University of Nevada, Reno is engaged in Elko County communities, presenting research-based knowledge to address critical community needs in the areas of agriculture; children, youth and families; community and economic development; horticulture; health and nutrition; and natural resources. It is a county-state-federal partnership providing practical education to people, businesses and communities. Extension is a unit of the University’s College of Agriculture, Biotechnology & Natural Resources, and plays a vital role in fulfilling the University’s land-grant mission. 2020-2021 brought changes and new faces to our Extension office. We welcome a new Administrative Assistant, 4-H Coordinator, Wells SNAP-Ed Instructor, and Heart & Hope Classroom Assistants.
Rangeland Wildlife/Livestock Interactions
Paul Meiman, Rangeland Livestock and Wildlife Interactions Specialist, continues to emphasize outcome-based rangeland management. In FY2021, Meiman and two other UNR Faculty members published a paper in Rangeland Ecology and Management (a peer-reviewed, international journal) challenging and disproving a 40-year-old assertion that rangelands in the Intermountain West are not adapted to herbivory from large hooved animals. In addition, the article emphasizes the need to abandon overly prescriptive management (fixed dates and approaches) in favor of increased management flexibility focused on achieving desired outcomes on the land (e.g. characteristics of rangelands and rangeland plant communities). This is the same idea driving the outcome-based grazing efforts.
Two Elko County ranches embraced GPS technology by implementing virtual fence systems. Nearly 400 cattle were fitted with collars to determine the extent to which this new technology is likely to improve livestock grazing management flexibility on Nevada Rangelands. More than $128,000 was supported by UNR Agricultural Experiment Station, Bureau of Land Management, and Fish and Wildlife Service grant funds for the virtual fence project. The management and monitoring efforts addressed by these two groups alone affect over one million acres of rangeland in Elko County.
4-H Youth Development
In 2021, 286 young people participated in the Elko County 4-H Youth Development program. More than 75 youth and adult volunteers led clubs and project activities, teaching life skills. The 16 community and project clubs met in Elko, Clover Valley, Jiggs, Lamoille, Ruby Valley, Spring Creek, Starr Valley, Tuscarora and Wells.
In 2020, 52 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. The highest mean response was for “Is 4-H a place where you feel safe?” Youth responded that 4-H is “a place where they get to figure things out for themselves.” In 2019, the mean score for this item was 3.29 and increased to 3.40 in 2020, indicating that youth were able to learn and participate in 4-H through the pandemic. The highest mean response for personal mindset and social skills was “Do you like to learn new things?”
Elko County 4-H participated in the 4-H Health Rocks! program, funded by National 4-H Council. The program focuses on the fourth “H,” Health. It is designed to build skills that lead to healthy lifestyle choices with special emphasis on youth tobacco, alcohol, vaping and drug use prevention among youth ages 8-14. In July 2021, Elko County Extension hosted a 4-H Health Rocks! retreat. Young people participated in hands-on teambuilding, healthy relationships, decision making, stress management and goal setting activities. Through video technology and Zoom youth interacted with other 4-Hers around the state.
A team of Extension economic and community development faculty and staff published the Nevada Economic Assessment Project Socioeconomic Baseline Report for Elko County, Nevada and the Community Assets for Elko County, Nevada reports. The reports were produced for County Commissioners and other local, state and federal agencies with Elko County’s social, demographic, economic, and environmental trends. The purpose of the Nevada Economic Assessment Project (NEAP) publications is to provide community leaders with tools to assess local planning and economic development initiatives. These economic impact assessment models are located on Extension’s website, making it easier to find evidence-based data to analyze industries and activities associated with policy decisions.
Health and Nutrition
Extension’s Healthy Aging strategy offers physical activity and nutrition education, and health promotion to older adults. The Healthy Aging strategy is partially funded by the Nevada Division of Health and Human Services Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed). The goal of SNAP-Ed is to support limited-resource families in eating healthy food, engaging in physical activity. Extension staff taught Bingocize classes to Wells Senior Center participants. Bingocize activities feature older adult-focused exercise, health education, social engagement, fall prevention tips and mobility and independence improvement. The goal is to provide education that improves the health and quality of life of Elko County’s older adult population.
Agriculture and Horticulture
Elko County residents look to Extension for pesticide application safety education and certification as well as horticulture education. Extension assists clientele in identifying plants, weeds, and insects, diagnosing plant diseases and recommending actions homeowners can take to address plant, weed and insect problems. Extension Educator, Jill Baker-Tingey taught a early childhood literacy, movement, science, and art activity to preschool age children and their families in the pollinator demonstration garden. Community members can stop by the Extension office to see the pollinator demonstration garden. Elko County Extension offered the following pesticide and horticulture classes in 2020-2021:
- Pollinator Garden
- Grow Your Own, Nevada – gardening series
- Home Horticulture Certification
- Pesticide Application Safety
- Cattlemen’s Update
Building skills to support healthy relationships for parents, children and teens is a major education effort of Elko County Extension. Heart & Hope Family Violence Prevention Program targets parents and children who have experienced domestic violence. By participating in Heart & Hope child and adult survivors obtain skills and resources necessary to break the cycle of domestic violence. The program teaches communication, emotion identification and regulation, problem solving, healthy relationships, social/emotional skills, and strengthening families. Since 2015, 60 adults and 125 Elko County youth participated in the program.
Understanding how adolescents are struggling with their mental health during COVID, we changed the focus of our fall session from a family program to youth and teens. Past participants were invited to attend a four-week program. Workshops focused on emotional literacy, communication, self-awareness, stress management, and healthy relationships.
COVID presented opportunities to highlight Elko County Extension’s Heart & Hope program by publishing two media articles, “COVID-19 Contributing to Domestic Violence: What to Do” and “Use COVID-19 Time at Home to Foster Healthy Family Relationships.” The State of Nevada Joint Information Center used portions of the domestic violence article in their mental health campaign. The article on family relationships was named as the 25th most-viewed article or blog on the University’s Nevada Today website.
County Funds Summary
Opening Balance: $172,820
Ending Balance: $241,155
Fiscal Year 2020-2021