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Archive | June, 2015

Sunscreen in plants

By Ranger Steve Mueller

By Ranger Steve Mueller

A red pigment called anthocyanin has been considered a sunscreen that protects plants from becoming sunburned, much like the sunscreens we use to protect us, from ultraviolet radiation (UV).

Look at newly emerging leaves from buds and notice the red color of the delicate tissues that have not yet “hardened.” When leaves expand from the bud, they are somewhat like a water balloon. They fill with water but the plant cannot build the necessary support tissues that rapidly. Feel newly expanded leaves to notice how delicate they are. The cellular tissues remain thin for days.

The leaves of trees and shrubs expand rapidly but it takes much longer to reinforce cells with cellulose and other strengthening tissues. The first line of defense to protect delicate tissues from UV radiation would reasonably be found in the protective outer cell layer called the epidermis. This layer lacks the green chlorophylls that make leaves green and it also has a low concentration of anthocyanin. Anthocyanin is more abundant deeper in leaf tissues called palisade cells, where vertical rows of cells stand next to each other and circulate green chloroplasts to capture sun energy. It also is more abundant in photosynthetic cells beneath the palisade cells know as spongy mesophyll cells. Studies are trying to understand the mystery UV protection.

Think of the palisade cells like a series of farm silos packed closely together to fill a checkerboard. They are tall and slim. Imagine each silo filled with water and beach balls. The balls represent the chloroplasts that form a moving loop inside silo like an internal Ferris wheel. The chloroplasts are like seats on the Ferris wheel following others as they rise to the top and circulate back down to bottom. The spongy mesophyll cells below the palisade cells are more globular in water filled spaces between cells.

UV can cause damage to DNA in the cells of the two layers, just like damage can cause cancer in our skin tissues. Anthocyanin filters radiation to varying degrees and helps protect plants. Melanin in our skin serves that function and is built when our skin is exposed to UV and makes us tan.

Shade tolerant plants in the understory of forests are protected from intense sun radiation by the forest canopy. When trees are clear cut, the ground plants are suddenly exposed to UV and respond. They produce large quantities of anthocyanin and become intensely red. Unfortunately, it is not adequate to save them and most succumb to sunburn. Plants adapted to tolerate open sunny nature niches colonize the new sunny habitat. When you see a clear-cut forest, stop to notice how red the ground plants become when exposed.

Explore with family members to notice new growth on dogwood shrubs, maples, sassafras, oaks, and cherries. Choose any tree or shrub and feel how soft and delicate new tissues are and that they are pigmented red until they harden and feel sturdy. It is universal that the new tissues concentrate anthocyanin. The water-soluble pigment has other functions also but it plays a role as protective sunscreen. Phenolic acids in corn and other crops are UV-absorbing compounds so anthocyanin is not the only sunscreen. More mysteries are waiting discovery.

Declining levels of ozone in the upper atmosphere have generated concern because more UV radiation is entering the lower atmosphere where we live. In our latitudes, UV has risen by 3 to 5 percent in recent decades. Closer to the poles it has risen 6 to 8 percent. Increased skin cancer in people is occurring. People are not the only species impacted by UV radiation but we tend to think we are isolated from nature niches. That is not now nature works. What happens to plants happens to people. We do not live alone and sustainable care for other life is essential for our own health. Food and forest productivity depend on how we care for ozone layers.

Natural history questions or topic suggestions can be directed to Ranger Steve (Mueller) at odybrook@chartermi.net Ody Brook Nature Sanctuary, 13010 Northland Dr, Cedar Springs, MI 49319-8433. 616-696-1753.

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Get paid to allow hunting on your land

The DNR’s Hunting Access Program provides hunters with quality hunting land close to home and landowners with incentives for allowing hunters access to their property.

The DNR’s Hunting Access Program provides hunters with quality hunting land close to home and landowners with incentives for allowing hunters access to their property.

Landowners looking to make the most of their land can support local hunting traditions and economy, improve their land, and get paid to do it through the Department of Natural Resources’ Hunting Access Program. The DNR encourages landowners to consider enrolling their lands in the program, which provides private-land hunting opportunities in southern Michigan and the eastern Upper Peninsula. Landowners with at least 40 acres are eligible to enroll.

Michigan’s Hunting Access Program (HAP) was created in 1977 to increase public hunting opportunities in southern Michigan, where 97 percent of the land base is privately owned. Landowners enrolled in the program receive an annual payment, up to $25 an acre, for allowing hunters to access their lands. HAP, one of the oldest dedicated private-lands public-access programs in the nation, provides access to quality hunting lands close to urban properties.

Using funds from the new hunting license package and a new United States Department of Agriculture grant, the DNR—in collaboration with Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and local conservation districts—plans to continue expanding the program over the next three years.

According to DNR wildlife biologist Mike Parker, “Providing access to hunting lands that are close to home is critical for supporting Michigan’s strong hunting heritage. Our commitment to providing access has more than tripled the number of farms enrolled in HAP the past three years. We now have over 140 farms and nearly 16,000 acres available for public hunting.

“HAP is also good for the economy,” Parker said. “Hunters taking trips to HAP lands contribute $1.7 million annually to Michigan’s economy. The majority of the HAP hunter trips are only 25 miles from the hunter’s home, making HAP lands extremely accessible and close to home.”

Landowners have the ability to choose which types of hunting are allowed on their lands. Hunting options include:

  • All hunting
  • Youth and apprentice hunting only
  • Small game hunting only
  • Deer hunting only
  • Sharptail grouse hunting only

Landowners may choose more than one option, such as deer and turkey hunting only. Maximum payments will be given for all hunting or youth and apprentice hunting options.

In order to manage the number of hunters using HAP lands at any one time, hunters are required to register to hunt each time they visit the property. The landowner can select either a mandatory registration at their home or a hunter self-registration box, which the DNR will provide and install. The maximum number of hunters allowed on the property is determined by the total acreage, as well as the habitat type. Leases are for a two-year period, with annual payments made each spring.

To ensure landowner and hunter satisfaction, HAP offers landowner liability protection. Public Act 451 of 1994 addresses the concerns some landowners have over sharing access to their land. In addition, HAP lands are patrolled by conservation officers, with an increased focus on patrolling during the busy fall hunting season.

Visit www.michigan.gov/hap to learn more about the program and to see a current list of private lands available for hunting in Michigan. The HAP Web page includes details about enrolled properties, including types of hunting allowed and aerial photos of the properties.

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Mulching Can Keep Your Lawn Healthy

BLOOM-Mulching

(StatePoint) When working in the yard, you may be tempted to simply bag your yard clippings and set them out to the curb for pick-up. But experts say that mulching grass clippings is a much better alternative for the health of your lawn and the health of the planet.

“Mulching is hands down one of the best ways to maintain a beautiful, low-maintenance lawn,” says Daryn Walters, at Exmark Manufacturing, a manufacturer of turf care equipment. “It’s free and it’s great for lawn health.”

Furthermore, mulching can help you greatly reduce your family’s contribution to landfill waste, points out Walters. Of all the municipal solid waste collected in the United States, 13.5 percent of it is comprised of yard trimmings, according to the EPA.

For best results, try these lawn care tips:

• Practice the 1/3rd Rule: Never cut more than 1/3 of the length of the grass blade when mowing, to avoid clippings accumulating on the surface and making your lawn susceptible to disease. Additionally, this will improve the productivity of your mower, as cutting more than that can bog it down with clippings.

• Use a Mulching Mower: Consider investing in a commercial mower to regain productivity that can decrease when mulching. Manufacturers such as Exmark offer mulching-specific blades on both their walk-behind and zero-turn riding mowers, designed to deliver maximum productivity and cut-quality when mulching.

• Ditch the Chemicals: There’s no need to pay for chemical fertilizers to give your lawn what it needs to thrive. Mulching feeds the lawn nutrients and organic material, and can even help with moisture retention — which can significantly reduce the time and expense you spend on watering the lawn.

More information about mulching, lawn care and mowers can be found at www.Exmark.com.

“Your yard trimmings are not trash — they are an effective, natural and free fertilizer,” says Walters. “For a healthy lawn, drop the bag and let the mulch do more for you.”

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Simple tips to get growing at home 

Burpee offers a wide range of flowers, vegetables and herbs to grow at home.

Burpee offers a wide range of flowers, vegetables and herbs to grow at home.

(NAPS)—There may be few things more satisfying than growing colorful flowers or eating vegetables picked fresh from the garden. That might seem ambitious if you haven’t gardened before, but getting started this year need not be difficult. Just follow these simple gardening tips to enjoy the benefits of fresh air, gentle exercise and healthy produce:

1) Pick your spot with care. Plants need sun and water to survive. Vegetables and most flowers need full sun—at least six hours of sunlight every day during the growing season. Plant close to an outdoor water source to make hot weather watering easier.

2) Start with the soil. Because plants live by their roots, the most important part of any garden is below ground. Most soil around houses isn’t ideal for plants but can be improved by adding nutrient-rich organic matter, usually in the form of compost, shredded leaves or composted manure. Bagged soil mixes marked specifically for growing vegetables are ideal for containers.

3) Keep your first garden manageable. For beginners, try a plot 4 feet by 8 feet, or half a dozen good-sized (24–36”) containers. That’s enough to provide a satisfying harvest of herbs, greens or a few tomato plants while you get a feel for the amount of time and effort it takes to water and weed. Pots are the easiest to control soil, water and light. Creating a container garden of vegetables, herbs and patio flowers is a good place for novices to start.

4) Get a head start. Some vegetables and flowers may need to be started from seed 6–8 weeks before it’s safe to plant them outside. You’ll need to do this for tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and petunias. But other favorites like zucchini, cucumbers, beans and sunflowers are easily sown in the ground with seed. You can learn more about starting and sowing seeds at www.burpee.com. Planting time will vary in each growing zone, but is generally best in the late spring.

5) Watch your garden grow. It’s fun for the whole family to observe seeds taking root and growing into plants. Be sure to water and weed regularly as you wait for the bounty of your first harvest.

Burpee’s free Garden Time Planner app makes planting in specific garden regions easy. To download the app, buy non-GMO seeds and plants, or to access helpful “how-to” articles and videos, visit www.burpee.com or call (800) 888-1447.

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Feeling short of breath? It could be something serious

Pete Mulliner, PFF Patient Ambassador

Pete Mulliner, PFF Patient Ambassador

Pete Mulliner at eight months with his grandparents

Pete Mulliner at eight months with his grandparents

(BPT) – Unlike many Americans, Pete Mulliner knew of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) long before he was actually diagnosed with it. His grandfather died from pulmonary fibrosis the year Mulliner was married. “Granddad was the go-to guy in my world,” Mulliner says. “He taught me how to use tools, renovate houses, how to think clearly and logically and how to approach life.”

Three years after his grandfather’s death, Mulliner lost his great-aunt to pulmonary fibrosis. He didn’t know it at the time, but his own diagnosis of this deadly disease would come much later.

A Certificated Flight Instructor who teaches pilots to respond safely no matter what, Mulliner first began to question whether something was wrong with him in the summer of 2012. “My wife and I live on a small farm near my hometown,” he says. “I noticed that when I took a walk outdoors, I’d get out of breath. I figured I was out of shape and that I needed to walk more.”

But his concerns worsened after a common cold left him with a barking cough. He sought treatment at an urgent care center but the medications he was prescribed had little effect. They were meant to treat a cold, not IPF.

According to Dr. Gregory Cosgrove, chief medical officer of the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation (PFF), misdiagnoses of the disease are common. “The symptoms of pulmonary fibrosis are non-specific and shared by many other and more common lung diseases,” he says. “As a result, patients are often misdiagnosed initially and an accurate diagnosis may be delayed by months or even years.”

Weeks after Mulliner’s first symptoms, he found himself in the ER with chest pains and an inability to breathe. “My coughing was so violent that I was pulling muscles in my chest,” he remembers. Additional physician visits and a CT scan discerned he had a lung disease but Mulliner wouldn’t learn he had IPF until he visited a pulmonologist.

He was at his daughter’s home, playing with his grandchildren, when his doctor first called and told him he had IPF. “It was like a kick in the gut,” Mulliner remembers. “I felt very alone. Then I realized I wasn’t the only one suffering from this.”

In this dark moment, Mulliner thought back to his pilot’s training. “You can’t take the pilot’s seat to wonder ‘what-if’ and ‘why me’ so I didn’t allow myself to do it then.” He went looking for support groups and found the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation. “It was comforting to know that there was an advocate out there – that there was a voice speaking that much louder about the need to find a cure for this disease,” Mulliner says. “I wanted to add my voice to it. I signed up on the PFF’s Facebook and LinkedIn pages and felt an immediate sense of connection. I wasn’t so alone after all.”

Pulmonary fibrosis (PF) may occur as the result of more than 200 different interstitial lung diseases. Dr. Cosgrove says one of the biggest ways the PFF can help patients is by sorting through the confusion that exists around PF. “With education and a better understanding of the different diseases that may cause PF, patients, family members and physicians not familiar with PF are often empowered,” he says.

Mulliner has felt the benefits of the support of PFF and he’s taking his battle with IPF one day at a time. “It has put finiteness to it,” he says of how IPF has affected his life, understanding that most people with IPF die only 2-3 years after diagnosis. “I am aware there is an end coming; I’m just trying to extend it. At this point in time, if I didn’t know I had IPF, I wouldn’t know I had IPF.”

And while Mulliner lives his life, others are working to save it.

In January, the PFF announced the expansion of its PFF Care Center Network, which is comprised of medical centers with specific expertise in treating PF and IPF, collectively utilizing a comprehensive, multidisciplinary approach to patient care and providing access to resources and support for both patients and caregivers. With the addition of 12 more sites to the Network, there are now 21 leading medical centers in 20 states. The PFF will further expand the PFF Care Center Network as funding permits, with the intention of adding additional sites to the Network later this year.

“As a leading advocate for the pulmonary fibrosis community, we are dedicated to advancing the care of people living with this deadly disease, and this starts with providing greater access to experienced care teams. The PFF Care Center Network fosters collaboration between sites and the sharing of best practices,” Dr. Cosgrove says. The PFF offers up-to-date information online as part of the PFF Patient Communication Center and in print, guidance on where to find treatment and support and information on regional and national events.

To learn more about the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation, the PFF Care Center Network and the facilities involved, visit PulmonaryFibrosis.org.

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From reluctance to relief: Hospice offers peace of mind

Patricia Van Pelt with a photo of her parents. Hospice made a difference when dealing with her father’s death.

Patricia Van Pelt with a photo of her parents. Hospice made a difference when dealing with her father’s death.

When Harvey Van Pelt was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2012, his daughters knew he had a long and difficult fight ahead of him but the diagnosis was one that would likely kill him.

Patricia and her four siblings set out on a two-year journey with their then 84-year-old father to battle back the disease. He endured rounds of chemo and radiation, doctor visits and hospital stays that kept him from his Port Huron home and from the bedside of his wife of 60-plus years, Hazel, who was waging own struggle against the ravages of Alzheimer’s.

In fall 2014, Patricia, Nancy, Mary, Susan and John realized that the treatment for their father’s cancer had actually become worse than the disease itself. After talking with their father, they made the incredibly difficult decision to stop treatment but they still were not ready for hospice.

“We were still very reluctant to call hospice,” recalls Patricia, senior vice president and affiliate head of retail banking at Fifth Third Bank, who now lives in Grand Rapids. “You have to be ready to admit that you have reached the end. In the final few weeks, though, we could no longer keep my father comfortable. That tipping point finally pushed our decision. We wanted him to be comfortable. He did not want to die in a hospital with tubes everywhere. Our only option was to try hospice, so that is what we did.”

The family noticed an immediate difference in their father. Their Hospice of Michigan nurse brought in a different bed with a foam egg crate so Harvey would be more comfortable. The nurse started pain management, which provided the comfort that Patricia and her siblings could no longer give.

Their Hospice of Michigan nurse also answered their questions about what happens to the body at end of life, giving them signs to watch for in their father.  Together, they made decisions about who to contact when he died, what funeral home to call and how the service would be handled.

“Having hospice really helped ease my father’s suffering toward the end,” Patricia recalled. “Just as important, though, it gave the family support and helped us understand what was going to happen when he passed. Those last few days were very difficult, but when it ended, we made one phone call and had someone step in to handle a lot of those details. The last thing you want to be worried about at that moment are the details.  You want to be with your family.”

Less than 18 months later, Patricia and her siblings found themselves facing the end of their mother’s life, although they did not know it at the time. As is often the case with Alzheimer’s, Hazel’s decline was long and slow. Her health had peaks and valleys, including a last bout of pneumonia.

When they noticed their mother was developing a sore on her leg, they agreed they needed to get an egg crate for her, but when they started calling around, they realized the closest place was a 90-minute drive.

Hazel Van Pelt died the following day, too quickly for Patricia and her siblings to call hospice. The difference in the deaths of her parents was startling, Patricia recalled.

“My mother ended up passing much quicker than we imagined she would,” Patricia remembered. “We were faced with not knowing what to do next. We did not have hospice to call, so we had to call the sheriff or 911. The ambulance had to come out to check my mother’s vital signs and see if they could revive her before pronouncing her dead. It was hours before the funeral home could remove her body. There were things that had to happen that I did not even realize because HOM handled them with my dad. I did not realize the difference until I had these two experiences side by side.”

Hospice of Michigan nurse Melody Walker knows firsthand how tough it is to make that call. Her father died in hospice care a year after being diagnosed with esophageal cancer.

“One of our final conversations was when he asked me, ‘How do you know when it is time to stop all this nonsense?’” Melody recalled. “I told him, as I tell all my patients and families, ‘you will know in your heart.’ Everyone’s journey is their own. All the things you have been through will impact that final journey.  As a hospice nurse, I cannot add more days to someone’s life but I can do my best to add more life to their days.”

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Fire Scarred

First-Baptist-church-currenPastor Jim Howard

First Baptist Church

233 S. Main, Cedar Springs

 

Some years ago, it was my privilege and joy to vacation in the Rocky Mountains of Wyoming. As we traveled and marveled at God’s handiwork around us, I couldn’t help but notice the ravages of the forest fires that plagued the west.

As we moved through South Dakota and Wyoming, we witnessed firsthand two forest fires, one in each state. As we moved northward, away from one of the fires, and stopped in Casper for the night, we could still see the smoke, from fires hundreds of miles away. And then, while we visited Yellowstone National Park, the burned over ground from some years ago was still evidenced by the charred and fallen trees.

These sights were sobering in terms of what fire can do to the countryside.  The more I thought about it, the more it reminded me of the seared condition of the human heart. God tells us that the human heart is “deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked” (Jer. 17:9). Paul tells us of the “seared conscience” in 1 Timothy 4:2. Sin has a way of disrupting, undermining and destroying relationships, and even ourselves.

God in heaven is very much aware of what sin has done, namely, to separate humanity from Himself. Because of His love for humanity and desire to reconcile man to Himself, God has provided a means of reconciliation. John the Baptist looked up and saw Jesus coming and told those around him, “behold the lamb of God which takes away the sin of the world.”  (Jn. 1:29, NKJ) Paul shared with the Roman church, “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Rom 10:9, ESV)  And Dr. Luke tells us in Acts 4:12, “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (ESV)

While I once looked with wonder at the Rockies, I now look at a child of God with Awe!  The miracle of creation is beyond description but the miracle of salvation is out of this world!

The burned over areas of Yellowstone are now growing and teaming with life once again. The scarred trunks of trees stand in mute testimony of the fire that once ravaged the land. A born again child of God will often stand in mute testimony of what our God can do. We may be scarred on the outside, but there is most definitely new life on the inside. Do you need this new life? Have you been ravaged by the sin of this world? Are you looking for something or someone who can and will make a difference in your life? Then, give yourself to Jesus Christ today—don’t delay!

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JOHN & KATHERYN ROGALEWSKI

50th wedding anniversary

25C-anniv-RogalewskiJohn and Katheryn Rogalewski

John and Katheryn (Bryant) Rogalewski, formerly of Sand Lake, are celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary on June 26, 2015. They were married in 1965 at Huggard Bible Church. They have been blessed with three daughters; Karol and Tom Niederer of Newaygo, Kimberly and Lee Olsen of Howard City, and Kristine and Tom Mayo of San Diego. They have four grandchildren; Hunter, Karlee, Paige and Colin. They plan to observe their special day with a dinner and immediate family. They are also celebrating with an Alaskan Cruise to commemorate their five decades together.

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RON & JOAN RYKERT

60th Anniversary

RON & JOAN RYKERT

Ron and Joan (Yanke) Rykert were married on July 9, 1955 in Amble, Michigan. They have lived in Cedar Springs for over 30 years. They have been blessed with four children, eight grandchildren and six great grandchildren. A 60th Anniversary “Open House” will be held in their honor on Sunday, July 12th from 2 to 4 pm at the Courtland Township Hall, 7450 -14 Mile Rd. NE, Rockford, Michigan. Stop by and say Hi!

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REV. KENNETH E. CURTIS

C-MEM-CURTIS

Rev. Kenneth E. Curtis passed away June 27, 2005.

You spoke to your community and your family every Sunday from  the pulpit and throughout the week, you were there – involved, visible. Even when you retired from “active ministry” and became a full-time grandpa, you were there for us. It’s been a decade without you in our sights, nor have we heard your voice and yet we do hear that voice in our hearts. It speaks of the strength of family and in our God – that He will never forsake us, nor give us more than we can handle. Yes, there have been times we could have used your gentle reminders,we are left here human after all. Thank you for sharing, your time and being an inspiration to us and your community.

We love and miss you,

Ken, Andrew, Kaitlyn, Curtis

Mary and Merrill Barrett

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