Category Archives: K-State Extension

Starlite FCE Minutes of Sept. 16

The September meeting of Starlite FCE was held on the 16th at the Yeager building on the Bourbon County Fairgrounds.  The meeting was called to order by President Glenda Miller. The Flag Salute and Club Collect was led by Joyce Allen


The minutes of the previous meeting were read and approved.  Twelve members were in attendance.  They reported that they had recycled 225 pounds of paper and had five volunteer hours.


Doris Ericson presented the treasurer’s report.  Karen Peery announced that the Council will meet on Monday.


Glenda Miller reported that the baskets for the First Responders had been delivered and were a big success.  She also announced that Fall Follies will be October 19th in Bronson.  The program will be on Bee’s.


Deb Lust reminded the Club about our upcoming collection for Preferred Living, which is totally funded by donations.


New Business consisted of selecting a candidate for Heart of FCE award.  Terri Williams nominated Doris Ericson; Jackie Warren seconded the motion.  Terri Williams moved that the nominations cease, Letha Johnson seconded the motion.  Doris Ericson was elected to be our Heart of FCE candidate for 2021.  Glenda also announced that our yearly reports are due into the county office by December 1st.  Our November project will be making bags for Veterans.  Glenda Miller passed a sign-up sheet for items to be placed in the bags and brought to the next meeting.  Glenda also announced the lessons for the upcoming year.


The Club wished Letha Johnson a happy birthday.


Joyce Allen moved the meeting be adjourned, Helen Carson seconded the motion, motion carried, meeting adjourned.


After the meeting Terri Williams presented the program Under Pressure- Meals in Minutes.  The lesson was on how to use and Instant Pot and its advantages.  Refreshments of BBQ chicken sliders, rice pudding and apple crisp prepared in an Instant pot, mints and water was provided by Claudia Wheeler and Terri Williams and enjoyed by all.


Prepared by

Terri Williams

September—Suicide Prevention Month

Barbara Stockebrand. K-State Extension Agent. Submitted photo.

September is National Suicide Prevention month. Suicide isn’t something we associate much with September, nor is it a topic we actively discuss. However, suicide is a troubling public health issue that leaves a lasting impact on families and communities. Between 1999 and 2019, the suicide death rate increased 33%.

One of our most vulnerable populations to suicide is our older adults. Suicide is a direct reflection of mental illness – another topic that is continually swept under the rug, especially for older adults. Living in a rural community seems to be an additional contributor to its occurrence.

Some of my previous articles have focused on stress levels, isolation, having a purpose in life and how they are important factors to our mental health. When either of these are seemingly out of control, our mental health declines – often in the form of depression. Research has shown a strong link between suicide and depression.

While depression can exist at different intervals over the lifespan, older adults may experience multiple factors at the same time contributing to depression, such as: chronic medical illness, chronic pain, loss of physical functioning, prior depressive episodes, reliving bad experiences, recent loss, and dementia to name a few.

Other risk factors include social isolation and family history with one of the most prevalent factors being loneliness. Living a distance from family while trying to cope with the death of a lifelong spouse, close family or friends, can be a struggle. Research has shown that bereavement experienced by older adults can often trigger major depression.

Suicide rates among older adults are underreported. This generation tends to use passive self-harm behaviors that may result in death, such as refusing food, medications or liquids which are rarely recorded as suicide attempts. These paths are much less obvious than a medication overdose, for example.

A person who is at risk of suicide is rarely clear of their intentions. Such an individual is experiencing a pain that is difficult to talk about. Signs of suicidal thoughts or tendencies can include increased feelings of anxiety and hopelessness, withdrawal from people or activities they ordinarily enjoy, negative thoughts or a preoccupation with death, strong feelings of guilt or low self-esteem. These and other signs may be recognized by staying in tune through casual conversation, paying attention to the content of letters and notes or noting changes in actions or behaviors.

Rushing to create or change wills or other legal documents can sometimes be an indication of a wish for life to end. We should all take the legal steps necessary to make sure our wishes are met at end-of-life. Unfortunately, we humans often procrastinate in getting our end-of-life documents in order. When discussions dwell on these legal documents, take time to encourage conversations that can more clearly define the reasoning behind those actions.

As we age, we are bound to experience periods of feeling bad or go through loss and grief. So often there is a belief that it’s a normal part of aging. We need to recognize we can recover from those periods and that sometimes those feelings need to be targeted by professionals. None of us should feel like we are swimming in the middle of the ocean with no life preserver.

Day-to-day activities we can do to improve our mental health include regular exercise, good nutrition, taking medications as prescribed, contact with other people, staying hydrated, and regular visits with primary care providers.

We should all assess our own mental health on a regular basis. Do not hesitate to visit with your care provider if there is something you can’t seem to get around on your own. He/she may help in determining if it is a physical or medication related effect you are feeling. If those pieces to the puzzle are ruled out, it’s okay to seek out a mental health professional.

If you or someone you know may be experiencing suicidal tendencies, contact Southeast Kansas Mental Health with offices in Humboldt, Iola, Chanute, Fort Scott, Pleasanton and Yates Center. Resources to assist with difficult conversations are available at The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-8255.

K-State Research and Extension is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

September is the Time to Renovate Fescue Lawns

Krista Harding
District Extension Agent, Horticulture
Southwind Extension District
111 S. Butler
Erie, KS 66733
Office: 620-244-3826
Cell: 620-496-8786


I think this is the third summer in a row that we have had above normal rainfall. Our lawn movers haven’t stopped running! Fescue lawns did not really go dormant during the summer and the crabgrass didn’t slow down either. You might be surprised at how much of your lawn is actually crabgrass and not fescue. If you are thinking about renovating your lawn, September is the time to do it. Renovating doesn’t have to be done by plowing under the current turf and starting from scratch. Instead, lawns can be thickened up by overseeding.

To start the overseeding process, mow the grass short (1-1.5 inches) and remove the clippings. This will make it easier to get good seed-soil contact and increase the amount of light that will reach the young seedlings. The success of overseeding is dependant on good seed-soil contact. Thatch can prevent the seed from reaching the soil and germinating. If the thatch layer is ¾ inch or more, use a sod cutter to remove it. A power rake can also be used to reduce a thatch layer.

Next, the soil should be prepared for the seed. Holes must be made into the soil for the seeds to fall into. A verticut machine can be used. It has solid vertical blades that can be set to cut furrows into the soil. Another option is to use a core aerator. This machine will punch holes into the soil and deposit the cores on the surface of the ground. Each hole will produce an excellent environment for seed germination and growth. Machines to do such work can often be rented, so check around.

Fertilizer should then be applied at the rate suggested by a soil test or a starter fertilizer should be used at the rate suggested on the bag.

Seeding is the next step. For overseeding, use half the amount needed compared to seeding bare ground. For tall fescue, the normal rate for bare seeding is 6 to 8 pounds per 1000 square feet so the overseeding rate would be 3 to 4 pounds per 1000 square feet. You don’t necessarily have to overseed with the same variety you planted before. The quality of a lawn by can be raised by overseeding with a fescue variety that has better growth habits. Many stores carry blends of several newer high-quality tall fescues.

Finally, water everything in and then keep the seedbed constantly moist for rapid germination. Frequent light waterings are better than deeper, infrequent watering as the seedlings become established.

Fertilize with a high nitrogen fertilizer again 4 to 6 weeks after seeding to keep plants growing well and to build up food reserves.

On a side note, many homeowners often want to overseed bare spots under trees, but have minimal luck. The turf will sprout as fall progresses and will get established by winter. It continues to look good going into spring. However, the next summer it begins to die out again – despite any care it is given.

In many cases, this is due to too much shade or the type of turf planted isn’t a good fit for the location. Tall fescue is the only widely used lawn turf in Kansas that can survive some shade. All other cool and warm season turfs need more sunlight.

Instead of establishing grass under trees, consider underplanting the tree with shade tolerant ornamental plants. Examples include ground covers such as vinca minor vines, Boston ivy or liriope, or plants such as hostas or hardy ferns.

Krista Harding is a K-State Research and Extension agent assigned to Southwind District. She may be reached at or 620-244-3826.

K-State Research and Extension is an equal opportunity provider and employer.


Ten 4-H members from the Southwind Extension District – Allen, Bourbon, Neosho and Woodson Counties – had the opportunity to participate at the annual Kansas 4-H Livestock Sweepstakes at Kansas State University. Their skills and knowledge were challenged by participating in Livestock & Meats Judging, Livestock Quiz Bowl and Livestock Skillathon contests. Those attending were (from left to right) Carla Nemecek (Coach), Clay Brillhart, Sadie Marchiano, Kristy Beene, Kyser Nemecek, Tate Crystal, Carly Dreher, Byron Fry, Haleigh O’Brien, Gwen Fry, Leah Mueller. Pictured virtually by phone, Aidan Yoho. Submitted photo.

Submitted by: Carla Nemecek, Southwind Extension District 4-H Volunteer


4-H members from the Southwind Extension District excelled at the annual Kansas 4-H Livestock Sweepstakes event on August 21-22 in Kansas State University’s Weber Hall. Participants from the Southwind Extension District were Sadie Marchiano, Clay Brillhart, Carly Dreher, Kristy Beene, Gwen Fry, Byron Fry, Leah Mueller, Haleigh O’Brien, Tate Crystal and Kyser Nemecek.

4-H members learned gained new knowledge and worked on livestock skills in order to be competitive in the Sweepstakes event which consisted blending scores in four contests. Southwind Extension District completed the weekend by being named the 2021 Champion Kansas State 4-H Sweepstakes Team. Top individual Sweepstakes winners for Southwind were Gwen Fry, 10th and Sadie Marchiano was named High Individual Overall after excelling in all contests.

The Livestock Quiz Bowl started with a qualifying exam. The twelve teams with the highest average scores advanced to the quiz bowl competition and both Southwind teams qualified. Southwind #4 (Brillhart, Marchiano, Dreher, O’Brien) was seated first after the test and was later named the State Champion Quiz Bowl Team. Southwind #1 (G. Fry, Crystal, Mueller, Nemecek) earned 7th best out of 26 teams in the contest.

The Livestock Judging contest consisted of nine judging classes and four sets of reasons with 227 contestants and 44 teams from across Kansas. Southwind #4 (Marchiano, Crystal, Dreher, Beene) was 2nd in Sheep/Goats; 3rd in Hogs; 1st in Cattle and 2nd in Reasons and named Reserve Champion Team Overall. Southwind #1 (Mueller, Nemecek, G. Fry, O’Brien) was 7th High Team Overall. Individual livestock judging results are as follows:

  • Sadie Marchiano – 4th Sheep/Goats; 7th Hogs; 2nd Reasons; 5th High Individual Overall
  • Carly Dreher – 7th Beef
  • Tate Crystal – 10th Sheep/Goats; 8th Beef; 8th Reasons; 6th High Individual Overall
  • Haleigh O’Brien – 8th Sheep/Goats

    As the State Champion Livestock Judging Team, Southwind District (Marchiano, Crystal, Dreher, Beene) will represent Kansas 4-H at a national 4-H contest later this fall.

    The Meats Judging contest was based on identification of thirty retail cuts, six placings classes and three sets of reasons. Southwind #4 (Dreher, Marchiano, Brillhart, G. Fry) was 3rd in Placings, 3rd in Reasons, 5th in Retail ID and 6th Team Overall.

  • Clay Brillhart – 2nd High Individual Overall, 5th Reasons; 5th Retail ID
  • Carly Dreher – 2nd Placings
  • Tate Crystal – 4th Placings
  • Sadie Marchiano – 7th Placings

    For the first time in many years, youth from the Southwind District participated in the Intermediate Meats Judging Contest with 13 total teams. Southwind #5 (Sutton, Sutton, K. Bloesser, Maycumber) was 4th Placings, 8th Questions, 4th Retail ID and 5th Intermediate Team Overall. Southwind #6 (Bloesser, H. Shadden, S. Shadden) was 10th Placings, 6th Retail ID and 9th Intermediate Team Overall. Individually, Kendyl Bloesser was 6th in Retail ID and 8th High Individual Overall. Hailey Shadden was 5th in Placings and Marley Sutton was 9th in Placings

    In the Livestock Skillathon, 4-H members rotated individually through stations that addressed six areas of animal science. Those included feedstuffs, breed identification, equipment identification, meat identification, wool evaluation and a written test. There was also a team component where members worked together on understanding livestock biosecurity, and understanding issues in livestock reproduction. Southwind #4 (O’Brien, Marchiano, Dreher, Crystal) was 5th in Exam, 2nd in Practicum and Reserve Champion Team Overall. Southwind #1 (G. Fry, Mueller, Beene, Nemecek) was 7th Team in Practicum. Individual Skillathon results are as follows:

  • Sadie Marchiano – 2nd Exam; 4th Practicum; 4th High Individual Overall 
  • Haleigh O’Brien – 10th Practicum 

                 This group worked hard and studied a great deal of material to prepare for four state contests. To be named the Reserve Champion Livestock Judging, Reserve Champion Livestock Skillathon, Champion Quiz Bowl Team and Overall Champion Sweepstakes Team at the state contests shows how hard these 4-H members pushed each other to “Make the Best Better.”  The Southwind District is proud of their accomplishments and look forward to future growth and learning.

Photo caption:  Ten 4-H members from the Southwind Extension District – Allen, Bourbon, Neosho and Woodson Counties – had the opportunity to participate at the annual Kansas 4-H Livestock Sweepstakes at Kansas State University. Their skills and knowledge were challenged by participating in Livestock & Meats Judging, Livestock Quiz Bowl and Livestock Skillathon contests. Those attending were (from left to right) Carla Nemecek (Coach), Clay Brillhart, Sadie Marchiano, Kristy Beene, Kyser Nemecek, Tate Crystal, Carly Dreher, Byron Fry, Haleigh O’Brien, Gwen Fry, Leah Mueller. Pictured virtually by phone, Aidan Yoho.

Advanced Premium Tax Credit (APTC) Automatic Increases

Joy Miller, RD, LD
Family and Consumer Science Extension Agent
Adult Development and Aging
Family Resource Management
K-State Research and Extension
Southwind Extension District
210 S. National
Fort Scott, KS 66701
Office: 620-223-3720
Fax: 620-223-0332

If you have a health insurance plan through, you may see a decrease in your monthly premiums beginning September 1.

The American Rescue Plan enhanced premium assistance for 2021 and 2022 by lowering the share of premiums people pay. This includes people who already qualified for the APTC with income below 150% of the federal poverty level, people with income over 400% of the federal poverty level, and those with unemployment benefits in 2021.

Starting September 1, will automatically update the advance premium tax credit for some enrollees. If an enrollee is eligible to be automatically redetermined, sent notices in late July. Redetermination will occur for enrollees who have not updated their application since April 1; currently pay a premium; and previously chose to receive their full APTC up-front.

Enrollees who have received or been approved to receive unemployment compensation in 2021 will have their APTC automatically redetermined if they have confirmed since January 1 that they receive or have been approved to receive unemployment in the current month; have not updated their application since July 1; currently pay a premium; and previously chose to receive their full APTC up front.

Some enrollees are not eligible for the automatic APTC redetermination including those who already returned to since April 1, current enrollees, or July 1, unemployment enrollees; taking less than the full APTC amount; and those in zero-premium plans.

Adjustments can be made to increase or decrease qualifying APTC by updating the 2021 application by selecting “Life Change” and manually updating how much of the APTC to apply. A reminder that all premium tax credits are reconciled for the year when completing taxes. If income is underestimated for the year, enrollees may owe back a portion of the APTC and repayment forgiveness will not apply for 2021 plan year.

For more information and FAQ, visit Health Reform: Beyond the Basics at For local assistance, contact me at 620-223-3720 or Marketplace 2022 open enrollment is November 1 through December 15 for coverage that starts January 1, 2022.

Starlite FCE Minutes August 19, 2021


The August meeting of Starlite FCE was held in the Yeager Building on The Bourbon County Fairgrounds August 19, 2021.  The meeting was called to order by President Glenda Miller.  The Flag Salute and Club Collect was led by Joyce Allen.


The minutes of the previous meeting were read and corrected.  Thirteen members were in attendance and they reported that they had volunteered 334 hours and had recycled 521 pounds.


Doris Ericson presented the treasurer’s report.  She announced the Starlite had received first place in the Scarecrow contest and third place in the hay bale decorating contest and had earned $130.  There was no council report.


Jackie Warren gave a report on the fair, she reported that 57 people had entered the King Arthur Baking Contest this year and that the new categories of Lego’s was very successful.  There was a total of 913 exhibits from the 165 exhibitors.


Terri Williams informed the Club that John and Cindy Bartelsmeyer had donated five beautiful display cases to the open class building.


It was announced that Deb Lust’s daughter-in-law had made it to Kuwait.


Old Business consisted of everyone bringing snacks for the first responders in memory of 911 20th anniversary.  Glenda Miller will be delivering then in September.


Glenda announced that the FCE State Convention will be in Topeka this year and that the Fall Follies will be held in Bronson October 19th.


Our next project will be to honor Veterans.


Betty Johnson moved that the meeting be adjourned, Deb Lust seconded the motion, motion carried meeting adjourned.


After the meeting Letha Johnson presented the lesson on Diabetes you are in control.  She informed us on how to know if you are at risk and how to manage it.  Healthy eating, activity and monitoring is a big part of self-care.


Refreshments of tortilla rolls, deviled eggs, health snack bars and water were provided by Del Parks and Betty Johnson and enjoyed by all.



Prepared by

Terri Williams

Now is the Time to Plant Fall Gardens

Krista Harding
District Extension Agent, Horticulture
Southwind Extension District
111 S. Butler
Erie, KS 66733
Office: 620-244-3826
Cell: 620-496-8786


Although many gardens are still producing, it is time to get our fall vegetables planted. Believe it or not, fall is a great gardening season!

When you think about it, fall weather is much like spring – warm daytime temperatures and cool nights. Rainfall is typically more abundant in the fall than summer so less irrigation is needed and fall gardens often have fewer insect pest and disease problems. Combine all of these and you have the ingredients for a great garden! And of most importance is the taste of the produce grown. Flavors of fall-grown vegetables are often sweeter and milder in taste than those grown during hot summer weather.

Some of the best vegetables for a fall garden are lettuce, spinach, radishes, beets, cabbage, turnips, and carrots because of their frost tolerance. These vegetables can be planted directly into your garden wherever space can be found – next to plants still growing in the garden like tomatoes, cucumbers, and pumpkins. Plant mid-August until the first week of September.

Left-over seed from spring planting can be used as long as it was stored in a cool, dry location. To speed up germination and seedling emergence, soak the seeds overnight before planting. If you are purchasing new seed, look for the shortest season cultivars that you can find to insure harvest before a killing frost. The average fall freeze date for our area is around October 24 according to the Weather Data Library on the K-State campus.

Sometimes establishing a fall garden can be difficult during the summer when soil temperatures are extremely high. One way to avoid this is to establish plants in containers or pots for transplanting into the garden later in the season when the weather begins to cool. Cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and collards can be grown in cooler protected areas for 2-4 weeks prior to setting in the garden. Be sure to acclimatize crops for several days before transplanting directly into the garden.

Garden soil should be prepared just like for spring. An application of fertilizer will probably be necessary for optimum plant growth. Use one pound of a complete analysis fertilizer, such as 12-12-12, applied per 100 square feet of garden area. Weeds and grasses will also grow well in a fall garden so mulching may be warranted.

If you do not have a traditional garden space, think about doing a container garden. Just about anything that will hold soil and have a drain hole in the bottom can be used.

Everyone gets geared up to plant vegetables in the spring, but the fall season offers many benefits to gardening. Few take advantage of the season, but consider giving it a try this year.

The Extension office has the “Vegetable Garden Planting Guide” publication available free of charge. This guide offers information such as days to first harvest, days to germination, planting depth, frost resistance, and more.

Krista Harding is a K-State Research and Extension Agricultural agent assigned to Southwind District. She may be reached at or 620-244-3826.

K-State Research and Extension is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

Feeling Fatigued?

Barbara Stockebrand. K-State Extension Agent. Submitted photo.

Everyone feels tired now and then. However, after a good night’s sleep, most will feel refreshed and ready to face a new day. It can be a little more challenging to feel refreshed during the dog days of Summer. Those days represent some of the most oppressive days of the season.

During this time of the year, as we plan our day, we are likely considering where our stops can be made at various cool spots. While we may not be expending a lot of energy throughout the day, due to the heat, our bodies are still working hard to keep us cool. Often, we are not hydrating enough to avoid feeling fatigued.

When should we be concerned about fatigue? We may have spells over a few days where we are feeling more tired than normal. During those times, our bodies may be trying to catch up from over exertion, or maybe something else is going on we cannot see. However, if the tiredness or lack of energy continues for several weeks, and it keeps you from doing the things you enjoy, it may be time to do some investigating.

Sometimes, fatigue can be the first sign that something is wrong within your body. Chronic disease and treatments for disease can contribute to fatigue. Certain medications, infections, untreated pain, anemia, and sleep disorders are other factors that can cause fatigue.

Emotional stresses can create fatigue. Are you fearful about the future? Do you worry about your health? Conditions that include anxiety, depression, grief from the loss of a family member, and feeling that you have no control over your life, are additional conditions that contribute to fatigue.

Not getting enough sleep can be a factor with fatigue. Regular physical activity can improve sleep. It may also help reduce feelings of depression and stress while improving your mood and overall well-being.

Day-to-day factors that could be adding to fatigue can include staying up too late, having too much caffeine, drinking too much alcohol, and eating empty calorie foods, such as fried foods and sweets. Choosing nutritious foods will better generate energy needed to do the activities you enjoy.

Did you know that boredom can cause fatigue? Boredom in and of itself can make you feel tired. If you have been busy in the past–especially during your working years–and now you have long days before you with nothing planned, you may be feeling lost about how to spend your time.

Some lifestyle changes may help in feeling less tired. Suggestions include regular exercise, avoiding naps longer than 30 minutes, stop smoking, asking for help if feeling overwhelmed, and keeping a fatigue diary. Keeping the diary may help discover patterns throughout the day when you feel more or less tired.

If you have been tired for several weeks with no relief, it may be time to visit with your healthcare provider. He or she may ask questions about your sleep patterns, daily activities, appetite, and exercise. A physical exam and ordered lab tests may be the next steps in the investigative process.

Treatment will be based on your history and the results of your exam and lab tests. Medications to target an underlying health condition may be in order. Following your health care providers recommendations could make the difference in your energy levels on a long-term basis.

K-State Research and Extension is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

Healthy Eating on a Budget

Joy Miller, RD, LD
Family and Consumer Science Extension Agent
Adult Development and Aging
Family Resource Management
K-State Research and Extension
Southwind Extension District
210 S. National
Fort Scott, KS 66701
Office: 620-223-3720
Fax: 620-223-0332


Seller’s market is what one might call our current economy. The cost of homes and vehicles are highly valued due to demand exceeding availability. This demand-pull on goods and services causes higher than average inflation rates, affecting everyday items we purchase such as the food we eat at or away from home. According to the Consumer Price Index (CPI), food prices have changed 4-5% from a year ago. With a higher cost of items, paying closer attention to spending and habits may be important to stay within financial budgets and goals.

Healthy eating is important at every age—and can be done on a budget. Eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, grains, protein foods, and dairy or fortified soy alternatives. When deciding what to eat or drink, choose options that are full of nutrients and limited in added sugars, saturated fat, and sodium. Start with these tips:

  • Plan, plan, plan. Plan your meals for the week based on your food budget and make a grocery list that includes staples and perishables. Save money by buying only what you need.
  • Compare similar products. Locate the “unit price” on the shelf sticker near the item price. Compare different brands and sizes for the best money-saving option.
  • Stretch your food dollars. Add beans and canned or frozen vegetables to bulk up your meals and make your food dollars go farther. You will reap the benefits of extra fiber, vitamins, and nutrients while feeling full.
  • Grow your own in your home. Grow herbs like basil and oregano inside your home for a fraction of the price. Small gardens can be grown on a windowsill or a kitchen counter.
  • Buy in bulk. Save money by buying larger quantities of foods that store well like whole grains, canned or dried beans, and frozen vegetables. Don’t overbuy foods that you will throw out later.
  • Look for on-sale produce. Grocery stores rotate their sales and buying what is on sale is a great way to save money and get variety. Do the same with frozen and canned items.

The benefits of healthy eating add up over time, bite by bite. For more tips on healthy eating on a budget visit For more information, contact Joy Miller at or by calling 620.223.3720.


The Compulsive Keeper

Barbara Stockebrand. K-State Extension Agent. Submitted photo.

The Compulsive Keeper

Putting things away after the fair reminded me of how stuff just seems to multiply and collect. Statements such as, “We might need that someday,” repeatedly come to mind.

Yes, we were sorting through things from a specific event. Yet it reminded me how we tend to “over keep” things, especially in our own personal living spaces. Things accumulate with little effort. Without some self-control, our homes can be reduced to pathways or overstuffed drawers and closets. Then it becomes an overwhelming task when we really get the urge to purge.

How do we know if our ‘collections’ have gotten out-of-control? A collector is proud to show off their collections and will keep them neat and organized. However, if a large group of unrelated items is stashed away out-of-sight, we might be leaning toward the cluttered category. If it is in plain sight and in a state of disarray, we could be on the verge of hoarding.

Hoarding can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender, or economic status. It often starts in adolescence and gets progressively worse with age. It’s usually a personal and private behavior making it difficult for others to know the seriousness of the situation.

Individuals are more likely to hoard if they have a family member who keeps everything. Often these individuals are withdrawn from society because they are isolated or lonely. They may struggle with obsessiveness and worry about making the right decision whether to keep something or not. The process of trying to decide whether to keep or dispose creates distress, so they may avoid making any decision at all. Thus, everything is kept.

Other characteristics that can indicate a tendency to hoarding include:

–Difficulty or anxiety with letting go of possessions, regardless of their value.

–Unable to find important papers or money in the clutter.

–Buying things because they are seen as a bargain with a desire to stock up.

–Not inviting family and friends to their home due to shame or embarrassment.

–Refusing to let people into their homes to do needed repairs.

Compulsive keepers often have a poor sense of time. They may be late or absent frequently in the workplace. Missing important deadlines and a reduction of productivity are other signs that often create havoc for businesses.

How can we support a family member or friend who has stuff they can’t seem to deal with? Even though we might want to help clear out some clutter, we need to ask first and develop trust with the compulsive keeper. They need to be ready to make some lifestyle changes.

Be sympathetic, listen, and try to understand the emotion and meaning behind all of the things they have chosen to keep. If safety is an issue, work together to create ways to make doorways and hallways safe and clear. Celebrate the successful small steps.

We all have different standards as to what is clutter and what is not. If you were to step into my office right now, you would likely question my clutter status. Yes, it’s time for me to do some serious housecleaning!

More information on clutter control is available through K-State Research and Extension Southwind offices, and by contacting Barbara at 620-625-8620 or by email to

K-State Research and Extension is an equal opportunity provider and employer.


Be Aware of Child Tax Credit Scams

Joy Miller, RD, LD
Family and Consumer Science Extension Agent
Adult Development and Aging
Family Resource Management
K-State Research and Extension
Southwind Extension District
210 S. National
Fort Scott, KS 66701
Office: 620-223-3720
Fax: 620-223-0332

Advance Child Tax Credit & Scams

To help parents during the pandemic, the Child Tax Credit has been expanded under the American Rescue Plan Act. This means that many families will receive advance payments starting July 15, this opportunity is confusing and scammers are already are jumping into the game with attempts to capture personal information from you.

What is the Child Tax Credit (CTC)? The CTC is available if you claim any children younger than 17. The CTC has been $2,000 per qualifying child. For 2021, the amount will increase to $3,600 for children ages 5 and under and $3,000 for children ages 6 through 17. Note, the CTC amount is based on income.

The American Rescue Act included an Advance Child Tax Credit Payments program. These early payments from the IRS are half of the estimated CTC that you may properly claim on your 2021 tax return during the 2022 filing season. If the IRS has processed your 2020 or 2019 tax return, these monthly payments will be made starting in July and through December.

In general, you do not need to do anything to receive these advance payments. You may opt out of the monthly payments and get your money in one lump sum when you file during 2022.

Families should be on the alert for scammers using phone calls, emails, texts and social media to trick them into providing information needed to get the new 2021 advance Child Tax Credit. The IRS emphasizes that the only way to get the Advance Child Tax Credit is by either filing a tax return with the IRS or registering online through the Non-filer Sign-up tool , exclusively on Any other option is a scam.

There are many details regarding the Advance Child Tax Credit. To learn more and find answers to your questions, I recommend 3 resources. First is the IRS Advance Child Tax Credit Payments in 2021 ( Here you can learn the details of program, unenroll from advance payments, and non-filers can submit information. The second is The White House ( Here they will cover the same topics as the IRS, but also provide some examples of how the Child Tax Credit works for families that may be similar to yours. The third source is the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (

For more information, contact Joy Miller at or by calling 620.223.3720

As Parents Get Older

Barbara Stockebrand. K-State Extension Agent. Submitted photo.

As parents get older, we want to be reassured they are taking care of themselves and staying healthy. That can be hard to discern at times, especially if we live a distance away. The Mayo Clinic suggests these questions to think about as we consider the abilities and health of our older parents.

Are they able to take care of themselves? Pay attention to their personal appearance and to things around the house. Failure to keep up with personal hygiene, yard work, and housework might be signs of dementia, depression or physical impairments.

Is there an issue with memory loss? It’s normal to forget things from to time to time. However, asking the same question repeatedly; getting lost in familiar places; and becoming confused about time, people and places can be indicators of memory loss.

Are your parents safe at home? Here again, watch for red flags around the house. Do they have difficulty in navigating narrow stairways? Have either of them fallen recently? Are they having difficulty reading directions on medication containers?

Are your parents safe on the road? Driving can be challenging for older adults. If they are easily confused while driving or they have experienced a moving violation, it might be time to stop driving.

Have your parents lost weight? Weight loss without trying could be a sign that something is wrong. They may be experiencing a lack of energy, difficulty in grasping tools, or reading labels. They may have lost interest in eating, due to a loss of taste and smell. Weight loss can also signify other serious underlying conditions.

Are your parents in good spirits? Monitor your parents’ moods and ask how they are feeling. A drastic change in mood or outlook could be a sign of depression or other health concerns.

Are they still social? Inquire about their activities. Are they staying connected with friends, their usual organizations or faith-based communities? Are they maintaining interest in hobbies and other daily activities? If they have given up on some of these activities, it could indicate a problem.

Are they able to get around? Note how your parents walk. Are mobility issues limiting their usual walking distances or activities? Would an assistive device, such as a cane or walker, help?

If any of these indicators exist, consider sharing your concerns with them. Talk with your parents about seeing a doctor and making changes. Including close friends in the conversation may help. Encourage regular medical check-ups where weight loss, changes in mood, or memory loss may be a concern. Maybe you or someone else could attend the doctor visit with them.

Discuss potential safety issues with your parents and work with them to make a plan to address them. Some simple home modifications may help in preventing falls. Transportation options may be discussed rather than driving themselves. Home care services may also be an alternative to assist with house cleaning, running errands, or in-home meals.

Contact the doctor for guidance if your parents dismiss your concerns. The doctor may need permission from your parents to discuss your parents’ care. However, these discussions may give you and the doctor insight on future doctor visits.

Look into local agencies that offer aging assistance services. A local or area Agency on Aging would be a good first place to start. There may be social workers available that may evaluate your parents’ needs and help connect them with local services.

Some older adults don’t want to admit they can’t do something on their own or don’t realize they need help. They may not know where to start to look for assistance to help them remain as independent as possible.

It’s important that they understand the problem and the proposed solution. Remind your parents that you care about them and that you want to help support their health and well-being, both today and in the years to come.

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