New book offers advice for discussing misconceptions and oversimplifications
Research can inform people to take appropriate action to solve problems, but effectively communicating is key. Faith Kearns, who works on emotional and contentious water-related issues such as climate change, drought and wildfire, has learned firsthand that the way scientists communicate can deeply affect people and communities.
“The book offers an on-the-ground perspective on communicating emotional and contentious topics and is filled with concrete examples from practitioners, which is different from many science communication books written by journalists or researchers,” Kearns said. “It is centered around practical tools like relating, listening, working with conflict, and understanding trauma, all with an eye toward equity and justice.”
Among the many issues addressed in the book – ranging from food security to disasters – climate change is one of the biggest. Meteorologist and climate journalist Eric Holthaus notes in the foreword that giving people scientific facts isn't convincing many people that there is a climate crisis, much less solving the climate emergency. “This crisis is getting worse not because of a deficit of information, after all, but because of a deficit of action,” writes Holthaus.
Grist journalist Kate Yoder wrote, “For a long time, scientists have relied on a ‘deficit' model of communication. The idea is that if people are given enough facts and data about, say, climate change, then they'd accept the science— in a logical, rational way — and decide to take action. This idea isn't necessarily wrong, but it ignores the messiness of the world and the role that emotions play in guiding decisions.”
Kearns begins the book with a personal anecdote that changed the way she thought about science communication. After she and her colleagues gave a presentation on wildfire preparation to residents in Mendocino County, an emotional audience member explained to Kearns that he had labored to keep a recent wildfire from consuming his property and the way the researchers had presented their information without attention to the fact that a fire had just burned through the area had been re-traumatizing.
“Many communicators, including myself, have neglected other pieces of communicating that don't have to do with providing information,” Kearns said. “It's so important to know who you are in conversation with and what they've been through. Their history, communities, and personal experiences impact how they will receive scientific information. One of the most important skills you can have as a science communicator is to be able to listen well.”
Jonathan Wai reviewed Kearns' book in Science. He wrote: “The book offers a view from the front lines of science communication, profiling practitioners who explain their journeys and share stories of relationship building and community engagement. Framing herself as a scientist turned science communicator, Kearns describe her vision for the future of the field, one in which relational communication is fundamental.”
Kearns acknowledges in the preface that a single book cannot be all things to all people. “My hope is that I can fairly treat the argument that emotion, conflict, and power struggles are already present in science communication and engagement work and that ignoring them is counterproductive,” she wrote.
Getting to the Heart of Science Communication is written for science communicators and scientists working at research institutions, government agencies, consulting firms or nonprofit organizations. In addition, it will be of interest to those working with scientists including journalists and decision-makers. People interested in science will also find much to consider in this updated view of the science communication landscape.
The 280-page paperback is published by Island Press and can be ordered for $30 (use code HEART for a publisher discount) at https://islandpress.org/books/getting-heart-science-communication and wherever books are sold.
For more about science communication, see Kearns' blog at https://faithkearns.substack.com.
Homeschooling families are invited to venture out to a new learning environment at UC Elkus Ranch in Half Moon Bay. UC Elkus Ranch is an environmental education center, providing unique hands-on learning experiences for Bay Area youth. Due to COVID-19 precautions, UC Elkus Ranch has temporarily opened to the general public for private family tours only.
UC Cooperative Extension educators lead small groups on a remote-learning walk through the pastoral fields, vegetable gardens, historic barns and animal pens at UC Elkus Ranch.
“Families can feed our sheep while learning about wool processing, hear how predators and prey adapt, view our impressive animal bone collection, take selfies with our goats and miniature donkeys, and plant a seedling to take home,” said Frank McPherson, director of UC Cooperative Extension for the Bay Area.
Tours must be scheduled in advance and all statewide and San Mateo County Health Department restrictions are being enforced. Current information on San Mateo County health restrictions can be found at https://www.smchealth.org/health-officer-orders-and-statements. For information on scheduling and pricing, please visit http://elkusranch.ucanr.edu/Visit/Family_Tours.
Elkus Ranch, property of the University of California, conducts educational outdoor programs for urban, disabled and inner-city youth in environmental science, California history, animal care and agricultural programs year-round.
Located on the central California coast in Half Moon Bay, the ranch offers diverse programs including those specifically designed for students with special needs, allowing participants to learn about the inter-relationship of the environment and themselves in a rural setting. Under normal circumstances,Elkus Ranch hosts more than 9,000 youth and adults each year from all over the San Francisco Bay Area including Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Santa Clara, San Francisco and San Mateo counties.
Elkus Ranch also has a conference center that can be leased separately. The 4,400 square foot educational and conference facility is available for daytime retreats, meetings and workshops year-around. Current COVID-19 restrictions may affect availability. Additional information about the ranch and conference center, can be found at http://elkusranch.ucanr.edu/Visit/Conference_Center.
“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 Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Korean and from the World Health Organization in Spanish, French, Chinese, Arabic, 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/.
California's working landscape and the industries associated with agriculture and natural resources contribute significantly to the state's economy, according to a new study by the California Community Colleges Centers of Excellence for Labor Market Research, California Economic Summit and the University of California's Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources.
“When people think of California's economy, they think of entertainment, information technology and other industries. They may not think of working landscape,” said Glenda Humiston, University of California vice president, agriculture and natural resources. “People may be surprised to learn that California's working landscape accounts for 6.4% of the state's economy, supports more than 1.5 million jobs and generates $333 billion in sales.”
To measure the economic impact of the working landscape, researchers from the Centers of Excellence, California Economic Summit and UC Agriculture and Natural Resources analyzed federal data associated with employment, earnings and sales income of the nine segments that are essential to the working landscape: agricultural distribution, agricultural production, agricultural processing, agricultural support, fishing, forestry, mining, outdoor recreation and renewable energy.
Their analysis of 2018 data from the North American Industry Classification System showed the value of the working landscape in California comes in ahead of the health care, real estate, retail and construction industries. The top five economic drivers were government (21.9%), manufacturing (10.2%), information (9.3%), professional, scientific and technical services (7.5%), and finance and insurance (6.4%).
The researchers found the nearly 70,000 businesses associated with the working landscape paid $85 billion to workers in 2018 and generated $333 billion in sales income. In terms of job numbers, earnings, sales income and number of establishments, four segments dominate: agricultural distribution, agricultural production, agricultural processing and agricultural support.
Agricultural production provides the greatest number of jobs, more than 325,000, and generates the second highest sales income, $61 billion in 2018. Although agriculture accounts for 79% of working landscape sales income, it is important to note that other working landscape segments are still sizeable when compared to the rest of the nation.
In addition to evaluating the contribution of the industries to the state's economy, the researchers measured the importance and impact of the nine working landscape segments by region. For example, some segments, although relatively small in terms of employment or sales income, are cornerstones of local economies and play a critical role in the livelihoods of communities.
The Los Angeles/Orange County region, the San Francisco Bay Area, and San Joaquin Valley have the greatest concentration of jobs for agricultural distribution, agricultural processing, agricultural support, mining and renewable energy. The San Joaquin Valley leads in agricultural production, followed by the Central Coast. Los Angeles/Orange County has the most forestry, fishing and outdoor recreation jobs.
This report does not include economic values for ecosystem services provided by California's working landscape such as clean water, nutritious food and a livable climate, or intangible goods that contribute to human well-being, such as recreation, aesthetic inspiration and cultural
To read the report “California's Working Landscape: A Key Contributor to the State's Economic Vitality,” visit http://ucanr.edu/WorkingLandscape. A one-page executive summary is available at http://bit.ly/2WTA7Vz.
- Author: Dohee Kim
Don Hodel, University of California Cooperative Extension environmental horticulture advisor for Los Angeles County, will retire July 1 after more than three and a half decades.
“He is a valuable resource in Southern California and has provided me with assistance on many occasions,” said Jan C. Scow, a registered consulting arborist based in Santa Monica. “Most valuable, and where I have turned to him most frequently for his expertise, is his global knowledge of palm trees.”
Hodel, whose research focuses on the selection, planting and management of woody plants in the landscape, is an internationally recognized leader in the environmental horticulture world.
“Don has been a reliable first-call for advice and recommendations and palms and ficus,” said James Komen, a consulting arborist based in Glendale. “He has been an encyclopedia of tree and plant identification. He has an infectious excitement for all things new, and he has been willing to challenge long-held assumptions in his search for truth.”
Hodel has contributed valuable knowledge to the California landscape industry, according to Komen.
Hodel introduced and promoted new woody plant material suitable for California's climate. He developed landscape plant management techniques and practices that reduce green waste stream, support sustainability and help residents save money. He also advocated irrigation practices that help save water and management techniques that reduce damage to plants by landscape pests and diseases.
“He has left a legacy of trees by adding to and caring for the collections of many arboreta, including the Los Angeles County Arboretum in Arcadia, and the Ho'omaluhia Botanical Garden in Kaneohe, Hawaii,” Komen said. “He has conducted, led, collaborated on and inspired research and experimentation that has been published in trade and peer-reviewed journals including Arboriculture and Urban Forestry, Arborist News, Western Arborist, and Palms. His book on common landscape palms in California has been a go-to resource for landscapers and arborists alike.”
The City of Long Beach, with over 93,000 street trees and 27,000 park trees, sought Hodel's advice.
“Mr. Hodel was instrumental in diagnosing and identifying the tulip tree scale affecting our magnolia trees throughout Long Beach,” said Jerry Rowland, an arborist for Long Beach Public Works Department. Hodel was able to diagnose the ficus branch dieback that affected many ficus trees in the city and identified eight declining palm trees that needed to be removed and replaced, Rowland said. Long Beach's Parks Department, Marine Bureau, and Tidelines also tapped Hodel's expertise.
In 2014, Hodel produced and co-presented a day-long seminar in Spanish for Spanish-speaking tree workers on palm biology and working safely while managing palms. “It was immensely rewarding interacting with these workers, especially seeing them grasp the knowledge and techniques that will help keep them safe,” Hodel said.
“Don has been a teacher, a selfless resource of valuable information, a colleague and a friend,” arborist Scow said, adding, “Don has provided a valuable and welcome boost to many in the arboricultural profession and has ‘done the UC proud!'”
Over the years, Hodel has received numerous prestigious awards including UC ANR's Award for Research (1993), Western Chapter International Society of Arboriculture Award of Arboricultural Research (2009), and Southern California Horticulture Association's Horticulturist of the Year (2014).
“I have been honored and privileged to have worked for the University of California for 36 years doing what I love—researching, writing and sharing information with homeowners and the landscape industry,” Hodel said. “I am very thankful to UC for providing me with a platform to accomplish my work.”
Hodel received his bachelor's degree in ornamental horticulture from the California State Polytechnic University in Pomona and his master's degree in tropical horticulture from the University of Hawaii in Honolulu. Prior to joining UC, he worked in the industry for eight years in Hawaii and California.
“We will miss him very much,” said Keith Nathaniel, UC Cooperative Extension director for Los Angeles County. “His work has contributed tremendously to UC Cooperative Extension and its mission of addressing local issues with innovative solutions through the power of UC research. It will be difficult to replace his high-caliber knowledge and expertise.”
“Personally speaking,” Rowland said, “it has been a pure joy working with Mr. Hodel. Over time I have come to know him as my friend, I wish him best wishes on his retirement.”
During retirement, Hodel plans to remain active and continue his support of the university with his emeritus status. Along with completing his current research projects, he plans to finish writing three books. One is about the palms of Cuba, based on his three research trips to the island-nation from 2016 to 2018. The second is a guide to identify and manage ornamental Ficus (figs) in California and Hawaii. The third is a compendium of dryland trees suitable for the Southern California landscape.
“I have a lot of information in my head that I want to share before it is too late!” said Hodel.