- Author: Julie Sievert
In December the Farming, Agriculture, and Resource Management for Sustainability (FARMS) program brought about 60 high school students from valley schools to enjoy a day of workshops and ag-related learning at UC Kearney. Part of the Center for Land Based Learning, the FARMS Leadership program students participated in team building activities with their peers, and three workshops provided by Kearney: the science behind fruit ripeness/quality, building healthy soils for healthy crops, and sorghum and whole grains.
KARE outreach and education leader, Laura Van Der Staay, along with UCD Cooperative Extension Cropping Systems Specialist, Jeff Mitchell, had their hands full with over 300 enthusiastic Tulare County 4th graders as part of the 2017 half-day AgVentures extravaganza that was held at the International Ag Center on May 12. This is the third time the two of them have taken part in this activity that is always a big hit with the kids, teachers and parents. Students learned about soil science and research that is underway at the KARE Center related to soil function and management and also had a chance to see up close and personal how soils can change if they are managed using conservation agriculture practices. While the day is always grueling, both Van Der Staay and Mitchell departed after a hearty hamburger lunch that was provided by the event organizers with the satisfaction of having hopefully expanded horizons and inspired a new generation of science-loving students.
- 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)
- Author: Laura J. Van der Staay
UC ANR Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center is providing fun learning opportunities to Fresno Unified School District 4th grade students and W.E.B. DuBois & Carter G. Woodson Public Charter Schools' students.
The teachers get lesson plans on experimental design and integrated pest management strategies prior to the students coming for their field trip. Each field trip has a tour where students learn about different crops, issues, and experimental designs. After the field trip, the students learn about how UC helps people and the environment. They are also exposed to “the more you learn, the more you earn” concept and given examples of great local STEM related career opportunities.
Elementary students finish their visit with role playing scenarios that demonstrate the importance of integrated pest management strategies, as well as why pesticide runoff should be prevented.
High school students finish their visit with more advanced experimental activities including a tour of the post-harvest lab and hands-on study of fruit samples using refractometer, penetrometer, and sensory evaluation techniques.