Extension offers online guidance for farmers and ranchers during COVID-19
The nation’s farmers and ranchers are accustomed to weathering storms in their industry – droughts, floods, wildfires and price fluctuations, to name a few. But, the COVID-19 pandemic is posing unprecedented challenges for many of today’s producers. To help them through this daunting time, Extension offered free online updates and question-and-answer sessions with various experts.
Lindsay Chichester, Extension educator in Douglas County, Nevada, put together the series, “Agriculture: Living Beyond a Pandemic,” which began in spring 2020.
Known as “Dr. Lindsay” to many in the country’s agriculture industry and on social media, Chichester understands the ups and downs of farming and ranch life, growing up on a cattle and sheep ranch in northern California, and going on to earn a master’s degree in animal science and a doctorate in agricultural sciences. Lindsay said this is truly a baffling time for many of the nation’s agricultural producers.
Ag risks and law
Meat packers, pricing and availability
Backyard poultry production
Pork industry update
Dairy: milk dumping
"Doc Talk" with a veterinarian
Stress and mental wellness check
Home meat processing
"I have been able to share factual information about several of the sessions with co-workers and others. I'm able to direct them to your Facebook page so they too can watch the sessions for themselves. The poultry session was very good and we have implemented a few changes to our set up as a result of watching the session." -Program participant
Providing boots-on-the-ground, grassroots support
"Our farmers and ranchers are struggling to navigate a market where the supply chains have been disrupted and to understand how our current events may impact their future viability. All are asking the same questions and wanting more guidance. So, we brought in boots-on-the-ground, grassroots speakers who are involved in their industries to offer insight and support." -Extension Educator Lindsay Chichester
Experiment Station increases meat and produce production during pandemic
COVID-19 has forced many meat processing plants to close, making it difficult for those with small ranches to prepare their meat to sell and causing a shortage of meat for consumers. In addition, food pantries have seen a 30% increase in demand for fresh fruits and vegetables due to unemployment caused by the pandemic. With the local food industry suffering from the decreased supply and increased demand, the University’s Experiment Station, part of the College, stepped up to the proverbial dinner plate to help producers stay in business and consumers get the food they need.
"The Desert Farming Initiative has increased its donations of produce to community food services to help feed those in need." -Associate Dean for Research and Experiment Station Director Chris Pritsos
"Local meat producers greatly benefited from Wolf Pack Meats' services during COVID-19. We never stopped serving customers. In fact, we served more of them." -Assistant Professor Amilton de Mello
Feeding Nevada families, farmers and ranchers
"Wolf Pack Meats not only continued to harvest and process meat following all food safety guidelines, but actually increased its operation to help local ranchers get their product to market and to provide meat for local consumers" -Associate Dean for Research and Experiment Station Director Chris Pritsos
Extension helps Nevadans grow and preserve food at home amid pandemic
Extension's Grow Your Own, Nevada! Program teaches community members and backyard gardeners how to choose appropriate fruit and vegetable varieties; compost and maintain healthy soil; and grow, harvest and preserve produce to provide residents with locally grown, healthy food.
In 2019, 730 individuals attended Grow Your Own, Nevada! sessions. In 2020, the program was offered virtually:
"We moved the program online this year to give people and their families something to do at home during these troubling times. The move was so successful that we ended up offering each class twice to accommodate everyone who was interested." -Commercial Horticulture Program Coordinator Chad Morris
> Morris joined Extension in 2020.
Starting his position during health lockdowns and restrictions, he has had to extend a lot of creativity with his programming in order to reach the public.
Extension also provided:
Empowering families to grow their own food
"The feedback has been amazing. Families have been telling us that they’ve never gardened before, but these kits were perfect for getting started, and the kids are excited to grow their own food. We’ve been able to reach a part of the community that Extension doesn’t normally work with, and we’re hoping to continue that connection." -Master Gardener Program Coordinator Rachel McClure
College labs supply equipment for School of Medicine use and patient care
In March 2020, faculty of the College gathered personal protective equipment from their labs and delivered the items to their colleagues at the University's School of Medicine (UNR Med). The supplies were much needed for the COVID-19 testing medical students perform at the School’s University Health internal medicine practice in Reno, and for other care UNR Med and University Health clinical operations provide across the state.
Caring for health care professionals
"I was extremely pleased by our faculty’s response. They were truly happy to contribute during this time of need. They had these items in their labs for their work, but put the highest priority on the health of our communities, which is exactly what we need to do right now." -Associate Dean for Research & Experiment Station Director Chris Pritsos
Nevada 4-H youth and families provide over 2,000 face masks for their communities
When the Elko County Emergency Operations Center put in a call to their local University of Nevada, Reno Extension office saying they needed face masks, Extension’s 4-H youth and their families swung into action, making masks not only for the Operations Center, but also for their local School District nutrition services workers who are helping to serve lunches to students who receive free and reduced meals. Similarly, 4-H youth and their families in White Pine County were early responders to the need for masks, and have now made hundreds of masks for the William Bee Ririe Hospital and Rural Health Clinic in Ely.
Once the word got out that 4-Hers were helping to make masks, more requests started coming in.
"I’d say that requests are coming in faster than our 4-H members can sew," said Jill Baker-Tingey, Extension educator in Elko County.
After these early efforts in Elko and Ely, Nevada 4-H launched a statewide service project to help provide face masks for all Nevada communities.
RELATED ITEMS PROVIDED
including scrub hats, surgical gowns and ear bands/savers
The face masks have been donated to hospitals, hospices, health clinics, tribal healthcare, senior centers, emergency operations centers, school districts, state parole offices and other collaborative mask-making projects.
Pitching in to protect Nevadans
"The whole 4-H community has pitched in – our 4-H youth and their families, as well as 4-H alumni and volunteers." -Extension 4-H Youth Development Program Director Carrie Stark
Extension’s A.D. Guy Knowledge Center provides needed programming and Wi-Fi access during COVID-19 pandemic
Families with limited resources were hit especially hard during the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, the College’s Extension unit at its A.D. Guy Knowledge Center in North Las Vegas worked harder than ever to ensure that it fulfilled the needs of the economically challenged community it serves. The Center, created in collaboration with the Clark County Commission, Extension and the Southern Nevada Housing Authority to provide much-needed programming and educational support to the area, focused much of its work in 2020 on providing resources for families and keeping youth engaged during COVID restrictions.
Throughout the summer, the Center, in partnership with Vegas PBS, offered 4-H Summer Adventures: Family Camp at Home to provide fun, science-based activities that could be completed at home. Each week, parents from seven families with 15 children came to the Center to pick up the science kits. The families later connected on Facebook to watch how to complete the activities and share their completed projects.
The Center also offered a virtual series called 4-H: Building Youth for the Future, which focused on topics that support personal development for youth, including career planning, financial literacy, communications and civic engagement. The four classes reached 31 participants.
Perhaps the most appreciated assistance the Center provided came as the Clark County School District remained closed for in-person learning as the 2020 school year began. To help students’ success in their virtual school learning, the Center developed its Space for Connectivity Program, which provided free Wi-Fi and computer access, along with in-person support for virtual learning for students. At least 41 students from 16 families registered, and the space averaged 10 students per day.
Helping Nevada families
"You’ve helped my kids with getting learning experience. You’ve helped us get through the holidays. You’ve helped make the community better by giving us all a break around here. You’ve provided opportunities for jobs, work and workshops. You’ve been great and a lot of help, especially to the parents who don’t have Wi-Fi." -Shaquila Clay
Extension offers online educational and service programs for Nevada youth
Even with stay-at-home orders in place, families and youth can engage in a number of educational and service activities online to enhance their daily lives and help themselves, and others, through these challenging days. Amid the COVID-19 outbreak, Extension faculty, staff and volunteers have been hard at work to bring educational workshops, programs and resources useful during this time, into Nevadans’ homes.
Here are a few of those offerings.
Spring 2020 offerings included
- Partners in Parenting classes
- Cooking live with Chef Suzy videos
- 4-H Youth Development Program activities
- The Nevada Junior Livestock Show
Summer and fall 2020 activities included
- 4-H Discover Your Future-Career | Growing Nevada's future careers.
- 4-H horse adoption auction | Developing homes for wild horses.
- 4-H True Leaders to Service Month | Serving Nevada communities.
- Catch a falling star science project | Collecting micrometeorites.
- Cultural Awareness Through Culinary Arts | Tasting science.
- National 4-H Week | Working to eliminate the opportunity gap.
- Radon Poster Contest | Raising awareness of cancer-causing gas.
- State 4-H Expo | Hosting virtual contests, events and awards.
- Thoughtful Thursdays | Delivering short videos on timely topics.
- Virtual coding workshops | Exploring computer science and apps.
- Virtual Clover Challenge 4K | Moving to support 4-H Camp.
- Vote Your Voice | Engaging in safe, open dialogue among peers.
Building skills families need, now and for our future
"Children and parents alike need constructive, engaging activities to do at home, to keep themselves active and focused on something positive, on things that can enhance their family’s health and well-being long after we all get through this." -Extension Director Ivory W. Lyles
Extension provides resources to families for STEM activities at home
Extension's Let's Discover STEM Program in Washoe and Clark Counties was ready to begin their next series of STEM sessions for families with young children. But when the shelter-in-place restrictions were implemented, the team had to rethink how to engage the families and meet their needs.
In Washoe, team members began by reaching out to prior program participants to see if they were interested in doing a STEM activity at home with their children, and if they were willing to accept provided materials.
"The response was incredible," Lizeth Barroeta, program instructor, said. "It got us thinking that this would be totally possible."
The team worked with interested families to select sessions and materials specific to the children's interest – everything from dinosaurs to life science to famous works of art. Team members then dropped the materials off at the families' doors.
One of the most commonly chosen sessions was how parents could introduce their children to museums. Families received the book, "Eric and Julieta at the Museum," links to virtual museum tours and materials to create their own museum at home.
Let's Discover STEM's Lizeth Barroeta earns University award, citizenship
The team in Clark County began providing Zoom workshops in both English and Spanish based on Let’s Discover STEM topics, and they’ve been posting videos on YouTube of STEM activities that parents and children can easily do. The team has also been sharing parenting information on social media.
Provoking imagination, education and togetherness
"Museum visits for children can provide memorable, hands-on learning experiences, provoke imagination, introduce unknown worlds and subject matter, and offer unique quality time with family." -Program Instructor Lizeth Barroeta