September is National Preparedness Month, designated to encourage disaster and emergency readiness. To help Californians prepare for extreme heat, earthquakes, public safety power shutoffs and wildfire, University of California Cooperative Extension has created a disaster preparedness website organized for quick access to critical information.
The website https://ucanr.edu/Disaster contains fact sheets with tips for getting prepared.
“Unfortunately, with a warming climate, we are facing more and more extreme climate-related events such as heat waves, wildfires, power shutoffs and storms. All Californians need to step up their preparedness efforts to be ready to meet this more uncertain future,” said Susan Kocher, UC Cooperative Extension forestry advisor, who co-authored the disaster preparedness resources for the website.
The fact sheet for extreme heat events offers suggestions for avoiding heat exposure, such as identifying nearby cooling centers and covering windows to keep heat out. It also suggests things to do during hot weather such as staying hydrated, taking cool showers and keeping pets indoors. It describes symptoms of heat-related illnesses, which can have serious health effects.
Public Safety Power Shutoff
During extreme weather events, electrical power in high fire-threat areas may be shut off to prevent sparking. This precaution is known as a Public Safety Power Shutoff. A PSPS is most likely to occur from May to November, when conditions are the hottest and driest.
UC Cooperative Extension recommends signing up to receive PSPS alerts from your energy company. Experts also advise making a plan for medications that need to be refrigerated or medical devices that require power. To prevent foodborne illness, they offer suggestions for ensuring food safety during and after a power outage.
Wildfire and smoke
Wildfire smoke can harm your health. During wildfires, UC Cooperative Extension recommends wearing an N95 outdoors to reduce smoke exposure and taking steps to prevent smoke from entering buildings. To reduce wildfire risk, the website describes methods of removing flammable vegetation around homes.
UC Cooperative Extension offers safety tips for before, during and after an earthquake. Identifying the safest place in your home during an earthquake in advance is helpful. For example, doorways are not the safest place to be in modern homes. Experts recommend crawling under a sturdy desk or table, while avoiding areas next to windows, beneath ceiling fixtures or near large items that may fall during an earthquake.
The website also offers resources on drought, food safety after a fire, and wildfire preparedness and recovery.
In 2020 and 2021, Cooperative Extension researchers from around the country held listening sessions with community members who had experienced extreme weather events and other types of disasters to learn what had worked well, what had not, and how communities could be strengthened.
In response, these disaster resources were developed by Kocher, UC Davis undergraduate student Caydee Schweitzer, Tracy Schohr, UC Cooperative Extension livestock and natural resource advisor, and Vikram Koundinya, UC Cooperative Extension evaluation specialist. The group plans to add fact sheets on more disaster topics in the future.
This project was funded by a USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture Renewable Resources Extension Act grant.
MEDIA CONTACT: Susan Kocher, UC Cooperative Extension forestry advisor, email@example.com/h3>/h3>/h3>/h3>
University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources will be recruiting 16 new UC Cooperative Extension Specialists over the next 12 months. This is in addition to the five UCCE Specialist positions released for recruitment last fall and two co-funded UCCE Specialist positions since May 2021 – one in partnership with UC Merced and another with UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.
To date, 106 UCCE Specialist and Advisor positions have been released since spring 2021, thanks to increased 2021-22 state funding. The positions are located in communities across California.
“We are positioned to make an even bigger difference in the lives of Californians by having so many more boots on the ground,” said Glenda Humiston, UC vice president for agriculture and natural resources.
UCCE Specialists perform research on campus with other campus-based academics and in the field with UCCE Advisors, who work directly with farmers, families and other Californians.
Currently UC ANR has UCCE Specialists located on six campuses – UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UC Riverside, UC Santa Barbara, UC Santa Cruz and UC Merced – at UC ANR's research and extension centers and in county offices.
“We are excited to strengthen partnerships with additional UC campuses by placing UCCE Specialists at UC Irvine and UCLA for the first time,” Humiston said. “We are also adding a position in UC Berkeley's School of Public Health.”
The new UC Cooperative Extension Specialist positions are listed below:
- Agricultural Toxicology Specialist, UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine Molecular Biosciences and CAES Department of Environmental Toxicology
- Agroecology Specialist, UC Santa Cruz Center for Agroecology and Department of Environmental Studies
- Climate Resilience and Labor Specialist, UC Berkeley School of Public Health
- Dairy Cattle Production Health and Management Economics Specialist, UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine Teaching & Research (located in Tulare County)
- Diseases of Nursery Greenhouse and Native Crops Specialist, UC Davis Department of Plant Pathology
- Economics of Diversity and Equity Specialist, UC Berkeley Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics
- Economics of Food Supply Chains Specialist, UC Davis Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics
- Engineered Wood Products and Design Specialist, UC Berkeley Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management
- Food Crop Safety Specialist, UC Riverside Department of Microbiology and Plant Pathology
- Nutrition and Health Equity Specialist, UC Davis CAES Department of Nutrition
- Regenerative Agriculture Specialist, UC Merced Department of Life and Environmental Sciences
- Soil Health Specialist, UC Davis Department of Land, Air and Water Resources
- Subtropical Fruit Crop IPM Specialist, UC Riverside Department of Entomology
- Urban Water Quality, Health and Justice Specialist, UC Irvine Department of Civil and Environment Engineering
- Water Equity and Adaptation Policy Specialist, UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation
- Weed Science Specialist, UC Riverside CNAS Department of Botany and Plant Sciences
All UC ANR jobs open for recruitment can be found at https://ucanr.edu/About/Jobs.
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/.