- Author: Mike Hsu
Planning brochure for pets, livestock fills crucial need as fires an increasing threat
With the McKinney Fire creeping closer to Yreka in the summer of 2022, Emily Jackson and her mother potentially faced the enormous task of getting all their goats, chickens, dogs and cats to safety – while Emily's father and twin sister Lindsay were away fighting the fires.
Fortunately, Emily and Lindsay had gained crucial knowledge about evacuating animals through a 4-H service-learning project they helped lead in 2018. A group of eight 4-H youths, ages 14 to 18, had created a “Pet Emergency Evacuation Plan” (PEEP) brochure, aimed at educating their neighbors in Siskiyou County about the necessary preparations for livestock and pets.
The brochure, available through the Siskiyou County website, remains in use today in this densely forested region that saw another spate of wildfires this summer. The PEEP project team was composed of Kylie Daws, Emily Jackson, Lindsay Jackson, Will Morris, Madison Restine, Maryssa Rodriguez, Emily Smith and Callahan Zediker.
Within those stressful hours in 2022 when the McKinney Fire prompted an evacuation warning during which residents could be required to leave at any moment, Emily Jackson said she and her mother had a game plan in place – thanks to her work on the PEEP project.
“At the time, it wasn't even on my mind,” Jackson said, “but looking back now, I know that having the experience from making that brochure was driving my thought process at the time.”
And while the Jackson family and their neighbors ultimately were not asked to evacuate in 2022, many community members have benefited from the hundreds of copies of the PEEP brochure in circulation, which prompts residents to at least think about what their animals would need in an emergency, Jackson said.
Pet and livestock evacuation tips were needed
Such a resource previously had not been available among the county's emergency preparation materials, according to Jacki Zediker, the 4-H regional program coordinator in Siskiyou County who advised the PEEP project group.
“One piece that was missing was how to help our communities understand that when they evacuate, and they take their pets with them…it's not as simple as just taking their pets with them,” said Zediker, citing the example that some shelters do not take in animals – or do not take animals without proof of vaccination.
Other items to add to the pet's emergency kit include food for several days, water, medications, comfort items or toys, and recent photos of the owner with their animal (proof of ownership).
Zediker had connected the young people with Jodi Aceves, senior deputy agriculture commissioner/sealer for Siskiyou County, who had been overseeing the county's Animal Control programs and emergency response.
“There's a lot of information out there for people evacuating, but not necessarily for livestock and pets,” Aceves said. “Unfortunately, we have had some fires where there were lots of pets and livestock lost.”
She met several times with the 4-H group, discussing the county's evacuation systems and processes and the role of the Office of Emergency Services and law enforcement agencies, and sharing key considerations in preparing for emergencies – such as having a pre-agreement in place with someone who could house an evacuee's animals.
Aceves praised the teens for distilling the vital information into a short and simple brochure that community members could easily read and remember. She also was impressed by the energy and genuine care that the young people put into the project.
“Most of their lives, every summer, they've been in fire,” Aceves said. “It's close to their hearts, and they've seen a lot of their neighbors and other people in the county either affected by fire or evacuated at some point.”
For Lindsay Jackson, in particular, fire and serving the community have been lifelong passions, inspired by her father's work in the area.
“My dad was a volunteer fire chief for the South Yreka Fire Department; he was doing that since I was about two or three, so I grew up watching him go to the trainings, go to a call,” she explained. “When I was 15, I joined the fire department as a cadet to help out with the medical side, but the more I volunteered, I really liked the fire side, too.”
Jackson added that Zediker has a special knack for nurturing and encouraging the interests of the 4-H participants and applying them in a productive way.
“Jacki was really good at figuring out where our passions were and then how we could put our passions into a service-learning project,” she said. “She knew I was really big into fire and helping the community in that way since I was young.”
Zediker also helped the Jackson twins on their senior project, a fire-safety field day at the South Yreka fire station. More than 100 schoolchildren learned fire safety basics, met firefighters and emergency personnel, and heard about 4-H from Lindsay and Emily.
4-H experiences, mentorship inspire career paths
The PEEP project group also was asked by several organizations to share their knowledge about emergency preparations for animals. In addition to presenting a poster about their work at the 4-H California Focus conference in 2018, the group handed out the brochure and shared information at a table during a Juniper Flat Fire Safe Council workshop and resource fair.
Beyond distributing the PEEP brochure at 4-H club meetings, school events and community meetings, the youths have lent their voices to advocating for emergency resources for animals. Zediker noted that they contributed testimonials that helped the county acquire grants for purchasing more portable kennels.
But the most enduring impact of 4-H participation and community service, however, is that those experiences were a springboard for the young adults' careers. Emily Jackson – who participated in 4-H from age 5 to 19 – is now working toward a master's degree in biology at Cal Poly Humboldt, studying how fire suppression and other factors have changed plant communities in the Russian Wilderness.
Whether training colleagues as a U.S. Forest Service crew lead for the past couple of summers, or leading lab sections in general botany as a graduate student, Jackson said she draws on her 4-H experiences – and Zediker's inspirational example – as she pursues a career in teaching.
“In my development as a young adult into an adult now, I cannot overstate how big of a role Jacki played in that,” Jackson said.
Her sister Lindsay, meanwhile, has pursued her passion for fire all the way through the fire academy at College of the Siskiyous, where she also earned her emergency medical technician (EMT) license. Most recently working on fires near Pondosa in Siskiyou County, Jackson has been a seasonal firefighter based at the McCloud CAL FIRE station since 2020.
“It's hard because, in the last three years, I haven't left Siskiyou County, there's just been so many fires here,” she said. “But it's nice being able to help your community and know you're making a difference.”
Lindsay Jackson intends to pursue a bachelor's degree in leadership studies at Cal Poly Humboldt in hopes of getting a full-time position with CAL FIRE./h3>/h3>/h3>
- Author: Grace Dean
In Spring of 2022, UC ANR launched its first Post-Fire Resilience Workshop. Since 2022, the workshop has traveled to Alpine, El Dorado, Plumas, Mariposa, Fresno, Madera, and Napa counties, and has reached 97 participants. The program continues to gain positive feedback and broadening statewide interest.
The UC ANR Post-Fire Resilience program has provided educational assistance to non-industrial private forest landowners throughout California who have been affected by wildfire. The program's workshop offering is headed by Post-Fire Academic Coordinator Katie Reidy, who aims to provide landowners with an opportunity to learn ways to proceed with their forested land, post-fire. Reidy explains that for landowners, the act of returning to post-wildfire property is “An emotional experience. The drastic change can be overwhelming.”
The Post-Fire team understands that for landowners in this situation, taking the first steps toward post-fire recovery can be the hardest. Reidy shares that the workshop is therefore “Designed to provide stepping stones and educational tools for landowners. It helps them think about how to manage their land for the future; how to encourage the land to grow back.” Beginning September 14th, the team is inviting private forest landowners, agency folks, and interested community members in Siskiyou, Shasta, and Trinity counties to their next workshop cohort.
Participants of the workshop will engage in weekly workshop sessions over Zoom on Thursday nights from 6-7:30pm from September 14th- October 26th, with in-person field trip days on November 3rd, 4th, and 5th (one day per county). Weekly sessions will consist of information on post-fire issues such as removing hazard trees, reforestation, erosion control, managing competing vegetation and local assistance programs. A variety of speakers and resource professionals supplement each session by sharing their expertise on topics.
At the end of the online Zoom sessions, participants are invited to an in-person field day. Here, they examine the impacts of fire and observe post-fire management practices on both private and public lands. The in-person field day also provides an opportunity for unstructured conversations among participants and professionals, where landowners are encouraged to ask questions about specific forest management strategies. Field trips consist of multiple stops, a process that aids in visualizing strategies for managing different post-fire problems.
For instance, one stop may highlight high-severity fire impacts with reforestation needs/efforts, while another stop may demonstrate ways to manage competing vegetation and resprouting trees. One past participant remarked that the in-person field trips were the most impactful portion of the series. The trips were a place where they could “Meet other people in the community facing the same situation we were.”
It's true that the Post-Fire workshop program guides workshop participants to find inspiration in regional success stories. Yet participants leave the program with so much more: a newfound or increased knowledge base and network that will help their projects succeed. The camaraderie that occurs in the workshop is powerful, shares Daylin Wade, Post-Fire Staff Research Associate.
Wade expresses that the program “Creates an opportunity for the community to learn from each other in addition to experts. Learning happens through discussions amongst participants that augments learning from the speakers”. Personal accounts of people's experience with fire recovery are valuable for other participants to hear, she notes. Wade shares that at a previous workshop: “One landowner who had experienced fire 3 years ago provided learning and insights to a landowner who experienced fire only six months ago.”
The tragedy of wildfire events is taken into direct consideration with the workshop, which is not simply a place to learn, but a place to build community resilience. Future workshop participants can expect to experience these connections between inspiration and action and leave the workshop with a new network of support.
The next Post-Fire Resilience workshop series begins September 14th! Interested forest landowners, community members, or tribal members in Siskiyou, Trinity, and Shasta counties should register here: http://ucanr.edu/post-fireregistration. There is a registration fee of $25. Any questions should be directed to Katie Reidy, Post-Fire Forest Resilience Program Coordinator at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Author: Pamela Kan-Rice
A mural depicting a UC Cooperative Extension advisor talking with a farmer beside a crop field and stream, surrounded by cattle, potatoes and a 4-H member showing a prize-winning sheep, against the backdrop of the Siskiyou Mountains was dedicated Oct. 13, 2018, to Siskiyou County agriculture and the memory of Steve Orloff.
Orloff's Family, friends, clientele and colleagues gathered to remember and honor Orloff, who passed away Oct. 3, 2017, after serving 33 years as a UCCE advisor, the last 25 years of his career in Siskiyou County.
“It is a testament to the power of Steve's work and ANR impact in local communities,” said Glenn Nader, emeritus livestock and natural resources advisor. Local farmers and ranchers funded the Steve Orloff mural, which is painted on the south wall facing the parking area of the UC Cooperative Extension office in Yreka, making it visible to I-5 travelers.
“Many members of the community and Steve's family were on hand to celebrate the efforts of the community to create a tribute to the work done by Steve Orloff,” said Jacki Zediker, 4-H community education specialist and coordinator in Siskiyou County.
“Sari and Steve began discussing the mural idea about a year or more before his passing, based on Sari noticing our exterior walls were very bland and could use some sprucing up,” said Carissa Koopmann Rivers, director of UC Cooperative Extension in Siskiyou County.
At the time, Orloff told Sommarstrom, “I can envision artwork with large cows and ranching depicted on one side transitioning to agricultural fields and mountains on the other side. It would be a great tribute to ag in the county.”
Following Orloff's passing, Sommarstrom followed up on the mural design, fundraising and execution. She partnered with the local Farm Bureau to assist with the financial backing of the project. The Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors approved the mural in April 2018, with the county contributing the first $2,000, kicking off the fundraising campaign and allowing the painting to begin in September.
“The mural would not have come to fruition without efforts from within the entire community, and the enthusiasm of artist Kim Solga,” said Rivers. “It is important to recognize one particular person, Jacki Zediker, who was at the forefront of the project ensuring the mural exemplified the Siskiyou County agriculture and the vision that Steve had. Jacki not only worked diligently behind the scenes to cross t's and dot i's, she was also physically responsible for all the wall prep work and finishing coat on the wall, as well as organizing the official revealing unveiling of the mural on October 13, 2018.”
The mural is located at 1655 South Main St. in Yreka.
- Author: Emily Jackson
Siskiyou County is one of California's most rural counties. Forest fires and other natural disasters are often a concern for our communities. Many of our residents own pets and livestock, but we lack the agency resources to help with pet/livestock emergency evacuation.
With fire season already starting, Siskiyou County's Hi 4-H project wanted to help people prepare for emergency evacuations that included plans for pets and livestock. It was important that we inform the public about how to prepare for a disaster. To do this, we created PEEP (Pet Emergency Evacuation Plan) pamphlets.
The main objective of this project was to inform and teach 4-Hers and the public about how to keep pets and livestock safe in case of evacuation. We worked with Siskiyou County's Animal Control and used resources from the Office of Emergency Services (OES) while we researched on our own in preparation for this project. We learned about important things to have prepared if animals need to be evacuated, and what to do if animals need to be left behind or let loose. In our pamphlets, we included information about how to evacuate small and large animals, important items to have prepared in case of an emergency, and the importance of pre-planning.
How we're sharing the information
Our pamphlets will be handed out at the Siskiyou Golden Fair and a PDF version will be available on our county's Animal Control and Office of Emergency Services (OES) websites. We have also given presentations on our project and supplied information pamphlets to local 4-H clubs, as well as shared our project with attendees of this year's California Focus conference.
After completing this project, we have gained knowledge about how to evacuate both large and small animals and we know that it is our responsibility to make sure we have a plan. Our animals are counting on us. We hope that our project will help 4-Hers and members of our community be prepared for future disasters.
Don't forget your PEEP's in an emergency!
- Author: Pamela Kan-Rice
“Dan is the epitome of a farm advisor,” said Jack Cowley, president of the California Beef Cattle Improvement Association. “He advised us on all kinds of issues.”
Cowley has worked with Drake for nearly 30 years. After 29 years of practice as an ophthalmologist in Sacramento, Cowley pursued his dream of becoming a cattle rancher and has consulted Drake on many occasions.
“He helped us with animal health records, organizing breeding, animal nutrition and water issues,” said Cowley. “He helped everybody with farm issues and never turned us down.”
Back in the 1980s, before computers were in every home, Drake co-authored a UC Cooperative Extension publication on how to use computers.
“He was a computer wiz,” Cowley said. “Most of us older farmers and ranchers didn't know much about computers so he helped us navigate computer issues.”
Drake earned a bachelor's degree in zoology at California State University, Long Beach, in 1974 and a master's in animal science at UC Davis in 1977 before starting his career with UC Cooperative Extension in 1978. He later earned a Ph.D. in animal science from Oregon State University in 1988.
Early in his career, Drake helped introduce to Siskiyou County no-till planting methods, intensive grazing management and triticale forage systems. He identified a new rangeland plant, Monte Frio rose clover, an annual clover suited for cold, mountainous areas such as Siskiyou County.
White muscle disease, a disease cattle get from insufficient selenium in their diet, was well known but he further defined its implications on growth and championed alternative and multiple selenium supplementation methods. He also began testing animal and plant tissue and soil at ranches to identify where adding selenium might pose environmental problems.
“When he started, I was 17 and a 4-H exhibitor at the fair,” said Cliff Munson, now CEO of the Siskiyou Golden Fair.
“He led efforts that improved beef production,” said Munson, who is also president of the Siskiyou County Cattlemen's Association. “Carcass data continues to get better and better. For example, he was instrumental to moving the fair to ultrasound data.”
With Jim Oltjen, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Animal Science at UC Davis, Drake developed procedures for using ultrasound in youth beef carcass contests. The practice is used statewide nowadays. Using an ultrasound device, like those used on pregnant women to view unborn babies, Drake showed ranchers and 4-H youth how to evaluate the quality of meat on a live animal. They can determine the size of the ribeye, fat thickness and marbling.
4-H members dramatically improved their results using ultrasound data. In 2010, 93 percent of the 45 carcasses entered by 4-H members in the Siskiyou Golden Fair were graded Choice minus or better, compared to 36 percent to 68 percent in previous years.
“This aspect is very important as it is part of the transition that has occurred with producers from raising cattle to raising beef,” Drake said. “It ties in with all of the special niche markets as well.”
For further refinement in breeding beef cattle, Drake studied DNA with Alison Van Eenennaam, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Animal Science at UC Davis, testing national DNA prediction equations in local commercial beef ranches.
“In the last few years, he's helped us understand genetics of the animals,” said Cowley. “We can select our animals to improve the production and quality of the product so that it's healthier for humans.”
Cowley explained, “My medical background helped me understand animal genetics. We can modify the genetics to improve the quality of the beef to make it more heart healthy.”
Throughout his career, Drake wrote a monthly newsletter called the Siskiyou Stockman to keep ranchers apprised of the latest research. He served as co-editor of the UC beef publication “Fundamentals of Beef Management.”
Recently Drake and Van Eenennaam finished on a three-year project studying the parentage and animal genetics of Cowley's and two other Siskiyou County ranch animals. With the data, they will evaluate DNA prediction equations and hope to develop economic models to identify which animals are likely to be worth more money based on their genetics.
The American Society of Animal Science honored Drake with their Western Section Extension award in 2007. UC Cooperative Extension recognized his teaching accomplishments with a Distinguished Service Award.
Drake has also volunteered to help producers in other countries. He visited cattle producers in Kazakhstan three times, showing them how to keep records on a computer and update their artificial insemination practices. In Mali, he advised a women's cooperative on accounting and other business practices.
“They used animals as a bank account. When they needed funds they would sell the animals,” Drake said. He advised the women to sell their sheep and goats when they were ready for harvest and to invest their resources in raising another animal for optimal economic return and better use of their scarce natural resources.
In retirement, Drake looks forward to doing more international consulting. “I have particularly enjoyed international volunteer work for animal producers and will do more,” he said.
He also intends to spend time playing baseball (hardball not softball), dog training, duck hunting and traveling for pleasure.