Posts Tagged: Youth Development
My name is Valentina Evans, and I am a new volunteer at the UC Hopland Research and Extension Center. My partners Benjamin Evans, and Zane Petersen have chosen to volunteer with me at the HREC for our senior project at Ukiah High School. A few weeks ago on the twenty-first of December we volunteered to help two researchers, Paulo who studied at UC Santa Cruz, and Wyath, who is still studying at Humboldt State University, to plant acorns from different ecosystems, and analyze how they will adapt to conditions with more water, less water, more sunlight or a lack of sunlight. This study is part of Dr. Blair McLaughin's study from the Zavaleta Lab at UC Santa Cruz.
We started off by digging holes about 1 foot deep and laying a thin square piece of chicken wire at the bottom of the holes to prevent gophers from entering and eating the acorns. We then took a circular strip of chicken wire and placed it on top of the flattened piece at the bottom. With the second strip of chicken wire standing horizontal, we continued by covering the holes with the same dirt we originally dug out. Now with the metal secured in place, Paulo came around and gently placed the acorns inside of the holes. The hands-on experience was extremely fascinating, not to mention peaceful. The view at the top of the hill was breathtaking, and the weather was just perfect. The entire process was tiring, but having had the opportunity to participate in a lab/research project made the whole experience worth it.
Although the project will not produce any data until the acorns sprout, the idea behind the project is captivating. Paulo and Wyath are studying the growth of oak trees from all sorts of climates, locations, and ecosystems. Some of the acorns are from northern California and others from way down in southern California. They will be monitoring the water levels, and amount of sunlight the oak trees will receive, all in hopes to see how the oak trees will adapt to different changes in their environments. Seeing as how I want to major in Biological Sciences in college, this experience was exceptionally informative for me and has taught me how critical patience, effort and time are in order to successfully accomplish a lab and receive the most accurate facts. I am very grateful to have been able to participate in this ongoing project and am looking forward to continuing to be a part of the younger generation who can benefit from having the Hopland Research and Extension Center available to us, to further our knowledge about the environment.
During 2017 over 3800 hours of volunteer time were offered at HREC! Our incredible volunteer team helps across all areas from citizen science on our phenology project to working with children and adults at our educational events. The California Conservation Corps also volunteer their time and enjoy learning new skills such as chainsaw safety and technique with us.
We are thrilled to welcome a number of new youth volunteers to this program at the beginning of 2018, including 16 year old Hercules Almond who comes to us with a sharp mind and wonderful way of expressing himself and the world around him, enjoy this, the first blog post from Hercules as he expresses his first experiences on our site:
"Driving up through the light mid-morning mist that envelopes the hilltops on the way to the Hopland Research and Extension Center (HREC) is ever a joyous and smile-inducing trip to undertake from my home in Hopland. While I've only begun to truly frequent it, it has always been a place that I have enjoyed venturing to immensely, with its landscape rolling at points, being steep in others, sheep spotting the various fields and pastures as the sun may begin to shine through the cloud cover and bathe it all in a warm glow.
I find myself slightly taken aback by the sheer scope of activities and goings-on that occur here… between the vast diversity of flora, the myriad of fauna that can call it home, the enormous plethora of sheep, and how the local ecosystem works in concert with the factors that contribute to its development and evolution, the entire acreage holds so much potential for all manners of research, study, and boundless expansion upon our understanding of the natural world out here and all around us.
To be completely honest, I've been ecstatic about almost everything to do with nature and the wilderness since I was a small child, fascinated by the most miniscule of insects and most gargantuan of trees at the very same time, loving nothing better than to live out away from all the noise and congestion of both cities and towns in general. I'm at peace with little but the sounds of the wind and birds surrounding me as I stand in a damp forest or on the top of a high cliff that overlooks beauty that can seldom be found elsewhere outside places such as HREC... I feel genuinely lucky to have the opportunity to volunteer here and be in the midst of working side-by-side with the remarkable individuals who devote time to helping here."
For many youth in California, agriculture is becoming part of their urban experience. Urban farms, edible parks, and garden education programs are thriving in cities across the state. These places grow food, teach youth job skills, create community green space, and help build food security.
Steven Palomares is one of those youth. As an intern at WOW Farm in 2016, Steven grew and harvested produce, delivered it to local restaurants, and participated in a weekly business management class.
"I like to think of this garden as very important to the community,” said Steven. “Since most of [Oakland] is low income neighborhoods, this farm provides access to fresh organic produce. It also teaches the youth a set of job skills they can apply to other jobs, and teaches them a bit more about nutrition.”
Many youth echo Steven's sentiment, finding skills, purpose, community, and good food at the sites they are a part of.
The UC Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (UC SAREP) and UC Cooperative Extension Los Angeles County have been working together to better understand the ways the University of California can support urban agriculture through the lens of youth participants.
These two videos, funded by the UC Global Food Initiative, are part of an ongoing effort to build strong connections between the University of California and urban agriculture programs. They highlight the community-based work of these programs and show some of the challenges they face.
In this video, Bay Area youth share their experience at urban agriculture programs, and program manager share their goals and challenges.
In this video, youth give us a tour of Southern California urban agriculture programs, their visions, and needs.
Currently, UC Cooperative Extension has two advisors dedicated to working with urban agriculture. Rob Bennaton works as an urban agriculture advisor in the Bay Area, and Rachel Surls works with urban farms as Los Angeles County's sustainable food systems advisor. UCCE hosts a growing website of resources for urban farmers, urban agriculture advocates, and policy makers.
"Our hope is that, by listening to people working in urban agriculture and building partnerships with them, we can find long term, meaningful ways to support their work,” said Gail Feenstra, deputy director of UC SAREP. “They share so many of the same goals as the UC — they're really focused on developing leaders who will make our cities healthy, prosperous places to live."
Steven Palomares may just be one of those leaders. In fall of 2015, Steven began his freshman year at UC Davis majoring in biological sciences and political science, interested in pursuing work that integrates science and policy. Also on his mind: someday Steven wants a home garden growing all the necessary produce for salsa and guacamole.
Urban agriculture provides an excellent opportunity to integrate community development and youth empowerment while sharing information about growing food in diverse urban settings. In 2015 and 2016, staff from UC SAREP and UC Cooperative Extension partnered with youth participants and staff at non-profit agencies to offer youth-led tours of local urban farms.
This project gave youth leaders from 10 community-based urban ag organizations an opportunity to share their knowledge and experience with UC personnel, funders, policy makers, urban ag non-profit staff, and other urban farmers. Forty youth ranging from middle school through college age participated in a training on how to tell their personal stories related to urban agriculture before leading tours of their urban farms in the Bay Area, Sacramento and Los Angeles.
Videos documented these efforts, including a visit to young people farming in the Bay Area and a virtual farm tour with youth in Los Angeles. The videos show how powerful this experiential education is for both youth and adults, and how UC can continue to work effectively with our communities to build sustainable food systems.
Other organizations that would like to host a similar youth-led farm tour activity can access the curriculum and trainer's guide below. Funding from UC ANR and the UC Global Food Initiative made this project possible, along with the support of community partners including Community Services Unlimited, Social Justice Learning Institute, WOW Farm, Berkeley Youth Alternatives, Phat Beets Produce, Acta Non Verba, the Yisrael Family Urban Farm, The GreenHouse, the International Garden of Many Colors, Burbank Urban Garden, and Mutual Housing CA.
While growing up in urban Irvington, New Jersey, neighbor to Newark, Enfield hadn’t considered a career in agriculture. Community gardening and community supported agriculture experience piqued his interest after he moved to Santa Barbara so Enfield enrolled in the UC Santa Cruz Farm and Garden Project, which was a 12-month apprenticeship program. While studying at UC Santa Cruz, he was introduced to UC Cooperative Extension. He stayed on another year working as a field assistant to the director Stephen Kaffka, who is now a UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Plant Sciences at UC Davis.
“I became very interested in teaching methods and experiential education and learning,” Enfield said.
Enfield began studying agricultural sciences at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and joined UC Cooperative Extension as a summer intern in the UCCE 4-H office in San Luis Obispo County after earning his B.S. degree in June 1980. Three months later, he was hired as a 4-H youth development advisor. Under his leadership, the 4-H youth development activities evolved to incorporate more research-based approaches to foster a commitment to learning, positive identity, social competency and positive values.
“Over the years, Richard made the 4-H program more visible in San Luis Obispo County by reaching out and offering the program to not just the traditional club audiences but to other youth,” said JoAnn Overbey, who has volunteered with 4-H for 42 years.
“I remember years ago when 4-H was set up in housing projects in the North County,” Overbey said. “He started the 4-H SLO Scientists Program that youth could join, and this program was years ahead of the UC SET (Science, Engineering and Technology) Program that started a few years ago.”
Enfield designed 4-H SLO Scientists in 1996 to engage families in the hands-on science activities because research shows that direct parental involvement is an important influence on student achievement. More than 1,500 people have participated in the program. In 2011, the program was recognized as one of 4-H’s 15 promising science programs in urban communities across the country.
“SLO Scientists today is still one of our most popular groups to join,” said Overbey, who works for San Luis Obispo County Department of Social Services as a program review specialist for foster care and adoptions. “It can be started in the smaller communities and we reach youth who would not otherwise know about or join a traditional 4-H Club.”
In 1987, Enfield earned an M.A. in educational psychology and research methods from UC Riverside. In 1991 he was appointed UCCE director for San Luis Obispo County, serving for two years. In 2005, he was reappointed UCCE director for San Luis Obispo County and added oversight in Santa Barbara County in 2008, leading UCCE in both counties until his retirement. He also served as interim UCCE director for Ventura County from April 1, 2011, until Aug. 31, 2012.
“Richard was always there with high expectations for performance coupled with personal support and caring,” said Mary Bianchi, a UC Cooperative Extension advisor who reported to Enfield and succeeded him as UCCE director for San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties.
In 2010, Enfield began serving as a 4-H advisor for Santa Barbara County in addition to San Luis Obispo County.
Locally he created a middle-management structure to strengthen the 4-H program. The middle-management structure empowers adult volunteers and teen leaders and allows them to serve in critical 4-H management and program development roles at their peak levels of performance. UCCE offices in other counties have recently begun adopting his model. He also presented the middle management approach at state and national conferences.
“Through his local impacts and national efforts, Richard can rest assured that he has been important in the lives of thousands of children and generations within families,” Bianchi said.
“I can tell you with complete honesty that we would not have the huge steady increase in enrollment without his leadership and skills guiding us,” Overbey said. “He went after all types of available grants that allowed our program to extend beyond just the club level – grants that allowed our youth to be involved in things like oak tree plantings and a 4-H hiking program.”
Enfield has won numerous accolades over his career. In 2005, the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors issued a proclamation recognizing his 25 years of service to children, youth and families in the county. In 2010, his professional peers honored him with the Meritorious Award from the National Association of Extension 4-H Agents. For his work behind the scenes at the statewide administrative level, colleagues acknowledged Enfield with the UC Agriculture and Natural Resources Distinguished Service Award for Leadership in 2011. In February, the Board of Directors of the California Mid-State Fair presented Enfield with a Resolution in Appreciation of Service for “outstanding contributions to the California Mid-State Fair.”
“I loved the freedom to be creative and I enjoyed getting to know all the wonderful and diverse people whom I got to work with and collaborate with on issues of positive youth development and community development,” Enfield said. “Every day was different, exciting and I always felt I was contributing to my community.”
Enfield has been active in the community as well, serving as a member of the Child Abuse Prevention Council of San Luis Obispo County, the Bakari Project Advisory Board at Cal Poly and the SLO Children’s Services Network and participating in the San Luis Obispo County Community Foundation “Pathways to Adulthood” Initiative.
Enfield and his wife Elaine Cormier, a retired optometrist, plan to stay in San Luis Obispo and spend more time hiking, ocean kayaking and bicycling to explore the natural beauty of the area.
“I plan to remain active in the community through various organizations, such as the Asset Development Network of San Luis Obispo County,” Enfield said. “The Asset Development Network is a collaboration of agencies, organizations, and individuals who have come together in order to promote positive youth development throughout the county.
He will also pursue his personal passions of attending ballet performances and baseball games and collecting publications about the West.
“I will continue adding to and developing my collection of over 1,300 modern first editions, dozens of broadsides, and ephemera exploring the American West,” said the East Coast native, explaining that broadsides are beautiful single page prints of book excerpts or poems. “My extensive collection explores the old West to the new West and what it means to be Western and live and work in the West. The collection of fiction, associated nonfiction, and poetry both perpetuates and dispels the myths of the West and explores the sense of place that is so prominent in the literature of the West.”
UC has granted Enfield the prestigious emeritus status so he will continue working on his state and national research projects on the development of individual and community social capital through the 4-H program.