UCCE Master Gardeners of San Joaquin County
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UCCE Master Gardeners of San Joaquin County

Posts Tagged: education

Hear that Buzz? Saturday is National Honey Bee Day!

Postdoctoral scholar Laura Brutscher of the Elina Lastro Niño lab at UC Davis talks about who lives in the hive. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Hear that buzz? Tomorrow (Saturday, Aug. 18) is National Honey Bee Day. A small group of beekeepers originated the observance back in 2009 to spotlight bees and beekeeping. They petitioned and obtained a proclamation from the U.S. Department of...

Postdoctoral scholar Laura Brutscher of the Elina Lastro Niño lab at UC Davis talks about who lives in the hive. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Postdoctoral scholar Laura Brutscher of the Elina Lastro Niño lab at UC Davis talks about who lives in the hive. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Postdoctoral scholar Laura Brutscher of the Elina Lastro Niño lab at UC Davis talks about who lives in the hive. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

The youngsters enjoy dressing up in beekeeper protective suits and being photographed. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
The youngsters enjoy dressing up in beekeeper protective suits and being photographed. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

The youngsters enjoy dressing up in beekeeper protective suits and being photographed. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Extension apiculturist Elina Lastro Niño talks about the importance of pollination. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Extension apiculturist Elina Lastro Niño talks about the importance of pollination. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Extension apiculturist Elina Lastro Niño talks about the importance of pollination. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Wendy Mather of the California Master Beekeeper Program shows the youngsters bee specimens. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Wendy Mather of the California Master Beekeeper Program shows the youngsters bee specimens. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Wendy Mather of the California Master Beekeeper Program shows the youngsters bee specimens. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Charley Nye, manager of the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Facility, introduces the students to honey varietals. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Charley Nye, manager of the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Facility, introduces the students to honey varietals. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Charley Nye, manager of the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Facility, introduces the students to honey varietals. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

The students catch, examine and release bees with bee vacuum devices. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
The students catch, examine and release bees with bee vacuum devices. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

The students catch, examine and release bees with bee vacuum devices. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Marcel Ramos of the Niño lab opens a hive inside a netted enclosure. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Marcel Ramos of the Niño lab opens a hive inside a netted enclosure. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Marcel Ramos of the Niño lab opens a hive inside a netted enclosure. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Inspiring youth leaders to cultivate health

What do you want to experience today?

What are sixth-graders interested in these days? “Cooking!” “Growing food!” “Learning how to be healthier.” “Exercising.” “Meeting new friends!” These enthusiastic answers came from sixth-grade student leaders in Santa Maria, Calif., when asked by educators from the UC Cooperative Extension Youth, Families and Communities program in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties.

Through an integrated youth-focused healthy living project, called Food Smart Families, funded by National 4-H, the UC ANR 4-H Youth Development Program, and the UC CalFresh Nutrition Education program, 32 fourth- through sixth-grade student leaders were brought together from three schools in Santa Maria, Calif., for a full-day educational retreat that focused on engaging youth to explore their healthy lifestyle interests and see themselves as leaders.

Throughout the day, student leaders experienced physical activity games, learned cooking skills, participated in garden-based learning, and developed their presentation skills. They focused on skill development, as well as transference so that the student leaders could take these activities into their own schools to encourage and teach their peers. For example, the fun physical activity breaks that were incorporated throughout the day modeled games where no one is “out” or excluded, while moving enough to get heart rates up.

Students practice culinary skills.
After the retreat, the student leaders brought these activities to their own schools, leading their peers in the games during lunch and recess breaks. During the retreat, the student leaders also got to practice knife safety skills while chopping produce to prepare their own veggie pita pockets and fruit salads. With these skills, the student leaders offered food demonstrations and nutrition lessons to their peers during the following weeks.

In the garden, student leaders learned the basics of growing food and how to lead a garden lesson. Students discussed garden tools and how to use them safely, then planted their own seeds to take home. The garden session ended with a gleaning of the school citrus orchard where students laughed and enjoyed the fresh air and fresh fruits growing around them. In their own school gardens, the student leaders have offered lessons and tastings to their peers.

Student Nutrition Advisory Council logo.
The retreat culminated with youth presentations. The student leaders worked in teams with students from different schools to generate ideas and artwork for the Student Nutrition Advisory Council (SNAC) logo and t-shirt design. They presented their concepts to the larger group, practicing their presentation skills. The student leaders voted on the designs and a winner was selected to be featured on a t-shirt for SNAC leaders at each of the three schools. The students leaders proudly wear their shirts as they lead healthy living education, advocacy and engagement activities.

By the end of the retreat, the student leaders were excited to take the information and skills back to their schools and start leading. Students shared their plans to help other students be more active during recess, be healthy, and help other kids be healthier too.

“This was the best day I have ever had,” said one of the students.

Recess activation in progress.
Since the retreat, the student-led initiatives have been numerous and continually evolving. The sixth-graders have encouraged and trained younger students to become their successors as they move onto junior high. Several students co-authored and starred in a video production called “Get to Know Your Salad Bar.”  With educator encouragement, the student leaders developed a script to motivate their peers to try out the salad bar by mixing fruit into their salad to make it sweet or putting lettuce and tomato on your hamburger to make it juicy and crunchy. Beyond leading in their own schools, the student leaders have been working to help their entire community. Many of the student leaders helped organize and conduct game-style nutrition activities at a local food pantry distribution to teach families about shopping for healthy foods on a limited budget. Other student leaders provided education and training to students at neighboring schools, encouraging them to become leaders as well.

Through the efforts of the Food Smart Families program, the Youth, Families, & Communities program in San Luis Obispo & Santa Barbara counties merged the strengths of the UC CalFresh Nutrition Education program and the UC ANR 4-H Youth Development program to provide new opportunities and experiences for students in this community. With interested and caring adults, these student leaders learned to share their passions for cooking, gardening, and healthy lifestyle with their peers at school and others in their community. The rewards for the school, community and adult allies continue to expand as these inspired student leaders, with strong mentorship and support, take on some of the biggest challenges facing our society and world.

Harvesting from the orchard.
Posted on Tuesday, May 24, 2016 at 9:46 AM

WSSA educational materials about weeds and their impact

Weed Facts screenshot

The Weed Science Society of America (WSSA) announced earlier this month several new or updated educational publications about weeds and weed impacts that will be of interest to both the scientific community as well as the general public. Click here...

Posted on Thursday, February 25, 2016 at 2:04 PM

Herbicide control of distaff thistle

Carthamus lanatus 2

Over the past several years, land managers and ranchers in Marin and Sonoma counties have been concerned with the spread of woolly distaff thistle (Carthamus lanatus). However, there is very little research conducted on the control of this species....

Posted on Tuesday, January 20, 2015 at 3:04 PM
Tags: education (31), herbicide (60), publication (15)

UC Davis tomatoes provide year-round healthful eating for college students

Chef Bob Walden, right, and Arnulfo Herrera, a cook, show off roasted tomatoes at UC Davis. (photo: Gregory Urquiaga / UC Davis)
Today's dorm food is far superior to the tasteless, over-processed foods of decades past. No more mystery meat or mushy vegetables. Campus dining services across the country are providing a diversity of fresher and healthier foods, much to the delight of food-savvy students who want variety, flavor, and nutritious choices. Well... being students, they don't always make the healthiest choices, but educational programs at campus dorms are turning the tide toward more-healthful eating.

At the same time, chefs and food buyers at universities, particularly the University of California, are selecting for high-quality fruits and vegetables, produced locally and sustainably. Universities with strong food sustainability programs are rightfully proud of what they're doing to educate students about food production, health, and nutrition. UC Davis Dining Services prioritizes the purchase of locally grown food (ideally within a 50-mile radius of campus). Most University of California campuses have similar programs.

At UC Davis, fresh roma tomatoes are picked each August from the 300-acre Russell Ranch, part of the campus's Agricultural Sustainability Institute, then processed within hours by campus Dining Services to provide year-round tomato sauce for pizza, pasta, and ratatouille. All told, 10,000 pounds of tomatoes are processed during a two-week period in August. About 29 percent of the total food served in the campus's residential dining halls is from local, organic or sustainable sources.

(courtesy photo: UC Davis Agricultural Sustainability Institute)
The tomatoes grown at Russell Ranch are part of a long-term academic research project that examines factors such as farming methods, irrigation needs, crop rotations, yield, and nutritional content. At the end of the growing season, some of the many tons of tomatoes are purchased by Dining Services at market value.

Emma Torbert, an academic coordinator at the UC Davis Agricultural Sustainability Institute, noted, “Connecting the food system to the research is really interesting. A lot of times there is confusion about where our food is coming from. The more people are educated, the more educated decisions they can make.”

Many UC Davis faculty and staff are so impressed with the food choices at the dorms that they purchase individual meal tickets and enjoy lunches made with the campus-grown tomatoes, herbs, and other vegetables, all of which are part of the daily food array. Public dinners are also offered periodically at the dorms so that community members can sit amongst students to taste and learn about the sustainability programs in the dorms.

Additional Information:

  • Video: Farm to Table, UC Davis Tomatoes; 2010
  • Slide show of this year's UC Davis tomato harvesting and processing system; 2014
  • Sustainable Foodservice Progress Report 2014, UC Davis Dining Services
  • Two videos of UC Davis students who work at the Student Farm to produce food, including one on tomato sauce production
  • “Tomatoes: Safe methods to store, preserve, and enjoy.” UC Agriculture and Natural Resources, free publication
Posted on Wednesday, August 27, 2014 at 11:11 AM

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