Steven Worker is the 4-H Youth Development Advisor for Sonoma, Marin and Napa counties.
4-H uses a variety of volunteers for it's programs. Steven conducted a study of volunteer educators, with a "diverse experiences, abilities and values" to teach STEM projects to students using 4-H curriculum at three sites using three different methods.
To describe volunteers' pedagogical practices, I conducted a qualitative case study at three sites where volunteer educators were implementing a design-based 4-H curriculum. The curriculum advanced youth scientific literacy by supporting scientific inquiry in conjunction with planning, designing and making shareable artifacts. Through detailed observations, videos and focus groups, I identified six common pedagogical practices, though educators differed widely in which ones they used. Pragmatic and structural constraints shaped their choices, as did their professional identification as engineers, or not, and their relative comfort with engineering.
To support volunteer educators in implementing a learner-centered educational program, curricula designers might be more specific in recommending and explaining pedagogical practices, and program managers might better train volunteer educators in those preferred practices.
Read this research article is in California Agriculture, volume 71, number 4.
Citation: Worker S. 2017. Volunteer educators bring their own ideas about effective teaching to a 4-H curriculum. Calif Agr 71(4):208-213. https://doi.org/10.3733/ca.2017a0021.
To promote the exchange and sharing of agricultural extension information, several U.S. Land Grant institutions have formed an alliance with 10 Chinese agricultural universities. From June 17 to 22, UC Agriculture & Natural Resources took a group of scientists from Chinese agricultural universities on a tour of agriculture in Northern California.
Extension in China
As Anne Megaro, director of governmental and community relations for UC Agriculture & Natural Resources explained “They have extension in China, but it is not like ours. They are looking to strengthen their advisor positions and develop a mechanism for career advancement, similar to what we have in the U.S.”
Visit to Sonoma County
On June 19 and 20, the delegation visited Sonoma County to learn about our Ombudsman, Master Gardener, 4-H and Rangeland programs in Sonoma County. Photos at end of the story.
The evening of June 19, Agriculture Ombudsman, Karen Giovannini, shared how she helps farmers and ranchers navigate permitting and regulations. She explained how, at their most refined, regulations are in place to protect resources, that is, people and the environment. China also has many ‘rules' as the delegates called them. Karen shared locally made sheep, goat and cow cheeses with the delegates as an example of how a dairy operation could expand their product offerings to help them stay viable. Although cheese is not a ‘traditional' product in China, Karen explained that it could be a way to help keep some of the younger generation in rural areas.
China is continuing to experience the largest migration in world history. The rural population is migrating into the urban areas for better pay and opportunities raising concerns about the negative impacts on their agriculture sector and food security. Fun fact, in 2013: “Roughly one out of every 25 people in the world was a resident of a Chinese city who arrived, or was born, since the current round of [Chinese] economic reforms began in 1978.” Like United States, labor shortages in agriculture in China are creating a need for more agriculture technology. By the way, of the delegates that tried the cheeses, their favorite was the goat cheese.
Master Gardener and Bayer Farm Programs
On morning of June 20, Master Gardener Food Gardening Specialists and Jonathan Bravo from Bayer Farm kindly hosted the Chinese delegation. Jonathan, the garden manager, showed the delegation the community garden at Bayer Farm and talked about the programs there and then the FGS team led the delegation through the demonstration garden and discussed the sustainable food gardening principles being shown in the garden, such as integrated pest management and square foot gardening, and discussed their educational outreach programs in the garden. Because so much of China's population lives in the cities, this example of urban farming is of interest to the delegates.
The delegates were also very interested in the bilingual interactions. In China, there are many dialects and it will be important for youth extension programs to reach out to the rural population in their native dialects. The delegation was also quite interested in 4-Hers selling market livestock at the fairs as they observed when visiting Shasta County fair earlier that week.
Final stop in Sonoma County was a visit to Taylor Mountain Regional Park. Dr Stephanie Larson shared the experiences she had with setting up grazing on public lands and the many benefits it provides, including exposing the non-farming community to livestock on working lands. They hiked to one of the educational signs along the trail that UCCE advisors developed, along with videos and fact sheets, to educate the public about the importance of maintaining proper livestock grazing and rancher stewardship on California's rangelands with public access.
Although China has the third largest population of cattle, they import most of their beef to meet the increasing demand due to increasing standard of living of the Chinese people. As recent as 2016, “small farms with 9 or fewer cattle slaughtered per year are responsible for a major portion of Chinese beef production.” Plus, their native cattle breeds far underperform when compared to fast growing beef cattle breeds in the United States and other countries. Developing grazing programs on public park lands in China will keep their heritage alive while producing the many benefits grazers provide. The delegates were fascinated to see the cattle enjoying the grasses.
The delegates loved their visit to Sonoma County. Next stop was UC Davis and the Russell Ranch Sustainable Agriculture Facility, UCD's living laboratory.
Glenda Humiston, VP of UC ANR summed up the visit best, “The Chinese face many of the same issues that we do here in the U.S. The Chinese universities want to improve rural economic development to lift up the quality of life for people in rural communities. They are also responding to global climate change, drought and pests while trying to improve food security and water use efficiency. They see UC Cooperative Extension as an effective research model; we hope that scientific collaborations will accelerate solutions and help maintain relations for California agriculture with China.”/h3>/h3>/h3>/h3>/h3>/h3>/h3>
- Editor: Karen Giovannini
Press Release by Board of Supervisors of Sonoma County
At their January 24, 2017, Board meeting, the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors extended agreements with the University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) through December 31, 2025, continuing agricultural, environmental and community-based research and educational programming in Sonoma County.
“UCCE works with so many community partners, dedicated volunteers, and other County departments to serve the public and our youth population,” said Board of Supervisors Chair Shirlee Zane. “We are excited to continue our partnership with UCCE to support innovative programs to educate the public about the importance of our local landscapes, agriculture, and recreational opportunities.”
The UCCE's offices are local problem-solving centers. More than 400 campus-based specialists and county-based farm, home, and youth advisors work as teams to bring the University's research-based information to Californians. UCCE has been partnering with Sonoma County since 1918 and manages several local programs aimed at preserving agriculture and strengthening community development and leadership in youth and adults. A few of these program include:
- 4-H Youth Development: The Sonoma County 4-H program helps young people, ages 5-19, reach their fullest potential as competent, confident individuals who contribute to and are connected with their communities. In 4-H programs, youth serve in leadership roles where they set goals, develop plans, complete projects, and reflect on their experiences.
- Master Gardener program: 320 volunteers provide environmentally sustainable, science-based horticultural information to the community, including over 100 classes per year, at 13 farmer's markets and at various workshops throughout the year.
- General Agricultural and Natural Resources Education: Monthly educational seminars for Sonoma county farmers and ranchers address production, marketing systems, business planning and food safety issues; along with increasing local jobs for smaller-scale farmers by promoting and supporting businesses and products, through value added opportunities and streamlined permitting processes.
Stephanie Larson, UCCE County Director said, “Our partnership with Sonoma County continues to grow and strengthen, by providing essential community services such as our 4-H youth program. The 4-H program educates more than 1,000 youth and offers a broad curriculum including leadership skills, arts and crafts, and civic engagement. We appreciate the ongoing relationship and look forward to serving Sonoma County for many more years to come.”
To learn more about the UCCE, please visit UCCE Sonoma County.
- Editor: Karen Giovannini
We make a living by what we do, but we make a life by what we give.
In 2012 I had a life changing experience, I contracted a very rare flesh eating bacteria and almost lost my life. After being airlifted to Children's hospital in Oakland, I spent the summer there having 14 surgeries. While I was in the hospital, I was overcome by the generosity of our community and complete strangers. I reaped the many benefits of donated items while in the hospital. In addition, our community rallied around to support me and help my family in ways that were unimaginable. Even though I had previously been active in community service activities, this incident made service an even bigger priority in life. I think giving back to the community is not only self-fulfilling but also a way for me to say thank you to those that helped me. Now I hope that I can help make a positive change in someone elses life and improve community conditions.
Community Service Project: Missy's Homeless Survival Pack Drive
Right now as we are experiencing a much earlier wet and cold winter, there's a huge need for tarps, sleeping bags, rain ponchos, rain boots, shoes, umbrellas, backpacks, hats, gloves, jackets...anything to keep people warm and dry.
Catholic Charities Family Support Center
465 A Street
Also if you'll mention that this is being donated on behalf of Missy's Homeless Survival Pack Drive, that would be helpful. Catholic Charities is able to help provide shelter & housing for over 2500 homeless men, women and children. Unfortunately, there are many that are on a waiting list and are unable to seek shelter. These packs will be distributed to those individuals to help keep them warm during these inclement conditions. Share this flier for Missy's Homeless Survival Pack Drive at your work.
- The average age of residents in the family shelter is 12 years old
- Over 500 children and youth under the age of 24 called Catholic Charities home last year
- For every child they housed, 4 more were on the shelter waiting list
- 1 in 50 children in the US are homeless (~1.5 million children total)
For more information about their services, please visit Catholic Charities./span>
As a new Cooperative Extension Advisor, Worker will provide leadership, support, and oversight to 4-H Youth Development clubs, camps, and programs in Marin, Sonoma, and Napa counties. In partnership with the respective County 4-H Program Representatives, he will connect local 4-H Clubs and programs to exciting new 4-H projects and initiatives. Worker's academic responsibilities include developing, implementing, and evaluating programs to engage youth in healthy living; science, engineering, math and technology; environmental stewardship; and civic engagement.
Worker and his wife, Heather, recently moved to Rohnert Park and are excited to explore the North Bay. Worker is a tabletop (board and card game) enthusiast and an avid science fiction reader.
Contact Worker at University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources, Cooperative Extension Marin (415) 473-4207, Sonoma (707) 565-2836, or Napa (707) 253-4221, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or view his bio and publications.