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Early Childhood Texting Program Offered to Minnesota Parents

Text messages to boost a child’s learning & encourage parent engagement

Parents of young children in Minnesota are invited to sign-up for Think Small ParentPowered Texts. This FREE program provides families with fun facts and easy tips to help build a child’s school readiness skills. Parents who participate will receive text messages developed by educational researchers offering suggestions on ways to promote their child’s social-emotional learning, increase motor and language skills, and improve overall health development to help get them ready for kindergarten.

Parent engagement is key in early childhood.  Think Small ParentPowered Texts aim to keep families connected by providing ideas that are easy to achieve.  Parents who sign up will receive three text messages each week covering different areas of a child’s development.  These Fact, Tip and Growth text messages will build on activities that families are already doing, like getting ready for school, eating meals, or going to the store.

Research shows that when parents use this program, their children are more prepared for kindergarten.  Built on studies out of Stanford University, researchers found the ParentPowered text approach increased family involvement at home and school, ultimately leading to child learning gains (York & Loeb, 2014). And because 90% of brain development occurs in those crucial first five years, it’s never too early to start! The text messages are designed for parents of newborns through age 5 and are based on a child’s birthdate, ensuring all messages are developmentally appropriate.

Text messages are currently available in English and Spanish. Sign up by texting TS to 70138 (English) or TS ESP to 70138 (Spanish). To sign up online, get more information, or read the terms and conditions, visit Again, it’s free to sign up!

Protecting Eyes from Ultraviolet Rays Today Can Help Save Sight in the Future

Prevent Blindness Declares May as Ultraviolet (UV) Awareness Month to Educate Public on Dangers of Extended UV Exposure

Many people know about the damage that ultraviolet (UV) rays can have on the skin, from sunburns to skin cancers.  But many may not know about the damage it may cause to the eyes.  That is why Prevent Blindness, the nation’s oldest eye health and safety organization, has declared May as UV (ultraviolet) Awareness Month.  The goal is to help educate the public on the dangers of UV and steps to take to protect vision today and in the future. 

UV damage to the eyes can be immediate including a condition called “ultraviolet keratitis.”  According to the Cleveland Clinic, this occurs from exposure to ultraviolet rays that can temporarily damage the cornea (the clear portion of the eye in front of the pupil) and the conjunctiva, a layer of cells covering the inside of the eyelid and the whites of the eye. Symptoms, such as eye pain, tears, blurred vision, light sensitivity and seeing halos, may last from 6 to 24 hours, but they usually disappear within 48 hours. 

However, some UV damage may be cumulative, leading to cataract or macular degeneration later in life. People who work or play in the sun for long periods of time are at the greatest risk. Parents should make sure that all children are wearing the proper sun protection at all times when outdoors. 

When purchasing sunglasses, Prevent Blindness also recommends buying sunglasses that:

· reduce glare

· block 100 percent of UV-A and UV-B rays

· are comfortable to wear

· do not distort colors

· are safe for outdoor activities, such as sports

Sunglasses should be worn in conjunction with a brimmed hat.  Wrap-around sunglasses are best as they protect not only the eyes but the delicate skin around the eyes as well.

“The best way to protect your eyes, and your family’s eyes from UV, is to talk with an eyecare professional.  By discussing your unique needs, he or she can provide guidance on the best ways to protect your eyes today and help ensure healthy vision for years to come,” said Hugh R. Parry, president and CEO of Prevent Blindness.

For more information on the dangers of UV exposure and how to choose the best UV protection, please visit the Prevent Blindness dedicated Web page at or call (800) 331-2020.

 About Prevent Blindness

Founded in 1908, Prevent Blindness is the nation’s leading volunteer eye health and safety organization dedicated to fighting blindness and saving sight.  Focused on promoting a continuum of vision care, Prevent Blindness touches the lives of millions of people each year through public and professional education, advocacy, certified vision screening and training, community and patient service programs and research.  These services are made possible through the generous support of the American public.  Together with a network of affiliates, Prevent Blindness is committed to eliminating preventable blindness in America.  For more information, or to make a contribution to the sight-saving fund, call 1-800-331-2020. Or, visit us on the Web at or

Annual CRP Compliance Notification and Reminders

The Farm Service Agency (FSA) would like to remind Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) participants of their responsibility to ensure that acres enrolled in CRP are properly maintained throughout the contract period, as agreed to in the CRP contract (CRP-1 Appendix) and the Conservation Plan of Operations (CPO).  FSA encourages contract participants to regularly visit and evaluate the conditions of the CRP acreage to ensure the vegetative cover and conservation practice are properly maintained to adequately control erosion, protect air and water quality and enhance wildlife habitat, as agreed to in the approved CPO.

CRP contract participants are required to control undesirable weeds, invasive plants, insects, pests and rodents on the entire CRP acreage covered by the CPO, as determined by the FSA County Committee (COC), so that the existing CRP cover, as well as surrounding landowners, air and water quality or wildlife habitat, is not adversely impacted.  FSA has the authority to determine that a violation has occurred when any portion of the CRP acreage is infested, degraded, destroyed or otherwise compromised to the point that the established conservation practice no longer functions as intended.

CRP policies also require CRP acreage to be in compliance with the State noxious weed law as determined by the State or local noxious weed commission.  

Participant awareness of the condition of CRP acreage is crucial to remaining in compliance with CRP regulations.  Failure to adequately maintain CRP acreage may result in a compliance violation

CRP maintenance activities may be conducted anytime outside the established primary nesting and brood rearing season, June 1 (North) or May 15 (South) through August 1, without FSA approval; however, spot treatment of specific areas in critical need of maintenance may be conducted at any time with prior approval by FSA

Additional CRP Participant Responsibilities

CRP participants have additional responsibilities during the CRP contract period.  Such responsibilities include, but are not limited to annually certifying CRP acreage with FSA prior to the July 15 deadline if not already done; Not disturbing the CRP acreage during the primary nesting and brood rearing season of  May 15 (South) through August 1, except with prior approval from FSA for spot maintenance treatment in the immediate area of infestation; Conduct applicable management activities as scheduled in the approved CPO; Request approval from FSA in advance of conducting any acreage management activity not scheduled in the approved CPO; Notify FSA of any changes that may affect CRP payment eligibility or interest in the CRP contract acreage such as transfer of ownership, establishment of trust or entities, etc.  Not conducting any activity that will affect CRP cover without prior FSA approval no matter what time of the year it is. 

CRP is the Nation’s largest and most successful public-private conservation program, providing conservation benefits of reduced soil erosion, improved air and water quality and enhanced wildlife habitat.  FSA appreciates program participation in CRP and seeks to continue working with interested landowners or producers in enrolling acres in CRP and providing environmental benefits.

Long Lake Conservation Camp

Scholarships Available ThroughMurray Soil and Water Conservation District

Each year the Murray Soil and Water Conservation District sends Murray County youth to the Long Lake Conservation Camp near Palisades, MN with the camp paid by the Murray SWCD.  Outdoor Explorers is the classic summer camp experience full of fun at the lake and exploration in the woods! Campers spend time in the outdoors learning recreation skills, such as; canoeing, archery, orienteering, GPS, and camping! In addition, campers participate in team building activities on Long Lake’s low ropes Challenge Cooperation Course and team games. Furthermore, on top of all this fun, campers spend time honing their survival skills by building small cooking fires and shelters, and spending a night under the stars! For additional information and photos about the camp check out their website at

Anyone in the county, who is 10-14 years old is eligible to apply.  There are two sessions available from June 18-23, and July 16-21, 2017.

Don’t miss this opportunity to spend a week learning about and exploring your environment.  Contact Shelly Lewis, at the Murray Soil and Water Conservation District, 507-836-6990 Ext #3.