicle lap/shoulder belts that were designed for adults who are at least 4 feet 9 inches tall. Instead of fitting properly over the lower hips, the lap belt rides over the soft tissues of the abdomen and can cause severe injury or death. The shoulder portion of the belt hits the child’s neck or face instead of lying flat across the chest. This causes many children to place the shoulder belt behind their back, leaving them with no upper body protection. A booster seat ‘boosts’ the child up so the lap/shoulder belt will fit correctly and provide protection in a crash.

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Agent, Jheri-Lynn McSwain, Shelby County, reminds parents that correctly using a booster seat can protect a child from being thrown around the vehicle or being totally ejected in a crash. In a crash, children who are incorrectly restrained by a lap/shoulder belt are likely to sustain serious injuries to internal organs, as well as the head and spinal cord. In fact, these abdominal and spinal injuries are medically referred to as “Seat Belt Syndrome.”  

Motor vehicle crashes continue to be one of the leading causes of death and injury for children 14 and under. Car seats, including boosters, have been proven to be effective in preventing injuries and deaths and studies show that booster seats can reduce the risk of injury by 59 percent. But children in this age group are the least likely to be properly restrained. Surveys conducted during 2016 by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute found that only 31.8% of 5-9 year olds in Texas were correctly restrained. In Texas, fatalities in the 5-9 year old age group are nearly twice as high as the national rate.

The law in Texas requires children under 8 years old, unless taller than 4 feet 9 inches, to be in a child restraint system according to the manufacturer’s instructions. According to the law, an 8 year old can legally ride in the seat belt, but only a small percentage of 8 year olds are 4 feet 9 inches tall. While not every child who is 4 feet 9 inches will fit the seat belt — due to some children being longer in the torso and some children having longer legs — the average child reaches 4 feet 9 inches at age 11! Best practice is to keep the child in a booster seat until the lap/shoulder belts fits, which is usually sometime between ages 8-12.

The injury rate and high costs associated with medical care and lost productivity for families is huge. Booster seats are an affordable solution for protecting children in the 4 to 8-plus age group. The cost of booster seats is low; generally between $15 to $40 for a basic booster seat.  Researchers estimate that a $30 booster seat generates nearly $2,000 in benefit to society from reduced health-care expenses. Booster seats offer a low-cost solution to a high-cost problem.

When is your child ready for the seat belt?

Take the Five Step Test

Does the child sit all the way back against the auto seat?
Do the child’s knees bend comfortably at the edge of the vehicle?
Does the belt cross the shoulder between the neck and arm?
Is the lap belt as low as possible, touching the thighs?
Can the child stay seated like this for the whole trip?

If you answered ‘no’ to any of these questions, your child needs a booster seat to make both the shoulder belt and the lap belt fit right for the best crash protection. Your child will be more comfortable, too!

Appointments for booster seat fittings are available each Friday, beginning June 2, 2017, through the Shelby County Extension office.  Call Daphne Lovell at 936-598-7744 to schedule your appointment for a free child safety seat inspection, or visit to find a certified child passenger safety technician in your area.

Source: SafetyBeltSafe U.S.A. (

Pictured left to right: Logan Holloway, Lance Holloway, Dawson McFaddin, Colton Gutermuth, Nic Lambert, Konner Windham, and Colby Lout

May 24, 2017 - It was several great weekends for the Shelby County 4h Shooters. On April 23rd, 2017, the Madison County Whizbang was held in Madisonville, TX and representing Shelby County 4H shooters were Lance Holloway, Logan Holloway, Nic Lambert, Dawson McFaddin, and Konner Windham.

The results were as follows:

Senior I
Lance Holloway (shooting up) - 4th in Trap
Logan Holloway - 3rd in Trap, 2nd in Skeet, 4th in Whizbang and Reserve HOA (High Over All)

Pictured Left to Right: Logan Holloway, Lance Holloway, Konner Windham, Nic Lambert, and Dawson McFaddin

Colton Gutermuth, Colby Lout, and Dawson McFaddin had another great shooting weekend, May 6th at Walker County Whizbang in Crockett, TX.

Results were as follows:

Junior Division
Colby Lout - 2nd place Trap, 3rd place Whizbang 

Senior I Division
Colton Gutermuth - 2nd in Whizbang
Dawson McFaddin - 3rd in Skeet 

Pictured Left to Right: Colby Lout, Colton Gutermuth, and Dawson McFaddin

Jefferson County Whizbang was held in Winnie, TX on May 7th. Shelby County 4H shooter Colton Gutermuth represented Shelby County very well by placing 2nd in Trap and 3rd in Skeet. Congratulations to Colton!

Colton GutermuthThe 2017 District 5 4-H Shoot was held at Pines Gun Club in Lufkin, TX on May 13th. District 5 consists of 22 counties in East Texas. Representing Shelby County 4-H Shooters were: Colton Gutermuth, Lance Holloway, Nic Lambert, Colby Lout, Dawson McFaddin and Konner Windham.

Results were as follows:

Junior Division
Colby Lout - 2nd in Sporting Clays, 2nd in 5 Stand, 1st in Skeet, 2nd in Trap, and 1st in Tower

Intermediate Division
Lance Holloway - 2nd in Sporting Clays, 1st in 5 Stand, 1st in Skeet, 1st in Trap, 3rd in Tower and Intermediate High Over All (HOA)

Senior I Division
Dawson McFaddin - 2nd in Sporting Clays, 4th in Tower
Colton Gutermuth - 5th in Sporting Clays, 3rd in Skeet, 5th in Trap, 2nd in Tower
Logan Holloway - 1st in Sporting Clays, 1st in 5 Stand, 2nd in Skeet, 2nd in Trap, 5th in Tower and Senior 1 HOA

Senior II Division
Nicholas Lambert - 1st in Sporting Clays, 1st in 5 Stand, 2nd in Skeet and 4th in Tower
Konner Windham - 3rd in Sporting Clays, 5th in 5 Stand, 4th in Skeet, 5th in Trap, and 1st in Tower and Overall HOA Ladies

If you have any questions or would like more information regarding 4-H, please give us a call at 936-598-7744.

People need to be extra cautious when outdoors, with more of the critters after a mild winter
May 23, 2017 (HealthDay News) - Scientists have a double-shot of bad news about ticks: There's a new, and potentially fatal, tick-borne illness called Powassan, and this summer looks like it might be one of the worst on record for an increase in the tick population.

"Tick-borne diseases are on the rise, and prevention should be on everyone's mind, particularly during the spring and summer, and early fall when ticks are most active," said Rebecca Eisen. She is a research biologist in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's division of vector-borne diseases.

Laura Goodman, a senior research associate in population medicine and diagnostic sciences at Cornell University, concurred. "It's going to be a bad season," she said.

Approximately 75 cases of Powassan disease were reported in the United States over the past 10 years. Most cases have occurred in the Northeast and Great Lakes region, according to the CDC.

Powassan is a virus that can be transmitted through a tick bite. Although rare, Powassan has been spreading, and more cases are likely this year, Goodman said.

Signs and symptoms of Powassan can include fever, headache, vomiting, weakness, confusion, seizures and memory loss. Long-term neurological damage also may occur, according to the CDC.

There's currently no specific treatment for the disease. People with severe Powassan often need to be hospitalized to receive respiratory support, intravenous fluids or medications to reduce swelling in the brain.

If inflammation of the brain (encephalitis) occurs, the fatality rate is approximately 10 percent, the CDC warns.

There's no vaccine to prevent Powassan. The best prevention is avoiding ticks.

And that may be harder to do this year, experts at Cornell University explained. Because of a milder winter in the Northeast, a dramatic increase in the tick population is expected in that region and possibly across the northern United States.

Eisen said that "the ability of ticks to survive and reproduce also is influenced by temperature and precipitation. Other factors include, but are not limited to, availability of hosts and suitable habitat, such as wooded or brushy vegetation."

Ticks that can transmit illnesses have expanded their geographic range and are now being found in places they weren't seen 20 years ago, she noted.

Reforestation and increased deer populations are contributing to the expanding tick distribution, Eisen said.

Ticks carry not only bacterial diseases such as Lyme, but also viral illnesses like Powassan and parasitic diseases like babesiosis.

Since the late 1990s, the number of reported cases of Lyme disease in the United States has tripled, and the number of counties in the Northeast and upper Midwest that are considered high-risk for Lyme disease has increased by more than 300 percent, Eisen said.

In 2015, about 30,000 cases of Lyme disease were reported in Americans, but the number was likely much higher, according to the CDC.

To protect yourself from a tick-borne infection, the CDC recommends:

  • Learning which tick-borne diseases are common in your area.
  • Avoiding places with thick vegetation, high grass and leaf litter.
  • Walking in the center of trails when hiking.
  • Using repellent that contains 20 percent or more DEET on exposed skin for protection that lasts several hours.
  • Using products that contain permethrin to treat clothing and gear -- such as boots, pants, socks and tents -- or wearing clothing pre-treated with permethrin.
  • Bathing or showering as soon as possible after potential exposure, to wash off ticks before they bite.
  • Removing all attached ticks as soon as possible.
  • Treating dogs with products that kill and/or repel ticks.
  • Examining gear and pets. Ticks can ride into the home on clothing and pets, then attach to a person later, so carefully examine pets, coats and day packs.
  • Drying clothes in a dryer on high heat for 10 minutes to kill ticks on dry clothing after you come indoors. If the clothes are damp, additional time may be needed. If the clothes require washing first, hot water is recommended.
  • If the clothes can't be washed in hot water, tumble dry on low heat for 90 minutes or high heat for 60 minutes. The clothes should be warm and completely dry.

"It's especially important to take steps to protect yourself and your loved ones, including pets, from ticks during this season, as well as any time during the warmer months when you're outside," Eisen said.

SOURCES: Rebecca Eisen, Ph.D., research biologist, division of vector-borne diseases, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Laura Goodman, Ph.D., senior research associate, population medicine & diagnostic sciences, Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y.

Submitted by Lane Dunn
County Extension Agent-Shelby County
Agriculture and Natural Resources

May 23, 2017 - I’ve said many times here and to folks across the county that I get more questions specifically about pond management than any other topic. Indeed, a staple of east Texas land owners is the farm pond.

Ponds can serve many purposes. Well-managed ponds can provide irrigation, an easily-accessible water source for livestock and can be tremendous wildlife habitat. Primarily, many ponds are used for recreational activities such as boating, swimming and most often, fishing.

And when you break up the pond questions into categories, getting rid of excess vegetation is at the top of that list.

Before we start, please understand that some vegetation is good and even needed in most ponds. Vegetation provides cover and helps add oxygen. Interestingly, too much vegetation can lead to problems as well.

There are four kinds of aquatic vegetation: submersed (completely underwater), immersed (with dry vegetative matter existing above the surface), floating vegetation, and algae. In local terms, these pond weeds are either all below the water, above the water, float on top, or pond scum.

There are two commonly used types of control – plant-eating fish or herbicides. The two types of fish that can be used to control pond weeds: grass carp and tilapia.

Grass carp are state restricted fish requiring a permit from the Texas Parks and Wildlife. Grass carp do an excellent job of consuming weeds such as elodea, hydrilla, naiads, pondweed, chara, and parrotfeather. You can request an application for a grass carp permit by calling your local Texas Parks and Wildlife office.

Tilapia is a tropical, freshwater fish that are excellent at controlling algae, mosquito fern, bladder wort, duck weed, and water meal. Tilapia are not restricted but, due to their tropical nature, die off during the winter in un-heated water and need to be thought of as an annual biological treatment. In ponds large enough to include bass, the tilapia help fatten up bass for the winter months as tilapia get sluggish in cooling water.

My most recent calls have been about filamentous algae. We’ve got lots of not-so-flattering colloquial names such as “slime” and “pond scum”. Filamentous algae is the slimy material you have to remove from the fish hook each time.

Controlling this algae can be done fairly easily with the above mentioned tilapia and with several available products that contain copper. Copper products including copper sulfate, bluestone, Cutrine, Komeen, and many others.

I mention algae not only because those are the most recent questions, but because it is common, easy to control and can cause problems most quickly.

Herbicides approved for use in ponds will not kill fish. However, when something is killed and begins to rot, the decomposition process consumes oxygen. A dead squirrel on the side of the road may not cause any serious lack of oxygen, but a pond full of decomposing vegetation certainly can result in a fish die-off from lack of oxygen.

A possible solution to the oxygen depletion problem and subsequent die-off of fish is to treat no more than a third of the pond at a time so that fish have oxygen available.

Let if be said, there are products commonly used in ponds that have no business there. If the label does not state that it can be used in a pond with specific instructions on how to apply it, then it is not legal to use in a pond.

With the bevy of products available, there is not enough room in this article to cover them all. Contact the Extension office for exactly which products to use with your circumstance.

Submitted by Lane Dunn
County Extension Agent-Shelby County
Agriculture and Natural Resources