Posts Tagged: Elkus Ranch
Homeschooling families are invited to venture out to a new learning environment at UC Elkus Ranch in Half Moon Bay. UC Elkus Ranch is an environmental education center, providing unique hands-on learning experiences for Bay Area youth. Due to COVID-19 precautions, UC Elkus Ranch has temporarily opened to the general public for private family tours only.
UC Cooperative Extension educators lead small groups on a remote-learning walk through the pastoral fields, vegetable gardens, historic barns and animal pens at UC Elkus Ranch.
“Families can feed our sheep while learning about wool processing, hear how predators and prey adapt, view our impressive animal bone collection, take selfies with our goats and miniature donkeys, and plant a seedling to take home,” said Frank McPherson, director of UC Cooperative Extension for the Bay Area.
Tours must be scheduled in advance and all statewide and San Mateo County Health Department restrictions are being enforced. Current information on San Mateo County health restrictions can be found at https://www.smchealth.org/health-officer-orders-and-statements. For information on scheduling and pricing, please visit http://elkusranch.ucanr.edu/Visit/Family_Tours.
Elkus Ranch, property of the University of California, conducts educational outdoor programs for urban, disabled and inner-city youth in environmental science, California history, animal care and agricultural programs year-round.
Located on the central California coast in Half Moon Bay, the ranch offers diverse programs including those specifically designed for students with special needs, allowing participants to learn about the inter-relationship of the environment and themselves in a rural setting. Under normal circumstances,Elkus Ranch hosts more than 9,000 youth and adults each year from all over the San Francisco Bay Area including Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Santa Clara, San Francisco and San Mateo counties.
Elkus Ranch also has a conference center that can be leased separately. The 4,400 square foot educational and conference facility is available for daytime retreats, meetings and workshops year-around. Current COVID-19 restrictions may affect availability. Additional information about the ranch and conference center, can be found at http://elkusranch.ucanr.edu/Visit/Conference_Center.
Each year, about 9,000 kids visit the UC Agriculture and Natural Resources Elkus Ranch in Half Moon Bay for hands-on educational experiences in urban horticulture, nutrition, food safety, pest management, livestock management and food preservation, reported Sara Hayden in April 2018 issue of Half Moon Bay Magazine (the article begins on p. 16).
Hayden visited the ranch with photographer Jaime Soja when a group of preschoolers descended to explore the garden and meet the farm animals.
"They can taste and touch and smell things - feel the wool of a sheep or an egg, know where their food is from, where the clothing fiber comes from," said Kathi Baxter, UC Cooperative Extension environmental science educator at Elkus Ranch. "Ideally, kids would get the idea that space is necessary to grow food. We're hoping to plant that seed of stewardship here."
The Elkus family donated the 125-acre ranch in the 1970s as a gift for youth. The ranch's operating budget depends heavily on grants and donations.
For more, visit the Elkus Ranch website at http://ucanr.edu/sites/elkus_ranch.
The UC Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) Elkus Ranch Environmental Education Center near Half Moon Bay is making plans to expand its conference center to offer more flexible facilities for conventions and team-building exercises, reported Julia Reis in the Half Moon Bay Review.
The ranch was donated to UC in 1975 and hosts more than 6,000 youth and adults from all over the San Francisco Bay Area each year. UC ANR presents 4-H programs at Elkus Ranch for children from preschool through high school to explore the processes of producing food and fiber, nutrition programs, community service days and special events. The site is also available for daytime retreats, meetings, workshops, weddings and other special events.
Elkus Ranch director Virginia Bolshakova send a request for qualifications to area planning firms which are due this Friday. The proposals should include potential project scope and plans for improved overnight accommodations, new field laboratory areas and new walking trails.
Program coordinator Leslie Jensen took the reporter on the tour of Elkus Ranch's facilities and shared the staff's vision for improvements. The staff envisions adding yurts for student housing or replacing or renovating the building where students currently sleep. The ranch's water system is also in need of updating and the staff wants the education center to be "greener." The study is to be completed by Sept. 1.
According to the CDFA (2012 statistics), he wrote, the Top-10 commodities produced in California are, in order, included milk, grapes, almonds, nursery plants, cattle and calves, strawberries, lettuce, walnuts, hay, and tomatoes.
Pitahaya must be WAY down the list, but worth a taste, Blake wrote.
Other recent news:
- UC Cooperative Extension hosted an "Insect Blitz" on Sept. 13 at UC Cooperative Extension's Elkus Ranch, which featured the opportunity to consider bugs as a delicious food source, reported the Half Moon Bay Review.
The event also included a "bio blitz," in which participants were encouraged to venture off on the 150-acre site and collect samples of plant and insect species. Elkus Ranch Director Virginia Bolshakova, UC Cooperative Extension advisor and San Mateo-San Francisco County Director, said the event gave the public a chance to learn about the biodiversity of the area.
- The San Jose Mercury News and Contra Costa Times reported on the spread of bagrada bug to the San Francisco Bay Area. The pest was introduced into Southern California six years ago and has been marching northward and eastward ever since.
"This bug is highly nasty," said entomologist Shimat Joseph, UC Cooperative Extension advisor in Monterey County. "It can make a crop unmarketable.
The story also quoted Virginia Bolshakova.
"Everybody is keeping their eyes open as it travels up the coast," she said. "It is likely just a matter of time" until it reaches the rural farms along the edge of the Pacific."
“She brings enthusiasm, high energy, intelligence and a passion for agriculture to her job," said Bill Gass, executive director of the San Mateo County Farm Bureau.
No day is average for Bolshakova, who is also the county director for San Mateo-San Francisco counties UCCE and the director of Elkus Ranch, a place for hands-on learning experiences for Bay Area children.
One morning she is working with concerned citizens about beekeeping policies, collaborating with scientists at UC Berkeley about eradicating aphids in gardens, and in the afternoon herding students around Elkus Ranch teaching about rangeland, the story said.
“I think the biggest challenge facing San Mateo County agriculture is urban-rural interface, and that goes in both directions,” she said. “I work with many youth who never thought about plants or planting a seed and watching it grow. I worry that people are becoming disconnected to their food and where it originates.”
Bolshakova was born and raised on a 450-acre pig and crop farm in southwestern Michigan where her parents still work the land. Her childhood experiences nurtured a passion for the environment and a keen awareness of the interdependency between people and nature.
Bolshakova has a bachelor's degree in biology from State University of New York, Buffalo, a master's degree from the University of Toledo, and a Ph.D. in ecology from Utah State University.