EXTENSION: EDUCATIONAL FIRST RESPONDERS
University of Nevada, Reno-Extension, Elko County faculty and staff began the 2020 fiscal year addressing needs for children, youth and families, community development; agriculture, natural resources, and health and nutrition. At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and the stay-at-home orders, Extension faculty and staff pivoted quickly, becoming educational first responders by adapting programs to virtual and non-face-to-face formats. Staff created educational materials, taught workshops and determined ways to connect with youth, families and volunteers to ensure that communities might thrive in this uncertain time. This report highlights the work of Extension faculty and staff in Elko County for the 2020 fiscal year (July 1, 2019-June 30, 2020).
4-H YOUTH DEVELOPMENT
In 2020, 344 youth participated in the Elko County 4-H Youth Development program. More than 84 youth and adult volunteers led clubs and project activities, teaching young people life skills. The 19 community and project clubs met in Elko, Carlin, Clover Valley, Jiggs, Lamoille, Ruby Valley, Spring Creek, Starr Valley, Tuscarora and Wells.
Thirty-two club officers participated in the Club Officer Leadership Training. They reported learning parliamentary procedure, officer roles and duties, leadership, teamwork, and communication skills. Liz Krenka, Elko County 4-H Coordinator taught 28 middle school students the National 4-H Science Day experiment, Game Changers, a computer science activity teaching youth how to create video games and solve agriculture problems. State 4-H Expo was held in Winnemucca in October 2019 and 53 Elko County youth participated in shooting sports, livestock, dog, fashion revue, horse, small animals and static exhibit contests.
In 2019, 143 youth participated in the Nevada 4-H Evaluation, a survey designed to measure the impact of 4-H. The Experience scale measured participants on the essential elements of positive youth development: belonging, independence, mastery and generosity. The highest mean response was for “Is 4-H a place where adults care about you?” The 4-H Universal scale measured personal mindset and social skills necessary to be competent members of society. The highest mean response was for “Do you try to learn from your mistakes?”
Elko County 4-Hers participated in several animal science programs. A new veterinary science workshop series was presented in 2019. Youth learned equine dentistry and massage, equine colic, and small ruminant pregnancy testing and sonogram for sheep, goats and alpacas. Sixty-four youth who planned to sell market animals completed the Youth for the Quality Care of Animals (YQCA) certification. Young people learned in-depth information on food safety, animal well-being and youth life skills by attending an in-person workshop or completing the three courses on-line. Youth attended a series of 4-H livestock judging and skillathon workshops, taught by two 4-H high school students. Poultry and rabbit workshops were offered monthly in-person prior to the stay-at-home restrictions. This summer 4-H horse members participated in riding clinics.
To engage youth and reduce isolation during the pandemic, 4-H offered virtual activities where youth uploaded photos and videos that were shared in newsletters and social media. Elko County Extension/4-H held a virtual photography contest, horsemanship skills challenge (basic horse safety, catching, bridling, tying, saddling, mounting), horse scavenger hunt, shooting sports photos/videos, and showmanship videos. County Officers met via Zoom and learned virtual ice breakers, in turn, leading the virtual activities with their club members. Fashion Revue and Shooting Sports included a hybrid approach. The Fashion Revue Show limited the number of spectators who could attend, so the show was streamed on Facebook Live. Shooting Sports practices were held in-person, and youth’s scores were entered into a state database to determine the top state shooters. Youth contributed in an important way to support pandemic first responders. Elko County Emergency Operations Center called the Elko County Extension at the end of March, saying they needed masks. Three Elko County 4-Hers sewed and donated 89 masks.
AGRICULTURE AND HORTICULTURE
Elko County residents look to Extension for pesticide application safety education and certification as well as horticulture education. Candie Kevan, Administrative Secretary, assists clientele in identifying plants, weeds, and insects, diagnosing plant diseases, and recommending actions homeowners can take to address plant, weed and insect problems. Elko County Extension offered the following pesticide and horticulture classes in 2019-2020:
• Local Foods Coming of Age
• Fall Grow Your Own, Nevada! Series
• Pollinator Garden
• Trees and Irrigation
• Tree Selection
• Turfgrass Disease
• Soil Health
• Home Horticulture Certificate
• Spring Virtual Grow Your Own, Nevada! Series
• Cultivator Pesticide Safety Education
• Hemp Growers Pesticide Safety Education
• Pesticide Application Certification
Heart and Shield Family Violence Prevention Program
Building skills to support healthy relationships for parents, children, teens and volunteers is a major education component of the Elko County Extension work. Heart and Shield Family Violence Prevention Program targets parents and children who have experienced domestic violence. By participating in Heart and Shield, child and adult domestic violence survivors obtain skills and resources necessary to break the cycle of domestic violence. Children, youth, teen and parent topics teach communication, emotion identification and regulation, problem solving, friendship skills, healthy relationships, social/emotional skills and strengthening families. Parents also learn typical child development and development affected by family violence, parenting styles, guidance and discipline. Since 2015, 48 adults and 103 youth participated in the program.
To measure changes parents made as a result of participating in the program, parents answered a survey, comparing their parenting practices before the program to after the program. Twenty-four out of 25 questions were statistically significant (p<.050). Parents indicated that they changed their parenting practices in coping skills and stress management, healthy relationships, hope for the future, family relationships and cohesion, child development, communication, guidance, emotional competency, problem solving and conflict management. Parents increased their knowledge of parenting strategies in child development, family relationships and cohesion, stress management, communication skills, emotional competency, problem solving and conflict management, guidance and parenting styles. All 21 questions were statistically significant (p<.004).
Safeguarding the social and emotional well-being of children and families emerged as a high-priority issue for the Heart and Shield program during the stay-at-home order. Faculty members, Jill Baker-Tingey, Julie Woodbury and Joelene Holmes, created resources for families to access virtually to reinforce skills built in the Heart and Shield program. Families received texts on virtual parenting classes, ways to connect with friends and extended family while physically distant, YouTube videos on literacy, healthy practices for eating, exercising and relationships, regulating emotions and community resources for mental health and basic needs.
Great Basin Children’s Advocacy Center
Strategic planning strengthens an organization’s ability to fulfill its mission, develop goals, achieve measurable and sustainable results and have a positive impact on places where people live, work, play and learn. Jill Baker-Tingey was invited by the Great Basin Children’s Advocacy Center (GBCAC) to facilitate a process for creating a framework to respond to community changes and emerging opportunities. GBCAC provides support to children and families involved in child abuse investigation. Jill designed the three-day strategic planning process with a subset of board members. The Board approved the strategic plan in December 2019 and has identified specific strategies for grant writing and fundraising to secure funding for a building to house all services and programs.
Nevada Economic Assessment Project
The Nevada Economic Assessment Project compiles socioeconomic baseline data for every county in Nevada to assist local governments in land-use planning, grant writing and policy assessment. Jill Baker-Tingey recruited community members to participate in a community asset mapping exercise, including a community workshop and online community asset survey. Asset mapping participants identified ranching/agriculture, local eateries, mining, available land, the Community Foundation of Elko County and tourism as economic assets. Transportation, affordable housing, healthcare and broadband were described as desired economic assets. Open spaces, city parks, historical places and museums were identified as existing economic assets. Participants want healthcare, upscale restaurants, a dog park, to renovate downtown and improve municipal centers. A fact sheet on the asset mapping results and social, demographic, economic, land use and fiscal characteristics and North American Industry Classification System top performers for Elko County fact sheets will be available in late 2020.
Rangeland Health and Sustainability
An informal advisory group has convened to assist new Rangeland Livestock/Wildlife Interactions Specialist Paul Meiman in determining educational priorities for rangeland management: rangeland monitoring for ranchers/permitees, riparian proper functioning condition assessments in relation to livestock grazing and natural resource objectives, habitat recovery efforts for Lahontan Cutthroat Trout, Outcomes Based Grazing, cheatgrass management and rangeland restoration.
Meiman presented the science of foraging and grazing management at the Wildlife Society/American Fisheries Society annual meeting. At the 2020 Cattlemen’s Update he discussed the potential use of virtual fencing for helping manage livestock distribution on rangelands. Meiman helped teach two online riparian proper functioning condition (PFC) classes and two field workshops, involving three Elko County ranches, Bureau of Land Management and Nevada Department of Wildlife. The Nevada Creeks and Communities Team and Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources assisted in leading the field workshops. Participants learned how to conduct PFC assessments and how management decisions related to maintaining and improving the condition (function) of riparian areas.
Meiman received applied research funding for virtual fencing to manage the distribution of cattle on two ranches in Elko County. In December 2019, the Nevada Section of the Society of Range Management hosted a workshop in Elko, highlighting emerging technologies for range management. Ranchers and natural resource managers learned from Meiman how the Web Soil Survey can be used to support range management.
In November 2019, the Western National FFA Rangeland Contest was held in Elko. Meiman identified field sites for the contest, assembled a group of local agriculture and natural resource professionals to interact with students, helped teach field methods for vegetation measurements and talked to youth about degree programs and careers in rangeland management.
Meiman continues to work with one of the Outcome Based Grazing demonstration groups involving an Elko County ranch. This group has placed considerable emphasis on monitoring and objectives to support effective grazing management.
COUNTY FUNDS SUMMARY
Opening Balance: $186,232
Ending Balance: $278,603.50