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.
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.
On Tuesday, July 19, the UC Hansen Ag Research & Extension Center collaborated with Pow Wow Energy, California Lutheran University, UCSB and Cal Poly-SLO in hosting an Ag Meets Tech event. The event focused on Simple Solutions to Real Challenges in Water. The morning began with a welcome by Dr. Ben Faber, UC Cooperative Extension-Ventura County. Several short presentations covered areas of interest for growers, techies, and academics. Technologists and growers participated in field demonstrations with hands-on opportunities involving automated water records, variable speed pumps, moisture monitoring options, and irrigation systems. A discussion panel concluded the half-day event with moderator by Jim Dunning, Cal Poly-S.L.O. and panelists Robert Abbott, third generation grower at Abbott Farms, Andy Coker, assistant manager of farming operations at Limoneira, Dr. Chandra Krintz, computer science professor at UCSB and PI of Smart Farm project, Mike Sullivan, farm manager at Churchill Orchard, Olivier Jerphagnon, founder and CEO of PowWow Energy.
For more information about the AgTech events in the TriCounties, please visit http://www.meetup.com/AgTech-Central-Coast/events
The week has flown by. A special thanks to the youth and families that joined us this week, the City of Ventura for partnering with us, environmental educator, Jill Sarrick and intern, Shanti Sandosham for delivering a great program!
Sustainable You! Summer Camp wraps up with Water!
Day 5: Water