local

Nov. 17: Annual Take a Hike Day

By Ray Moeller, CARD Extension Agent

This Thursday, Nov. 17, marks national “Take a Hike” Day. Below are two not-so-well-known hikes that I often enjoy in southern West Virginia.

Long Point on Summersville Lake
This trail meanders through mature forest growth, leading to a rock outcropping that is 40 feet high at a sharp bend in the Gauley River, which becomes part of Summersville Lake during the summer months. The hike is between one and one-half miles and two miles one-way and there are several off trail options. There is little chance of becoming turned around as the hike traverses a point which is defined on both sides by Summersville Lake itself. To find the trail, drive on U.S. Route 19 south of Summersville and turn west onto Airport Road, which leads to the marina and Mountain Lake Campground. Drive on Airport Road past the marina road, the campground store and the airport. When you come to a gate, park along the roadway and follow the two tracks to the trail signs. The view from the point is terrific, just be aware that children will require careful oversight as there are no hand rails or fencing.

The Falls of Hills Creek
This trail is a hidden gem in the Gauley District of the Monongahela National Forest. Travel east out of Richwood on Highway 55/39 for approximately 20 miles to the marked parking area at the Falls of Hills Creek. The trail leads alongside three falls that are increasing in height. Be warned that the trail is downhill to the last of the falls with many stairs to negotiate. Thus the hiker will be required to return uphill along the same stairs and incline. The falls are particularly beautiful in times of more significant rainfall, especially in the spring of the year, when flowers brighten the landscape and the new growth allows for enhanced sight lines. The total distance is approximately three-quarters of a mile one way, of which the first 1,700 feet paved, with the remainder of the trail more strenuous.

 

Teal Pumpkin Project

By Tabitha Surface, CARD Extension Agent

Halloween is fast approaching and more than a few of us are scrambling to prepare the perfect costume. But food allergy parents have something more than last minute costumes to worry about. According to Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE), food allergies affect more than 15 million people in the United States, including 1 out of 13 children. That means if you are handing out candy this year, either at your door or at trunk-or-treat events, you’ll be dishing up treats to at least a few kids that can’t enjoy them.

 

Depending on the severity of the food allergy, parents might let their children trick-or-treat and swap out what has been collected with treats they know are safe for their kids. But, let’s be honest, that’s not nearly as fun as sifting through your take to see what you picked up along your route. Worse, holiday goodie bags or school events celebrated with food may exclude children with allergies. While exclusion is pretty common for a food-allergic child, it can have a negative impact on their self-worth and social-interactions, as well as potentially intensifying food-allergy related anxiety.

 

However, there are easy, inclusive solutions. For school parties, treat bags can be food-free or the parent of a food-allergy child can be consulted; they may be happy to help prepare classroom snacks so all the children have the same experience without putting their child in harm’s way. Always defer to the food-allergic child’s parent on matters of food. Remember, they spend a great deal of time trying to keep their kid safe, and while you may have the best of intentions, it can be very scary to trust a relative stranger with your kids life.

 

It gets even easier when it comes to trick-or-treating. Be a part of FARE’s Teal Pumpkin Project by setting out a teal pumpkin. The teal pumpkin lets families with food-allergic children know that non-food treats will be offered. Even better, this gives kids who don’t have allergies but might have restrictive diets (such as diabetics) a safe option as well. Below is a list of ideas and a couple of great resources to get prepared even so close to Halloween.

 

1. Tattoos (This isn’t a bad idea but keep in mind that some inks are soy based, and soy is one of the top 10 allergens.)

2. Bubbles

3. Fake snakes and spiders

4. Slap Bracelets

5. Fortune Fish

6. Glow sticks/bracelets

 

And where can you get these fun toys? Retailers from the Dollar Tree to Wal-Mart carry inexpensive toys and gift-bag kits, but you can also order in bulk from Oriental Trading or Amazon when time permits.

 

In the Charleston-Huntington area, The Food Allergy Pharmacist partners with Kroger to host a Teal Pumpkin Project inspired trunk-or-treat. However, she takes it one step further and asks that sponsoring trunks offer no food treats at all. West Virginia State University Extension Service is a sponsor of the event. Join us on Saturday, October 29, from 10 a.m. to noon at the Kroger on 7th Ave/1st Street Huntington and from 4 to 6 p.m. at the South Charleston Kroger. There will be lots of non-food goodies, carnival-style games and a dance party. Happy Halloween!

Shop Small. Shop Local.

by Stacy Ford, Extension Agent

With the holiday season upon us, it’s time to start crossing people off your shopping list. Why not do that by supporting small businesses? Saturday, Nov. 28, is Small Business Saturday, and here are some ways to participate in your town.

Did you know that when you spend money locally a bigger percentage of that money goes back into the community through purchases to other local businesses, tax dollars and salaries versus money spent at a big box store?

Why shop local?

  • Shopping local stores is more personal, they have a smaller staff and are more familiar with their inventory than a big box store and usually provide better customer service. Plus, it’s just nice to have someone know your name.
  • Shopping small supports your community. Locally owned stores are the businesses that sponsor events, local schools, youth sports teams, fairs and festivals and make donations to local causes. The more support they receive from the community the more they’re able to give back to the community. Ever been to a little league baseball game? Those names on the front of the jerseys aren’t big box stores, they’re locally owned businesses you pass by every day.
  • It’s less hassle than online shopping or going to big box stores, and it’s immediate. You don’t have to drive far, fight crowds, wait in long lines or pay for shipping.

Some ideas to shop small in even the smallest of towns:

  • For the person on your list who has everything, consider purchasing a gift certificate to their local favorite coffee shop, beauty shop or even a local artisan’s shop.
  • Maybe for some of the men on that list think about visiting your local hardware store, automotive shop or even a local craft brewery for some gift ideas.
  • Visit a craft show or holiday bazaar. Often you’ll find unique handmade crafts, local cook books or locally made jams, jellies or soaps. These make great items to create a gift basket for someone on your list! These types of events are also a great way to support local nonprofits, churches or civic clubs.
  • Consider visiting your local nursery or greenhouse and purchasing a plant or gift certificate for the spring planting season.
  • Do you have a local theatre? If so, purchase a season pass, or for the kids on your list, movie tickets and gift certificates for popcorn.

Most of us will have family in for Thanksgiving so get out Saturday, walk off your binge eating haze and revisit your town. Make it a fun event, visit a local coffee shop for breakfast and go in some shops you’ve never visited before.