In this edition
- 4-H Youth Development Program leads community service efforts
- Researchers quantify carbon changes in Sierra Nevada meadow soils
- Lyon County educator is connecting with the community virtually
- Test your home for cancer-causing gas
- University professors provide safe, engaging experiences for students amid COVID-19
About our College
A founding college of the University, we have a long tradition of excellence in teaching, research and engagement programs that benefit the health and economic vitality of Nevada. We offer programs in:
- agriculture, horticulture, rangeland & veterinary sciences
- biochemistry & molecular biology
- children, youth & families
- community & economic development
- health & nutrition
- natural resources & environmental science
4-H Youth Development Program leads community service efforts
4-H AmeriCorps members observe Martin Luther King Jr. Day with multiple volunteer projects
To celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service on Jan. 20, 13 4-H AmeriCorps members spent Jan. 16 at Vegas Roots, an urban community garden in downtown Las Vegas, where they weeded and removed old roots and grass. At the same time, these young adults who normally help run 4-H youth programs learned about growing and composting, and how the community accesses and uses the garden.
“It meant so much to have a dedicated group to volunteer with us,” David McClenton, Vegas Roots manager and an agricultural engineer, said. “The work that was done was immeasurable! The connections invaluable.”
Two days later, 10 4-H AmeriCorps members gave rescued chickens a clean place to live while volunteering at Barn Buddies Rescue, which is a nonprofit dedicated to the rescue of abused, neglected or abandoned farm animals.
“While our members perform service daily, these particular efforts were different than a typical day of service,” Anel Rojas, 4-H Youth Development AmeriCorps Program coordinator, said. “We were happy to get out, get our hands dirty and do something impactful for the community.”
The 4-H Program is planning to hold three more days of service this spring in honor of Cesar Chavez Day on March 31, Global Youth Service Day on April 24 and Join Hands Day on May 1. Organizations looking for volunteer support should contact Rojas for consideration.
Growing leadership, citizenship and life skills
4-H is a community of young people across America. Members learn life skills, make new friends, enhance self-esteem, achieve personal goals, develop positive relationships with peers and volunteers, and have fun learning and sharing as a family and a club.
Researchers quantify carbon changes in Sierra Nevada meadow soils
Collaborative study indicates meadows hold promise to help control carbon released into the atmosphere
Meadows in the Sierra Nevada mountains are critical components of watersheds. In addition to supplying water to over 25 million people in California and Nevada, meadows contain large quantities of carbon belowground.
A new study led by researchers in our College has demonstrated for the first time that meadows throughout the region are both gaining and losing carbon at high rates. Capture and storage of carbon in soil is a natural way to reduce carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere and combat climate change. However, human activities can disrupt natural processes and lead to the loss of soil carbon to the atmosphere. These results suggest that meadow management may either contribute to climate change or mitigate the harmful effects of increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide.
Meet the researchers
Combating climate change with meadows
"Our research shows meadows may be some of the best bang for the buck in terms of carbon management in the region. My hope is that soil carbon sequestration can be integrated with other objectives to achieve management strategies that improve ecosystem functions in meadows." -Associate Professor Benjamin Sullivan
Lyon County educator is connecting with the community virtually
Adeel Ahmed joins Extension for community and economic development in Lyon County
Extension recently welcomed Adeel Ahmed as the new county educator in Lyon County.
As the Extension county educator, Ahmed is focusing on community and economic development. Although he started the position amidst COVID health restrictions, he’s begun getting involved in and building multiple programs to aid Lyon County. As part of one of these projects, Ahmed has started participating in a group to assess what local communities need to be more resilient to climate change, such as how they can mitigate impacts of fires, smoke and drought.
Another project Ahmed has started developing is assessing the broadband capacity for rural areas in Lyon County. With many jobs operating remotely, strong internet connection is often an overlooked but crucial component for everyday work. In the more rural areas, fast and reliable connections are challenging to find, and programs like Zoom are slowed, causing interruptions to the work day.
“Extension is thrilled to have Adeel join our team,” Holly Gatzke, northern area director, said. “His talents and experience are well suited to address the needs of a growing and changing Lyon county as well as the whole state. He is already researching programs to create positive changes.”
Connecting with Nevada communities
"I am thrilled to join the University, especially being able to work in Lyon County. The best part of being in positions like a county educator is being able to go out into the community and speak with everyone about the community in which they live. Although that interaction looks different right now, it’s still great to have those connections." -Extension Educator Adeel Ahmed
Test your home for cancer-causing gas
Extension offers free radon test kits at offices statewide
Extension’s Radon Education Program is offering free short-term radon test kits to Nevadans through Feb. 28. Radon test kits are available at Extension offices and partnering locations statewide.
Radon is a naturally occurring, radioactive gas that is colorless, odorless and tasteless. It comes from the ground and can accumulate in homes, raising the risk of lung cancer. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates 21,000 Americans die each year from radon-caused lung cancer, killing more people than secondhand smoke, drunk driving and house fires.
In Nevada, one in four homes tested show radon concentrations at or above the EPA action level. According to experts, living in a home with radon concentrations at the action level poses a similar risk of developing lung cancer as smoking about half a pack of cigarettes a day.
A simple three-day test can determine if a house has a radon problem, and winter is an ideal time to test a home for radon. If radon problems are found, they can be fixed.
Nevada Davidson Academy student places first in National Radon Poster Contest
Davidson Academy student Maya Park-Weber, from Reno, placed first in the National Radon Poster Contest after taking home first place in Extension's Nevada Radon Poster Contest.
She competed against student winners from 15 other states and will receive $1,000 for her poster, “Radon Can Cause Lung Cancer.”
Partnering with schools to protect communities
"I was thrilled to hear that Maya’s poster won first place in the national contest. It’s a great honor to have won the Nevada contest against all of the other posters, but winning the national contest is very hard to do. It is an honor to have national winners amongst our Nevada winners." - Nevada Radon Education Program Director Susan Howe
University professors provide safe, engaging experiences for students amid COVID-19
Elisabeth Watkins, undergraduate student
COVID-19 limitations required faculty and staff to create educational opportunities amid new restrictions. With the help of video chats and increased personal protective equipment (PPE), students were able to participate in hands-on activities and engage with industry experts.
The Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology successfully conducted in-person laboratory classes by instituting several safety measures that met or exceeded University and State COVID restrictions. Among the precautions taken, laboratory spaces were reconfigured and plexiglass shielding was installed. In addition, students became subject to temperature checks and were required to wear PPE and maintain social distance.
Professor Tamzen Stringham held an outdoor lecture for the Riparian Management and Restoration class during the fall semester. Students participated in an evening lecture and slideshow outdoors while following the COVID-19 social distancing restrictions in place at the time.
Tracy Shane, professor for the Elements of Livestock Production course, invited students to meet, discuss and ask questions online about cattle production with Ty Minor, cattle producer and a recent alum from Minor Ranch. Shane also created a virtual egg-candling activity, which included videos showing how to measure the size of the air cell and the weight, grade and size of the eggs.
Biochemistry & Molecular Biology winter graduate earns Senior Scholar distinction
Each semester, the University and its Alumni Association recognize graduates with one of the most prestigious awards at the University — the Senior Scholar distinction.
The award honors the top graduate from each college, along with the faculty mentor who has had the greatest impact on the student’s success.
Our fall 2020 Senior Scholar is Ensi Bejto, and his mentor is Assistant Professor Hanna Damke.
Providing high-quality experiences safely
"Our students are receiving equal or greater access to scientific instrumentation and experimental work as in previous years. And, at the same time, keeping our students’ safety is our number one priority." -Biochemistry & Molecular Biology Chair Bob Ryan
Growing a stronger Nevada
Our programs work together to make an impact
Our teaching, research and engagement programs are intertwined and complement one another. Faculty who teach on campus also conduct research as part of our Experiment Station, allowing students to learn about and participate in research. Extension faculty engaging with communities identify research needs, as well as join Experiment Station faculty to conduct research. Faculty on campus help to develop Extension programs in communities.
Want to help innovate for Nevada?
Consider making a contribution in support of classroom, lab or office space; graduate assistantships; student scholarships; or upgrades to Nevada 4-H Camp. To learn more, please contact Executive Director of Development Zack Madonick.