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https://killexams.com/exam_list/SUNKillexams : Fraud and weak USDA oversight chip away at integrity of organic food industry
SIOUX FALLS — Trey Wharton of Sioux Falls has made numerous sacrifices in his life in order to maintain a healthful lifestyle centered around a vegan diet and consistent consumption of organic foods.
To afford organic products that are sometimes double or triple the cost of conventionally grown foods, Wharton works two jobs, doesn’t take vacations and drives a dented SUV.
“I’m investing in this vessel,” Wharton said, pointing at himself, “rather than in that vessel,” he added, motioning toward his 2011 Honda. “I pay more and sacrifice to invest my money in the foods I want.”
Wharton, 31, acknowledges that he is forced to trust the organic industry to uphold its promise that the foods are minimally processed, are grown without chemicals or additives, and are truly more healthful than non-organics.
“I don’t have a place in that system, so I have to trust them,” Wharton said.
Like other consumers who buy organic, Wharton sometimes wonders and worries if he’s actually getting what he believes he is buying. He is well aware of a few high-profile cases of organic food fraud — including a latest multimillion-dollar fake organic grain scam in South Dakota — in which unscrupulous producers made millions of dollars by illegally selling conventional grains packaged and sold as organic.
In the 2018 case in South Dakota, farmer Kent Duane Anderson of Belle Fourche made $71 million in fraudulent income by selling thousands of tons of conventionally grown grain falsely labeled as organic. Anderson then used the proceeds to buy an $8 million yacht, a $2.4 million home in Florida, and a Maserati, among other extravagant items, according to a federal indictment. Anderson is now in federal prison.
In July 2022, a Minnesota farmer was charged by federal prosecutors in a $46 million grain fraud scheme. In a federal indictment, authorities say James Clayton Wolf bought conventionally grown grain and resold it as organic over a period of about six years. Wolf has pleaded not guilty and will fight the allegations in court, his lawyer told News Watch.
Those cases of fraud or alleged fraud have caused uncertainty and mistrust among some consumers in an industry that relies largely on the honesty of producers, processors and packagers to maintain the integrity of the industry and, ultimately, to allow consumers to feel confident they are actually getting organic products for which they pay a premium price.
“If there’s more money in it, there’s more people looking at the dollars aspect and not the moral aspect,” said Charlie Johnson, a longtime organic farmer who grows soybeans, corn, oats and alfalfa southwest of Madison, S.D. “Those types of people and operations need to be pointed out and prosecuted, because they can bring down all of us if we don’t keep the system clean and honorable.”
In many ways, the organic food industry in America — which topped $63 billion in sales in 2021 — is responding to negative publicity from fraud cases and other weaknesses in the organic regulatory system by pushing for more stringent requirements and stronger enforcement of existing rules to protect the industry’s reputation long term.
At the policy level, the organic industry has been pushing for more regulation and oversight from the USDA and Congress to protect the integrity of the industry as it grows and evolves, said Reana Kovalcik, director of public affairs at the Organic Trade Association, a business group representing the organic industry in Washington, D.C.
The group that represents organic farmers, processors and retailers is pushing for new rules and programs to Boost transparency, oversight and enforcement of national organic regulations and processes, Kovalcik said.
“It’s kind of unique for an agriculture industry to say, ‘Hey, please regulate us more,’ but that’s exactly what the organic industry is asking for,” she said. “The industry wants to make sure everything is as buttoned up as it needs to be for producers who are doing this extra work to get a price premium, and for consumers who are paying that premium price.”
The organization has separate regulatory and congressional packages it has been pushing for years, but both are bogged down in Washington, Kovalcik said.
One element of the proposals deals with increasing fraud protections within the industry, she said.
As hard as the organic industry tries to police itself and protect its integrity, Kovalcik said she still hears people speak about Randy Constant, the Missouri corn and soybean grower who perpetrated the largest organic grain-fraud scheme in U.S. history. Constant was sentenced to 10 years in prison in 2019 for generating $142 million in fraudulent organic grain sales, which he spent on an extravagant lifestyle. Constant took his own life after being sentenced.
“It’s really in the interest of the entire organic industry to keep our regulations current, modern and transparent for the good of producers, retailers and consumers,” she said. “The organic seal was all about trust and integrity; that’s why we have seals, and the organic industry takes that very seriously.”
Wharton, meanwhile, said he will continue to buy organic and trust that sufficient safeguards and oversight are in place to ensure organic practices are followed and that organic labeling is accurate.
“It’s like when they build a house,” he said. “You have to trust at some level that what they are doing is up to code.”
Billion-dollar industry attractive to fraudsters
As in any industry, the lure of making big money through fraud is enticing to unscrupulous farmers and suppliers who are willing to risk prison to take advantage of weaknesses in the organic system to defraud consumers.
The enticement to commit outright fraud, or just to cut corners or manipulate the system in small ways, is high in the organic industry, where more expensive, more carefully produced final products look exactly the same on the shelves as products that are cheaper and produced with far less-stringent standards and more chemicals and additives.
On a basic level, organic foods are non-genetically modified crops grown in soil without chemical additives such as fertilizers, herbicides or pesticides; and non-genetically modified livestock raised on mostly organic feed without added hormones or antibiotics.
The USDA describes organic farming as “the application of a set of cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that support the cycling of on-farm resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity. These include maintaining or enhancing soil and water quality; conserving wetlands, woodlands, and wildlife; and avoiding use of synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, irradiation, and genetic engineering.”
The USDA sets forth a host of operating and labeling regulations, including lists of allowable and non-allowable food additives and agricultural practices, as part of its National Organic Program that was established through the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990.
USDA workgroups within the larger program work continuously to consider requests to modify the program and consider new allowable substances and practices to keep the program up to date, though many people and groups in the organic industry say the USDA is too lenient and too slow to react to industry changes.
Furthermore, the organic food industry is relatively new in comparison to the conventional food industry, so regulations have come more slowly and with less consistency and lower government investment and intervention.
For example, the USDA is responsible for setting product-safety and production guidelines for both the conventional and organic food industries. But while the USDA is responsible for regulating and enforcing the rules in most conventional agricultural processes — the meat industry, for example — the USDA outsources the certification and regulatory functions of the organic food industry. In the organic world, producers who want to label their products as organic must become certified by one of about 80 independent groups or agencies, many of them nonprofit groups devoted to promoting organic agriculture. Typically, those agencies inspect producers they certify only once a year, and they are paid for their certification services, creating a potential incentive to maintain a high number of certified producers.
The organic food industry has exploded in roughly the past 30 years as a growing number of Americans and people around the world seek more healthful foods grown with fewer chemicals and less-invasive agricultural practices.
Sales of organic foods have roughly quadrupled in the past 15 yeas, from about $16 billion nationally in 2016 to more than $63 billion in 2021, according to the Organic Trade Association.
South Dakota has been slower than other states to take advantage of the exploding organic market, and is ranked 38th of the 50 states in the number of organic farms. South Dakota’s 124 certified organic farms and related businesses generated $14 million in product sales in 2019, a 42% increase over 2017. However, acres of farmland devoted to organics in South Dakota still make up less than 1% of the overall agricultural land in the state.
Organic system relies on ‘checks and balances’
Angela Jackson has obtained a close-up view of the organic foods industry from two distinct vantage points: as a producer who owns and operates Prairie Sun Organics certified poultry and crop farm in Vermillion; and as someone with more than a decade of experience as an organic expert and independent inspector who has audited organic farms in 36 countries.
“I have spent my life working with verifying bodies, working as an inspector, making sure that things are done right and bringing integrity to the system,” she said.
And yet, Jackson is aware of the concerns over the integrity of the organic agriculture system in the U.S. and in other countries.
“Within organics, there are people that really know the system and are experts at finding the loopholes in the system and they take advantage of that,” Jackson said. “But 99.9 percent of the time, farmers do a fantastic job, and the good news is that the bad guys get caught, which tells me that the system is working.”
Jackson noted that the certification agencies and most of their employees are well trained in identifying and rooting out fraud or potential fraud. While she acknowledges that more oversight would be good for the industry, she added that organic foods are actually more highly regulated and monitored than conventional foods.
Annual inspections of producers seeking organic certification typically include a review of paperwork, a tour of the farm and farm operations, and testing of products and equipment for the presence of non-allowed substances such as pesticides, she said. Reports developed by on-site inspectors, she said, are then reviewed for accuracy by the certifier’s technical specialist.
“To be qualified to be an inspector is arduous,” she said.
One weak point in the regulatory oversight process, Jackson said, is that most of the testing of organic crops is done to look for genetically modified organisms, which are not allowed. More direct testing of products for the presence of pesticides could be done in the inspection process, she said.
Jackson added that there is a difference between “compliance,” which is following both the letter and spirit of organic regulations, and “ethics,” which puts more onus on the farmer to do what is right even if the rules don’t necessarily call for it.
Jackson said some farmers and livestock producers are beginning to find loopholes in the organic requirements that have been in place for decades, including the growth of hydroponic crops that never touch genuine soil. Some farms risk cross-contamination of organic and non-organic products through “dual production” farms, which grow or raise both types of products on the same farm and open the door to reduced integrity of the organics produced there.
“What we’re losing in organics is the ethics piece, and the ethics are getting watered down,” she said. “The compliance piece is still there, but unfortunately some farms are putting corporate interests first, and it’s all about money to them.”
However, Jackson said, the majority of organic farms in the U.S. are both compliant and ethical in how crops are grown and how animals are raised and treated.
But even as she is aware of the weaknesses within the organic certification and regulatory system, Jackson is confident that consumers who desire organic products can rely on the systems in place to ensure safety and authenticity.
She also urged a consumer who questions the validity of a claim of organic on any product to take a picture of the product and submit it to the USDA for investigation. Getting to know local food producers personally is another good way consumers can ensure they are getting the organic products they expect, she said.
“Could there be more enforcement officers with the USDA, and could there be more auditors like me doing this work, yes, there could be,” she said. “But generally, organic farmers have a heart to do the right thing, and there’s checks and balances in the system so it works very well.”
“You can be assured that when you buy a product, it has 95% less pesticides than a conventional product, because we can never get to 100%,” she said. “More than 90% of the time, however, we have total confidence, and if it’s made in the USA, and it’s certified in the USA, you can be highly confident the organic product is what it says it is.”
Organic industry focuses on integrity
In many ways, the organic food industry is taking new steps on its own to further protect the relationship of trust it has with consumers, to assure them what they’re buying is what they’re getting.
Abby Lundrigan is driving across the American Midwest to meet with organic farmers to examine their practices to see if they qualify for a so-called “add on” organic certification.
Lundrigan, a former organic farm manager, is a certification liaison for the Real Organic Project, a Vermont-based nonprofit organization that seeks to provide organic farmers who meet their standards a way to further identify their products as approved by the organization.
The add-on labeling — provided free to qualifying farmers — is one way some organic producers are trying to retain and bolster their integrity and credibility with consumers at a time when the organic industry has been plagued by occasional cases of fraud, sidestepping of basic organic farming principles and watering down of federal organic standards.
The group’s literature said it was created because while USDA organic certification is important, it has become weakened to the point where many organic farmers feel it can be manipulated or abused by farms and operators who don’t follow some of the original tenets of organic farming.
For example, the group points out that the USDA allows organic certification of farms that use hydroponics, or soil-less growing methods, and allows certification of cattle and poultry farms known as confinements, where animals are not allowed onto pasture land and are not free to move about in the outside air.
“The growing failure of the USDA to serve and protect organic farming was the catalyst that united us,” the group says in its literature. “The farmers of the Real Organic Project have created an add-on label to USDA organic to differentiate organic food produced in concert with healthy soils and pastures.”
The group further states: “As organic succeeded, the same big players in chemical ag became the big players in the organic industry, and with this big tent, we suddenly found the tent changing. Soon we could barely recognize as ‘organic’ much of what was being sold under our label.”
Since launching in 2018, the Real Organic Project has certified more than 850 farms to use its add-on labeling.
Lundrigan said that while outright fraud within the organic industry may be rare, examples of minor manipulations of the system, though still rare, are more common than Real Organic Project would like.
“Once the organic industry became a multibillion-dollar industry, somehow a lot more organic food ended up on the shelves but somehow there’s not any more organic farmers producing it,” she said.
High-profile incidents of organic-grain fraud not only hurt consumers who didn’t get the organic grain they assumed they did, but also cause fundamental damage to the reputation of the industry and farmers who are doing things right, Lundrigan said.
“I think customers are starting to learn that when they go to the store, that flour they are paying more for isn’t necessarily grown the way they think it was,” she said. “And as people are starting to think that, it’s really harmful to organic farmers that are really doing it the right way and are suffering from that growing mistrust or erosion of trust.”
On a latest trip to South Dakota that included a visit to Charlie Johnson’s farm, Lundrigan said she knew of organic milk producers who mixed organic milk with conventional milk and labeled it organic. She told of berry producers whose plants never touched soil yet were allowed to be labeled organic.
Real Organic Project, she said, will not certify hydroponic farms or those that raise animals in confinement. And some grain operators and handlers do not do a good enough job of cleaning out residue from conventional grain before storing organic grain in elevators, she said.
Real Organic Project requires that crops be grown in real soil that is well managed, and requires that livestock and poultry live in pastures rather than in confined spaces.
The add-on label, Lundrigan said, “is free and meant to distinguish farms that are legitimately organic. It’s a label largely focused on that trust element we need to have with consumers, a trust element that is foundational to the success of the organic industry.”
Putting the farmer back in farming
It only takes a few hours of visiting with Charlie Johnson and driving in a pickup around his farm in Lake County, S.D., to realize why organic grains cost more than conventionally grown grains at the wholesale and retail levels.
Johnson and his family members have been growing and harvesting organic grains since the 1980s, and Johnson has emerged as a leader in mastering the processes of organic farming and as a promoter of the organic-farming lifestyle and its values.
On a more philosophical level, Johnson sees organic farming as a return to the roots of agriculture — in which farmers didn’t rely on chemicals, huge machines or vast economies of scale to drive production and profits, but rather lived on the land, spent many hours working the land, and used their minds to determine the most efficient, purest way to grow healthy crops.
“In modern agriculture, we’ve taken the farmer out of farming,” Johnson said. “If we want more community here, more churches, more schools, and a healthy economic environment, organic farming will promote that because it requires human and farmer input. It’s about consumers supporting a family-friendly, community-friendly, soil-friendly and health-friendly approach to farming, and they want to put their dollars behind that.”
To uphold that strong connection between earth, farmer and consumer takes a lot of thought, planning and hard work.
Johnson has 65 separate fields of crops on his 1,600 tillable acres, and he uses a six-year rotation of crops, in which each year a field has a different crop grown on it to promote soil health.
Instead of herbicides, he must drive a cultivator over his crops to remove as many weeds as possible from the land between crop rows. About 5% of his land is preserved as buffer strips and shelter belts that form a natural barrier between croplands and between his organic crops and those of neighboring conventional farms to block chemical drift. Signs are placed in ditches along his crops so pesticide contractors hired by conventional farmers do not apply chemicals to Johnson’s crops by mistake.
Johnson has no doubt that the resulting products are not only different, but also better than conventionally grown crops.
“I just think organic foods are simply better; they’re very much richer and better in quality and in food density,” he said.
His efforts make it slower to develop yields but he’s rewarded with higher prices when he sells them to a certified organic wholesaler. In mid-July 2022, Johnson was able to sell soybeans for more than $30 a bushel while conventional soybeans were bringing about $14 a bushel. His organic corn was selling for about $10 a bushel compared with the roughly $6.50 per bushel price being paid for conventional corn.
While Johnson acknowledges he has been successful in organic farming, and makes “a decent living,” he is still eager to learn more and try new things.
He is working with researchers and students from South Dakota State University to plant numerous small test plots on his land to see which crops grow best in particular conditions and settings. He is trying a new way to regenerate soil by cutting down and mulching small alfalfa plots and leaving the crop to decompose where it lies. He hosts regular farm tours and visits to educate the public about his operation and the value of organic farming.
“Putting the whole argument that organic is better for the environment off to the side, I would say it’s more community-friendly, because what you do in organic farming has a greater emphasis on the farmer and the farm and the management of the land.”
In mid-July, Johnson answered a series of questions from Lundrigan, of the Real Organic Project, and gave her a pickup-truck tour of his farm. After the initial examination, Lundrigan said, it appeared that Johnson Farms was highly likely to qualify for the add-on organic label.
Epilogue: Wharton’s sacrifices take a toll
In mid-July 2022, a South Dakota News Watch reporter met and spoke with Trey Wharton as he arrived at the Sioux Falls Food Co-op to purchase some organic foods for the next few days.
Wharton told of some of the financial and lifestyle sacrifices he had made to keep up his more expensive organic vegan diet.
“I sacrifice having money to go on fun trips I see everyone on social media doing, being able to have enough to keep up with rent and bills, not being able to save money, and not being able to buy fun things like roller blades or new research books,” he wrote in a Facebook message. “I’m always living day-to-day, buying food for the day or maybe the next two days based on the amount of tips I get and how far I can stretch my paychecks.”
Two weeks later, when News Watch contacted Wharton to clarify a few things, the 31-year-old shared some bad news.
Although Wharton said he has a full-time job as a delivery driver for Pizza Ranch in Sioux Falls and works part time as a package handler for UPS at the Sioux Falls airport, the pay from his 55-hour work week wasn’t enough to pay the rent.
“I’m now living in my car because my rent was behind and they non-renewed my lease so I’m now living the ‘van life,’” Wharton wrote to News Watch. “But at least I have my health. Ha.”
Asked if he was willing to share news of his latest homelessness with the public, Wharton wrote back that he is willing to give up basic comforts in order to sustain his healthful diet, including living for a spell in his 2011 Honda CRV.
“I’m cool with it — it shows the math of how hard it is to eat this way,” he wrote, “and what someone might need to sacrifice to try and regain their own health.”
— This article was produced by South Dakota News Watch, a non-profit news organization online at sdnewswatch.org.
Mon, 08 Aug 2022 10:34:00 -0500entext/htmlhttps://www.postbulletin.com/news/south-dakota/fraud-and-weak-usda-oversight-chip-away-at-integrity-of-organic-food-industryKillexams : Family of Anton Black, 19-year-old who died at the hands of police on Eastern Shore, reaches $5 million settlement in federal lawsuitNo result found, try new keyword!The family of Anton Black, a 19-year-old African American man who in 2018 died in police custody in Maryland’s Caroline County, reached a $5 million settlement as part of its federal lawsuit against ...Mon, 08 Aug 2022 11:05:53 -0500en-ustext/htmlhttps://www.msn.com/en-us/news/crime/family-of-anton-black-19-year-old-who-died-at-the-hands-of-police-on-eastern-shore-reaches-245-million-settlement-in-federal-lawsuit/ar-AA10rPozKillexams : Millennial Money: When is it OK to be selfish with money?
By LAUREN SCHWAHN of NerdWallet
Amid rising inflation, interest rates and recession worries, money is getting tighter for many folks — and probably for you. Yet there may be charitable organizations you want to support, friends or family asking for financial help and things you want to buy for yourself. It’s possible to do these things even on a limited budget. But if you want to be responsible with your money, you have to know where to draw the line.
When is it OK to put your own interests first? Use these criteria as guidance.
WHEN YOUR FINANCES ARE AT RISK
Think carefully before spending any amount of money on somebody else, whether that’s $20 or $2,000. Will it jeopardize your ability to pay bills or save for emergencies? Picking up the lunch tab for a friend or helping put your kid through college shouldn’t come at the cost of your own expenses and goals.
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A crucial part of this assessment: Assume you’ll never get the money back. There’s no ensure your loved ones will repay you, no matter how well-intentioned they may be.
“If you can’t afford to give it as a gift with no expectations on your end, then you can’t afford to help,” says Lacy Rogers, a certified financial planner in Fort Worth, Texas.
Saving toward a “giving budget” in a designated account can create a clear separation for your spending, says Valerie Rivera, a Chicago-based CFP. If you don’t have enough funds in the account, that signals that you can’t spare the money.
YOU FEEL PRESSURED TO PAY
You’re not required to hand out money even if you have the means to be generous. You have the right to say no when you feel stressed or uncomfortable. Don’t let others talk you into something you’ll regret.
Saying no can be challenging, especially when dealing with family or a close-knit community. Senses of guilt and obligation often cloud judgment. Your mother raised you, so the least you can do is pay her credit card debt, right? Not if it enables her to repeatedly overspend and turn to you for money.
A lot of people who are the first in their families to come to this country or go to college “can really quickly become other people’s financial safety nets,” Rivera says. That’s a heavy burden to bear.
Having conversations about finances with loved ones early and often helps set expectations. “It’s totally OK to reestablish or establish for the first time what money looks like in discussion with friends, in discussion with family,” says Kate Mielitz, an accredited financial counselor, or AFC, in Tumwater, Washington.
Take time to process each money request that comes your way. Consider passing if you’re concerned with getting taken advantage of or supporting harmful financial behavior.
YOU CAN HELP IN OTHER WAYS
Supporting the people you care about doesn’t always have to cost money. Your time, skills and knowledge are valuable too.
Say you have an elderly neighbor you used to purchase groceries for. “Maybe you can’t buy their groceries for them anymore but you can help them out with the yardwork, and maybe that eases the burden on them in a different way,” Rogers says.
If you’re unable to pitch in personally, point your loved ones in the direction of those who can. “Familiarize yourself or help your friends and family familiarize themselves with resources in the area — if that’s a food bank, if that is secondhand clothing, if that is job services or resume help that’s in the community — to help them move forward and get a stronger foot up,” Mielitz says.
Taking care of your needs and goals (and giving to others) is important. But everyone deserves a little fun, too.
“We’re human and we need balance. We can’t only save for later and not enjoy life today,” Rivera says.
If you have discretionary money, don’t spend it all on others. Leave room for self-care, entertainment or whatever brings you joy.
“A lot of times, we use money to find ways to enhance our mood. Whether that is dining out or going out for a drink with a friend or buying a book,” Mielitz says. “But you’ve got to put together a spending plan and know what you have access to, because there are times when we don’t have the money and we spend it anyway.”
Regularly setting aside funds or shuffling expenses around can give you the flexibility to splurge on yourself without hurting your finances. If you can’t find extra money, make use of resources such as the free session with an AFC. An expert can help guide your dollars in the right direction.
“Life in general is a series of trade-offs,” Rivera says. “So it’s picking and choosing, what really is going to add value to your life?”
This column was provided to The Associated Press by the personal finance website NerdWallet. Lauren Schwahn is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @lauren_schwahn.
Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.
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Tue, 09 Aug 2022 02:33:00 -0500entext/htmlhttps://azdailysun.com/lifestyles/millennial-money-when-is-it-ok-to-be-selfish-with-money/article_32793b29-e7c3-5fcb-8fb9-e0a48b0f452f.htmlKillexams : How the Tenison Park Pollinator Garden Is Saving the Monarch Butterfly with Flowers
It’s 8:30 a.m. on a Wednesday in late July, and Karen Albracht meets me in Tenison Park, a loosely treed stretch of land in East Dallas. The park is nestled between northbound and southbound Grand Avenue, the sound of traffic fading in the distance. She wears a sun hat and a smile. At her side stands co-gardener Ann Sansone, armed with a walking stick and a smile of her own.
Albracht has lived in the neighborhood for 38 years. She has always enjoyed the outdoor space, but she was appalled when the Texas Department of Transportation began using the public park to stage its large road-grading equipment in 2016. She began working with the city to section off “no-mow zones”—mowing, she explains, is the killer of all life. In 2017, with the help of volunteers, she unveiled the 1.9-acre Tenison Park Pollinator Garden, which includes a collection of over 50 native flora species that provide food and shelter to pollinators like birds, bees, and monarch butterflies.
Six days before I meet with Albracht and Sansone, the 1,400-member strong International Union for Conservation of Nature added the migratory monarch butterfly to its Red List of Threatened Species. This move categorizes the butterfly subspecies, the official insect of Texas, as endangered1.
The migratory monarch population is known for its transcontinental journeys every year back and forth from Canada to Mexico. Its population has shrunk between 22 and 72 percent over the past 10 years, according to an IUCN report. Deforestation, urbanization, climate change, and pesticides and herbicides have all had detrimental impacts on the subspecies’ western and eastern populations. Monarchs that winter in California are estimated to have dwindled almost 99.9 percent since the 1980s. The eastern population, which passes through Texas to Mexico in September, dropped by 84 percent from 1996 to 2014.
Albracht, Sansone, and I walk across Tenison Park to the 1.9-acre pollinator garden, which is a Monarch Watch-certified “monarch waystation”—basically a pitstop for the butterflies during their migration. The station has all the necessary resources to help sustain the species’ population. Think shelter, sunlight, and food to eat, like frostweed2, which blooms in the fall and feeds adult monarchs as they migrate south.
“Did you see that Facebook post that’s going around about the monarch endangerment?” Sansone asks Albracht, shaking her head. “Some group’s giving out tropical milkweed to anyone who signs their petition.”
I’m not a gardener, but I can tell this is no good. It’s not until later, though, when I speak with Dawn Rodney, the National Wildlife Federation’s chief innovation and growth officer, that I fully understand the issue.
“The easiest thing anyone can do to save the monarch is plant native milkweed,” Rodney says. The perennial plant, characterized by its clusters of flowers and its milky fluid, is the only place monarchs will lay their eggs, as milkweed serves as both a home and food source to caterpillars. “The ‘native’ part is essential—if it’s not native, it won’t do them any good.”
All milkweed species naturally produce a toxic substance. Monarchs have developed a tolerance over time to native species, like green and antelope horn milkweeds, which both grow in the Dallas area. Non-native species, like tropical milkweed, produce more toxins than the butterflies are used to, which can be harmful3. Rodney refers to me gardenforwildlife.com, the NWF’s resource for identifying plants native to your area.
The Tenison Pollinator Garden is at the north end of the park. There are beds of native plants lined by short barriers built from tree limbs. The plants appear large and mature, but most are clearly suffering from extreme heat and the drought. Some are wilting while others remain miraculously perky despite the Texas summer. Birds and bees feed and fly around.
“Look, a hummingbird!” Albracht points out. It’s across the garden, enjoying nectar from a native plant. This isn’t the only time a pollinator interrupts her train of thought; her enthusiasm for the fauna is palpable.
The gardeners walk me through the basics of natural gardening, explaining that all the garden’s plants are native to the region. They don’t need pesticides or even water—both of which Albracht, Sansone, and Rodney avoid. Pesticides kill wildlife (and monarchs), and water is largely unnecessary to sustain native plants. Like anything alive in Dallas right now, the garden looks a bit beat by the sun, but Albracht and Sansone assure me that the plants are merely dormant; they’ll look livelier when it’s their season. Besides, their purpose is much greater than cosmetics: they’re here to sustain life.
Throughout our time together, it becomes clear how Dallas specifically threatens monarchs, from the use of pesticides in the city to irrigation troubles to homeowners gardening with invasive species4. But there is an enormous opportunity to support them. “We want this garden to serve as an example to the community,” Albracht says. “Anyone who gives up even part of their turf lawn to allow space for native species can do so much for these pollinators.”
Rodney echoes Albracht’s sentiment, but reminds that we, too, are part of this ecosystem. The health of the monarch is entwined with our own. She points to urbanization, climate change, and water and air quality as affecting not only wildlife, but also the human population. “We can’t wait until things get dire to do something about it,” she says.
My nearly 90-minute tour of the Tenison Park Pollinator Garden wraps with mutual appreciation and an invitation to Albracht’s upcoming Seed Ball at the Lakewood Branch Library on August 13, where she’ll guide budding naturalists in forming clusters of seeds so they can start their own gardens. She gushes with gratitude for the volunteers who help her.
“I know you wanted to talk about monarchs,” she remembers. “But you can’t talk about monarchs without talking about all of this.”
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Tue, 09 Aug 2022 04:28:00 -0500en-UStext/htmlhttps://www.dmagazine.com/home-garden/2022/08/tenison-park-pollinator-garden-is-saving-endangered-monarch-butterfly/Killexams : Visitors to the world's tallest tree face $5,000 fines
Hyperion, certified by Guinness World Records as the world's tallest living tree, is officially off-limits to visitors.California's Redwood National Park issued a statement last week that anyone who is caught near the tree can face up to six months in jail and a $5,000 fine.The tree, which is deep in the park and has no trails leading to it, has faced serious environmental degradation from thrill-seekers who have visited since 2006, when it was found by a pair of naturalists.The coast redwood (sequoia sempervirens) tree is 380 feet tall and its name is derived from Greek mythology -- Hyperion was one of the Titans and the father of sun god Helios and moon goddess Selene."Hyperion is located off trail through dense vegetation and requires heavy 'bushwhacking' in order to reach the tree," reads a statement on the national park's website."Despite the difficult journey, increased popularity due to bloggers, travel writers, and websites of this off-trail tree has resulted in the devastation of the habitat surrounding Hyperion," the statement says. "As a visitor, you must decide if you will be part of the preservation of this unique landscape - or will you be part of its destruction?"Leonel Arguello, the park's Chief of Natural Resources, told the San Francisco Gate that the area has limited cellphone and GPS service, which means it can be very challenging to rescue any lost or injured hikers in the area.In addition to erosion and damage caused at the base of the tree, there are secondary issues that come from an influx of people."There was trash, and people were creating even more side trails to use the bathroom. They leave used toilet paper and human waste -- it's not a good thing," Arguello said.Human visitors are not the only risk to these giant trees.Wildfires are a growing concern throughout California's national parks.In 2021, officials at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks took extreme measures to protect some of the world's biggest trees from fire.General Sherman, considered the world's largest tree -- determined by density not height, as it is shorter than Hyperion -- was wrapped in an "aluminum-based burn-resistant material" akin to tinfoil as a way to keep it safe during the devastating KNP Complex Fire.
California's Redwood National Park issued a statement last week that anyone who is caught near the tree can face up to six months in jail and a $5,000 fine.
The tree, which is deep in the park and has no trails leading to it, has faced serious environmental degradation from thrill-seekers who have visited since 2006, when it was found by a pair of naturalists.
The coast redwood (sequoia sempervirens) tree is 380 feet tall and its name is derived from Greek mythology -- Hyperion was one of the Titans and the father of sun god Helios and moon goddess Selene.
"Hyperion is located off trail through dense vegetation and requires heavy 'bushwhacking' in order to reach the tree," reads a statement on the national park's website.
"Despite the difficult journey, increased popularity due to bloggers, travel writers, and websites of this off-trail tree has resulted in the devastation of the habitat surrounding Hyperion," the statement says. "As a visitor, you must decide if you will be part of the preservation of this unique landscape - or will you be part of its destruction?"
Leonel Arguello, the park's Chief of Natural Resources, told the San Francisco Gate that the area has limited cellphone and GPS service, which means it can be very challenging to rescue any lost or injured hikers in the area.
In addition to erosion and damage caused at the base of the tree, there are secondary issues that come from an influx of people.
"There was trash, and people were creating even more side trails to use the bathroom. They leave used toilet paper and human waste -- it's not a good thing," Arguello said.
Human visitors are not the only risk to these giant trees.
Wildfires are a growing concern throughout California's national parks.
In 2021, officials at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks took extreme measures to protect some of the world's biggest trees from fire.
General Sherman, considered the world's largest tree -- determined by density not height, as it is shorter than Hyperion -- was wrapped in an "aluminum-based burn-resistant material" akin to tinfoil as a way to keep it safe during the devastating KNP Complex Fire.
Mon, 01 Aug 2022 07:42:00 -0500entext/htmlhttps://www.wlwt.com/article/visitors-to-the-world-s-tallest-tree-face-fines/40766082Killexams : Visalia one step closer to becoming Certified Autism Destination
The CAD designation is awarded to destinations where key community areas like hotels, museums, attractions, entertainment venues and other tourism organizations are trained and certified to serve autistic individuals and those with other sensory disorders. Even without being a CAD, the addition of five more businesses allows Visalia visitors with autism to have a broader selection of businesses and hotels to choose from.
“We are so excited for travelers to have the ability to choose just the right hotel and attractions for their family from our growing list of Certified Autism Centers,” John Onteo, interim executive director of Visit Visalia, said. “What started as a grassroots program to have one or two of our local hotels become CACs, has grown into a citywide initiative embraced by our community of tourism-based businesses.”
The five new Certified Autism Centers that were added to Visalia’s list are the Wyndham Visalia Hotel, Lamp Liter Inn, Visalia Adventure Park, ImagineU Children’s Museum and Arts Visalia.
Fri, 29 Jul 2022 08:15:00 -0500en-UStext/htmlhttps://thesungazette.com/article/visalia/2022/07/29/visalia-one-step-closer-to-becoming-certified-autism-destination/Killexams : Strength in numbers
After being handed a diagnosis that's tough to swallow and discussing treatments with professionals, many wonder where to go next. Loved ones listen and offer help, but something still seems missing — someone who understands.
Locally, 85 support groups meet in recreation centers around The Villages, serving a population of about 140,000 Villagers.
It's an impressive number, said Dr. Dolores Cimini. Cimini, a licensed psychologist, is the director of the Center for Behavioral Health promotion and Applied Research at the University of Albany in the school of education.
"It sounds like the individuals in the community are very engaged in participating in support groups, which is a very good thing," she said. "Support is critical, especially as individuals are dealing with diseases, medical conditions and the loss of a partner, and as they get older and they see their friends and family members passing away and also dealing with medical conditions.”
The Villages also has a wide variety of support groups. There's ones for Parkinson's disease, cancers, depression, anxiety and others.
"To me, that's really, really powerful for people," said Cathy Salmons, a licensed clinical social worker and behavioral health therapist with The Villages Health.
While peer support groups are not a replacement for professional medical advice, they can help fill the gap between professional care and patients' need for emotional support.
"I would say the peer support group provides a role of its own that is different than the medical role and the therapy role," Salmons said, "and that is just to be able to sit down in a room with someone who has gone through it. And what that is is just enormous. I can't give you that, and your doctor can't give you that if we haven't gone through that.”
Cimini agrees that the sense of connection is important.
"Certainly support groups can help with regard to managing anxiety and depression and a sense of loss, but what they can also provide for individuals who participate in them is a sense of connection, linking people with others who understand the issues that they're dealing with," she said. "And so the connection, the sense of belonging in a group where there is a commonality and there is a interest in learning more about the particular issues, is very, very important."
Finding Fellowship, and Knowledge
Jeff Parker and his wife, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1997, were on an MS cruise when they heard about The Villages. Attending a Multiple Sclerosis Village People (MVSP) meeting helped sell them on moving to the area.
Parker now serves as the support group's president.
"The people in the group have obviously become quite close, so there's a lot of discussions about different symptoms, different life events, what do you do about them, that kind of thing," said Parker, of the Village of Osceola Hills at Soaring Eagle Preserve.
While the group won't start up again until September, MSVP holds multiple events, including monthly lunch outings and adaptive bowling sessions.
Group members also get together for fundraising events tied together by their Walk MS event, which is one of the regional walks the Mid Florida Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society conducts. In March, MSVP held its most successful walk yet, raising $85,000 for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
The group also has an educational component, inviting speakers to come and talk to members. It's a trait, like their charitable efforts, that they share with other groups, including the Diabetic Community Support Club.
"We advertise that we have two purposes," said Dick Bright, group president. "One is to educate and the other is to support."
Bright, of the Village of Calumet Grove, recruits noted doctors from the area to speak at their monthly meetings.
"Everybody that's diabetic, or everybody that's non-diabetic, has two or three problems. And one of them is their kidneys, or their eyes or their feet, or whatever," Bright said. "So one month I'll get a podiatrist, the next month I'll get an endocrinologist, the next month I'll get a dietician. So we keep moving that around so that everybody gets educated."
The web of support goes beyond the 85 groups that meet in recreation centers. For instance, Transition Life Consulting (TLC) Services provides a lot of different programing, including support groups not necessarily related to diseases.
For example, Dr. M. Terri Devine, a coach and group leader with TLC Services, began "Being Alone in the Pandemic," a Zoom support group for people living alone during the height of the pandemic, in October 2020. It was supposed to be 10 weeks long, but ended up lasting 13 months.
"They said that it was a place they could come once a week. They knew it would be there and they knew people would be there to ask them how they were," Devine said. "It was the sense that they weren't alone. I also think that some of the people in the group were surprised at the fact that we are more alike, all of us, than we are not.”
Even people who had different political ideas ended up understanding that not everyone thought the way they did, she said.
Her colleague, Elaine Stipetich, a licensed clinical social worker with TLC Services, has held support groups for depression, and facilitates Weigh to Go. The support group is focused on helping people lose weight, but it's far from a diet program.
"What we try to do with this weight loss group, since there are so many underlying issues, it's not about food and eating," said Stipetich, of the Village of Tamarind Grove. "It's about a person's thinking and underlying beliefs that make them turn to food for emotional problems and such.”
The group supports each other, not down the path of unplanned eating they were on before, but in coming up with new beliefs that will help them manage their behavior, she said.
But support isn't just for those experiencing a particular issue or condition — it's also for the people who are taking care of them.
Supporting the Support System
In 2013, Sandra Ricciardi founded the Day-Break Club of The Villages to provide respite care for caregivers. When Ricciardi lived in Connecticut, she cared for her mother and mother-in-law, and they had several adult daycare programs to choose from.
"When I moved here from Connecticut I realized that they had no service of this type," Ricciardi said. "So we, as a small group of concerned members, did a survey of about 1,000 Villagers, and over 95% of them responded that they needed some help with caregiving.”
The Day-Break Club is one of the volunteer-run groups in the area that offer caregivers a few hours off. While their loved ones enjoy hours of fun, activities, exercise and music, caregivers can take some time for themselves.
While the group isn't exclusively for dementia patients, Ricciardi estimates that 80% of the attendees have dementia.
Those groups offer two kinds of benefits, said Steve Waterhouse, chairperson of the board of the Alzheimer's Association of Central and North Florida.
"The first, and always the most obvious, is it gives the caregiver a break," said Waterhouse, of the Village of Pine Hills. "If we work nurses the hours Alzheimer's caregivers work, the hospitals would get arrested. Dealing with Alzheimer's patients is a 24/7 challenge. They get up and walk and go out the door in the middle of the night. They get into stuff they shouldn't get into in the house. They forget to do things they should do. So the caregiver has got to be on top of all of that. Giving them even an hour or half a day once a week is just heaven for a lot of these people.”
Our Moment Cafe, another volunteer-run group, meets at two recreation centers, and provides programming for caregivers and their loved ones.
"Normally, when an individual has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's or dementia they become isolated because they may have problems with confusion and disorientation,” said Joan Bender, group president and a certified dementia practitioner.
The Villages supports relationships and there's so many wonderful things to do, she said, but there might not be for dementia patients and their caregivers.
"So we wanted them to have something they could go to together, just once a month for two hours, and have fun," said Bender, of the Village of Osceola Hills.
The Day-Break Club also offers a caregiver support group that meets at the same time caregivers' loved ones are in respite care.
"It's a great opportunity for them to share their stories and gain resources, and just have a chance to cry a little bit and get some empathy from people who understand what you're going through," said Ricciardi, of Village De La Vista.
A Growing Network
But the impact of Villages' support groups doesn't stop where The Villages' boundary lines end.
Based on the benefit and value support groups provide, the District Boards decided that a maximum of 10 non-Villages guests can attend resident lifestyle volunteer support group meetings, said Pam Henry, recreation manager of resident lifestyles, parks and public relations.
That change came into effect in 2009, she said.
The Multiple Sclerosis Village People is one of the groups with members from outside The Villages. That's important, because there aren't too many support groups in their area.
"So it's nice to be able to bring in people who are going to add to the group but aren't exactly Villagers per say," Parker said.
The bottom line is, no matter what someone is going through, or where they're going through it, there's a community out there for them.
"If you're struggling with an issue, you don't have to stay alone with it," Salmons said. "Reach out to us for therapy, reach out to your medical provider, but also reach out to your peers, because there's a lot of support there.”
Sat, 06 Aug 2022 22:00:00 -0500entext/htmlhttps://www.thevillagesdailysun.com/news/villages/strength-in-numbers/article_6c485b28-1604-11ed-8109-4b1654cb0ddf.htmlKillexams : Sunnyvale’s new city hall is a platinum property
Sunnyvale’s new city hall building will most likely receive a platinum LEED rating due to its sustainability features such as solar panels, water efficiency and close location to mass transit and shopping.
Environmental priorities for the building, set to open this December, included having net zero energy, meaning the building’s energy consumption will be met or offset with onsite renewable energy.
LEED, which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is a certification system created by the nonprofit U.S. Green Building Council that recognizes sustainability achievement and leadership. Projects earn points by addressing such issues as a building’s potential location and nearby transportation, water efficiency, energy performance, materials and resources, indoor environmental quality, and innovation.
“From the outset of this project, our community emphasized being a leader in sustainability,” said Sunnyvale Mayor Larry Klein. “We are proud to say we will be accomplishing that goal with what we believe is the first LEED platinum and net zero energy city hall in the country.”
Sunnyvale’s new city hall received 85 out of a possible 110 points for its LEED certification. The city won’t know the official LEED status until all of the construction credits are substantiated and the review is complete, but according to officials, the project is well on its way. Construction projects participate in a verification and review process and are rated on a point system, from certified (40-49 points) to platinum (80 points and up).
Located at the intersection of El Camino Real and South Mathilda Avenue, the new 117,107-square-foot city hall will have 1,653 solar panels generating 1,099,000 kWh per year, which officials estimate should be enough to power the building. Sunnyvale’s new building received 28 of 33 on the LEED scorecard for “energy and atmosphere,” along with 12 of 16 points for “indoor environmental quality,” which includes improved air quality for building occupants.
LEED certification requires water efficiency, and Sunnyvale received seven out of 11 points for measures including limiting potable water use for irrigation, restrooms and HVAC equipment. Outside, the landscaping will consist mostly of native and low-water plants and efficient irrigation systems. Sunnyvale received three points for rainwater management, which will include a vegetated roof garden on the building’s second level. This has the added benefit of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
The entire building has also been designed around the sun (a practice called “daylighting”), so it will limit the need to run the air conditioning and will maximize light for illumination, thereby improving visual comfort and reducing energy use. The building’s lighting will be 100% LED. The narrow footprint of the building and large windows and skylights have been designed to maximize the daylight coming in, but solar control is also provided by the roof, automatic window shades and horizontal shade structures outside the southern side of the building. The white roofing membrane will allow the building to stay cool on sunny days. In addition, a UV stripe coating on the windows may not be apparent to humans but will prevent birds from colliding with the building.
Sunnyvale received five out of a possible 13 points from LEED for materials and resources, which is low due to this being new construction and not a remodel using existing buildings. However, building materials were environmentally friendly whenever possible, and included free or recycled products and low carbon-emitting materials. By consolidating Sunnyvale’s many existing city hall buildings into the new singular city hall and removing the old buildings, planners have created about six acres of open space for Sunnyvale residents. Builders prioritized tree preservation as well, protecting 90% of existing trees, and 12 mature trees have been relocated around the new city hall site.
The building was awarded 12 of 16 LEED points for location and transportation, meaning there is housing, restaurants, banks, grocery and other retail stores within walking distance of the new building. The new city hall will be close to mass transportation such as Caltrain, buses and bike lanes, and the number of parking spaces on site has been reduced in order to minimize single occupant transit. The new building will also provide EV charging and long- and short-term bike storage.
Sun, 07 Aug 2022 07:54:00 -0500Lisa Thornen-UStext/htmlhttps://www.mercurynews.com/2022/08/07/sunnyvales-new-city-hall-is-a-platinum-property/Killexams : August activities at Cancer Resource Center
NORWAY — The Cancer Resource Center of Western Maine, (CRCofWM) located at 59 Winter Street, Norway, on the Stephens Memorial Hospital campus, announces its schedule of free in-person and virtual classes and activities for the month of August. Participants of in-person classes will need to please wear a mask. Anyone impacted by cancer (cancer survivors and caregivers) can participate.
Special activity: Kayaking – Mondays: August 1, 8, and 15 | 9-11 a.m. The meeting site is at the public boat launch at Pennesseewassee Park on Rt. 118 on Norway, Lake. Anyone impacted by cancer (including patients, survivors, family members, and caregivers) is welcome to participate. Kayaking will provide physical, social, and emotional well-being and camaraderie for all who participate. It can also help Boost flexibility and shoulder range of motion, especially for people who have had breast cancer surgery. A limited amount of kayaks, paddles, and PFDs (personal flotation devices), will be available. Come any or all days! For more information, please call the CRCofWM at 890-0329.
Weekly public Drop-in Hours: Thursdays, 9 a.m.-3 p.m.; other weekdays by appointment. Masks required.
Weekly ongoing virtual classes: preregister for the virtual classes listed below at www.crcofwm.org.
MBSR: “A Mindful Hour” Thursdays, 9-10 a.m. Learn how the practice of Mindful-based Stress Reduction (MBSR) can assist with reducing stress through breath, movement, and meditation. Join Kat Larsen as she leads this weekly class, integrating other practices from her work as a certified yoga therapist and registered yoga instructor.
Weekly in-person classes:
Chair Yoga in Harrison, Caswell House Conservancy, 42 Main Street, Harrison Mondays and Wednesdays: 10 a.m.-11 a.m. (new time). Chair yoga can lessen the impact of chronic illness and pain. It may also help cope with feelings of isolation. Being calmer and more relaxed inevitably leads to a greater feeling of happiness and well-being. Susan Kane teaches this class, which can easily be modified to everyone’s ability level.
Craft & Chat at CRCofWM, 59 Winter Street, Norway: Tuesdays 1-2 p.m. Drop in and explore your creative side and meet new friends at the same time. All supplies are provided; masks are required.
Chair Yoga at the CRCofWM 59 Winter Street, Norway: Thursdays 1-2 p.m. Join Kat Larsen for this gentle form of yoga, which utilizes both seated and standing poses using a chair for support to provide all the benefits of traditional yoga. Chair yoga can help Boost core strength and balance, promote better breathing techniques, increase flexibility and help reduce stress. Masks are required.
Yoga Warriors for Cancer Care & Wellness: virtual and in person at Posabilities, 15 Tannery Street, Norway. Fridays, 2-3 p.m. This gentle yoga class will support healthy living for individuals facing the challenges of cancer through gentle movement and breath, supportive restorative yoga postures, and guided meditation and relaxation. Please bring a yoga mat and a water bottle. To register for in-person class at Posabilities, https://bit.ly/CRCYogaWarriors-Instudio. For virtual, https://bit.ly/CRCYogaWarriors-Online.
Special Groups Women’s Support Group (August 17): CRCofWM, 59 Winter Street, Norway 1 p.m.-2:30 p.m. For more information, please call 890-0329.
Men’s Rally Group & Healthy Cookout (August 18): CRCofWM, 59 Winter Street, Norway 4 p.m.-6 p.m. For more information: Nel Bernard, 207-312-9955 or Vance Jordan, 207-583-2975. This group will host a cook-out at the August meeting and a variety of healthy food dishes will be served. New members are encouraged to attend the cookout!
Monthly Activities Wellness Share – 2nd Saturday of each month, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Center for Healing Arts & Treatment, 180 Main St., Norway. Reiki is always available, other modalities are available upon practitioner availability: Reflexology, Massage, Foot Soaks, Crone Sessions, Meditation, and more. This is a free event, sponsored by the Cancer Resource Center of Western Maine and hosted by Teresia REIKI & Friends. You do not need to sign up in advance. For more information: Charlotte LaBelle, 207-890-2177.
Drum Circle – 4th Saturday of each month, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Center for Healing Arts & Treatment, 180 Main St., Norway. You do not need to sign up in advance. This is a free event, sponsored by the Cancer Resource Center of Western Maine. For more information: Dan Gravel, 207-604-0323 or Nel Bernard, 207-312-9955
Wed, 27 Jul 2022 20:00:00 -0500text/htmlhttps://www.sunjournal.com/2022/07/28/august-activities-at-cancer-resource-center-2/Killexams : County legislature puts forward funding for Rising Sun turf fieldThu, 28 Jul 2022 06:15:00 -0500entext/htmlhttps://www.cecildaily.com/sports/county-legislature-puts-forward-funding-for-rising-sun-turf-field/article_f3fb5fa6-15c8-52fb-b5cd-e6dfb28c1b69.html310-105 exam dump and training guide direct download Training Exams List