Joseph obtained an Associate Degree at Mt. San Antonio College. He was on course to become a civil engineer when he found his true calling for communications in a public speaking course. A transfer student to CSUCI, Joseph chose a Bachelor of Science Communication major with emphasis on the Environment Studies. Living in Ventura County Joseph began to connect the importance of agriculture with the environment “and the copious opinions associated with agriculture”. In his final semester, Joseph is honing his communication skills in advanced course work—environmental conflict and resolution course encourages students to mirror both sides of environmental conflicts without bias. And a collaboration innovation and teamwork course places groups of students to work in local non-profits.
Upon graduation in May 2019, Joseph is interested in pursuing a job with the National Parks Service or The Nature Conservancy. Long-term plans include furthering his education in graduate school. Joseph believes “there is a future in the environment and that future begins with communication along with resolving contrasting opinions”.
His spring internship at HAREC will put Joseph's public speaking and communications skills to good use. Joseph will be working along-side staff and volunteers in the 4-H Farm Field Trip and Student Farm programs to deliver agricultural literacy, nutrition, and sustainability concepts to youth ages Kindergarten to 8th grade. Joseph will also be a guest blogger for Hansen News.
Imagine turning kitchen leftovers into an indoor garden and at the same time reinforcing concepts of recycling and reusing. Kitchen Scrap Gardening does just that!
HAREC is preparing for 2019 education season. This spring a new second grade classroom outreach lesson will roll out. The Kitchen Scrap Gardening lesson shows youth that some vegetable scraps that might otherwise end up in a compost pile can actually grow into new plants. Education Specialist II, Gwyn Vanoni, organized this new literature based lesson and received rave reviews from teachers and over 100 students Los Primeros School in Camarillo, grades K-2nd.
The lesson does not require much in the way of supplies. Scraps of scallions, lettuce, bok choy can be grown and harvested with just a pair of scissors in the kitchen. Carrot tops will regrow an edible, delicate garnish and celery can be harvested and replanted several times. Add paper pots, a bag of soil and some spray bottles and you have the makings for a classroom or after school garden lesson.
As a wrap-up, students will review that some plants can be re-grown without a seed and ponder the benefits or recycling some kitchen scraps rather than throwing them in the trash.
4-H Classroom Outreach--Farm to School lessons delivered at the school site is available county-wide. Visit HAREC for more information on lessons offered. Over 2600 K-5th grade youth are reached each year; lessons are delivered by trained volunteers and staff.
HAREC education season ended June 29th with a memorable 4-H Sustainable You! Summer Camp for ages 9-12. The week long camp, now in its fifth year, is fun, interactive and focuses on the environment. Each day centers on a theme: air, land, food, energy, water…..and shows youth how to reduce their footprint and preserve natural resources.
Environmental Educators, Angie Williams and Nick Shoemate from the City of Ventura Water and Environmental Sustainability Division did an amazing job sharing their knowledge and extending daily activities to 18 campers. This is our fourth year collaborating with the City. Teen Leader, Sara Centeno, Oxnard High School senior, helped engage youth in activities, games and enthusiastically took on the task of tracking and reporting on daily trash, recycling and composting waste.
Over 6800 youth participate in 4-H farm field trip, classroom outreach, after school and summer programs, as well as various community based STEM activities. The HAREC education staff appreciates the support of partners such as the City of Ventura and Ventura Unified School District as well as all the 4-H and Master Gardener volunteers that work so diligently throughout the year to make youth programs possible county-wide.
For highlights of Sustainable You! Summer Camp 2018 watch the video below:
We are pleased to introduce the newest member of the education team. Valerie Zeko, Community Education Specialist II, will oversee the Ventura County 4-H Community Club program. Valerie studied at Cal State Fullerton where she earned a BA in Liberal Arts degree. She continued her education at UCSB earning a Masters of Education.
Valerie began her teaching career at Camarillo High School. When her second child was born, Valerie opted to become a full-time mom. For the next 14 years, she embraced volunteerism by working in her children's schools and at her church. She also started and maintained a website called VenturaParent.com that provided resources for parents. Valerie returned to teaching in 2014 and worked as an English teacher at Buena and Foothill Technology High Schools, both in Ventura.
She became involved in 4-H a few years ago when she was invited to teach a sourdough bread making class for her daughter Emma's Baking Project (Loma Vista Club). She had so much fun that she decided to become a Project Leader and has led the Baking Project ever since. Valerie is inspired by the inclusivity and warmth of 4-H and says she “feels lucky to be able to work in an office with wonderful people at the UC Hansen Agricultural Center where I can look out the window and see strawberry fields and beautiful hills in the distance!”
Her greatest joy in life is learning and feels some of the best to learning comes from reading and traveling. This spring she and her family traveled to Panama to visit her daughter Anneke, who has been working as an intern for the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Gamboa. ”I learned so much about Panama and its food, history and culture. I saw howler monkeys and coatis in the jungle and learned about an animal called a “nyeke” which looks like a guinea pig with long legs. I look forward to my next adventure working for 4-H!”
Valerie is a long time Ventura County resident and proud mom to Anneke, 2017 UCLA graduate; Emma, senior at Foothill Technology High School; Ben, 8th grader at DATA middle school. We are excited to bring Valerie on board. Her background as a 4-H project leader, passion for teaching and learning, and appreciation for volunteerism are vital assets for the Ventura County 4-H Youth Development Program.
The Census of Agriculture is the voice of our farming community. The census collects information on the nation's farms and ranches from small to large operations. But time is off the essence--the deadline is February 5. Producers should visit www.agcounts.usds.gov