Battle the Growing Tick Health Threat with Free TickTracker App

tick-482613_960_720_tick_handHealth officials are warning ticks and the diseases they carry are spreading across the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, report the number of tick-borne disease cases has more than doubled in the last 13 years.

The CDC describes tick-borne illnesses as a public health threat proving difficult to control. While these diseases occur across the United States, the Northeast, Midwest and southern areas of the nation seem to be most at risk.

detail-3370931_960_720+tick2Olivia Goodreau knows a lot about the health threat ticks pose. The teenager was bitten by a tick in Missouri in the summer between first and second grade and it took 51 doctors and 18 months to figure out she had Lyme disease.

Health professionals are seeing more cases of Lyme disease. The CDC estimates that roughly 300,000 Americans are infected with Lyme each year, which is eight to 10 times higher than the number of cases actually reported. Lyme disease has 6 times more new cases each year than HIV/AIDS, yet it receives less than 1% of the funding.

tick-1271763__340_ticerOWhile living with Lyme disease, Goodreau is working to raise money for kids that cannot afford their Lyme medication and for research to find a cure. As a twelve-year old, she started the LivLyme Foundation in 2017 after she was told that she would live with the debilitating symptoms of Lyme disease for the rest of her life, or until a cure is found. Her efforts to help others include developing an app to help track, report, and educate about ticks. TickTracker is free to the public to download via the Apple and Android App Stores.

Learn more about helping Olivia Goodreau’s battle on ticks, the LivLyme Foundation and TickTracker at http://livlymefoundation.org

Join the ‘Big Wheels’ at Tons of Transportation for Free Fun

A lot of big wheels are converging in Saint Louis County Saturday, May 5th for a unique event. It is a fun way to get a close-up view of some of the biggest vehicles working in our community.

Tons of Transportation brings together backhoes, dump trucks, fire engines, police cars and much more for kids of all ages to inspect and explore. This is a free, fun “hands on” opportunity to climb up, touch them and even get into the cab and take a seat!

474520_v2_dumptruckThe Brentwood Recreation Complex at 2505 S Brentwood Boulevard is the new location for Tons of Transportation 2018. The complex is centrally located in Saint Louis County with easy access to two interstates and lots of free parking. Hours for the free event are 10am- 1pm.

For more information head to richmondheights.org

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Bee a Nature Hero: 3 Easy Ways to Help Pollinators + Free Online Garden Resources

Bees and other pollinators are in trouble. Join the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge

Have you spotted many butterflies this year? What about bees? Unfortunately, these pollinators are in trouble. Pollinators move from plant to plant while searching for protein-rich pollen or high-energy nectar to eat. As they go, they are dusted by pollen and move it to the next flower, fertilizing the plant and allowing it to reproduce and form seeds, berries, fruits and other plant foods that form the foundation of the food chain. Pollination is vital to the air we breathe, the food we eat, the water we drink.Bees  are on the decline

Bees are the most obvious and recognized pollinators in nature. It came as a surprise to me that over 100,000 invertebrates also pollinate. These include butterflies, moths, wasps, beetles and even flies! Hummingbirds are among a thousand birds, mammals and reptiles also helping pollinate.

Vital pollinators on the decline

You can be a pollinator hero in many ways. Here are three easy ways to start.

  1. First, and perhaps the most obvious is through plants. Whether you’re a gardening novice with a small balcony or gardening veteran with a few acres; you may be able to help wildlife in your area. It is easy to plant varieties that will attract pollinators. For example, start with native plants. Native plants form the foundation of habitat for pollinators by providing them with pollen and nectar for food, cover from the elements and predators, and places where their young can grow. The best way to attract beautiful butterflies, busy bees, speedy hummingbirds and other pollinators is to fill your yard with native plants. There are some free resources to help at the end of this post.DB85E1D0CC
  2. Avoiding pesticides is not only good for your family and pets, it is the second great way to help pollinators.  Using insecticides will kill many pollinators. Herbicides will kill important native plants such as milkweed that pollinators rely upon as a food source and a place to raise young. Make the commitment to avoid using chemicals and to maintain your garden in a natural, organic way. The traditional suburban lawn, on average, has ten times more chemical pesticides per acre than farmland. By choosing native plants for your landscaping, you are creating a healthier place for your family and community.10494643_10207078779912157_3907921197852980798_n
  3. The third easy step is to help protect our grasslands to aid pollinators. America’s native grasslands are critically important for pollinators such as bees and monarch butterflies. Our grasslands are filled with native plants that offer nectar and pollen for bees, butterflies, hummingbirds and a wide variety of pollinators. They also provide milkweed, the only host plant for monarch caterpillars. Today, more than 90 percent of native grasslands have been converted to cropland and development. Grasslands are disappearing faster than any other ecosystem in North America, and that’s a big problem for pollinators. Planting milkweed to attract butterflies will give you enjoyment as you help pollinators.

Businesses and community groups can get involved in this effort to help pollinators. One non-profit in Saint Louis is working to provide a living landscape for birds and other wild animals. The Animal Protective Association of Missouri or APA Adoption Center is part of the growing trend to garden for wildlife in landscaping as a way to care for wildlife as well as the pets brought to the facility.

The Missouri Botanical Gardens offers many free resources online to help with native gardens. You can find them by clicking on A Guide to Native Landscaping in Missouri 11078212_10204083286547347_1748544961633585133_n
A national native online plant guide can be accessed by clicking on American Beauty Native Plants. 

The National Federation for Wildlife or NWF offers many free resources for gardening to benefit pollinators and wildlife. The NWF is joining with dozens of conservation and gardening organizations as well as seed groups to form the National Pollinator Garden Network. Spreading the word through social media and helping educate others is a great way to be a pollinator hero too.

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A Free App Bringing Sight to the Blind and Visually Impaired

226541_2066754712732_918981_aMaking a big difference in someone’s life can be as easy as pulling out your smart phone for a few minutes every day. Really! A not-for-profit app makes life easier for those with vision problems by connecting them with sighted helpers through a smartphone app. Be My Eyes allows the blind to handle big and small tasks, while sighted volunteers get the joy of helping someone else in an easy and informal way at their convenience.

Be My Eyes harnesses the power of technology and generosity to connect visually impaired users with sighted volunteers through a live video connection. Volunteers lend their eyes to assist visually impaired users with a wide range of tasks, both large and small. For example:

  • Matching colors and clothing
  • Distinguishing between household or kitchen products; cans, cleaning products, shampoo, etc.
  • Determining departure or arrival of public transportation
  • Navigating in unfamiliar surroundings

The app is available for Android and Apple products. The Be My Eyes community is growing with more than 900,000 users across 150 countries helped by hundreds of thousands of sighted volunteers. Microsoft has also joined the effort offering Be My Eyes users a direct connection to receive technical assistance from the Disability Answer Desk, a free consumer service for Microsoft’s customers with disabilities.

This video demonstrates how Be My Eyes works.

Want to learn more about lending your eyes and stay connected with this awesome app? Be My Eyes is on Twitter and Facebook. Plus you should check out the website at http://www.bemyeyes.org/. Please consider following me on Twitter too.

Check out this great way to help visually impaired people

Check out this great way to help visually impaired people

Coyote Attacks on Pets on Rise in Saint Louis Region

More than a dozen Saint Louis area families have lost a pet to a coyote attack in the past year.

Coyotes are common in Missouri and Illinois even in densely populated urban areas. There are some indications coyote numbers are on the rise in the St. Louis area. While there are no official numbers, the increase in sightings and rise in attacks, lead wildlife experts to believe the coyote population is increasing.

“Coyote interactions with people and pets are increasing,” explains Tom Meister, a wildlife biologist with the Missouri Department of Conservation.

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Meister wants to do more research on the coyote population and their urban behavior in the Saint Louis region.

Meister says the increase of attack reports convinces him more animal owners should take steps to protect their pets.

– Pets should be supervised when outside between dusk and dawn.

– If pets must be left outside, make sure your yard fence is at least 6′ tall and 6″ deep to ensure coyotes cannot jump over it or dig under it. Coyotes like to dig, so install vinyl lattice 2 to 3 feet below ground to prevent any tunneling. Consider a Coyote Roller for your fence: A coyote roller attaches to the top of your existing fence. The Coyote Roller prevents a coyote from latching its paws to the top of fence by spinning the animal off, making it lose its footing.

– Trash cans should be secured and taken to the curb close to pick up time.

– Pet food should not be left outside. Do not feed coyotes or other wildlife.

– Monitor fruit trees and bushes: Be vigilant about cleaning the yard of fallen apples, berries, oranges, and other food.

– Breeding season is from January through March, and pup season is from March until May. Coyotes may attack any size dog if they feel they or their pups are threatened.

– Dogs should be kept on a leash when on walks.

– If you spot a coyote, wave your arms, clap, and shout to scare it away. It is important to make yourself seem as large as possible.

– When letting out dogs in a yard at night, turn on outdoor lighting and make noise to alert coyotes a human is nearby. Be prepared to take action against coyotes.

Meister advises pet owners to “make lots of noise, pots and pans, throw rocks at them, spray coyotes with a hose. Whatever you can do to persuade them to leave your yard.”

Coyotes are reddish or grayish brown with a whitish belly and throat. They have black-tipped tails, large pointed ears, and small pointed muzzles. In Missouri they are usually around 23-25″ tall and weigh 25 to 35 pounds.

The Missouri Department of Conservation has a free resource guide and booklet on coyote control including using guard animals and regulations concerning coyote hunting and trapping seasons.

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Attend a Wonderful Summit without Leaving your Home or Office –And It’s Free!

An exciting online event is coming up focusing on the economy, healthcare, social networking, and a host of other important topics to everyone—but especially for entrepreneurs and small business owners!
The National Federation of Independent Business, NFIB, is holding its first virtual summit coming up on September 15, 2009 and you can be a part of the action.  The online event is free and will be held from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. EDT and is essentially packed with opportunities for online education and networking conveniently your home or office. 

Not sure how a virtual convention or summit would work?  It is really incredible and I invite you to check it out now.  Click here to view a video preview of the upcoming virtual summit.  There will be booths just like you would expect to see at a major business convention and SBTV.com will have a virtual booth, I hope you will stop by!  Take a moment and register to attend by going to www.NFIB.com/virtualsummit.

 

It is not only booths and networking the virtual summit offers.  There are a number of important discussions planned for the virtual summit impacting millions of people.  “Healthcare for Small Business” will include a discussion with Stuart Butler, Ph.D., vice president, domestic & economic policy studies, Heritage Foundation. The presentation includes a federal legislative update as well as a look at what Congress can do to help small businesses afford health insurance. The panelists also will discuss lessons learned from reform efforts in various states.

The discussion entitled “Focus on the Economy” will be presented by David Walker, president and CEO of Peter G. Peterson Foundation, Denny Dennis, NFIB senior research fellow and William C. Dunkelberg, NFIB chief economist. Their topics will include the effects of the federal deficit and government spending on the economy, credit issues for small business and a small business economic forecast. 

Representatives of Google and Facebook will present “Digital Marketing and Social Networking,” a guide to free resources available online including Google Docs and Google Calendar, how to use YouTube to promote a business, building an online presence and directing people to your website through Google, and creating Facebook business pages to engage customers and build brand loyalty.

Also scheduled for the virtual convention, Jason Miner, eBay University instructor, will discuss “The Keys to Success for Your eBay Sales,” during which small business owners will learn how selling on eBay can attract customers worldwide using e-commerce. He also will teach attendees to open a PayPal account to accept online payments, how to set prices, and easy shipping techniques.

Follow me on Twitter to learn more about small business issues and events to give you a competitive edge.  Just go to http://twitter.com/danitablackwood

eBay has Changes Coming to Boost Sales Online: Sign up for Free Webinars

With 88 million active users worldwide and more than 15 million average daily live listings, the eBay marketplace represents the largest e-commerce site in the world.  Every year, total sales on eBay top $60 billion dollars, more than any other online retailer and nearly a quarter of all online sales combined!  With more than 1 million people earning their primary or secondary income on eBay.com, the online commerce site is taking new steps to increase sales and profitability.

 

Under a new program scheduled to go into effect in the fall, eBay is introducing some changes to reward sellers who consistently deliver a good shopping experience to eBay buyers; even if the sellers aren’t among the top sellers best known on eBay as PowerSellers.

The new seller program, which starts in October, makes use of eBay’s current star ratings for feedback with one star for listed as the worst ranging to stars as the best shopping experience on eBay.  In order to qualify as a top-rated seller, less than 0.5 percent of a seller’s feedback can be scores of 1 or 2. That marks a change from the past, when eBay generally provided incentives based on a seller’s average feedback score.  And not every vendor will be eligible for the new program.  Sellers must have at least 100 sales, worth a total of at least $3,000, on eBay per year.

Those entrepreneurs who qualify as top-rated vendors will get a 20 percent discount on the fees they must pay eBay after selling an item, along with a virtual badge they can display on their pages to indicate their status. Products they offer will be more likely to show up in searches that buyers make on eBay,

eBay is holding webinars on July 28,2009 and July 30, 2009 to talk about the upcoming changes and how the new initiative can help entrepreneurs looking to grow their enterprise.  You can sign up for the free Webinars and view other details of the planned changes at http://pages.ebay.com/sell/July2009Update/Overview/