Serving the underserved

Samantha Shoupe and 4-H youth sit around a long rectangular table covered in craft supplies as they each draw reindeer. Educational posters (including one of the solar system) and kids' artwork adorn the walls.

 

College professors teach Uzbekistan government, students range management

Four Uzbekistan grad students wearing backpacks, jackets and hats work toether to measure sagebrush on a range. Another group in the distance does the same.

 Graduate students from Samarkand State University in Uzbekistan practice measuring the plant density of sagebrush. Photo by Barry Perryman.

Story by Tiffany Kozsan

Our College partnered with Utah State University and Samarkand State University in Uzbekistan to educate Uzbekistan lawmakers, university officials and graduate students about rangeland ecology and management.

Educating policy makers

In April of 2019, Uzbekistan lawmakers passed the “On Pastures” law to address degradation of rangeland and pasture throughout the country. With its passage, Samarkand State University Rector Khalmuradov Rustam Ibragimovich, head of the university, invited University of Nevada, Reno Professors Barry Perryman and Brad Schultz, and Utah State University Associate Professor and Range Management Extension Specialist Eric Thacker, to teach policy makers about the history of American environmental policy related to rangelands. In January 2020, Ibragimovich was elected as a senator for the Supreme Assembly of Uzbekistan.

Perryman; Schultz; Thacker, who teaches wildland resources; and Samarkand State University’s Toshpulot Rajabov, senior researcher with the university’s Laboratory of Environmental Problems; put on a two-day rangeland seminar to educate 20-25 policy makers at Samarkand State University in September and October 2019. They shared their own experiences working with rangeland, general rangeland ecology practices and what elements make a good policy. They also discussed some pitfalls the U.S. faced and how to avoid them.

Educating future policy makers

After meeting with policy makers, the team spent two weeks teaching a rangeland ecology and management short course to over 20 graduate students, mostly from Samarkand State University, but also a few from other schools. The course, the first of its kind in Uzbekistan, covered rangeland management history; plant physiology; and the interaction of plants, animals and soils. In addition, the course went over what to consider when creating a grazing management plan, such as animal nutrition, plant nutrient quality, animal food preferences, and weather patterns and effects. The students also spent a day in the field watching and practicing monitoring techniques, including measuring plant density and cover.

One outcome of the partnership already in the early stages of creation is a new master’s degree program related to animal and rangeland sciences shared between the University of Nevada, Reno and Samarkand State University. The plan is for students from one university to spend one year studying at the other university as part of the program.

Strengthening agriculture on a global scale

"Khalmuradov wants to make the lives of the citizens of Uzbekistan better, and he understands that for the country to be strong in the region, their agricultural capacities and management need improvement, which is why he reached out to us for help. Agriculture is key – the foundation to be strong, a necessity." -Professor Barry Perryman

 

Extension teaches nutrition to American Indian and rural kindergarteners

Extension nutrition professional engaging a classroom full of students with nutrition information. A diagram of the USDA's MyChart is on the screen at the head of the class. Students are raising their hands high for a chance to answer the teacher's question.

 Jessica Harris teaches young children about nutrition through Staci Emm's Veggies for Kids Program. Their research found that the Veggies for Kids Program helps kindergarten students understand the nutritional value of food. Photo by Extension.

Story by Hannah Alfaro

Young children living on American Indian reservations, and children living in rural areas adjacent to them, often have limited access to nutritious fruits and vegetables, as well as to nutrition education. Staci EmmExtension educator in Mineral County, and her colleagues have been conducting the Veggies for Kids Program to address the issue, and in November 2019 published a paper on the program and its successful results in the Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development's Indigenous Food Sovereignty issue.

Veggies for Kids is an in-school program that teaches students how to grow their own vegetables and increase physical activity and water intake. The program also uses tribal language to introduce and increase the appreciation and use of healthy traditional Native American and Hispanic foods.

Staci EmmStaci Emm.

While conducting the program across Nevada during the 2017-2018 school year, Emm and program instructors collected data from 45 American Indian kindergarten students attending reservation schools and 486 students attending off-reservation rural schools. Their journal article, “Increasing Fruit and Vegetable Intake with Reservation and Off-Reservation Students in Nevada,” details the results of their research. Some of their findings include that there was an increase in the number of students who were able to name fruits and vegetables and identify food groups on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s MyPlate. In addition, students who participated in the Veggies for Kids Program became more physically active.

Working with Nevada's tribal and rural communities

"We worked really hard to create the Veggies for Kids Program, and it is very exciting to publish the successes of this program. We hope schools, tribes and nonprofits will use the concepts in the curriculum not only to increase vegetable and water intake, but also to increase awareness of traditional food systems and tribal language." -Extension Educator Staci Emm

 

Extension opens A.D. Guy Knowledge Center in Las Vegas' Westside

A.D. Guy Knowledge Center sign in front of a parking lot and red brick building with green, leafy palms in the landscaping.

 Extension held a Grand Opening Celebration of its A.D. Guy Knowledge Center, 817 N St., 9:30-11:30 a.m., May 9. Photo by Shahara McGee.

Story by Claudene Wharton

Extension's Clark County Office opened its newest location in the A.D. Guy Knowledge Center, located at 817 N St. in the city's Westside. The now refurbished Center offers free and low-cost educational programs tailored to meet the needs of the neighboring housing authority residents and community members of all ages, from toddlers to senior citizens.

Programs include 4-H youth development activities that use robots, rockets and drones to promote STEM education, creativity and innovation. Additional programs enhance school-readiness and pre-school literacy; prepare teens for the workforce; help families improve health, nutrition and fitness; and assist small-business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs.

Extension Director Ivory W. Lyles said, "We are delighted to better serve the residents of this part of the city at their doorstep. We are very grateful to the County and Commissioner Weekly for helping us to put this together."

Delivering programs to all Nevadans

"This Center brings a variety of educational programs to an ethnically diverse and often underserved area where many residents have limited resources, and getting to other parts of the city can be a challenge." -Clark County Commissioner Lawrence Weekly, a driving force behind the project

 

Extension receives half-million dollar grant to improve its rural offices' technology

Extension's Logandale Office, a modest one-story building and driveway that resembles a small house. Leafy green trees tower in the background and a natural landscape is out front.

 Extension, Clark County's Logandale Office is one of 18 sites to receive upgrades. Photo by Shauna Lemieux.

Story by Ashley Andrews

In October 2020, Extension received over $5.13 million in grants to upgrade the technology through which it reaches residents around the state with life-improving programs and services.

Extension offices in Carson City and in Churchill, Clark, Douglas, Elko, Eureka, Humboldt, Lander, Lincoln, Lyon, Mineral, Nye, Pershing and White Pine Counties will be improved. Nearly all will receive devices that transmit and display high-definition video, audio and interactive content. This will equip Extension to expand its trainings, classes, workshops and more statewide through distance learning. The expanded programs and services will provide Nevadans the knowledge and skills they need to grow healthy families, successful students, thriving small businesses and more.

The technology grants were awarded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the grant effort was spearheaded by Extension Fiscal Officer Dan Brush and Senior System Administrator Jeff Eckert.

$513,076
in grants received

18
expanded and updated sites

17
sites with new HD capabilities

14
counties improved

 

4-H youth learn teamwork and engineering skills, win big at robotics championship

SuperBots and Awkward Silence team members, wearing various Halloween-like costumes, pose with R2D2 at championships.

 SuperBots and Awkward Silence team members joining forces at the championships. Photo by Extension.

Story by Grace Zielinski, Boulder City 4-H Club youth

SuperBots team 12777 and Awkward Silence team 12991 competed at the FIRST ® Tech Challenge Nevada State Championship in February 2020. SuperBots is a part of the Boulder City 4-H Club and Awkward Silence is a part of the Pahrump 4-H Club.

Throughout the event, both teams used the presentation skills they have learned from 4-H and FIRST to present to judges and potential sponsors. At the competition, you would often see the 4-H teams join forces on and off the playing field to help other teams in between matches and to scout teams to see what their robot can do.

In the robot game, Awkward Silence placed fifth and the SuperBots placed twelfth out of 36 teams. There were 11 awards in total with both of the 4-H teams each winning one. Awkward Silence won the Design Award. The Design Award recognizes design elements of the robot that are both functional and aesthetic. The Design Award is presented to a team that incorporates industrial design elements into their solution.

The SuperBots won the Motivate Award. The Motivate Award goes to a team that embraces the culture of FIRST ® and clearly shows what it means to be a team. This judged award celebrates the team that represents the essence of the FIRST ® Tech Challenge competition through team building, team spirit and displayed enthusiasm. One of the reasons they won this award was because of all the community and STEM activities they do through 4-H.

In an effort to recognize the leadership and dedication of FIRST’s most outstanding secondary school students, the Kamen family sponsors an award for selected 10th and 11th grade students in FTC and FRC known as the Deans List Award. Nominated from the SuperBots were Caitlynn Martin and Grace Zielinski. And from Awkward Silence were Dylan Riendeau and Faith Patterson.

Growing unique learning opportunities for Nevada families

"Parents and children look for unique learning opportunities. With 4-H, kids get to learn hands-on through trial and error, rather than just listening to people talk about these subjects. 4-H also offers opportunities to experience projects, especially in science, that kids don't always have access to because of expenses or where they live." -Southern Nevada 4-H Program Manager Karen Best

 

Nevada 4-H partners with AmeriCorps to bring opportunities to inner-city youth

A 4-H youth on the playground wearing a 4-H shirt. He's aiming a white airplane-shaped drone ahead at an upward angle.

 Extension’s 4-H Grows Here Project will reach inner-city youth, teaching them STEM skills, such as those youth learn by building and flying drones.

Story by Claudene Wharton

In fall 2020, Extension was awarded a $280,000 AmeriCorps Program grant to expand its Nevada 4-H Youth Development Program in Clark County to engage more youth in underserved, inner-city areas of Las Vegas in STEM, civic engagement and other activities aimed at equipping the youth to successfully attend and complete some form of post-secondary education.

The grant is from the Corporation for National and Community Service, the federal agency that leads service, volunteering and grant-making efforts in the U.S. It is in partnership with Nevada Volunteers, a nonprofit organization that is the Governor’s commission which selects and administers AmeriCorps State programs in Nevada. AmeriCorps members are placed throughout the U.S. in intensive service positions where they learn valuable skills, receive a living allowance stipend, and then have access to awards that can be used toward qualified educational expenses.

The grant to Extension will fund the 4-H Grows Here Project in Clark County, using AmeriCorps members recruited from the community to engage youth, and create and sustain 4-H clubs in the inner city aimed at youth ages 5-19, with an emphasis on low-income and middle school-aged youth, and youth of color.

AmeriCorps members will serve in various capacities to support the youth development program – building community relationships, educating youth in STEM or other skills, or serving as 4-H club leaders. Together, they will be responsible for educating 3,000 youth through workshops, and then transitioning at least half of them for longer-term 4-H club programs. Once active in 4-H clubs, youth will complete 4-H curriculum related to computer science, robotics, chemistry, rocketry, drones, eco-science and other STEM subjects. Finally, the youth will select and complete a project that incorporates what they have learned to address a community need or solve a problem.

4-H focuses on civic engagement

Story by Molly Malloy

As race and race relations have dominated the national conversation over the past few months, Extension’s 4-H Youth Development Program brought the discussion to the local level in its program, "Vote Your Voice." During this three-week virtual class, youth ages 17-19 learned about the importance of voting.

Students explored American history, systemic and systematic racism, and the influence voting can have on related policies. They also engaged in an open dialogue about the current political climate and how they can get involved in making a positive change in their community.

Growing true leaders in inner-city communities

"Research shows that the 4-H Youth Development Program plays a special and vital role in the lives of America's young people. Expanding the reach of 4-H to inner-city youth will create more true leaders who are prepared and engaged to take on critical challenges facing families, communities and businesses today." -Associate Dean for Engagement & Extension Director Ivory W. Lyles

 

4-H helps schools teach STEAM, civic engagement, and health and nutrition

Samantha Shoupe and 4-H youth sit around a long rectangular table covered in craft supplies as they each draw reindeer. Educational posters (including one of the solar system) and kids' artwork adorn the walls.

 4-H youth at the Women and Children’s Center of the Sierra practice listening as they do a directed draw of a reindeer. Photo by Pam Russell, Women's Center of the Sierra.

Story by Tiffany Kozsan

In recent years, Title I schools in Nevada have made a special effort to enhance student achievements in reading and math. As a result, not as much emphasis is placed on STEAM, (science, technology, engineering, art and math), civic engagement, and health and nutrition. To help support the schools and bridge the gap in education, Extension’s 4-H Youth Development Program has partnered with several school districts to bring additional educational opportunities to students through the 4-H Afterschool Program.

"The beauty of 4-H experiential learning is that we provide meaningful ties to the next-gen science requirements," Sarah Chvilicek, Extension 4-H Program coordinator for northern Nevada, said. "We provide enrichment activities that support their academic achievement goals, and all of our experiential-based learning activities are backed by research-based curricula."

The Afterschool Program also offers opportunities to students from families with limited resources that they may not otherwise receive.

"Those young people, through their experience with 4-H Afterschool, are 4-H members and receive programming updates," Chvilicek said. "They then get invited to the 4-H Camp and to participate in other local 4-H activities."

Below are some of the specific efforts made in northern Nevada through these partnerships.

Teaming up with TEAM UP

Washoe County School District’s Together Everyone Achieves More Utilizing Programs (TEAM UP) uses 4-H curriculum and staff to provide experiential-based learning activities in Title I schools in the Reno area.

10+
years

27
Title I schools

23
enrichment activities

6
activity categories

"4-H has been the most valuable partner that we have providing services in terms of enrichment programming. Our students absolutely love it. They look forward to the programming that Extension offers." -TEAM UP Coordinator Denise Benson

STEAMing into school breaks and community support

4-H AfterSchool Program staff also partner with schools to offer STEM in the classroom and STEAM day camps during summer and school breaks.

Game Changers

In December 2019, two teenage 4-H members in Elko County led the 4-H STEM Challenge, Game Changers, for a class of 30 middle school students.

Youth working together to code a digital Mars rover that moves and talks

Mars Base Campers

In October 2020, the program conducted the 4-H STEM Challenge, Mars Base Camp, as a day camp with proper COVID-19 procedures in several locations throughout the state, including in four of Humboldt County’s rural schools and at the Humboldt County Library.

 Youth from Extension, Washoe County's 4-H Fall Break Camp work together to code a digital Mars rover as part of the Mars Base Camp 4-H STEM Challenge activity Insight from Mars.

4-H also offered the STEM challenge both years at the Women and Children’s Center of the Sierra in Washoe County, which provides activities to help students compensate for delays in their education. Many of the students served by the center were falling behind in 2020 due to a lack of resources for learning at home.

"Kids aren’t catching up," Pam Russell, executive director for the center, said. "When doing distance learning, the students are sitting in the house with no social interaction. In addition, many don’t have the support they need to keep up with their work."

After the 4-H STEM Challenge, Chvilicek suggested offering 4-H AfterSchool activities with proper social distancing and COVID-19 restrictions at the center.

 A 4-H youth at the Women and Children's Center of the Sierra builds a bridge using toothpicks and candy pumpkins. Photo by Pam Russell, Women's Center of the Sierra.

A boy wearing a mask and a comfy hoodie sits at a computer table. He has a paper plate full of toothpicks and green-topped, orange pumpkin-shaped Halloween candy in front of him. Some pieces of candy are connected to others with toothpicks, forming a futuristic 3-D shape.

Helping Nevada families

"Extension adds to our ability to help families. Kids are having fun learning and getting individual attention from the 4-H team. We really truly appreciate having this opportunity for our kids and our families, because it’s fantastic." -Women and Children’s Center of the Sierra Executive Director Pam Russell