Many American families live in beautiful subdivisions with lush landscapes and beautiful trees. It seems to simply be a part of our American culture that dad mows the lawn on the weekend and trims the shrubs while mom keeps the flower pots full of bright annuals. While this is a pretty drastic oversimplification, a part of it rings true in many subdivisions across America. Would it surprise you then, to hear that many landscapes are not properly managed by the homeowner, especially trees?

As a landscape horticulture student, I have been learning about all the nuances of caring for landscape. My favorite class has been Arboriculture, the study of trees in an urban environment, where we have learned about the whole tree from roots to branches. While trees are fairly hearty, if we don’t maintain them properly, they will quickly become hazardous and even die.

There are a few main areas where trees are consistently poorly managed simply due to a lack of knowledge. The first is mulching. It is extremely important that all trees are mulched as it drastically improves how quickly a tree grows. Grass around a tree actually competes with it for water and nutrients and will slow the trees overall growth. The shape of the mulch ring is also critical to tree health. It should be in a “donut” shape around the base of the tree. The mulch shouldn’t actually touch the tree trunk at all. It’s important that there is no moisture where the base of the tree trunk “flares” out. If the base of your trees looks like a telephone pole going into the ground, that’s how you know you might have a problem.

The other main issue is pruning. This is a little more complicated issue to summarize but If I clear up a few misconceptions, it might help. Many people believe branches move as the tree grows, this is false. Once a branch grows, its location in relation to the ground will never change. It is also true that the distance between branches will not change and will actually grow smaller as they thicken with age. If branches get too close together as they grow, they will actually “choke” each other out and both die. Removing some branches early in the trees life to make room for other branches as the tree grows will be better for the tree in the long run. It is much less traumatic for a tree to have branches removed at a young age rather than when they are more mature.

These are just a few of the simple things I have learned about landscape maintenance that will help everyone keep their trees looking healthy and happy.


Beef cattle provide more to the modern world than most people seem to realize. They not only provide the tasty steaks and hamburger, but a variety of other products, including marshmallows, gelatin, shampoo, crayons, ceramics, dish soap, and fertilizer. In these difficult times, beef producers are struggling to sell even just the hamburger. It is disappointing that the market is poor, and packers are taking advantage and turning away farmers and ranchers. May just so happens to be National Beef Month. While many people think that their beef products simply come from the grocery store, there are many more behind the scene factors.

As a multi-generation cattle producer, I have been around beef cattle since I was born. My dad and I currently run a Shorthorn cow-calf operation just north of Manhattan, KS. In the late fall, we haul cattle several miles to get pre-breeding shots. We work hard through the winter and early spring to feed our cows as they are breeding and gestating. Some years, it is expensive to feed cattle through the frigid months. It as also crucial to keep cattle safe and warm as winter weather takes place. In the spring, we work calves and eventually wean them from their mothers. Pasture burning, is also an important aspect of cattle ownership in the Midwest. In order to clear pastures of the dead and dying grass, we strategically burn our grazing ground to put valuable nitrogen back into the soil and make room for green grass to grow. As the pastures grow, we turn cows out on to the grass to maintain healthy weights as they grow their calf. In the early fall, they give us beautiful babies to look after all over again. Another thing that takes place in the all is the selling of the prior year’s calves. For some farmers and ranchers, this is the only payday that they see throughout the year. The time of year, the weight of the calves, and the cost of feed can all play an impact on the money they make. In states across this magnificent country, cattle outnumber people. With the current situation in the United States, it is imperative that consumers understand that farmers and ranchers are a crucial part of the economy. Without the American farmer and rancher, food would be imported. Inspection standards, sad to say, are lacking in other countries, and the risk of foodborne illnesses increase greatly. With this in mind, I encourage you to sign the petition at this link: . If you want to know more about the packing situation across the U.S. please visit this link . If you have any other questions, please consult your local farmer or rancher instead of looking to the media.

Above all please support the American cattle producer by purchasing American grown beef and buying local. Happy National Beef Month

In sisterhood,

Rachael Peterson

Sigma Alpha Social Chair


One of my favorite dishes at every holiday gathering is my mom’s Jell-O salad. We have it at Christmas and Thanksgiving every year. Growing up I am always excited for holiday dinners because I know this dish will be on the table. This dish is easy to make and good for any time of the year. With summer coming soon, it can be a sweet side dish or a great dessert after dinner.

I hope you enjoy the recipe below.


· Jell-O

o 2 small packages of raspberry Jell-O

o ½ cup of boiling water

o 1 (20 oz.) can crushed pineapple

o 1 can of cherry pie filling

· Topping

o ½ (4 oz.) package of cream cheese

o 1 container of cool whip

o 1 tsp of vanilla


1. Dissolve Jell-O in water.

2. Add pie filling and pineapple.

3. Pour in 8 x 12-inch dish and refrigerate until set.

4. Beat ingredients for the topping.

5. Spread over top of Jell-O.

6. If interested spread sprinkles on top.


Sigma Alpha Blog

Written by the Sisters of Sigma Alpha

Kansas State University Sigma Alpha

Edited by, Toccoa Cochrane 

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