Ask Extension

Recent Articles


Friday, November 30, 2012

What Floats Your Boat?

Libby Carnahan
Sea Grant Agent
Pinellas County Extension

Boating can be fun, relaxing, and thrilling-sometimes all at the same time.  Did you know that Florida ranks 2nd in the United States for number of registered boaters? With so many boats on the water, it is important that we all take steps to ensure the safety of our fellow boaters and the health of the water we enjoy.  Whether you are a seasoned or novice boater, there are some easy tips that you can follow to be a safe and more environmentally-friendly boater. 
·        Carelessness and inattention are the leading causes of boating accidents in Florida.  Attention to your surroundings while on the water can ensure a safe and enjoyable outing.  Life Jackets are required by law to be on your vessel. However, a life jacket cannot help you in an emergency, unless you are wearing it. So, it is best to select a comfortable life jacket for your needs that you are likely to wear regularly.  Be sure to have the necessary safety equipment for your vessel size and type- a complete list can be found on the Florida Fish and Wildlife website. 

·        Boater safety courses offer a good introduction to boating for novice boaters and refresher for more experienced boaters. In order to operate a motorboat of ten (10) horsepower or greater, Florida law requires anyone who was born on or after January 1, 1988 to successfully complete an approved boating safety course and obtain a Boating Safety Education Identification Card issued by the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). 

·        The Florida Department of Environmental Protection sponsored Clean Boater Program educates boaters on the importance of protecting the state’s waterways by adopting environmentally friendly practices, including proper trash management, using bilge socks and fueling collars, and practicing good recycling habits. Boaters are encouraged to take the Clean Boater Pledge and educate other boaters on the importance of protecting the environment they enjoy.  By adopting pollution prevention measures, Florida Clean Boaters can take pride in knowing they are doing their part to keep Florida waterways.
This weekend, enjoy the St. Petersburg Power & Sailboat Show, the largest boat show on the Gulf Coast. The show runs from Thursday, Nov. 29 through Sunday, Dec. 2 at Progress Energy Center for the Arts Mahaffey Theater Yacht Basin and Albert Whitted Park in St. Petersburg, FL.
The show features an impressive selection of power boats and sailboats in water and on land, including a 40,000-square-foot clearspan tent housing all types of marine gear. In addition to the large selection of exhibits at this year's show, there will be an array of special events and fun and educational activities, including marine seminars and the youth fishing clinics presented by the non-profit group Hook the Future.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Seminole Discussion Group on Recycling & Sustainability

Monday, December 3, 2012  
10 a.m. to noon
Seminole Community Library Program Room 
9200 113th St. N
Seminole, Florida 33722

The Urgent Need To Recycle Clothing & Textiles...Worldwide
          Speaker:  Steve Ducharme, Suncoast Textile Recycling Corporation

Dispelling Myths Regarding Pinellas County Recycling
          Speaker:  Bill Embree, Pinellas County Solid Waste

We hope you plan to attend the Monday morning meeting, from 10 a.m. to noon. If you would like to do so, consider bringing a small bag of used clothing to donate to Suncoast Textile Recycling Corporation.

You're welcome to bring along a friend or two!

For information, contact Mary.

Monday, November 26, 2012

eTownHall: Watershed, where we LiveWorkPlay

Wednesday, Nov. 28, 7–8 p.m.
Join the discussion about Pinellas County watersheds and how they connect the environment, economic vitality and quality of life 

What is a watershed? Why should we care? A watershed is an area of land that drains to an open body of water. In Pinellas County, every square foot of land drains somewhere. The actions we take affect the health of our waterways and the economic vitality of the area, including the health of our tourism industry and the quality of life we enjoy.

Join the conversation about this important issue at the eTownHall: Watershed, where we LiveWorkPlay. The live online event will be held on Wednesday, Nov. 28, from 7 to 8 p.m. and will incorporate questions that are blogged and called in by members of the public.

Panel members will answer questions sent in by the public and discuss the connections between the county’s watersheds and how they directly affect the quality of life that is valued by residents, visitors and the business community.

The eight panelists represent a cross-section of the county, including the citizenry, Tampa Bay Times, Visit St. Petersburg/Clearwater, Pinellas County Economic Development. Tampa Bay Estuary, Pinellas County Extension and the county’s Department of Environment and Infrastructure’s Watershed Division. The eTownHall will be moderated by Len Ciecieznski of the Pinellas County Communications Department.

The panelists will answer as many questions as possible during the hour-long program.

The first of a three-part series of video public service announcements will also be unveiled during the live event as the kickoff to a special effort to educate residents, visitors, business people, community leaders and all those who live, work and play in Pinellas County.

As a watershed management plan is being developed, solutions are being investigated to improve overall water quality and address drainage problems. Increased public awareness is the key to understanding the role of the community as part of the solution to these countywide problems.

There are five ways to participate in the eTownHall:

  1. Blog on The blog opens at 9 a.m. Monday, Nov. 26, for early questions and comments and will remain open through the live event on Wednesday, Nov. 28. 
  2. View the live streaming video event on the eTownHall website on Wednesday, Nov. 28, from 7 to 8 p.m. 
  3. Tweet with the hashtag #pinellaswatershed to send in questions and comments. 
  4. Call in during the live event. To ask a question or make a comment, call (727) 464-TOWN (8696). 
  5. Watch the event live on PCC-TV (Bright House Channel 622, Knology Channel 18 or Verizon Channel 44). 

For more information on the event call (727) 464-4600 or go to, where you can also access resources and watch a video to learn the basics of watersheds and why we should care. You can also set up a convenient event reminder.

The conference room at the Pinellas County Communications Department will be open to the public during the live event as well to provide access to a computer, TV and phone. It is located at 333 Chestnut St. in Clearwater.

Pinellas County complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act. If you are a person with a disability who needs any accommodation in order to participate in this event, you are entitled, at no cost to you, to the provision of certain assistance. At least seven days prior to the event, contact the Office of Human Rights, 400 S. Fort Harrison Ave., Suite 500, Clearwater, FL 33756 (727) 464-4062(V/TDD).

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Website launched to engage residents in the Pinellas Transportation Plan

Mary Burrell,
Operations Manager    

The Pinellas County Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) is focused on improving transportation throughout the county and has kicked off an effort to create a 30-year blueprint for the entire county transportation system. Through new and innovative methods of participation, such as, residents can help shape the county transportation plan. 

“We want to engage the public in a dialogue about issues, needs, and strategies to achieve community goals, such as strengthening our economy and improving accessibility,” said Sarah Ward, interim executive director of the Pinellas County MPO. 

Residents and commuters using the website will help identify critical transportation issues and develop a list of needs in the community to help determine the right projects for the future of transportation in Pinellas. 

The site is being used to ask residents and commuters – those who know the transportation system best – their thoughts on different topics during different phases of the plan. Within each topic, web users have the ability to suggest ideas, agree with others’ ideas they support, and provide insight on how residents and commuters will be affected by the plan. 

Some topics currently on the site include: 
  • Important needs for the county’s transportation system 
  • Congestion hot spots 
  • Safety concerns on roadways, sidewalks, trails, or anywhere else 
Visit to learn more about the transportation plan, and stay informed during the different phases of the planning process.

Friday, November 16, 2012


Monday, November 19, 2012  
10 a.m. to noon
Seminole Community Library Program Room 
9200 113th St. N
Seminole, Florida 33722

TOPIC: Pinellas County Green Business Partnership

Mary Campbell, Extension Director, Pinellas County Extension 

Mary will give a PowerPoint presentation about the Pinellas County Green Business Partnership.
Representatives of four Green Business Partners will speak:
    • Bausch & Lomb 
    • C & D Printing 
    • 1-800-GOT JUNK?
    • Spa by Nardos Natural
The Seminole Discussion Group on Recycling and Sustainability will be celebrating its 3rd Birthday! Light refreshments will be provided by the Cabot Cheese Company.

R.S.V.P. to Mary:

Friday, November 9, 2012

Your Energy Priorities

Ramona Madhosingh-Hector  
Urban Sustainability Agent  

What are your energy priorities? Is it your cell phone, tablet, or coffeemaker? The way we use energy in our daily lives dictates how we may adjust our spending habits to enable us to afford these indulgences. Would you be willing to bike for one hour to run your laptop computer for 2 hours, the 42-inch plasma for 10 minutes, the cell phone charger for 20 hours, or your clothes dryer for 1 minute, 20 seconds?

Participate in your local Regional Planning Council’s study that investigates how consumers value energy in the residential and business sector. The statewide study collects energy use and opinions regarding household electricity, gasoline usage, and renewable energy resources. Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy and the Florida Office of Energy, the study will help to identify strategies to diversify Florida’s energy future.

Your survey input is valuable to help develop new policies for future energy needs.

U.S. Economic Development Administration
Florida Regional Planning Councils
U.S. Department of Energy
Florida Office of Energy