UC ANR extends information to more Californians online while social distancing

UC nutrition educators distributed
As Californians stay home to avoid the new coronavirus COVID-19, UC Agriculture and Natural Resources is working differently to continue delivering research-based information to Californians across the state. Many educational events are being moved to online venues, where some UC Cooperative Extension scientists are finding larger audiences.  

“A group of us are retooling our workshops for online delivery and have seen tremendous interest,” said Yana Valachovic, UC Cooperative Extension forest advisor in Humboldt County. “We have been blown away by the interest in this approach. The April oak health workshop has over 452 people registered after a week of advertising. We probably would have only had 40 people for an in-person event.”

She added, “The prescribed fire for foresters class has 225 people registered after a week of advertising and we probably would have only had 60 people for an in-person event.”

“I am humbled by the interest and hopeful that we'll be able to deliver meaningful content and interaction,” Valachovic said. To accommodate a larger number of participants, she said they are prerecording talks, gathering questions in advance to manage the deluge of questions flowing into the chat box and scheduling live Q and A sessions on Zoom with the speakers and attendees.

For UC Master Food Preservers, nutrition educators and anyone else interested in safe food handling, Erin DiCaprio, UC Cooperative Extension food safety specialist in the Department of Food Science and Technology at UC Davis, partnered with colleagues at North Carolina State University to create coronavirus and food safety materials. There are nine peer-reviewed fact sheets answering COVID-19-related questions about takeout food, food safety, handling groceries and more. The fact sheets can be downloaded free from the COVID-19 section of the ANR catalog: https://anrcatalog.ucanr.edu/Items.aspx?hierId=1100

The UC Master Food Preserver Program is training its volunteers via Zoom https://ucfoodsafety.ucdavis.edu/consumers/food-safety-home/home-food-preservation/uc-master-food-preserver-food-safety-training and will be demonstrating food preservation techniques via YouTube like this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SeoymcsLWlg.

To help Californians support local farmers, the UC Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education Program created the UC Agritourism Directory at www.calagtour.org. Consumers can look up local farms and ranches and purchase directly from the producer. The new UC SAREP webpage COVID-19 Shelter-in-Place Direct-from-Farm Resources, at http://www.calagtour.org/Shelter-in-Place_Resources, includes information and links to farms and ranches that offer box deliveries, farm stands, online ordering, delivery and pickup services, organized by region.

The UC Master Gardener Program is offering online training for volunteers at http://mg.ucanr.edu/Resources/eXtension_Campus/. Home gardeners trying to grow their own food can find resources at https://ucanr.edu/Coronavirus_and_COVID-19/Gardening/ and ask their local UC Master Gardener volunteers questions. To find local UC Master Gardeners, visit http://mg.ucanr.edu/FindUs/.

California Institute for Water Resources has created a new Water and COVID-19 web page that curates water safety, water use and water supply information. It includes links to information about COVID-19 from the Centers for Disease Control  in SpanishChineseVietnamese, and Korean and from the World Health Organization in SpanishFrenchChineseArabic, and Russian. They plan to update the page at http://ciwr.ucanr.edu/California_Drought_Expertise/Water_COVID19 as the COVID-19 situation evolves. 

In response to school closures, the UC Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program, or EFNEP, and CalFresh Healthy Living UC staff members statewide are providing curricula and other resources to teachers and community organizations to continue nutrition education. 

“We surveyed the needs of the educators and are exploring ways to continue to offer evidence-based curriculum while building skills for staff in the area of online and distance learning, using Zoom and social media platforms, such as Facebook Live and YouTube, and other learning platforms such as Google Classroom,” said Katie Panarella, director of UC ANR's Nutrition, Family and Consumer Sciences Program.

Parents who are home schooling their children can get curricula and ideas for educational activities from their local UC Cooperative Extension offices.

The following are a few examples of UC Cooperative Extension activities in counties.

In San Luis Obispo County, CalFresh Health Living, UC built a YouTube Channel to provide nutrition, food safety and physical activity lessons that educators share with their students as part of their assigned schoolwork during shelter in place orders https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCN8eCNc4m1vCbgFrld42MHw/videos.

“Parents should check out our YouTube station for videos featuring nutrition educators covering topics from nutrition and cooking to fun physical activities that don't require any equipment,” Shannon Klisch, CalFresh Health Living, UC program supervisor in San Luis Obispo County. 

“There are great ideas for active learning like the Alphabet scavenger hunt at https://youtu.be/M5wMryJkH7M, she said. “And lessons about the importance of eating a variety of foods using MyPlate, including the “Dairy gives us strong bones lesson” with a yogurt parfait recipe included that children of many different ages can help assemble at https://youtu.be/_OUF1nKMKMM.

For kids in Amador, Calaveras, El Dorado and Tuolumne counties, UCCE 4-H advisor JoLynn Miller has been livestreaming lessons on FaceBook Live at https://www.facebook.com/Tuolumnecounty4h.  She recently wore a crazy hairdo for Spirit Week while delivering an embryology lesson featuring hatching chicks https://www.facebook.com/Tuolumnecounty4h/videos/235774560806010/.

In Sonoma County, UC Cooperative Extension created a Food Recovery Coalition webpage https://ucanr.edu/sites/SCRFC/ listing opportunities to volunteer, donate and more.

In San Bernardino County, UC Cooperative Extension is offering online classes twice a week on topics including growing food, sustainable landscaping, composting and pest management. For upcoming events, visit http://mgsb.ucanr.edu/.

In Tulare and Kings counties, Alice Escalante, UC ANR adult nutrition educator, is using WhatsApp to motivate her Walking Club participants to continue striding toward their walking goal of 10,000 steps a day as part of CalFresh Health Living, UC's nutrition and physical activity program.  

In Imperial County, 4-H program representative Anita Martinez is leading cooking demonstrations and organizing 4-H All Stars to show their cooking skills via Facebook Live three times per week. “We have done nine cooking demonstrations on Facebook Live with more than 1.5k views for each one,” wrote Yu Meng, UC Cooperative Extension youth, family and community advisor.

In Sutter County, UC nutrition educators distributed "Lunch to Grow" packages to 125 families at a Yuba City Elementary School drive-through lunch pick up. Each package contained one vegetable plant seedling, a small bag of potting soil, a small pot and instructions for planting. 

Starting in Napa County on April 11, people can join the SOD Blitz, a sudden oak death disease mapping project. Matteo Garbelotto, UCCE forest pathology specialist and adjunct professor in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management at UC Berkeley, redesigned the annual citizen science project to adhere to current coronavirus precautions to ensure the safety of participants. The series of SOD Blitzes will be held in communities between Napa and San Luis Obispo through June. For more information and the latest schedule, visit www.sodblitz.org.

Find a link to UCCE in your county on the map at https://ucanr.edu/About/Locations/.


By Pamela Kan-Rice
Author - Assistant Director, News and Information Outreach