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Saturday, May 28, 2011

Get Your Very Own Hybrid . . . Light Bulb?

The latest in light bulb innovation from GE new Energy Smart® Soft White and Reveal® hybrid halogen-CFL.

These new hybrid-halogen CFL’s combines attributes of three popular lighting technologies. GE engineers figured out a way to nestle an instantly bright halogen capsule inside the swirl of a compact fluorescent light bulb. The halogen element comes on instantly and turns off once the CFL comes to full brightness, thus preserving the energy efficiency of the bulb. All the workings of the bulb are contained in an incandescent-shaped glass bulb.

It's an optimal choice for use in hallways, stairways, kitchens, bathrooms and anywhere immediate brightness is essential. Simply flip that light switch and it's at your service—immediately.

These new GE RoHS-compliant 15- and 20-watt GE Energy Smart® Soft White (2700 Kelvin) and Reveal® (2500 Kelvin) CFL’s offer eight times the life expectancy of regular incandescent bulbs (8,000 hours vs. 1,000 hours) while also containing exceptionally low levels of mercury (1 mg). Most currently available CFLs have 1.5 mg to 3.5 mg of mercury.

Customers can expect to pay $5.99-$9.99 based on product line and wattage

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Energy Conservation T-Shirt Contest Winners Announced

In March, over 980 kindergarten through fifth grade students in Pinellas County sent in artwork depicting ways to save energy at home for this contest, themed “The Power Is Yours!”

“It was difficult to choose from so many great submissions,” says James Stevenson, Energy Conservation Specialist at Pinellas County Extension, “We are glad to see that Pinellas County has so many creative youngsters who are learning about the importance of conserving energy.”

The winners are:
Nick Costa, Keswick Christian School
Katllyn DeSantis, Keswick Christian School
Luna Garcia, Cypress Woods Elementary
Morgan Lipkin, Forest Lakes Elementary
Hailey Mahadeen, Westlake Christian School
Nicholas Rinderle, Westlake Christian School
Evie Schulte, Skycrest Christian School
Zachary Schwab, Ridgecrest Elementary
Kate Thorington, Westlake Christian School

The winning entries can be viewed at

During the announcements at their school, each winner is being presented with a
shirt and a plaque printed with their design. Their teachers are also receiving a shirt and their classmates get pencil cases, scented highlighters, and magnets. All participating teachers will receive a pencil case with highlighters.

PEEP is working to reduce the carbon footprint of Pinellas County by educating the public about home energy conservation. PEEP is administered by Pinellas County Extension and funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Food for Thought: A Closed Loop Production System

By: Ramona Madhosingh-Hector

Local food movements are growing in number and the concept is driven by an interest in sustainable food production that allows local economies and cultures to thrive. “Local food” refers to food which is grown where you live. It might include food produced in your region from a farm or community garden, or even from your own backyard. The benefits of local food systems include:
  • Energy savings due to reduced transportation and distribution costs

  • Protection of the environment due to reduction of fertilizer and pesticide use

  • Expansion of local economy by employing residents and pumping needed revenues into the local market

Aquaponic systems are attracting a lot of interest and are being regarded as a closed loop food production system since the inputs and outputs from one system is used in the other system. Simply defined, an aquaponic system combines a hydroponic unit with an aquaculture element.

An aquaponic system requires a careful balance of water chemistry so that the products in both systems will thrive. In practice, tilapia cultivation coupled with traditional hydroponic crops like lettuce, herbs and greens are well adapted to aquaponic systems. Tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers can also be combined with tilapia production but have much higher nutrient requirements. The key is to ensure that the plants and fish chosen for the aquaponic system can tolerate changing water chemistry. Tilapia is a very tolerant fish and low to medium nutrient plants like lettuce and herbs will survive environmental changes in the system. Tilapia, lettuce and greens are traditional products that have broad consumer appeal and the benefit of producing two products from one system is not lost on farmers!

The aquaponic system relies on two essential items – waste products of fish and the plant’s natural ability to filter. When the fish are fed, they produce waste which is then used to “fertigate” the hydroponic system. The plants’ filter the liquid fertilizer and return “biologically” clean water to the fish. The recycling of nutrients and water filtration is linked and offers significant cost-savings.

Aquaponic systems have the ability to improve self-sufficiency in food production since it integrates both plant and animal agriculture and provides the best example of a closed loop system where all the inputs and outputs are utilized. These systems are being used in the United States Virgin Islands and are on exhibit at Epcot Center in Orlando.

Aquaponic systems are sustainable food production systems because
  1. provide access to healthy food and enhance the local economy by producing multiple products

  2. reuse waste products, maximizes resource use (water), and promotes product diversity

  3. promote self sufficiency at the local level and can increase resiliency of a community


Treadwell, Danielle, Sarah Taber, Richard Tyson, and Eric Simonne, July 2010. Foliar-Applied Micronutrients in Aquaponics: A Guide to Use and Sourcing published by University of Florida IFAS Extension. Publication number HS40800

UF/IFAS Small Farms

Diver, Steve. 2006. Aquaponics – Integration of Hydroponics with Aquaculture. A Publication of ATTRA—National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service updated by Lee Rinehart 2010.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Conserving Biodiversity in Subdivision Development Webinar Series

Many residential developments and rural properties are situated near or in habitats that sustain native plant and animal communities. Conserving or restoring the unique natural features inherent on every parcel of land benefits the local environment, property owners and the region’s heritage. When land is subdivided, how does one conserve local biodiversity and minimize impacts on surrounding landscapes? Design, construction, and post-construction phases are often not discussed holistically when green developments are built.

To address these issues, American Citizen Planner and the University of Florida are co-hosting an online course in May on “Conserving Biodiversity in Subdivision Development.” Presented by Dr. Mark Hostetler, Associate Professor at the University of Florida’s (UFL) Department of Wildlife Ecology & Conservation, this continuing education webinar course was developed by the UFL Program for Resource Efficient Communities. The online course is devoted to defining, recognizing, restoring and managing residential communities for biodiversity within the urban and rural matrix. It is relevant to county and city planners, landscape architects, architects, civil engineers, environmental consultants, developers, private landowners, and interested citizens.

Webinars in the series will take place from 2pm-3pm Eastern Time on the following days:

  • Tuesday, May 17, 2011

  • Thursday, May 19, 2011

  • Thursday, May 26, 2011

  • Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Participants in the course series will have access to all four 60-minute live webinars, and will also gain access to an online course site offering additional resources. The course will cover the following four modules:

  • Key Players and Principles

  • How to Do it: Design

  • How to Do it: Construction

  • How to Do It: Post-construction

A 120-page course manual will be available for download by participants. The manual has specific details and resources that are presented in each of the PowerPoint presentations.

Registration is available online. Cost to attend/participate is $110. Continuing education credits will be provided through the American Planning Association (3.5 AICP credits - Confirmation Pending).

Note: In order to participate in this webcast you must be on a high-speed Internet connection.

For questions about the webinar series, please contact Julie Orler, ACP Customer Service, or call 517.353.3123. Learn more at ACP Webinar Series.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Options for Unwanted Exotic Pets

By: Mary Campbell, Extension Director

Ever wonder what to do with that exotic pet that you no longer adore? If it is not native to this area it should not be released to compete with local wildlife. Animals that are not native to Florida have the potential to cause serious harm to our environment. Unfortunately, many well-meaning pet owners choose to release their pets into the wild when they tire of the animals or are no longer able to care for them. If at some point you are no longer able to care for your exotic pet, you have several options:

Find It a New Home - The best option for dealing with an unwanted pet is to find it a new home. Locate rescue groups, animal shelters, or herpetological societies (for reptiles)—they will usually try to help you place your pet in a new home.

Return It to the Pet Store - Because of the growing concern about the problems caused by pet releases, many pet stores may be willing to take back unwanted pets rather than risk having them set free.

Contact Animal Control - Animal control agencies are usually only equipped to take mammals, but some may be able to help or offer advice.

Contact Your State Wildlife Agency - Contacting them for advice is always better than breaking wildlife laws and risking fines by turning your pet loose outside.

Euthanize It - Euthanizing a pet is never an easy choice. However, if you cannot find anyone to take your pet, you may have to consider humane euthanasia by a qualified veterinarian. You should not release a pet into the wild under any circumstances.


UF EDIS Fact Sheet

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


When: Monday, May 9, 2011
10:00 am to noon

Where: Seminole Community Library Program Room
9200 113th St. N., Seminole, Fl. 33722

Topic: Efforts of Sarasota CLUCK(Citizens Lobbying for Urban Chicken Keeping)Group to establish city ordinance regarding the keeping and care of backyard chickens.

Speaker: Jono Miller, spokesperson and co-founder, Sarasota CLUCK

For Information: Call Mary, 631-838-2272

Monday, May 2, 2011

Be a PEEPer!

By: James Stevenson, Extension Specialist

The Pinellas Energy Efficiency Project(PEEP) is in full swing with thousands of citizens receiving energy-saving devices and information on how to save energy and money in the home. Our next class will be held at the Brooker Creek Preserve on Saturday, May 7th from 11 a.m.-12 p.m. All PEEP classes are free and are offered as part of the US Department of Energy’s $3.5 million Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant awarded to Pinellas County late last year. Pinellas County Extension’s application included money to provide education and energy-saving materials to the community at-large.

We are excited to bring the citizens of Pinellas County the tools they need to make significant energy savings in their homes. We have especially been targeting those citizens who would not have ready-access to energy saving information and equipment. The goals of this project include:

  • Providing information and equipment to Pinellas County citizens to help reduce energy consumption in the home.

  • Promoting a significant and quantifiable reduction in energy consumption in Pinellas County Facilitating a significant and quantifiable reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in Pinellas County

Participants in this class will receive a free energy saving kit valued at $200 and will become part of a larger project. Participants will be contacted no more than three times to track the energy-saving measures they have taken.

Click here to register for this class. Remember that space is limited and registration closes 24 hours prior to class.

We hope to see you on Saturday!