For the past five years, HAREC has offered the 4-H Sustainable You! Summer Camp for youth ages 9-12. Fun, hands-on activities teach youth how they can make a difference in conserving natural resources. The City of Ventura has collaborated with the HAREC education team for the past four years to make this half-day camp possible by providing educators and promotional materials. This partnership allows the program to be offered county-wide at an affordable cost. Environmental Educators, Haili Matsukawa and Brandon Kaysen did an amazing job working with the 27 participants. Teen leader Mikaelle Arcaya-Velez was on hand to assist and engage youth.
Today's blog includes a short article written by 4H Sustatinable You! 2017 participants ans summerizes their experience.
We had a lot of fun at Sustainable You! 4-H Camp held at the UC Hansen Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Santa Paula in June. About 27 members took part in this camp with an emphasis on learning about how to preserve our environment and natural resources. Topics such as Air, Energy, Food, Water and Land were explored. We learned about ways we can make a difference in reducing air pollution such as riding our bikes to school, carpooling and using public transportation when possible. We also talked about strategies to reduce water use, especially since California is in a drought. Shower timers were given out so kids aim for a 5-minute shower and we were also encouraged to turn off the water when brushing our teeth. Other ideas discussed were not to over water plants and lawns and to try to buy energy efficient appliances with the Energy Star logo on them. We also learned about the best way to dispose of waste and recognize if it's trash, recycling, compost or a hazardous waste.
There were fun activities and games planned every day. We got to tie-dye shirts and ride a “smoothie bike” that powered a blender that made smoothies with fruit that we just picked. One of our favorite activities was making a solar oven out of a pizza carton and use it to make s'mores! It took about an hour—but it worked and tasted great!
We had fun getting a tour on the farm, picking fruits and vegetables and met the farm chicken, too. One fun game was about the cycle of water and all the places water can go after a rain.
We think this camp had a lot of great ideas for people to try in their own homes. Our family switched to solar power because we wanted to use the cleanest energy that we could. We would recommend this camp to help kids learn way they can make a difference and help the world be a better place. It's a great and fun camp!
Education Specialists representing state wide Research and Extension Centers System (RECS) sites gathered February 15-16 at Hansen. This second annual meeting was an opportunity to meet new staff, share best practices, and participate in professional development.
Lisa Fisher, RECS Director, sponsored and kicked off the meeting with a welcome and overview of the ANR strategic plan. Guest speaker, Dr. Steven Worker, 4-H Youth Development Advisor—Marin County, led a hands-on workshop focusing on inquiry based learning and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education for youth. Additionally, Worker introduced methods of using Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) in non-formal science education settings, relating methods REC educators can use in their outreach work.
Dr. Sabrina Drill, Natural Resources Advisor—UCCE-Ventura County, provided an overview of the California Naturalist Program and discussed the program as potential partner for REC outreach.
Farm Smart Manager, Stacey Wills and 4-H Representative, Shanna Abatti from Desert REC rounded out the two-day meeting with a Sustainable You! Summer Camp train-the trainer. Sustainable You!, developed by Dr. Roslyn Brain of Utah State University, teaches youth the basic concepts of natural resource conservation. The program has been part of the educational offerings at HAREC and Desert REC since 2013 and 2012 respectively, and will be implemented at Hopland REC in summer 2017.
October is National Farm to School Month! A time when schools, farms, communities and organizations across the county celebrate food education, school gardens and healthy locally sourced school lunches. The Ventura County Farm to School Collaborative celebrated by hosting the second annual Tri-County Growing Edible Education Symposium on October 14 & 15.
The Ventura County Farm to School Collaborative spans across six Ventura County school districts including— Conejo, Hueneme, Ojai, Oxnard, Rio and Ventura and represents approximately 80 schools and 75,000 students. The stakeholders are a diverse group of child nutrition service staff, farmers, and non-profit organizations with clear objectives—to teach students about nutrition and agriculture, source local produce for school programs, and promote and support school gardens.
The two-day event kicked off at the UC Hansen Agricultural Research and Extension Center (HAREC) and began with bus tours. Over 90 participants traveled throughout Ventura County to observe best practices in school gardens and cafeterias as well as farms that source to schools. The day concluded with a HAREC tour and mixer giving participants an opportunity to connect with other like-minded farm to school supporters from Ventura, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo and beyond. Keynote speaker, Anupama Joshi, Co-founder and Executive Director of the National Farm to School Network, urged the group to take “baby steps but dream big”. Her message was that farm to school is achievable by forming partnerships in the community and challenged the group to make small changes that lead to big outcomes over time.
Over 130 took part in day-two at Fremont Middle School in Oxnard. Breakout sessions included hands-on workshops for early childhood to college education and food service. Keynote speaker Whitney Cohen, Education Director, Life Lab UC Santa Cruz also delivered an inspirational address to an enthusiastic group.
We are happy to introduce two new staff members. Sergio Santiago, Agricultural Superintendent joined HAREC in July and Katelyn Beckmann, 4-H Community Education Specialist II came on board in September.
Sergio grew up in Puerto Rico. He earned degrees—BS in Horticulture and MS in Horticulture-urban forestry and environmental management from the University of Puerto Rico—Mayaguez. Professional work in his native Puerto Rico includes tropical crop culture, germplasm management, and urban forest. He also worked the field of tropical ethnobotany, medicinal plants and biofuels. He furthered his education earning a doctorate in Natural Resources and Environmental Management—water management and plant uptake physiology at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. He has spent the last five years working with irrigation, plant physiology and propagation, integrated pest management (IPM), ecosystem restoration and endangered species management with the University of Hawaii and the U.S. Army. Sergio says he is “excited to be a part of UCANR and HAREC team and be able to learn and contribute with Ventura County's amazing agricultural industry. Let's make it happen!”
Rio School District, in Oxnard, is a welcomed new partner. This year, Rio added the 4-H Sustainable You! Summer Camp curriculum to their district-wide Summer Science Camp that serves over 200 students K-6th grade and runs for the next three weeks. The district understands the importance of STEM education and fully funds the camp that is offered free of charge to students who register and submit an essay to qualify for a coveted spot. It's a no nonsense, attendance mandatory opportunity; structured with plenty of learning and lots of fun! The full day camp, operated at Rio del Mar School, provides a nutritious lunch and snacks to all participants.
Last May, HAREC educators conducted a 4-H Sustainable You! Summer Camp curriculum train-the-trainer and will support Rio Science Camp by loaning Sustainable You! activity kits. This exciting program helps youth understand what it means to be sustainable and features interactive activities based around the five major areas of sustainability: land, air, food, energy, and water. Gena Mathwin, is the energetic teacher extending the program to over sixty 5th and 6th graders. On August 11th, Rio campers will round out the Sustainable You! experience with a visit to HAREC and further study of our local food system.
We caught up with the campers on the second day of "Land" and learning about recycling food waste into healthy soil using worm composting.