By Sharon OmahenUniversity of GeorgiaWhen it comes to black flies, most people would prefer them destroyed. In the U.S., their bites cause pain and welts. In Africa, they can cause blindness. But to help find ways to control the tiny pests, University of Georgia scientists maintain the world’s only research colony.Often described as gnats, black flies are small, dark, stout flies about half the size of mosquitoes. Like gnats, they swarm around people’s faces and eyes. The big difference is that their bites hurt.Causes welts, blindness“We’re spoiled in the South as our species doesn’t usually bite,” said Elmer Gray, a medical and veterinary entomologist with the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. “In Canada and northern states like Maine and Massachusetts, they bite and leave a bloody welt.”In Africa, black flies carry a nematode that can move to the cornea of a bite victim and cause what is called river blindness. It affects 30 million people in Central and South Africa each year, Gray said. To fight the fly, a bio-control agent called Bti, or Bacillus thuringiensis var. israelensis, was developed. “It’s not a chemical pesticide,” he said, “so it doesn’t pollute streams or damage water quality.”Testing control formulationsBti is a strain of a soil-dwelling bacteriuim that occurs naturally. It is considered safe to people and wildlife. The World Health Organization has approved it for drinking water treatment in some countries, he said.With funding from Valent Biosciences, Gray and a team of 10 UGA students and technicians work every day, year-round to maintain the colony’s 2.7 million black flies. Keeping a healthy colony alive and thriving is an essential component of testing the Bti effectiveness in controlling the pest, he said.Housed, fed and harvestedThe researchers house the fly colony in Athens, Ga., in lobster tanks and modified salt water aquariums, a system developed at Cornell University to replicate a river habitat. The fly colony is fed soybean meal and rabbit chow. “Our flies are larger than the flies found naturally in streams because they’re fed well,” Gray said.Every Tuesday, the team harvests 18-day-old larvae to use to test Bti formulations. “Only 10 percent are used for research purposes,” he said, “but we have to keep a large population to ensure a healthy colony.”Knowing how much Bti to apply to black fly populations will enable groups like the WHO to control the flies instead of treating people for the problems they cause, he said.“Bti can be applied on a large scale using helicopters,” Gray said. “It typically costs about $25-27 a gallon in liquid form.”Just the right amountThe UGA researchers are also working on Bti quality. “The particles have to be the right size and must be stable and disperse in water to be effective,” Gray said. Flies from the UGA colony are being used by other UGA researchers and in research programs at Kansas State University, University of Alabama, Clemson University and Brock University in Canada. “We share samples with anyone we can help,” Gray said.
It was the ninth driest May in Savannah since records began in 1871, the seventh driest in Athens since 1857, the third driest in Columbus since 1948, and the fifth driest in Macon since 1892. For the spring period of March through May, it was the sixth driest in Columbus since 1948 and the ninth driest in Macon since 1892. There were no daily rainfall records set in May.The highest single-day rainfall from Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network stations was 3.53 inches in DeKalb County May 27. Another nearby observer reported 3.07 inches on the same day. The highest monthly total precipitation of 4.38 inches was measured at the same location, with two additional monthly totals of 4.12 and 4.02 inches reported by other observers in DeKalb County in May.Severe weather was reported on six days. No tornadoes were reported, but scattered hail and wind damage did occur. On May 26, almost 200,000 customers in metro Atlanta and 240,000 customers across the state were without power due to strong storms. Three people died in Atlanta due to falling trees, and a UPS truck was set on fire. Lightning sparked several house fires. Windshields were damaged by softball-size hail in Fannin County.A large forest fire consumed more than 230 square miles of swampland and forest mostly in the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge in southeastern Georgia. The fire was apparently set by lightning April 28 and is the largest in the area since 2007, when more than 500,000 acres burned during Georgia’s last drought.Drought expanded across most of the state by the end of the month. The southern three-quarters of the state was in drought conditions by late May, and more than 50 percent was considered to be in extreme drought. Soil moisture conditions declined, as the lack of rainfall and high temperatures accelerated evapotranspiration and stressed plants. By the end of the month, more than 80 percent of subsurface soil moisture was reported as short to very short. The heat was on. Rain was scarce, and drought expanded across Georgia in May. The state got a reprieve from the waves of severe weather, which swept through in April, but scattered wind and hail damage did occur.Temperatures were above normal everywhere in Georgia for a fourth straight month. In Atlanta, the monthly average temperature was 70.9 degrees F (1.1 degrees above normal), in Athens 70.4 degrees (1.3 degrees above normal), Columbus 74 degrees (1.7 degrees above normal), Macon 72.3 degrees (1.3 degrees above normal), Savannah 75 degrees (2.2 degrees above normal), Brunswick 75.3 degrees (1.6 degrees above normal), Alma 74.6 degrees (0.8 degree above normal), Valdosta 75.4 degrees (2.7 degrees above normal) and Augusta 71.9 degrees (1.6 degrees above normal). This spring has been the second warmest in Columbus since 1948, the ninth warmest in Atlanta since 1878, and the tenth warmest in Savannah since 1871, when records began at each location.Several record daily high and low temperatures were broken. Many more record highs and a few record lows were tied. Athens set a record low temperature May 5, when a reading of 37 degrees broke the old record of 38 degrees set in 1940. Light frost was reported in a few locations but did not cause damage to crops. Macon reported 96 degrees May 12, breaking the old record of 95 degrees set in 1967. Savannah recorded 99 degrees, breaking the old record of 97 degrees set in 1956. Alma and Columbus broke or tied daily high temperature records on seven and eight days, respectively, during the month.April was very dry across most of Georgia, with the exception of the northern quarter of the state. The driest areas were the south-central and southwest regions. Most of the rainfall this month came from thunderstorm activity, which is highly variable.The highest monthly total precipitation from National Weather Service reporting stations was 2.93 inches in Atlanta (1.02 inches below normal). The lowest was in Brunswick at 0.58 inch (2.11 inches below normal). Valdosta received 1.20 inches (2.04 inches below normal), Athens 0.82 inch (3.04 inches above normal), Alma 0.85 inch (2.19 inches below normal), Columbus 0.65 inch (2.97 inches below normal), Macon 0.66 inch (2.32 inches below normal), Savannah 0.77 inch (2.84 inches below normal) and Augusta 2.50 inches (0.45 inch above normal).
A workshop on establishing a backyard orchard will be held on Wednesday, Oct. 8 from 8:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. on the University of Georgia campus in Griffin.Hosted by the UGA Horticulture Department, the class will cover the basic steps of starting an orchard. Topics will also include how to select small and large fruit varieties as well as planting and maintaining the orchard. UGA faculty will also discuss how to troubleshoot for insect and disease problems in the orchard. UGA Extension horticulturist Bob Westerfield and UGA Extension fruit specialist Erick Smith will teach the class, which will meet in room 104 of the UGA Griffin Campus’ Student Learning Center.The cost of the workshop is $20, and includes instruction, workshop materials and refreshments. Pre-registration is required by Wednesday, Oct. 1. Register online at tinyurl.com/fruitworkshop. For more information, call Beth Horne at (770) 228-7214 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.One pesticide recertification credit in either category 21 or 24 can be earned for attending this workshop.
Mildew and musty odors sometimes develop during periods of damp weather. Controlling them can be as easy as buying a dehumidifier or placing a moisture barrier under the home.Mildew usually begins to grow when relative humidity remains at 60 percent and the temperature is 60 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. Typically, mildew appears on the surfaces of bathroom tile, or leather or plastic goods stored in closets. Musty odors are often associated with clothes chests, closets, upholstered furniture or carpets. Removal of accessible surface deposits of mildew may clear up the odor. Some deodorizers assist in reducing musty odors in furniture and carpet material.The type of solution recommended to remove mildew completely depends on the particular surface. Solutions containing household bleach should be used with extreme caution. Spillage or spatter could result in bleached spots on carpet or upholstery. Mildew can return when the level of dampness again approaches 60 percent relative humidity or higher, and homemakers often find themselves in a never-ending cycle of cleaning mildewed surfaces.In some cases, the solution to an excess moisture problem can be as simple as purchasing a dehumidifier. In other cases the solution is much more complicated. If a moisture barrier was not placed under the home during construction, homeowners can add one simply by rolling out plastic on the ground beneath the home. Continued problems with excess moisture can lead to structural damage. To combat mildew in the home, follow the advice in University of Georgia Extension publications Circular 1047-1 and Circular 1074-2.
University of Georgia food engineer Fanbin Kong has been awarded a more than $496,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture to study the safety of nanocellulose and how it affects humans’ food digestion and nutrient absorption.Nanocellulose is a light, solid substance obtained from plant matter, generally wood pulp. It is currently used in the food industry as a stabilizing agent, a functional food ingredient and in food packaging production.“Nanocellulose has big application potential. It could be added to packaging materials to strengthen them or added to food as a dietary fiber. It also greatly increases the viscosity of foods,” said Kong, a researcher in the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Department of Food Science and Technology. “We now have the technology to break down cellulose (down) to a nanoscale size, called ‘nanocellulose,’ with a diameter of 1/100 nanometers. In comparison, human hair is about 80,000 nanometers in diameter.” Scientists know the benefits of nanocellulose, but they don’t know how it behaves in the digestive system once it’s ingested. “For example, will the very tiny particles easily penetrate into cells and tissues of the human body and become a big health concern? Will the particles remain nanoscale or will they aggregate together to increase the particle size? Will they bind to proteins, carbohydrates or enzymes and make food digestion difficult, reducing nutrient absorption? Will they impact the composition of the microorganisms that live in human digestive tracts (called ‘gut microbiota’)?” Kong said.These are the questions Kong hopes to answer with the USDA three-year grant. For his work at UGA, Kong developed models of the human stomach and intestine that realistically demonstrate the way food breaks down in the human body. These models help him test the effectiveness of functional foods and develop new foods aimed at helping those with specific health issues.“At UGA, we will use the artificial stomach and intestine models to study how the nanocellulose will transform its size and shape in the digestive tract, and how it will interact with protein, lipid and starch molecules (to) affect (the protein, lipid and starch molecules’) digestibility,” Kong said. He will collaborate with scientists at the University of Missouri who will conduct cell tests to determine whether or not the nanofibers can penetrate into intestinal cells and how they will impact the gut microflora. Tailiang Guo, a toxicologist with the UGA College of Veterinary Medicine, will use mice to validate the results from the simulation test, including examining any toxic effects caused by eating food containing nanocellulose.“Macroscale or microscale biomaterials are generally recognized as safe and do not pose health risks to consumers. However, the biological effects and toxicity of nanoscale biomaterials cannot be predicted solely from their chemical structures,” Kong said. “This project will fill the knowledge gap about the behavior of nanocellulose during digestion and reveal any toxic effects.”Kong’s grant funds are part of a $5.2 million investment awarded in support of nanotechnology research at 11 universities. Collectively, these projects will shed light on ways nanotechnology can be used to improve food safety, enhance renewable fuels, increase crop yields, manage agricultural pests and more. The funds were made available through the USDA Agriculture and Food Research Initiative, the nation’s premier competitive, peer-reviewed grants program for fundamental and applied agricultural sciences.“This important grant will allow Dr. Kong to continue his long-term work to help us better understand how nanobiomaterials impact human, livestock and environmental health,” said Robert N. Shulstad, CAES associate dean for research. “This vital work will further our quest to provide a safe food supply for the nation and beyond.”(Merritt Melancon, public relations coordinator in the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, contributed to this article.)
Aspergillus crown rot disease is on the rise in Georgia peanut fields and University of Georgia researchers are working to pinpoint why. At present, university scientists recommend that farmers encountering this problem in their fields stop saving seed from year to year in an effort to reduce the disease while better control methods are found. The first line of defense has been fungicide application either in furrow or directly to the seed.UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences plant pathologist Tim Brenneman is using applied research to determine why peanut farmers aren’t achieving control through fungicide applications.Incidences of crown rot disease have increased over the past few years and if UGA researchers can’t determine why treatments are not working as consistently as they used to, the problem will only worsen, Brenneman said.“I could have shown you plots, not too many years ago, where we used only an in-furrow Abound fungicide application. Those plots looked as good as if we were treating the seed with our best, complete mix of multiple fungicides. This year, though, that treatment alone led to nearly a complete wipeout. We’ve got to figure out what’s going on here,” Brenneman said.While Georgia’s peanut farmers are harvesting their crop right now, the time will come next spring when producers again put peanuts in the ground. That’s when crown rot, a disease that affects peanut plants early in the growing season, can strike.Peanut plants are most susceptible to crown rot between 30 and 50 days after planting.Growers traditionally rely on fungicide treatment applied to commercial peanut seed to combat the disease. For extra protection, they use in-furrow fungicides.The seed-applied and in-furrow treatments are still beneficial, but growers sometimes see more erratic control from chemical applications, Brenneman said. He is studying why this haphazard control seems to be the case.“Why (do chemical applications) work in some cases and not in others? Do we need to use different seed treatment technology or chemistry mixes in the seed treatments (on commercial seed)?” Brenneman said. “The pathogen is in the soil. On some level, it’s in every field in the state. Some fields have been historically worse than others.”In an effort to reduce expenses, some farmers save seed from one year to the next. This exacerbates the problem of crown rot, especially if that seed was lower quality or had higher infection levels of the disease. However, even higher germinating seed can sometimes have high levels of undetected crown rot.“I think that the problem gets worse if you have an issue with a particular lot of seed. Then every seed coming out of the field can potentially have it. With commercial seed, it’s blended from different sources, and you’re a lot less likely to get a real severe disease issue,” Brenneman said.The pathogen can be housed in the seed itself and grow into the hypocotyl, the portion of the plant found just below the soil line. The fungus can quickly destroy this tissue. “When this happens, it’s over. The plant dies very quickly,” Brenneman said. “We need to understand more about whole-seed quality aspects and how the fungus can infect and be in the seed any time from the previous growing season through storage.”Brenneman said that anything that impairs seed quality is going to stress the plant and increase the likelihood that a disease like crown rot will be able to attack and kill it. He stresses the need to take care of the seed before it’s put in the ground.“If you don’t get a stand, you’re not going to have a peanut crop,” Brenneman said.
$25,000 Villageof Waterbury: Grant to develop a comprehensive plan, includingeconomic development and housing options, for the future growth of WaterburyVillage and identify strategies for implementation of the plan. Two towns, Sutton and Bridport, will each receive roughly$30,000 in grant money to study the feasibility of setting up a wood or fiberfuel pellet production plant in those towns. “Assisting older adults in the Bennington area withday care means they will be able to live more independent lives outside ofnursing homes, closer to their families,” Governor Douglas said. Implementation Grants$412,498 Townof Middlebury: Subgrant to Addison County Community Action Group torehabilitate the Hill House Group Home on 290 Route 7 North. The home providestransitional supportive housing services to mentally ill homeless persons. A $297,500 grant to Meadowlane Housing Associates andHousing Foundation Inc. will be used to purchase and rehabilitate 20 units ofaffordable housing and create 16 additional new units of affordable elderlyhousing. “These grants will rehabilitate affordable housing;create new elderly housing units and adult day care; help plan for responsiblefuture housing projects and promote job creation in Vermont,” GovernorDouglas said. A $200,000 grant to the Town of Bennington will be used byBennington Project Independence for the construction of a State certified,not-for-profit Adult Day Care center serving Bennington County and thesurrounding region. “Our existing affordable housing stock must bemaintained, but we must also expand that, including housing for our agingpopulation,” Douglas said. “And we must encourage the production ofnew housing that working Vermonters can afford.” For information about the Vermont Community Development Program,please see the Agency of Commerce and Community Development website at: www.dhca.state.vt.us/VCDP/(link is external) $250,000 Townof Colchester: Grant to Vermont Center for Emerging Technologies(VCET) to support the start-up operations of their Colchester Facility and itstechnology based business incubator program. “These eight units of housing are critical to meetingthe needs of these extremely vulnerable Vermonters,” Governor Douglassaid. “In addition, the septic failure at the facility will be addressedby connecting to municipal sewer and water, and energy efficiency and ADAimprovements will be made.” The Village of Waterbury and City of Montpelier will eachuse $25,000 grants for planning, the former for economic development andhousing plans, and the latter for work on a mixed use development on the siteof the former Salt Shed on Stone Cutters Way. MILTON, Vt. – Creating affordable housing, jobs, andalternative energy sources in Vermont were on the agenda as Governor JimDouglas on Monday announced the award of $1.3 million in community developmentgrants to ten communities. The $1,345,498 in Vermont Community Development Programgrants will also leverage $10,152,714 in other private and public resources, hesaid during a ceremony in Milton. $50,000 Townof Warren: Grant to provide accessibility to all three floors of theWarren Town Hall by installing an elevator and bringing it into ADA compliancewith state and federal regulations. A $250,000 grant to the Town of Colchester will besub-granted to the Vermont Center for Emerging Technologies (VCET), anincubator affiliated with the University of Vermont, to support the expansionof services in a new facility in Colchester. $29,996 Townof Bridport: Subgrant to Addison County Regional Planning Commissionto study the feasibility of producing fiber fuel pellets and the viability of afiber fuel pellet production plant in Addison County. The Town of Middlebury was awarded the largest grant,receiving $412,498 to rehabilitate the Hill House Group Home, which provideshousing and other services to the homeless who are struggling with mentalillness or substance abuse. $200,000 Townof Bennington: Subgrant to Bennington Project Independence for theconstruction of a State certified facility, not-for-profit Adult Day Careserving Bennington County and the surrounding region. The Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Developmentawards the competitive grants based on the recommendation of the VermontCommunity Development Board and approval of Secretary Kevin Dorn. -30- Governor DouglasAwards $1.3 Million In Community Development GrantsTenCommunities To Receive Funds For Housing, Economic Development Projects Finally, the towns of Warren and Worcester will receive$50,000 and $25,504 respectively to make renovations to their Town Halls tobring them into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). “By working with more new businesses to help themcreate jobs at its new Colchester location, the Vermont Center for EmergingTechnologies will help entrepreneurs in our state bring their ideas to themarketplace, and employ their neighbors,” Governor Douglas said. “These grants represent an investment in greentechnology that could pay huge dividends later in terms of jobs and ourenvironment,” Governor Douglas said. Planning Grants$30,000 Townof Sutton: Grant to conduct a feasibility study of the Old BurkeLumber Mill site for reuse as a wood-chip and wood-pellet production facility. AccessibilityModification Grants $25,000 Cityof Montpelier: Grant to continue studying the feasibility ofimplementing the Riverside Center as a mixed use development on the site of theformer Salt Shed on Stone Cutters Way. “These grants will make an important public space– the Town Hall – accessible to all residents for importantactivities like Town Meeting and conducting government business,”Governor Douglas said. “Waterbury is a growing community, and this grant willhelp it plan for growth that is responsible and that ensures futureprosperity,” Governor Douglas said. “Montpelier’s StoneCutter’s Way has been a wonderful example of redevelopment incorporatingretail and office spaces, and this grant will help further that effort.” $297,500 Townof Milton: Subgrant to Meadowlane Housing Associates and Housing FoundationInc. to acquire and rehabilitate the existing 20 units of affordable housing atMeadowland Apartments in order to modernize the facility and to meet currentlife/safety code requirements. Also planned is the development of 16 additionalnew units of affordable elderly housing on the same parcel. $25,504 Townof Worcester: Grant to provide accessibility to the Worcester TownHall and bring it into full ADA compliance with state and federal regulations.
A new booklet, “How Burlington Became an Award Winning City: An Historical Summary of Burlington’s Economic Development Efforts with a Vision for the Future 1983-2008 ” is a chronicle of major economic development efforts in the City, highlighting a handful of particular programs and projects as well as some of the many awards that have been received. Included are sections containing Five-Year Goals, Priorities and Lessons Learned over 25 years.On Line version:http://www.cedoburlington.org/business/25%20years%20final%20book.pdf(link is external)”Burlington’s many accolades and successes have resulted from active City government, an engaged citizenry, and committed local businesses, non-profits and other organizations,” said Mayor Bob Kiss. “CEDO’s role in supporting and leading the City’s economic and community development efforts has been vital and this publication recognizes their 25 years of work for the people of Burlington. If Burlington did not have a CEDO office today, we would all be demanding that one be created.”This year marks the 25th anniversary since Mayor Bernie Sanders created CEDO, Burlington’s Community & Economic Development Once. The newly established once had an unusually broad mission: to foster economic vitality; preserve and enhance neighborhoods, quality of life and the environment; and promote equity and opportunity for all of Burlington’s residents. Over the past 25 years, CEDO has worked diligently towards those goals; accomplishing much, suffering some setbacks, and receiving quite a few accolades along the way. In fact, in the *eld of community and economic development, CEDO is often cited as a model of how an engaged municipal government can play an active role in helping create and maintain a livable city and foster a healthy and vibrant local economy. In recent years, it has been repeatedly suggested that CEDO write its story’ to be used as a teaching aid and promotional tool, as well as a guide for other city governments.In support of its mission, CEDO works in partnership with citizens, the public and private sector, and other city departments to strengthen the quality of life in Burlington’s neighborhoods, pre-serve and develop decent, safe, and affordable housing opportunities; maintain and improve the vitality of Downtown, the Pine Street area and neighborhood business districts; encourage a thriving small business sector; foster job growth and employment opportunities; increase civic engagement and citizen participation; support the delivery of human services; and revitalize Burlington’s waterfront. CEDO has developed an extensive reach into the community and has partnered with most of the non-pro*t organizations operating in the City. CEDO is funded through federal and State grants, and through the Housing Trust Fund.CEDO’s Economic Development Division distributes an international, award winning Guide to Doing Business in Burlington along with the Chittenden County Resource Guide; maintains an available commercial space database; and provides free individualized technical, *nancial, and location assistance. CEDO is Burlington’s hub for information and assistance for all things business. Whether it is assistance with the permitting process, forms to *le, gap *nancing, assessing the region’s resources, or simply a desire to discuss a business plan, CEDO is here to help.The booklet, How Burlington Became an Award Winning City: An Historical Summary of Burlington’s Economic Development Efforts with a Vision for the Future, 1983-2008, is available, free of charge, at the CEDO office in City Hall.
Vermont students posted a strong showing on the 2010 College Board Advanced Placement (AP) exams and Scholastic Assessment Tests (SAT), as well as the 2010 ACT exams, ranking fifth in the nation, the Department of Education announced today.The AP program offers high school students college-level courses in a variety of subject areas. In all, 3,677 Vermont students participated in the AP program (up 5.2 percent from 2009) and took 6,057 AP exams (up 5.3 percent from last year). According to the College Board, Vermont continues to increase the number of students taking AP courses even as student enrollment is declining overall.AP exams are scored on a scale of one (lowest score) to five (highest score). Sixty-two percent of Vermont exams were scored at three or higher. A score of three or above is considered demonstrating college-level mastery of the content.Vermont students continue to perform above the national average on the SAT exams. Since 2009, Critical Reading increased by one point to 519 (compared to 501 nationally), Mathematics increased by three points to 521 (compared to 516 nationally) and Writing stayed the same at 506 (compared to 492 nationally).In addition, 70 percent of Vermont high school seniors took the exam, with the number of SAT test-takers in the 2010 high school cohort in Vermont decreasing from 5,306 to 5164.More females than males take the SAT exam in Vermont, and gender gaps still remain by subject area, with males excelling in Math and Reading, and females excelling in Writing. Females scored an average of 516 in Critical Reading compared to 522 for males; 504 in Mathematics compared to 541 for males, and 511 in Writing compared to 500 for males.The ACT college admission and placement exam tests student skills in Reading, Writing, Math and Science. The scores from those exams are averaged to create a composite score. Vermont’s high school graduates in the class of 2010 earned an average composite score of 23.2 on the ACT, up from 23.1 last year and up from 22.5 in 2006. A total of 2,054 Vermont graduates took the exam, or 26 percent of that class. Vermont’s average ACT score of 23.2 is higher than the national average of 21.0 and ranked fifth in the country. According to ACT, Vermont high school graduates outperform the national averages across all subject areas in terms of college readiness and scores. Source: Vermont DOE. 9.13.2010
National Life Group,Employees of National Life Group donated more than 2,000 books to an inner-city school in Maryland, helping to fuel the principal’s ambitious dream of bringing 10,000 books into his school.‘I believe reading is the foundation for everything,’ says Herman Whaley, principal of the 200-student Capitol Heights Elementary School, located on the Maryland border with Washington, D.C. ‘If you are not a good reader you are going to struggle.’The 2,000 books were presented at a school assembly in December at which students, in a format akin to a television game show, answered book-themed questions.‘You have to celebrate reading and books the way we celebrate our athletes,’ says Whaley. ‘You have to be a cheerleader and celebrate it so it becomes contagious, like you are celebrating a sporting event like the Super Bowl.’The partnership with National Life Group was born in a community group set up by Whaley to brainstorm ideas for nurturing literacy in the area schools.National Life Group is a family of financial service companies that offer life insurance, annuities, and investment* products and services. Life Insurance Company of the Southwest (LSW), a member of National Life Group, is a leading provider of 403(b) and 457(b) tax-deferred retirement plans, primarily in the K-12 school marketplace, including Capital Heights Elementary School.‘This idea to work with National Life to enhance our school library and classroom libraries came to fruition at our community think tank meeting,’ said Whaley. The suggestion came from Rosette Barner-Wiley, a former teacher who is a member of Whaley’s community group and who also sells National Life’s 403(b) retirement products.She contacted Lewis Smith, who is National Life’s director of 403(b) services. Smith, based in Dallas, and Matt DeSantos, who is National Life’s vice president of marketing and business development and is based in Montpelier, organized book drives at both the Montpelier and Dallas campuses of National Life Group.Both Smith and DeSantos were on hand when the 2,000 books were delivered to the school.Smith told the students that books played a critical role in his life and he talked about ‘the places you can go when you read,’ adding, ‘There are certain things people cannot take away from you when you are growing up ‘ and when you are grown up ‘ and that’s what you have up here (pointing to his head), what you learn, where your imagination takes you, what you have right here in your heart.’DeSantos told the students that the best TV is in their minds. ‘It is using your imagination,’ he said. On the importance of reading, he added, ‘It’s about dreams. No one can take it away from you.’The school has launched a Read 25 program to support each student in reading and discussing at least 25 books every school year.Whaley has taken the Read 25 program one step further and initiated an additional goal to get 10,000 books into his school.The 2,000 books were delivered without charge by ABF Freight System, Inc. of Williston, Vt.‘While ABF is a company with a global reach, our people work and live in local communities across the map ‘ communities just like Montpelier and Capital Heights. For this reason it means so much more to know that we can serve the very communities where we live by supporting worthwhile causes such as this one,’ said Russ Aikman, director of marketing and public relations at ABF.###About National Life Group – www.nationallife.com(link is external)National Life Group is a family of financial service companies that offer life insurance, annuities, and investment* products and services. Life Insurance Company of the Southwest (LSW), a member of National Life Group, is a leading provider of 403(b) and 457(b) tax-deferred retirement plans, primarily in the K-12 school marketplace. LSW offers traditional fixed and indexed annuities to educators and employees in more than 7,000 school districts, including several of the largest and smallest school districts in the country.National Life Group® is a trade name of National Life Insurance Company, Montpelier, Vt., Life Insurance Company of the Southwest, Addison, Texas, and their affiliates. Each company of National Life Group is solely responsible for its own financial condition and contractual obligations. Life Insurance Company of the Southwest is not an authorized insurer in New York and does not conduct insurance business in New York.*Securities and investment advisory services are offered solely by Equity Services, Inc., Member FINRA/SIPC, a member of National Life Group, One National Life Drive, Montpelier, Vermont 05604. 800-344-7437.