County Extension Agent

February 15, 2017 - This is the time of year when everyone seems to be saying to themselves, “maybe I should try to start exercising or eating better.” Just in time to help you work towards your New Year’s resolution of a healthy lifestyle, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service is launching Walk and Talk, an 8-week program that encourages exercise and healthy eating.

The program consists of weekly nutrition tips on how to eat more fruits and vegetables to help participants move toward a healthier weight and includes a weekly weight check-in, weekly challenge to “stay the course,” healthy recipes and tips, exercise resources, and a weight-loss planner. Weekly door prizes and incentives will be given to class participants.

The series will kick off at 5:15 p.m.  February 28, 2017 at the Old Elementary School Gym on Nacogdoches Street in Center, Texas with a nutrition tip followed by a fitness component. A variety of fitness options will be offered.  Walk and Talk is a great FREE program to do with a friend or family member. It’s always easier to reach your goals when you have additional support.  

The Extension office is partnering with Zumba Fitness Instructors Denetra Slaughter and Celia Augilar and Tri-County Jennifer Gillespie to provide weekly fitness (Zumba and walking) classes.  

All course materials will be provided by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, Shelby County office.  In conjunction, participants will be eligible to participate in the annual Lighten Up East Texas.  Participants in this free contest will be eligible to win grand prizes such $5,000 cash and other great prizes.

Pre-registration is available from February 21 thru February 27, 2017 from 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. at the Extension office located at 200 San Augustine Street in Center, Texas.  For more information, visit or contact our office at (936) 598-7744.

If you have any questions about this program, please contact Jheri-Lynn McSwain, County Extension Agent – Family & Consumer Sciences or Feleshia Thompson Better Living for Texans, Extension Assistant at (936) 598-7744 or or or follow us on Facebook Shelby County Extension Service FCS.

Jheri-Lynn McSwain, M.Ed., M.S.
Shelby County Extension Agent
Family and Consumer Sciences

February 23, 2017 - Plans for the 2017 Annual Shelby County Livestock Show are set.  The show will be held on Thursday, March 2rd at the Shelby County Expo Center.  The sale will be held Saturday, March 4th, at the John Dean Windham Civic Center, meal starting at 6:00PM.

Weigh in of the market animals will begin at 7:30 a.m. and continue until 9:00 a.m.  The show will start at 10:00 a.m. with Rabbits and the Lambs, the Goats, Swine and Cattle will follow.  The Rabbits will be judged by Sherry Poindexter.  Carl Muntean, will judge lambs, goats, swine and cattle.  Kristen Powers, Show Emcee, stated, “I am excited about this year’s show with all the hard work and dedication that the exhibitors have put towards their animal projects.  There are over 105 entries at this show which are trying to be selected for the auction and premium awards.”  

Last year’s sale Champion steer was purchased by Hawkeye Hunting Club.   Border’s Poultry Supply and Heritage Land Bank won the bid for the Champion Swine.  Farmer’s State Bank purchased the Champion goat, and Texas State Bank, Shelby Veterinary Associates, Cockrell Farms, Toledo Finance Corp., Shoop Insurance/LPL Financial/Cash Now, 96 Equipment Inc.,  and Steel Building Supply bought the Champion lamb.

The Bar-B-Que for the buyer’s and exhibitors will start at 6:00 p.m. followed by the auction at 7:00 p.m. at the Windham Civic Center. “If you have a chance, come and see what the youth of Shelby County have been doing with their time.”  Stated Lane Dunn, County Extension Agent. “The Shelby County Livestock show continues to grow each year which in part is due to the continued support of our youth by local businesses and the community.” The public is invited to attend the events of the day and support the youth of our county.

February 15, 2017 - Shelby County 4-H recently had six members participate in the Fort Worth Livestock Show with the following results:

Wesley Wages – Shorthorn plus heifer
Seth Shamblin – market hog
Megan Dunn – market steer
Camille Greer – 2nd Charolais heifer
Hannah Wages – 3rd Hereford heifer
Garrett Saenz – 7th Beefmaster heifer

This week several 4-H members will be participating at San Antonio. In Shotgun Shoot, Colton Gutermuth, Tucker Scarber, Colby Lout, Hagan Craig, Dawson McFadden, Konner Windham, Seth Shamblin, Logan Holloway, and Lance Holloway will be competing. Camille Greer is entered to compete in the Heifer Show.

Next week competing will be Seth Shamblin in the Barrow Show and Megan Dunn in the Steer Show.

Submitted by Lane Dunn

January 17, 2017 - The Shelby County 4-H Food Project students are busy getting ready for the District Food Contest to be held on February 4, 2017. In November, the Food Project began with educational workshops on Kitchen Safety, Food Safety, Nutrition Basics and Public Speaking. During these workshops, participants practiced the knowledge gained while perfecting their food prep and cooking skills.

In addition to the workshops, the youth were able to practice their skills by participating in a county Food Show contest with the categories of protein, fruits/vegetables, grains and dairy. This event was held on January 12, 2017 at 6:00 pm at the Shelby County active courthouse. Each contestant was required to submit the recipe to the Shelby County Extension office. Each contestant prepared their dish at home and then transported it to the event. The contestants each decorated their table and plated their dish with the theme, “Family Favorites” to present to the judges. The contestants were judged on appearance, place setting, and presentation to judges. The first-place winners in each category for the overall food show entry advances to district. 

Shelby County 4-H County Food Show Results are below:

Harlee Taylor
1st Place Protein – “My MiMi’s Crawfish Etoufee”
1st Place Plating

Camille Greer
1st place Grains – “Cranberry Bread”
3rd place Plating

Samuel Richey
2nd Place Grains – “Blueberry Pancakes”
2nd Place plating

Submitted by Jheri-Lynn McSwain

Photo courtsey of Stacey VandrovecJanuary 5, 2017 - While many people think that 4-H is just about raising livestock, nothing could be further from the truth! We have numerous 4-H’ers involved in projects like clothing & textiles, photography, public speaking, shooting sports, etc. No matter what the project, the goal of 4-H is to develop life skills and leadership within young people so they become productive, contributing members of society. And we could not do it without the time, talent and dedication of 4-H volunteer leaders, so special thanks to them!

Shelby County 4-H is busy gearing up for our spring events, and there is still time for your child become a member of 4-H for 2017. Clubs meet on a monthly basis in Center, Shelbyville, and Joaquin. Projects that will kick off in January/February include: shooting sports, virtual fishing, livestock showing, outdoor adventures, and photography.

Research has shown that participation in 4-H programs makes a positive difference in the lives of youth. Youth development scholar, Dr. Richard Lerner, works with researchers at the Institute for Applied Research in Youth Development at Tufts University to conduct The 4-H Study of Positive Youth Development. The longitudinal study has found that, when compared to other youth, young people involved in 4-H are:

• Two times more likely to be more engaged in school;
• Two times more likely to plan to go to college; 
• Three times more likely to make positive contributions to their communities; and,
• Nearly two times more likely to participate in science, engineering, or computer technology programs (STEM) learning programs during out-of-school time.

Submitted by Jheri-Lynn McSwain

January 5, 2017 - The “Texas Food Establishment Rules (TFER)” was revised, updated and was effective October 11, 2015. A major change in the revision now requires ALL food employees to complete an accredited food handlers training program within 60 days of employment, effective September 1, 2016. 

A food handler’s course, accredited by the Texas Department of State Health Services, is being offered by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service. Food Safety: It’s In Your Hands will be offered by the Shelby County Extension Office on Wednesday, February 1st from 9:00 – 11 a.m. at the active Shelby County Courthouse, 2nd floor community room in Center, Texas 75935. 
This two-hour course is highly recommended for all food service employees to promote the service of safe food. The course is a basic overview of food safety practices that are necessary to ensure that safe food is served at your establishment. Practices discussed include good personal hygiene, cross contamination, and time and temperature abuse.

To register for this course, contact Jheri-Lynn McSwain, County Extension Agent at 936-598-7744 or The cost is $25 per person (check or money order) and must be paid in full before the course begins. The class is taught in English but Spanish handouts are available if requested in advance. You can also complete your food handler’s card online at

Submitted by Jheri-Lynn McSwain

October 31, 2016 - Every parent wants the best for their child’s future, and one of the best ways to make sure your child will have a bright future is to be sure that you are correctly using the right car seat for your child and that the seat is correctly installed in your vehicle every time. The problem is that keeping them safe in vehicles isn’t as easy as it might appear. Most parents think they are using their car seat correctly, but unfortunately, at least three out of four car seats are used incorrectly. For a car seat to best protect your child, it must be the one that fits your child, your vehicle, and one that you will use correctly every time you travel.

What can parents do to secure their child’s future? Texas AgriLife Extension agent, Jheri-Lynn McSwain, is urging all parents and caregivers to attend the car seat checkup event on Friday, November 4, 2016. Certified technicians will be available to provide on-site car seat inspections and education from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. at the Center Walmart on 810 Hurst Street.

Children are at greater risk than adults in a vehicle crash. In fact, motor vehicle crashes are one of the leading causes of death for children. Crash data from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration shows that on average, every 33 seconds, one child under the age of 13 is involved in a crash and nearly two children under age 13 are killed, and 308 are injured every day. Unfortunately, in 2015, less than half of the children killed in vehicle crashes in Texas were known to be restrained.

Securing your children properly in age- and size-appropriate child safety seats — in the back seat of your vehicle — is the most effective thing you can do to protect them in the event of a crash. In fact, in motor vehicle crashes, child safety seats reduce the risk of a fatal injury by 71 percent for infants and 54 percent for toddlers. Misuse of car seats can cause needless injuries and fatalities.

For a child safety seat to do its job correctly, it has to be:

  • Appropriate for your child’s age and size,
  • Installed properly in your vehicle, and
  • Adjusted to fit your child securely.

Parents are reminded to keep children rear-facing until at least age 2 or until the limit of their rear-facing convertible seat, which is usually 40 pounds or more. Also, children should stay in a 5-point harness system until they are ready to ride in a booster seat. Booster seats are for children who are at least age 4 and 40 pounds or more, and mature enough to sit still in a booster. Finally, keep children in a booster seat until the seat belt fits correctly. This is usually sometime between ages 8 and 12. The average child fits in a seat belt at age 11.

If you’re a parent or caregiver, don’t miss this opportunity to have a free child safety seat inspection by a certified child passenger safety technician. Technicians can provide hands-on advice and instruction. Make sure your children are safe and you are in compliance with the current child safety seat law in Texas. The law requires all children under age 8, unless taller than 4-feet-9-inches, to be in a child safety seat system, which includes traditional child safety seats with harnesses and booster seats. Keep in mind that the law is always the minimum. Car seat technicians will be able to provide education on best practices.

Remember: All child passengers under age 13 should ride securely restrained in the back seat, where they are safest — every trip, every time. If you are not able to attend an event during National Child Passenger Safety Week, you don’t have to wait until next year to check if your car seat is properly installed. To locate a certified Child Passenger Safety Technician in Texas, please visit:

Follow these guidelines from NHTSA to keep your children riding safely:

  • Birth – 12 months: For the best possible protection, your child under age 1 should always ride in a rear-facing car seat. There are different types of rear-facing car seats; infant-only seats can only be used rear-facing. Convertible and 3-in-1 car seats typically have higher height and weight limits for the rear-facing position, allowing you to keep your child rear-facing for a longer period of time.
  • 1 – 3 years: Your child should remain in a rear-facing car seat until he or she reaches the top height or weight limit allowed by your car seat’s manufacturer. This may result in many children riding rear-facing until age 2 or older. Once your child outgrows the rear-facing car seat, your child is ready to travel in a forward-facing car seat with a harness.
  • 4 – 7 years: Keep your child in a forward-facing car seat with a harness until he or she reaches the top height or weight limit allowed by your car seat’s manufacturer. Once your child outgrows the forward-facing car seat with a harness, it’s time to travel in a booster seat, but still in the back seat.
  • 8 – 12 years: Keep your child in a booster seat until he or she is big enough to fit in a seat belt properly. For a seat belt to fit properly, the lap belt must lie snugly across the upper thighs, not the stomach. The shoulder belt should lie snugly across the shoulder and chest and not across the neck or face. Children under age 13 should ride in the back seat.

October 10, 2016 (Event Flyer) - The Shelby County AgriLife Extension and Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association (TSCRA) is hosting Ranching 101 on Friday, October 14, 2016 from 9am until 4pm at 803 FM 2788, Center, Texas 75935.

Learn information on cattle health, resource management, cattle marketing, equipment selection, and a live chuteside demonstration with cattle. Only together can we fight for what's rightfully yours! TSCRA members and local ranching community are welcome to attend.

Please RSVP to TSCRA at 800-242-7820 ext 192 or or Shelby County AgriLife Extension at 936-598-7744. Directions: From TX-7 north of Center, turn south onto TX-500 Loop at the intersection of TX-7 and TX-500 Loop. After 0.3 mile, turn left onto FM 2788. The event will be on the right after 0.2 mile. Follow TSCRA signs.

September 13, 2016 - The kick-off for Walk Across Texas was held Saturday, September 10th at 8:00 a.m. at the Center City Park off Roughrider Drive.

All the participants walked or ran the 5K which is 3.1 miles! The trail started at the park down by the baseball fields and weaved around the pond, up the hill towards the high school football field main entrance, though the walking trails which come out by the John D. Windham Civic Center, around it and across the bridge, and then go back the same way back to the park pavilion by the pond.

The program has 234 who have signed up and are divided into teams. Jheri-Lynn McSwain, AgriLife Agent and program leader and participants, encouraged all those who attended the 5K and congratulated them on taking the first steps to a healthier life. The program is team based and team members are encouraged to cheer on each other and together they are to walk 900 miles, the distance across Texas.

The 8 week program's goal is physical activity that equates to 900 miles either as a team or as a solo walker and the team and solo walker that walks the most miles during the contest will be awarded prizes. The Shelby County Fit - Walk Across Texas is a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension program and is in partnership with the Shelby County Chamber of Commerce Health & Fitness Fair Committee.

September 12, 2016 - With the fall season almost upon us, it is important to remember that next month is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Today, breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in the United States and the second leading cause of cancer death among North American women, according to Jheri-Lynn McSwain, Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Agent in Shelby County. Unfortunately, many women with breast cancer do not even know that they have cancer until it is in its advanced stages. It is estimated that 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime, and 1 in 30 women will die of the disease, McSwain says.

So what can we do to decrease our risk of dying of breast cancer? Early detection via health screenings, such as mammography, is an important step. Screening examinations can detect breast cancers early, before symptoms occur, which may make it easier to treat the disease. Screening involves getting mammograms, clinical breast exams, and self breast exams, which are optional. There are many factors in predicting the chances of survival of a woman who is diagnosed with breast cancer, but finding the cancer as early as possible greatly improves the likelihood that treatment will be effective.

When should women starting screening for breast cancer? If you are over 40 years old, you need a mammogram every year, according to Courtney Schoessow, Health Program Specialist with the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service. A mammogram is an x-ray of the breast that usually involves two views, or pictures, of each breast. Mammograms help find lumps or growths that are too small for you or your health care provider to feel when conducting an exam. Additionally, women who are younger than 40 and have had breast cancer or breast problems or have a family history of breast cancer need a mammogram once a year.

A clinical breast examination is an examination of your breasts by a health professional, such as a doctor, nurse practitioner, nurse, or doctor’s assistant. This exam is also known as a CBE. Clinical breast exams should be part of a periodic health exam, at least every three years for women in their 20s and 30s, and every year for women 40 and over. During your CBE, your health care provider may tell you how to perform a breast self-exam, or BSE. By regularly performing BSEs, you will learn how your breasts normally feel, and you will be able to report any changes in your breasts to your health professional as soon as you find them. Finding a breast change does not mean that there is a cancer. You may choose not to do BSEs, or you can just do them occasionally.

Some women choose not to get mammograms because of the cost.  Beginning in 2011, the Affordable Care Act required that all new health insurance plans fully cover screening mammograms without any out-of-pocket expenses for the patient.  This is also required of Medicare.  For uninsured women and those not eligible for Medicare, resources are available for which these women may qualify.  To help women learn about these resources and how to access them, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service in Shelby County will be conducting a Friend to Friend event on Saturday, October 1st.  Mary Hebert, M.D., Radiation Oncologist from Nacogdoches Medical Center, will be at the event to provide information about both breast and cervical cancers.

In addition to the speaker, there will be discussion on the obstacles that prevent women from getting mammograms and pap tests.  Nacogdoches Medical Center will be present conducting free health screenings and participants will have an opportunity to schedule a screening mammogram.  Lunch will be provided at no charge, door prizes and goodie bags will be available.  Help will be provided to direct women who qualify to financial resources that will cover the cost of a screening mammogram.  To learn more about the Friend to Friend event, contact the Shelby County AgriLife Extension office at 936-598-7744.

In addition, East Texas Medical Center will be on the square at the Historic Shelby County Courthouse with their Mobile Mammogram Unit on Monday, October 10th providing mammograms for women with or without insurance.  To schedule an appointment for a mammogram, call the Extension office at 936-598-7744 and speak to Daphne or Jheri-Lynn.

Remember: The most important screening tools we have are mammograms and clinical breast exams. To reduce your risks of dying from breast cancer, you need to follow the guidelines on when to get them. Taking charge of your health now can lead to a healthier tomorrow. Start by getting screened this month in recognition of the upcoming National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.