County Extension office offering array of free or low-cost webinars for the public, as well as variety of blog posts

Gardening and landscaping topics among those addressed

Image courtesy UF/IFAS Sarasota County Extension program

“Feeling walled in, as you practice social distancing to help stem the COVID-19 outbreak?” a Sarasota County email asks. “Sarasota County Extension continues to develop online learning opportunities to help you break out, virtually,” a news release says.

“The Extension office is offering an array of free or low-cost webinars on topics from cooking collards to conserving water, blog posts focused on current developments, and a range of instructional and informational videos, in addition to frequent social media posts and a range of web-based content,” the release points out.

“Our team is dedicated to educating and supporting our residents and businesses, and physical distance doesn’t change that,” said Lee Hayes Byron, director of the University of Florida/Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) Extension Sarasota County office, in the release. From pandemic-related safety and economic recovery issues to stress-relieving options, such as gardening and wildlife viewing, “our programs continue, and we remain available to serve our community, virtually,” Byron added in the release.

UF/IFAS Extension Sarasota County, which is a partnership between the University of Florida and Sarasota County, “translates academic research into community initiatives, classes, and volunteer opportunities” related to 4-H youth development, agriculture, gardening and landscaping, natural resources, nutrition and healthful living, and sustainability, the release continues.

“To support that goal in this time of social distancing, Extension is offering more than 20 webinars in the next four weeks, with more in development every day,” the release points out. “Some highlights are listed below,” the release adds, “but you can find all the topics and register for any at”

Among the upcoming programs planned through the Ask an Agent Anything series are the following, the release notes: home and landscape pests (May 6) and lawn/landscape care (May 20).

Additionally, several landscaping classes are planned: lawn care (April 27); pruning (May 4); palm care (May 5); and Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ (May 18).

“If your schedule limits your options, you might find the Sarasota County Extension blog at helpful,” the release says. “Recent posts include a look at the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, how Florida rule changes relating to COVID-19 might affect the eggs you buy, advice for safely washing fresh produce, and aid options for coastal businesses,” the release adds.

For visual learners, Extension’s YouTube channel ( has video segments on backyard composting, weeding your (carrot) garden, 4-H life, and in-depth segments from recent Sustainable Communities Workshop topics and speakers, the release points out.

Finally, Extension also posts tips, events and more through its social media channels, including “The office maintains a trove of information at and,” the release notes. “And, you can find (and reach) Extension programs and staff at or 941-861-5000,” the release says.