The new Hill County Extension agents have are continuing a long-time Hi-Line tradition to help people spend the winter: Cabin Fever classes, ranging from making flowerpots to improving pesticide applications, are scheduled to run in January.
Extension Agents Lee Ann Larson and Nicole Gray said Friday, Dec. 28, is the early registration deadline for the classes — one of which already has filled — and a $5 late fee will be charged for registration after that date.
Larson said that, with both of them starting their jobs in Hill County this year, she and Gray scaled back the size of the offerings a bit, with 15 classes offered from Thursday, Jan. 3, through Saturday, Jan., 5.
The agents plan to expand the offerings in future years, closer to what was offered previously.
“It’s kind of condensed, but we plan to build it back up to that, ” she said.
She added that the classes they are offering are intended to balance between agricultural issues and family and consumer science issues as well as some crafting.
“A lot of people are excited about that, ” Gray said.
A class on making handmade flower pots and troughs already has filled up, but many offerings still have openings.
Larson said one she believes will be popular will be extension specialist Sarah Hamlin and architect and weatherization center trainer James Baerg talking about energy savings for the home and agricultural operations. The Friday, Jan. 4. class will include discussions of reducing energy bills, using alternative and renewable energy such as solar hot water, and other issues such as using energy-saving light bulbs.
“I’m kind of looking forward to this too, ” Larson said. “I’ve read a bit about this, but I’d like to learn more, and they are the experts. ”
Gray said another class will hold discussions about the possibility that a Roundup-resistant strain of the invasive plant kochia has developed in Hill County and about how to properly apply and monitor use of herbicides, including regarding weather and timing, to ensure effectiveness. The class also will present possible alternatives to Roundup.
Another will deal with cover crops, such as lentils and peas.
A beef cattle program discussing the future of the beef industry — including trends in livestock production marketing, producer and consumer perceptions, and how producers may want to change their strategies and other issues also will be presented, as will a private applicator license training class.
Some other highlights include a class to present safe food handling — focusing on restaurants, cafeterias and other food providers — covering topics like cross-contamination where using the same cutting board or other surfaces for multiple kinds of foods can create contamination. Participants can receive a ServSafe® Food Handler’s Card on completion of the course.
Another class will cover simple recipe makeovers for healthier living, while another will present making stained glass and another quilting. Other will cover landscaping, and a grant writing specialist will introduce people to how to apply for grants effectively.
Several classes held in conjunction with Montana State University-Northern also will offer topics like arc-welding and how to operate a skidsteer.
A separate set of classes also will be held in the same time frame to help local realtors with their continuing education requirements. That program, sponsored in part through a grant from the Montana Department of Labor and Industry Board of Realty Regulation, will run from 7:45 a. m. to 5 p. m. Jan. 4 and 5 with a variety of classes offered.
More information on the Cabin Fever and Realtor’s Continuing Education program is available at the Hill County Extension Office, on the bottom level of the Hill County Courthouse.