University of Nevada Cooperative Extension's Bootstraps and Team Nutrition "Smart Choices" programs were named regional qualifying programs at the Western Extension and Research Directors Awards of Excellence 2011 program.
Bootstraps gives young Nevada adults, ages 18-21, who are out of school and not working a chance to learn job skills and develop work experiences that lead them back to school or into the workforce. Bootstraps participants work on environmental projects identified by Bureau of Land Management wildlife biologists, and along the way they develop a sense of their own self-worth as they become respected members of their communities by doing work that is recognized as important and valuable.
Bootstraps is run by UNR faculty members Marilyn Smith, an area specialist in youth development; Rod Davis, the Extension Educator for Lander County; Amy Meier, the Extension Educator for Nye and Esmeralda counties; and Bill Evans, a State Specialist in Human Development and Family Studies.
Bootstraps trains participants in controlling pinyon-juniper encroachment and applying pesticides to control weeds. Bootstraps crews have restored about 500 acres of sagebrush habitat by cutting down invasive trees in central Nevada. In other areas, crews have sprayed pesticides or otherwise removed weeds from nearly 550 acres of public land in Esmeralda, Nye, Lander and Eureka counties, protecting valuable rangeland. The program has attracted nearly $2 million in grants, including a $492,000 federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grant. It has been named a National 4-H Headquarters Program of Distinction.
The Team Nutrition "Smart Choices" program, run by UNCE Nutrition Specialist Kerry Seymour and Project Dietitian Joe Dibble, addresses the issue of childhood obesity by building basic skills related to food selection and promoting an increased variety of nutritious foods consumed, especially vegetables and fruits. The Team Nutrition program achieves this by increasing teachers' and students' awareness of the components of a healthful diet and increasing teachers' competence and confidence in delivering nutrition lessons. Team Nutrition in-service presentations have reached more than 500 teachers at nine Washoe County schools, resulting in 6,376 student and 225 teacher contacts. The school wide fruit tasting events reached 4,965 students.