- Author: Mike Hsu
Climate Stewards course instructor inspires change in Butte County
Growing up in Butte County, Rose Brazil-Few has watched climate change devastate communities and ecosystems in the form of severe drought and deadly wildfire, including the 2018 Camp Fire that swept through Paradise. Through the University of California Climate Stewards program, Brazil-Few is taking action in her home county – and inspiring others to help.
“Seeing the environmental situation firsthand in California, every day I find a reason to work on climate action projects,” she explained. “It's the most fulfilling work that I could possibly be doing right now.”
As a California Climate Action Corps Fellow (a workforce development program affiliated with California Volunteers), Brazil-Few is working at the Butte Environmental Council as community sustainability coordinator. She said the UC Climate Stewards course she completed last fall – administered by the UC California Naturalist program – taught her crucial lessons she applies every day, especially on framing and conveying the climate crisis.
“One of the biggest takeaways is how to communicate about climate change while we're doing climate action work,” she said. “Sometimes you encounter community members who don't necessarily like the term ‘climate change,' but they still believe in cleaning up parks and planting trees for shade – so focusing on positive action will still accomplish your bigger goals.”
Brazil-Few will further amplify those locally rooted solutions and climate stewardship opportunities when she starts teaching her own UC Climate Stewards course this summer, through Butte Environmental Council.
“Rose is the first CCAC fellow to become a certified Climate Stewards course instructor as part of the Pathway to Leadership we co-developed with CCAC,” said Sarah-Mae Nelson, UC Climate Stewards academic coordinator. “This pathway is an opportunity for fellows to continue fostering community and ecosystem resilience in their communities as active Climate Stewards, once their official fellowship has ended.”
Since launching in fall 2020, nearly 500 people have completed the UC Climate Stewards course, which is delivered by 17 partner organizations throughout the state. Nelson noted that, in addition to the CCAC collaboration, UC Climate Stewards is also working with Sustainability Service Corps and SEI (Strategic Energy Innovations) Climate Corps – and looking into bringing the course to other states.
A 2021 graduate of Humboldt State University with a bachelor's degree in environmental studies, Brazil-Few said she appreciates that the UC Climate Stewards course instills a sense of hope and empowerment and possibility.
“I know some people who feel hopeless because there's such a focus on the doom of climate change – when in reality you can find so many programs and people in your local community making positive change,” she said.
In her community, Brazil-Few highlights the partnership efforts between the Butte County Local Food Network and area growers, the Traditional Ecological Knowledge sharing at Verbena Fields in Chico, and the continued growth of the community composting program – among many other projects.
They all illustrate a key point that Brazil-Few will emphasize as she designs her UC Climate Stewards course: a meaningful climate project need not take place at a large scale – action can happen, literally, in one's own backyard.
“It can be easily attainable and accessible,” she said. “And just talking about it with people and getting your community excited is the very first step in creating a series of events that eventually leads to a bigger impact on climate change and positive environmentalism.”/h3>
- Author: Saoimanu Sope
A typical day for Dee Keese starts with a 10-mile walk at 5 a.m. and her morning wraps up with a swim. Although Keese is in her late 70s, her daily routine would not surprise you if you knew what she has been doing for the last 48 years.
For nearly a half-century, Keese has been the 4-H community leader for the Palos Verdes Peninsula (PVP) club in Los Angeles County. A youth development program managed through local University of California Cooperative Extension offices, 4-H uses hands-on learning experiences to empower youth to build self-esteem and connect with their communities as emerging leaders.
“When you're pushing 80, working with young people helps to keep you young,” Keese said.
4-H has been a game changer in many ways
In the 1970s, Keese moved to the Palos Verdes area with her first-born son who had a learning disability. Others treated him differently in school, and it didn't help that he was the new kid in town. A neighbor encouraged Keese to enroll her son in 4-H.
“She told me, ‘You've got to put your son in 4-H so he can feel good about himself,'” explained Keese. “And let me tell you, it changed my life.”
In 1978, two weeks before her fifth child was born, Keese became the 4-H PVP club's community leader and has been in the role ever since.
While reflecting on her earlier days with 4-H, Keese remembered when most members were boys. Girls were not intentionally excluded at the time; clubs just didn't attract them. When girls eventually joined 4-H, it was a game changer.
“All of a sudden, the program shifted focus from solely agriculture and animals to include home economics like cooking and sewing,” Keese said. “Now, all my sons do the cooking in their homes. It's a good thing! Because we're moving away from traditional domestic duties, men and women are sharing roles, as they should be.”
The PVP 4-H club offers activities like archery, sailing, surfing and geocaching. “Everything we do is to help our youth be better as adults, out in the real world and in the workforce,” said Keese. “We're relying on the internet too much. Kids need to get outside and do things.”
Over the years, Keese has taken members – who range in age from 5 to 19 – on numerous hikes in places like Havasupai Indian Reservation and Mt. Whitney. She's taken them kayaking on the Colorado River and, these days, co-hosts old-fashioned card game nights on the weekends with other community members.
As a lifeguard and water safety instructor, Keese gives free training to interested 4-H members to become lifeguards. Training courses usually cost well over $200 per person. “If they're interested, I train them and they have another skill to use. And it benefits our club,” said Keese. “When we have pool parties or beach days, my kids are prepared to step in and help.”
‘She will help anyone and everyone at any time'
Ace Yeck, former president of the PVP 4-H club, met Keese 12 years ago and decided to become a 4-H member when he was in fourth grade, following a convincing conversation with her. “She just kept giving me opportunities,” said Yeck.
Currently a third-year undergraduate at Loyola Marymount University studying entrepreneurship, Yeck credits 4-H for preparing him for college. “I got all my community service and public speaking practice through 4-H. I remember doing beach clean-ups, feeding the homeless, helping out at the Christmas fair, and all kinds of events,” he shared.
During his years with 4-H, Yeck was elected to the state board as an ambassador before he went on to represent 4-H at the national level. “Dee encouraged me every time, so I kept going,” he said.
Keese admitted that her life is so full and fun because of 4-H. Her motivation stems from the growth and progress that her students experience. “My kids let me know when I've done something to impact their life. It keeps me motivated,” she said.
While thinking about the members she's had over the last 48 years, she couldn't help but stress how important it is that they feel safe. Keese recalls one student who is gay and had a challenging time getting his parents to understand because of religious and cultural barriers. “The family's priest called me and told me that this student felt like I was the only one who loved him,” she said.
“I can talk about Dee forever,” said Yeck. “One of her best qualities is that she will help anyone and everyone at any time. She wakes up at 5 a.m. and goes to bed at, like, 10 p.m. During that time, she's always helping people,” he added.
Because Keese comes from a different generation compared to the kids in her 4-H club, she attributes her successful impact to her ability to adapt. “If we want to keep kids in this, we've got to be flexible! And you've got to do things they like. We can't do things the way it's always been done before,” said Keese. “We have to be flexible.”
To Keese, 4-H is not just an opportunity to teach life skills or introduce kids to agriculture. It's a chance for them to build community.
“That's what I think my generation does well, having grown up in the '50s and '60s,” Keese said. “We're all about that communal living.”
o you want to help residents of San Bernardino County garden and landscape more sustainably; grow food in home, school, and community gardens; and improve the health of our communities? Becoming a University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) Master Gardener volunteer may just be for you!
To become a Master Gardener volunteer, you must complete a 50-hour online training course taught by UC and other subject-matter experts.
Important Dates: December 15, 2021: Deadine to complete online application Continuous (through January 7, 2022): Rolling acceptance of applicants on an individual basis.
January 31, 2022: $150 class fee paid online, Master Gardener handbook purchased (not included in tuition: $28-$40), and background check completed (not included in tuition: $25-$40)
April 30, 2021. Final date to complete on-line course requirements (view and complete quizzes for all modules, complete a midterm and final exam, and a class presentation online or in-person.
June 30, 2023: Final date to complete your required 50 volunteer hours. MG program graduation requirements include viewing and completing quizzes on all classes, passing an open book midterm and final exam, and co-presenting
UCCE will ensure the health and safety of accepted applicants and the public served through the program by requiring physical distancing and other precautions as necessitated by COVID-19 throughout the training and volunteer period, including returning to all on-line formats if necessary.
In addition to completing and submitting the online application found here: https://surveys.ucanr.edu/survey.cfm?surveynumber=36040, you must attend (via Zoom) an information/Q and A sessions about the program. Saturday, November 20, 2021 (2-4 PM) Tuesday, November 30, 2021 (7-9 PM) Wednesday, December 1, 2021 (7-9 PM) Saturday, December 4, 2021 (3-5 PM) Saturday, December 11, 2021 (9-11 AM).
- Author: Janet Hartin
Please consider making a tax-deductible donation on Friday, June 4 ("Big Dig Day" or anytime!) to support the efforts of our 220 UC Cooperative Extension San Bernardino County Master Gardener volunteers.These highly trained, dedicated, and passionate volunteers help over 35,000 county residents each year grow food in home, school, and community gardens; cool urban heat islands through the proper selection and care of drought-efficient landscape plants; and, enhance their quality of life through participating in outdoor activities. Even during COVID, the Master Gardener volunteers provided education at more than 150 educational activities, adapting in-person training to online opportunities. These volunteers provide over $260,000 of services each year!
Options for 'on the spot' donating include making a one-time gift, a recurring (monthly gift) or cherishing the memory of a loved one through a tribute gift.
Share your support for the UCCE San Bernardino County Master Gardener program on social media by including #BigDigDay and #giveback in your posts.
Other ways to give: (information provided by Kelly Scott, major gifts officer, UC ANR)
There are a variety of planned gift options that will allow you to meet your philanthropic and financial goals. You can make a significant impact by supporting the UC Master Gardener Program through your estate plans, for instance by making a bequest. Donors may also establish income-producing gifts such as charitable gift annuities or charitable remainder trusts, which benefit them during their lifetimes with up-front income tax savings and often at a higher return. (Please contact Kelly Scott at email@example.com or (530) 750-1307 for more information on this option.)
Stock and Appreciated Securities
Avoid capital gains tax and claim a federal tax charitable deduction for the full appreciated value of long-term (held more than 1 year) securities (stocks, bonds, mutual fund shares). In order to qualify, gifts must be transferred directly from your brokerage account to the Regents of the University of California. (Please contact Kelly Scott at firstname.lastname@example.org or (530) 750-1307 for more information on this option.)
Real Estate/Personal Property
Gifts of tangible property or other assets that represent value may offer you tax benefits while also enabling you to support our program. Examples include real estate, equipment, collections, and artwork. If you have a gift of this kind. (Please contact Kelly Scott at email@example.com or (530) 750-1307 for more information on this option.)
Please help us spread the word and share this blog with others who have benefited from the help of a Master Gardener volunteer.
We hope you will join us on June 4!
Thank you in advance for your generosity./span>
- Author: Diego A. Mariscal
- Community 4-H Clubs: The traditional model with programs that meet around the community and offer a variety of projects for youth and their families.
- Afterschool 4-H Clubs: Programs that meet at least once per week to deliver programs to youth after school.
- JUNTOS Teen College Readiness Program: Designed to empower students, 8th – 11th grade, and their families. Helping youth graduate high school and reach for higher education.
- Soccer for Success: A recreational level soccer league, created to provide youth and their families with low-cost soccer programs.
- Youth Programs at Local Libraries, Boys and Girls Clubs, and Extended Child Care Centers: Free programming delivered to members/visitors of local community partners.
These programs are growing every year and we need more volunteers to help us deliver the content to more youth around Sonoma County.
The volunteering time is flexible with your schedule and training will be provided to prepare you to be a successful Project Leader/Coach. Teens looking for volunteering opportunities should also reach out to us as they can complete their community service hours with 4-H.
Contact the 4-H office to learn how you can get involved with 4-H in your community!
Sonoma County 4-H Office: