Youth ages 9-12 will have an opportunity to learn what it means to be sustainable through fun activities in a virtual summer camp. The camp will be held July 20-24th, with campers meeting online daily from 10-11:30 a.m. The camp is free of charge, but pre-registration is required.
The Sustainable You! Summer Camp is hosted by the University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) 4-H Program, in partnership with the UC Hansen Agricultural Research and Extension Center (UC HAREC), and the City of Ventura Environmental Sustainability and Water departments.
UCCE Community Education Specialist Gwyn Vanoni noted that:
“The Sustainable You! Summer Camp is an engaging way for kids to think about their role in creating a sustainable future while having a lot of fun. This has been a summer day camp at UC HAREC for a number of years. While we're going virtual this year, we are working hard to ensure that the fun and focus of the camp remains true for the participants.”
The virtual camp will explore sustainability across five major theme areas: land, water, food, air and energy. A typical day will include:
An introduction to a sustainability topic with an ice breaker and simple journal questions or an art activity;
A discussion or video on the day's topic;
A demonstrated activity; and
An activity that youth can do on their own.
The virtual camp is part of the online educational programs being organized by UCCE Ventura County. Learn more here.
- What: 4-H Sustainable You! Virtual Summer Camp
- Ages: 9-12
- When: July 20th-24th (Monday-Friday)
- Time: 10-11:30 a.m.
- Cost: FREE, but pre-registration is required! Register: harec.ucanr.edu
For more information, email Susana Bruzzone Miller.
Here's news we hope you find useful, including food preservation resources, a new podcast, and a reading recommendation.
UC ANR and Citrus Research Board Co-Funding New Citrus IPM Advisor
The citrus IPM advisor will help fill the role of retiring UCCE citrus entomology specialist Beth Grafton-Cardwell and will be based at the Lindcove Research and Extension Center.
Per UC ANR's Jeannette Warnert, “The new IPM advisor will conduct a multicounty extension, education and applied research program and provide research-based technical and educational assistance to the citrus industry…”
Beth Grafton-Cardwell is well known to growers in Ventura County for her work on Asian Citrus Psyllid.
Food Preservation How-To Videos
As a result of the pandemic, we're seeing dramatically increased interest in “traditional” home arts, including gardening, bread baking, cooking and food preservation/canning. Because of food safety issues, finding science-based, reliable information is vital when it comes to home food preservation.
UC ANR is helping by curating the best video resources in this area.
“To make reliable home food preservation how-to videos easy to find, a team of UC Cooperative Extension professionals and volunteers reviewed and aggregated research-based food preservation videos produced by Cooperative Extension programs across the nation on one website – http://ucanr.edu/MFPvideolibrary.”
Water Talk Podcast
“Water Talk” is a new podcast from UC ANR's California Institute for Water Resources. Hosted by Drs. Mallika Nocco, Faith Kearns, and Sam Sandoval, this great new listen explores a range of topics related to water in the Golden State. Recent episodes have explored:
California water law;
The history of Victory Gardens...and what's happening with gardening today;
The food-water-virus nexus; and
Ranching and water in California
And Speaking of Water...
H/T to Ben Faber for sharing this #goodread by Edmund Andrews: Less water could sustain more Californians if we make every drop count.
“As climate change and population growth make drinking water costlier, here are six strategies to quench the state's thirst without busting its budget.”
It appears in Stanford University's Engineering magazine.
Learn About California Agriculture
Join us on Thursday, May 21st, 9:30 am PST, for Part 2 of a webinar series on California agriculture, where we'll learn about major crops and production areas. This webinar will feature UCCE Ventura County advisors Andre Biscaro and Ben Faber. Watch it live or view after on YouTube. Part 1 is up. This is an ideal webinar series for the home classroom.
Fumigants and Non-Fumigant Alternatives: Regulatory & Research Updates
Growers, PCAs, applicators and supervisors of fumigant and non-fumigant technologies and decision makers should plan to attend this free, virtual educational outreach event, scheduled for Monday May 29th from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. This workshop is open to the public. Although targeted to strawberries, most of the learning will generally apply to other crops. The program is being hosted by Dr. Oleg Daugovish, who serves as the Strawberry and Vegetable Crop Advisor for UCCE Ventura County.
- Most pertinent regulatory requirements for fumigant use and application
- Industry updates on fumigant and non-fumigant tools use
- Fumigant application based on need within fields
- Soil-borne pathogen management
Continuing Education Units are available: 1.5 hours of "Other" and 1.0 hours of laws and regulations have been applied for from California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR).
Registration is required and participants will receive a link and instructions prior to the workshop. Register here.
Announcing Treemendous Learning Webinars for Middle and High School Students
Join us on alternate Tuesdays in May and June, 3:00 pm to 4:00 pm, for this opportunity designed for middle and high school students. Treemendous Tuesdays is a collaboration of U.S. Forest Service, Los Angeles Center for Urban Natural Resources, California Project Learning Tree, California 4-H, and UC Agriculture & Natural Resources
Five webinars will be hosted every other week starting May 5 and ending June 30. These events are free and registration is required.
- May 5: Invasive Species (invasive shot hole borers)
- May 19: Invasive Plants & Trees
- June 2: Benefits of the Urban Forest
- June 16: iTree
- June 30: Living with Fire
New Resource to Diagnose and Manage Plant Disease
UC's Integrated Pest Management Program has a new Pest Notes publication available, which provides information to help diagnose and manage Anthracnose, fungal diseases that can impact many deciduous and evergreen trees and shrubs. These diseases can also infect vegetables, flowers, fruit and turfgrass in some regions in California. Dr. Jim Downer, an Advisor in our UCCE Ventura County office, is a co-author.
Preparing for Fire Season
UC ANR has organized an electronic portal - Homeowner's Wildfire Mitigation Guide - that contains a wealth of resources to help homewoners prepare for fire season. Please visit our Fire Resources and Information page for the latest research and information.
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- Author: Annemiek Schilder
In this weekly blog, Dr. Annemiek Schilder, Director, UCCE Ventura County and Hansen Agricultural Research and Extension Center, shares her observations about the natural world across the seasons. As she says:
"Gently observing your surroundings with curiosity will teach you some amazing things. There are so many fascinating things happening under our noses, only wanting for an observant eye."
During a recent stroll through the Master Gardener Demonstration garden at the Hansen Agricultural Research and Extension Center, a narrow-leaf milkweed plant with stems and leaves covered in yellow caught my eye. A closer look revealed teeming masses of yellow aphids along the stems, as if festively dressing up the plant. But aphids are never a festive sign to the gardener as their voracious feeding stunts plant growth. In addition, their sugary excretions may attract ants and promote unsightly fungal growth called sooty mold.
Narrow-leaf milkweed (Asclepias fascicularis) is a perennial plant native to California and an important food source for the caterpillars of monarch butterflies along their migration route. Milkweed plants produce chemicals called cardenolides (cardiac glycosides) that monarchs store in their bodies to protect themselves from predators. Can you guess what part of the body these chemicals act on? Indeed cardenolides speed up the heart rate, making for a rather unpleasant experience for a bird looking for a tasty meal. Narrow-leaf milkweed plants actually have very low levels of cardenolides, but the monarch's striking color pattern is enough to signal toxicity to would-be predators.
Aphids make milkweed plants less hospitable for monarch caterpillars. The striking yellow aphids −Aphis nerii, also called milkweed aphids or oleander aphids−feed on plants in the dogbane family, including oleander, milkweed and periwinkle. They have a yellow pear-shaped body with black legs, antennae and cornicles. Cornicles are the stovepipe-like projections on the aphid's back used to secrete a wax-like substance for self-defense. Aphids are typically wingless until they get too crowded and develop winged individuals that fly away in search of new host plants.
Aphids feed by inserting their mouth parts, which are shaped like a straw, into the plant, sucking up plant sap which contains all the necessary nutrients for the aphid to thrive. The extra sugar and water are excreted as honeydew. Milkweed aphids are able to rapidly colonize plants in the spring and early summer through parthenogenesis, a process whereby female aphids produce female offspring without mating. The aphid daughters, which are exact clones of their mothers, quickly start producing their own babies. In addition, they bypass the egg laying phase by giving birth to live young, which is called vivipary. Looking through a magnifying glass, you may see the little baby aphids being born right in front of your eyes!
As I was taking some close-up photos, I noticed the aphids intermittently twitching, almost in unison. This strange phenomenon, exhibited by this particular aphid, is called CTKR (Collective Twirling and Kicking Response). It is a collective defense mechanism against natural enemies! By simultaneously twirling their bodies and forcefully kicking their hind legs they discourage natural enemies like parasitoid wasps from attacking them. If you look closely, especially later in the season, you may see evidence of this type of parasitism: little puffed-up aphid bodies with a hole in the middle. These aphids have been parasitized by a wasp larvae which molted into adults and escaped through the hole.
Aphids are like sitting ducks: they usually remain in place while feeding. They will only move if their food runs out or something is irritating them. That makes them a convenient prey for the lady beetle, a very effective natural enemy. In the picture, you can see an adult lady beetle as well as a lady beetle larva, which looks like a tiny black alligator, feeding on aphids. They can eat hundreds of aphids per day and thousands in a life time! Lady beetles are good friends indeed.