Focus

WILL - Focus - February 18, 2014

Insect Fear Film Festival 31: Pesticide Fear Films

Today on Focus, we welcome back Professor May Berenbaum to talk about this year’s Insect Fear Film Festival. 

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(Duration: 50:58)

May Berenbaum with an insect

At this year’s Insect Fear Film Festival, May Berenbaum says she’s out to explore our complex relationship with pesticides. This hour on Focus, Scott Cameron talks with Berenbaum, professor of entomology and department head at the University of Illinois, about this year’s films, which include Riders of the Whistling Pines (1949), a film in which spraying DDT saves the day.

Berenbaum will also tell us more about new research linking pesticides to the decline in bee populations. Call us to join our conversation on Focus! 

Read more to see a full list of films at this year’s festival.


WILL - Focus - February 17, 2014

Encore: Urban Squirrels

We see squirrels every day in cities across Illinois, but squirrels didn’t always live in urban areas in such abundance. 

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(Duration: 51:14)

If you’ve spent time on the University of Illinois campus in Champaign-Urbana, you’ve likely noticed the squirrels… and their odd behavior. According to mammalian ecologist Ed Heske, they live on campus because in the early 1900’s, the UI allotted $125 dollars to introduce squirrels to campus to enhance interaction between its students and the natural world.

The idea that urban squirrels would be good for people living in cities, however, wasn’t unique to the University of Illinois; it was part of a much larger movement that swept the US starting on the East coast in the early 19th century. This hour on Focus, we'll listen back to a coversation Jim Meadows had with  and Assistant Professor of History at Pennsylvania University Etienne Benson. 


WILL - Focus - November 05, 2013

Backyard Chickens

Do you keep backyard chickens? If you can’t, would you like to?

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(Duration: 51:22)

Three chickens foraging in grass.

Next week, the Champaign City Council will vote on whether or not to allow residents to raise chickens on their property. While some are really excited about the possibility that they could raise chickens within Champaign city limits, some are skeptical about the smell and the noise. This hour on Focus, we’ll talk about why people choose to keep backyard chickens and what it’s like to raise them. To start their hour on Focus we’ll hear from Karen Carney, who is a Champaign resident and wants her own chickens.

Then, host Jim Meadows also talks with Colleen Wagner, who lives in Urbana where backyard chickens are allowed. Wagner built her own chicken coop to raise chickens for their eggs in her backyard and says its empowering to know where her food is coming from and what the chickens are being fed. Steve Ayers, who is with the University of Illinois Extension also joins us to talk about the cost of raising chickens and some things to consider before getting your own.

Do you get your eggs from your backyard? Do your neighbors keep chickens? Are you for or against the idea the idea of backyard chickens? We’d love to hear from you this hour on Focus.

Categories: Agriculture, Animals

WILL - Focus - October 29, 2013

Managing Chronic Wasting Disease

This hour on Focus, we’ll take a closer look at chronic wasting disease and how Illinois manages disease epidemics in its wildlife populations. 

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(Duration: 51:50)

a healthy deer in the woods

Chronic wasting disease was first discovered in deer in the Rocky Mountains in the 1960’s. Since then, its spread to the Midwest, Canada and a few eastern states, and there has been ongoing debate about the best ways to keep the disease from infecting more deer. CWD, which is 100% fatal and incurable in deer populations and has been in Illinois for the past decade. According to new research from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the state is doing something right when it comes to managing the disease. This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with Nohra Mateus-Pinilla, a wildlife veterinary epidemiologist for the Illinois Natural History Survey, and Jan Novakofski, Associate Vice Chancellor for Research and a Professor of Animal Science, about the disease, how it affects deer and why we should be concerned with keeping it from spreading. We’ll also talk about managing diseases that have epidemic potential in wildlife populations.

Categories: Animals, Environment

WILL - Focus - October 25, 2013

The Cost of Pet Ownership

As most pet owners know, caring for a cat or a dog can be expensive. This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with Dr. Sally Foote about the cost of owning a pet. We welcome your pet care calls and questions this hour!

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(Duration: 51:17)

Jane Dallas' dogs Rebel and Boone.

Pet ownership overall in the United States is down in recent years, and according to research by the American Veterinary Medical Association, that might have something to do with the economy. This hour on Focus, we’ll talk with veterinarian Sally Foote about the cost of pet ownership. We’ll hear from her about how she tries to make sure animals receive the care they need without putting unnecessary financial strain on families. Dr. Foote also talks with host Jim Meadows about pet insurance and if it can be worth it.

Often times when pets become too costly, families take them to animal shelters for other families to adopt. This hour on Focus, Jane Dallas, an adoptive dog owner, also joins us to talk about the process and some of the do’s and don’ts when bringing a shelter dog into your home. 

Categories: Animals

WILL - Focus - October 14, 2013

May Berenbaum on entomophagy and giant hornets

Have you ever eaten an insect? Would you consider making them a regular part of your diet?

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(Duration: 52:00)

May Berenbaum with an insect

Every year in one of the graduate classes she teaches, University of Illinois entomologist May Berenbaum hosts a meal … prepared from a variety of different insects. She says the giant waterbugs have been very popular in the past.

But aside from eating an insect to try it, would you ever consider consuming insects for their protein as a regular part of your diet? This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with Berenbaum about entomophagy and if it will ever catch on in the United States. We’ll also hear about giant hornets, that can grow to be larger than your thumb, that have killed more than 40 people and injured more than 1,000 in recent months in An Kang, China.

Categories: Animals, Food

WILL - Focus - August 02, 2013

Pet Care: Ticks

This summer in Illinois, we’re seeing an increase in the tick population. This hour on Focus, we’ll talk with veterinarian Sally Foote about what that means for your pet. We welcome your questions this hour on Focus!

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(Duration: 51:16)

Morkie puppy

Ticks spread diseases that can be a threat to both your pet’s health and to yours. So far this summer, there’s been an increase in Illinois’ tick population, and this hour on Focus, we welcome veterinarian Sally Foote. She’ll be here to talk with host Jim Meadows about the species of ticks that live in Illinois, what diseases they spread and how to protect your pet from them. We’ll also talk about the best ways to remove a tick from your dog or cat. Of course, we also welcome your questions no matter what breed or species you love and care for.

Categories: Animals, Community

WILL - Focus - July 15, 2013

Encore: White Nose Syndrome Found in Illinois

Do you drink tequila? Eat chocolate? Thank a bat. This hour on Focus, we’ll listen back to a conversation we had earlier this year about how these notorious flying mammals and the role they play in our eco-system.

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(Duration: 51:29)

Bat being held by gloved hand.

Bats are notorious in popular culture, and they play a vital role in our eco-system. Of the more than 1,000 species that exist worldwide, 13 can be found in Illinois, and six of those species are now being threatened by white nose syndrome. This hour on Focus, we’ll listen back to a conversation host Jim Meadows had with Ed Heske, a mammalian ecologist with the Illinois Natural History Survey, about bats, why they’re important and why white nose syndrome is so scary, especially for farmers. This program originally aired in March when researchers first discovered white nose syndrome in Illinois.

Categories: Animals

WILL - Focus - May 24, 2013

Pet Care and Dog Bite Prevention

Have you ever been bitten by a dog or another animal? This hour on Focus, we talk about preventing aggressive pet behavior. 

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(Duration: 51:18)

a man getting bit by a dog

Each year in the US, more than 4 million people are bitten by a dog, and one in five of those people require medical attention. This week is National Dog Bite Prevention Week, and this hour on Focus, we’ll talk with Sally Foote, a small animal vet from Tuscola who specializes in dog and cat behavior about aggressive pets and how to prevent children from getting bit on accident. We’ll also talk about ticks and fleas as the heat of summer is almost here. We welcome your questions no matter what breed you love and care for! 

Read more and find a video about dogs, why they bite and how to avoid getting bit. 

Categories: Animals, Community

WILL - Focus - March 14, 2013

White Nose Syndrome Found in Illinois: Why it Matters

Do you drink tequila? Eat chocolate? Thank a bat. This hour on Focus, we talked about these notorious flying mammals, the role they play in our eco-system and why white nose syndrome is so scary.

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(Duration: 55:01)

Bats are notorious in popular culture, but they play a vital role in our eco-system. Of the more than 1,000 species that exist worldwide, 13 can be found in Illinois, and six of those species are now being threatened by white nose syndrome, a poorly understood disease that's responsible for mass die offs of hundreds of thousands of bats nationwide. During this episode of Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with Ed Heske, a mammalian ecologist with the Illinois Natural History Survey, a part of the Prairie Research Institute at the University of Illinois, about bats, why they’re important and why white nose syndrome is so scary, especially for farmers.


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