- Author: Laura J. Van der Staay
Reedley College provides upward bound math and science programs to 405 students from ten high schools ranging from Madera to Dinuba. These programs serve mainly low-income and first generation college bound students with a goal of generating enthusiasm for science and math leading to increased college enrollment. About a quarter of these students attended workshops at Kearney in June and July.
Kris Tollerup, UC Cooperative Extension advisor in the statewide IPM program and at Kearney Agricultural Research & Extension Center (KARE), almond, pistachio, tree fruit and grapes, taught a workshop on integrated pest management (IPM) strategies and practices. Students went to the fields and performed insect collection sweeps in alfalfa. They used dissecting microscopes to assist with identification of beneficial, neutral, and pest insects. Students learned about IPM strategies as well as how the practices and crops in one grower's field can impact his or her pest pressure as well as the pest pressure in a neighboring grower's crop.
Andreas Westphal, UC Cooperative Extension assistant specialist in the Department of nematology at UC Riverside and KARE, pathogens and nematodes affecting plants, taught the students about nematodes. Students used compound and dissecting microscopes to help identify different nematodes and different stages of nematode development. Samples of plant damage were also available. This workshop included IPM strategies for plant parasitic nematode pest management.
Jeff Mitchell, UC Cooperative Extension specialist at KARE, statewide cropping systems, taught the students about population predictions and the need to find ways to increase food production, increase available quality water, and sustain the environment. Students learned about conservation tillage, soil texture, soil stability, and leadership. They conducted soil texture and soil stability tests. Students discussed how much better the conservation tillage soil's stability and water infiltration was compared to the conventional tillage soil.
Themis Michailides, plant pathologist in the Department of plant pathology at UC Davis and KARE, ecology, epidemiology and control of fungal diseases of fruit and nut crops and vines, postharvest diseases, aflatoxin and mycotoxins of nut crops and figs, taught students about different pathogens, beneficial organisms, and the impact of certain organisms. Students used compound and dissecting microscopes. Larger samples were also available to see the symptoms and visible damage to the host plant. IPM strategies were discussed.
KARE staff provided 3 workshops.
-Students learned about sensory evaluation. Students took turns preparing and delivering samples and being the consumer that determined consumer acceptance. Different strategies to make the data more robust were discussed and demonstrated. Students discussed the results and observed the variation in consumer preferences. They used raw agricultural as well as value added commodities. There was insufficient time for statistical analysis, but the general concepts and impact of statistical analysis were discussed.
-Students discussed different experimental designs and terms. They visited actual research fields and learned how the plots are laid out and how the variables are controlled to help address certain issues and obtain robust data that is useful to stakeholders.
-Students also learned how and why fruit maturity and quality standards were set, as well as methodologies for determining fruit maturity and quality. They performed fruit maturity and quality testing in a laboratory setting and compared their objective and subjective assessments of the fruit. To get the sugar to acid ratio, students conducted titrations and used refractometers. Students used a penetrometer to determine fruit firmness. Some of the students toured other labs in the facility and learned about pathology efficacy trials and altered atmosphere strategies.
Long-time Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center researcher and budding motivational speaker, Jeff Mitchell, participated in the STEM Conference organized for local San Joaquin Valley high school students on Saturday, April 23, and thoroughly enjoyed the interactive, high-energy experience.
STEM refers to science, technology, engineering, and math programs and the day-long conference was an effort by the College to stimulate interest and preparedness in interested high school students to pursue educational programs and careers related to these disciplines. Mitchell was invited to share with students his work in agricultural systems research and soil health. He provided two hands-on sessions to a wide range of students from a number of regional schools including Laton, Hanford, Corcoran, Madera, Tranquility, Sierra, Selma, Reedley, and Parlier.
The highlight of the day, however, was the motivational and music extravaganza provided by special conference guests, Domino Saints, a bilingual urban pop duo from San Juan, Puerto Rico that includes David Leal, a young and very creative mechanical engineer with several nuclear fusion technology patents, and Gisele, “Gigi,” Ojeda. Students and presenters were wowed by the infectious music and inspirational message provided by Leal.
- Author: Laura J. Van der Staay
April 9, 2015, Riverview 6th grade science students attended workshops on nematology, conservation agriculture strategies, and integrated pest management. Students were exposed to issues that they could work on if they chose a career pathway resulting in working in a science, technology, engineering and/or math field related to agriculture and natural resources.
Nematology workshop: Andreas Westphal, UC Assistant Cooperative Extension Specialist at UC ANR Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center and in the Department of Nematology at UC Riverside and specializing in pathogens and nematodes affecting plants, increased student awareness of the impact of nematodes. Tom Buzo and Fen Westphal assisted with the workshop. Students learned about the diversity of nematodes in the world; that there are good, bad and very bad nematodes.
Westphal works on nematodes that are bad for plants. Many of these feed on plant roots. Students used microscopes to see some easily recognizable nematodes that were dug up from the soil.
Soil Health workshop: Jeff Mitchell, Cooperative Extension cropping systems specialist at the UC ANR Kearney Agricultural Research & Extension Center and in the Department of Plant Sciences at UC Davis specializing in vegetable cropping systems, irrigation management, soil quality, organic soil amendments, extension models, and postharvest physiology provided a workshop on soil health. Students learned that we will have an additional 3 billion people by 2050. This leads to the problem that the estimated food production demand from 2010 through 2050 will be more than it was for all of history. So, just like caring about our own health, we must care about the health of our natural resources. We are in a race to see if we can improve our food production and have sufficient water to meet the demands of a larger population. Mitchell had samples from an ongoing long-term trial that compares soil quality and yields using conservation agriculture strategies versus traditional tillage practices. Students noted that the conservation agriculture soil samples had more organic matter and held its shape while absorbing water when placed in the water. They noted that the traditional tillage soil samples had low organic matter and fell apart when placed in water.
Integrated Pest Management (IPM) workshop: Laura Van der Staay, Field Research Supervisor 2 at UC ANR Kearney Agricultural Research & Extension Center, provided students with the basic concepts of IPM, with role playing to better understand how effective IPM strategies are at sustaining our food, feed, and fiber production while protecting our natural resources. One of the role playing scenarios was to see how different modes of action can help reduce pesticide resistance in pest populations. Students got the extra treat of seeing some great horned owls (part of nature's IPM) that hatched at Kearney, as well as bones and feathers in the owl pellets.
Students were also provided with a field tour to see current research plots. (photgraphs by William Bowe and KARE personnel)