- (Public Value) UCANR: Developing an inclusive and equitable society
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.
- Author: Jeannette E. Warnert
UC Agriculture and Natural Resources reflected on some of its most compelling achievements in a report that provides an overview of the sweeping impacts its scientists and educators made in 2018.
UC ANR's impacts are felt across the state – in places where water is scarce, climate is changing farming practices, children need a little extra support to get to college, and families can use guidance to stretch their food budgets. UC ANR steps in with programs and services.
Of the hundreds of ways UC ANR impacts California lives and livelihoods, 40 are highlighted in the new publication, Working for the Benefit of All Californians: 2018 UC ANR Annual Report.
UC ANR has identified the specific parts of California where its vast team of highly trained academics can effect positive change. The organization is working to promote economic prosperity, safeguard sufficient safe and healthy food for all, protect the state's natural resources, promote healthy people and communities, develop a qualified workforce, build climate change resilience in communities and ecosystems, and develop an inclusive and equitable society. These values touch every person in the state.
During the period covered in the report, robust research and education programs supported agricultural communities. For example, UC ANR scientists improved the ability to predict beet curly top virus, avoiding losses approaching $100 million in processing tomatoes. A workshop offered by UC ANR educators on low-stress livestock handling convinced all the participants to incorporate the practices on their ranches. Online and in-person workshops provided to urban farmers resulted in new food safety plans for nearly all of the growers involved.
Families, farmers and natural resource managers are facing the prospect of climate change and looking for ways to continue prospering under uncertain conditions. Increasingly ferocious wildfires are causing serious losses to ranchers. UC ANR provided information on management practices to safeguard resources, prevent soil erosion and estimate the cost of forage losses so ranch owners can prepare loss claims. UC ANR has been instrumental in development of a website, Cal-Adapt.org, a clearing house to collect and disseminate climate change data.
Families and youth are a focus of UC ANR nutrition research, nutrition education and programs such as 4-H and CalFresh Healthy Living, UC. One UC ANR researcher collaborated with the Karuk, Yurok and Klamath tribes to identify culturally sound solutions to reduce food insecurity. In two Northern California counties, students were introduced by UC ANR educators to 36 local produce items. Their selection, consumption and interest in the produce served at lunchtime increased. UC ANR piloted a program that gets Latinx youth outside for environmental education.
Making food safer, enriching children's lives, extending reliable nutrition education and improving the productivity on California farms and ranches add up to significant value to the recipients of the services and to all Californians by making the state a better place to live and work.
DPR, Fresno State and UCCE create pesticide safety videos with Hmong farmers
A series of videos describing California pesticide rules and safety in Hmong is now available to view for free online. The videos were produced by California State University, Fresno and UC Cooperative Extension in Fresno County with funding from the California Department of Pesticide Regulation.
The nine-part video series – Complying with Pesticide Laws and Regulations in California – is part of DPR's mission to reach California's farming communities. The videos cover a number of topics including using personal protective equipment, understanding pesticide product labels and application permit requirements.
The innovative educational tool blends peer-to-peer communication with traditional extension methods to include the knowledge and experience of both farmers and extension experts. Hmong farmers featured in the video helped develop scenes in which they educate other farmers, purchase and use personal protective equipment, and interact with extension staff.
“We worked with Hmong farmers who are following pesticide regulations themselves, and are now giving back to educate their peers,” said Ruth Dahlquist-Willard, UC Cooperative Extension small farm advisor, who collaborated on the video production. “Their voices and expertise helped make the scenarios more realistic and accessible to other farmers in the Southeast Asian community.”
Michael Yang, longtime UC Cooperative Extension small farms and specialty crops agricultural assistant, stars in the videos, interacting with farmers based on his extensive experience and trusted relationships in the Hmong farming community, and narrating the educational content in Hmong.
“We hope the videos broaden the reach of our local extension programming to help more farmers understand pesticide regulations and avoid fines, as well as improve their safe handling, selection and use,” said Yang.
Dahlquist-Willard and Yang plan to show the videos at UC Cooperative Extension meetings with Hmong farmers and distribute copies on flashdrives to county Agricultural Commissioner's offices in Fresno County and beyond. The videos are captioned in English.
“DPR works with all types of farmers on pesticide issues and it's critical that they use these tools safely – regardless of the language they speak,” explained DPR Director Val Dolcini. “This video project, the first of its kind to use Hmong speakers, will help foster safer use of pesticides.”
The videos can be viewed at http://bit.ly/fs-dpr-hmong-pesticide-video. The modules in the series cover:
- Introduction to California Pesticide Laws
- Checking for Crops Registered on the Label
- Pests and Application Rates on the Label
- Understanding Signal Words
- Following the Restricted Entry Interval (REI)
- Following the Pre-harvest Interval (PHI)
- Knowing Common Restrictions on the Label
- Using Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
- Pesticide Permits and Reporting requirements
The project took 700 hours over 18 months to complete, including filming and post-production. Twelve Fresno State students were also involved in producing the videos with the Hmong farmers in Fresno County. Dahlquist-Willard and Yang provided the creative direction in partnership with the farmers involved, and Fresno State's MCJ Multimedia Production Service under Professor Candace Egan brought professional video production and editing skills to make a high-quality finished product. Fresno State student video editor Mali Lee, a fluent Hmong speaker, completed the final edits of the Hmong language material.
“This was one of the most rewarding projects I have ever worked on,” said project director Bill Erysian of Fresno State. “We brought together a unique group of agricultural specialists, students, farmers and video professionals to create a high impact, professional set of educational videos on pesticide compliance for our Hmong farmers here in California.”
DPR has comprehensive pesticide safety and outreach material available in Punjabi, Spanish and English at https://www.cdpr.ca.gov/docs/whs/worker_protection.htm.
Legalization of cannabis in California changes the dynamics of competing industries
Humboldt County has long been known for marijuana production. Over the last decade, the North Coast's Emerald Triangle – Humboldt, Mendocino and Trinity counties – have experienced a large influx of growers moving to the area to get into the cannabis business.
The greatest expansion of cannabis cultivation occurred within the remote corners of these counties.
“Forested and woodland parcels became valued, not for timber or ranching, but for their capacity to support cannabis operations,” said Yana Valachovic, UC Cooperative Extension director and forest advisor in Humboldt County. “Land prices skyrocketed and a whole wave of newcomers surrounded ‘traditional' producers of forest products and beef. The nearly exponential growth of the cannabis industry has been a shock to some and there has been a steady discussion of social, economic and environmental concerns.”
Of the 71 landowners responding to the survey, 18% said they had grown cannabis on their property and 40% said they had indirectly profited by trucking or operating heavy equipment for the cannabis industry. About half of the landowners didn't indicate whether they had or had not grown cannabis.
While the burgeoning cannabis grows have brought jobs to the economically challenged county, over 60% of the landowners agreed that cannabis had contributed to labor costs, 57% agreed it had negatively affected their livestock operations and the majority reported negative impacts to their property.
“Fences have been wrecked, roads damaged, and stream water theft,” wrote one rancher.
Since cannabis has become legal in California, most landowners (64%) have maintained their views on the industry. Yet, Valachovic and her colleagues are interested in seeing how this rural community adapts to protect its environmental health and economic prosperity.
“It's not news that ranchers can have issues with cannabis farmers, but the evolving perspective is what most excites me about this survey,” she said. “The cannabis industry is very dynamic and has experienced rapid expansion, price highs and lows, and an evolving public policy discussion trying to keep up with the changes. The results of this survey reflect opinions from 2018 and with the inclusion of hemp or low THC cannabis, perspectives will continue to evolve.”
The study was conducted by Valachovic, UC Cooperative Extension advisors Lenya Quinn-Davidson and Jeffery Stackhouse, and UC Cooperative Extension specialist Van Butsic in the Department of Environmental Policy Management at UC Berkeley.
The authors concluded that while public policy will not solve all social behaviors and competing industry needs, land-use policy can help mediate land-use conflicts and zoning to support new economic opportunities as well as existing multigenerational businesses.
“Humboldt has been at the forefront of these issues for decades and perhaps the lessons learned here can be helpful for other communities,” Valachovic said.