4-H Youth Development

In 2022, 1,267 young people participated in the Elko County 4-H Youth Development program. More than 168 youth and adult volunteers led clubs and project activities, teaching life skills. The 15 community and project clubs met in Elko, Clover Valley, Jiggs, Lamoille, Ruby Valley, Spring Creek, Starr Valley, Tuscarora and Wells.

In 2021, 14 Elko County 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 (3.8 on 4 point scale) was for three questions: “Is 4-H a place where you feel safe?” “Do you like to learn new things?” and “Do you try to learn from your mistakes?” Seventy-eight percent of the respondents indicated that “4-H is a place where it’s okay for them to make mistakes,” and 75% said they “are willing to work hard on something difficult.” Ninety-nine percent of the youth surveyed answered “yes” or “usually” to the question, “Is 4-H a place where you get to do things that you like?” These results indicate that the Nevada 4-H Youth Development Program is providing young people with opportunities to thrive, learn and grow.

Elko County 4-H welcomed a new 4-H Professional, Vicki Tybo. Vicki expanded the program to reach youth in school settings (Adobe Middle School and Flagview Intermediate School), the Elko Band Colony of the TeMoak Tribe and the Duck Valley Reservation, and the Elko Boys and Girls Club. Vicki introduced new projects, art and Junior Master Gardeners/gardening, and revitalized the dog and livestock judging and skillathon educational programs. She coordinated a new 4-H event, the Elko County 4-H Showdown Clinic to increase youths’ knowledge in fitting and showing their livestock projects.

4-H Health Rocks!

4-H Health Rocks! applies 4‑H’s successful Positive Youth Development model with life skill development and decision-making to reduce tobacco, alcohol, e-cigarette/vaping and drug use in young people. 4-H Health Rocks! instills confidence and communication skills necessary to make responsible decisions and develop the internal strength to resist risky behaviors.

In 2021-2022 University of Nevada, Reno Extension collaborated with several community partners to teach Health Rocks! to youth living three different communities. Communities in Schools invited Vicki Tybo, Elko County 4-H Professional, to teach 30 youth in three separate Adobe Middle School class periods for 15 weeks. Vicki completed a week of programming at Flagview Middle School (Elko, NV) with fifth and sixth grades in conjunction with the school’s Health Awareness Week. Vicki went to three separate classrooms for 45 minutes and provided a Health Rocks! lesson plan for 30 teachers. The teachers presented the lessons to their students. We also compiled and distributed take home kits for 660 students. More than 800 parents and youth attended and visited the Health Rocks! and 4-H booth at the open house.

During Summer 2022 Vicki taught Health Rocks! in three separate communities. She traveled to the Duck Valley Indian Reservation (Owyhee, NV) and taught two half-day camps where she presented 4-H curriculum and projects and two hours of Health Rocks! to 10 youth, for a total of four hours of Health Rocks! programming. Vicki taught at the Elko Indian Colony After School Program and reached approximately 10 youth ages 9-19 for three hours. The Elko Boys and Girls Club invited Vicki to teach 4-H Health Rocks! weekly for 10 weeks to 5th and 6th graders.

4-H Positive Youth Development Thriving Model

The 4-H Thriving model predicts that youth who participate in 4-H programs that provide a high quality developmental context will thrive, and thriving youth achieve key developmental outcomes.

High quality 4-H program settings provide youth a place to belong, matter and explore their interests and passions (in 4-H we call these personal sparks). High quality settings (4-H clubs, after school, in-school, special interest projects, countywide 4-H events, etc.) foster developmental relationships with youth. Developmental relationships are connections youth have with 4-H volunteers and staff and youth experience with other youth that express care, challenge growth, and share power. These components help ensure that 4-H programs provide a nourishing developmental context – a place where youth can belong and grow.

High quality 4-H programs contribute to Positive Youth Development through the intentional promotion of social, emotional, cognitive and behavioral habits. In the 4-H Thriving Model this process of Positive Youth Development is described by seven indicators of thriving: Openness to challenge and discovery, growth mindset, hopeful purpose, pro-social orientation (youth demonstrate respect, honesty, responsibility, empathy and helping), transcendent awareness (youth are connected to something greater than the self that provides meaning and purpose in life and shapes everyday thoughts and action), positive emotional outlook and self-regulation though goal setting and management.

Youth who experience high quality developmental settings in 4-H with an emphasis on these key social-emotional skills achieve key positive youth development outcomes, including academic motivation and success, social competence, high personal standards, connection with others, personal responsibility, and contribution to others through leadership and civic engagement.

Youth who achieve positive developmental outcomes are more likely to also achieve long-term outcomes marked by vocational or academic success, civic engagement, employability and economic stability and happiness and well-being.

The 4-H Thriving Model is the theory of change for positive youth development in 4-H. The model illustrates the process of positive youth development in 4-H programs by connecting high quality program settings to the promotion of youth thriving.

To bring the 4-H Thriving Model to Nevada, Jill Tingey, Extension Educator was selected as a state 4-H Thriving Model champion and Western Regional Network Co-Chair. In this role she will coordinate training for the Western Regional Champions, deliver two workshops for the inaugural 4-H Positive Youth Development Foundations Academy for Early Career 4-H Professionals, and provide training for Nevada 4-H Professionals and volunteers.

Strengthening Families

Heart & Hope Family Violence Prevention Program

Nevada ranks #3 in the nation for women killed by men due to domestic violence. In Elko County, 405 domestic violence victimizations occurred in 2017, with a rate of 7.7 per 1,000 persons which is much higher than the national rate of 4.5 per 1,000 persons. The 2012 Elko County Extension needs assessment indicated that domestic violence prevention is a high-priority issue for county residents. The Heart & Hope Family Violence Prevention Program provides Elko County families with resources and skills to strengthen relationships and reduce the risk of future violence.

Heart & Hope Family Violence Prevention Program targets parents and children who have experienced domestic violence. The program teaches communication, emotion identification and regulation, problem solving, healthy relationships, social/emotional skills, and strengthening families. Since 2015, 55 adults and 115 Elko County youth participated in the program.

Extension delivered mindfulness and physical activity exercises to 5th and 6th grade students at Flagview Intermediate School as part of the Northeastern Nevada Regional Hospital and Kinross LevelUp4Health Event. Healthy dating information was shared with more than 200 families at the family carnival for this same event. The Heart & Hope Coordinator, Julie Woodbury taught nine healthy friendships/healthy dating relationships classroom presentations to the Elko Institute of Academic Achievement 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students.

Elko County human service agencies and nonprofit organizations have a vested interest in learning how to better serve families exposed to domestic violence. Heart & Hope staff provide education and training to help practitioners identify domestic violence victims and prevent future incidences. In 2022 Heart & Hope staff delivered training to Northeastern Nevada Early Head Start staff, Northern Nevada Division of Welfare Social Services, and 42 stakeholders (e.g., school counselors, early intervention specialists, mental health providers, domestic violence and child abuse advocates, and child welfare workers). We also taught workshops at the Region 9 (Arizona, California, Hawaii, and Nevada) Early Head Start Conference, Nevada Afterschool Network Annual Conference, and the University of Nevada, Reno Lightening Talks. Three Nevada counties, Clark, Humboldt, and Washoe, invited staff to present information on the Heart & Hope program, with intentions to expand the program. To expand to other communities and sustain the current program, Jill Tingey and Julie Woodbury were awarded an Extension Foundation $10,000 Acceleration grant. This grant has allowed the Heart & Hope team to focus on publishing the Heart & Hope children, youth and teen curriculum.

Domestic Violence High Risk Teams

In 2021 Elko County domestic violence calls for service increased by 8.3% compared to 2020. Coordinated community responses, involving multiple systems (e.g., law enforcement, criminal justice system, victim, and child services, etc.) that are victim-centered increase victim safety and participation in the criminal process, increase arrest and prosecution of the offender, and reduce recidivism. Conducting danger assessments with domestic violence victims prevents homicides. However, Elko County law enforcement agencies were not conducting victim danger risk assessments when responding to domestic violence calls, nor was a structure in place to coordinate community responses.

In July 2021, Extension faculty received funding from the Nevada Attorney General’s Office to implement a Domestic Violence High-Risk Team Model, establishing a victim-centered coordinated response system in Elko and North Las Vegas. The grant paid for technical assistance from the Geiger Institute to 1) provide training to Extension staff, all Elko County law enforcement agencies, judges, district attorneys, and victim-systems and domestic violence advocates on the Model, lethality assessments, data collection, and working with domestic violence advocates and 2) assist law enforcement in re-writing agency policies to include the lethality assessment to be administered with every domestic violence call. Extension conducted key informant interviews with law enforcement agencies, the district attorney’s office, domestic violence advocates, and community organizations to understand educational needs for implementing the lethality assessment and confirm their participation in the high-risk team model training and commitment to collect and report data and rewrite policies. The Geiger Institute, a domestic violence nonprofit that developed the Domestic Violence High-Risk Team Model, and Extension met with the district attorney’s office and judges to allow the lethality assessment to be used in preliminary court hearings. More than 18 training sessions and meetings were conducted with the High-Risk Team in 2021-2022.

Jill Tingey, Elko County Extension Educator and Pam Payne, state Extension specialist, presented a workshop on the Model to the Nevada Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence annual conference in September. We were invited and presented the Model to the Northeastern Nevada Division of Child and Family Services Domestic Violence Task Force.

Impacts: All Elko County law enforcement agencies adopted the lethality assessment (Danger Assessment-Law Enforcement (DALE)) tool and included its use in their department’s policies and procedures. After participating in a DALE train-the-trainer workshop, law enforcement staff are currently training all of the officers in their respective agencies to use the instrument. All five of the domestic violence advocates in Elko County have completed training on the Danger Assessment, a longer tool that helps advocates provide more support to victims.

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. Community members can stop by the Extension office to see the pollinator demonstration garden. The Nevada Master Gardener program has expanded to rural areas. Community members interested in volunteering their time to educate the public about gardening participated in the Home Horticulture Certification program and the Master Gardener Certification program. Elko County Extension offered the following pesticide and horticulture classes in 2021-2022:

Pollinator Garden, Grow Your Own, Nevada – gardening series, Home Horticulture Certification, Pesticide Application Safety, Cattlemen’s Update and Farm to Fork Certification

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. The Healthy Aging Program provides education that improves the health and quality of life to Elko County’s older adult population. Elko County’s older adults were invited to participate in virtual Bingocize exercise activities, focused on health education, social engagement, fall prevention, mobility and independence improvement. Extension provided monthly educational newsletters on healthy aging to the Carlin, Elko, and Wells Senior Centers.

The Elko Senior Center Director, Matt McCarty, invited Jill Tingey to conduct a Physical Activity and Nutrition Scan with older adults to better understand the physical activity and nutrition needs. Jill administered 75 surveys during their congregate meal (lunch) on two consecutive days. While 99% of respondents were very confident or somewhat confident in their ability to make healthy choices, qualitative responses indicated that some Senior Center participants wanted the Center to offer food that was diabetes-friendly, lower in carbohydrates, edible for people with dentures, and the estimated calorie count for each item served. Respondents (52%) were interested in free educational handouts that promote healthy eating, and 89% indicated they would find it helpful for the site to have a bulletin board promoting farmers’ markets, food pantries, and information on how to obtain SNAP benefits. One person recommended having more programs for seniors with low income or very fixed incomes. Extension provided the Center with physical activity resources, intergenerational activities, and ideas for starting a wellness committee.


Extension's Radon Education Program educates Nevadans about the health risk posed by elevated levels of radon in the home. The program offers literature, maps, educational presentations and low-cost radon test kits.

Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that has no odor, color or taste, and comes from the soil. Radon gas moves through the soil into the air, where it harmlessly spreads in outdoor air or enters buildings through the foundation and becomes trapped inside. When it enters a building and gets trapped inside, high levels can cause lung cancer. Radon is the number one cause of lung cancer in non-smokers. More than 21,000 Americans die of radon-related lung cancer each year. Not everyone exposed to radon will get lung cancer, but the greater the radon level and the longer the exposure, the greater the risk of developing lung cancer. Mining studies show extended periods of exposure to low levels of radon over a long period of time caused lung cancer. All homes, offices, schools and preschools should be tested for radon.

Free radon test kits were offered to Elko County residents in January and February 2022. Chris Kelly, Nevada Radon Education Program Officer, delivered one radon presentations to 20 realtors in Elko County. Radon education is important for realtors because the Environmental Protection Agency and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend prospective home buyers should know the level of radon in any home they are considering purchasing. Realtors have a special role wherein they can educate their clients about the dangers of radon gas and recommend testing during real estate transactions.

Community Development

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.

In response to an Elko County Commissioner request to provide economic data on hunting, a study was conducted by University of Nevada, Reno Economic Development faculty. The report, published in 2022, provides estimates of the total economic contribution of big game and upland game hunting to Nevada counties in 2020. The economic contribution analysis captures the total economic activity supported by hunting-related expenditures in Nevada counties.

Significant findings include: 1) the economic contributions were highest in rural counties with the most hunting effort days. Elko County realized the highest economic contributions from hunting in 2020 at $9.3 million, and 2) on average, a dollar spent on hunting in Elko County generates $1.29 of total economic output.

Natural Resources

Living with Fire

The Living With Fire Program provides recommendations to residents on preparing for wildfire and reducing wildfire threats to homes and communities. In June 2022 Extension hosted an “Evacuation and Wildfire Preparation” presentation to Spring Creek residents. Agencies such as the Elko County Fire Protection District, Elko County Sheriff’s Office, NV Energy, Nevada Department of Transportation, U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management-Elko District, and Nevada Division of Forestry, presented on a variety of topics, including alternative routes and what evacuations look like for residents, fuels reduction and shared stewardship, infrastructure and community protection, defensible space inspections, power outage management, home hardening, and evacuation tips. Participants indicated that their understanding of wildfire evacuation, wildfire preparedness, fuels reduction on agency lands, and agency collaboration had changed. Ten of the participants planned to pack an evacuation go-bag; while five intended to practice evacuating out of their home and community. Attendees also reported that they would create or maintain defensible space on their property, perform home hardening, and get a defensible space inspection. All participants (100%) found the workshop worth attending.

Rangeland Management for Desired Outcomes

At least 80% of the land area in Nevada is rangeland – supporting plant communities that are dominated by herbaceous plants (grasses and forbs) and shrubs. Elko County may be greater than 80% rangeland. Most of the plants and plant communities on rangelands are native, but even when occupied by introduced plants, these lands are subject to extensive management approaches involving very large and complex land areas and relatively low levels of management input on a per/acre basis; an approach that contrasts with the intensive management of cultivated cropland. On a land area basis, the vast majority of Nevada rangeland is public land administered by the Federal Government. Multiple land uses take place on rangelands and this sometimes leads to natural resource concerns, conflict and the need for management changes to address issues and take advantage of opportunities. The ongoing need for information and educational efforts to support land management changes has been expressed many times in many different places. One great example was recently expressed in an article about a collaborative group in Nevada known as ROGER – Results Oriented Grazing for Ecological Resilience.

ROGER strives to:

  1. Develop a shared vision of on-the-ground conditions;
  2. Create a common understanding of what it will take to achieve those outcomes;
  3. Identify ways to provide land and livestock managers with flexibility needed to take action; and,
  4. Document and share successes, failures, and lessons learned with this group and others.

“Roger is a one-stop shop. It’s a concentrated way to get a variety of stakeholders in one place at one time,” says Kathryn Dyer, Nevada BLM Range Lead and National Outcome-Based Grazing Lead. “It’s a reoccurring time for a wide variety of problem-solvers to get together and share conversations aimed at constructive solutions.”

Liz Munn, TNC Nevada’s Public Lands Strategy Director recently stated that “Nevada has so much variability - from place to place and year to year. We need strong foundational relationships that allow us to work together to adapt to every new event or condition if we want to achieve the goal of ecological resilience,”.

These quotes and the 4 goals established by the ROGER Group do a good job communicating the need for educational efforts that support improved rangeland management for desired outcomes and the work reported below addressing cooperative permittee monitoring, riparian area management/assessment, collaborative rangeland management, virtual fencing and the management of exotic, invasive annual grasses.

In the past year multiple hands-on field demonstrations and informal presentations/discussions about cooperative rangeland monitoring were conducted. These efforts have initiated momentum toward initiating a monitoring effort on 3 ranches which manage approximately 1 million acres of rangeland – mostly in Elko County. One of these ranches is a USDI-BLM Outcome Based Grazing Demonstration (one of 5 in Nevada and 11 in the country). The target audience for these educational efforts includes ranchers (cowboys/cowgirls, ranch owners, ranch managers, etc.), state and federal agency land and natural resource managers, scientists and interested members of the public.

Meiman was also actively involved in at least 5 different collaborative group efforts related to rangeland management in Elko County. This involved participation numerous which provided the opportunity for both formal and informal presentations regarding a wide variety of topics including, but not limited to rangeland management, rangeland plant growth and response to herbivory, rangeland monitoring, livestock grazing management and virtual fencing. It is important to consider that even a subset of the individuals reached by these efforts are responsible for the management of millions of acres of rangeland in Elko County. The primary collaborative groups include the Winecup-Gamble Ranch Outcome Based Grazing Demonstration, Shoesole Management Group, Stewardship Alliance of Northeast Elko County, Results Oriented Grazing for Ecological Resilience and the Northeastern Nevada Stewardship Group. The membership of these groups and the target audience includes, ranchers, state and federal agency land and natural resource managers, scientists and interested members of the public.

In the past year, Meiman continued efforts associated with a usable science approach to investigate the potential for virtual fencing to increase livestock grazing management flexibility at the ranch scale on Nevada rangelands. In addition to research opportunities, this effort results in many educational opportunities related to livestock grazing management to achieve both production and natural resource objectives. This project has included efforts to collar cattle on 2 Elko County ranches. Many individuals were reached through multiple informal presentations, field tours/demonstrations and formal presentations. Informal presentations included opportunities to share experiences and results with interested ranchers and individuals from the USDA Forest Service, Cooperative Extension and USDI Bureau of Land Management in Colorado and Oregon in addition to Nevada. Meiman and his graduate student (Nathan Jero) are involved in a multi-state effort to share information, experiences and data from virtual fence projects. This multi-state group involves Extension faculty members from Nevada, Colorado, Arizona, Oregon, South Dakota and Nebraska. The target audience for these educational efforts includes ranchers state and federal agency land and natural resource managers, scientists and interested members of the public.

Another area of emphasis for Meiman’s educational efforts in the past year related to rangeland management focused on riparian areas. These efforts target ranchers state and federal agency land and natural resource managers, consultants, scientists and interested members of the public. Meiman continued his involvement with the Nevada Creeks and Communities Network and their efforts to teach classes on Riparian Proper Functioning Condition Assessment and Integrated Riparian Management. Meiman engaged with the network to revise and update slide sets, plan, and deliver classes.

An educational program to support and improve rangeland management for desired outcomes in Nevada almost has to include something about exotic invasive annual grasses! In the past year, Meiman continued a study that was initiated in 2021 looking at large-scale, aerial applications of indaziflam, imazapic and the two herbicides combined, for restoration of sagebrush grasslands invaded by cheatgrass. Although all field sites for this study are outside of Elko County, 2 of the 4 are within a couple miles of the Elko County Line. Information from all 4 sites will have direct applicability to Elko County. Educational efforts related to this study in the past year have formal presentations, informal presentations and field tours. These efforts target ranchers state and federal agency land and natural resource managers, consultants, private pesticide applicators, scientists and interested members of the public. Meiman is also collaborating with colleagues at UNR, Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, conservation districts, landowners, the Nevada Department of Wildlife and others on an effort to improve identification of and knowledge of the distribution of Ventenata dubia – another invasive annual grass that is present in Elko County.

A change in behavior occurred in the past year resulting from educational efforts related to cooperative monitoring and collaborative approaches to rangeland management. Two separate groups initiated new cooperative monitoring efforts. Both groups have begun sharing information about objectives to guide monitoring and have thoroughly reviewed agency (USFS and BLM) monitoring locations and existing monitoring data/information. One group has identified approximately 25 candidate monitoring locations, established draft monitoring objectives and has begun piloting monitoring methods for both riparian and upland locations. Combined, these new cooperative monitoring efforts affect management on at least 5 ranches and approximately 2 million acres of rangeland.

It is also reasonable to expect that all individuals who were reached through formal and informal presentations about virtual fencing experienced an increase in knowledge. In addition, a change in behavior has occurred for multiple ranches and groups in Nevada and nearby states. 2 Nevada ranches have piloted the use of virtual fence systems, and a third received equipment in the past year with then intent of deploying the system. Ranchers and federal agency managers from Colorado, Oregon and Idaho have contacted the Nevada team with sincere expressions of interest and intent to initiate virtual fence projects. Back in Elko County, Nevada, the USDA FS gave serious consideration to granting experimental status to the permit held by one of the ranches using virtual fencing. Although this has not yet happened, it is not necessarily off of the table. This designation would allow the permittee increased flexibility with how they manage livestock grazing on the forest and is expected to improve their ability to better meet natural resource and livestock production objectives. In the future, we fully expect that the increased management flexibility afforded to interested land and livestock managers through the use of virtual fencing will improve their abilities to maintain riparian habitats already in good condition or make management changes to improve riparian conditions where needed. This will maintain or improve conditions for livestock and wildlife; notably special-status species including sage-grouse and Lahontan cutthroat trout.

Baker-Tingey, J and Moore, P 2023, Elko County Annual Report | Fiscal Year 2021 - 2022, Extension, University of Nevada, Reno, County Reports

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