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Posts Tagged: youth

Americorps NCCC Gold Seven Team Experience Hopland REC

The wonderful NCCC Gold Seven team have been working at HREC for the past 3 weeks, they have been so helpful - all the HREC staff will be so very sad to see them go!  In this blog post we learn a little about the team members and get an overview of the work that they have been involved in, the interviews were conducted by Hannah Wood, the media lead for the team.

As the AmeriCorps NCCC team stationed at the UC ANR Hopland Research and Extension Center, we've had plenty of projects to keep us busy! In the three weeks we've been volunteering here, we've helped repair fence lines previously burnt in the River Fire, were put in charge of some daily barn chores, helped build infrastructure for upcoming research projects, assisted with K-12 educational programs, cleared brush, helped tidy up the place, and sometimes worked closely with the sheep (tagging, paint branding, raising bummer lambs, and giving vaccines).

Although the work was daunting at times, and the weather was never perfect, we were thankful to be working and living on this beautiful property right alongside the welcoming staff and their families. We learned loads of information about California seasons and climates, lambing, the important research projects going on, Northern California ecosystems, wildlife in the area, and wildfire mitigation and recovery. And the baby lambs made our days brighter… even with rainy skies!

I've asked a few of my fellow Corps members some questions about their personal experiences at the UC ANR Hopland Research and Extension Center… and here's what they said!

Q: What was your favorite part of volunteering at HREC?

I enjoyed learning a ton from the very knowledgeable HREC staff. Their welcoming attitude enabled us to get a firsthand experience of what living and working at a research extension center entails. We worked with each and every person on staff and they all showed us the details and unique experiences of their work duties, while also being very open and friendly toward us.

-Jared Gasper: 19 yrs old, from Nebraska


Q: What has made your experience at HREC?

I liked getting insight into the life of a shepherd and seeing the day to day responsibilities of working on a ranch. I also really enjoyed learning about all the research projects! Overall my time here has been extremely educational and useful for developing myself and my interests, specifically when working with the Forest Advisor for Mendocino Lake and Sonoma counties on post fire vegetation plot surveys.

-Dariel Echanis: 18 yrs old, from Vermont


Q: What's it like living at the HREC?

I think we all can say it's been extremely comfortable living and working on the HREC campus. We were very cozy in the dorm house, and enjoyed going for hikes and doing physical training on our off time.. which included beautiful views of course! Hannah Bird made us feel right at home with her caring and immediate attention, giving us fresh lamb meat, welcoming us into her home for dinner, and making sure we were always having new and exciting experiences:)

-Hannah Wood: 22 yrs old, from New York State


Q: What was it like as the Team Leader coordinating daily projects with the staff?

The staff at HREC are all incredibly helpful and organized so I had a really great experience working with them. I never had trouble getting into contact with anyone and every member of the staff was happy to answer questions. The team got to work with a number of staff members who all had diverse bodies of knowledge and we learned a lot from them!  Working at HREC has been a wonderful experience for me and for the team.

-Jessi Hagelshaw: 22 yrs old, from California


Q: What was it like volunteering on the weekends with the Ukiah Animal Shelter?

It was really rewarding! It was good to see that none of the animals we worked with before Christmas break were still there when we returned in January. I'm glad we got a chance to help out and I would love to do more work with animal shelters in the places we'll work at in the future.

-Alex Faeth: 22 yrs old, from New Jersey


Q: How was it working with the K-12th graders that came to HREC to learn about sheep?

Working with the school children was a great experience. The weather was cold and wet a lot of the days we did field trips but the teachers and students were enthusiastic to hike the property, which in turn, energized the staff and volunteers!

-Danny Zoborowski: 24 yrs old, from New York State


Q: Anything you'd like to say to the HREC and Hopland/Ukiah communities?

HREC's hospitality was great. The entire staff was welcoming and helpful, the dorms are nice and cozy, the land is beautiful, and it is a great place to hike... or just roam. Thank you HREC staff!

-Amir Corbett: 20 yrs old, from Pennsylvania



Amir and Alex show the "bummer" or adopted lambs to the K-12 students.

Hard work on the hill!

All the Americorps Gold Seven team worked so hard rain, snow or shine!

Clearing brush, to be prepared for future fire was one of the key tasks that the team helped HREC with.

Posted on Wednesday, February 20, 2019 at 9:40 AM
Tags: Americorps (1), education (37), fire (22), grazing (19), Hopland (15), internship (1), rangeland (56), sheep (47), youth (7)

October is National Farm-to-School Month

Partner with the University of California for National Farm to School Month.
Schools across the country are celebrating local connections to local food producers in October during National Farm to School Month. Education and outreach activities such as school gardens, cooking lessons and field trips are teaching students about healthy, local foods and food's journey from the farm to their forks.

There are plenty of opportunities for teachers and schools to celebrate and get involved in National Farm to School Month with the University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR). Here are a few ideas to get you started.

4-H youth development

Launch a 4-H Club at your school. The 4-H Youth Development Program emphasizes enrichment education through inquiry-based learning. Core content areas include Healthy Living as well as Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). Clubs have access to a wealth of curricula materials exploring food, agriculture and natural resources. 4-H also offers the Ag in the Classroom school enrichment program.

Lettuce planting delights young gardeners.
Boots on the ground

Invite UC ANR academics and program staff to your career day or science fair or to make a classroom presentation. Specialists from Master Gardeners, Nutrition Education, Project Learning Tree, California Naturalist and other UC ANR programs know how to engage and inspire your students.

Some programs, including Project Learning Tree, offer "train the trainer" professional development workshops that equip educators with the skills and knowledge to teach concepts in their own classrooms. Project Learning Tree also provides free activity guides to teachers who attend their workshops. The guides highlight differentiated instruction, reading connections, and assessment strategies and offer ideas to integrate technology into classroom instruction,

Research and Extension Centers

Take your students on a field trip to a UC ANR Research and Extension Center (REC). The nine RECs in California are focal points for community participation and for active involvement in current and relevant regional agricultural and natural resource challenges.

Visiting a REC offers students a unique opportunity to learn about food production through the lens of applied science research in plant pathology, integrated pest management, conservation tillage, water conservation, development of new crop varieties, and much more. Some RECs also host extended education programs such as Sustainable You! Summer Camp and FARM SMART.

Students learn about post-harvest research at the Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center.
Take the first step

The 2016 National Farm to School Month theme is One Small Step, which highlights the easy ways anyone can get informed, get involved and take action to advance farm to school in their own communities and across the country.

Each week will have a different focus:

  • Education (October 3-7)
  • Healthy School Meals (October 10-14)
  • Farmers & Producers (October 17-21)
  • The Next Generation (October 24-28)

Join the celebrations by signing the One Small Step pledge then take your own small step to support healthy kids, thriving farms and vibrant communities this October by partnering with UC ANR.

This story en español.


Posted on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 at 7:29 AM
  • Author: Roberta Barton

Teens put their food smarts to the test

Grocery shopping can be the most anticipated or the most dreaded necessity of daily life. A trip to the market can end with a smile over the thrill of victory from finding great bargains or end with a frown from the agony of defeat over budget anxieties. For most of us, budget is the primary factor in our food experiences. Low budget or no budget is often the culprit that leads to unhealthy food choices.

A healthy snack.
Armed with nutrition knowledge acquired through the University of California 4-H Food Smart Families program with the UC Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center, teens from Parlier High School in Fresno County are teaching Parlier youth ages 8-12 how to get around budget roadblocks on the path to healthy eating. The program uses a “Teens as Teachers” approach, with teens educating younger youth through a series of hands-on, interactive nutrition lessons after school.

Food connections to local agriculture are highlighted through the partnership with the UC Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center. The center will host agriculture tours and family nutrition education activities at a Wellness Fair later this month to wrap up the program.

According to recent United States Department of Agriculture studies, nearly 16 million children live in households where they do not have consistent access to food throughout the year.

UC 4-H Food Smart Families empowers families through food knowledge and education to build sustainable solutions that confront food insecurity and improve health. Youth are engaged at a critical age for growing skills and establishing behaviors today that become sustainable, healthy habits for their families and communities tomorrow. Youth learn they can prepare food themselves and parents learn about working together as a family to plan healthy meals.

Grocery store shopping is part of training.
Teen teachers put their new skills to the test on a recent field trip to the local grocery store. After a store tour and 4-H training on perimeter shopping, unit pricing and the downfalls of impulse buying, they were given a shopping challenge. The goal was to purchase, within the assigned budget, three items from each of the vegetable, fruit, grain, dairy and protein food groups to create healthy meals at home. As the teens had been learning while teaching their younger counterparts, eating healthy on a budget is achievable with a little nutrition education and careful planning.

Thoughtful discussions, and sometimes passionate debates, ranging from whole grain pasta versus whole wheat pasta to the tasty virtues of hummus, mixed with youthful laughter. The teens were pleasantly surprised to discover they had additional budget to spare. Return trips were made to the produce department for more fruit, vegetables and even hummus.

Comments from the teens told the story of their success. “Now I know what my mom has to go through when she's shopping for food,” and “Look at my cart. Food Smart Families is really influencing me!” Who knew grocery shopping could be so much fun?

The USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion offers these 10 tips for affordable vegetables and fruits:

• Use fresh vegetables and fruits that are in season.
• Check your local newspaper, online and at the store for sales, coupons and specials.
• Plan out your meals ahead of time and make a grocery list.
• Compare the price and number of servings from fresh, canned and frozen forms of the same vegetable or fruit.
• Buy small amounts more often to ensure you can eat the foods without throwing any away.
• For fresh vegetables or fruits you use often, a large size bag is the better buy.
• Opt for store brands when possible.
• Buy vegetables and fruits in their simplest form.
• Start a garden for fresh, inexpensive, flavorful additions to meals.
• Prepare and freeze vegetable soups, stews or other dishes in advance.

Posted on Monday, May 9, 2016 at 8:58 AM
  • Author: Roberta Barton
Tags: food (59), fruits (2), healthy (3), Kearney (8), nutrition (197), sustainanble (1), vegetables (52), youth (7)

UC initiative to help youth improve health, education and science literacy

Inquiry-based learning captures the attention of students by focusing on the real world and children’s day-to-day lives.
California youth are at risk — their health, education and future. One-third of school-aged children are overweight or obese. One-sixth of the state’s 16- to 24-year-olds are both out of school and out of work, and national and international tests reveal youth science literacy is low.

Original research and literature reviews on these subjects appear in the January-March 2013 California Agriculture, UC’s peer-reviewed research journal of research in agriculture, natural and human resources (http://www.californiaagriculture.ucanr.edu).

UC Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) has launched a strategic initiative to help California youth. Called Healthy Families and Communities, it includes research and programs to encourage healthy lifestyles, boost science literacy, and foster positive youth development. Delaine Eastin, former State Superintendent of Public Instruction, notes, “At the end of the day, the Healthy Families and Communities Strategic Initiative is about change, scientifically measurable change, yielding concrete evidence of youth improvement due to these efforts.”

The January-March 2013 California Agriculture journal focuses on California youth at risk.
The facts underlying the initiative are startling. Nearly half of the state’s adults could be obese by 2030, according to a 2012 report by the nonprofit Trust for America’s Health. Obesity is linked to chronic illnesses, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure.

In addition, each year about 100,000 California youth who reach graduation age fail to graduate from high school, a predictor of their future social and financial difficulties as well as a missed opportunity for training skilled workers to replace those close to retirement. Finally, California’s eighth-grade science scores ranked 47th among the states in the National Assessment of Educational Progress’s 2011 report. A workforce with the knowledge and skills for scientific careers is critical to the state’s economy, and to full participation in today’s technological society.

Confronting these complex issues requires a multifaceted approach that leads to strategic change, says David Campbell, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Human and Community Development at UC Davis and leader of ANR’s new youth-focused initiative.

“We’re bringing a lot of people together across disciplines,” he says. “If our work is going to be relevant to the real world, we need to reflect its complexity.”

As part of the initiative, UC researchers are partnering with schools and youth organizations in controlled studies to learn what works in the real world.

Summaries of projects and links to articles:

Integrating local agriculture into nutrition programs can benefit children's health (page 30). Sheri Zidenberg-Cherr, UCCE specialist in the Department of Nutrition at UC Davis, leads a K-6 nutrition education effort, called Shaping Healthy Choices. Designed to both improve child health and support local agriculture, the program incorporates serving regional fruits and vegetables, a school garden, and classroom nutrition and physical fitness lessons. In this controlled four-year study, investigators have matched schools in Northern and Central California, and will compare those that are implementing the program with those that are not.

Communitywide strategies key to preventing childhood obesity (page 13). According to Pat Crawford, UCCE specialist in the Department of Nutritional Science and Toxicology at UC Berkeley, increasing consumption of fruits and vegetables is important but not enough by itself to combat obesity. Two of the strongest factors driving obesity are sweetened beverages and fast food, and decreasing their consumption is just as important as increasing the consumption of healthy foods. “You have to do both,” she says.

Her team at the Center for Weight and Health in Berkeley, with funding from ANR, is evaluating Team Up for Good Health, a community-based approach to preventing obesity in elementary school children. Investigators are studying fourth- and fifth-grade participants in school and after-school obesity prevention programs, using body mass index (BMI) reductions after two years as a measure of success.

Lessons of Fresh Start can guide schools seeking to boost student fruit consumption (page 21). In 2005, California became the first state to address the availability of fresh and local produce in the federal School Breakfast Program through state funding. This evaluation of the California Fresh Start program reveals lessons that are especially important now, as schools across the country prepare to increase the number of fruits and vegetables offered in the School Breakfast Program by July 2014 as part of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act.

Inquiry-based learning (pages 47 and 54). Another innovative aspect of these UC programs is the curriculum. Based upon inquiry-based learning, it captures the attention of students by focusing on the real world and children’s day-to-day lives. For example, in the Shaping Healthy Choices program (page 30), a lesson on food labels at school will be followed by students comparing food labels on their own, at home and in grocery stores. “Application is what makes learning stick,” says Martin Smith, UCCE specialist in the School of Veterinary Medicine who works on youth science literacy. “Inquiry-based learning takes longer, but it’s deeper — kids own the knowledge because they figured it out themselves.”

Positive youth development merits state investment (page 38). A team of UC researchers reviews studies supporting a new paradigm for youth programs, and proposes increased state investment in this area. Research over the last 30 years has shifted thinking away from the deficit model, in which researchers and practitioners considered high-risk youth behaviors to be their focus, and toward promotion of positive patterns. “Far too many California youth are not thriving,” the authors note. “Promotion of healthy pathways to college, work and community engagement is of urgent concern.” They cite findings that positive youth development is linked to improved school achievement, higher graduation rates, and fewer risk behaviors.

The entire January-March 2013 issue can be downloaded at http://californiaagriculture.ucanr.edu.

California Agriculture is the University of California’s peer-reviewed journal of research in agricultural, human and natural resources. For a free subscription, go to: http://californiaagriculture.ucanr.edu, or write to calag@ucanr.edu.

WRITERS/EDITORS: To request a hard copy of the journal, e-mail crllopez@ucanr.edu.

Posted on Friday, March 1, 2013 at 11:06 AM
  • Author: Janet White

Food safety specialist addresses cantaloupe guidelines

Suslow said that the FDA does not make a definitive statement on a single safe method for postharvest handling of cantaloupe. Photo from the Postharvest Technology of Horticultural Crops
An article in The Denver Post by Michael Booth and Jennifer Brown discussed the possibility of criminal charges against Jensen Farms for its involvement in the cantaloupe listeria outbreak. The article discusses the history of legal charges made in food poisoning cases,  including issues of willful negligence.

Trevor Suslow, UC Cooperative Extension food safety specialist at Davis, was told by the farm owner that they believed the postharvest system used in conjunction with the outbreak was an improvement over their previous methods — though Suslow disagrees. He acknowledges, however, that the FDA does not make a definitive statement in its growing guidelines on the safest method of cleaning, cooling or packing cantaloupe.

Agricultural program helps keep youth out of gangs

An Associated Press article by Gosia Wozniacka profiles volunteer work by Manuel Jimenez, UC Cooperative Extension farm advisor in Tulare County. The article was published by news outlets such as the Fresno Bee, San Francisco Chronicle, ABC News, Fox News, CBS News, Seattle Post-Intelligencer and others.

He and wife Olga teach life skills and farming techniques to youth on a 14-acre garden in Woodlake, Calif.

"We want to grow kids in our gardens, because we've seen what violence, drugs and alcohol can do," Jimenez told the reporter.

The article also includes comments from youth volunteers in the program, past and present.

"Everything Manuel did was interesting to me," said Walter Martinez, who is now a UC Cooperative Extension field assistant and also served as a volunteer at the garden through middle and high school.

Posted on Tuesday, November 22, 2011 at 9:46 AM
Tags: cantaloupe (7), food safety (90), garden (61), listeria (4), Manuel Jimenez (17), postharvest (12), Trevor Suslow (9), volunteering (1), youth (7)

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