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The City Nature Challenge: A win for science and nature

All of our certified California Naturalists know how to use iNaturalist. Since uploading at least one observation is part of the course requirements, the City Nature Challenge was the perfect opportunity for Naturalists to reconnect with each other, offer their skills to their city's efforts, and contribute to a global scientific database.

The 4th annual City Nature Challenge was a huge success around the world. Together with the 159 cities that participated, we uploaded almost one million observations of biodiversity to iNaturalist in just 4 days. More than 35,000 people took part across the globe, and over 31,000 species were documented, including more than 1,100 rare, endangered, or threatened species.

This was also the biggest week for observations recorded in iNaturalist history, as demonstrated in the graph below.

With the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles County, and San Diego County organizers publicizing the Challenge for their cities and working to highlight events, we wanted a chance for our Sacramento Region Naturalists to join the fun, too. Beginning in September of 2018, we co-organized for the Sacramento Region with Ryan Meyer and Julianna Yee from the UC Davis School of Education's Center for Community and Citizen Science, our UC Davis Evolution and Ecology California Naturalist instructor Laci Gerhart-Barley, and environmental educator Chelle Temple-King.

Douglas Iris from Certified California Naturalist Bruce Hartsough.
The California Naturalist program wants to recognize the contributions of our Naturalists to their city's final counts. We know many of you were out there at bioblitzes or in your backyards taking photos all weekend, and celebrate all that you contributed to science and nature. Congratulations on your achievements both large and small! We want to take a moment to highlight a few of our certified Naturalists, instructors, and partners for their involvement this year:

  • Partners that held Bioblitzes outside of city boundaries over the weekend: Hopland Research & Extension Center, UC Santa Cruz Arboretum
  • Sacramento Region CalNat partners: Many thanks to American River Conservancy, Yolo Basin Foundation, Effie Yeaw Nature Center, and UC Davis' Wild Davis for organizing Bioblitzes as first year guinea pigs
  • Bay Area CalNat partners: thanks to Sonoma Ecology Center for a Bioblitz and Grassroots Ecology for contributing observations during their class field trip
  • Certified California Naturalist Cedric Lee as the number one observer for Los Angeles County!
  • Certified California Naturalist and Tuleyome instructor Mary Hanson came in 5th for the Sacramento Region; UC Davis' Wild Davis instructor Laci Gerhart-Barley and 3 current CalNat students came in the top 10
  • Certified California Naturalist Millie Basden came in 8th for San Diego County
  • Certified California Naturalist Amy Jaecker-Jones is a co-organizer for the international City Nature Challenge through the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County

Despite the final results, the real winner of the City Nature Challenge is science and nature. A database holding a greater number of research-grade observations to draw from allows scientists to further study our natural world. You can take a look at publications that have used data from iNaturalist to see just where our contributions are going. And of course, the more people who get outside during the Challenge, the more people engage with the nature around them. Everybody wins!

California Sister butterfly from Certified California Naturalist Kim Moore

Highlights of San Francisco Bay Area City Nature Challenge 2019:

  • 1st place for number of observers with 1,947 (This includes more than 550 observers who were new to iNaturalist)
  • 1st place for number of identifiers with 813
  • 4th place for number of observations with 38,028
  • 5th place for number of species found at 3,183
  • Participants submitted anywhere from 1 to 698 observations
  • Most observed species: California poppy (Eschscholzia californica)

 

Western Kingbird from California Naturalist Academic Coordinator Greg Ira

Highlights of Los Angeles County City Nature Challenge 2019:

  • Los Angeles had the greatest increase in number of observations over last year: increase of 14,702 observations!
  • Los Angeles had the greatest increase in number of people observing over last year: increase of 700 people!
  • Over 1/3 of our observers were new to iNaturalist in the two weeks before CNC began

Highlights of Sacramento Region City Nature Challenge 2019:

  • Overall, Sacramento came in 30th out of 159 participating cities
  • Of 27 the other participating cities with a population of 2,500,000-5,000,000, Sacramento came in 9th
  • In all of 2019 leading up to the Challenge, post-Challenge our region was able to increase the number of observations by 7.8% (9832 observations), species by 2% (124 species), and observers by 3.5% (233 observers).
  • Sacramento came in 5th for the number of total observers for a region > 20,000 km2
  • For all the observations we collected in the Sacramento region, 57% ID'd to species became research grade (or useable for scientific quality data).
Posted on Thursday, May 16, 2019 at 8:49 AM
Focus Area Tags: Natural Resources

The City Nature Challenge: A Win for Science and Nature

California Naturalist Community Education Specialist Central/Sierra Sarah Angulo with the Center for Community and Citizen Science co-organizers at the Yolo Basin Foundation Bioblitz.

All of our certified California Naturalists know how to use iNaturalist. Since uploading at least one observation is part of the course requirements,...

Posted on Monday, May 13, 2019 at 10:16 AM
Tags: citizen science (8)

New video series to spark interest in vegetable production of the future

A 26-episode weekly video series will debut May 13 on YouTube to help train the next generation of vegetable crop workers and increase their use of effective stewardship practices in vegetable production.

Projections for near-future retirements of people working in California's agricultural production, marketing and post-harvest handling sectors indicate severe re-staffing needs in the coming years. Technological advances have reduced manual labor in agriculture, but increased the need for skilled labor to maintain the sustainability of the vegetable industry.

“We already see it happening,” said Jeff Mitchell, UC Cooperative Extension vegetable crops specialist. “Robotic machines are now used for lettuce thinning in Salinas, but these technologies must be serviced by an educated workforce with knowledge in both mechanics and science.”

The first video in the series focuses on urban farming, and the myriad social, economic, ecological, recreational, therapeutic and nutritional benefits of urban agriculture.

Mitchell assembled a team of professors from California's public universities with agricultural programs – UC Davis, Chico State, Fresno State and CalPoly San Luis Obispo - to pull together a series of videos designed to spark the interest and begin training future farmers and ag workers in sound agronomic, economic and environmental stewardship skills. The team received financial support from the California Department of Food and Agriculture Specialty Crops Block Grant Program.

“We know that maintaining California's leading role in producing abundant, safe vegetables is critical not only to Americans' health, but also to the state's economy,” Mitchell said.

The video series is offered on the UC Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) YouTube page on a playlist titled “Training of a New Generation of California Vegetable Producers.” UC ANR is the outreach arm of the University of California which, among other services, provides agricultural research, teaching and advising in all California counties.

Each Monday morning from May 13 through Nov. 4, a new video will premiere in the playlist. The video length ranges from 47 minutes to 7 minutes. The videos will also be made available to high school and college ag professors to use in the classroom.

“We believe that this series of videos on vegetable production will have broad interest beyond the classrooms,” Mitchell said. “The agricultural industry, students in other parts of the United States and the world, and the broader public all have an interest in understanding how the vegetables we eat are produced at the ever-increasing scale at which they are needed.”

The videos depict state-of-the-art technologies and techniques that are in use in many production regions of California today, vegetable farming systems used in other parts of the world, and increasingly popular cottage farming systems that are popping up in urban areas for easy access to healthful foods.

To receive a notification of each video premiere, follow the UC ANR Twitter feed at http://twitter.com/UCANR or set a reminder by visiting the playlist on YouTube.

UC Cooperative Extension vegetable crops specialist Jeff Mitchell shoots video for the vegetable production series.
Posted on Thursday, May 9, 2019 at 9:34 AM
Tags: Jeff Mitchell (20), Vegetables (42)
Focus Area Tags: Agriculture

2018 Annual Report: Celebrating Our Impact

Join me in celebrating the very first annual report for the UC Master Gardener Program! The annual report shares remarkable work and positive impacts made by UC Master Gardener volunteers over the past year.

In 2018, UC Master Gardener volunteers:

  • Encouraged people to get outside and connect with nature. 71% of attendees at UC Master Gardener events reported spending more time gardening or outdoors.

  • Taught food gardening best practices in communities throughout California. Last year, 68% of our clientele reported improved practices in growing edible plants.

  • Contributed to the establishment of pollinator gardens and habitat across the state. 70% of surveyed participants at educational events reported using more plants to attract and support pollinators.

While the UC Master Gardener Program annual report is focused on our collective accomplishments and all of the ways we connect with our mission throughout the year, the real story is centered on each and every one of our 6,154 volunteers. Our volunteers are the core of the UC Master Gardener Program and I am honored to thank you for your support and dedication.

2018 Annual Report link:
http://mg.ucanr.edu/files/302109.pdf

With gratitude,
Missy Gable

Director
UC Master Gardener Program
mjgable@ucanr.edu
(530) 750-1266

P.S. Data shared in the annual report comes directly from VMS and our collective statewide evaluation effort. If you are interested in your local county's impact data, please connect with your coordinator, individualized county data reports are shared quarterly.

Posted on Tuesday, May 7, 2019 at 9:26 AM
Focus Area Tags: Yard & Garden

Celebrating EFNEP’s 50 years with UC Master Gardeners in Tulare County

EFNEP and UC Master Gardener collaboration helped parents with children to learn about container gardening!

EFNEP, the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program, partnered with UC Master Gardeners in Tulare County to celebrate EFNEP's 50th Anniversary! The UC Master Gardeners provided a one-hour workshop about container gardening for parents of young children. The parents had just completed the EFNEP Eat Smart•Be Active series at Conyer Elementary in Visalia, Calif.

Mariana Lopez, a UC nutrition educator who speaks English and Spanish, led the EFNEP classes from Jan. 30 to March 27, 2019. Seven of the 10 participants completed the series and graduated. The graduates expressed interest in participating in a gardening workshop. Deepa Srivastava, the UC Cooperative Extension nutrition, family and consumer sciences advisor, reached out to Susan Gillison, the UC Master Gardener coordinator, to initiate this collaboration and Mariana coordinated the gardening workshop.

UC Master Gardeners provided full support

The Master Gardeners provided the materials such as soil, pots, basil seedlings and cilantro seeds. The guidance and knowledge received from Dana Young, the Master Gardener volunteer – also known as The Plant Lady – was very helpful! Parents participated with their children in the hands-on container gardening activity. Dana explained that container, or pot gardening, is the practice of growing plants in containers instead of planting in the ground. Herbs and other edible plants can be grown in containers. The participants also learned about healthy soil and gutter gardening.

UC Master Gardener volunteer Dana Young - the Plant Lady - helps EFNEP participants learn about planting herbs.

Parents enthusiastically shared their experience from participating in this hands-on activity:

“Knowledge about gutter gardening was very helpful!”

“It was exciting to be a part of this activity, my child loved it!”

Indeed, the EFNEP and Master Gardener collaboration in Tulare County was successful. The Site Coordinator of Conyer Elementary expressed interest in holding additional meaningful workshops like these for parents during the school year!


“It was exciting to be a part of this activity, my child loved it!”

 

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Posted on Friday, May 3, 2019 at 12:12 PM
  • Author: Deepa Srivastava
  • Editor: Suzanne Morikawa
Focus Area Tags: Family Food Health Yard & Garden

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