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4-H Youth Develop Important Communication Skills

4-H Youth Develop Important Communication Skills

4-H Youth Develop Important Communication Skills

Public speaking skills are ranked number one among the skill sets of professionals. Other guiding factors for developing public speaking skills include:

Discovering an important component of leadership development

Increasing self-esteem, self confidence, and ability to accept feedback

Expanding skills for planning, preparation and performance

The Fresno County 4-H Program encourages youth to develop and improve communication skills through the annual 4-H Presentation Day; a competition, which allows youth to share their knowledge and skills with others through public speaking and performance. Melanie Curtis encourages members to participate in any way that gets them in front of an audience, practicing their communication skills. The 2009 Presentation Day was attended by 114 youth from 16 Fresno County 4-H Clubs. Presentations ranged from informative public speeches and demonstrations to moving musical performances and entertaining plays written and performed by 4-H club members.

Advisors Collaborate on Beekeeping Project

Advisors Collaborate on Beekeeping Project

Advisors Collaborate on Beekeeping Project

The recent media focus on the impact of colony collapse disorder to
the nation’s beekeeping industry increased the public’s awareness
of the importance of honey bees to agriculture. Shannon Mueller
and Richard Molinar began keeping bees to gain hands-on experience and to have access to colonies for educational activities with their clientele. Shannon serves as a resource on bees and pollination in Fresno County. Richard is exploring beekeeping as an opportunity for family farms/specialty crops clientele. Together, they manage five colonies and give presentations throughout the year covering basic beekeeping and the importance of bees and pollination in agriculture. Because they maintain their own colonies, they are able to bring bees in an observation hive to clientele meetings. Adults and children are fascinated watching the various activities of the inhabitants of the hive. This activity has resulted in significant improvement in interactions with local beekeepers and has potential as a new opportunity for small farmers, given the shortage of bees for pollination in California.

Advisors Collaborate to Provide Training to Apiary Inspectors

Advisors Collaborate to Provide Training to Apiary Inspectors   

inspector

The services of county apiary inspectors are in demand as a result of issues impacting the beekeeping industry. Inspectors are called upon to evaluate hives for colony strength and examine them for disease, pest, and parasite infestations. In cooperation with the Fresno County Agricultural  commissioner’s office, Shannon Mueller and Richard Molinar offered training for 105 apiary inspectors in the Central San Joaquin Valley. The agenda included bee biology and activities within the hive and commonly occurring pests, predators, and diseases that may be encountered. Inspectors were taught how to properly wear bee suits and veils and how to light a smoker. At the Kearney Ag Center, commercial beekeepers provided hands-on instruction to small groups. Participants learned to open and inspect beehives without damaging the queen or hive parts. On-line training is now being developed by Shannon to aid apiary inspectors as well as crop producers who rely on honeybees for pollination.

Alternative Fungicide Aids Organic Table Grape Production

Alternative Fungicide Aids Organic Table Grape Production

Alternative Fungicide Aids Organic Table Grape Production

Storage rot is a problem caused by fungi that attack fruit held in cold storage. Growers and packers manage the disease by applying pesticides in the field and with sulfur gas, respectively. However, growers producing organically grown table grapes are restricted from using standard fungicides. As a result, organic table grape growers have to harvest, store and ship their grapes within a week to reduce decay.  An organically approved, pre-harvest disinfestation that decreases post-harvest losses would be beneficial for organic table grape production. Stephen Vasquez and UC Davis colleagues tested the disinfectant peracetic acid (PAA) to manage storage rot. PAA, which breaks down into acetic acid and hydrogen peroxide, is currently registered as a dip or spray on raw unprocessed fruit with no restrictions on immediate consumption at low doses. Steve tested higher PAA rates applied 1-day pre-harvest and evaluated fruit weekly. Storage rot was reduced to 4% compared to untreated fruit that had 10% rot after one month.
The increased duration of storage time will allow organic table grape producers to better manage their harvest, storage and shipping schedules, allowing for a longer season and higher quality fruit.

Being Proactive Against Weed Resistance

Being Proactive Against Weed Resistance

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Herbicide-resistant weeds are a problem worldwide; 21 resistant biotypes can be found in California, including five in Fresno County. Four of these are resistant to the most popular herbicide active ingredient used, glyphosate. This means Roundup is no longer effective against resistant horseweed, fleabane, junglerice, and ryegrass populations, impacting growers, land managers, and home owners alike.

California Safe Raisin Production Documented

California Safe Raisin Production Documented

CALIFORNIA SAFE RAISIN PRODUCTION DOCUMENTED

Stephen Vasquez has teamed up with USDA-ARS Scientist Jeffery Palumbo to explore if San Joaquin Valley vineyards harbor fungi that produce ochratoxins; a known carcinogen. For the past 5-6 years, Asian and European countries have been testing for the presence of ochratoxins in grape products: fresh grapes, raisins, juice and wine. Commonly found in Mediterranean and South American grape growing regions, Aspergillus species, fungi that produce ochratoxin-A have been identified in California’s vineyards. Vasquez focused on raisins since the industry is changing from tray-dried to dried-on-the-vine (DOV) production. The difference in the two production systems is a cooler, higher humidity environment found in DOV vineyards, which is conducive to fungal growth. Raisins were collected from DOV vineyards prior to processing and sent to Palumbo for fungal morphological and DNA analysis. Results showed that in unprocessed raisins, ochratoxin can be isolated at levels well below the threshold set by raisin importing countries. It is expected that raisins processed by California raisin packers would further decrease the amount of detectable ochratoxin.  Raisin grape growers are confident that their product is safe and meets the ochratoxin test levels set by Asian and EU counties.

Children Following Mom’s “Food-Steps”

Children Following Mom’s “Food-Steps”

Quail Run
The motto of Parlier, California, a small town, is “A Community with a Vision to the Future!” EFNEP helps this vision currently materialize and for future generations as well.

The Issue:
Parlier, California is a Federal Rural Renewal Community that allows revitalization of neighborhoods and businesses using Federal tax incentives.  A new housing project, Quail Run Apartments, allows affordable residency.  EFNEP is a health partner, offering nutrition education classes to help strengthen individuals with positive health changes; thereby creates a more resilient community.

Dairy Manure Handling Systems Decrease Fly Production

Dairy Manure Handling Systems Decrease Fly Production

Dairy Manure Handling Systems Decrease Fly Production

Stable flies and houseflies are economically-hindering pests on dairies, inflicting damage in different ways. The stable fly sucks blood from dairy cows, which can causes milk production losses due to altered cow behavior during periods of high fly activity. Houseflies become a nuisance to the dairy producer when excessive fly numbers result in complaints from neighbors. As dairy farms grow larger, producers struggle with handling large volumes of manure that is generated by dairy animals and which also can produce excess fly populations. Various manure handling systems exists for dairy producers to handle the manure waste generated on the dairy. Gerald Higginbotham has been evaluating fly production from manure handling systems on local dairies. These systems consist of different types of settling basins where the dairy waste accumulates with the liquid portion draining off with the remaining solid portion used as fertilizer for cropland. Of the systems evaluated, composted dairy manure produced fewer total flies. Dairy producers who utilize this type of manure handling system may generate less fly production from their dairy facility

Evaluating Herbicides in Blackeye Beans May Save Substantial Expenses

Evaluating Herbicides in Blackeye Beans May Save Substantial Expenses

Kurt Hembree conducted field trials to look at herbicides and application methods for controlling weeds in blackeye beans. Weed control is necessary in blackeyes to preserve yield and bean quality. However, since so few herbicides are registered in this crop in California, growers must have their fields hand-weeded, increasing the cost of production by at least $200/acre. In 2010 field trials, some herbicides tested provided economical control of weeds, but caused damage to the bean plants. When spray shields were used to help keep the herbicides off the crop foliage, crop injury was minimal and yields were excellent. If some of the herbicides tested become registered in California, it would help eliminate the necessity for hand-weeding in most fields and save growers at least $150/acre or about $1.2 million annually.

Families Improve Nutrition and Budget Practices

FAMILIES IMPROVE NUTRITION AND BUDGET PRACTICES

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Obesity and chronic diseases have been linked to poverty, lack of physical activity, and poor food habits. Using interactive teaching methods combined with setting individual and family goals, Sua Vang joined other Fresno Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) staff to teach 402 adults, who were at or below the 50% federal poverty level.  Almost half (43%) had less than a 12th grade education and half lived outside Fresno County's central city of Fresno.  Eight lessons were taught in community group settings or through home-based classes in English, Spanish, and/or Hmong. Lessons focused on skills to plan tasty, cost effective, and nutritious meals by shopping effectively and utilizing healthier food options.  Physical activity and food demonstrations were included in each lesson.  Pre-post testing showed positive behavior changes. Of the 402 adult program graduates, 93% showed improvement in at least one nutrition practice and 87% showed improvement in at least one food budgeting practice.

For Best Results, Kids and Parents Both Need Nutrition Education

For Best Results, Kids and Parents Both Need Nutrition Education

For Best Results, Kids and Parents Both Need Nutrition Education

UC Cooperative Extension has found a health and fitness formula that works. Combining fun exercise and nutrition classes for kids with special sessions for parents melts away pounds and inches. The concept was proven successful at a day camp offered by the City of Fresno Parks and Recreation and Fresno County UC Cooperative Extension this summer. About 90 overweight or obese children were recruited to participate in the six-week program at Ted C. Wills Community Center and Holmes Playground. Their parents attended two mandatory evening meetings a week.

Fresno County 4-H Youth Learn Valuable Leadership Skills

Fresno County 4-H Youth Learn Valuable Leadership Skills

Members of the 2012-2013 Fresno County 4-H All Star Team have been busy developing leadership skills and sharing them with their fellow 4-H members.  In August of 2012, they organized and facilitated Leadership Training Day to help 4-H club officers understand and perform their duties and to help Junior and Teen Leaders become more effective in their project groups.  In January 2013, the All Stars attended the Leadership Conference of Regional Teens, where they taught a workshop on Collaborative Leadership to 300 teens and volunteer adults representing 12 counties. They are currently further developing and improving their workshop in preparation for the 2013 UC ANR Statewide Staff Conference.

All Star Team (3)
 

The All Star Team is currently hard at work carrying out their plan of action, which involves bringing a little cheer to children at a local hospital. They are collecting unused, unwanted T-shirts and recycling them into bags, which will be filled with donations of small toys and school supplies. The bags will be distributed to young patients and their siblings at a series of play days at the hospital. The project is helping youth in our community and helping the All Stars build professional skills for a lifetime that can be used in future leadership roles.

 

 

Fresno County Residents Learn Valuable Nutrition Lessons

Fresno County Residents Learn Valuable Nutrition Lessons Fresno

County has the highest pocket of concentrated poverty in the nation. One-fourth of the population—over 220,000 people—are eligible for CalFresh benefits (formerly food stamps.) The UC CalFresh Nutrition Education program collaborates and leverages UC Cooperative Extension resources to positively impact the nutrition, physical activity, and food buying behaviors of low-income CalFresh-eligible families in Fresno County through direct education and applied research.

Shelby 2013

CalFresh-eligible youth receive experiential lessons and taste testing designed to introduce them to a variety of healthy foods. In the 2011-12 school year, educators participating in the program reported that compared to the beginning of the year, approximately 96% of students try new foods offered at school more often. CalFresh-eligible adults participate in class-series and workshops centered on meal planning, “stretching” food dollars and feeding their families nutritious meals. Of participants evaluated, 42% of adults reported increasing their variety of fruits consumed. The UC CalFresh Nutrition Education program partners with 29 school districts, private preschools and community agencies to meet the extensive need for nutrition education in Fresno County. Through collaboration with our dedicated partners and educators, we are growing healthy families and communities. 

Gene Flow Research Sets the Standards for Biotech Alfalfa

Gene Flow Research Sets the Standards for Biotech Alfalfa

Gene Flow Research Sets the Standards for Biotech Alfalfa

California is the largest producer of alfalfa seed in the US with production centered in Fresno, Kings, and Imperial Counties. The seed is used to plant alfalfa hay fields to support dairy, beef, horse, sheep, and goat industries worldwide. When genetically engineered alfalfa was released in 2005, concern arose over its impact on sensitive markets, specifically export and organic markets for alfalfa seed and hay. This concern resulted in a lawsuit that has restricted new plantings of biotech alfalfa.
The industry needed to find a way to produce biotech alfalfa while not interfering with the production and marketing of conventional varieties. In a collaborative study,Shannon Mueller has quantified the movement of genes from genetically engineered alfalfa to conventional fields. Results from their research were used by the National Alfalfa and Forage Association to design a stewardship program for biotech alfalfa production. This plan will allow the alfalfa seed industry to remain viable in Fresno County. All growers have a choice; they can choose to produce biotech alfalfa while neighboring growers can produce seed or hay for markets that restrict the presence of biotech genes.

Going Organic Keeps Going

Going Organic Keeps Going

Going Organic Keeps Going

As consumer interest in organic and pesticide-free produce increases, growers are offering alternatives by responding to health concerns with organically grown fruits and vegetables. Organic research and education is important to consumers for their family health and to the grower whose family works on the farm with less exposure to toxic chemicals. Richard Molinar has received approval to organically farm 10 acres at the Kearney Agricultural Center. These 10 acres allow Molinar to grow crops organically and conduct field days for growers and consumers to see, feel, and taste the fruits of the research.
Early in the growing season, Molinar demonstrates soil solarization and the use of different colors of plastic to maintain effective organic weed control. As the season progresses, field day participants have an opportunity to experience pest management of crops and at harvest the fruits of the labor are enjoyed with taste testing.

Guidelines To Conserve Water Provies Profitable

Guidelines To Conserve Water Provies Profitable

Guidelines to Conserve Water Prove Profitable

Pima cotton is valued around the world for producing the finest cotton fabric. Over 90% of the US pima cotton crop is grown in the San Joaquin Valley. Dan Munk and colleagues have developed guidelines to conserve water supplies allowing growers to better manage water and apply deficit irrigation strategies, including:

* Improvements in irrigation timing
* Irrigation system enhancements
* Reducing water for early irrigation events.

When the cotton crops are stressed during development, there is less chance of yield reduction created by water issues. Irrigation management guidelines are a proven tool to assist growers in remaining profitable during a severe drought.

Identifying Pest Management Strategies for Fresno Counties Valuable Vegetable Crops

Identifying Pest Management Strategies for Fresno Counties Valuable Vegetable Crops

Recording weight of processing tomatoes for evaluation of irrigation schedule impact on processing tomato yield, quality and soil salinity.
Recording weight of processing tomatoes for evaluation of irrigation schedule impact on processing tomato yield, quality and soil salinity.
 
Vegetable crops are grown on a very large area and are among the  most valuable crop groups at $1.6B, produced in Fresno County. The UC Cooperative Extension Fresno County vegetable crops research and extension program focuses on a few very large scale vegetable crops, such as tomatoes, garlic, onions, melons and lettuce. In addition, assistance is provided to growers of all vegetable crops in the county through diagnostics and educational activities.

 

Improved Weed Control Benefits Growers and the Environment

Improved Weed Control Benefits Growers and the Environment

Improved Weed Control Benefits Growers and the Environment

Grower costs have been reduced by more than $30/acre thanks to Kurt Hembree’s research on improving herbicide performance on tree and vine crops. Weeds compete with crops for important resources such as irrigation water, fertilizers, and nutrients. Weeds also harbor harmful insects, rodents, and interfere with harvest efficiencies. Weeds increase labor and supply costs while reducing crop quantity and quality. Key treatment methods developed by Hembree include:

• Treat weeds when they are less than 4” tall
• Use appropriate spray nozzles for the conditions
• Increase the spray volume to improve weed coverage
• Combine herbicides to broaden control and reduce weed resistance

The potential savings on Fresno County’s 460,000 acres of fruit and nut crops using these treatment methods is nearly $14 million. The impact of improved weed control includes fewer weeds; fewer herbicide treatments needed; and reduced costs associated with equipment, fuel, and labor. This benefits both growers and the environment.

Master Gardeners: The UCCE Backyard Gardener Connection

Master Gardeners: The UCCE Backyard Gardener Connection

Do you garden in containers, plant a full-fledged vegetable garden, or are you planting edibles among your existing landscape? No matter what your level of gardening experience is, UC Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners can help you be successful.   For nearly 30 years the UCCE Master Gardeners have trained volunteers interested in gardening to become experts that can help County residents have and enjoy beautiful home gardens. 

MG Website

Nutrition Education Through Media is Considered a Credible Source

Nutrition Education Through Media is Considered a Credible Source

Nutrition Education Through Media is Considered a Credible Source

Over half-million viewers received nutrition education through 26 television segments. Connie Schneider conducted twelve nutrition segments on Central Valley Public Television’s 0 to 5 in 30 Minutes, a weekly program focusing on issues important to parents and caregivers of children from prenatal to five years old. Connie’s topics ranged from breastfeeding to preventing malnutrition and reading food labels. Shows were aired twice weekly and 11 of Connie’s segments were placed on YouTube. Other Fresno stations utilized Connie's expertise when new research came across the wire service, such as Vitamin D's impact on chronic disease and food safety issues. Nutrition staff members also worked with media. Nelly Carrillo had nine segments teaching nutrition messages from the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program on Univision.

Nelly

Segments were repeated on Telemundo, which reached approximately 80,000 viewers! Did viewers learn from media nutrition education? Connie's focus group research revealed viewers trusted credible sources, they used the recipes and appreciated local food, nutrition, and health information.

Outreach and Research are the Keys to Success for Small Family Farmers

Outreach and Research are the Keys to Success for Small Family Farmers

Outreach and Research are the Keys to Success for Small Family Farmers

For the more than 4,700 family farms in Fresno there is help in the UC Cooperative Extension Service of Fresno.  Outreach in the form of workshops, seminars, conferences, phone consultations, newsletters, publications, websites, and one-on-one farm visits provide answers to questions and much needed help. 

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  The outreach even takes the form of helping to plan legislative bus tours with the farm bureau to help educate US senators/assembly, state senators/assembly, city council members, and their staff about the agriculture in this county.

Positive Youth Development Exhibited in 4-H Teens

Positive Youth Development Exhibited in 4-H Teens

Positive Youth Developed Exhibited in 4-H Teens

1,000 4-H members in Fresno County practice learning by doing with skill development. Teens have become engaged in developing leadership characteristics by planning events and activities, teaching skill development sessions at workshops and camps, and inviting present leaders to share their knowledge and talents. Fresno County 4-H Youth Development takes the five C’s of positive youth development seriously. Melanie Curtis encourages teens to practice the five C’s including:

* Competence: A positive view of one’s actions.
* Confidence: An internal sense of overall positive self-worth and selfefficacy.
* Connection: Positive bonds with others; contributing to relationships.
* Character: Respect for norms, a sense of right and wrong, and integrity.
* Caring/Compassion: A sense of sympathy and empathy.

Active teen involvement in 4-H includes a sixth C: Contributions to self, family and community. Service learning opportunities help 4-H teens appreciate the gifts they give and receive in exchanges with others through service such as contributions to the local food bank and conducting special events at youth and senior centers.

Research-based Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus Management Strategies Implemented

Research-based Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus Management Strategies Implemented

Thomas Turini conducted experiments over three years to help producers control tomato spotted wilt on processing tomatoes.  Tomato spotted wilt can cause substantial yield loss.  It is transmitted by an insect that is difficult to control and it is likely that one tactic alone will not effectively control this disease. Information regarding relative susceptibility of varieties to this disease and in-field management of the insect that transmits this virus (thrips) has been generated and provided to clientele.  The influence of control programs on the incidence of the virus in the field as well as analysis of yield and quality in processing tomatoes over two years of field trials on this subject have also been shared.  This information has been used by consultants to develop and evaluate their management programs resulting in fewer applications of insecticides that are ineffective against the thrips target.  In addition, they now can consider relative susceptibility of processing tomato varieties when making thrips management program decisions.

Spray Demonstration Table Services as a Training Tool

Spray Demonstration Table Services as a Training Tool

Spray Demonstration Table Services as a Training Tool

Kurt Hembree helps train growers, pest consultants, and applicators on the importance of spray nozzle selection, spray drift, and weed control. Using the correct nozzles to ensure herbicides are applied to the weeds and not other sensitive plants and injuring them is important. Recently developed nozzles have helped to reduce spray drift by 75% to 98%. Using a spray demonstration table as a training aide, growers can visually see how spray droplet size, spray pattern, and potential to reduce spray drift differs between nozzles. Individuals can then make educated decisions when it comes to nozzle selection and the effect on spray drift and weed control. In the end, this prevents herbicide waste and saves growers time and money. A major benefit to using the demonstration table as a teaching tool is it eliminates the need for a large tractor, ATV, or other boom sprayer. More than 450 individuals were trained at four locations in Fresno County and another 800 people benefitted from this training method throughout the southern San Joaquin Valley.

Subsurface Drip Irrigation Mitigates Drought Impact

Subsurface Drip Irrigation Mitigates Drought Impact

Subsurface Drip Irrigation Mitigates Drought Impact

The drought of 2009 was particularly hard felt by growers in western Fresno County who experienced an unprecedented 10% allocation in water allotments in several key water districts.  While growers responded by cutting back acreage, there has also been a ground swelling of new growers turning to subsurface drip irrigation (SDI) to mitigate the drought’s impacts. Because of the more complex problems that are common to subsurface drip irrigation, additional research and education has been needed directed at new and existing users of this technology.  UCCE responded by organizing irrigation industry leaders and growers in a subsurface drip irrigation workshop. Critical issues were addressed at the meeting including:

•   Research information related to the chemistry of irrigation waters and methods to improve water chemistry.
•   Discussion of drip emitter plugging and detailed approaches to minimize or eliminate one of the most common problems found in SDI systems.
•   Key SDI design elements that enhance the system’s capacity to deliver water uniformly and efficiently.
•   Safe and effective fertilizer and chemical injection.
 
Dan Munk also addressed drip tape emitter plugging issues caused by root intrusion. Growers and irrigation industry participants documented a major improvement in their understanding of SDI management with 90% of growers feeling more confident in understanding the causes of poor SDI performance and 82% indicating they would be making some changes in their system management and maintenance methods.  


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