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DPI Diary

April 24, 2015

A collection of social media posts from the past two weeks on topics at least tangentially related to the mission of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Division of Plant Industry

Beware, Motorists!

Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam this week warned the department has found 81 skimmers on gas pumps in a statewide sweep. He is advising consumers to protect themselves:

  • Pay in cash inside the store to ensure the credit card information stays safe.
  • Check to make sure the gas pump dispenser cabinet is closed and has not been tampered with. Many stations are now putting a piece of security tape over the cabinet to ensure it has not been opened by unauthorized individuals.
  • Use a gas pump closer to the front of the store. Thieves often place skimmers at the gas pumps farther away from the store so they are not noticed as quickly.
  • Use a credit card instead of a debit card. Credit cards have better fraud protection, and the money is not deducted immediately from an account.
  • If using a debit card at the pump, choose to run it as a credit card instead of a debit card. That way, the PIN number is safe.
  • Monitor bank accounts regularly to spot any unauthorized charges.
  • Consumers who suspect their credit card number has been compromised should report it immediately to authorities and their credit card company.

Check the commissioner’s news release for locations of pumps found to contain skimmers.

Go Team! Noting progress in efforts to eradicate GALS

A FDACS inspector looks for giant African land snails in Miami-Dade County.

A FDACS inspector looks for giant African land snails in Miami-Dade County.

The job’s not complete, but our FDACS/USDA teams working to eradicate giant African land snails are making progress. Witness the latest report, which showed only 25 snails found by our inspectors last week. Over the course of the program, the teams have collected nearly 157,000 snails. Read our post here:

U.S. Embassy highlights professional exchanges for Earth Day

Last April, the U.S. Embassy partnered with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to promote awareness about environmental issues in the Caribbean. The Embassy hosted a series of workshops in Barbados and St. Lucia featuring FDACS-DPI entomologist Dr. Trevor Smith, who discussed multi-pronged approaches to the management and eradication of invasive species such as the giant African land snail.  That was one of the partnerships highlighted by the embassy in honor of Earth Day. You can revisit our blog entry on Dr. Smith’s tour here.

Speaking of the Caribbean . . .

DPAP postcardDon’t Pack a Pest team members met with USDA and Customs and Border Protection representatives in Washington, D.C. last week to present an update on the successful Don’t Pack a Pest travelers outreach program. Representing DPI were Director Richard Gaskalla, Public Information Director Denise Feiber and Information Specialist Ellen Dyck. Don’t Pack a Pest has now placed 644 signs in 50 ports of entry in Florida and the Caribbean. Program videos are also playing in 20 of the busiest airports in the U.S., reaching 85 per cent of international travelers entering the U.S.

Did you read in a classroom this week?

Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam joined volunteers across the state in reading to school students on Ag Literacy Day. Putnam said they are  “Creating the connection between dairy cattle and milk or between citrus groves and orange juice and kind of establishing that it is an important part of Florida’s past, present and future.”

TBT a hit with citrus community

1959FoundationGroveMembers of the citrus community liked our throwback to the creation of Florida’s first Foundation Grove. It was located on I-4 and U.S. Highway 27. The grove contained disease-free seedlilnes of the major commercial citrus varieties. Who can recall what other central Florida landmarks or attractions were cited on or near this intersection?

Congratulations, Denise!

IMG_3259We congratulate DPI Director of Public Information Denise Feiber, APR, this year’s recipient of the John S. Detweiler, Ed.D., APR, CPRC Professional of the Year award. The Gainesville Chapter of the Florida Public Relations Association annually recognizes an individual who demonstrates the highest standards of ethics, performance and service to the public relations profession. That describes Denise to a “T.”

Finally … an avian phenomenon

We passed along a video from NBC news of a starling flock flying in a way that appears to form a shifting cloud. Scientists call the phenomenon murmuration. We call it amazing. Isn’t nature grand?

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