List of Stories
Juanita Blakely Jones Elementary School in the city of San Bernardino showed great interest in teaching students about healthy lifestyles and gardening. Previous attempts to improve the school and enrich the lives of students by planting a garden were not successful because the garden was vandalized. This discouraged teachers and students, who were hesitant to continue pursuing new opportunities to improve the school that has high needs. Ninety-five percent of students are eligible for free/reduce price meals and the obesity rate is 43% according to the latest physical fitness report. The school wellness lead, Bonnie Luce, was introduced to the EFNEP Program Supervisor at the Alliance for a Healthier Generation Workshop that connects schools to available nutrition resources in the community.
The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, California (San Diego County) is one of the most spectacular displays of color in the country and arguably, the world. The Flower Fields is a working farm for growing the brightly colored Ranunculus flowers used in arrangements and tubers for planting in gardens and landscapes. It is also a tourist attraction, as visitors come from everywhere to see and walk among the flowers that are in full bloom from March to May. These thousands of visitors contribute to the local economy by staying at local hotels and eating at local restaurants. What they do not see is the time and effort that the growers spend to produce this magnificent display. Much of the work and cost is for weed control. This ranch was infested with various legume species such as clovers and the primary method of management was laborious and costly hand pulling.
The Moreno Valley Unified School District (MVUSD) wanted to create a place to eliminate learning barriers by providing students with a school-based program that promotes health, safety, and resources through community partnerships. The new Community Wellness Center was finally opened in January 2018. The District Wellness Liaison, Ms. Connie Edwards, dreamed of this day for many years. The new center now provides care and services to homeless students and youth in temporary homes, and distributes basic needs items such as clothing, shoes, and food. In addition, the Center offers classes in self-efficacy, literacy, health, and nutrition to the District’s parents. Moreno Valley has higher than average poverty rate (16.8% below poverty level as compared with 15.1% for California; factfinder.census.gov). The obesity rates are also higher (30.6% for adults and 39.7% for teens in Moreno Valley as compared with 24.8% for adults and 32.4% for teens in California; shaperivco.org).
Arroyo Valley High School in San Bernardino City Unified School District is a school with great needs. About 92% of students are eligible for free/reduced price meals. The girls varsity soccer coach at this school shared concerns that students on the team were coming to practice with unhealthy snacks like chips, candy, and other unhealthy foods. He also noticed that the students seemed tired and complained of headaches at practice and games. When asked what they usually ate for breakfast, many students said they did not eat breakfast and often skipped lunch as well. The girls commented that snacking on chips would help get them by.
Getting teachers to sign on to do nutrition education in the classroom is not always an easy task. Nutrition education is often viewed as an additional burden on top of mandated standards and other responsibilities that teachers already have. Although teachers are supportive and see nutrition education as valuable, sometimes they simply do not have time to prepare and implement a nutrition program. According the 2017-2018 California Physical Fitness Report, one in five students in Riverside County are obese (20.5% 5th graders, 19.0% 7th graders, 19.5% 9th graders). Therefore, it is important to instill healthy eating habits early in life.
April 17, 2019 - UC Calfresh encourages fruit and vegetable consumption among students in Tulare and Kings Counties
Research indicates that repeated exposure to a variety of healthy foods including fruits and vegetables in different forms can increase their acceptance, preference, and consumption. To expose students to healthy foods, increase students’ willingness to try healthy foods, and encourage them to ask for these foods at home, the UC CalFresh nutrition education program in Tulare and Kings Counties of California conduct food tasting activities and recipe sharing across schools and after-school settings.
Latino students constitute 52% of the K-12 public school population in California. In 2014-15, Latino students were less likely to graduate high school than their non-Latinos counterparts. Eleven percent of Latinos ages 25 and older have at least a bachelor’s degree, compared with 40% non-Latinos in that age group. The Pew Research Center shows that those without a post-secondary degree are more likely to be unemployed than those with, 12.2% vs. 3.8% respectively.
Youth live, play, eat, shop, and learn in their communities but are rarely included in decision-making processes that directly impact their health and nutrition. Engaging and building the capabilities of youth as leaders is an important step toward effective policy, systems, and environmental (PSE) changes. Three counties in California—El Dorado, San Mateo, and Imperial—initiated pilot Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR) projects during the 2016-2017 school year. All school sites are located in rural regions that face similar issues, such as lack of access to healthy foods, no walkability, and geographic isolation from the rest of the county. As a result, these communities have high rates of obesity, low physical activity, and poor nutrient intake.
Introduced plant pathogens together with other invasive organisms represent the third most significant threat to biodiversity and the integrity of native ecosystems. To date, not a single exotic plant pathogen has ever been eradicated from natural ecosystems. The damage these introductions causes is irreversible and can be estimated in the billions of dollars annually for the US alone. Recently, a group of the most aggressive plant pathogens, Phytophthora, were discovered to be introduced through infested plant material used in restoration projects. These introductions establish the exotic microbes as they are placed in an ecosystem while thriving on a host. Rather than having successful restorations, there is a potential for failed restorations and disease progression into areas adjacent to these sites.
The restoration of the Los Angeles Historic Park provided an incredible opportunity to develop and implement an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Program for the 32-acre park, which is located close to downtown Los Angeles. The plans for the park were well laid out and the plant palette and planting design allowed Cheryl Wilen (Area IPM Advisor) and consultant Phil Boise (Urban Ag Ecology) and others to focus on specific areas where they could provide IPM guidance to the park staff. Because this park is one of the few green spaces in a densely populated area, it is well used by the ethnically and age-diverse communities surrounding the park. The park is also adjacent to the Los Angeles River. In fact, it was so important to the community that a local organization, Metabolic Studio, funded this project. Therefore, it was critical that the pest management program was designed to reduce human exposure to pesticides and pesticide runoff into the river.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) helps give more than 23 million children the healthy food they need every day. While two-thirds of SNAP participants are children, elderly, and people with disabilities, who are not expected to work, SNAP also helps workers supplement low wages. The UC CalFresh Nutrition Education Program in the Butte Cluster is tasked with educating SNAP recipients on how to best spend their food dollars to ensure that they are able to make their food budget stretch for the entire month.
Leadership opportunities for low-income, high risk, middle school and high school youth are few in Yolo County. Fostering youth development and leadership skills in teens helps to increase their competence, confidence, connection to their community, and their growth and development into healthy, productive adolescents and adults. Research indicates that youth that practice leadership skills report more community engagement and a stronger sense of purpose and meaning. Fortunately, Yolo County houses both the UC 4-H and UC-CalFresh Nutrition Education Programs which nurture leadership skills and healthy behaviors in youth.
Incarcerated adults reap tangible benefits when they learn to garden, reporting feelings of accomplishment and improved self-esteem when they produce food for themselves and others. Gaining life skills and marketable technical experience support healthy behavior post-release, explaining the lower recidivism rates among those who have been involved with prison gardening programs. Research indicates that youth held in detention facilities similarly benefit from mentoring in a productive garden.
September 28, 2018 - UCCE research and extension improves returns for strawberry and vegetable farmers
California is a leading producer of strawberries and vegetables in the United States. These crops require a variety of agricultural inputs that include water, fertilizers, insecticides, acaricides, fungicides, and herbicides among others. There is a continuous need for improving current agronomic practices to optimize cost and efficiency and for identifying effective pest management strategies. California is still recovering from a historic drought and efficient irrigation management techniques are necessary to conserve water without affecting crop productivity. Several endemic and invasive pests cause significant yield losses and frequently develop resistance when there is a heavy reliance on chemical pesticides, which is also a concern for environmental and human health. Excessive use of fertilizers, especially nitrogen compounds, contaminate ground water and other waterbodies through leaching. Growers need up-to-date information on crop production and protection practices to farm sustainably and profitably.
California produces more than 400 agricultural commodities, with over a third of the country’s vegetables grown in the state. In 2016, California exported over $20 billion worth of these agricultural commodities. Strawberries as well as vegetables such as lettuce and tomato are among the top eight commodities in California, valued at more than $5 billion in 2016. Invasive pests are a growing threat to California agriculture and landscapes. Invasive and endemic pests cause significant losses to the yield and quality of food crops. Additionally, in the urban environment, pests damage or are a nuisance in homes, home gardens, or landscapes, resulting in costly losses. To protect strawberry and vegetable crops, growers need to stay informed about pests and their management. Similarly, urban communities need to help to address endemic and invasive pest issues. Pests are organisms that damage or interfere with desirable plants in fields and orchards. A pest can be a plant (weed), vertebrate (bird, rodent, or other mammal), invertebrate (insect, tick, mite, or snail), nematode, pathogen (bacteria, virus, or fungus) that causes disease, or other unwanted organism that may harm water quality, animal life, or other parts of the ecosystem.
September 5, 2018 - IPM program helps North Coast growers in fight against Virginia Creeper Leafhopper
Virginia creeper leafhopper (VCLH) first arrived in California's Sacramento Valley and Sierra Foothill regions in the 1980s. It was recently introduced into the North Coast, where a lack of biological control led to severe outbreaks in 2011-2012. The native Western grape leafhoppers are typically controlled well by native parasitoids. When chemical controls are necessary, applications occur later in the season, in August. In the absence of biological control, chemical controls for VCLH were required, needing to go on earlier in the season, in May or June. When the first outbreaks of VCLH occurred, many growers responded by putting on multiple late season sprays to little effect. Some certified organic growers resorted to conventional pesticides and lost their organic certification.
August 31, 2018 - UC ANR develops online tool to calculate forage loss from California rangelands fire
Wildland fires have occurred with increasing frequency in recent years. Most of the affected land is rangeland, providing forage for livestock and wildlife. Forage production can be impacted for three years post-fire. That means that not only is there an immediate and complete loss of forage, but a 40% reduction on average the year following the fire and a 20% reduction on average the second year. Documenting forage loss is important to aid in financial recovery, whether from an insurance claim or federal funding for disaster relief.
August 27, 2018 - Project 4-H2O Provides Free Zero Calorie Education and Option at Sugartown Festival
In Contra Costa County, the 2016 California Healthy Kids Survey found that only one out of four teens, ages 12-17, drank eight or more glasses of water the previous day. The same survey found that two out of three (62%) of teens drank two or more sodas the previous day - two times more teens than the national rate of 30%. Studies have found that Sugar Sweetened Beverages (SSBs) consumption is linked to weight gain, metabolic syndrome, tooth decay, and type 2 diabetes. Each 12 ounce soda contains the equivalent of eight teaspoons of added sugar, 130 calories, and zero nutrients. The American Heart Association recommends that children and teens limit added sugars to less than six teaspoons a day. Substituting zero calorie water for SSBs can help reduce added sugars, calories, and weight gain, ultimately reducing the risk of developing chronic diseases. Education and awareness are keys to helping individuals make informed choices. The annual Sugartown Festival in Crockett, CA is the largest community festival in the city drawing about 7,500 participants and provides an excellent opportunity to increase awareness.
August 16, 2018 - 2018 National Youth Summit on Agri-Science “opened eyes” of CA teens to how agricultural science applies to their daily lives
Youth today are confused about where their food comes from. Children have been quoted as saying cheese comes from plants and pasta from animals (Newsweek, 2017). This confusion is no surprise, as only two percent of Americans live on farms today, disconnected with food and agricultural production. Further, most of the youth today are not aware of the science of food, agriculture, and production, or the need for young people to consider careers in these fields. Creative minds are needed so that we can address the looming worldwide food shortages in the future.
July 23, 2018 - Improved understanding leads to better management of nitrogen fertilizer on the central coast
Vegetable, strawberry, and cane berry growers in the coastal valleys of California are under regulatory pressure to limit off-site movement of nitrate into ground and surface water. Water quality regulations for irrigated lands require that growers monitor water use and nutrient discharges, and report nitrogen fertilization rates as a ratio of crop nitrogen uptake. However, growers and regulatory agencies lacked information on how much nitrogen many coastal crops require.
July 20, 2018 - ANR responds to massive tree mortality in the Sierra Nevada using field-based research
The California drought from 2012 to 2015 included historic dryness and warmth. This drought generated widespread water stress in trees across California and instigated a massive wave of tree mortality in the Sierra Nevada. U.S. Forest Service aerial surveys detected over 127 million newly dead trees due to the drought and other disturbance agents such as bark beetles. This unprecedented tree die-off is transforming California at the stand-to-landscape level and reveals the vulnerability of large portions of California’s forests to novel conditions.
July 18, 2018 - UC Cooperative Extension takes leading role in climate change research and extension
Rising summer temperatures and extreme events – including a recent swing from a 5-year drought to one of the wettest winters on record – are indicative of a warmer, more variable climate future in California. The changing climate has already begun to stress our social, economic, and ecological systems. It is threatening crops, increasing catastrophic wildfires, harming fish and wildlife, and limiting water supplies while also increasing flood risk and ultimately impacting the health and quality of life for Californians. Public awareness of climate change impacts is growing, but there is significant uncertainty around how climate change will affect natural resources and communities. The University of California’s Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) representation across the state and engagement with its diverse communities uniquely positions us to understand and communicate the consequences of climate change and identify strategies to mitigate negative outcomes for local economies, the environment, and public health.
May 18, 2018 - Integrated youth, families, and communities programming increases health and wellness
Eating healthily and being physically active are two of the most important health behaviors for preventing obesity and related chronic diseases. In California, over 40 percent of 5th graders are overweight or obese and California spends over $52 billion annually in healthcare costs associated with obesity. Youth in low-income and minority communities face greater barriers to maintaining a healthy diet and engaging in regular physical activity. There is strong evidence that participation in high-quality positive youth development programming decreases the incidence of risk behaviors, improves school achievement, and increases a sense of personal efficacy and empathy in youth. Historically, however, youth of color have been less likely to participate in positive youth development programming like 4-H.
California’s severe drought from 2012 to 2016 led to unprecedented tree mortality. Over 129 million trees died by 2017, 95% of which were in the Sierra Nevada. Mortality was heaviest in the central and southern Sierra, from Tuolumne County south to Fresno County. Trees died from a combination of bark beetle outbreak and drought. State and federal cost share programs were developed to assist with tree removal and disposal through the Governor’s Tree Mortality Task Force, but these mostly focused on assisting local jurisdictions and owners of 20 acre parcels or more. Owners of small parcels who lost trees had little assistance or information on what to do after removing dead trees.
The loss of deciduous oak woodlands to native conifer encroachment is a major conservation concern in California, resulting in associated losses of wildlife habitat, traditional uses, biodiversity, and other ecosystem services. These concerns – compounded by development pressures, evolving understanding of fire’s role in California landscapes, and health threats like sudden oak death – have drawn increasing attention in recent years, and conservation and restoration efforts have gained momentum. However, efforts are complicated by a paucity of information on the rate and extent of conifer encroachment, successional dynamics, and trajectories of oak regeneration and conifer recruitment in a changing climate. Landowners, policymakers, conservation groups, and agencies have looked to UCCE for scientific guidance and landowner cooperation.
April 19, 2018 - UC Calfresh Kings County engages students, teachers, and parents to make healthful choices
One of the main avenues that schools can use to positively affect health is empowering students, teachers, and parents with nutrition knowledge and skills while providing opportunities for physical activity. However, poor eating habits and lack of exercise are major concerns among youth and adult populations in Kings County. Lack of knowledge and skills to make healthy food choices compounds the issue. Additionally, according to the SNAP-Ed work plan for the County, of the 65 schools located in the county, 83% are SNAP-Ed eligible (> 50% of students are eligible for free or reduced-priced meals, FRPM, enrollment) and almost 68% of students are eligible for FRPM. Powered with this knowledge, key community stakeholders came together to create nutrition awareness and physical activity opportunities in schools where a high percentage of students participate in FRPM programs.
Animal Science projects have been a primary tool for instructing youth about the food production process in the United States. As fewer people are involved with agriculture for a living and more people live in urban rather than rural areas, the ability for youth, or adults, to have hands-on experiences in agriculture is diminished.
Childhood obesity is a problem that affects many in the Imperial County - 40.9% of 5th graders and 45% of 7th graders are overweight or obese. Fitness levels are low- only 13.9% 5th graders and 23.6% of 7th graders meet all of the fitness standards (ED-Data, 2018). Imperial County is known for its desert location with little access to indoor recreational facilities and highly accessible fast food restaurants. Empowering youth as leaders to address the issues affecting the health of their families will create change in Imperial County.
The California 4-H Youth Development Program has a goal to reach 3% of the youth population in the state by 2025 while reflecting the demographics of the youth population in the state (52% Latinos, 6% African American/Black, 12% Asian American and 30 % White). We want to provide all the youth in our state the same opportunities to achieve their full potential, which is a key component of our mission statement. One way for youth to achieve their full potential is through leadership development.
March 5, 2018 - Collaborative 4-H and Nutrition project identifies why teens are not drinking water at school
Childhood obesity remains an American epidemic – according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one out of every five children ages 6-19 is obese. Overweight and obese children are at increased risk of developing chronic disease, such as heart disease and diabetes, as well as social and psychological problems. The consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB’S) is one factor that contributes to obesity and research shows that substituting zero calorie water in place of SSB’s can help reduce weight gain. In Contra Costa County, 17% of youth ages 12-17 drank one or more soda the previous day. Recognizing a need to create a positive impact, Contra Costa County 4-H and Nutrition Family and Consumer Science (NFCS) Advisors collaborated to educate teens at John Swett High School (JSHS) in the Bay Area, where 55 percent of the teens qualify for free and reduced lunch.
March 5, 2018 - EFNEP Helps California’s Low-income Families Make Healthy Choices while Saving Money
Twenty-five percent of California adults are obese while over 30% of California children, ages 10-17, are considered overweight or obese. One in eight Californians experience difficulties providing healthy nutritious foods for their family.
Over the past 20 years, the frequency of family dinners has significantly declined even though research has shown that children who share family dinners three or more times per week are less likely to be overweight and more likely to perform better academically, eat healthier foods, and have better relationships with their parents. Thus, educating students on how to choose, prepare, and cook healthy foods is a priority for the UC CalFresh Nutrition Education Program (NEP) and the 4-H Youth Development Program (YDP) in Sutter and Yuba Counties.
February 23, 2018 - Leveraging Cooperative Extension to increase youth knowledge of local agriculture
Today’s US population continues to become more suburbanized, which has resulted in many Americans having limited knowledge about the various aspects of agriculture and food production. The National Research Council emphasizes the importance of providing individuals with opportunities to learn about and appreciate the needs of crops, animals, and plants. There is a need for individuals of all backgrounds and ages to have a basic understanding of agriculture, the agricultural industry, and its importance to our country and its citizens. Thus, educating students on agricultural related topics and local commodities is a priority for the University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE).
The UC Davis’ Center for Nutrition in Schools has created and research-tested the Shaping Healthy Choices Program (SHCP) since 2012. This evidence-based program is a multi-component, school-based intervention addressing the complex issue of behavior change and childhood obesity. In 2016, about 48% of teens in Riverside County were designated obese (highest 5th percentile) and 11% overweight (www.ask.chis.ucla.edu). Recognizing this issue, the UC CalFresh Nutrition Education Program in Riverside County partnered with two school districts to implement the Shaping Healthy Choices Program.
The first Out-of-School Time Nutrition Summit for Southern California hosted by California Summer Meal Coalition of the Institute for Local Government was held in Upland, CA in January 2017. This meeting highlighted the needs to support and increase summer meals participation in the Inland Empire. The Summer Meals Program is funded by USDA to ensure that youth from families that are food insecure continue to receive nutritious meals when school is out. The number of students eligible for Free/Reduced Price Meal in Riverside County is 270,907 (63% of student enrollment). During summer, Riverside County has over 200 summer meal sites providing healthy lunches, however, the summer lunch daily participation average is only 17,113 or about 6% of eligible students.
Obesity in childhood increases a child’s risk of developing chronic disease, such as heart disease and diabetes, as well as social and psychological problems. Hayward, California, has the highest prevalence of overweight children in Alameda County’s 14 cities, and 50 percent of Hayward Unified School District’s students are overweight or obese. School-based education about healthy eating and fitness habits is a valuable tool to address this issue, but the school district lacked resources and staff needed to implement an evidence-based nutrition education program.
School gardens are becoming increasingly popular additions to campuses as an experiential tool to promote healthy living. Unfortunately, schools often lack resources to staff gardens and provide educational opportunities in these outdoor learning environments.
December 21, 2017 - ¡Descubre Outside, Discover Afuera! Engaging Latino Youth in Environmental Education
In 2014, Latino’s became the “new majority” in California, with ~15 million people representing 38.75% of the total population (Los Angeles Times, July 2015). California’s Latinos under age 18 now comprise 23.2% of the overall state population (U.S. Census Quickfacts, 2016). They are also among the most under-represented groups in conservation, outdoor recreation, and environmental education organizations (Latino Outdoors, 2017), even though polls show that Latinos in the US are concerned with environmental issues (Earthjustice, 2015). A curriculum designed by UC Berkley and UC ANR 4-H Youth Development Program (YDP) is seeking to motivate Latino and other underrepresented groups to explore the outdoors through environmental education experiences.
On paper, the charge was clear: launch a statewide effort to integrate the nutrition education programs of the US Department of Agriculture’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program-Education (SNAP-Ed) funded partners. Address childhood obesity and food insecurity holistically, yet specifically. Do this through policy, systems, and environmental approaches that will leverage community participation and resources in order to create sustainability at the local level. Accomplish this as funding is declining in SNAP-Ed programs. What would this integrated effort look like in practice? How could a work plan weave together the many agencies, actors, and systems that influence a child's earliest years, a family's food selection, and school and community activities?
Research indicates that food insecurity (i.e. without access to a reliable source of nutritious food) is detrimental to a child’s developmental health. One in five children in California faces hunger daily, according to the California Association of Food Banks. In Tulare County, the number of children living in food insecure households is above the state average (29% compared to 22.9% of California; from Kidsdata.org). Additionally, the County has a high percentage of students eligible for free school lunch (74.53% compared to 58.13% of California). While poor eating habits and lack of exercise is a major concern for youth in the region, a primary issue is access to fresh fruits and vegetables needed for a healthy diet (Community Health Needs Assessment, 2016). Fueled with this critical information, key community stakeholders spearheaded a call to action, developing and implementing the Healthy School Farmer’s Market in schools where a high percentage of students participate in free or reduced-price meal programs.
The United States and Mexico have a long story of political, economic and scientific collaboration. Since 1994, when the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) came into effect, the U.S and Mexican relationship was profoundly transformed. Twenty years after NAFTA, UC President Janet Napolitano launched the UC-Mexico initiative in recognition of the fact that many of the issues facing California also face Mexico. This initiative has allowed UC and Mexican faculty to do collaborative research on climate change, water resource management, and migration and health issues among dozens of other topics. However, little attention has been brought to Cooperative Extension projects and research. Mexico could benefit from the more than 100 years’ experience of Cooperative Extension in the U.S., and California could benefit from exchange programs that help us to better serve the Latino population in the state.
School food service directors in the Bay Area have been working with wholesalers and farmers to include more local or regional produce in school meals despite tight budgets and procurement challenges. However, because students, particularly low-income students, are often unfamiliar with locally grown foods, additional promotional efforts are needed to introduce the unfamiliar items to students and reduce potential food waste.
November 16, 2017 - Avocado Educational Grower Seminar Series Continues to Progress and Benefit California Growers
California produces about 90 percent of the nation's avocado crop. California avocado growers compete in both the domestic and international markets with countries with much lower costs of production and labor availability. To stay competitive will require more efficient farming strategies and a significant increase in productivity on the part of California growers, especially with the increase of water costs and labor constraints. To adapt, growers need to dramatically increase yield per acre using the same amount of water or less. Evolving farming practices and new information is essential for growers to stay competitive with the world market.
Across the highly modified agricultural landscape, remnants of native plant cover are necessary to sustain biodiversity and ecological functions. Valley oak trees are key plant structures that have been retained in some newly developed vineyards in San Luis Obispo County. Historically, many of these majestic giants were removed to make way for development. Today, their populations are greatly reduced and the remaining valley oaks are not regenerating. The loss of the many ecological functions, ecosystem services, and the beauty that the iconic trees provide is of great concern to the agriculturalist, environmentalist, and general public. For example, insectivorous bats are known to utilize large trees for foraging, predator protection, roosting, and reproduction. Bats are beneficial because they feed on insect pests that cost farmers billions of dollars annually in lost production! Unfortunately, many species of bats are threatened by habitat loss and disease. Some species are declining alarmingly. Could the lone tree within the vineyard offer insectivorous bats these essential functions?
Forty percent of Coachella Valley children aged 2 to 17 are overweight or obese (2013, harcdata.org). Located in a remote area with limited access to fresh fruit and vegetables, the Torres Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indian Reservation covers 24,024 acres of desert spanning part of Coachella Valley and Imperial County, with an estimated population of 4,000. The tribal headquarters, in the unincorporated community of Thermal, is the location of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). TANF is charged with providing assistance and social support to families with children on the reservation. TANF Family Preservation Services, Youth Division was interested in nutrition education that would help children develop good eating habits and a healthy lifestyle.
Poverty combined with high unemployment rates can be a recipe for disaster. Entire families become engulfed in crisis. Rescue the Children (Rescue), a ministry of the Fresno Rescue Mission, is a nonprofit that transforms lives lost to drug or alcohol addiction and assists homeless families and previously incarcerated women. Rescue provides an in-house rehabilitation and transition program. Priscilla Robbins oversees the program and noted the importance of including a nutrition and healthy living component.
With 15 million Latino residents, California accounts for more than a quarter (27%) of the nation’s Latino population. Over 52% of California’s K-12 students are Latinos. California Latinos live in households with median annual income of $47,180 (the California state median is $60,883), with 20% of Latino youth living below the poverty line. These income gaps are related to opportunity gaps for youth; for example, access to high-quality youth development programs, early preparation for college, and peer and adult mentoring.
October 3, 2017 - Butte County Cluster’s EFNEP and UC CalFresh collaborate to help farm labor families achieve success
Migrant and seasonal farm labor workers are a vital component of the United States agricultural industry. Despite their important contributions, they are known to be a marginalized population who live in poverty, have limited access to health care services, are often malnourished, and have poor health indicators. UCCE CalFresh and EFNEP Specialists and Advisors from the Butte County Cluster, which includes Butte, Colusa, Sutter, Glenn, and Yuba Counties, had the resources to provide valuable information to this marginalized population.
In 2014, Latino’s became the “new majority” in the state of California, with 14.99 million representing 38.75% of the total population (Los Angeles Times, July 2015). Latinos (Hispanics) are the nation’s youngest major racial/ethnic group with an average age of 28 years old. Nearly half of U.S.-born Latinos are younger than 18 (Pew Research Center, 2016). California Latinos under age 18 now comprise 23.2% of the overall population (U.S. Census Quickfacts, 2016). Regrettably, Latinos continue to be underrepresented among voters compared to those eligible to vote and the overall population (Romero, 2016). Due to this new demographic for California and the United States, it is particularly important that Latino youth develop into engaged and informed citizens to respond to their increasing influence in the elections. Latino populations need to become more educated and more civic-minded.
In 2016, fifty-two percent of K-12 students in California were Latinos and 35 % between 18 and 24 years old were enrolled in a two or four-year college, up from 22 % enrolled in 1993. However, only 15% of Latinos ages 25 to 29 had a bachelor’s degree or higher (Pew Hispanic Research, 2016). A 2015 report from The Campaign for College Opportunity, stated that, “among current Latino undergraduates, 65 percent attend a California community college but only 39 percent will earn a degree, a certificate, or transfer within six years — in comparison with 53 percent of whites and the statewide average of 48 percent” (Daily News, 2015). Importantly, research also shows that millennials with a college degree are less likely than those without a college degree to be unemployed, 3.8% vs. 12.2%, (Pew Research Center 2014). The UC ANR 4-H Latino Initiative, currently piloted in seven Counties, is working towards addressing the needs and building upon the strengths of Latino communities across California to foster higher education attainment through 4-H Youth Development programs.
Juxtaposed with agricultural production abundance, a significant proportion of Tulare County low-income residents struggles to put enough nutritious food on the table. In Tulare County, 29% of children are living in food insecure households (i.e., without access to a reliable source of nutritious food) as compared to 22.9% in California. Families with young children are particularly at risk of food insecurity. Because poor dietary health disproportionately affects minority and limited resource populations and children, it is critical to empower low-income parents with knowledge and skills to help them use their food dollars wisely in order to provide healthy food to their families for the entire month. Research indicates that nutrition and food resource management are modifiable behaviors and strategies such as the ability to plan meals, shop on a budget, and stretch groceries until the end of the month, can protect families from food insecurity.
August 18, 2017 - UCCE rangeland monitoring template helps public land cattle ranchers meet grazing standards
Rangeland monitoring is a critical evaluation tool of management but is generally not done well enough, consistent enough, or with credibility to satisfy stakeholders and users of public rangelands. There is a need to teach and help implement effective rangeland monitoring in the intermountain region of northeastern California and the Sierra Nevada.
With diversity increasing in Marin County, it is imperative to ensure access and equity to youth development programs, particularly for the 28% of youth who identify as Latino. Through funding support from the County of Marin, Cooperative Extension’s 4-H Youth Development program could expand out-of-school science, technology engineering and math (STEM) enrichment experiences to reach a greater number of Latino youth both directly, through STEM activities, and indirectly, through curricular support and professional development of out-of-school staff.
July 20, 2017 - Improved management of Lygus bugs has reduced unnecessary insecticide applications reducing risk to crops and the environment
The Tulare Lake Bottom is an area in Kings County, California that produces a variety of row, field and vegetable crops. Crop rotations of safflower, cotton and tomato are essential in maintaining soil quality and managing ground water issues. In the westside of Fresno and Kings Counties, major changes to cropping landscape took place in a single year. The shift to safflower overwhelmed the landscape and resulted in a breakdown of expected patterns of insect migration. In order to improve Integrated Pest Management (IPM), the management of key pests such as Lygus bugs must be considered at a larger and wider level then individual fields and farms.
Statistics can inform us of challenges counties face, but people create solutions. This is well illustrated in Calaveras County, a rural Sierra foothills community. Calaveras residents face many stumbling blocks to sustaining a healthy lifestyle. Dogged by high unemployment, the overall food insecurity rate is over 15%, with a rate among children as high as 23%. Other challenges include isolated residential areas with limited public transportation and infrastructure. In addition, the community has experienced natural disasters such as the 2015 Butte Fire, affecting over 12,000 people in the Sierra foothills.
The Eastside Neighborhood, one of the oldest residential areas of the City of Riverside, is also one of the poorest. More than half of the adults and almost a quarter of the teenagers were considered overweight in 2012 when Kaiser Permanente funded the Heal Zone Initiative to improve the community’s overall wellness through education and increased access to healthy local food. The Community Settlement Association (CSA), founded over 100 years ago to help immigrants from Mexico settle into Riverside, now provides social services and food distributions to the Eastside residents. The Association needed assistance to revitalize the existing garden to help residents have access to fresh produce.
There is a paucity of adequate databases available to evaluate the impact, effectiveness, or efficiency of school health programs. While many schools are employing measures to contribute to a healthier school environment, these measures often go unrecognized due to the scarcity of comprehensive and periodic evaluation tools available to assess their impact.
May 12, 2017 - City of Irvine adopts new Integrated Pest Management policy solving pest problems while minimizing risks to people and the environment.
Integrated pest management (IPM) in non-agricultural areas such as residential, commercial areas including schools and parks, and structural locations is becoming increasingly important as California's population grows. Pesticides used by both commercial and non-commercial applicators can impact water quality in local watersheds resulting in loss of use of their water bodies. Additionally, widespread use of pesticides can impact public health and disrupt naturally occurring pest management systems.
Collaborations create value and accelerate change said Terry F. Yosie, president and CEO of the World Environment Center in Washington, D.C.: “Corporations, non-governmental organizations and institutions… are more successful in attaining individual objectives by collaborating with partners with aligned interests…”, (https://www.greenbiz.com/blog/2013/04/29). Alameda’s County Nutrition Action Partnership (CNAP) was first organized in 2006 with six USDA Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed) providers. University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) is one of the founding members. CNAP is faced with the challenge of reaching 209,000 county residents, representing 13 percent of the population that are living in poverty and eligible for SNAP-Ed. This challenge includes reaching youth in 206 schools, (52 percent of the County’s schools) and families spread across 45 of the County’s 360 census blocks.
Despite California’s economic and agricultural prosperity, over one in four Californians are hungry or at serious risk of hunger—significantly worse than the nation as a whole. Hunger is a symptom of poverty; far too many families experience devastating health consequences when their low wages or modest public benefits cannot cover the cost of housing, utilities, and food (California Food Policy Advocates, 2013). In San Benito County, 20.1% of children live in food insecure households (Kids Count, 2014) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 2015 declared seven of eleven schools in the Hollister school district as Community Eligibility Provision sites, meaning breakfast and lunch have no cost for all students at the campuses as part of an effort to encourage students in high-poverty areas to take advantage of carefully balanced, nutritious meals.
People develop financial attitudes and behaviors at an early age and today’s youth have significant spending power $211 billion a year in the US (http://www.statisticbrain.com/teenage-consumer-spending-statistics/). While youth are good at spending, various surveys on the financial literacy of teens, consistently report a grade of F or less than 69 percent. This issue is especially salient for limited-income youth and their families. From Tom Torlakson (California State Superintendent) to the US Mint, policy- makers, and organizations have been drawing attention to the need to equip young people to be the competent financial consumers and managers of tomorrow. Multiple groups have recently developed curriculums and programs to meet this need. However, many programs are not research-based, so it is unclear if they lead to financial literacy.
April 10, 2017 - UC ANR develops culturally relevant obesity-prevention lessons for the Niños Sanos, Familia Sana program aimed at Mexican-heritage children
Prevalence of childhood obesity is higher (22.4%) in Latino children ages 2-19 years than in non-Latino white children (14%). Though obesity rates have recently decreased among 2-5- year- olds nationwide, racial and ethnic health disparities persist and indicate the urgency of early prevention efforts in high-risk communities.
April 7, 2017 - Santa Cruz 4-H participates in research study to mitigate zoonotic diseases in 4-H animal science projects
National and state agencies have identified biosecurity related to animal agriculture as a matter of high priority, and the United States Department of Agriculture has a long-term goal of safeguarding the animal production industry from outbreaks of animal disease (APHIS, 1998, 2010). Many 4-H Animal Science project animals are kept as part of backyard farms. Data collected during a study of California 4-H youth revealed the presence of numerous biosecurity risks. For example, 66% of project animals are housed in “backyard herds” with same or mixed species (Smith, 2009). Respondents indicated they traveled with their project animal to an average of two project meetings where mixing with other animals occurred and quarantine procedures were limited (Smith, 2009). These risks highlight the need to develop and provide education resources to 4-H youth, volunteers, and staff to help mitigate potential health and financial impacts.
April 7, 2017 - 4-H Youth Development and the UC Carbon Neutrality Initiative: Engaging Youth Through Experiential Education
In November 2013, University of California (UC) President Janet Napolitano announced the Carbon Neutrality Initiative (CNI), which commits UC to emitting net zero greenhouse gases from its buildings and vehicle fleet by 2025, something no other major university system has done. The initiative builds on UC's pioneering work on climate research and furthers its leadership on sustainable business practices.
Baja California, Mexico, and California, U.S.A. share a 156-mile long border which includes cities like Tijuana and Mexicali. Even when both states are geographically close, the disparities between them are incredibly large in terms of population, income, and education. For example, in Ejido Sinaloa, in Mexicali only 37% of the population is employed, the average monthly income per household is $450, and the average level of education is 7th grade. California and Baja California also share an agricultural legacy that has been challenged in recent years by issues such as drought and climate change, which do not recognize borders. Mexico and the US require leaders, scientists, educators, entrepreneurs, and professionals with an outstanding education to solve these issues. For more than 100 years the 4-H youth development program (4-H) in the U.S. has facilitated the development of leaders in part by increasing the number of youth that gives back to the community, make healthy decisions, and improve their grades at school.
The transition to sustainable cities often places emphasis on the importance of green infrastructure, including gardens. Urban gardens provide a local source of nutritious food and can help to strengthen community ties. However, there are tradeoffs to gardening in the city, including potential exposure to soil pollutants, such as lead from legacy sources such as paint, gas, and industry. Lead in soil is a lesser known source of human lead exposure but it can adversely affect humans, especially children, if it is accidentally inhaled or ingested. Older neighborhoods, often occupied by low-income communities and communities of color, are burdened with the highest soil lead levels. These are often the same neighborhoods with limited access to fresh fruits and vegetables. Despite being located in one of the most productive agricultural regions of the world, some neighborhoods in Sacramento are considered food deserts. How can residents manage for multiple ecosystem services by safely growing food in their yards and minimizing their potential exposure to soil lead? Studying the connection between urban landscapes and soil lead can identify areas of concern and help mitigate potential risk.
Urban agriculture is the production and distribution of food in urban spaces. It includes a wide range of activities, from backyard and community gardens to non-profit farms to high-tech commercial operations. In addition to food production, goals often include increasing community food security, developing youth leadership, or creating neighborhood green spaces. Urban agriculture is gaining momentum and has been shown to have a wide range of benefits. However, urban farmers and gardeners face unique challenges, including limited availability of relevant information and technical assistance.
Studies of mentoring and informal science programs have shown that adult mentors can play an important role in facilitating the development of positive identities for youth in informal science education by providing youth with opportunities to see themselves as capable of knowing, understanding, and doing science (NRC, 2009). Family, peers, mentors, and community members can provide social support by providing information, advice, material assistance, concern, encouragement, and feedback. When informal science mentoring opportunities are combined with social support, they have the potential to more positively impact participants in ways that pursuing these aspirations alone cannot meet.
Studies of informal science education programs have recommended emphasizing human versus technological aspects of science in curriculum design. Specifically, one study recommends “making STEM fields more attractive…to girls by…promoting science as a human inquiry, involving the hands and the heart as well as the brain, one’s personal interests and tastes––rather than an anonymous application of a universal method” (Froschl, Sprung, Archer, & Fancsali, 2003). Additionally, research indicates that “New teaching and learning models are needed to provide students with the ability to engage in scientific inquiry” (Skelton, Seevers, Dormondy, & Hodnett, 2012). For both genders, hands-on experiences such as using tools and equipment have been found to enhance interest in science (Hansen, Walker, & Flom, 1995) and are related to higher math and science achievement (Campbell, Jolly, Hoey, & Perlman, 2002). Girls, in particular, were six times more likely to consider engineering as a career following hands-on engineering activities (Campbell & Shackford, 1990).
Food security is defined as “…having reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food.” Sixteen percent of adults, and 23% of children struggled with food security in Yolo County in 2015. According to a 2012 First 5 community needs assessment, food access and nutrition information was paramount to families with young children in Yolo County. Food insecurity can increase the risk of obesity, poor school performance, low self-esteem, illness and other maladies. At the same time, Yolo grows some of the most diverse and abundant crops in the world. A component of food waste is the produce left behind in the fields due to overproduction or the inability to sell the food due to inconsistencies in size, shape, or color due to regulations and processing requirements. There is a unique opportunity to draw on local crop waste to repurpose fruits and vegetables to meet the needs of residents.
January 27, 2017 - UC ANR teamed up to investigate effective integrated pest management for bed bugs in low-income, multiple-occupancy housing
Bed bugs, their bites, and the associated social stigma continue to plague many Californians and draw widespread attention from the media. Although bed bugs can occur within a wide range of human habitations and income-levels, it’s those who live in low-income, multiple-occupancy housing who appear to suffer the greatest. Integrated Pest Management (IPM), first developed by UC in the 1940s for agriculture, offers a theoretical framework for bed bug management in multiple-occupancy housing
January 20, 2017 - Informing Sierra Nevada Forest Restoration: Re-measurement and Analysis of 1911 Forest Inventory Data
Accurate historical characterizations of fire-frequent conifer forests are important to understanding contemporary conditions resulting from past forest management practices. However, historical data sets are often incomplete and highly localized, resulting in imperfect characterizations. Large areas (~16,000 ha) in the central Sierra Nevada were inventoried in 1911, and relocated and re-sampled approximately 100 years later following divergent management programs (widespread harvesting and fire suppression) and wildfire. This effort resulted in an unprecedented comparison of forest structure, species composition, regeneration, and fire effects.
Chlorpyrifos is an important insecticide in IPM programs for alfalfa, almond, citrus and cotton due to its efficacy, value as a resistance management tool, and established international registration status. Public health and environmental concerns about chlorpyrifos resulted in an ongoing evaluation about its use in agriculture. Regulatory safeguards could include changes in use, up to and including full cancellation of registration. Crop teams, made up of industry leaders, agreed that stewardship and education are needed to ensure the safe and effective use of chlorpyrifos. Additionally, decision support tools are needed to enable pest control advisers (PCAs) and growers to recognize when chlorpyrifos use is necessary and justified. The new generation of PCAs coming into the field provides an excellent opportunity to train emerging professionals about chlorpyrifos use.
Combined, alfalfa, almond, citrus, and cotton represent a value of over $10 billion, and are grown on 2.5 million acres of farmland. Chlorpyrifos is an agricultural insecticide used in these crops as well as other food, fiber, and forage crops in California. Chlorpyrifos is an important tool against invasive pests and endemic pest outbreaks due to its efficacy, value as a resistance management tool, and established international registration status for exporting agricultural commodities. Currently, there are ongoing evaluations at the state and national levels to assess potential human and environmental health risks from chlorpyrifos and to consider what, if any, regulatory actions on chlorpyrifos might provide further safeguards up to and including full cancellation of the registration. The results of the safeguards could change the use of chlorpyrifos, including increased use restrictions and could impact many well-established IPM programs previously developed by UCCE scientists.
Family food security is important in the quest to increase the consumption of healthy foods. Rasmussen, et.al. 2006 literature review examined the “determinants of fruit and vegetable consumption among children and adolescents”. They reported that the key determinants of fruits and vegetable intake are gender, age, socio-economic position, food preferences, parental intake, and availability or accessibility in the home. Families with limited funds need critical life skills to help them manage their resources smartly to pay their bills and feed their families. Preschool teachers in the Hayward Unified School District (HUSD) started early trying to teach preschoolers some of the basic concepts of how to manage limited food dollars.
The poor health status for Bay Point youth and families is a result of multiple risk factors: unhealthy weight; sedentary behaviors; limited access to affordable, healthy food; poverty; substance abuse; crime; and poor school performance. Thirty-six percent of students are at an unhealthy weight. Of the nineteen teens that attend Gateway Continuation High School, 63% identify as Latino, and 90% are socioeconomically disadvantaged. Engaging at-risk teens in an after school healthy living program can empower them to improve their health status.
Today's children are expected to live shorter lifespans than their parents and childhood obesity is one contributing factor. The lifetime cost of obesity is estimated at $19,000 per child. Sugar- sweetened beverages (SSBs), fast foods, and screen time are factors related to unhealthy weight. Forty- two percent of Alameda and Contra Costa children are overweight or obese, 31% drank one or more SSB daily, and 24% ate fast food two or more times during the past week. Food companies spent $1.7 billion marketing unhealthy food to children and only $280 million marketing healthy foods. Children are exposed to food marketing through screen time, including TV, mobile devices, and computers. Educating parents about the benefits of serving their children healthy foods and beverages, reducing screen time, and encouraging family physical activity can contribute to better health outcomes and reduced health care costs.
Over the last four decades, rates of childhood obesity have more than tripled for school-aged youth. Sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) intake contributes to excessive weight gain. Youth's risk for obesity increases an average of 60% with every additional daily serving of soda. In Shasta County 39% of children ages 2-17 consumed one or more SSBs daily and 33% were considered overweight or obese. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans encourage individuals to choose water as the best non-caloric substitute for SSBs. UCCE was ready to mobilize resources and partnerships to improve the health outcomes of Shasta County youth through education, marketing and promotion, and environmental changes that supported water consumption.
January 6, 2017 - Engaging Youth to Increase Positive Social Determinants of Health in School Communities
Addressing the social determinants of health - such as social and economic opportunities, high-quality education, and access to nutritious food - was identified in Healthy People 2020 as a priority for improving the nation’s health. Differences in social determinants are major contributors to health disparities among communities. Environmental factors, including adverse experiences and economic stresses, have been found to disrupt adolescents’ social-emotional foundation and can impact their future wellbeing. Conversely, successful implementation of youth engagement strategies can increase adolescents’ positive social and emotional development; leadership, problem-solving, and decision making skills; a sense of belonging; and a sense of purpose, while decreasing adolescent engagement in high-risk behaviors. Engaging adolescents in identifying and addressing the social determinants of health in their communities can have a compounding impact on adolescent and community wellness.
January 5, 2017 - Training public housing staff about Integrated Pest Management in Southern California
Public housing developments accommodate thousands of people in California. Although these multi-unit buildings provide a safe environment for residents, they are not necessarily fully protected. Structural pests are often a major problem in multi-unit housings, as many of these units become invaded by cockroaches, bed bugs, fleas, ants, and rodents. Cockroaches have shown to be a cause for asthma and severe allergies for people. Also, bed bugs feed on human blood causing pain and emotional distress. As such, the presence of these pests can significantly reduce the quality of life for residents. Classical pest control methods significantly rely on pesticide use which can negatively impact human health, cause pesticide resistance in pests, and cause surface water pollution. Integrated Pest Management (IPM), on the other hand, employs a combination of methods, which focuses on monitoring, habitat manipulation, and physical and chemical control to reduce pest population while minimizing negative health and environmental risks. Implementing IPM can be challenging which makes training an essential part of every IPM program.
In the Inland Empire (Riverside and San Bernardino Counties), the Head Start programs serve disadvantaged families with children from birth to the age of 5 in Head Start center or home-based options. In the home-based program, a Head Start teacher visits with parents in their home weekly to teach them strategies to enhance child development, and improve health and school readiness. It is estimated that about 14.5% of children under five are overweight for their age in the Inland Empire. Head Start teachers understand that parent involvement and education is a key to helping children start on the right path to good health and seek assistance to bring nutrition education to the Head Start parents. UC Cooperative Extension Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) has long provided nutrition classes at the center-based locations, but the home-based Head Start parents were left out.
Alvord Unified School District was awarded a $1.1 million Physical Education (PE) Program Grant for 2012-2015 and UC Cooperative Extension was a partner on this grant. In addition to improving PE programs, the grant objectives include increasing ongoing assessment and monitoring, increasing district and community support, and transitioning from a sports-based PE program to a wellness-based curriculum aligned to State standards. To be successful, Alvord Unified needed a team of dedicated partners. UC Cooperative Extension was one of the key partners working alongside others such as the Alliance for a Healthier Generation funded by Kaiser Permanente Thriving Schools, the Nutrition Education Obesity Prevention Program, and 15 other public entities and community-based organizations.
European grapevine moth (EGVM), Lobesia botrana, considered the most important insect pest of grape in Europe and the Middle East, was first detected in Napa Valley in 2009. The immature stages injure the berry, promoting the development of fungal infections that result in bunch rots. While moth populations were largest in Napa County, by 2011 the moth had also been found in nine other counties as far south as Fresno. If the moth became established it could increase production costs in all grape growing regions, result in economically damaging export restrictions on table grapes, and cause adverse environmental effects if it led to a greater reliance on insecticides. In 2010, the US and California Departments of Agriculture began an eradication program to keep this insect from becoming established.
Childhood obesity continues to be a problem across the United States. In 2015 the Centers for Disease Control reported that obesity affects one in six children and adolescents in the United States. Multi-faceted interventions have been suggested as one method for addressing the challenge of childhood obesity.
Sonoma County is experiencing a demographic shift where the Latino population has increased by over 300% in the past 20 years. Nearly 37% of Sonoma County youth between age five and 18 identified as Latino, and yet, the Sonoma 4-H community is comprised of less than 10% Latino youth. 4-H Clubs have a long history of strengthening indicators of youth development, as well as providing education in science, engineering, technology, and mathematics (STEM), health, and civics. However, with projections for more diversity in the coming decade, 4-H programs must become culturally responsive and tailored to the needs and experiences of Latino youth.
The health of California’s youth is a critical issue for the state and nation. The high rates of childhood obesity concomitant with reports that youth are not meeting dietary recommendations, point to the need for effective interventions and educational programs. In experimental studies, the Shaping Healthy Choices Program, a comprehensive nutrition program, demonstrated positive impacts on children’s health. Programs like these must be delivered effectively in order to make an impact. High fidelity of curriculum delivery and program procedures, meaning educators deliver the content of the curriculum in the same way that they were designed to be used, has been associated with improved student outcomes. Therefore, comprehensive programs should also focus on continuing professional development for educators.
Obesity affects at least 17% of children and adolescents and almost 36 % of adults in the United States. Data from 2,606 teens randomly selected from the 2005-2014 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey showed nearly 1% had diabetes and almost 20% had pre-diabetes. Eating behaviors of young children can impact brain development and are linked to future food attitudes and health. Early Childhood centers need support to develop and adopt policies to promote healthy nutrition and lifestyle practices. Policy development starts with teachers, staff, and administrators who are expected to make a positive change in the environment and model healthy nutrition and lifestyle practices.
The increase in catastrophic wildfires in recent years has posed significant challenges to land managers and ranchers alike. Unfortunately, severe wildfires on public and private land can reduce the size of a herd, reduce foraging areas, destroy infrastructure and may eliminate future grazing use especially on public lands. Each of these losses leads to challenging management decisions for ranchers and can add substantial costs to their operations. However, opportunities exist for land managers and ranchers to work together on pre- and post-wildfire strategies.
National and state priorities highlight the importance of modeling and encouraging the best health and safety habits when working with children to support optimal development and success. Currently, several steps are being taken to strengthen the physical, social, and emotional health for all 4-H participants. 4-H events are ripe for strengthening, such as, by improving the nutritional value of snacks and beverages, increasing the amount of sleep scheduled, and eliminating some “hazing” traditions that may undermine emotional safety. The Wellness Challenge, conducted in 2015 and 2016 at the State Leadership Conference (SLC), is one way to identify and address how to best support 4-H event planning and execution in the future.
Water is an important resource for growing plants, and it has become scarce due to epic drought conditions in California. Conserving water through improved irrigation practices is critical for maintaining acreage of a lucrative commodity such as strawberry. Strawberry growers typically provide supplemental irrigation through overhead aluminum sprinklers to mitigate the dry conditions of the region. However, they can be inefficient systems, because they require a significant amount of water, and because there is plastic mulch on the beds, which limits the water that enters the soil and increases runoff potential. Micro-sprinklers, commonly used in orchard systems, could offer an efficient alternative to conventional aluminum sprinklers.
Strawberry is the 5th most important agriculture commodity in California, contributing to 88% of the fresh strawberries produced in the U.S. (USDA-NASS, 2015). According to CDFA's Pesticide Use Report (2014), more than 200,000 pounds of chemical insecticide and miticide were used on strawberries in 2012. Arthropod pests such as lygus bug, western flower thrips, two-spotted spider mite, and the greenhouse whitefly are among the important targets that require a significant amount of pesticide applications. Non-chemical alternatives are generally perceived to be less effective, and some of them are limited to organic agriculture. However, developing an effective strategy to balance the use of chemical and non-chemical alternatives without compromising the efficacy is essential.
Starting early with creating a lifetime habit of play and movement is critical. Research links overweight/obesity, poor nutrition, and lack of physical activity to negative physical, academic, social, and psychological outcomes. While a constellation of factors contributes to weight gain in children and adults, one factor—inactivity—can be addressed through the integration of physical activity (PA) into daily schedules. "Easier said than done" is a comment frequently made. However, USDA-funded Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed) agencies are now engaged in strategies to integrate PA into their nutrition programs. This is part of recognizing that direct nutrition education, coupled with policy, systems, and environmental supports such as physical activity with hardscape reinforcements, help create a healthy lifestyle. Further, best practices advise that preschoolers receive at least 2 hours of both structured and unstructured physical activity daily to encourage competence in fundamental motor skills.
In Riverside County, the CalFresh program (federally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP) serves 289,188 low-income individuals. According to California Food Policy Advocates, 37% of low-income households in 2014 were food insecure, having limited or uncertain access to adequate food. Educating CalFresh participants about making healthy food choices and shopping on a limited budget can help to improve their nutrition and food security; however, the challenge is that this population is very hard to reach and may be at different stages of readiness to change behaviors.
Thirty three percent of children eat from a fast food restaurant daily, even though research has shown that food prepared at home is usually healthier, more economical and lower calorie. With more than one third of children overweight in the United States, healthy eating habits lower the risk of developing related chronic diseases which impact the physical, social, emotional and financial health of individuals and the country. Lack of cooking education in schools and homes are cited as a major factor for selecting fast food over home cooked meals. Thus, teaching students how to choose, prepare, and cook healthy foods is a priority for the UC CalFresh and 4-H Program in Yolo County. Cooking is a life skill that also increases self-efficacy in children and promotes independence, problem solving, family cohesion, and comprehension of abstract math, science and language skills.
We have all either experienced or heard about the disempowering effects of unemployment. However, did you know about its health effects? Studies have indicated that the unemployed experience poorer health and higher mortality rates than the employed population. Unemployment has been shown to lead to an increase in unhealthy behaviors related to alcohol and tobacco consumption, as well as diet and exercise, which in turn has the potential to contribute to greater health disparities.
Servings of fruits and vegetables consumed per day among all ages are below the Dietary Recommendations for Americans. Research shows that nutrition and gardening experiences, linked to academic standards for a specific age group, can increase vegetable and fruit consumption and physical activity. Gardening activities can help increase children's interest in eating fresh fruits and vegetables and improve their understanding of the health benefits and major nutrients found in the plants grown.
The early years of life are critical times in the physical and mental growth and development of the young child. Children are often exposed to many unhealthy choices at an early age while they are forming lifestyle habits (involving eating and physical activity, for instance) that may last a lifetime. Head Start and state pre-K child developments centers in Alameda County serving over 12,000 children are not affiliated with schools with federal mandates requiring nutrition and wellness policies. The Alameda County 2014 SNAP-Ed Profile shows that 33.4% of 2-to-4-year-olds are overweight/obese and 17.4% are obese. The alarming rates of obesity and the associated high risk of negative consequences establish the research basis for Policy, Systems, Environment (PSE) work—focusing on nutrition and physical activity—in early childhood (EC) development sites in Alameda County.
Bagrada bug is an invasive pest in California that was first reported in 2008. It is now found in 22 counties in California and is spreading to other states including Hawaii, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, New Mexico, and Texas. Bagrada bug prefers cultivated and uncultivated cruciferous hosts and is a threat to several cole crops. It can also cause significant damage to a wide variety of hosts that include carrots, corn, peppers, and potatoes. Providing timely information on the pest, its identification, damage symptoms, biology, host preference, and control options is very important when dealing with an invasive pest.
For many parents, an ongoing battle with their child is about healthy eating practices. With more than one-third of U.S. children overweight or obese, promoting healthy eating behaviors has never been more essential. Out of this national crisis, The Smarter Lunchroom Movement (SLM) was born, spearheaded by Cornell University's Center for Behavioral Economics in Child Nutrition Programs in 2009. Their evidenced-based approach helps nudge students to make healthier choices through low cost/no cost solutions; a lunchroom environment focus; promoting healthful eating behaviors; and using policy, systems, and environmental approaches to promote sustainability.
Though the percentage of schools with gardens is growing nationwide, schools with higher percentages of students from low-income families are less likely to have school gardens. Robert Bruce Elementary in Santa Maria has a high percentage of low-income students (96.7% qualified for the Free and Reduced School Meals Program). Following national trends, this school did not have access to a school garden, and 51.2% of its 5th grade students were found to need improvement in aerobic capacity on the CA Physical Fitness Report, as opposed to 35.1% of 5th graders in the county. Within its school district, this school was often referred to as the “forgotten school” in terms of school beautification.
Placer and Nevada Counties are home to 2,097 farms, according to the 2012 USDA Census of Agriculture, and 32% of those farmers are considered beginning farmers, having less than 10 years experience in operating a farm. The local food movement has contributed to a growing interest in small-scale farming. Other reasons for starting a small farm include a need for income from existing property and a desire to "get back to the land." Many beginning farmers have limited agricultural and business experience, so farm business management training is a critical need.
August 20, 2015 - Expanding 4-H Youth Development Program outreach to engage Latino youth & families
A high percentage of low-income Latino youth who live in Santa Barbara County (SBC) reside in the Santa Maria Valley. Historically, this youth population has had low participation rates in the UC ANR 4-H Youth Development Program (4-H YDP), a program that is nationally recognized for increasing positive youth outcomes in school, civics, and life skill development. But where the 4-H YDP in SBC has lacked strong connections with the Latino community, the UC CalFresh Nutrition Education program has been successful in building such relationships through the Healthy School Pantry, a program of THRIVE! Santa Maria and the Santa Maria Bonita School District.
A study conducted in 2009 estimated that California organic farms account for 97% of organic celery sales in the United States. A common challenge for organic growers is how to manage pests while continuing to follow organic practices, and many growers turn to UC Cooperative Extension (CE) for solutions.
The strawberry industry in California is valued at more than $2 billion, producing nearly 90% of the fresh market and processed strawberries in the United States. The crop is vulnerable to a number of pests and diseases, and timely information on identifying the specific problem and taking appropriate management action is critical to preventing crop losses. Smartphones have become very popular in the agriculture industry, and several growers and pest control advisors (PCAs) frequently use smartphones to access information for crop issues. UC’s Integrated Pest Management (IPM) statewide program maintains a website with valuable resources about pest and disease management information, but for a variety of reasons a number of growers and PCAs do not use the website. For instance, the website has a huge amount of information for the user to digest, few or no pictures to identify some problems, and no dedicated access point for strawberry concerns. In response to this, a free IPMinfo app was created as an improved outreach tool for members of the California strawberry industry.
California’s Central Coast, with its superb growing conditions, has a diverse population of farmers who produce a dizzying array of high-quality, fresh products in a highly competitive environment. Small and recent-entry farmers may lack marketing experience, connections with area wholesale markets, or established relationships with produce buyers. Increasing consumer interests in small farms and locally produced foods, together with buyers’ desire to support local farms and products, have created new and unique market opportunities for both farmers and produce buyers.
Recent studies indicate that obesity is a complex issue, with individual behavioral and environmental factors at its core. The problem can also be multigenerational, entrenched in family food choices passed from adult to child. Some experts believe that one of the most effective ways to address the obesity issue is through community-based nutrition education with "farm-to-fork" initiatives.
August 3, 2015 - Cooperative Extension, California Citrus Research Board joint seminars for citrus growers
California is the largest producer of fresh market citrus in the United States. Growers currently face many challenges, including Huanglongbing (HLB), a bacterial disease spread by the Asian citrus psyllid (ACP). Prevention and treatment efforts are focused on ACP since there is no known cure for HLB, which has already decimated 50% of citrus crops in Florida. Furthermore, growers need to be aware of and fully understand California’s new and constantly changing laws and regulations so they can ensure that they are in compliance. California’s multi-year drought has also prompted growers to re-evaluate management strategies.
Identification and control of preharvest critical control points for the safety of beef are necessary. In particular, the beef industry wants to eliminate residues and contamination in market beef and dairy beef products; enhance food safety and microorganism biosecurity at the beef production level, including prevention of zoonotic diseases; and improve medical care, including appropriate drug and antibiotic use, and avoid development of antibiotic resistance.
June 24, 2015 - Enhanced irrigation and crop management technologies developed in Five Points, Calif.
The need to produce more food, feed, fiber, and fuel with less water now looms as perhaps the greatest challenge ever faced by farmers worldwide. Our ability to meet this challenge may well determine not only our overall quality of life, but also our very survival in the future. Developing and adopting enhanced irrigation and crop management technologies that achieve greater water-use efficiencies is essential.
April 28, 2015 - Thousand cankers disease research increases awareness and solutions for walnut industry
Thousand cankers disease (TCD) is an emerging tree disease that is responsible for the death of ornamental eastern black walnut species throughout the country. In California, TCD is contributing to the decline of other native black walnut trees as well as English walnut trees in nut-producing orchards. TCD is caused by a fungal pathogen transmitted by the walnut twig beetle (WTB). There is great concern over the potential for further spread of TCD throughout the native range of eastern black walnut, as well as uncertainty about the disease’s potential agricultural and ecological impacts in the USA and in Italy, where it was first reported in 2013.
Since the enactment of the Healthy Schools Act (HSA) in 2001, both UC Cooperative Extension (UCCE) and the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) have been working with school districts in California to provide information about integrated pest management (IPM). The strategies employed in an IPM program include modifying horticultural practices, such as changing mowing heights and managing irrigation appropriately. These practices can reduce the amount of pesticides used on school grounds to help schools to meet the standards of the HSA and provide a safe and healthy environment for students, teachers and staff. DPR has coordinated numerous workshops for school districts covering general landscape and building IPM topics. However, attendees requested more detailed training about turf IPM since they manage turf areas like playgrounds and sports fields. UCCE has extensive experience in this area and was called upon to help schools implement this policy.
USDA has a program titled The Federally Recognized Tribes Extension Program (FRTEP). It is administered by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture. In 2011, Humboldt County Extension received funding to serve Native Americans to a greater extent than was possible before. The challenges for Extension programming to tribes include difficulties establishing relationships when one is not part of the community, the distance to tribal communities, and a lack of understanding of tribal cultural values and how cultural differences impact relationships with service agencies and educational institutions. The top goal is to overcome the barriers to participation in our programming.
Obesity among 6- to 11-year-old youth has tripled over the past 30 years. Many youth and adults lack basic meal planning and food preparation skills. In a typical week in 2007, the number of dinners that were cooked and eaten at home was 4.8, but only 57 percent were prepared from scratch (Food Technology, 2008). Empowering youth and their families to adopt healthy food habits - such as planning, preparing and sharing meals at home - will improve the well-being of the entire household.
The 4-H SLO Scientists program was conceived and piloted in San Luis Obispo (SLO) County to address the desire and need to involve youth and adults together in hands-on science. This helps improve science processing skills, science literacy and issues of family dynamics.
California is home to nearly 200,000 youth with at least one parent in the military. Military-connected youth are at risk for developmental, emotional, social, physical, and mental difficulties as a result of stresses from family relocations and deployment of a parent. Attention is needed to encourage the healthy development of military children while reducing negative impacts of frequent relocations and deployments. There is also a need for greater science literacy among California’s youth as a whole. Science literacy is essential for personal decision making, civic engagement, and our country’s economic productivity and security.
Teenagers' financial illiteracy is a current and growing national family economic trend and concern in the United States. Teens have access to and spend a great deal of money each year. A survey conducted by Teenage Research Unlimited indicates that today’s teens spend $179 billion annually (2006). In addition to personal spending, many teens purchase food and other items to be used by the entire family. The concern about teen financial illiteracy is supported by a national money management test of high school seniors that revealed an average score of 48.3%, a failing grade by standard grading systems (Jump$tart Coalition, 2008). High school seniors have little knowledge of money management, savings, investments, income and spending. The vast majority of students aged 16 to 22 have never taken a class in personal finance, with two-thirds admitting that they could benefit from more lessons on money management. Alarmingly, 9% were rolling over credit card debit each month (ASEC, 1999).
Invasive plants are detrimental to natural ecosystem services and they reduce biodiversity. Red brome and medusahead are two abundant grass species that are much more invasive here in California than in their Mediterranean countries of origin. This is likely because they left behind their natural enemies, such as root and shoot pathogens, when they left their native habitat. UCCE researchers are trying to understand the effect of above- and below-ground changes in an effort to find a way to control these invasive grasses. Managers and owners of lands affected by the two highly invasive species will benefit from this research.
April 13, 2015 - Primocane blackberries add an important new alternative for California’s small fruit producers
Market demand for blackberries is increasing steadily following similar market growth for raspberries and blueberries over the past 15 years. Newer cultivars of blackberries with better flavor, appearance, and consistency are behind an increase in consumption of these minor berry fruits. California growing areas continue to be the source for much of the North American fresh market blackberry supply, and production has increased in response to growing demand. Some newer blackberry cultivars offer a different growth habit that includes primocane fruiting, meaning they bear fruit in the first year rather than the traditional second year. This challenges growers with new alternative management options, including pruning and thinning practices, that would best optimize production. Blackberry growers seek to control production to market fresh-market blackberries most effectively, and site-specific crop response information has been key to finding the most efficient management regime for different blackberry cultivars.
Myoporum plants, which are native to Australia and New Zealand, include several popular ground cover and tree species that are widely planted in California for erosion control and because of their aesthetic beauty, minimal management needs, and low water requirement. Until relatively recently, California plantings have not been bothered by any insect pests. Since 2005, however, an exotic thrips species new to the United States has caused great damage to Myoporum in landscape plantings and nursery stock throughout the coastal counties of California. Thrips damage to Myoporum is characterized by gall-like symptoms and distortion of new leaves. Terminal growth can be severely stunted and leaf curling or folding, with thrips populations present within the folds, is common and eventually leads to the death of the plant. Thrips populations in infested areas have grown to extremely high levels and large landscape plantings have been severely impacted. Until UCCE got involved, there was no scientific, research-based information available on the pest.
There are more than a million community gardeners in the United States and the numbers continue to increase. As government policymakers determine how to allocate precious tax resources, there is one big question we must be able to answer: “ Do community gardens actually improve access to fresh produce in low-income communities?” A reliable method for documenting vegetable output and associated cost savings from community gardens can give decision makers valuable data as they determine whether to support the increase in number and/or size of community gardens.
Ornamental plant producers that want to increase trade with Central and South America face many challenges, including the need to develop pest risk assessments (PRAs) for their products. PRAs can be rather complicated, and the PRA process involves numerous reviews by the USDA Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). Additionally, PRAs are sometimes deemed unacceptable by the receiving country, due to the high level of expertise in pest management required to meet the requirements of the document. The PRA can thus present a hurdle, delaying trade and, hence, potential profitability for aspiring growers and exporters. Part of the UCCE mission is to assist California growers with sustainability and profitability, and we are also the experts when it comes to pest management and pest risk. The following case set useful precedents for trade in ornamental plants with Guatemala.
Childhood obesity is a major concern for University of California scientists, for families, and for the affected individuals themselves. Children who are overweight have an increased risk of developing diabetes, which has a lasting impact on the quality of life for those affected. Research shows that increased consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages is one of the most significant contributing factors to the growing epidemic of childhood obesity. By aligning with the national Drink Up campaign and making water the primary beverage for youth to drink, we can help create healthier families and communities. In addition, a major goal of the 4-H Program is to promote healthy living. “Health” is one of our 4 “H”s. The health and safety of members is a priority at all 4-H activities and events. Drinking water is crucial for good health: among other things, it helps prevent dehydration and heat illness and provides a healthy beverage alternative for those already struggling with diabetes or food allergies. Having drinking water available at all 4-H activities ensures that all members have a healthy beverage choice. The environment in which youth work and play is a key contributor to the development of their perceptions, attitudes and habits. The 4-H drinking water policy is consistent with existing obesity research and the UC Nutrition Policy Institute’s recommendation to add drinking water to the USDA MyPlate guidelines.
April 6, 2015 - Specialty coffee production is a new crop alternative in mild-winter areas of California
Farm operators in California are often faced with limited market alternatives for traditional fruit and vegetable crops because of chronic oversupply and low prices. The development of promising new crops is one way to expand the range of options available to California farmers who want to increase the diversity of crops they grow and improve farm profitability. Specialty coffee production and marketing is a new crop enterprise alternative for frost-free areas of central and southern California. Coffee is being successfully produced, both in open-field solid plantings and as an intercrop within established avocado orchards. Coffee from California farms has now been successfully produced, processed, and commercially marketed over five successive seasons.
In California, poor diet and a lack of physical activity are second only to tobacco use as the leading cause of chronic disease and death. The percentage of deaths attributable to poor diet and physical inactivity is on the rise and expected to surpass tobacco in the near future. Almost 25% of California adults report that they do not engage in any physical activity and 20% of 2 to 11 year olds report watching more than the recommended maximum of television or video games in a typical weekday. In San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Counties, nutrition education participants in UC CalFresh Nutrition Education and partner programs reported that they consider the lack of access to physical activity opportunities in their communities to be a high-priority health concern.
Water has become the new “California gold” as this limited and precious resource is a basic need for agriculture, people, and wildlife. As the demand for water increases, so does conflict between user groups and the need for understanding water conservation and keeping our waterways clean. Additionally, the US faces a significant challenge as young people are not prepared with the necessary science, engineering and technology knowledge and skills to compete in the 21st century. The future of our workforce, and our communities, depends on a science literate citizenry.
Vegetable crops produced on California’s central coast need sufficient moisture and nitrogen in the soil to generate optimum commercial yields and quality. Ground water from wells is used for watering crops and is also the primary drinking water source for coastal communities. After many years of over-irrigation and high nitrogen fertilizer application rates, intended to produce good yields for these commodities, many rural wells now show nitrate concentrations in excess of safe drinking water standards. In addition, over-pumping of agricultural wells has actually pulled seawater into some coastal aquifers, contaminating many freshwater wells with salt water. Recently adopted California water laws will soon require farmers to reduce pumping to levels low enough to stop long-term depletion of ground water supplies.
October 22, 2014 - UCCE and UC Master Gardeners Bring Horticultural Therapy Program to a Girls' Rehabilitation Facility in San Diego County
Residents at a Girls' Rehabilitation Facility (GRF) in San Diego County attend school on the grounds. The facility offers an intensive program focusing on cognitive restructuring, but the asphalted area outside the buildings was seldom used. The Master Gardeners offered help in gardening and pest management education, which led to a multiagency effort to improve the grounds.
In the U.S., 32 percent of children are overweight or obese. Intervention and prevention efforts point to the importance of multifaceted approaches that include both children and parents. Recent research establishes important links between warm and responsive parenting practices and children’s healthy diets and weight. With children spending much of their day at school, many current interventions for obesity prevention focus on the school environment. In such cases, it is important to establish links to parents and to address the parenting environment.
October 22, 2014 - Improving youths’ nutritional knowledge and skills by discovering healthy choices
The dietary behaviors of children and adolescents in the United States are a major public health concern. Children and adolescents are not consuming enough nutrient-rich foods like fruits and vegetables, and many of these youth do not meet the recommended amounts of nutrients such as fiber, calcium, potassium, and Vitamin D. The prevalence of childhood obesity is also a concern, with approximately 32 percent of youth, ages 2 to 19, overweight or obese. School programs that integrate instruction on nutrition and physical activity, and promote changes in the school environment (e.g., access to fresh fruits and vegetables in the cafeteria), along with parental and community involvement are effective strategies to improve children’s and adolescents’ dietary behaviors. Furthermore, including garden-based activities at school helps improve nutrition knowledge and vegetable food preferences. However, classroom-based nutrition interventions must support mandated state and national education standards in order to be readily adopted.
Simply offering healthy options is not enough to motivate children to make healthy choices. Moreover, imposing restrictions rather than providing children with options to make healthy choices has long-term negative implications. With recent estimates of childhood obesity showing that approximately 32 percent of children are overweight or obese, it is clear a program that addresses multiple, obesity-related factors is necessary to successfully target this complex issue.
Youth in the United States spend much of their time with digital technologies. However, the mere use of technological devices is not enough to succeed in today's world; young people need to learn to apply and adapt technological processes and tools. Fluency with technology will help them thrive and participate in issues affecting their communities. In order to do this, they need practical, hands-on experience.
Young people want to contribute to their communities and are often our most enthusiastic champions. To become agents of change, however, they need opportunities to exercise and develop personal responsibility and character skills. Research shows that the development of personal character (being an accountable, committed and effective communicator) underlies individual and community success.
September 22, 2014 - Cooperative Extension Teams with Strawberry Industry to Identify New Disease Developments
In California, strawberry is a dominant coastal commodity. It is a very high value industry in the state, and it is popular with consumers throughout the country. However, new plant problems (such as patches of plants exhibiting severe yellowing of foliage, calices turning brown and withered, and changes in preplant soil fumigation) have caused loss of fruit quality and decline or death among plants. Strawberry collapse, as well as yellowed plants and calyx tissue damage, are all problems that cannot be diagnosed and understood without focused investigations and laboratory testing. Growers have lacked the time and facilities needed for discovering the causes behind these dilemmas.
Powdery mildew is the No. 1 grapevine disease in California, and sulfur is the most common fungicide used to manage it. Growers like sulfur because of its low cost and ease of application, and because it doesn't promote powdery mildew resistance. Used alone, sulfur requires frequent application, and can cause phytotoxicity and health concerns. Other fungicides, when combined with sulfur, can promote fungicide resistance. Growers can reduce these problems by implementing the UC Davis Powdery Mildew Risk Index (PMI), which helps pinpoint the best times to apply fungicides. Due to hot weather, San Joaquin Valley growers have the most to gain by integrating the PMI into their programs.
Children who are overweight can experience negative physical, emotional, social, intellectual and financial outcomes. They are at greater risk for diseases like diabetes and asthma, which can impact their quality of life. Emotionally, they are more apt to experience low self esteem and depression. Socially, they may have a harder time fitting in with peers and are more likely to be teased or bullied. And because research shows overweight children are less likely to go to college, their weight impacts intellectual and financial futures. With 30.5 percent of California children classified as overweight or obese, the University of California Cooperative Extension has made this public health issue a priority. UCCE has identified 12 major risk factors for weight gain; one is consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages. The average American consumes about half a pound of sugar a day, and more than 30 percent of calories from added sugars are from sweetened beverages.
Aquatic invasive species cause significant economic and ecological problems. Quagga and zebra mussels clog water supply systems and deplete plankton; their sharp shells endanger people who work, boat or fish in lakes. Tiny New Zealand mudsnails, which are poor food for fish, displace native snails. Invasive bullfrogs and clawed frogs voraciously consume native species and carry a disease that has decimated native frog populations. Dense mats of invasive waterweeds, such as hydrilla, spongeplant and water hyacinth, slow water flow in streams and irrigation channels, block boats, and kill native species by blocking out sunlight and causing oxygen levels to fall. However, much of the damage can be reduced if people who work in aquatic habitats are trained. They can help lower the risks of spreading invasive species to new areas and serve as eyes and ears for resource agencies with a mission to manage and control these pests.
California in general and coastal counties in particular are well known for producing a wide range of specialty vegetable crops that contribute to agricultural diversity, including parsley. Many consumers think of parsley as an incidental garnish that merely adds color to a plate of prepared food. While indeed a garnish, parsley is widely used in dried spice mixes, soups and other prepared foods. Significant acreage in parsley is also dedicated to fresh-market uses in salads and other recipes. California produces almost 2,600 acres of this crop, with Monterey and Ventura counties accounting for 49 percent of the state’s parsley. California parsley is produced typically in high volumes and with high quality. However in the past few years, growers began to observe unfamiliar disease issues in their parsley fields. Leaf spots, blighted foliage and yellowed plants contributed to loss of quality and reduced yields. Because parsley growers do not have an industry research board to address such concerns, a formal and organized grant program was not available to address these issues.
Combating childhood obesity and malnutrition are a priority for UC Cooperative Extension. Children who are healthy do better academically, socially and economically, and this benefits all of society. A cornerstone of good health is diet, and a cornerstone of a healthful diet is adequate intakes of fruits and vegetables. Research shows that children do not meet the recommendations for fruit intake daily (averaging just 1.3 of the 2 fruit servings recommended per day). Studies have shown an inverse relationship with fruit consumption and weight status. Fruit is well liked by children, but access and perceptions of peer acceptance can be a hurdle.
Utilizing school gardens is one of the most positive hands-on opportunities for youth to experience gardening while learning healthy eating habits. Children who are hungry or poorly nourished do less well in school, both academically and behaviorally. Our current crisis in the rising rates of obesity and related diseases among children is now well known. The proliferation of unhealthy fast foods and the limited intake by children of fresh fruits and vegetables all contribute to this situation. As concern rises, policy makers and teachers in the classroom are searching for ways to improve the health and well being of their students. Moreover, because eating habits and preferences are established early, and although home influences are strong, school is a valuable venue for teaching good nutrition, balanced diets and proper serving amounts. The most effective way to increase children's intake of fruits and vegetables and encourage lifelong healthful eating habits is to teach them about healthy choices and nutrition concepts in the elementary years (Kirby, 1995). Studies show that if established before 6th grade, positive habits are more likely to persist into adulthood.
During the past four years an estimated 3.8 million California adults could not afford to put sufficient food on the table. California is one of the states hit hardest by the economic downturn; unemployment rates increased from 5.3 percent in 2007 to 11.3 percent in 2009. Adjusted median household income decreased by nearly 5 percent (2009- 2010) and the poverty rate (2007- 2009) rose faster than the national level. In addition, participation in CalFresh (formerly Food Stamps) increased 6.8 percent from 2011 to 2012, significantly higher than the national increase of 2.9 percent. Add to this rising food costs of 4 percent (in 2011) and the results translate to significant increases in food insecurity, which is defined as not having enough food to ensure a balanced diet. Food insecure households are at greater risk for physical and mental health problems, such as depression, obesity, diabetes and hypertension. Although many of these families receive supplemental food assistance monies, they lack the skills to put their food budgets to maximum use.
Despite California’s agricultural bounty, many Contra Costa County children lack knowledge of where their food comes from; they have never been to a farm, nor have they eaten freshly harvested produce. Many are from low-income families and do not have access to healthy foods at home. Research shows that a diet low in produce is associated with poor health outcomes, including obesity and impaired school performance. Childhood obesity rates in Contra Costa County range from 36% to 44%.
From 2007 to 2009, during the nation’s economic downturn, food insecurity in California’s low-income adult population increased from 35 percent to 40 percent. These adults were not able to procure sufficient food to maintain a healthy diet for themselves and other household members. Food insecurity effects academic achievement, increases the risk of obesity and chronic disease and impairs mental health. A 2012 UCLA Health Policy Brief reported that 38 million low-income adults in California were food insecure and that rates were highest in low-income Spanish-speaking households and those with children. Although participation in federal food assistance programs has increased since 2007, many recipients experience food resource management challenges, lacking skills to maximize their food dollars to buy, prepare and store healthy foods. Providing low-income families with food education along with resource management skills can help improve the overall health and food security of the household.
Alameda County is one of the most diverse counties in California, with over 30 languages spoken among 111,000 households on public assistance. Over 156,000 county residents live in poverty, and at least 25 percent are children at risk of food insecurity, poor nutrition and obesity. The largest ethnic minority groups are Hispanics, African Americans and Asian/Pacific Islanders. The number of low-income, Spanish-speaking families attending health education programs is on the rise. The county’s need for nutrition educators who are culture-, literacy-, and language-sensitive is even more evident today than 43 years ago when the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) was piloted at UCCE Alameda in 1988–1989. Low graduation rates, however, have been a problem.
Many children today — particularly those from urban, economically disadvantaged communities — do not have opportunities to experience and understand nature. These children are the stewards of our future and the ecological health of the planet. They need the chance to discover the workings and wonder of nature, and to develop science and reasoning skills necessary to critical thinking and problem solving. Opportunities for youth to explore and enjoy natural places is an investment in our children and our Earth.
In 2007, San Diego County had the largest cockfighting arrest and seizure in the nation. Over 5,000 roosters were confiscated. The proximity to the U.S.-Mexico border makes San Diego a prime location for this illegal and inhumane use of roosters. In 2011 the County Board of Supervisors passed an ordinance that outlined the number of birds that could be housed on a property. Future Farmers of America and 4-H were exempt from the ordinance. Operators enrolled their children or grandchildren in 4-H poultry projects to avoid the ordinance and prosecution.
Far too many youth currently fail to reach their full potential. For example, one out of five adolescents in California are at risk for depression; national costs for treating youth with mental health issues is estimated to be $12 billion. Strategies are needed to promote attributes in youth that lead to successful adult development and prevent these negative outcomes. To address this issue, the UC ANR 4-H Youth Development Program (YDP) partnered with the Thrive Foundation for Youth to deliver a new program for increasing the number of thriving youth in California who reach their full potential and become successful, contributing members of their communities.
The economic sustainability and consequent longevity of California’s historic black ripe table olive industry is challenged by the cost of hand-harvest, which is often 50 to 75 percent of gross return. Hand-harvest costs are volatile due to dynamics in annual and regional crop load and labor supply, and are influenced by competition between growers and producers of other commodities. Reliance on hand-harvest in concert with weather-related crop failures has led to Tulare County olive acreage shrinking by 20 percent over the past decade. Multi-generational families of olive growers either left agriculture or diversified to other crops, forcing processors to import olives, often of a lower quality, to maintain inventory. Development of a mechanical harvesting method offers hope for long-term industry sustainability.
Twenty percent of children are obese or overweight before their fifth birthdays, which impacts their health, learning and self esteem. Therefore, the early life influence of parents, caregivers and other family members in teaching and modeling good eating and physical activity habits should not be ignored. First 5 San Joaquin recognized the importance of parents and family in creating the foundation for healthy lifestyle habits and approached the UC CalFresh Nutrition Education Program in San Joaquin County. UC CalFresh is a key partner in providing families with in-home nutrition and exercise programs that focus on improving family eating and physical activity behaviors.
The U.S. faces a significant challenge as young people are not prepared with the necessary science, engineering, and technology knowledge and skills to compete in the 21st century. Only one-third of forth-graders and 30 percent of eighth-graders score at or above proficient in science, and that percentage drops to 21 percent by grade 12 (The Nation’s Report Card, 2009). The gap in science literacy is especially prominent for Hispanic and African American youth. The future of our workforce and our communities depends on a science-literate citizenry.
Elementary school teachers need educational materials and methods to help inspire and engage school children to make healthier food choices. This is critical to public health initiatives addressing health concerns such as early onset obesity. Among children aged 2 to 9, 17 percent are obese -– a figure that has tripled since 1980 (CDC data). In the next 20 years, obesity could contribute to 7.9 million new cases of diabetes, 5 million new cases of chronic heart disease and stroke, and more than 400,000 cases of cancer (Robert Wood Johnson’s health report card).
Over 156,000 of Alameda County residents live at or below poverty level and are at risk for food insecurity and chronic diseases associated with poor nutrition and lifestyle choices. UCCE’s in-home nutrition education started in 1999 in three Oakland Housing Authority projects. Stairways were dark, the facilities unkempt, there was little apparent interest in learning about nutrition and healthy lifestyles. Many residents did not know their neighbors and did not open the door to outreach staff with nutrition information. Local human services agencies had conducted research and demonstration projects, but rarely were there long enough to gain the confidence and respect of the community and see change. UCCE’s assessments found that those in greatest need failed to participate in group classes. These families needed more personalized education to gain nutrition and survival skills.
January 1, 2013 - UCCE Alameda’s summer program encouraged low income elders to eat healthy and stay active
The defining demographic trend of the 21st Century is the rapid increase in the number of seniors 65 and over in the United States and particularly those 85 and over. The number of seniors over 65 in California is increasing at a rate greater than overall population. Baby Boomers began to come of age in 2011, accelerating the rate at which California’s population is turning gray. By 2030, the over-85 population is expected to grow by 150 percent in 38 California counties, by 200 percent in 26 and by 300 percent in 11 counties. These demographics are coupled with an increase in nutrition- and lifestyle-related chronic conditions, such as hypertension, obesity, diabetes and neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Chronic diseases are systemic - 80 percent of seniors in the U.S. have at least one and 50 percent have two (CDC). Among Californians over 65, 54 percent suffer from hypertension, 24 percent heart disease, 17 percent with cancer, 15 percent diabetes and 10 percent asthma (CDA). An ANR study found that 40 percent of low-income elders from 22 senior sites (n=377) were living with multiple chronic conditions - many with more than four. Educational programs to promote healthy nutrition/lifestyles could contribute to a better quality of life of California's vulnerable elders.
Improving water use efficiency is increasingly important as California agriculture confronts water shortages. Changing tillage and crop residue practices could help. In regions of the world where no-tillage systems are common -– such as Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, Canada, Western Australia, the Dakotas, and Nebraska -– generating and preserving residues are an indispensable part of management and sustainable production. Residues reduce erosion, provide carbon and nitrogen to soil organisms, and reduce soil water evaporation, along with other advantages and drawbacks. The water conservation value of crop residues and conservation tillage has not been evaluated in the warm, Mediterranean climate of California. This study measured the effects of residues and no-tillage on soil water evaporation in California conditions.
A key step in fostering healthy families and communities is presenting accurate, compelling and actionable community-scale data about the condition of youth. California wants and needs for its youth to thrive — not merely to survive or face fewer problems. But how do we know whether our young people are doing well?
Research shows that high school graduates who select majors that are congruent with their interests, are able to match educational plans with requirements of desired careers, attend an institution that is a good match and develop realistic goals are more likely to be successful in achieving their educational and career aspirations. As such, young people need opportunities to explore and develop their educational and career interests as well as goal management skills.
A new disease affecting walnut trees, "thousand cankers disease," poses an environmental threat to natural ecosystems containing native black walnut species and an economic threat to commercial English walnut growers in California. If introduced to the Midwest, it may also affect commercial production of black walnut. Thousand cankers disease was first associated with widespread mortality of black walnut in Colorado, but is now known to occur in nine western and three eastern states. The disease is caused by a fungal pathogen transmitted by the walnut twig beetle, which carries spores on its back as it bores into the tree. Because numerous beetles attack a single tree, the pathogen is introduced at the many points of beetle entry. Consequently, many cankers form as the fungus colonizes and kills plant tissue.
A significant proportion of California youth are at substantial risk for poor health, substance abuse and academic underachievement due to family, community, social, political and economic conditions. One approach to reducing their risk is by enhancing youth scientific literacy.
Nutrition education is an important part of improving the diets of Californians. Despite public awareness about the role of good dietary habits on health, most are not following the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. UC CalFresh, a University of California program, offers nutrition education to low-income families, youth, and seniors throughout California. The goal is to help people make healthy food choices within limited budgets. UC CalFresh educators collect evaluation data using paper forms, but about 25 percent of participants do not complete the forms, making it difficult to assess participants' intent to change their eating habits. Innovative strategies to collect data could help participants assess healthful food choices and recognize how they spend their food dollars.
2013 marks the centennial for 4-H in California, an important milestone for an organization that is deeply connected to communities throughout the state. Service learning has been a cornerstone of the 4-H educational approach for the past century, connecting education and community service to strengthen learning and positive youth development. To celebrate the centennial, funds are being raised for youth to design and lead community-based projects. Through these projects, youth mature and develop skills while making a difference in their communities.
Spinach is a key leafy green vegetable commodity in California. It is a versatile vegetable item that can be eaten fresh or cooked and which contains high levels of vitamins, nutrients and antioxidants. California produces more than 60 percent of the country’s spinach. Monterey County alone grows close to 10,000 acres, which is about half of the state's spinach crop. As with many other commodities, California growers are known nationwide for producing large volumes of spinach that have extremely high quality standards. However, downy mildew is a very serious disease of spinach and causes the leaves to turn bright yellow and then brown. Growers have struggled against this disease for years and continue to battle this fungus. In the past three years, a number of serious downy mildew outbreaks have occurred in the coastal Salinas Valley and other spinach-producing areas.
Obesity, diabetes and other weight-related health problems are linked to lower income families and families who are food insecure. In 2010, San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties measured 11 percent and 12 percent, respectively, in poverty. In San Luis Obispo County, 28.6 percent, and in Santa Barbara County, 39.5 percent of adults lived in food insecure households. Fruits and vegetables are part of a more healthful diet, according to the USDA and Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
Obesity continues to be a major concern in Stanislaus County. In 2010, 63 percent of adults in Stanislaus County were overweight, compared to 57 percent statewide. Obesity is directly linked to many chronic health concerns such as asthma, diabetes and heart disease. To address these concerns, a group of concerned Riverbank residents and community stakeholders came together and organized Get Fit Riverbank, a family-focused summer of free, healthful activities and healthful eating education. The eight-week event included nutrition classes and weekly activities such as swimming, yoga, pilates, Zumba and karate.
Obesity among 6- to 11-year-old youth has tripled over the past 30 years. Among California 4-H members, two-thirds self-reported to be at a healthy weight, while 7 percent were underweight, 15 percent were overweight but not obese, and 12 percent were obese. Empowering 4-H youth and their families to adopt healthy habits will help California's health climate.
Many factors - such as supply chain consolidation, falling wholesale prices, rising costs and economies of scale - push small- and mid-scale farmers increasingly to direct marketing and alternative enterprises to keep their agricultural businesses viable. Public demand is increasing for local agricultural products and education about local farms and ranches. Agritourism welcomes visitors to a working farm for education and enjoyment while providing additional income for the agritourism operator. In a 2009 survey by UC researchers, operators reported agritourism as a profitable diversification strategy. Agritourism requires farmers and ranchers to learn new hospitality skills and marketing partnerships, and it is a business that is regulated by zoning ordinances and permitting in each of the state’s 58 counties.
Low-income Hispanic families are at high risk for poor health outcomes related to diet. Because the home food environment can have a major impact on food choices made by children and extended family members,the University of California CalFresh Nutrition Education Program offers lessons in nutrition and resource management to food stamp-eligible Hispanic families.
Clean water is critical for life and needs to be managed wisely to ensure adequate supplies for natural ecosystems and human use. Thus, water quality and conservation are important public policy issues. In order to make informed decisions to address these challenges, citizens in today’s society require a fundamental understanding of science. Unfortunately, standardized assessments have revealed low levels of science literacy among K-12 youth in California, which also raises concerns about the future of the state’s workforce and economic prosperity.
Adolescents are less physically active and eat more calories than past generations. They spend about 7.6 hours each day using electronic media, and only 1.75 hours being physically active. Intakes of calcium, iron, and fruit and vegetable intakes are low while added fats and sugars, especially in soda, are high. These eating and activity behaviors have resulted in increased obesity rates for adolescents. Today 34 percent are overweight and 18 percent are obese. Adolescent obesity increases the risk for type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer, and impacts school performance.
UCCE CalFresh education targets schools with more than 50 percent of students receiving free or reduced price school meals. (CalFresh is the name of the food assistance program formerly called food stamps.) The program aims to increase fruit and vegetable consumption, increase variety in food choices, and promote healthy lifestyles for youth. Teachers, youth program leaders, and other extenders at the participating sites are trained to deliver UCCE CalFresh nutrition curricula such as Reading Across MyPyramid, Happy Healthy Me, and Eating Healthy from Farm to Fork. UCCE CalFresh in Santa Clara County provides nutrition education curricula to 57 qualifying low-income schools and agencies who reach 4,500 children. CalFresh nutrition educators collect teacher evaluations annually to improve delivery and outcomes of the program.
America faces a future of intense global competition with a startling shortage of scientists. In fact, only 18 percent of U.S. high school seniors are proficient in science (NAEP 2005) and a mere 5 percent of current U.S. college graduates earn science, engineering or technology degrees compared to 66 percent in Japan and 59 percent in China. To address increased demand for science and technology professionals, 4-H is working to reach a bold goal of engaging one million new young people in science programs by 2013. Currently, 4-H science programs reach more than 5 million youth with hands-on learning experiences to ensure global competitiveness and prepare the next generation of science, engineering, and technology leaders.
In 2008 the California 4-H program launched the 4-H Science, Engineering and Technology initiative (SET) to provide youth with non-formal learning opportunities to meet the challenges of pursuing careers in science and technical fields. Additionally, the program was designed to raise the level of scientific and technical literacy among youth participants by developing partnerships with experts in the fields of science, engineering and technology. However, Santa Cruz County 4-H members and adult volunteers were having a difficult time envisioning their connection to SET. As a result, the Santa Cruz County 4-H program was not engaged in the wide-variety of program and professional development opportunities being offered.
Sudden Oak Death is a serious forest disease that has killed more than a million trees and infected many more. It is established in 14 California counties and part of southwestern Oregon, but has the potential to spread further in the coastal forests where it thrives. The disease is caused by a pathogen, Phytophthora ramorum, which spreads naturally once established in forests, but can also be spread longer distances via plants and soil that are moved by people. It is therefore vitally important to keep people from inadvertently spreading the pathogen. An education campaign to engage the public on this issue has been in place since 2000, but most outreach has taken place at the professional and adult level; resources for youth were lacking.
Sudden Oak Death is a disease of oak trees caused by an introduced fungus-like organism, Phytophthora ramorum. This destructive pathogen is now killing oaks by the millions in 14 coastal counties, affecting watersheds and altering forest ecosystems and species diversity.
California is facing a need for an increase in science education. In 2009, 58 percent of California students performed at or above the Basic level of the National Assessment of Educational Progress, lower than the national average. Additionally, there is a need to spark the interest of youth in a science career before they reach high school. There is an increasing belief that the majority of science is learned out of school, and that the best way to spark the interest of youth in science is through free-choice or informal science learning. It is important to provide youth not only with increased science knowledge, but also with a sense that science learning can be personally relevant and rewarding.
In the National Assessment of Educational Progress report for science in 2009, 77 percent of fourth-graders and 81 percent of eighth-graders in California fell into the below basic or basic levels of science proficiency in the earth and space, physical and life sciences. This data has spurred professionals working in out-of-school time programs to begin addressing the growing concern of science literacy by placing an emphasis on science.
Applying nitrogen and phosphorus with irrigation water is a common practice in the Imperial Valley. If the fertilizers are applied incorrectly, the nutrients end up in the drains rather than in the crop. Nitrogen and phosphorus are the two main nutrients that cause eutrophic conditions (high algal biomass and low dissolved oxygen concentrations that cause massive fish kills) in the Salton Sea. Current and proposed federal water quality standards for California require growers to improve the quality of drainage waters. To achieve both federal and state water quality objectives, growers will have to reduce the amount of phosphorus that reaches the drains and the Salton Sea.
The prosperity of the United States relies upon our investment in educating and preparing future scientists and innovators to provide solutions to vexing environmental, economic, and social problems. Science, engineering, and technology rely upon one another and all have a vital role in ensuring the prosperity of our nation. However, engineering programs are still rare within K-12 school walls and in out-of-school time programs.
Teens and young adults often find limited job options due to lack of experience, high unemployment rates and age. To be successful in the job market, teens and young adults need to understand what jobs best suit their skills, abilities, and ambitions; how to effectively apply for a job and develop resumes; and how to be successful on the job once they get one. When jobs are not available, understanding options for self-employment can help teens and young adults consider work options that they can create for themselves.
Despite the documented health benefits of increasing fruit and vegetable consumption, less than 50 percent of California children eat five or more servings of fruit/vegetables daily. Low-income populations in particular face many barriers to consuming fruit and vegetables. To overcome these barriers, the federal Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) changed its policy in October 2009 and began distributing cash vouchers to low-income women and children to purchase fruit and vegetables.
Strong reading skills are among the essential tools necessary to develop a scientifically literate youth population. Development of these skills is facilitated by reading aloud, a practice that many children find difficult and intimidating. In an effort to lessen children’s anxieties and encourage the development of improved perceptions and practices regarding reading aloud, programs that match youth with trained canine reading partners have been emerging around the country. However, our understanding of how effective these programs actually are is limited by the fact that they have not been systematically researched.
The citrus industry in California is worth $1.3 billion, making it one of the top 10 of California crops. Oranges, lemons, mandarins and grapefruit are each among the top 33% of California export crops. To sustain this level of productivity, citrus breeders, researchers and the citrus industry need access to collections of citrus genetic resources.
Busy parents often lack the skills or inclination to participate in public decision-making processes. Yet their insights help insure that programs for children and youth are effective. Public officials can use a variety of civic engagement tools to engage parents, including advisory committees, outreach workers, community conversations, mini-grants, or program design workgroups. But the strengths and limits of these strategies, especially in engaging low-income parents or others who are not usually engaged in public deliberation, are not clear.
Youth are often viewed as problems to be solved or passive clients of social programs, rather than active citizens who can help communities plan and solve problems. But California communities are finding that youth can be tapped as a potent resource for community change. At issue is how to craft successful approaches and strategies to youth engagement that work with California’s diverse youth populations.
Roughly 1 in 5 U.S. children have mental health problems, and only 20 percent to 25 percent receive treatment (CA Adolescent Health Collaborative, 2010). In the juvenile justice system, some studies report as many as two-thirds of adolescents have mental health disorders. Alameda County Probation's Camp Sweeney is an unlocked 24-hour facility serving boys aged 14 to 18 years. The teens at Camp Sweeney exhibit a range of maladaptive behaviors and have various physical and mental health needs, which should be treated as part of their rehabilitation.
Central coast wetlands in Ventura County, bordering a federal superfund cleanup site and long used as an industrial dumping ground, were in desperate need of restoration and renewal. Youth, families and communities near the wetlands experience general low rates of environmental connection and education. As with most other areas of our state, childhood obesity rates in surrounding communities are on a troubling upward trend.
Reducing livestock impacts on water quality, aquatic and riparian habitat, and biodiversity are continuing goals for livestock producers, natural resource managers, and conservation groups. These livestock impacts are frequently due to problems with livestock distribution. While fences are usually an effective tool for controlling livestock distribution and reducing impacts on riparian zones or other critical areas, manipulation of grazing patterns can also effectively reduce adverse impacts from livestock. These practices can also facilitate the use of grazing to manipulate vegetation to meet management goals. It is crucial that livestock producers, land managers, community watershed groups, environmental interest groups and policy makers understand the factors that influence where animals graze, rest, and drink, and how livestock can be predictably and effectively redistributed so that they do not produce undesirable effects in grazed watersheds.
It is generally agreed that the children of low-income families have fewer opportunities to succeed in today's society.
We are looking for ways to get visitors en route to Yosemite to also spend more time in Merced and Mariposa counties. This would generate tourism-related income and repeat visits in the future. Thousands of people drive from Merced to Yosemite each year but they probably know little about the agriculture, history and interesting features along the way. We wanted to increase their knowledge about area agriculture and its importance to the local economy.
Merced County is looking for ways to increase visitors and promote the area as a great place to visit, live and do business. Agriculture would benefit from a positive image among the urban population. Many of the most beautiful parts of the county are visible only when you travel far off the main roads.
A statewide team of 4-H Youth Development advisors and UC Davis researchers enlisted youth to interview their peers as part of a study on youth workforce development programs. At issue is how to connect youth to jobs in the emerging economy, especially given evidence of rising numbers of youth who are out of school and out of work. The research sought to incorporate the perspectives of youth participants in local workforce development programs funded by the federal Workforce Investment Act (WIA). Participants were asked about their experience in WIA-funded programs, their career and educational goals, and on where they get information related to vocational and career planning.
Since 2000, California and its partners in local workforce areas have implemented new provisions contained in the federal Workforce Investment Act (WIA). WIA gives local areas considerable discretion to tailor programs to community needs, but little was known about how this discretion was being used.
Frost damage persistently limits the production of many important crops and costs California agriculture up to $1 billion annually. Flowers of deciduous fruit and nut trees, vegetables and subtropical crops are damaged when temperatures drop even slightly below freezing. Existing methods of frost protection, such as overhead sprinklers, heaters, and wind machines, are expensive to use, limited by water supplies and relatively ineffective. For many crops, no methods of frost control are currently available or practical.
May 16, 2011 - First statewide agritourism survey: Visitors generate critical income for California small farms
Agritourism is a vital strategy for diversifying and boosting profit for a small but significant number of California farms, but data of agritourism's economic impact as a farm diversification strategy was lacking. Agritourism is defined as any income-generating activity conducted on a working farm or ranch for the enjoyment and education of visitors. This includes on-farm produce stands, pumpkin patches, corn mazes, U-pick operations and special events such as weddings and conferences, as well as overnight stays, cooking classes, festivals, tours and lectures.
Scientific literacy is necessary for developing an informed citizenry, workforce preparedness, and economic growth. However, national and international assessments of K-12 youth have revealed that U.S students' achievement scores in science have been stagnant for over a decade. Also, fewer students are pursuing science-based degrees and careers, which adversely affects the nation’s workforce. Research has documented that nonformal science programs can interest youths in science, positively influence their academic achievement and expose them to future career options in scientific fields. As one of the nation’s leading nonformal youth education organizations, the 4-H Youth Development Program can play an important role in improving youth science literacy. Furthermore, strengthening 4-H science programming can lead to higher quality educational experiences for 4-H youth.
Hand harvest work in winegrape vineyards is physically demanding and exposes workers to ergonomics risks. Back injuries are the most common and most costly. With some 230 back injuries reported annually, the cost to the California vineyard industry is more than $2.3 million per year. In addition to uncalculated worker pain and lost income, these injuries reduce productivity and drive up workers compensation insurance costs.
Farmers are facing increasing regulation of pesticides, in part the result of environmental concerns about pesticides in water supplies and health effects on farmworkers.
The Marin County Board of Supervisors recognized the need for an agricultural consultant to enhance the economic development of local farms and ranches. A void existed between farmers and ranchers who needed help, and the lengthy and sometimes confusing processes they needed to negotiate at the county in order to improve and optimize their operations.
California is one of the states with the highest prevalence of obesity among preschool-aged children from low-income families. The Center for Disease Control examined the 2009 data from Pediatric Nutrition Surveillance System and found that more than 15 percent of low-income 2- to 4-year-old children in California are overweight or obese (defined as being at or above the 95th percentile on the growth chart). In Riverside County, 13.8 percent of children ages 2 to 4 living in a household under 185 percent federal poverty level are overweight (2007 California Health Interview Survey).
Urbanization in Southern California has distorted the relationship between school-aged children and their food sources. Few have the opportunity to see a live farm animal, or learn about agricultural productivity and sustainability. Los Angeles County students need experiential opportunities to learn that agriculture has many components - water, plants, bees, fiber, food and dairy - that touch their everyday lives. From the food we eat to the clothes we wear, agriculture affects us all. It is very important to provide future generations an understanding of agriculture’s importance.
Beginning farmers often struggle to gain access to equipment, land, credit and markets. They often need to learn sound business practices and accumulate years of experience to move forward. The UCCE Farmer Individual Development Account program is helping beginning farmers develop a learning network, write business plans, and have successful experiences so they can grow their farm businesses.
Food safety scares have cost agricultural producers millions of dollars in lost sales. They also cause consumers to have less faith in the safety of the country's food system. Even though food from California is among the safest and most regulated in the world, we still need to increase our vigilance in the field, in the packing house and in the distribution system. Since strawberries can be sold directly to the public or to processors, food safety efforts need to begin in the field.
Overweight is the most common health problem facing U.S. children. One contributing factor is the foods that children are eating — or not eating. The USDA reports that “approximately 70 percent of U.S. children still exceed the current dietary recommendations for total and saturated fats.” The other major contributing factor is the lack of physical exercise.
The Colorado River is the only source of irrigation and drinking water in the Imperial Valley and the main source in Mexicali, Mexico. As much as 4.5 million acre-feet of Colorado River water is used every year to irrigate more than 500,000 acres in the Imperial Valley and in the Mexicali Valley, Mexico. Growers in Southern California are under continuous pressure to conserve water and transfer some of the agricultural water to urban regions of the state. The current water transfer agreement between the Imperial Irrigation District and the San Diego County Water Authority calls for transfer of up to 200,000 acre-feet annually of Imperial Valley-Colorado River water. Increased irrigation efficiency using CIMIS-based irrigation scheduling techniques and other water conservation practices is needed to supply the water demand in Southern California and northern Baja California.
March 16, 2011 - Practical method for measuring vineyard crop coefficients improves irrigation management
The irrigation crop coefficient relates vine water requirements to climatic conditions. Having an accurate crop coefficient allows farmers to estimate irrigation requirements accurately based on local weather data. Past UC research has demonstrated that the crop coefficient itself can be estimated based on measurements of the ground area shaded by the vineyard leaf canopy at midday. However, previous methods for measuring the shaded area were not practical for commercial use, limiting the use of important irrigation information.
Small and large food processors, and entrepreneurs thinking about producing a food product, need similar information and services. Fruit and vegetable products specialist Diane Barrett saw the value in consolidating and centralizing information for processors and producers.
With the U.S. market for organic products expected to top $20 billion in 2006 and national organic standards in place, many farmers and consumers are looking for clarification on what constitutes “organic” and how to grow it. ANR is responding to these questions through local research and extension programs, publications and online resources.
Young people engaged in their communities and organizations in meaningful ways are more likely to be civically involved and philanthropically inclined throughout their lives. Youth also have considerable knowledge and energy they can give to better their communities if encouraged to do so. However, society often does not value these contributions and it is a challenge to find or create opportunities to involve youth in authentic and meaningful community roles.
For more than 25 years, the University of California has collaborated with the California Department of Fish and Game, CalFire and other agencies to conduct research and outreach focused on conserving California’s native oaks. In order to continue these efforts, UC has organized the Oak Woodland Conservation Workgroup (OWCW), which seeks to maintain, and where possible, increase acreage of California's hardwood range resources to provide wildlife habitat, recreational opportunities, wood and livestock, high quality water supply, and aesthetic value.
The Fresno Metropolitan Flood Control District has a mandate to reduce pesticide applications by home gardeners to keep the San Joaquin River safe and healthy. The District discovered that after city-allowed watering days, the river had increased levels of toxic pest management chemicals. Toxic pest chemicals are broad-spectrum pest control chemicals which do not target one or a few pests but most insects they come into contact with, including beneficial insects.
Ethylene, a gas found in nature and commonly used to ripen bananas and other fruit, can uniformly induce synchronous flowering in bromeliads. Synchronous flowering is key to marketing bromeliads. However, the EPA considers the gas a pesticide when used in this manner, and there are no registered uses of ethylene as a pesticide. Growers were unaware of that fact, but were told by county regulators they would have to stop using ethylene gas until it was registered. This would have caused a severe economic impact on some of the largest bromeliad growers. Synthetic chemicals are registered to induce flowering in bromeliads, but they are toxic, can cause phytotoxicity and cause asynchronous flowering.
The community of Jacumba in San Diego County was afflicted with an enormous population of eye gnats -- small flies that hover around eyes, ears and nose. In large numbers, eye gnats can be exceptionally bothersome. Outdoor activity in the mornings and evenings became impossible. Eye gnats are a native inhabitant of the desert southwest and San Joaquin Valley of California, but with the introduction of modern farming practices and irrigation, eye gnat populations have exploded in some areas near farm fields. Control methods have been ongoing since the early 1950s, most notably in Riverside County's Coachella Valley. In 2008, the residents of Jacumba blamed the local 400-acre organic farm for a high population of the troublesome gnats and complained to county officials. There was no avenue for action by the county, and the interaction among the county, the farmer and the community turned acrimonious. This serious urban/agriculture interface issue threatened organic food production in the area and the residents' quality of life.
January 27, 2011 - Creating a management system for spotted wing drosophila in caneberries and strawberries
In September of 2008, UCCE in Santa Cruz County discovered a new vinegar fly pest infesting caneberries and strawberries, which was later described by the California Department of Food and Agriculture as Drosophila suzukii, and given the common name spotted wing drosophila. In 2009, spotted wing drosophila spread to cherries, blueberries, caneberries and strawberries in California, Oregon, Washington, British Columbia and Florida.
Small-scale foothill farmers and ranchers are known for the quality of their products. However, excellent animal or crop production skills, hard work and dedication may not be sufficient to maintain an economically viable farm business. No matter how good their product, farmers and ranchers who lack the business and marketing skills critical to a viable small business may not be successful.
California tomato producers need profitable technologies that guarantee long-term viability in the marketplace and on the farm. Production practices used by tomato farmers need to be affordable and also preserve or improve the long-term sustainability of production fields. Two practices that can help producers with economic and sustainability goals are covercropping and conservation tillage. While widely used in the 1940s, cover crops were not a mainstay of California production systems during the last half of the twentieth century. In recent years though, their potential benefits have received renewed attention by researchers and farmers, and there is interest in integrating them into tomato production systems. Cover crops provide soil cover, scavenge and recycle nutrients, break up monocultures, and add organic matter to production fields. But they require additional costs and careful management to be successfully integrated into tomato production systems. Conservation tillage (CT) practices include a number of tillage management approaches that reduce overall operations and costs. CT systems are also frequently associated with adjunct benefits such as lower dust and diesel emissions, reduced equipment maintenance, and lower total labor requirements. CT systems also require management “know-how” and up-front planning.
Cotton production in California’s San Joaquin Valley (SJV) relies on soil tillage for seedbed preparation, weed control, and postharvest pest management. Intensive tillage practices throughout the production season contribute to the crop’s yield and help producers manage risk. But these practices are costly, requiring considerable labor, specialized tillage implements, and adequate tractor horsepower. Despite incentives programs through the Farm Bill and USDA encouraging tillage reduction, along with rising costs of tillage, most SJV cotton continues to be produced using traditional, heavy tillage practices. Cotton is one of the most tillage-intensive agronomic crops produced in California; tillage systems for cotton have changed little over the past 50 years.
Vine mealybug is an introduced pest in California that causes feeding damage and is capable of transmitting grapevine viral diseases that significantly reduce fruit and wine quality. The insect is very small and often goes unnoticed until populations rise and sticky honeydew accumulates on leaves, trunks and grape clusters. The insect can be spread to uninfested vineyards on farm equipment and workers' clothing. To prevent such spread, growers wash equipment before entering uninfested vineyards and hand crews wear disposable coveralls in infested vineyards. Using unfermented pomace as fertilizer in vineyards was thought to be another route for mealybug movement. Pomace is berry skins, seeds and cluster stems left over from the wine making process.
The need for after-school professional development in California is great, with over 4,000 state and federally funded after-school programs and nearly that many other community-based after-school sites. Over 2 million youth, 19 percent of California’s total youth population, regularly attend these after-school programs. Even in the highest quality programs, the annual staff turnover rate exceeds 33 percent, severely impacting program quality and pointing to the need for continuous in-service training. Increasingly, after-school programs are being called upon to ramp up their science, engineering, and technology (SET) program offerings to address the decline in youth interest, competency and performance in these fields.
From 2007 to 2009, celery crops in coastal California were damaged by an apparently new problem. Affected plants showed extensive yellowing and deformity of the leaves, as well as distinct, large brown to tan elongated lesions on the petioles. Such petiole symptoms prevented the celery from being marketable and resulted in crop losses of up to 40 percent. The symptoms were striking in appearance and did not match those caused by any known celery pathogen in California. The disease was first detected in Santa Clara and Monterey counties and later was found in Ventura County.
Young people today consume a vast amount of media delivered by hi-tech computer technology. Over two-thirds of youth own a cell phone while 84 percent of youth have Internet access at home. However, the mere use of technological devices will not fully prepare our young people for the future. Youth need a basic level of technological literacy to make decisions, engage in civic debates, and be successful in the workplace.
A valid evaluation tool is important in education programs designed to change behaviors, skills and/or self-efficacy. Most programs use a traditional prospective pre/posttest method of data collection. A pretest is given before the start of the program and a posttest using the same questions is given after the program. This method has limitations in real-world application, especially with adolescents. Establishing rapport with youth at the first educational meeting is important for learning. Test taking at the start of the program may seem intrusive and be an obstacle to establishing trust. Youth may also rate themselves differently on the posttest, after acquiring new information during the lessons that was related to the test question. For example, youth may believe they eat enough fruits and vegetables until they learn the daily recommendations. When the posttest is completed, their responses may appear that they did not change behavior. Such miscalculation may mask actual behavior and skill changes resulting from the nutrition program.
An entire generation of California youth faces a lifetime of obesity, due, in part, to poor dietary choices and physical inactivity. Obesity reduces an adolescent’s quality of life, and can lead to life-shortening chronic health conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, heart disease and some cancers. Middle-school teachers asked Cooperative Extension educators for educational tools to assist students with healthier eating and becoming more physically active.
Citrus tristeza is among the most serious viral diseases of citrus worldwide. The virus resulted in the loss of 3 million orange trees on sour orange rootstock in Southern California during the 1940s and 1950s. In light of this impact on the California citrus industry, in 1963 a tristeza eradication agency was established in the San Joaquin Valley to survey, detect and remove commercial citrus trees infected with citrus tristeza virus. Five pest control districts were established within the agency. Early survey and laboratory screening by the eradication agency generally detected mild strains of the virus. In 1996, two districts withdrew from the eradication program convinced that the virus was not seriously harming infected trees. The decision was based on the fact that commercial orchards in the districts were generally grown on rootstocks thought to be tolerant of mild strains of the virus.
Recent droughts and expanding urban populations place increasing pressure on California’s water supplies. In residential areas, outdoor water use, primarily for landscapes, comprises 50 percent or more of total water use. It is commonplace to see excess water gushing down storm drains from poorly aimed sprinklers, broken sprinkler heads, and a larger volume of water applied than the soil can absorb. The runoff water can carry pesticides, fertilizers and other waste into waterways, causing a detrimental effect on the health of the aquatic life in rivers, lakes and bays.
Shasta and the surrounding region had a disjointed local food system. Twenty percent of Shasta County residents live in poverty and more than a third do not get enough food at home. Paradoxically, 60 percent of adults are overweight or obese. Local consumers are exposed to ubiquitous marketing and availability of fast food. On the other hand, food producers in Shasta County operated in isolation by growing for and marketing to distribution networks that primarily fail to make direct connections with the local consumers, especially low-income populations. Consumers need to know more about healthy food choices, and local production systems need to be better aligned to consumption. In general, the food sourcing system in Shasta and Trinity counties was poorly understood and the losers in the incoherent food system were both the producers and the consumers.
A low cost route to improved nutrition is to grow your own food. Shasta County is headquarters to the largest strawberry nursery plant production system in California and the world. But few of the billion strawberry nursery plants produced in the county annually make it to backyards for production of fruit for personal consumption. Most nursery plants are shipped from Shasta County to coastal areas of California where fruit is grown, then shipped back to Shasta County's approximately 50 grocery stores to provide most of the strawberries for the county's 183,000 residents. Although, there is some roadside production of fresh strawberries in the spring in Shasta County, there is almost no backyard production. In fact, it is difficult to find small lots of nursery plants to grow the new flavorful and popular UC strawberry variety Albion in Shasta County.
Since the April 20, 2010, Deepwater Horizon/BP oil spill, attention has focused on the safety of seafood from the Gulf of Mexico. Many fish are at risk: blue crabs, crawfish, oysters, shrimp and fish (about 86 species including albacore, channel catfish, red snapper and tilapia). The impact on the nation’s seafood industry and consumer confidence could be devastating. In a June 2010 telephone survey of 1,076 consumers conducted by University of Minnesota’s Food Industry Center, Louisiana State University AgCenter and the National Center for Food Protection and Defense, 54% of respondents said the oil spill has affected their seafood consumption somewhat, 44% said they will not eat Gulf seafood, and 31% said they will eat less seafood regardless of its origin. Further, 89% said they are concerned about the spill’s effects on Gulf seafood, while 50% are “extremely concerned.”
In the 1970s and 1980s, the popularity of parrots as pets increased markedly in the U.S. During that time, production of parrots in captivity was limited due to a lack of information about their nutrition and reproduction. Birds, mostly parrots, became the third most popular pet after cats and dogs. Most of the parrots sold as pets, except for budgerigars and cockatiels, were caught from the wild. Capture from the wild was so extreme that it led to the endangerment of many parrot species. As a result, the Wild Bird Conservation Act was enacted in 1992 to reduce capture from the wild by stopping importation of birds into the U.S., a major market for such birds. The act has been highly effective. Since 1992, the demand for pet parrots has been met by increased domestic production. To meet domestic demand, the conduct of aviculture has improved dramatically.
Prime farmland is disappearing at an alarming rate all across the nation and the problem is especially acute in the San Joaquin Valley. Farmers and local governments need more effective tools for preserving prime farmland. Agricultural Conservation Easements (ACE) allow land owners to preserve working farms and also accomplish long-term estate-planning objectives. A farmland trust is needed to facilitate these projects and to hold the resulting easements.
Risk of wildfire is one of the critical issues facing California communities that border wildlands. As we were reminded during 2009’s catastrophic Station Fire, wildfires devastate families and communities and damage precious natural areas. Educating homeowners about fire-safe landscaping is one of the most effective ways to increase fire safety, reduce costs associated with property destruction, and reduce the risk of erosion and debris flows after a fire. In addition, wildlands close to communities can suffer if exotic plant species escape from backyards and invade habitat areas. Invasive plants harm habitat and increase the risk of wildfire.
California enjoys a reputation of producing high quality rice. Rice, unlike most other cereals, is consumed as a whole grain. Therefore physical properties such as size, shape, uniformity and general appearance are of utmost importance. Efforts to improve quality in other regions and countries challenge California growers to seek improved production and postharvest strategies to maintain the state's competitive edge in the global marketplace. To capitalize on new markets, retain market share, and remain competitive, it is essential to understand the production factors under the control of the grower that ultimately influence grain quality.
Rice production in California is situated in the heart of the state’s largest watershed. The production area is flanked to the south by a rapidly expanding urban area and co-occupies an area with the few remaining native salmon fisheries in the state. Consequently, water resource management decisions must consider the needs of urban users, wildlife habitat and agricultural production. An important factor is water temperature. Species of fish protected under the U.S. Endangered Species Act require cold water temperatures in a time frame that coincides with the the rice-growing season and rice growth is inhibited by cold water. Understanding the implications of water management decisions on agricultural systems is one challenge in addressing the needs of all stakeholders.
Most fruits, vegetables, nuts, herbs and spices that help make a healthy and diverse diet are specialty crops. To provide consumers with this wide array of fresh produce, growers of specialty crops need sustainable and affordable pest management technologies. The cost to register pesticides for each specialty crop far exceeds the purchases made by growers, who are a relatively minor segment of a pesticide company’s customers. So the U.S. Department of Agriculture created the Interregional Research Project No. 4 (IR-4) to enable the registration of low risk, effective pest management solutions for domestic, low-acreage specialty crops. No other public organization does this work so California’s $20 billion fresh produce industry depends on the publicly funded IR-4 project.
Successful promotion of healthy eating behaviors and an active lifestyle is important for the health and well-being of everyone, including low-income families from diverse backgrounds. This is especially critical for minority communities, who are increasingly at risk for obesity, being overweight, and chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and cancer due to a host of social, cultural, and environmental factors. Critical barriers to nutrition education include cultural and linguistic challenges such as the lack of culturally appropriate information and materials, diverse levels of acculturation and health literacy, and limited English proficiency. Studies show that visual materials and bilingual videos that are culturally responsive and literacy appropriate help participants acquire the knowledge, skills, attitudes, and behavior necessary for nutritional well-being. Our objectives were to develop videos and visual handouts that would enhance the effectiveness of nutrition education with diverse populations, including recent refugees and immigrants.
Seniors 65 and older are the fastest growing population in the world, and the growth rate of those 85 and over in the U.S. is even greater. People aged 65 and over are expected to make up 20 percent of the U.S. population by 2030. In California, the population of seniors over 85 will increase by half in 38 counties, double in 26 counties, and triple in 11 counties. As people live longer lives, nutrition- and lifestyle-related chronic diseases increase, but many are preventable. Low literacy, limited income and poverty are obstacles to understanding wellness information for many seniors.
With the impending loss of the methyl bromide fumigant for use in combating soilborne diseases, researchers anticipated that new challenges would eventually emerge and affect strawberry production in California. Such new challenges have indeed developed. Beginning in 2007, growers who no longer used methyl bromide began to see weak spots in their fields where strawberries did not grow vigorously, produced fewer fruit, and eventually collapsed and died. These problematic areas increased in size in subsequent years. In some locations, a large percentage of the strawberry plants performed poorly and died prematurely. Such plant losses could have significant effects on this industry, which produces approximately 80 percent of the nation’s strawberry crop.
Pest management is a key concern for small-scale foothill citrus growers, but few pest control advisers serve Placer and Nevada counties. Integrated pest management requires a high level of knowledge as well as careful monitoring. Growers must be able to identify pests, assess available tools and develop an effective combination of management methods. Citricola scale has been a major foothill citrus pest for many years, often requiring several sprays per year. In 2003, California red scale began to emerge as a problem in Placer County mandarin orchards.
Physical education testing indicates more than a third of Fresno County 5th-, 7th-, and 9th-graders do not meet health fitness guidelines. Nutrition and physical activity are components in preventing obesity and chronic disease. During summer vacation children should consume seasonal foods and have time for physical activity. Yet, low-income children in families that depend on school lunch often miss a healthy meal and are inactive, staying indoors while their parents work.
Blueberries are one of the newest crops grown in California, and are now planted on more than 5,000 acres statewide. Recently, however, blueberry fields have been under attack by a longtime California pest called citrus thrips. Feeding by thrips causes distortion, discoloration, stunting of new shoot growth, and damage to the development of fruiting wood that supports the next year’s crop. Due to the severity of the damage, one of the largest blueberry growers in the state reported that he was spraying pesticides more than 10 times per year to minimize crop losses.
Due to the economics involved in agriculture, the southern San Joaquin Valley has seen significant expansions in the acreage of almonds and pistachios. As of the late 2000s, the value of these two crops in Kern, Kings and Tulare counties approaches $1 billion annually. Along with the increase in acreage has come the need for additional pest control advisers to make decisions regarding the management of insects, diseases and weeds. It is imperative that this new generation of advisers be versed in integrated pest management practices that are safe, effective, affordable and respectful of the environment.
Since 1882, when Mexican avocado seedlings were planted in Ventura County, the industry has been slowly expanding. By 1942 there were 231 acres, 2,000 in 1954 and today there are 17,000 acres of avocados in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties. Initally there were few problems in the crop, other than searching for the ideal variety. For many years, avocados were one of the few crops in California that was unsprayed. Over time, a number of new pests have arrived. In the late 1940s, growers started seeing "avocado decline," a slow dying of the roots and canopies of the trees. ANR began the long-term study of what turned out to be a fungal disease that was renamed "avocado root rot." In the meantime, other problems began showing up in the $80 million avocado crop (2008) - diseases, pests and management issues, such as pruning, irrigating and fertilizing.
Poverty in California is at 13.3 percent, according to the U.S. Census Community Survey published in September 2009. Combined with current economic challenges, this vulnerable population is at risk for food insecurity. The UC-Food Stamp Nutrition Education Program (UC-FSNEP) helps low-income families make healthy food choices, stretch food dollars and increase consumption of California’s agricultural products. UC Cooperative Extension academics and nutrition educators also evaluate educational methods and outreach strategies used with families at risk.
The Angora Fire burned 3,100 forested acres and more than 250 homes in South Lake Tahoe, Calif., in June 2007. Within a few months, all home debris and dead trees were removed from the burned neighborhood, leaving bare ground with unobstructed views of the mountain landscape and neighbors' new homes. Without a sheltering forest, the area is now much windier and the water table is higher. In addition to rebuilding their homes, local residents faced the task of establishing a landscape from the ground up under altered environmental conditions. Residents were looking for information on how to replant to reduce risk of future fires and how to coordinate planting to achieve neighborhood consistency.
Almost one third of youth ages 10 to 14 living in Riverside County are either overweight, obese or are at risk of being overweight. If we focus on children living in poverty, the number increases to 42 percent, according to the 2007 California Health Interview Survey. The survey also reports that 70 percent of Riverside youth ages 10 to 14 eat less than 5 servings of fruits and vegetables daily, 47 percent said they ate fast food two or more times in the past week, 19 percent drank two or more glasses of soda or other sugary drinks the previous day, and only 22 percent are active for at least one hour every day in a typical week.
Pre- and post-testing for Fresno County Food Stamp Nutrition Education Program's (FSNEP) adult training are conducted with a Food Behavior Checklist (FBC). Data analysis reveals progress in nutrition, food budgeting and food safety practices. However, the question remains: Did participants themselves recognize outcomes from attending classes?
Families with lower educational levels and limited resources make more money management mistakes than wealthier and better-educated families. Providing money management information in formats that appeal to limited-resource families and in a learner’s native language are known to increase financial literacy of less-educated families. International studies have shown that computer-based money management programs are effective in helping less-educated families improve their financial knowledge and decisions.
Research has shown that children's diets tend to be high in sugar and fat and lack fruits and vegetables. They also have limited daily physical activity. Poor nutrition and lack of physical activity can put children at risk for obesity, hypertension, diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers. Nutrition education can increase their knowledge and provide new skills to promote good nutrition and exercise.
In the United States, on average, more than 200,000 people are hospitalized and 36,000 people die from seasonal flu complications each year. To prevent the seasonal and H1N1 flu, the Centers for Disease Control recommends getting a flu vaccine and practicing everyday preventive actions, such as frequent handwashing. Handwashing is easy and the most important step to help prevent the spread of the flu. Yet research indicates that many adults and students do not practice frequent or proper handwashing. In fact, 1 out of 5 people do not wash their hands after using the restroom (American Society of Microbiology, 2005).
Research has shown that children's diets tend to be high in sugar and fat and lack fruits and vegetables. Poor nutrition and lack of physical activity can put children at risk for obesity, hypertension, diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers. Nutrition education can increase their knowledge and provide new skills to promote good nutrition and exercise. It is also important for children to be offered a variety of foods to broaden their food choices.
The whitefly-transmitted cucurbit yellow stunting disorder virus (CYSDV) infects cucurbits such as melons in several parts of the world. Infection can reduce crop yields. In 2006, CYSDV hurt cucurbit production in the low desert regions of California's Imperial, Coachella and Palo Verde valleys, Arizona's Yuma Valley and in nearby Sonora, Mexico. CYSDV infections were immediate and widespread among fall melon crops in 2006 and 2007 following heavy populations of the vector silverleaf whitefly. A cucurbit host-free period during the summer provided limited success in managing CYSDV, attributed mostly to fewer whiteflies in the Yuma Valley and central Arizona during July. Nearly all fall melon producers in Imperial County have chosen not to plant since 2007. Previous studies had shown that CYSDV was restricted to members of the Cucurbitaceae and lettuce as an experimental host, but we suspected other hosts were affecting the success of the cucurbit host-free period.
Research by scientists from the University of California, Riverside has documented the harmful effects of air pollution, specifically nitrogen deposition, on coastal sage scrub and desert native vegetation. The nitrogen emissions originate from automobiles as NOx and from agriculture as ammonium. Nitrogen deposited on the soil promotes the growth of non-native invasive grasses that can quickly replace and out-compete native plants. The loss of native plant communities can displace native wildlife that relies on the native species for nutrition, shelter, or nesting. The spread of invasive grasses has also been linked to increases in the frequency and severity of wildfires. The understory vegetation in deserts and coastal sage scrub consists of native wildflowers that, unlike invasive grasses, provide sparse fuels for fires. Invasive grasses grow quickly when soil nitrogen increases under nitrogen deposition, and provide increased amounts of biomass to fuel fires, which allows fires to spread over large areas.
Knowledge of farming is an obvious prerequisite for business success. However, just as important are knowing regulatory requirements, having a market for one's crops, securing financial resources and advice, and staying up to date on all the latest farming and pest management practices. Knowing who to call for information or how to find help can be daunting tasks for any farmer, and more so for a new-entry farmer or one with limited English skills.
There is a national epidemic of childhood obesity. Experts estimate one in five children between the ages of 6 and 17 are overweight. Millions of these children face a higher risk of developing obesity-related disorders such as diabetes and heart disease during early adulthood. An effective approach to address the complex issue of childhood overweight is to create environments that promote healthy eating and physically active lifestyles.
Poor diet and physical inactivity can contribute to obesity, cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Latinos have 21 percent greater obesity prevalence than whites, according to researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More than 10 percent of Latinos have been diagnosed with diabetes, while 7 percent of whites and 8 percent of Asians suffer from the disease, according to the American Diabetes Association. Chronic diseases can result in disability and decrease the quality of life for family members.
During the past few years, vegetable growers in California’s central coast have seen their crops affected by outbreaks of a mysterious virus disease. For crops such as lettuce, pepper and basil, these problems were new and caused significant losses in quality and yield. The virus outbreaks were particularly extensive in lettuce, with numerous fields affected in a number of counties (Monterey, San Benito, Santa Cruz). For the Salinas Valley, this problem developed in fields in the north (Salinas, Chualar, Gonzales) as well as in the south (Soledad, Greenfield, King City). Disease losses ranged from minimal (less than 1 percent) to over 65 percent. Affected lettuce plants were stunted, yellowed, and developed extensive brown, dead spots and lesions that rendered the plant unmarketable. Iceberg, romaine, leaf and butterhead lettuce were all affected. Resistant lettuce cultivars are not currently available. In addition to this coastal situation, similar symptoms have been observed in lettuce grown in the San Joaquin Valley.
Imparting an exotic and dramatic theme, palms are emblematic of California landscapes. Indeed, there is a revival of interest in palms as specimens and accents or to add height, dimension, and architectural interest for homes, businesses, parks and other public areas. Because of their unique root and trunk structure, large specimen palms can be transplanted with a relatively small root ball, creating an instant, mature landscape. The standard industry practice when transplanting palms is to use builder's or washed plaster sand as the backfill medium in order to enhance stability and anchorage, drainage and survival, but the practice had not been scientifically validated.
Goat milk production in California is increasing. Goat milk producers are typically small- to medium-sized dairies who sell their milk to milk processors or cheese makers. There are also dozens of farmstead cheese makers who raise fewer goats but add value to the milk by making their own cheese. Other goat milk products are yogurt, dried milk, canned milk and ice cream. The consumption of goat milk products, especially in the cheese sector, has been rising steadily. Some specialty goat cheese producers report sales increases of 30 percent per year.
Production of navel oranges for the early market is big business in the southern San Joaquin Valley of California. Minimum harvest standards exist for juice sweetness and fruit color within the industry. The first harvested fruit of the season that meet these minimum requirements often receive a large price premium in the marketplace. Concern exists within the industry that standards for sweetness and some other fruit quality parameters are not sufficient to meet consumer acceptability and that disappointed consumers are unlikely to return to buy navel orange fruit later in the season when the fruit is sweeter and juicier. Growers of early-maturing orange varieties approached late-season irrigation strategies differently and little scientific research existed to guide these decisions. Some growers irrigated fully until harvest, while others reduced irrigation as harvest approached. In drought years, irrigation decisions are not only made as they affect fruit quality and yield, but also with respect to water availability and cost.
For many, the assumption is that youth who live in economically poor communities emerge without the tools and ambitions necessary to be productive persons. While there is a great deal of research to support this notion, Compton High School youth have defied this belief. The causes of these circumstances are complex, layered and generational, yet remain the subject of much debate. The 4-H Teen Leadership Development Institute was designed and developed to give youth an opportunity to confront these challenges with skill developing, building and application.
It has been shown that Latinos are generally interested in environmental issues, and that they are particularly concerned about the health impact of a polluted environment. However, because of language and cultural issues, they are often not engaged in water protection activities.
Sustainable and renewable energy is a hot topic in many circles, and the California 4-H Youth Development Program is joining the movement. A source of energy is considered renewable if it is a natural resource and can be naturally replenished in a relatively short time. Producing electricity from renewable sources will not result in harmful pollutants or emissions and will not harm ecosystems. Renewable energy can be produced using sources like the wind, sunlight, hydrogen, geothermal energy (heat from inside the earth), biomass (energy from plants), flowing rivers, and even the power of the ocean. Renewable energy is also called "clean" or "green" power.
Students who participate in classroom discussions about current issues have a greater interest in politics, improved critical thinking and communication skills, more civic knowledge, and greater interest in discussing public affairs outside of school. However, according to a 2006 phone survey of 1,700 15- to 25-year-olds conducted by the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, most young Americans are misinformed about important aspects of politics and current events. For example, 53 percent were unaware that only citizens can vote in federal elections, 70 percent could not name a member of the President's cabinet, and 66 percent did not know that the United States has a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council.
The College of Marin, a community college in Marin County, was struggling with dwindling enrollment and under-use of its Indian Valley campus (IVC). Nanda Schorske, dean of workforce development and college community partnerships, began discussions with UC Cooperative Extension sustainable agriculture coordinator Steve Quirt and environmental horticulture advisor Steven Swain to create a curriculum consisting of two academic programs: an organic demonstration farm and garden, and an environmental landscaping program. The college also set aside nearly six acres of underutilized land for the farm.
Research shows that engaging youth in civic activities is the most effective way to promote civic identity formation and subsequent civic engagement in adulthood. In addition, young people want to create positive change in their communities and feel that to truly impact issues affecting youth, young people themselves need to be involved. Youth commissions provide a real-world setting for youth leadership and civic development. Giving young people an authentic voice in local policy and decision-making benefits both the youth and the greater community.
A profitable, owner-operated system of agriculture is necessary for the economic well being of our rural communities. Many farmers will retire in the next two decades and younger people are needed to carry on these farm businesses. Young people have little opportunity to enter farming, and even those whose parents have a farm may lose the opportunity because of poor succession and estate planning. Several surveys have found that as many as 64 percent of landowners do not have estate plans. Careful planning is needed for families to provide retirement for the senior members and farming opportunities for the next generation.
Most people don’t think of Marin County, Calif., in terms of its agriculture and ranches. Marin has the highest per capita income in the U.S., leading many to believe it is nothing more than a Bay Area bedroom community for the wealthy. UC Cooperative Extension Marin staff saw a need to educate the public about Marin’s extraordinary community of farmers and ranchers. Unbeknownst to many, traditional cattle, dairy, and sheep ranchers blend with oyster farmers, cheese makers, and vegetable producers in rural West Marin. Marin dairies even provide 20 percent of the Bay Area’s milk.
Marin County, located just north of San Francisco over the Golden Gate Bridge, has limited water resources, like much of California. Marin County relies on the rainwater stored in its seven reservoirs, supplemented by water piped from the Russian River, to meet the water needs of its residents. After two years of less-than-average rainfall, Marin Municipal Water District (MMWD) had a pressing need to encourage Marin County residents to conserve water.
Some still remember watching bright red salmon each year splashing around in the small Russian River tributary creeks between Thanksgiving and early February. Once numbering in the thousands, today coho salmon in the Russian River and its tributaries are on the verge of local extinction. To prevent this from happening, the California Department of Fish and Game (DFG), NOAA Fisheries, the Army Corp of Engineers, the Sonoma County Water Agency, Sonoma County UC Cooperative Extension and Sea Grant teamed up in 2001 to create the Russian River Coho Salmon Captive Broodstock Program. Under this program, juvenile coho were collected from coho streams within the Russian River watershed by DFG, and subsequently raised to maturity and spawned at Don Clausen Warm Springs Hatchery at Lake Sonoma. In 2004, DFG began releasing the offspring of these captive-bred wild fish into Russian River tributaries that historically held runs of coho salmon. The goal of this program is to restore self-sustaining runs of coho salmon to multiple tributaries of the Russian River, and in doing so, create a balance where the river’s water can sustain both the coho salmon and the residential and agricultural uses that rely on it.
More than 90 percent of Southern California’s coastal wetlands have been destroyed, largely for coastal development. Ormond Beach wetland, although severely altered by agricultural and industrial activities, is one of the best restoration opportunities remaining in Southern California. When the restoration is complete, Ormond Beach wetland will be the largest wetland in Southern California. Currently Ormond Beach is difficult to access, has no signage directing people to the beach and little parking for visitors. Consequently, most Ventura County residents, including many of the low income, multicultural children who live nearby, are unaware of its existence. Restoration of the wetlands surrounding the beach will provide important wildlife habitat, improve the quality of runoff entering the ocean and provide an important natural recreational area for residents.
California ground squirrels are found in most areas of the state. They become pests in agriculture when they feed on crops and damage vines and trees. In home gardens and other landscape areas, their feeding and burrowing can be very destructive. Ground squirrels have been implicated in levee failures and they damage conventional irrigation systems. In rangeland areas, they can be carriers of plague, a deadly disease transmitted from squirrels to humans by flea bites. Dealing with this pest can be very challenging. Many of the methods used can have unintended harmful consequences to pets, other wildlife and the environment. Science-based information about controlling ground squirrel damage is essential, but unfortunately not always available to people who need it.
Small farms in California are often confronted with economic realities similar to those that plague larger farms. An over-supply of traditional fruit and vegetable crops and chronic low market prices affect many farms in the state. The development of promising new crops is one option that offers California small farmers real alternatives to enhance the diversity of crops they grow and improve small farm profitability.
It takes energy to process, package and deliver seafood to American consumers. As with other sectors of the economy, the seafood industry would like to become more energy efficient to lower production costs and to market its products as more “green.” Actually implementing conservation strategies, however, can be difficult because it is not always obvious where energy-saving opportunities exist. A simple first step in reducing a company’s energy consumption is to identify its most energy-intensive processes or activities.
Despite the United State's rich legacy of innovation and global contributions, we face declining proficiencies and workforce shortages in science, engineering, and technology. Nationwide only 18% of high school seniors are proficient in science while only 15% of U.S. college graduates earn degrees in natural science and engineering. The National Science Education Standards emphasize that effective science education requires good educators.
The 1998 California Marine Life Management Act (MLMA) provides a guide for the California Department of Fish and Game as it manages coastal fisheries. A key requirement of the MLMA is the development of fishery management plans that are based on estimates of the abundance of a fished species and other types of data-intensive biological and socio-economic information. Unfortunately, essential biological and socio-economic information are lacking in California’s fisheries. This has created a bottleneck to MLMA implementation. New, less resource-intensive assessment methods and techniques are required to move the management process forward.
The State of California is responsible for managing nearshore fish populations. Currently, the data to manage fisheries are collected across large areas, spanning hundreds of miles, but the local abundance of many species varies greatly along the coast. The lack of information specific to local areas means that some species are overfished and some are underutilized. Also, California is establishing marine protected areas (areas closed to some form of human use, such as fishing) along the California coast as a resource conservation and management tool. Resource managers have found that the effectiveness of marine protected areas (MPAs) has varied around the world, and is dependent upon the level of societal acceptance. As a policy tool, MPAs have been most successful in regions that have included stakeholders in the evaluation process.
Deep rocky banks and outcrops, underwater pinnacles, and submarine canyons, ranging in depth from 30 to more than 1,000 meters, are important habitats in California waters. These deepwater habitats comprise 75 percent of the seafloor in state waters within the Central Coast region, and are home to hundreds of species of fishes and macroinvertebrates. Although deep habitats on the continental shelf and upper slope contain a high diversity of species that have been fished for decades, far less is known about deep habitats than those occurring in shallow water. In September 2007, 29 Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) were established in Central California, many of which extend into deep water. To monitor and adaptively manage the new MPAs in the future, it is imperative to have a comprehensive baseline survey of the fishes and invertebrates in the MPAs.
The African-American and Latino communities are disproportionately affected by obesity, heart disease, diabetes, cancer and stroke. Eliminating the health disparities associated with chronic diseases requires culturally appropriate and effective interventions that address the individual’s role in self-management and the community’s role in supporting self-care. Goal setting has been reported to be successful because it directs an individual’s attention toward a goal, encourages them to complete the goal, and forces them to alter their status quo to complete that goal.
The United States is at pivotal point in its history. Despite our nation’s rich legacy of innovation and global contributions, we are facing declining proficiencies in science, engineering, and technology (SET). Too many of our youth lack the SET literacy needed for careers in the 21st century. Nationwide, only 18 percent of high school seniors are considered proficient in science while a mere 5 percent of all 24-year-olds earn undergraduate degrees in the natural sciences and engineering. The 4-H Science, Engineering, and Technology (SET) Initiative is the 4-H program’s response to our nation’s and state’s concerns for improving human capacity and workforce abilities in these fields. It combines nonformal education with hands-on, inquiry-based learning in a youth development context to engage young people in improving their SET knowledge, skills, and abilities. The California 4-H SET Initiative aims to impact 150,000 new youth members and 15,000 new adult volunteers over the next five years through innovative SET programming.
Fusarium oxysporum f.sp.Vasinfectum (FOV) is a widely spread soil-borne fungus that attacks cotton and other plants. FOV causes a general wilt. Its symptoms include leaf yellowing and necrosis beginning at the leaf margins. The vascular system of infected plants becomes “plugged up” from the fungus and the plant’s defense response to the infection. Previously identified FOV races infect plants through injuries caused by root knot nematodes. Root knot nematodes are most widely found in coarse texture soils in the San Joaquin Valley. Crop rotation or chemical applications reduce nematode populations so their damage is not significant. However, a new race of FOV, Race 4, has been identified in California. Race 4 is different because it can infect cotton plants in the absence of nematodes, causing infections in both coarse and fine textured soils. Generally, Pima cotton varieties are more susceptible than Acala or other upland varieties are to FOV Race 4.
Youth living in the Monterey County city of Seaside do not have access to sufficient youth development opportunities. There is a minimal amount of University of California Cooperative Extension 4-H Youth Development programming taking place in the community.
New food trends are emerging, especially with the help of popular books like "The Omnivore's Dilemma." Consumers want to know food sources, its safety, health attributes and, in terms of animal production, that it is raised humanely. Consumers are also conscious of reducing their carbon footprints. By purchasing local food, they can reduce transportation costs while supporting local agriculture.
The United States is at a critical juncture relative to science literacy. National and international studies have revealed that science literacy among school-age children in the United States is among the lowest in the developed world and the problem is worsening. Factors contributing to this problem include a lack of emphasis on science in schools, the use of traditional teaching methods, and the inadequate preparation of educators.
California's four million acres of rangeland are an important natural resource, providing wildlife habitat, scenic open space and an economic base for many rural communities. Over recent decades, California rangelands have been threatened by invasive weed species, wildfire, concerns over water quality impacts, and conversions of the land to other agricultural uses or to development. Another, perhaps less visible, threat to rangelands is a steady reduction in the number of students preparing for careers in natural resources and range management.
Many small farmers in California, especially the 2,000-plus refugee farmers from Laos and Thailand, rely on extended family to help on the farm. Typically, these relatives volunteer or trade labor on each others' farms. Often unbeknownst to the farmers, the state considers the relatives to be employees and a workers' compensation policy is required. The farmers must also comply with other labor regulations. The State of California conducts unannounced "sweeps" of farms (and other businesses) to inspect for violations of labor code, safety and health regulations and payroll rules. In 2005 and 2008, individual Hmong and Hispanic farmers were fined between $14,000 and $26,000 each for non compliance.
September 19, 2008 - Marketing challenges and opportunities for Central Valley Southeast Asian refugee growers
Many Southeast Asian refugee farmers in the Central Valley continue to struggle with linguistic and cultural obstacles in achieving viable agricultural livelihoods. Mien and Hmong farmers grow unique varieties of Southeast Asian vegetables and strawberries. Key challenges confronting these growers in marketing their produce are: - Language barriers - High cost of transportation - Competition with organic produce (for niche and boutique markets) - Centralized purchasing of many wholesalers, chain grocery stores and restaurants - Sophisticated food safety documentation and labeling requirements by larger customers
Plant-parasitic nematodes are microscopic roundworms that cause problems for home gardeners. Few control measures are available to California homeowners other than keeping the planting area fallow for two years, or planting nematode-resistant tomatoes. The root-knot nematode, Meloidogyne sp., causes the most serious problem and its effects are readily visible to home gardeners by the presence of knots or galls visible on roots.
California's landscape horticulture industry is constantly growing due to population growth, housing expansion and refurbishing of older urban areas. This industry growth requires an almost constant input of new plant material to address a variety of horticultural needs and tastes. Historically, many landscapes were planted with species requiring large amounts of water, fertilizers, and pesticides to remain attractive and healthy. One significant result of this practice has been increasing levels of chemicals in urban water run-off to watersheds, leading to negative impacts on the health of the aquatic ecosystems. In addition to this, widespread use of inappropriate plants in a summer-dry climate can contribute to a shortage of water in areas supplied by seasonal snow-melt. For these reasons, the nursery and landscape industry is in constant need of a supply of new, beautiful, drought-tolerant and disease-resistant plants.
Poor food selection and inactivity contribute to the increase in childhood obesity rates and risk for chronic disease. Empowering school-age children to adopt a healthy lifestyle through nutrition and fitness education can help reverse this alarming trend. Schools are an ideal place for this education, but due to academic mandates it is often difficult to motivate educators to teach nutrition and fitness lessons. Teachers need something fun and creative to entice them to incorporate nutrition into their lesson plans.
The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department runs a unique vocational education program that teaches horticultural work skills to inmates on five acres near the UC Cooperative Extension office. According to Rick Stern, Adult Corrections Instructor, this is the only program in the state that goes outside the jail to have inmates grow and sell plants while interacting with the public. The program accommodates 20 inmates each day, four days per week. Most of the participants have little or no knowledge of plants, and with only one program coordinator on a limited budget, there were very few opportunities to teach more complex horticultural gardening skills.
Current evidence from surveys and product testing has shown that California vegetable commodities are rarely contaminated with detectable levels of the human pathogen E. coli O157:H7. However, periodic outbreaks occur. The September 2006 case of E. coli O157:H7 on spinach was a serious example that fundamentally changed the industry and public health landscape regarding food safety measures. To most effectively design risk reduction guidelines and improve food safety management, more information is needed on the biology and ecology of pathogens in actual field production environments. Many studies of E. coli O157:H7 and leafy vegetables are based on laboratory or growth chamber experiments. Many food safety guidelines and policies, by necessity, are based on such studies or on assumptions unrelated to vegetable production. It is imperative that more information be generated from trials involving natural populations of the disease organisms and the microbial-plant-animal ecology as it exists in the field. In addition, we need more information from controlled-inoculation experiments conducted in actual field production settings in California.
Conscientious watershed management considers all uses of stream water, such as drinking, irrigation, recreation and habitat, and the challenges associated with allocation, flooding and pollution control. In conducting watershed management, government agencies, business groups, landowners, and community-based and environmental organizations cross political and organizational boundaries. They may have competing interests, little knowledge of each other’s concerns, and limited communication skills. Watershed management is complicated and time consuming, but can allow for the discovery of sustainable, economical ways to manage streams.
The number of seniors in California has increased at a rate greater than the national average, with county rates ranging from 7 to 20 percent. This is coupled with a rise in hypertension, diabetes, arthritis, heart and kidney disease, and neurological diseases such as dementia, the most common of which is Alzheimer's disease. According to a report by the Centers for Disease Control, the prevalence of dementia increases steadily with age. Six to 10 percent of seniors age 65 or older suffer from dementia; while 58 percent of seniors over 94 may suffer from dementia. Preventive measures -- such as learning coping skills and performing physical and mental activities to promote a healthy brain -- can help optimize memory.
California studies show that many teens are overweight due to poor eating habits and too little exercise. California also faces the additional challenge of having a very high number of juveniles in custody, constituting 25 percent of the national total. Building a program that enables teens to interact in a positive environment can make a difference in their health and lives.
Food-borne illness affects one out of four Americans yearly, and the number of cases reported are increasing. Increased cases are due to eating more foods prepared away from the home, emerging food-borne pathogens, an aging population and more young children eating away from home. About 26 percent of food-borne illnesses in California are picked up in community locations, 46 percent in restaurants, 19 percent in homes, and 6 percent in schools. Because of weakened immune systems and ebbing memory, seniors are particularly vulnerable to food-borne illnesses.
The Santa Cruz County Youth Garden, located near the UCCE Watsonville office, started in 1998 as a project of UCCE Master Gardeners and the Santa Cruz County Probation Department. The project aimed to help youth on probation complete court-ordered community service, learn about gardening and become involved in marketing projects. UC Cooperative Extension advisors in Santa Cruz County wished to determine whether there was interest and need to expand the Youth Garden to include a broader range of services to the Santa Cruz County community.
Migration from Mexico has been an issue of social, political and economic concern since the early 1940s in California. Mexican families migrate to California in search of a better quality of life. Some families travel with their children to California and others leave their children behind in Mexico with extended family members. The children often experience social isolation and the voices of these Mexican migrant children and youth are rarely heard.
As more and more agricultural land in Riverside County is converted into housing, children become more distant from their agricultural roots. Gardening exposes children to science and agriculture and increases the likelihood they will eat more fruits and vegetables. Inadequate daily intake of produce by youth and childhood obesity are real concerns. These issues underscore the need to support school teachers in their efforts to start, maintain and use a school garden to promote students' education and health.
It is imperative that individuals be able to make informed decisions about the science and technology in everyday life, yet national and international assessments reveal that the levels of science literacy among youth in the United States are well below those of other developed nations—and the problem is worsening. The root cause of this problem lies in relying on lectures and demonstrations to teach science. These methods provide only a surface level understanding of the nature and processes of science and do not promote critical thinking skills. Furthermore, lectures and demonstrations tend to alienate youth who perceive science as too complicated and irrelevant. Youth science literacy can be improved with the use of Experiential Learning (EL), a strategy that involves direct experience and builds understanding through inquiry and reflection. Experiential Learning is similar to hands-on learning, yet goes much farther by including the discussion and analysis of experiences that deepen and broaden understanding. Teaching strategies such as EL encourage youth to use their own thinking to test ideas, reflect on and analyze information, and predict outcomes. Research indicates that youth retain and learn more when they are taught through experience because they are actively engaged in activities with visible outcomes and demonstrate their knowledge through practice. Those who train educators must model EL as an alternative and effective approach to teaching science. Otherwise, future youth educators will remain unprepared and unwilling to use EL and will continue to teach science with methods proven to be ineffective.
The Fort Irwin Army Base is located 37 miles northeast of Barstow, Calif., in San Bernardino County's Mojave Desert. Currently, the active population is about 5,000 and the K-12 school population is about 2,300. Over the past year, military volunteers have increased 4-H youth membership at the base three-fold. One of the 4-H projects leaders wished to offer is gardening, which instructs children how to plant and grow their own food plus teaches healthful eating habits. However, due to base regulations, the young people were unable to till land for an outdoor garden.
High-risk driving is one of the most significant threats to the safety of California’s young people. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teens 15 and older. Some of the factors contributing to these higher crash rates include lack of driving experience, risk-taking behavior and distractions from teenage passengers. Parents are in a prime position to influence safe teen driving because they are involved in their teenagers’ driving from the beginning and serve as primary mentors and role models in teenagers' lives.
Many students today do not know where their food comes from or how their actions may affect the water they drink. Agriculture in the classroom is designed to help students have a basic understanding of the important role agriculture plays in our economy and society.
In broccoli production, a wide variety of techniques are used to control weeds: cultural practices, mechanical cultivation and hand weeding. Weeding costs generally represent a significant proportion of the broccoli production budget, and profit margins can be narrow. In addition, the current debate over immigration reform has increased concern about the availability of labor to conduct hand weeding operations in broccoli and other vegetable crops. Given the labor uncertainties, it is imperative that research be conducted to evaluate techniques that make weeding operations more efficient and effective.
Increasingly, Californians are living in many parts of the world and working with people from different cultures. Young people need to prepare themselves to harmoniously work, live and play with people from diverse cultures. To foster respect for others, California youth can benefit from meeting people from other countries and sharing aspects of their own heritage.
Every year millions of youth spend at least part of their vacation in some camp setting, be it day camp, resident camp or a specialty camp program. Hundreds of children attend California 4-H summer camps each year. Only recently have researchers begun to explore the impact and outcomes of outdoor living experiences on youth and to understand the elements of the camp experience. Are 4-H camps places that nurture children's positive growth? What would make camp programs stronger?
The redberry mite is a small eriophyid mite affecting blackerries. Fruit infested with redberry mite are often rendered partially or completely unripe, and are inedible. Historically, redberry mite has negatively impacted blackberry production in Santa Cruz and Monterey counties, and has, at times, left 50 percent or more of the crop unmarketable. Dormant season applications of the chemical lime sulfur has been used as the main management strategy against redberry mite, but provides only limited control of the pest. The need for a more effective and lower environmental risk alternative to lime sulfur for the control of redberry mite has been seen as essential to keeping blackberry production sustainable in the region.
More than 50 percent of the strawberry growers in California speak Spanish as their first language. While UCCE outreach through Spanish language meetings, various publications and Spanish speaking academics has been serving these growers for a long time, the UC IPM guidelines for strawberry production were available only in English.
Since the 1970s, the percentage of overweight children has tripled and continues to rise. At the same time, schools are under increased pressure to show improved academic performance in subjects such as math and language arts. The California Board of Education established content standards for each grade level for most subjects and academic performance is evaluated through standardized testing. The results determine the school’s Academic Performance Index. EatFit is a curriculum designed to improve the eating and physical activity habits of 11- to 14-year-old students. The program includes nine lessons with an online assessment (www.eatfit.net) and uses guided goal setting to help students make positive behavior changes. Students apply math concepts in EatFit -- such as rate, percentage, average and mathematical reasoning -- while learning how to improve their food choices and increase physical activity. They also learn to analyze and evaluate advertisements, improving their language arts skills. Previous studies using the curriculum have demonstrated the effectiveness of EatFit in changing eating and activity habits. While EatFit and most other UC ANR nutrition education curricula are aligned with the California content standards for math and language arts, testing whether teaching a curriculum aligned with the standards actually results in increased test scores had not been done. Can the need for nutrition education and academic performance be met simultaneously?
The redwood region along California's north coast has a history of social conflict and community strife over the logging of its forests. The basis of the conflict has been due in part to the decisions affecting local communities being made by absentee, corporate landowners. In 1997 the non-profit Redwood Forest Foundation, Inc. (RFFI) was formed. The board of directors included representation from the timber industry (a mill owner, Registered Professional Foresters), community activist groups (Earth First!, Sierra Club), banking community (a stock broker, a banker) and education (the UCCE Mendocino County forest advisor). They set out to create a new structure of ownership and community partnering that was unprecedented in the world of forestry. Using a new corporate model, the RFFI established county-based advisory committees who serve in the traditional role of “shareholders” in the corporation's decision-making process. These committees also reflect the multiple talents and experiences of the local community.
County-based planning is often an emotionally charged, financially motivated process where decisions can potentially affect natural resources for generations. As Californians move from urban and suburban centers into lands that have historically been hardwood forests, the expansion is impacting the biodiversity and ecological integrity of the state's oak woodlands. The shifting demographics are increasing the need for sound decision making if the ecological integrity of oak woodlands is to be maintained. The UC Integrated Hardwood and Range Management Program (IHRMP) has directed its efforts at planners for the past 15 years in recognition of the importance this dedicated group of professionals have in conserving California's wild spaces. California's oak woodlands are not subject to statewide regulatory oversight as are commercial conifer forests. Consequently, oak conservation measures are often handled by county and private planners on a fragmented, parcel-by-parcel basis. In 2004, the state passed legislation requiring all non-agricultural projects affecting oak woodlands be subject to evaluation under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Terms of the legislation required that planners must determine the project's “significance” and the impacts must be mitigated. At the time of the enactment, no existing documentation or precedent had been established to assist counties in making such determinations. The IHRMP undertook the task of articulating the complex issue of “significance” and developed a decision matrix designed to assist planners, developers and conservationists address the nuances of the new statute.
San Joaquin Valley farmers rely on handheld refractometers to determine fruit maturity. A refractometer measures the percentage of sugar (ºBrix) in juice, allowing a grower to estimate a harvest date for a particular variety or field of grapes, peaches or melons. Often a refractometer is purchased and used year after year without being properly maintained or calibrated at the beginning of each season. A lack of calibration prior to each use can give faulty readings, leading a grower to think a crop is ready to harvest, when in fact it may be days or weeks away. Commercial refractometer calibration test kits are expensive and growers rarely purchase them. Additionally, the improper care and/or storage of refractometers will contribute to inaccurate readings. Proper calibration, use and maintenance of a refractometer will improve the accuracy and utility of sugar data in determining fruit maturity.
Vine mealybug is a serious pest of wine, raisin and table grapes in California. Mealybug feeding reduces grapevine vitality, transmits grape viruses, and produces tremendous amounts of sticky honeydew, promoting sooty mold that renders the grapes unmarketable. Until 2002, there was only one localized infestation of vine mealybug recognized outside of Riverside, Kern and Fresno counties. By the end of 2003, infestations had been documented in 16 counties, representing all grape-growing regions of the state. Subsequent investigations identified infested nursery stock as the cause for the rapid, widespread dissemination of this new exotic pest.
For several decades, California pistachios suffered few pest problems. However, this changed in the late 1990s when a new species of mealybug was found in a Tulare County orchard. By 2002, Gill’s mealybug had infested about 20 acres of pistachios in Tulare County; by 2007 it had been found in more than 5,000 acres of pistachios statewide. Gill’s mealybugs damage pistachios by feeding on carbohydrates that would otherwise be used for nut development. This results in fewer of the highly prized split, in-shell nuts in exchange for smaller kernels in closed shells. Growers with infested fields applied multiple pesticide applications on a yearly basis to try to prevent significant crop losses. In 2004, the California Pistachio Commission approached the University of California for assistance in finding a solution.
Kern County has historically had some of the highest occurrences of pesticide exposure incidents in California. This trend peaked during 2002 and 2003 when a series of seven pesticide drift incidents affected more than 550 people. Each incident had significant negative impacts on human health.
In 2001, in response to a growing sense of urgency about the decline of agriculture in Marin County, a group of county officials, under the leadership of County Supervisor Steve Kinsey, met to devise a plan to provide support for the Marin County ag industry. With input from a diverse group of farmers, educators, non-profit organizations and environmental groups, a multi-faceted plan was proposed and implemented in stages. A very important component of this plan was the creation and funding of the organic and sustainable agriculture coordinator position within the Marin County UC Cooperative Extension office.
California communities need active, involved citizens of all ages. Through service-learning projects, teens learn to appreciate the value of contributing to their communities, strengthen their skills, and see themselves as leaders.
Most people want to make healthy food choices but they find it difficult to cut through the confusion at the grocery store. Shoppers can be overwhelmed by several factors when choosing what to put in their cart: cost, family preferences, culture, cooking skills and nutritional value. Participants in the food stamp program are faced with even greater challenges. The goal of the Food Stamp Nutrition Education Program is to improve the nutrition-related skills of food stamp participants, specifically those related to selecting, purchasing and preparing a low-cost, healthful diet for themselves and their families. Examining new approaches to reaching low-income consumers at the place where they select and purchase their food is important.
Wildfires occur frequently in San Diego County. The potential for losses has grown over the last few decades due to an increasing wildland-urban interface -- areas where residents live in the vicinity or in the midst of wildland vegetation. Following the 2003 firestorms, there was an onslaught of new building codes, brush management ordinances and educational programs adopted and developed by many fire authorities, cities and county departments. The intention was to assist wildfire victims and encourage others to prepare themselves and their properties for the next wildfire incident. Unfortunately, residents were often confused due to conflicting information and difficulties with interpreting new codes and ordinances.
Many existing youth development programs focus their outreach on children between the ages of seven and 12. Teens are often overlooked as an audience for youth development programming, as well as underutilized in the context of community volunteerism. A growing body of research indicates a significant benefit to teens from a purposeful integration of strong academic preparation with meaningful and structured community service. These pillars of youth development are key to sustaining efforts to promote quality, equitable, and comprehensive educational experiences for youth.
Reducing the impact of livestock grazing on water quality, aquatic and riparian habitat, and biodiversity is a continuing goal for livestock producers, natural resource managers, and conservation groups. Environmental impacts of livestock grazing are frequently the result of poor livestock distribution. Management practices that alter livestock distribution on the landscape by attracting livestock away from environmentally sensitive areas can effectively reduce these impacts. However, policy makers, regulators and land managers are often uncertain about the effectiveness of livestock distribution practices and therefore gravitate to the certainty of excluding livestock by fencing or lease termination. This can devastate the economic viability of rangeland livestock enterprises, reducing their competitive ability and adversely impacting the economy of rural communities. Furthermore, livestock exclusion limits our ability to use grazing to manage wildlife habitat, fire fuel loads and weed infestations. It is crucial that managers, regulators and community watershed groups understand how livestock can be predictably and effectively redistributed so that they do not have undesirable effects in grazed watersheds.
In 2006 the pear industry in Lake and Mendocino counties experienced up to 30 percent crop losses due to lack of qualified pickers to harvest the crop. These losses may have been a one-time problem but cull pears happen every year and represent an annual problem to the pear industry. While little can be done to salvage the direct loss of high-grade fruit, an opportunity exists for cattle, sheep and goat producers to recoup some of this loss by turning it into a quality feed source.
There is an urgent need to promote agricultural and environmental literacy among school-aged children. In this fast-paced, urbanized world, many young people have no idea where their food comes from, nor do they understand agriculture and its impact on their daily lives. Engaging youth interest in these topics can be very challenging and requires a creative approach.
Tiny parasitic roundworms (nematodes) that typically feed on underground plant parts are responsible for an estimated $10 billion in crop damage in the U.S. Nonchemical management of these pathogens has progressed slowly. No biological control product against plant-parasitic nematodes has ever received California EPA registration. The lack of understanding of microbe-nematode interactions is perhaps the greatest impediment to significant progress. Nematode-suppressive soils are soil sites where conditions for nematode-caused crop damage are present, but where such damage does not occur or where it occurs at a much lower level than expected. These are often sites where biological control occurs naturally and plant-parasitic nematode populations are typically maintained below the economic threshold.
There are limited opportunities for blind and visually impaired children to participate in gardening and home horticulture educational activities. This is an underserved group in San Diego County.
A critical element in positive youth development is empowering youth and allowing them to make a difference in their communities. Youth development research suggests that developing citizenship, leadership and life skills can benefit youth and their communities. This can be accomplished, in part, through opportunities for youth to participate in governance and rule making, and to take on leadership roles.
September 11, 2007 - The National Animal Identification System Information Education Project: Addressing 4-H Stakeholders’ Issues and Concerns
4-H Animal Science projects, which engage approximately 30,000 youth annually in California, pose potential risks to biosecurity and animal disease traceability. The majority of projects focus on rearing, care, husbandry, and showing and marketing live animals, including poultry, ruminants, and swine. There is a lack of standardized guidelines or protocols for tracking 4-H project animals. There are also no regional or statewide systems to inform volunteers of biosecurity risks and preventative measures. A standardized electronic tracking system that is currently voluntary in California may become mandatory, as it is in some states. The National Animal Identification System (NAIS), established in 2002, provides animal health officials with disease tracking tools to protect animal agriculture during a disease outbreak. NAIS uses an animal-specific Animal Identification Number (AIN) and a site-specific Premises Identification Number (PIN) to provide trace-back data on at-risk animals within 48 hours of exposure or potential exposure. While the system offers a standardized means of identifying and tracking animals, there have been concerns among California 4-H volunteers and youth regarding NAIS, including its potential impact on Animal Science projects.
Tomato yellow leaf curl virus (TYLCV) is the most recent whitefly-transmitted virus disease to appear in Imperial County. The disease caused by TYLCV in tomato crops is the most destructive whitefly-transmitted virus disease of tomatoes worldwide. TYLCV threatens commercial tomato production in California, transplant production of peppers and tomatoes in Imperial County, and home garden tomato production. TYLCV is transmitted by adult silverleaf whiteflies and can spread rapidly, but TYLCV is not seed borne or transmitted mechanically. The presence of silverleaf whitefly host plants, both cultivated (such as peppers and tomatoes) or wild hosts (such as sowthistle, cheeseweed and nightshade) during spring and summer may lead to whitefly migration and spread of TYLCV. Immediate action was needed to inform tomato growers of the new threat to their industry and to attempt eradication of TYLCV from California.
August 30, 2007 - Management practices to conserve water and reduce off-site movement of sediment and pesticides in drainage waters
Drainage waters discharged from irrigated fields in California and other states are under ever-closer scrutiny. The quality of drainage waters discharged into waterways in California is regulated under California Water Code and Federal Clean Water Act. Growers that discharge drainage waters that could affect the quality of water bodies in the state are required to comply with water quality regulations. Compliance with water quality regulations could be achieved by filing a Report of Waste Discharge (RWD) that complies with state-prescribed Waste Discharge Requirements (WDRs). WDRs could be used as a permit, limiting the levels of pollutants that may be discharged in waterways to protect the beneficial uses of water bodies in the state. Complying with the Irrigated Lands Conditional Waiver Program or the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) limits may provide alternates to WDRs for growers in the state. Sediment, nutrients and pesticides in drainage waters have been identified as the leading cause of water quality impairments in rivers and other water bodies in California. For example, sedimentation/siltation TMDLs for agricultural drains and two major rivers in Imperial Valley have been implemented to address water quality problems in the Colorado River Basin of Southern California. Accurate and reliable estimates of the load of sediment, nutrients and pesticides in drainage water are needed to assess the quality of drainage water or to comply with WDRs.
California farmers face increasing challenges due to labor and water availability, environmental regulations, and competition. Cheaper and more resource-conserving systems that rely on less labor are needed for profitable and sustainable production. Reducing tillage may significantly cut fuel use, labor, and costs in intensive production systems. However, most California farmers have little experience with these techniques.
Sustainable crop production in California’s San Joaquin Valley (SJV) relies on efficient management of increasingly scarce irrigation water and farm labor resources. SJV producers face powerful pressures for new, cheaper, and more efficient water-conserving cropping systems. A potential means for achieving greater farm production efficiencies may result from the merging of two new technologies that are widely used in other parts of the world, but not yet in California. Coupling overhead low-pressure center pivot irrigation with no-till practices may be a “systems” means for achieving the kinds of production efficiencies that will be required in the SJV in the future. The merging of these technologies is common in several regions of the world including the Pacific Northwest, throughout the Ogallala Aquifer region of the U.S. Great Plains, and in Brazil and Argentina, but neither technology is currently used much in California.
More than 600 California growers produce strawberries on approximately 30,000 acres each year. These berries are grown from San Diego County up to San Mateo County, and at various locations in the San Joaquin Valley. Approximately 80 percent of these strawberries are University of California-developed varieties. Before any varieties are released to commercial production, they must be tested and evaluated to identify their horticultural, harvest and shipping characteristics, and their pest management requirements for the regions in which they will be grown.
More than 200 minors are actively being prostituted by 115 pimps in Oakland, according to the Oakland Police Department. Thanks to the Sexually Exploited Minors Network and Measure Y funding, a Safe Place Alternative is up and running in Oakland. Community-based organizations are working with police, the probation department, the district attorney’s office and other city and county offices to deal with the needs of sexually exploited children; however the network had not held a youth activity.
Pesticides used by home gardeners can contribute to water pollution if the chemicals get carried away in runoff. To minimize pesticide use, home gardeners need an interesting and easy way to identify pests and learn the least-toxic, science-based methods of controlling them. While much information is available online (www.ipm.ucdavis.edu), not all consumers are Internet users and must often depend on untrained store personnel or anectodotal information about how to treat pests in and around their homes. More often than not, a pesticide treatment is recommended, even if the pest has not been clearly identified.
The January 2007 freeze was one of the worst in California history for farmers. Losses to all crops exceeded $100 million. The recorded low temperatures ranged from 14 degrees on the west side of Fresno County to 22 degrees on the east side beginning on Jan. 12 and continuing for about seven days. Large and small farms were impacted, but the impact on Fresno County's Southeast Asian refugee farmers was especially severe because of their marketing methods and lack of monetary reserves. About 324 Fresno County Hmong, Lao and Mien farmers sell their crops at farmers markets throughout the state. They plant crops every two to three weeks for the weekly farmers markets. When the freeze hit, they lost 80 to 90 percent of the crops in the ground, which meant they had little or nothing to sell until the crops planted after the freeze were mature enough to harvest, about four to six weeks later. Some had to go on public assistance simply to put food on the table. Most had very little money for replanting. See a local news video clip about the issue.
The year 2004 was a crossroads for Ventura County agriculture. Stricter water quality regulations promised over the past decade were finally being implemented. Regulatory agencies were mandating changes that would greatly impact agriculture, especially the intensely managed nursery industry. There was much concern that the new regulations would drive Ventura County nurseries out of business or into other areas where regulations were not as restrictive. Another concern was that substantial capital would be required to comply with these regulations, especially for those nurseries where the best solution would be the construction of recycling and water capture systems.
Increasingly, farmers and ranchers are finding it necessary to diversify their operations to stay in business. Value-added products, agriculture and nature tourism are ways to increase income from existing farm resources. Agriculture tourism includes farm tours, u-pick operations, hunting clubs, vineyard weddings and farm stays. Nature tourism aims to offer greater understanding and appreciation of natural areas while conserving local ecological, social and cultural values. Value-added products include wines, olive oils, cashmere garments, etc. However, Calaveras County had not changed its agricultural zoning component in the General Plan since the early 1960s. When it was written, the cattle industry was the primary agricultural enterprise. There was no allowance for agricultural or nature tourism, or value-added product development. In order to conduct agricultural tourism or nature tourism activities, landowners were required to undergo a costly process to acquire a conditional use permit. Growth of the agricultural industry was inhibited by outdated zoning codes.
A 2004 survey of the California olive oil industry found that 66 percent of the olive oil acreage in the state was being farmed organically. Some of the producers are certified, some are not, and many are in transition to certified organic status. The growth of this industry has paralleled the growth of organic agriculture and there is much demand for research and educational information to serve this burgeoning segment of the economy. Interest in the production of specialty table olives is also increasing as the canned black olive industry suffers from import competition. One way table olive growers can separate their product from others in this competitive world market is to produce the fruit organically. Growers want to produce these healthful foods in a manner that does not disrupt the environment, produces an excellent quality product, and takes advantage of the marketing niche for organic products.
The California olive oil revival is a quiescent industry come dramatically to life. Acreage planted to oil olives has doubled in just the last five years to over 10,500 acres. California’s production of 400,000 gallons of premium quality olive oil is predicted to triple in the next three years and continue to grow. These oils are excellent, taking top awards in competitions all around the world, but this was not always the case. Only a few years ago, most producers in California had no idea what good olive oil tasted like and some, unfortunately, were producing and selling defective oils without knowing it. Much of the old traditions of the Mediterranean countries that were being adapted included some of the bad habits of processing oil using antique and limited resource technology that produced defective oils. The big question was, how could California olive oil producers ever develop a viable industry without recognized standards?
In 2005, the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board began an agricultural waiver program for water discharge, requiring farmers who irrigate to manage water quality. To earn the conditional waiver, growers had to complete a series of agricultural water-quality short courses. The courses were designed to help Central Coast growers manage potential non-point source pollutants on their properties. Courses were offered in English and Spanish. Ethnic Chinese growers, who operate a large number of Santa Clara County’s small farms, also needed access to water quality courses.
The most devastating disease of avocado in California and the world is Phytophthora cinnamomi, or avocado root rot. In unprotected orchards, this disease can destroy virtually every tree within a few years, and put at risk the $400 million dollar California avocado industry. Fungicides have been used extensively to try to control the disease, but the ultimate control is a rootstock that is resistant to the fungus that causes the disease.
California rangelands provide many important functions. They are grazing lands, provide wildlife habitat and are also valuable watersheds around drinking water reservoirs. In one particular instance, at the Pardee Reservior in Calaveras County, two uses of the rangeland were perceived to be incompatible with one another - grazing and clean drinking water.
California is a primary producer of strawberries in the U.S. with 34,000 acres of fruit production and an annual value of $1.2 billion. Weeding costs in strawberry production range from $300 to $700 per acre even after fumigation with methyl bromide. The majority of the weeding expenses are for hand-weeding, which poses challenges for growers due to regulations and the increasing costs and decreasing availability of labor. Transition to less effective alternative fumigants and an increase in non-fumigated areas (buffer zones, furrow bottoms and organic fields), require cost-effective and sustainable weed control tools.
February 7, 2007 - Off to a Good Start San Diego County: Partnering with parents of preschoolers to build school readiness skills
Parents are essential to the development of early language and preliteracy skills. Research indicates that children are less prepared when they enter school today than they were a decade ago. The Carnegie Foundation reported that 35 percent of U.S. children enter kindergarten at risk of academic difficulties. Hispanic kindergartners in the U.S. entered school with significantly less competence in math and reading than their white and Asian peers, according to the federal government's Early Childhood Longitudinal Study. For Latino parents, there is often a sharper distinction between home and school. Latino parents see their role as being responsible for providing basic needs and proper behavior rather than supporting academic skills acquisition. To be effective teachers to their own children, parents need to know the skills necessary for school success and they need resources to assist them in providing educational opportunities for their children.
Baby blue gum eucalyptus is grown for the production of fresh cut foliage for flower arrangements or it is dried, dyed and sold in preserved floriculture markets. It has been grown commercially in California from San Diego County to Sonoma County for 40 years. There is no other significant commercial production of baby blue gum elsewhere in the United States. Ornamental eucalyptus has been virtually pest-free, requiring only occasional pesticide treatments. However, in August 2003, tortoise beetles (Chrysophtharta m-fusca Boheman) were observed on ornamental eucalyptus in Orange County, Calif. Within a few years, this leaf-feeding beetle spread throughout Southern California in the major growing area of ornamental eucalyptus, and has caused very heavy feeding damage to terminal growth. In 2006, beetle populations in growing regions reached extremely high levels, resulting in nearly complete crop loss.
Sudden Oak Death (SOD) is a plant disease caused by Phytophthora ramorum, which was likely introduced to California through the shipment of infected nursery plants. The disease first appeared in the mid-1990s in coastal California, and caused extensive tree die-offs in 1999 and 2000. An estimated 1 million tanoak and oak trees in California have died from SOD, with another 1 million currently infected in an area stretching from Monterey to Humboldt counties. In addition to the oaks, another 100 plant species and varieties are susceptible to the pathogen. Most of these species suffer only minor damage, but they can be important to the spread of the disease. Since its discovery, SOD has generated a need for timely distribution of accurate information. UCCE has been involved with outreach efforts from the start, including cooperating with the California Oak Mortality Task Force (COMTF). However, neither group formally evaluated the effectiveness of their outreach tools and materials. As SOD continues to be an important natural resource issue in California, these efforts needed to be assessed in order to better direct resources toward areas and groups of highest priority.
The University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) is increasingly offering support to farmers in counties where beautiful scenery and favorable climates threaten their agricultural industries. Marin County in the 1850s boasted sprawling Mexican cattle ranchos. In 2005, Marin was the site of the highest median priced Bay Area homes. Despite the changing economics, half the county’s land is still actively farmed or ranched. More than 38,000 acres on 57 farms and ranches are part of an agricultural land trust that protects them from development. However, a UCCE survey of farmers found that 63 percent consider their operations unprofitable or marginally profitable.
Milk is California's number one agricultural commodity, with a farmgate value of more than $5 billion annually. Although the state has fewer dairy farms than it did 20 years ago, the average herd size has increased. Dairy producers are faced with increasing scrutiny and more stringent regulations. In May 2007, the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board adopted new dairy “waste discharge requirements” that impose stringent nutrient management and monitoring practices on the region’s 1,500 dairies.
Gardeners in Solano and Yolo counties' are hungry for timely and useful local gardening information.
Farmers of irrigated agriculture along California's Central Coast are under increasing scrutiny and regulatory pressure to manage herbicide use so that it does not contaminate groundwater or run off into the waters of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Basic to the floor management practices in coastal vineyards is a combination of weed control, which often includes herbicide use and cover crop systems. Both affect productivity, ease of operations and costs. For growers to evaluate new production techniques, and to make informed business decisions that have a dual purpose of supporting profitability while protecting and enhancing water quality, access to research-based information demonstrating impact on crop yield and quality, as well as cost, is essential.
December 22, 2006 - Public Land Grazing Is Important to the Conservation of San Francisco's East Bay Private Rangelands
Many important natural resource lands in the Bay Area are privately owned by ranchers, and others are leased by public agencies to ranchers for grazing. These lands provide forage and numerous other ecosystem services, including those valued highly by the public, such as a pleasing landscape and wildlife habitat. It is well-known that the private land is at risk of fragmentation and development, when ranchers decide to sell their lands. What role does the availability of public lands play in their decisions? How important is public land in the ranching enterprise and to the local industry? This study addressed these questions to assess the role of public land grazing in East Bay land conservation efforts.
Contrary to the popular belief that carrots are only orange, the common root vegetable is available in a wide variety of colors -- from white to red to almost black. The unusually pigmented carrots have flavors that can accommodate many tastes. Flavor and visual variety may entice consumers to purchase and eat more carrots. A rainbow of carrot colors could attract customers to a roadside stand or farmers market booth, increasing traffic. In addition, colorful carrots might provide a nutrition boost for health-conscious consumers. For instance, according to the USDA, yellow carrots contain xanthophylls, a substance that supports vision and lowers lung cancer risks. Red carrots contain lycopene, which helps prevent heart disease and some cancers, including prostate cancer. Purple carrots contain anthocyanins, pigments that act as powerful antioxidants to neutralize harmful free radicals. Anthocyanins also regulate blood clotting, a helpful factor in preventing heart disease. White carrots lack pigment, but may contain other health-promoting phytochemicals.
Boat owners use copper paints to control hull fouling that slows sailboats and increases powerboat fuel consumption. Copper leached from these paints harms marine life. The Regional Water Quality Control Board's Total Maximum Daily Load regulations require 2,000 San Diego Bay boat owners to cut 76 percent of copper discharges by 2022. In addition, regulatory agencies are sampling marinas statewide for copper. Boat owners and businesses need effective alternatives to maintain California's $16 billion per year boating business, while protecting water quality.
Thousands of road-stream crossings (i.e., culverts) in California are either being removed altogether or replaced with better designed, more functional structures. The primary impetus for this is to reduce the potential for sediment delivery to streams caused by catastrophic crossing failures during stressing weather events. Although there has been some study of the post-construction stream channel erosion caused by removing crossings, there have been no published studies addressing these impacts for replaced crossings.
In the past, people were aware of the important role farming played in their lives. Children, especially, have lost touch with how and where food is grown. Many children lack an understanding of the ecosystems, the land, the people, and even the plants that produce their food. Many school districts throughout California have shown an interest in “stepping out of the box” of traditional teaching methods to incorporate agriculture into the school environment. This provides an excellent avenue for discussing food -– where it comes from, how to choose healthy foods, and factors contributing to human health, as well as planetary health issues such as composting and recycling.
Studies show that as many as half of California’s kindergarteners entering school are struggling. Learning and reading difficulties are more common among poor, non-white and non-native English-speaking children. However, problems exist in all socio-economic groups. Kindergarten teachers often cite early education in the home as the most important strategy to improve school readiness. Parent-child relationships in early childhood predict social and emotional development and lay the groundwork for academic growth and success. Likewise, a child’s readiness to enter kindergarten predicts future academic success and failure.
Statistics show that many children and disproportionately more low-income and English language-learners are entering school less prepared than children did a decade ago. There is overwhelming evidence that a parent’s involvement in reading and language are the building blocks for learning and school success. Children who do not develop adequate speech and language skills in the first few years of life are six times more likely to experience reading problems in school. High parental involvement in activities such as reading, telling stories, singing and playing with infants and young children contributes to children’s language and literacy development.
Elevated world demand for fine garments and quality textiles has lead to improved prices for select high grade cottons. California growers produce nearly 90 percent of the nation's highest quality cottons, known as Pima or ELS (extra long staple) types, prized for their long, strong and fine fiber. Because Pima yields are considerably lower than that of the conventionally grown upland cotton types, gaining domestic and world market share while remaining profitable is risky business. Variety development and testing programs are an integral part of identifying new germplasm that has the potential to meet the market demand for a high-quality product and the grower need to remain profitable.
The avocado industry contributes $350 million dollars in annual revenue to the California economy. The survival of the avocado industry was seriously threatened when a new insect pest species of thrips (Scirtothrips perseae) was discovered in Ventura and Orange counties in June 1996. The species was previously unknown to science, therefore no information was available to assist in the research effort.
In a recent UC Cooperative Extension study of meadow vole (Microtus californicus) in artichoke fields in Central California, the rodenticide chlorophacinone was evaluated and found to be much less effective than when introduced about 20 years ago. On close examination, the researchers found that the baiting strategies used were likely to increase the chances of developing genetic resistance in the target population. Typically, chlorophacinone has been used annually, sometimes with multiple treatments, with no alternative control materials or strategies available or used. This puts intense pressure on the vole population to select for animals that are less affected by the rodenticide and has resulted in an artichoke field vole population with a significant degree of resistance to chlorophacinone. These findings highlight the importance of developing resistance management strategies for field rodent control programs and demonstrate the need for alternative control materials.
October 30, 2006 - Using Polymers to Reduce Sediment and Nutrient Losses from Central Coast Vegetable Fields
Agricultural run-off from Central Coast vegetable fields carries sediments and nutrients into the tributaries that drain into the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, one of the largest ocean sanctuaries in the United States. The Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board, the agency that enforces state and federal water quality regulations, is requiring farmers to reduce the discharge of contaminants from agricultural fields into surface water bodies, such as streams, rivers, lakes and the ocean. In order to reach targets for clean water, growers will need to put in place affordable, conservation practices that minimize the impacts of farming on the health of aquatic environments.
Over the years, livestock producers have been faced with the challenges of optimizing production while conserving the environment and protecting their resources. They have for decades turned to their local farm advisor and the University for the latest information on issues such as breeding programs, supplemental feeds, health care, weed management, water quality and ranch conservation.
In 1990 the California Assembly passed a bill calling for the reduction in materials going to landfills. A large portion of this material is urban yard waste, or green waste. For many years researchers at UC have been working on the nagging problem of how to control one of the most devastating diseases in avocado – Phytophthora cinnamomi or Avocado Root Rot. This disease affects 60 percent of the avocado acreage in the state. One of the treatments that had been examined was the use of organic materials as mulches, such as composts, manures and yard waste.
The Central Coast supplies the nation’s grocery stores with a diversity of fruits and vegetables during much of the year. Because few guidelines are available, it is difficult for growers to accurately schedule irrigations to avoid over irrigating. Over-irrigation can cause nitrate contamination of groundwater. Many wells in the region have nitrate levels above the EPA safe drinking water standard. Over-irrigation leads to an increase in runoff, sometimes contaminated with agricultural chemicals and silt, which can harm sensitive eco systems in rivers, creeks and the ocean. Pumping too much groundwater for irrigation also draws seawater into the aquifers, leading to higher water prices to pay for developing alternative water supplies.
In the past decade, a number of groups have been trying to develop a positive approach toward youth development in American communities. The “positive approach” is based on research that reveals all youth need certain resources to thrive. Among other things, youth development programs that use the positive approach promote a sense of safety, provide opportunities to belong and offer teens meaningful challenges. This is in contrast to a “risk approach,” which focuses on reducing negative or problem behaviors. Some of the positive approach community efforts have been successful, but just as many have not.
The agricultural industry in coastal California features a great diversity of specialty vegetable crops. The extensive production of these so-called minor crops reflects the consumer’s increasing interest in diverse vegetables, tastes and nutrition. Such crops include arugula, beet leaves, chervil, cilantro, corn salad (mâche), escarole, fennel, mizuna mustard, radicchio, rappini, red mustard, tatsoi and others. Unfortunately, like all crops, these minor crops are susceptible to a number of damaging insect, pathogen, and weed pests that reduce yields and quality. Because industry commodity boards and university programs rarely include such crops, there is very little statewide research on pest biology and control options for these specialty crops.
High levels of stable flies on dairies are more than a nuisance. The bites also reduce milk yields. To keep stable flies at bay at dairies, it is standard procedure for dairy operators to hire a pest control service that sprays the premises with pesticides every two weeks during fly season, at an average cost of $250 per treatment. Because of pesticide resistance developing in the insect population, such sprays for stable flies are rarely effective. This management practice wastes dairy resources, adds to the pesticide load in the environment, and leads to increased pesticide resistance.
In 2004, the California Department of Transportation (CalTrans) was planning to construct the 5.5-mile final segment of State Route 7. The designed highway converted about 295 acres of prime farmland to non-farm uses. In order to construct the highway above the flood plain, more than 1.5 million yards of soil was needed for the roadbed embankment. The required embankment material for the project was to come from a 570-acre farm site in the state’s right of way at the project site.
An increasingly competitive global marketplace combined with higher input, labor and land prices have put pressure on many small and mid-scale growers throughout the state. As a result, many growers are looking to diversify their markets such as taking advantage of local or regional marketing. Consumers are demanding more food from local growers. Regional supplies mean that food is often fresher, and has traveled less distance from "farm to fork," thereby reducing ever-increasing fuel costs. More growers and their associations are beginning to establish “place-based” logos or labels as a way to create and maintain the value of their products and contribute to the economic viability of their operations.
Research in formal education indicates that occasional or one-shot training has little impact on the way teachers present science material to their students. With this in mind, the Santa Cruz County 4-H youth development program is engaged in a three-year research project with after-school providers in Santa Cruz and Soquel to measure how participation in on-going science training impacts the ability of after-school providers to successfully deliver science in after-school settings.
More than 33 million Americans are age 65 or older, and the number of seniors in the United States is expected to double over the next 30 years. In Sacramento County, 15 percent of the population is over 60. An increase in age over 65 may increase the risk of developing chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer and arthritis. Eighty percent of seniors have at least one chronic health condition and 50 percent have at least two. Heredity and lifestyle are two factors that affect the aging process. Dr. George Xakellis, an associate professor of family and community medicine at UC Davis Medical Center, said healthy aging is 30 percent genetic and 70 percent behavioral. "Over two-thirds of the things that you need to do to age healthfully are within your control," he said.
For many years, we have worked with local agricultural producers to develop sound management practices to alleviate water quality and other environmental problems. Many of the legal requirements faced by the growers are a result of the concern of homeowners and other non-farming groups. Ironically, in many situations, the environmental impact of a large housing development can be equal to or greater than the impact of the farming operation. However, many residents do not understand the collective impact of their home and garden pest control and fertilization activities on the environment. In addition, most of these homeowner activities are generally unregulated.
Biosecurity refers to safeguarding our national and state agricultural industries from damage caused by introduced plant pathogens and pests. Biosecurity plant pathology programs address two potential sources of introduced threats -- the unintentional, accidental introduction of exotic pathogens from outside the state or country and the intentional, deliberate introduction of damaging pathogens by factions antagonistic to our nation. Deliberate acts can be considered bioterrorism. In response to the attacks on Sept. 11 and the increased concerns about terrorism worldwide, the United States established a program to heighten awareness and detection of introduced plant pathogens and pests. The National Plant Diagnostic Network (NPDN) is a nationwide program that focuses on finding and identifying introduced plant pathogens, communicates such findings to appropriate network authorities, and trains professionals in various fields to look for these possible new threats. NPDN coordinates and organizes researchers, plant pathologists, extension personnel, regulatory agents, and industry members into a national network.
Tree crop growers typically use organo-phosphate (OP) pesticides in the dormant season to control an array of harmful insect pests. However, chemical residues of OP insecticides have been found in California waterways at concentrations harmful to aquatic life in the ecosystem. Apparently, heavy winter rains wash pesticide residues from orchards into nearby streams that drain into the major river systems. As a result of river water testing, state regulations have outlawed or imposed strict limitations on the use of many chemicals. The development of environmentally safe and effective alternatives to toxic chemicals is critical to sustaining both profitable crop production and a healthy environment.
Significant acres of California farmland are lost each year to residential and commercial development. The consequent economic and environmental impacts are of great concern to most Californians. To maintain rural environments and ag productivity, farms are relocating to the edges of the Central Valley, away from prime soils. Alternative farming practices must be developed to maintain production under these challenging conditions.
Families face significant health threats in the place we usually think of as safest, our homes. The trends show asthma in children ages 0-5 years old in Sacramento County was significantly higher at 13.2% than in California at 10.5%. Asthma accounts for 7 million missed school days in California and costs schools $231 million.
There is a shortage of veterinarians in California, and according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there will be 28,000 veterinary job openings nationwide by 2012. While all types of veterinarians are needed, the need for livestock veterinarians is greatest. The American Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges has recommended the development of programs to promote veterinary medicine to a diverse population. It also recommended developing meaningful mentoring relationships with youth to better promote the veterinary profession.
Between 2001 and 2005 the percentage of overweight and obese children and adolescents in California increased by 6%. This increase in obesity is largely due to poor eating habits and inadequate physical activity. In 2005 California spent $28 billion on obesity-related costs. Obesity and related costs could be substantially reduced by serving more healthful school lunches. School lunch programs are designed to provide a substantial portion of age-appropriate daily nutrition, but many schools still rely on packaged foods and high-fat items that are not healthful for children. Often district and food service administrators are not convinced that students will accept more healthful selections.
California is a major producer of fresh market potatoes in the United States. All types of fresh market potatoes (including russets, whites, reds, yellow fleshed, and specialty) are grown in the potato production regions of California. The growing conditions for these potatoes are significantly different in California, particularly in Kern County and other Southern California locations, as compared to other potato growing areas in the United States. While California is a major producer of fresh market potatoes, there is not an organized statewide breeding program to accommodate the unique needs of California potato growers. Hence, he potato industry in California has relied on the USDA and out-of-state universities for the development of improved varieties. The varieties are screened and evaluated for their adaptability to California growing conditions, giving particular consideration to the warmer and drier conditions of Southern California.
In August 2000, two psyllid species were discovered on lemon-scented gum and spotted gum trees in the Anaheim area. One is the spotted gum psyllid, a lerp psyllid, and another is the lemon gum psyllid. The insects cause leaf damage and drop which can stress trees and make them susceptible to fatal attack by other insects. Psyllids suck sap from leaves and produce a sticky substance called honeydew, which drops to the ground on cars and sidewalks.
Plant and animal growth on boat hulls increases drag, which slows sailboats and increases powerboats' fuel consumption (and related pollution). Most of the antifouling paints that boaters apply to prevent the problem slowly leach copper, which keeps marine organisms from attaching to boat hulls. However, the copper has accumulated in coastal boat basins to levels that exceed federal and California standards of 3.1 ppb. The copper is harmful to marine life, especially molluscs, crustaceans, echinoderms and phytoplankton.
Without a local Resource Conservation District (RCD), residents of Tuolumne County lacked access to many natural resources, agricultural and conservation programs offered by state and federal agencies. Many pressing natural resources issues in Tuolumne County, including fire fuel management, water quality, and noxious weed invasion, can be addressed by the RCD. An example is the Cooperative Soil Survey. RCDs cooperate with USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) scientists to conduct soil surveys. Tuolumne County does not have a soil survey, which is often crucial to effective natural-resource planning and management.
Sometimes “active ranch management” is undertaken to increase profits from livestock and hunting, and to reduce fire hazard. Active management may include tree thinning and the removal of shrub understory and large woody debris (LW). However, there has been little research in California oak woodland on the functional relationships between LW and wildlife diversity and abundance, and the balancing of these ecological values with the economics of ranching.
Fires in California have become all too common during the past two decades. What is especially troubling is that large, catastrophic wildfires resulting in significant property losses seem to be increasing in regularity. Oak woodlands will no doubt continue to be affected by these conflagrations. One reason wildfires are increasing in severity is the build-up of fuels, at least partially the result of effective fire suppression efforts during the last century. There are more fuels on the landscape today, especially in the understory, and the fires that start are more likely to become large in scope.
For nearly 100 years, there has been concern that several native California oak species are not regenerating adequately to sustain populations. Inadequate regeneration could adversly affect woodlands, resulting in conversions to shrub fields or bare pastures. A principal factor believed to significantly contribute to poor oak regeneration in California is livestock grazing. Since approximately 80% of California's oak woodlands are privately owned and the principal activity on many of these lands is livestock grazing, it is vital to understand how oaks can be regenerated in the presence of livestock. Such information will help ensure that our oak woodlands remain healthy and productive.
The care and guidance children receive during their first few years determines, to a large extent, whether they will become loving, confident, competent young people and adults. To promote early development, parents need to know how infants grow and change. They need to know the importance of responding warmly and consistently to their baby’s need for comfort and support. Parents need to understand the value of encouraging their infants to explore, of providing good nutrition and of maintaining a child-safe environment. They also need reassurance that they are capable of being good parents.
Four types of watermelons are available in supermarkets. Older diploid (seeded) watermelons, grown since 1629, weigh 18-35 pounds. Large seedless triploid watermelons weigh 15-22 pounds and have been popular since 1988. Icebox-size melons, 6-12 pounds, have been available since 2000. The newest melons are seedless mini or “personal” watermelons, sometimes called “palm” melons. The new triploid one-serving melons, weighing 3-7 pounds, became widely available in markets in 2003. Besides the smaller size, advertisers tout its thinner rind, which means more edible flesh. California growers started growing the personal-size melons, but research was lacking for recommended varieties, quality characteristics, pollinators and spacing requirements.
Federal and state water quality regulatory agencies seek documentation of pollution sources and verification of best management practices (BMPs)used by rangeland owners in watesheds that drain into impaired water bodies. Rangeland owners, however are resistant to formal reporting of pollution sources and management activities as they view this as increased regulation of their land and business. Fearing regulation, California's range livestock industry implemented a voluntary program, supported by training, to identify nonpoint sources of pollution and to implement BMPs. The training was provided by UC Cooperative Extension's (UCCE's) Rangeland Water Quality Planning Short Course. Evaluation of the voluntary effort is essential to determine if water quality problems are being resolved.
The lack of qualified shearers is a major problem for both the range and small flock sheep operations in Mendocino and Lake counties and statewide. The skills needed are difficult to learn without "hands-on" training. Sheep shearers are also often a source of educational information about management and health care and play an important role in delivery information to their clientele - the sheep producers.
The USDA, in partnership with states, tribal nations and the private sector, continues development of an initiative to identify animals and track their movements as they enter commerce. The National Animal ID System (NAIS) is being developed to quickly control diseases in cattle, sheep, goats, bison, swine, poultry, horses, deer, elk, llamas, alpacas and other animals. Once fully implemented, within 48 hours of receiving a report about an ill animal, NAIS will be able to trace all places the animal has been and all animals it was near. The program will significantly reduce the potential spread of such harmful and economically significant infectious diseases as hoof and mouth, Johnnes, Scrapie, Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (mad cow disease) and brucellosis. In addition, NAIO will improve biosecurity protection of the national livestock population, distinguish animals vaccinated or tested under the USDA disease-control program, provide official identification for animals in interstate or international commerce and accurately identify blood and tissue specimens. Currently the NAIS is voluntary, but it will likely become mandatory. Livestock producers, including small-scale producers and 4-H and FFA members, need to be familiar with NAIS and obtain an identification number for their premises.
A diverse group of agencies and districts are responsible for managing water resources in Mendocino County. Their responsibilities include providing drinking water, protecting property against flooding, and conserving aquatic habitat and threatened wildlife. The County of Mendocino has played a minor role in past efforts to meet these demands through the Mendocino County Water Agency (MCWA). From a state perspective, water supply and water quality are critical issues, and active local water agencies will be major participants in maintaining and improving those resources. Seeking to strengthen the agency’s role, Mendocino County hired an agency manager and contracted UCCE Mendocino County to conduct strategic planning for the county’s role in water resource planning, management and development.
Conservation tillage (CT) production systems have been developed in a number of regions around the world for crops such as corn, wheat, cotton, and soybeans . Widespread adoption of CT practices for these crops is common in South Dakota, Iowa, Georgia, Australia, and Brazil; however, CT currently is used on less than 2 percent of California's annual cropland. CT production may be a means for improving production economics of farming systems while also sustaining air, water, and soil quality; but, little research-based information and experience about CT is available that addresses California’s diverse production environments.
Rising fuel and labor costs oblige growers to carefully cut production costs. Reducing intercrop tillage typically associated with bed preparation operations is a promising means to cut costs in tomato production systems. A variety of “conservation tillage” (CT) crop production systems have been developed in other regions for crops such as corn, wheat, soybean, and cotton. To what extent, though, might CT principles and practices be adapted to tomato production in California?
The US Environmental Protection Agency designated the San Joaquin Valley (SJV) a serious non-attainment area for PM10, particulate matter with an aerodynamic diameter less than 10µm. PM10 can bypass the body’s respiratory defense mechanisms and has been linked to cardiac and lung diseases. Because air quality violations occur during periods of intense tillage activity, row crop agriculture has been pinpointed as a major contributor of PM10. Conservation tillage (CT) production systems that reduce or eliminate tillage have been developed in other regions. Less than 2 percent of California’s annual acreage uses CT approaches. Do CT production practices reduce dust and can they be developed for California crops?
Diversifying crop rotations may be a means for reducing disease pressures and improving long-term productivity in California’s annual crop production valleys. Using “off-season” or intercrop cover crops might be a useful crop diversification strategy that also could add organic matter to the soil and improve soil function and quality. In general, farmers have little experience with cover-cropping practices and have been reluctant to use them.
Alfalfa and pasture are the most extensively grown crops in the intermountain region. Irrigation is required for maximum yield and profit but future irrigation water availability in the intermountain area is in question due to competing uses, primarily for endangered species preservation. The region's entire agricultural economy is threatened if water supplies for forage production are reduced. Agricultural water use has come under increased scrutiny and is often singled out as a primary contributor to the decline in anadromous fish populations in recent decades. The general perception of many non-farmers is that irrigation of pasture and alfalfa is a poor use of limited water supplies. Therefore, it is in the best interest of agriculture to use limited water resources as efficiently as possible.
Strong science skills are essential for everyday living, academic success and job performance. Yet, nearly half of all California 8th graders test below their grade level in science abilities. The current emphasis on reading and math is squeezing science from the classroom curriculum.
There is general consensus that homework can boost academic achievement and the development of positive personal characteristics and habits of youth. However, many parents feel homework detracts from family time and limits their child's participation in other activities so students may not get homework support at home. Most after-school programs assist students with their homework, but do they help students succeed in school?
Diminishing water resources, climate changes brought about by global warming, and drought conditions in many arid and semi-arid regions of the world are making it increasingly difficult to grow viable crops. Rainfall in California has been below normal in recent years, raising concerns that the state may be experiencing another of its periodic droughts. And in the sub-Saharan area of Africa where many regions depend on rain-fed agricultural production, rain can be extremely scarce and the rainy season short. On top of this, there will be enormous needs for increased food production over the next 50 years. Current projections are that the global human population will increase from approximately 6 billion currently to between 8 and 12 billion around 2050.
Projected world population growth from the current 6 billion to between 8 and 12 billion by the year 2050 is expected to outstrip food production. Over the last several decades, the Green Revolution has yielded many improvements in agricultural practices that increased crop productivity in the world’s most important cereal grains. But the agricultural practices adopted during the Green Revolution are unlikely to generate the productivity gains needed in the future.
Fire has always been a natural part of California's ecosystem, but more than 50 years of fire suppression have allowed large amounts of fuel to accumulate. This has increased both the intensity of fires and their impact on the environment. To add to the dilemma, more people are moving into these forest lands, increasing the chance of a fire starting and complicating management of fires once they start.
One important way to improve pesticide safety for farmworkers is to provide health care workers with training and resources to help them in recognizing and treating pesticide-related illnesses and injuries. Small, rural health clinics located in farming communities generally serve California’s farmworker population. These clinics often experience frequent staff turnover, so educators must use innovative methods to provide timely pesticide information and clinical training.
Keeping pesticides out of groundwater and surface water and preventing pesticide drift are two of the most important issues facing agriculture. At the expanding agricultural-urban interface, the spotlight on these issues intensifies. Pesticide applicators are directly responsible for ensuring that pesticides do not contaminate water or drift off the application site. Their supervisors play an important role in deciding when and how to use pesticides.
Since pesticide and pest control regulations are very complex, anyone who uses or supervises the use of restricted materials must be certified. Commercial applicators must pass at least two qualifying examinations administered by the California Department of Pesticide Regulation. Private applicators are certified by passing an examination given by county agricultural commissioners. Until UC experts stepped in, however, all those studying for the exams struggled to glean the information they needed from various sources.
South Lake Tahoe (SLT) is a California community well known for its natural beauty, recreational opportunities and proximity to Nevada's gambling economy. Less known is SLT’s growing reliance on and the increasing size and importance of the immigrant Latino community. From 1970 to 2000, population nearly doubled from 13,000 to 24,000, while the Latino population increased six times from under 1,000 to nearly 6,500. Today, Latinos constitute 30-35 percent of the population. Despite this growth, the Latino community and associated issues have been largely unacknowledged. In 2001, SLT officials created the Latino Affairs Commission (LAC) to identify and address issues related to housing, education, employment, health and safety. In 2002, UC Cooperative Extension (UCCE) officials met with LAC members in El Dorado County. This connection and the resulting outcomes and products have been beneficial for both entities and the Latino community. SLT was isolated from county central services; significant connections did not exist with UCCE and its 4H programs. A new connection was established as the result of assessing, documenting and reporting the needs and assets of the local Latino community.
In October, 2002, a devastating foreign animal disease was discovered in several small flocks of chickens in Southern California. By December, Exotic Newcastle Disease had spread to large commercial flocks of egg-laying chickens. To eradicate the disease, over 3.5 million chickens had to be euthanized and disposed of. Sending the dead birds to landfills was the safest and most feasible option for disposal. At the time, covering the carcasses with several feet of compacted soil was the only accepted method of disposal. However, not enough soil was available at the landfills to dispose of so many carcasses in that way. Some other method of burial had to be developed.
Southeast Asian growers are important in the Merced County strawberry industry. Strawberries are so sensitive to water stress that there is a tendency to over-irrigate, wasting valuable water and increasing pumping costs.
Water is a limited natural resource for most of the arid and semi-arid regions of the United States. Despite this, rapid population growth and development are occurring in these areas, especially California. Many municipal water providers are faced with the need to reduce demand for freshwater supplies while protecting against drought and cutting down on wastewater discharges into sensitive bays and estuaries. Agencies encourage the use of reclaimed or recycled water from wastewater treatment facilities for appropriate non-potable uses, including urban landscape irrigation. In 2000, 19.5 percent of recycled water in California was used for landscape irrigation, saving enough fresh water to supply 300,000 homes. An important caveat to the use of reclaimed water for landscape irrigation is that after most of the water treatment processes, sodium chloride is the most detrimental chemical compound remaining in the recycled water. Little information is available on the tolerance of common landscape plant species to the levels of salts found in reclaimed waters. This basic information is needed by landscape managers to ensure the maintenance of healthy landscapes, given the reality of increased use of reclaimed water for irrigation.
Safe and effective plant growth regulators are commonly applied to cotton during the growing season to help control excessively vigorous growth, increase yield and improve fiber quality. They have been used with success for more than 20 years in conventional Upland cotton grown in California and across the U.S. cotton belt. Pima cotton’s growth is especially vigorous and if left unchecked can result in significant loss of profit and crop quality. However, little growth-regulator research has been conducted on Pima cotton, which is prized for its long and strong fiber. Because of Pima's vigorous growth habit, long growing season and unique genetic background, growers need growth regulator guidelines designed specifically for this economically important crop.
Although California has historically led other states in cotton production, increased production costs and lower commodity prices have led to the need to produce higher yields with lower inputs.
People who are most "food insecure"--those unable to use traditional means for acquiring and managing their family food supply--are at greater risk for obesity and poor health. That fact, confirmed by a recent UC study, is one reason that poor health is more common among low-income and minority populations. Obesity is not just a matter of personal health. It is a costly and deadly public health concern that affects economic productivity and state budgets as well as personal and family well-being.
Weeds play a major role in California crop production, costing growers millions of dollars annually. More than 250 plants are considered weeds, each with its own particular life cycle, growth habit, mode of reproduction, competitiveness and susceptibility to chemical or mechanical control. With so many crops grown in the state and the vast number of weed types, it is obvious that no one control program will work for all growers or in all situations. This means that farmers, pest control advisors (PCAs), managers and others involved in weed control must be able to identify the weeds that are present before deciding which management or control strategies to use.
Supportive communities with residents committed to and involved in the nurturing of youth contribute significantly to the healthy development of children and their families. The increasing cultural diversity of California communities and other social phenomena, such as working parents and changing family compositions, bring new challenges to UC Cooperative Extension programs that rely on volunteer participation. With Latinos now comprising one-third of the population of California, understanding the dynamics of Latino involvement in community life is essential to designing community programs to attract the participation and meet the needs of Latinos and their families.
Lygus bugs prefer alfalfa to many other crops, but don't damage it. Alfalfa can sustain high populations of lygus, but when the fields are cut every month the pest moves into neighboring susceptible crops. Retaining lygus populations in alfalfa fields is the centerpiece of a promising regional pest management strategy. This involves leaving strips of uncut alfalfa which act as a temporary habitat for lygus bugs, thus limiting their movement out of the field. The method works well, but growers are concerned about the effect that the strips of more mature alfalfa have on hay quality and marketability.
Pierce’s disease (PD), caused by the bacterium Xylella fastidiosa, is a killer of grapevines. Significant vine loss from PD has occurred in Southern California, North Coast and portions of the southern San Joaquin Valley including Tulare and Fresno counties over the last 100 years. However, the arrival and spread of the glassy-winged sharpshooter (GWSS), a more effective vector of the disease, caused devastating losses in the wine-growing regions of Temecula and threatened Kern County, a major grape production area of the state with more than 87,000 bearing acres and a farm gate value of approximately $438 million dollars.
Lygus bugs are a key economic pest of many crops in California, including field crops, vegetables, nuts and fruits. There are 43 species of Lygus bugs in the world, 34 of which are known to exist in North America. Three species are reportedly found in the central San Joaquin Valley of California: Lygus hesperus, Lygus elisus, and Lygus lineolaris. To date, there has been no simple method to distinguish among these three species. Pest management strategies must begin with correct identification.
Many urban residents grow much of their own food in backyard or community gardens out of necessity and/or as a hobby. However, any place subjected to human activity is likely to have potentially harmful trace elements at elevated levels in the environment, particularly in the soil. Trace elements, especially heavy metals, can accumulate in the soil and on plants, and may pose a potential health risk to people who breathe or, especially, swallow contaminated soil or eat contaminated vegetables, especially young children.
From 1998 to about 2000, more than 40 percent of the Temecula Valley vineyards were removed due Pierce’s disease, which is spread by the glassy-winged sharpshooter. In 2000, the California Department of Food and Agriculture received money from the federal government to provide compensation to growers and alleviate the impact of their losses caused by this disease. In order to process the amount of compensation, both the growers and CDFA required current information on production practices and costs of establishment for winegrape production in the impacted areas.
In Imperial County, there are several species of nematodes (microscopic roundworms) that can cause damage to many crops. Nematode-infested roots are inefficient in taking up water and nutrients, and yield or quality of the product is reduced. Although these pests are widespread and the damage is substantial, the most commonly-seen symptom in many cases is simply lack of vigor. For that reason, the cause of the problem is frequently misidentified.
Growers are required to test the blood of pesticide mixer loaders, applicators and others who contact organophosphate (OP) and organocarbamate (CB) pesticides -- such as diazinon and carbofuran -- in the workplace. Barry Wilson, animal science and environmental toxicology professor, his students and colleagues showed that tests used by California clinical laboratories often were not optimal and that results were not comparable from laboratory to laboratory. This led to a change in state regulations requiring that mandatory tests be consistent and conversion factors be generated.
Invasive and noxious weeds do not respect property lines or jurisdictions. To help prevent their introduction and spread, a public-private partnership that combines resources and expertise is required. These invasive plants are often detrimental or destructive to agriculture. They also degrade wildlife habitat and impair plant biodiversity.
Many of the parents of youth residing in public housing communities are single mothers with several young children to care for. Living at or below the poverty level, many are not fluent in English and lack the financial and sometimes the social resources to provide all the support they would like to give their children. Public housing communities and other low-income neighborhoods are heavily impacted by gangs, drug abuse, physical and social isolation and poorly-performing schools. All combine to create an environment that places Los Angeles near the bottom of the list of cities that provide safe and healthy communities for children.
Over 3,500,000 acres of rangeland in San Luis Obispo and Monterey Counties serve as watersheds to capture, store and release water for downstream uses. These rangelands provide forage for livestock grazing and their diverse plant communities serve as habitat for many species of wildlife. However, proper management of rangeland is needed to prevent surface water pollution.
Precise application of nitrogen (N) fertilizer based on plant need and location in the field greatly improves fertilizer use efficiency in rice growing. This maintains yield while helping to reduce nitrogen runoff into surface and ground water. Moreover, higher energy costs have increased fertilizer prices. One way to improve the economics of rice production is to estimate tissue N status at critical points in the plant's life cycle. To do this effectively, a rice grower must evaluate large acreages and make management decisions quickly.
More women are victims of domestic violence than of burglary, muggings and other violent crime combined. Most attacks on women (about 70%) are committed by someone the victim knows--often a husband or boyfriend. Last year in America nearly 4,000,000 women were physically abused in this way. Domestic crime against adults accounts for nearly 15 percent of total crime costs--$67 billion per year--according to a 1996 study by the National Institute of Justice. A National Crime Survey has shown that almost half (48%) of all incidents of domestic violence against women go unreported. In Santa Clara County, 18 people were killed during 2000 by their spouses, ex-spouses or lovers. Local law enforcement received nearly 10,000 domestic violence calls, with actual incidents estimated to be even higher.
California produces more than 10 million tons of grass clippings, tree leaves, limbs and twigs, vegetable cuttings and other organic wastes every year. The Integrated Waste Management Act of 1989 (AB 939) required a 25% diversion of this waste stream from landfills by 1995, and a 50% diversion by 2000. Mushrooms grow and produce effectively on highly lignified and composted material. From 1985 to 1999, mushrooms--mostly white button mushrooms (Agaricus spp.)--were the number one cash crop in Santa Clara County. California produces about 40% of all mushrooms in the United States. Mushroom production worldwide has increased in the last 15 years from about 350,000 tons to about 9.9 million tons.
During wet years in the 1990s a new and unknown plant disease, later identified as an anthracnose fungus, occurred throughout most of California's almond growing region. It destroyed flowers and developing nuts, producing toxins that killed almond tree branches up to two inches in diameter. Losses continued throughout the season whenever rains occurred. Growers were at a complete loss for control of this disease and believed they might have to remove the affected orchards. Processors also were concerned because nuts infected near harvest could have internal discoloration that was difficult to detect and reduced product quality.
Because over half (55%) of all California children ages 5 to 14 have both parents or a single parent working at least 30 hours per week, after-school programs are critically needed and play an important role in the lives of many children. The most important factor in the quality of this care, according to the RAND Corporation, is the quality of staff. However, maintaining staff quality is challenging due to factors such as funding uncertainty and short work hours. Although staff generally do not have teaching credentials, they are increasingly called upon to improve the academic work of low-achieving students. When that happens, traditional teaching methods that have failed the student during the school day are unlikely to succeed in after-school programs.
Compared to other developed countries, school children in the U.S. rank poorly in science and math scores. Many people today are concerned that we will lose our competitive edge in the global economy unless we train our youth to apply scientific methods and new technologies, particularly in the use and management of our finite natural resources.
Since the early 1990s, Mendocino winegrowers have been converting large acreages to organic farming. Impressed by early experiments in other crops such as vegetables, they worked to improve their land, their fruit quality and their image in the market. However, concerns about soil fertility, disease and pest control and costs made growers cautious in their initial efforts.
California’s premium wine industry has been based on wine grape varietals from Northern France, primarily the Burgundy and Bordeaux regions, where climates are very cool and moist compared to most of California. However, in California these varietals perform best only in limited areas because this state has a warmer, dryer Mediterranean climate. Experience with landscape plantings has shown that many Mediterranean plants are much better suited to the warmth and sunshine of California than plant materials from Northern Europe. Thus, it makes sense to look to the Mediterranean region for wine grape varietals that make fine wines. Many of those varietals have not been grown in our state in the past, but winegrower interest suggested an organized way to evaluate them.
Mendocino County’s economy is undergoing a fundamental shift. In 1970, 42% of the workforce was employed in timber and fishing. Today, only 7% work in those industries, nd both are declining in economic activity. Meanwhile, tourism and agriculture have grown greatly in value. In fact, the two leading industries are wine and lodging, both of which are dominated by relatively small businesses that are family-owned and employ less than 20 people. Food processing and similar businesses are also small and find it difficult to compete. Small businesses seem to do best in market niches that require effective promotion and marketing, but many of them cannot afford that expertise.
Teen parents throughout Solano County have not been receiving services available to low-income families. Health professionals and social services providers are concerned about the welfare of babies of teens and about the isolation and lack of opportunities for teen parents as they struggle to provide for their children.
Medusahead is an aggressive and invasive non-native annual grass causing severe undesirable effects on western rangelands. Medusahead grows on more than a million acres of grassland, oak woodland and chaparral shrubland in California. The presence of medusahead can reduce the land's livestock carrying capacity by as much as 75 percent. Medusahead also impacts ecosystems by reducing plant diversity, the productivity of desirable plants, and wildlife habitat. Medusahead control has been explored since the 1950s, but with limited success. Burning is an effective method, but it is not widely used because of air quality and liability issues. Herbicides are not practical in rough terrain and selective herbicides targeting medusahead are not available.
The steady deterioration of marine resources in the California Channel Islands has led biologists and resource managers to question current approaches to fisheries management. No-take marine reserves can be used to supplement traditional fisheries and enhance fish populations. However, it is important to design reserves using sound ecological principles while maximizing long-term economic potential and also enhancing educational and research opportunities. State marine resource managers need strategies that incorporate the economic and conservation implications of different reserve network scenarios. Such strategies can help to rebuild California fisheries and the fish species and habitats they depend on.
State legislation required cities and counties in California to reduce the amount of solid waste going to landfills 25% by 1995 and 50% by 2000. In response, the City of Napa initiated a yardwaste prevention program to divert solid waste from landfills by encouraging home composting, among other measures.
There is growing concern among consumers about the quality and safety of the beef they consume. The 2000 National Beef Quality Audit listed the top concerns/desires of consumers as concerns about bacterial contamination and antibiotic residues; desire for "traceback" information, "natural" beef and organic beef; and concerns about animal welfare and the environment. In response, the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) has set a series of industry goals to be achieved by 2005. One of the most important of those goals is 100% Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) training for beef producers. (The other goals deal with such topics as grade standards, cattle management, information systems, transportation and handling equipment, and improved eating quality of beef.) The mission of the Beef Quality Assurance program is to maximize consumer confidence in and acceptance of beef by focusing the industry’s attention on beef quality through the use of science, research and education.
To reduce impacts on salmon habitat, water-quality regulations concerning sediment are being established for Northern California watersheds. These regulations require agricultural landowners to inventory, monitor and control sediment delivery to salmon-bearing streams, with the overall goal of reducing the impacts of fine sediment on salmon habitat. Exactly how to conduct such surveys across millions of acres of private and publicly managed rangeland was not entirely clear. Effectively identifying sites of water quality impact in an efficient manner is the critical first step for reducing the impacts. This is particularly true for rangeland managers, regularly facing overburdened schedules and limited budgets.
March 31, 2003 - North Coast Rangeland Owners Benefit from Water Quality Planning Courses & Applied Research
Improving North Coast water quality requires accelerated efforts to create phased-TMDL's (total maximum daily loads) for more than 18 watersheds. Most of these watersheds are listed as impaired for the beneficial use of habitat for Coho salmon and steelhead trout. Causes of the impairment are sediment, temperature or both.
The two key insect pests of cling peaches, oriental fruit moth and peach twig borer, are conventionally controlled with broad-spectrum toxic insecticides. These sprays can create problems such as contamination of surface water due to runoff from orchards, development of pest resistance from overuse, and safety concerns for field-workers and pesticide applicators. Because peaches are one of the top 20 foods consumed by infants and children, eliminating pesticide residues is also an issue.
The impending introduction of West Nile (WN) virus into California has heightened our need to improve control of mosquito disease vectors in the state. Since the virus was first detected in New York in 1999, it has spread rapidly westward across the USA. Vertebrates susceptible to the virus become infected via the bite of mosquitoes. In 2002 in the U.S., 201 humans and over 13,000 birds (mainly crows) died and over 3,300 humans and 9,000 horses became ill from WN virus infections. No vaccine is available for humans, and our best line of defense against this virus is by control of mosquito vector populations. AES assistant professor Anthony Cornel of UC Davis led research that detected resistance in California mosquito populations to currently used pesticides. Mosquito abatement personnel are now aware of this and have focused more on applications of rotations and mosaics of pesticides to mitigate further spread of resistance. Cornel and ANR GIS analyst Kris Lynn designed a Geographic Information System (GIS) interface for control of mosquitoes in mosquito abatement districts.
To control codling moth in pear orchards, the primary alternative to organophosphate (OP) insecticide is pheromone mating disruption (MD). This technique is currently used in nearly all pear orchards in California. But there are problems with traditional pheromone dispensers: (1) unreliable emission rates, especially in the spring and (2) need for labor. These problems have been particularly acute on the North Coast with its cold springs and higher labor costs. A more efficient and reliable alternative to OPs for codling moth control has been needed.
A large part of California's open space and wildlife habitat is provided by ranchers, whose yearly return on their investment ranges from 3% down to minus 4%. In addition to this economic squeeze, increasing urban encroachment is limiting the sustainability of these open spaces. Marketing grass-fattened beef directly to the consumer could provide both a higher return to ranchers and a product that has many health advantages for consumers.
In the early 1980s, managers of grazing on California’s annual rangelands were beset with a host of problems exacerbated by drought. A simple and yet scientifically defensible method for determining grazing capacity and regulating grazing intensity was needed. The available science was primarily based on work by federal agencies outside of the state and on perennial-dominated grasslands.
Managing bees for pollination is becoming more difficult as beekeepers face challenges from the Africanized honey bee, the Red Imported Fire Ant, Varroa and tracheal mites and several other pests and diseases. Colony strength, winter survival and restrictions on movement of bees in to and out of the state all affect the economics of beekeeping. Growers who rely on honey bees for pollination are concerned about future availability of bees as well as increasing costs for pollination. Leafcutter bees are used for pollination on certain crops in Canada and the Pacific Northwest, but they had not been used in California due to their higher cost and more intensive management requirements. If leafcutter bees could be used to pollinate several commodities in this area, there would be greater incentive to establish the necessary infrastructure, the cost would go down, custom pollinators might become involved and more growers could take advantage of the leafcutter bee's superior pollinating activity on certain crops.
Common staples like cereal grains and milk provide critical sources of nutrition for many people, but can cause problems for people with food allergies. A food allergy is an abnormal response to a food triggered by the immune system and it can result in diarrhea, vomiting and in the worst cases is life-threatening. Two foods that cause allergies in children, milk and wheat, do so because certain of their proteins are held together tightly with chemical "bungie cords" and are not digested. The allergens then interact with target cells in the small intestine, causing an allergic response.
Thomas Cardinal Wolsey gave this warning in the late 15th century, “Be very, very careful what you put into that head, because you will never, ever get it out.” His admonition still resonates today relative to the impact of information people receive about genetically engineered (GE) crops and foods. It is the responsibility of public sector scientists to provide facts to inform consumers about issues being raised over crops and foods developed through the process of genetic engineering (biotechnology, genetically modified, or GM). This helps individuals make informed decisions about the desirability of the technology and its products.
In the late 1980's and through most of the 1990's, California had about 15,000 acres in apples and ranked second only to Washington State. Due to strong market competition and low prices since that time, acreage has been on a steady decline--except in organic production.Many California growers wanted to take advantage of higher prices and brisk demand for organically produced apples. Unfortunately, they have had to contend with huge losses from diseases like apple scab and powdery mildew as well as insects such as codling moth and aphids. In years with wet spring rains, apple scab caused a complete loss of blossoms and fruit. In some years, worm-infested apples caused by codling moths resulted in as much as 90% damage in untreated orchards. Aphids and powdery mildew were secondary pests, but under certain conditions could decimate production in orchards where conventional pesticides were not used.
Enhancing the elementary school classroom by bringing in outside resources helps children learn. Children's natural curiosity and interest in animals and plants creates learning moments, encourages agricultural literacy and provides opportunities for students to discuss and learn about life experiences. To affect the classroom, however, the program must be longer than a one-day exposure.
Over the last few years numerous specialty crops have become of great interest to small-scale growers. About 800 producers in Sonoma and Marin Counties have planted approximately 2,500 acres in specialty vegetables, berries, mandarins, cut flowers, chestnuts, Christmas trees and specialty tree fruits. Every year, hundreds of these and other small-scale land owners are looking for information on crop production methods. They usually need basic information on types of alternative crops, specific varieties, land evaluation, collecting and analyzing soil samples, farming equipment, irrigation, pest control, postharvest handling and direct marketing. It is very difficult to get a significant amount of information on such an array of topics to them, especially on a one-on-one basis during a farm visit.
Environmental problems related to urbanization in California include rapid depletion of landfill capacity, excessive use of water resources and contamination of waterways from garden pesticide runoff.
In lost production and fruit quality, California red scale infestations cause major economic losses to citrus growers. Historically, management of this pest centered on pesticide applications, with timing based on visual examination of the trees. The expense of the spray was a major part of a grower's total production cost. Pesticide used for this one pest was a major component of the total pesticide load applied to citrus in Tulare County.
Grape vines are susceptible to diseases caused by various nematode species, including root-knot, root-lesion, ring, citrus, and dagger nematodes. Research has indicated that root-knot nematode species often adapt to invade previously resistant rootstocks within two to 14 years after planting. Once nematode populations develop the means to exploit one rootstock, they are then able to attack all the plantings using that rootstock. The damage caused by nematodes is economically significant, resulting in lost fruit and vine vigor for growers.
Phytophthora root rot of avocado and citrus is a worldwide problem, causing the potential destruction of avocado orchards and reducing fruit quality and yield for citrus. It is estimated that some 60 percent of California avocado orchards are affected by the disease.
The two rivers that drain California's Imperial Valley, the Alamo River and the New River, as well as the Salton Sea are listed on the state’s 303(d) impaired water list. Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) standards for sediment and silt have already been developed for Imperial Valley drains and rivers. The TMDL goal is to reduce the current load of sediment and silt in drainage water by 50 percent. Growers are required to comply with TMDL standards to reduce the concentration of sediment and silt in drainage waters of the Imperial Valley.
Pest control advisors (PCAs) in California are college-educated professionals who examine agricultural fields and recommend control measures for crop pests. They help to ensure a plentiful, high-quality crop at harvest time. UC researchers are constantly developing new pest management techniques and PCAs are challenged to stay current with these developments. Although PCAs are well trained and spend much of their time in the field, they can become overwhelmed by the amount of new information.
Greens, beets and cabbage are examples of produce that pack a strong nutrition punch but don't get much space in the average community garden. A CE study conducted in Los Angeles indicated that community gardeners were either not growing some of the most nutritious crops or did not know how to prepare them in ways that their family enjoyed. Another problem was that they often prepare them with high-fat, high-salt methods rather than healthful methods such as steaming.
Growers have long known that dairy manure water pumped onto adjacent farmland contains useful plant nutrients. However, because it hasn’t been easy to estimate the amounts of nitrogen and other nutrients in the water, farmers have added commercial fertilizer. Under the US EPA's revised Clean Water Act requirements, most dairy farms will have to prepare management plans documenting all plant nutrients applied to fields. Eventually, the revised regulations will require producers to submit documents showing they are applying manure nutrients at appropriate rates. Growers are concerned about the complexity of complying with the new regulations.
In bringing information from UC to the home and garden audience, the most efficient method is to make use of local mass media because they reach the largest numbers of clientele. Newspapers are widely read and as such are an excellent extension method. The objective of the weekly column is to provide to home and garden clientele researched-based information that is up to date and timely.
In recent years many grandparents, treasured for the unconditional love they bestow, have taken on the added responsibilities of providing food, shelter and discipline for their grandchildren. Nearly 626,000, or 6.8% of all California children under age 18, live in grandparent households and rates within counties range from 3%-11%. Often with multiple health problems of their own, grandparents may suffer severe emotional and economic stress when confronted by the costs and tasks of raising children who themselves may have emotional, learning or physical disabilities. Also, 294,969 grandparents are sole caregivers. These problems create an urgent challenge for health and human services planners like UCCE to develop education, training and support programs to serve children at risk and their caregivers.
In light of the increasing need to bring up-to-date information on landscaping and gardening to urban audiences, the web offers an efficient way to provide on-line information in an accessible format to home gardeners and horticulture professionals.
In the early 2000s, the grape industry in the Temecula Valley suffered tremendous economic losses resulting from an epidemic of Pierce’s disease, a lethal disease of grapevines caused by the bacterium Xylella fastidiosa. Leafhopper insects, primarily the glassy-winged sharpshooter, transmit this pathogen from plant to plant. The bacterium can also infect several other species of plants that can serve as sources of inoculum for infection of grapevines. The identification and removal of infected plant material from grape-growing areas is critical to the successful management of Pierce’s disease.
California hardwoods are an underutilized natural resource. California is a major consumer of hardwood lumber (20 percent of nation’s production) but the hardwood lumber production industry in the state is almost non-existent; this is in spite of a sizable hardwood tree resource (12 billion cubic feet of timber growing stock). The economic viability of a native hardwood lumber industry depends on a thorough understanding of the lumber recovery and grade yield expected from the resource and a solid knowledge of wood properties and manufacturing characteristics. The focus of this effort is to encourage a sustainable California hardwood industry by identifying basic industry needs, raising the awareness of the potential for value-added products, developing good manufacturing practices, and providing technical assistance.
On many dairies, herdsmen either lack sufficient general training or they need to upgrade their skills to adequately manage large-sized dairies. In response to requests from throughout the Central Valley, the Dairy Herdsman Shortcourse was created to present the latest information in dairy herd management and to improve herdsman skills.
Before cotton can be harvested, the leaves have to be removed from the plants, a process known as defoliation. This is done with harvest aid chemicals. Improper choice of materials or time of application results in poor defoliation. Ideally, the material should defoliate the entire plant with minimal desiccation of remaining leaves. Under the constraints of EPA registration as well as environmental concerns, certain defoliants may not be available in the future. There is need to evaluate alternatives to current programs to insure both effective defoliation and minimum impact on air quality.
Almost half of arable land in the irrigated Sonoran Desert, including Imperial County, is dedicated to forage production. New forage resources are always of interest to local growers.
Powdery mildew of melon is a common problem in all California melon production areas and multiple fungicide applications are used to control it. Resistant melon varieties are available, but plant resistance-breaking strains of this pathogen can render them susceptible. In addition, some fungicides are no longer effective due to the development of fungicide-resistant strains of the pathogen. The most sustainable control strategy integrates the use of varieties with mildew resistance and prudent use of fungicides. In this way, an entire melon producing area is not completely reliant on either approach to control the disease. Also, rotation of fungicides with different modes of action is an important strategy in reducing selective pressure that causes resistance. A search for such fungicides may lead to registration of new materials. This would aid in mildew control and resistance management. In addition, there is a need to assess powdery mildew susceptibility of modern melon varieties in the low desert production area of California.
The Earned Income Tax Credit has been described as the largest and most successful federal assistance program for low-income working families. Last year, the EITC was responsible for elevating the families of 5 million children above the federal poverty line. However, many eligible families do not take advantage of this valuable income supplement for various reasons, as indicated by the findings of Rural Families Speak. Rural Families Speak is a longitudinal study assessing changes in the well-being of rural families in the wake of welfare reform and associated reductions in programs and services. In the first year of the study, only about one-third of the Latino participants who were eligible for the EITC had actually received the credit. The data indicated that lack of and/or inaccurate information were common reasons for non-receipt. Language and cultural barriers further diminished the likelihood that Latino families knew about and claimed the EITC.
Sweetpotatoes are vegetatively propagated. Roots are sprouted and the sprouts are transplanted to the field to produce more roots. True seeds are not used in commercial production because sweetpotatoes rarely flower. An unfortunate consequence of not using true seed, however, is that viruses can accumulate in the plants, greatly diminishing both yield and quality.
Tomatoes are the leading processed vegetable crop in California. Annual production is about 10 million tons of fruit, grown on more than 260,000 acres and with a total on-farm value exceeding $608 million. Processing tomatoes are grown throughout the state and in many soil and temperature regimes. Under such diverse growing conditions, the performance of different varieties also varies greatly. One that does extremely well along the Central Coast may simply not set fruit out on the West Side in Fresno County.
Besides farmers, Californians from many disciplines need and use cost-of-production data for California-grown agricultural crops. Before investing in a crop, the farmer needs to calculate the cost of each operation including seed, water, fertilizer, land rent, etc. The sum of these investments is used to estimate the cost of production and the potential profit or loss of the farming venture. A break-even value of each unit of production, such as a carton of lettuce or ton of alfalfa, can be estimated as well. Chief users of the information include farmers, investors, money lenders, government agencies, students, accountants, county and state planning agencies, water districts, environmental groups and a myriad of agricultural businesses.
Exotic Newcastle Disease (END) is a catastrophic avian (bird) disease. An outbreak was confirmed October 1, 2002, and Southern California is under state and federal quarantines. As new pockets of the disease have been identified, states of emergency have been declared in California, Nevada and Arizona.
California is the number one horticultural state in the U.S. and has a sizable proportion of the nation's population, yet awareness of horticulture among its youth is questionable. Very few California youth have represented California in horticultural competitions in recent years, and only one in the past 10 years. This is a problem, since such young people are the future leaders of California horticulture.
Since 1991, Silverleaf whitefly, Bemisia argentifolii, has caused severe economic losses to cotton and other crops in California and the US. In 1996, 554,215 acres of cotton were reported to be infested in Arizona and California. Lint losses were estimated at 24,891 bales, resulting from reduced yield and contamination of lint with honeydew and sooty molds. Cotton leaf crumple disease, transmitted by the whitefly and caused by cotton leaf crumple geminivirus (CLCV), can also cause extensive reduction in yield.
Riverside County is the number one producer of dates in California as well as the nation but successful, economical production is limited by Banks grass mite (BGM), the leading pest of dates in the state. Sulfur is the only registered pesticide for use in controlling BGM. However, sulfur disrupts natural enemies and no longer controls BGM. Alternative chemicals must be found.
In 1991, silverleaf whitefly became a devastating pest of melon and squash crops, destroying 96% of Imperial County's fall melon crop and resulting in an estimated loss to growers of $12.5 million dollars. In succeeding years, the county's fall melon production dropped from approximately 12,000 acres annually to under 2,000 acres. In the late 1990's a related problem arose, a virus plant disease transmitted by the whitefly. This newly developing disease problem and management approaches to deal with it needed investigation.
Both the public and landscape professionals need hands-on information about growing edible and water-efficient landscape plants to complement information provided by UC publications and web sites.
Farming in the foothills of California is a challenging way of life. With the Sierra on one side and the lush Central Valley on the other, the oak woodland of the foothills offers a unique landscape for farming operations. The moderately fertile to poor soils provide for a variety of commodities ranging from livestock on dry rangeland, fruit and nut orchards and vineyards on deeper soils, and annual fruit and vegetable crops in between. Most farms in the Sierra Nevada foothills are small operations. With an ever-increasing supply of commodities from other countries, many farmers are feeling financial pressure and those on smaller farms even more. Small operations that don’t have the money to market their products through commercial channels are usually the first to go under. However marketing in a small community can have its advantages. Many consumers have come to realize the benefits of buying local products. Food which has not traveled hundreds or even thousands of miles will be fresher, riper, tastier and more nutritious.
Trees and shrubs help clean the air. They absorb carbon dioxide, release oxygen and provide surfaces for the deposition of airborne particles and unhealthful gases such as ozone. Also, water evaporating from tree leaves cools the air and shade from trees cuts energy consumption, reducing the need for air-polluting energy generation. However, there is another side to the story. Some trees and shrubs emit high rates of certain volatile organic compounds (VOC), which react with nitrogen oxides (NOx) and sunlight to form ozone, a ground-level pollutant. Other plants emit very little VOC.
In the early 1990s, several Southeast Asian immigrants began planting strawberries in Sacramento County. They had very limited experience in farming, particularly with pest management, and they frequently lost entire crops to pests. They needed information, as did other Southeast Asian growers who joined them. There are currently about 40 Southeast Asian growers in Sacramento County.
The Food Stamp Nutrition Education Program (FSNEP) is the largest of the federal safety net programs and first line defenses against hunger. Unfortunately, not all who are eligible and can benefit from this program are enrolled. Additionally, even with financial assistance, many families are unable to effectively use this resource to provide healthy diets for their families. In Placer County in 1997, there were 17,812 low-income residents. Of these, 7,412 received Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) assistance and 9,173 received food stamp assistance.
Strong science skills and processes are essential for everyday living, academic success, and job performance. Yet, nearly half of all California 8th graders test below grade level in science abilities. 4-H has long been recognized as a national leader in non-formal, out-of-school science activities. Many classroom teachers believe these same quality inquiry-based experiences belong in the classroom as well. The Hands-On Science Program was developed to meet this need.
California citrus growers often want to import foreign citrus varieties to develop new product lines and extend growing seasons. To protect the state citrus industry from devastating diseases, all foreign budwood entering California must go through an official inspection service, which will quarantine, test, and, if necessary, cleanse the citrus tissues to ensure that they contain no pathogens. Also to protect the industry, the state requires that nurseries and commercial growers propagate new trees either from their own state-registered trees or from budwood increase blocks grown from buds from a registered source.
Patterns of family life in the US have changed dramatically. In more and more families with children in elementary and middle schools, both parents (and single parents) participate in the workforce. Increasing numbers of children in kindergarten through 8th grade are unsupervised during non-school hours.
Living in an urbanized state, few Californians recognize how much they depend on the forest for water, wood products and wildlife habitat, as well as their responsibility for its proper management. Through environmental learning integrated into the educational system, students can discover how to make critical choices about issues such as forest health, ecosystem management, consumerism and local economies.
January 30, 2003 - 4-H Youth Development: Reaching Diverse Audiences, Building Understanding of DiversityCalifornia is the most ethnically diverse state in the nation. It has 35% of all Latino children in the U.S., 30% of all Asian and Pacific Islanders and 14% of all Native Americans (Children Now, 1992). Approximately 62% of California’s youth under age 18 are children of color. Additionally, California leads the nation in the number of new immigrants. In order to function effectively and successfully in today’s world, our youth must learn how to work well with people from a wide diversity of cultures and backgrounds.
Livestock grazing and associated ranch practices may pollute surface water if not properly managed, a great concern to downstream water users and state regulatory agencies. Increased sediment from grazing induced soil erosion; increased stream temperature from removal of streamside vegetation and nutrient loading have the potential to degrade aquatic habitat that is important to several endangered species. Improper management of livestock may result in pathogen loading that can impact domestic water sources. In 1989, the range livestock industry identified water quality as a high priority issue and in 1990 began discussions with the State Water Resources Control Board, UC Cooperative Extension, USDA NRCS and the California Association of Resource Conservation Districts about a voluntary program through which ranchers address clean water issues on their own propery. These discussions led to the development of the California Rangeland Water Quality Management Plan (CRWQMP).
Of the 58,000 acres of fruit trees in Tulare County, more than 47,000 acres are fresh-shipping peaches, plums and nectarines. These orchards are commonly replaced every 8 to 12 years as the varieties become obsolete. Industry observers suggest that this figure has recently fallen to 7 to 9 years of productive orchard life. Because of this short potential market life, it is extremely important for peach and nectarine orchards to reach full production as quickly as possible.
Two exotic pests, avocado thrips and persea mite, appeared in California in 1990 and 1996, respectively. A model based on 1998 harvest data predicted that growers in the state, who produce about 95 percent of the nation's avocado crop, would experience an estimated $13 million in short-term losses, with annual losses decreasing to $6 million as the industry developed means to deal with the pests. After more than four decades of largely pesticide-free insect control, many avocado growers now find it necessary to spray their orchards to minimize foliage and fruit damage.
Questions about water and fertilizer use efficiency are major economic and environmental issues for California agriculture. Excess nitrate is an important concern for San Joaquin Valley communities that depend on groundwater for drinking. Vegetable crops such as carrots, onions and potatoes typically require high amounts of nitrogen fertilizer and frequent irrigation, usually by sprinkler. Although sprinkler lateral spacings vary from 30 to 50 feet, no season-long field study had determined the impact of these different spacings on efficiency of water and nitrogen use.
Packing healthy lunches for children to take to preschool can be a particular challenge to parents. Consideration must be given to selecting foods that are nutritious, easy to transport, appealing to young children and will not support the growth of food-poisoning bacteria. Since lunch typically supplies one-fourth to one-third of daily nutrient intake, a program that helps parents pack healthy lunches for their preschoolers could contribute greatly to healthier diets.
Most ranchers in the intermountain area of Northern California rely on irrigated pastures or public land grazing allotments for grazing during the growing season. Because of harsh winter conditions, there is insufficient good-quality forage on the range or in irrigated pastures from October to mid April or later. That makes winter feeding one of the most costly inputs in cow/calf cattle operations as ranchers feed hay, low-quality crop aftermath, or supplements. There are other incentives for cattle producers to find alternative grazing systems. Growers are facing continued and more aggressive reductions in public lands grazing. This will intensify the need for improved efficiency and increased forage supplies, especially in the fall. Water use for forage production is also falling under increased scrutiny. A forage system that decreases winter hay feeding, reduces the dependency on public lands grazing, and improves water use efficiency would be highly desirable.
Improved rice varieties that meet the changing needs of diverse domestic and world markets are central to keeping the California rice industry economically healthy and rice farmers in business. High quality and reliable supply are keys to sustaining the industry.
Since 1983, the Avocado Inspection Program of the California Department of Food and Agriculture has measured the percent of dry matter content of avocados to determine fruit maturity. The maturity testing process used for the past nine years--the opposing eighths method--was time-consuming and potentially dangerous. It involved the use of sharp blades and required the use of food processor that had to be thoroughly cleaned between each test. Given the steps involved, Inspection Program personnel had to receive significant training to conduct tests.
After years of neglect, after-school and summer enrichment programs for urban children from low-income neighborhoods are finally attracting the attention and the support they deserve. Educators and researchers are focusing on what these children are learning from their participation in organized after-school programs and summer camps. These venues are often ideal for integrating non-formal science and environmental literacy activities. They also provide excellent opportunities for children to learn and practice positive social and civic skills.
In Santa Barbara, the highest Latino population density is also where the creeks are the dirtiest from upstream sources. These polluted creeks drain into the Santa Barbara Channel, forcing beach closures. Like everyone else, many of the Latino community go to the beach and the kids play in the creeks. It has been shown that Latinos are generally interested in environmental issues, and that they are particularly concerned about the health impact of a polluted environment. However, because of language and cultural issues, they are often not engaged in water protection activities.
Some insecticides used for controlling Egyptian alfalfa weevil have been detected in California's surface waters. Many are of concern due to their impact on water quality and toxicity to some aquatic life.
In the Central Coast, walnut husk fly has been a major roadblock to converting conventional walnut orchards to organic production. (Gross returns are as much as 50% higher for organic walnuts.) Husk fly damage can approach 100% in unsprayed orchards but no effective organic controls have previously been available. Other pests such as walnut blight and codling moth already have adequate organic controls.
A 1999 survey of California farm operators revealed a growing need for materials on two increasingly profitable industries: agritourism and nature tourism. Farmers and ranchers have heretofore lacked a centralized resource for obtaining such materials, in a time when opportunities abound for tourist ventures to take root.
North American vegetable growers face a compelling need to reduce pesticide use for several reasons, including the decrease in available and effective pesticides due to the development of resistance in pests and to increasingly restrictive state and federal legislation. AES Professor of Entomology John T. Trumble of UC Riverside has led research on novel, low-input pest management strategies that have greatly reduced the use of toxic class-one and class-two pesticides by California celery and tomato growers.
The eucalyptus snout beetle, Gonipterus scutellatus, was discovered defoliating eucalyptus trees in Ventura County in March 1994. This insect has been introduced accidentally into several eucalyptus-growing regions around the world from Australia and has caused extensive damage wherever it has become established. Female beetles deposit hard brown egg capsules on shoots and young leaves. Both adults and larvae consume young and tender leaves, buds, and shoots. Extensive feeding completely defoliates trees and kills branches, while intermediate levels of defoliation retard growth and affect tree shape.
Traditional traps used to monitor pink bollworm populations in California cotton fields were unreliable. The numbers caught in traps varied from zero one day to hundreds the next morning. Research indicated that entry into the traps by adult males was influenced greatly by temperatures and wind speed.
San Joaquin Valley citrus growers have depended on the relatively cheap and very effective organophosphate and carbamate insecticides for control of California red scale and other pests since the 1950s. Not surprisingly, California red scale began to develop resistance to these two groups of insecticides in the early 1990s.
The vedalia beetle is a predator of a major citrus pest, cottony cushion scale. However, many of the new insectides developed to replace organophosphates (neonicotinoids and pyrethroids) or developed as reduced-risk alternatives (insect growth regulators) are quite toxic to this beneficial insect. Biological control is important in the control of cottony cushion scale as insecticides are not very effective against the pest.
Ants are the major pests in urban environments. Recent introductions of the red imported fire ant in urban environments in California pose a serious threat to agriculture. Argentine and field ants are a major pest in citrus and grapes, where they tend, or care for, homopteran pests and disrupt biological control.
California red scale is one of the key pests of citrus in California. This pest can damage and kill citrus trees when it attains very large populations, which is a rare occurrence. The more common economic damage results from these scale insects settling on the fruit, causing cosmetic flaws and a downgrading of the fruit. Significant economic losses from this cosmetic damage occur at much lower population densities than the high densities required to damage the trees. Consequently, there is a very low threshold for California red scale in citrus orchards. To keep populations below the threshold, growers have traditionally relied on high-volume sprays (up to 1,000 gallons per acre) of insecticides.