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UCCE seeks statewide input to develop future wildfire programs

Prescribed fire and other fuels treatments are some of the topics covered by an online survey that will guide wildfire-related public programs. Photo by Evett Kilmartin

University of California Cooperative Extension has recently expanded their team of fire advisors and staff. This new group of UCCE fire professionals is interested in learning about the concerns of the communities that UCCE serves, as well as the natural resource professionals already working to address these issues.

Results from this survey will enhance the team's ability to partner with residents, landowners, agencies, academics, and other organizations to reduce California's vulnerability to wildfires. These new advisors will also share survey results with UCCE colleagues throughout the state, who already provide important fire-related programming across diverse landscapes and audiences.

"Wildfires will continue to affect all Californians, either directly or indirectly," said Katie Low, UCCE statewide fire coordinator. "It's invaluable to have the input of as many people as possible to guide the development of our wildfire-related extension programs, so that they can provide the most useful resources and information to communities across California."

The survey asks questions about topics such as:

  • Gaps within existing educational programming and resources
  • Challenges community members are facing in addressing wildfire risk
  • Empowerment of communities to make property management decisions and prepare for wildfire
  • Acceptability of prescribed fire and other fuels treatments

By participating in this study, you can choose to enter a drawing to win one of fifty $20 VISA gift cards.

To take the online survey, please visit https://bit.ly/UCCE_Fire_Survey.

This research is being led by a team of new UCCE fire advisors and staff. If you have any questions about this survey, please contact the fire/forestry professionals involved in this survey effort:

  • Luca Carmignani, UCCE fire advisor for Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, and San Diego counties, carmignani@ucanr.edu
  • Alison Deak, UCCE fire advisor for Fresno, Madera, and Mariposa counties, aldeak@ucanr.edu
  • Katie Low, UCCE fire academic coordinator for Nevada and Placer counties, katlow@ucanr.edu
  • Barb Satink Wolfson, UCCE fire advisor for Monterey, San Benito, Santa Clara, and Santa Cruz counties, bsatinkwolfson@ucanr.edu
  • Ryan Tompkins, UCCE forestry advisor for Plumas, Sierra, and Lassen counties, retompkins@ucanr.edu

For more information about wildfire-related programming from University of California Cooperative Extension, please visit https://ucanr.edu/sites/fire/ or the Facebook page https://bit.ly/fireSolutions.

Posted on Thursday, February 9, 2023 at 5:07 PM
Tags: Alison Deak (1), California (11), Carmignani (1), climate (12), development (3), fire (16), Katie Low (1), programs (1), residents (1), resilience (2), risk (1), Ryan Tompkins (7), Satink (1), statewide (1), survey (2), wildfire (170), Wolfson (1)
Focus Area Tags: Environment

The Honey Bee and the Praying Mantis

So I'm a praying mantis and being a top-notch real estate developer, I've located the best place in the pollinator garden. I have acquired the proper...

A honey bee nectaring on African blue basil blossoms is unaware that on the other side, camouflaged and hidden in the shadows, is a praying mantis. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A honey bee nectaring on African blue basil blossoms is unaware that on the other side, camouflaged and hidden in the shadows, is a praying mantis. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

A honey bee nectaring on African blue basil blossoms is unaware that on the other side, camouflaged and hidden in the shadows, is a praying mantis. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

The honey bee, intent on gathering nectar, doesn't notice a praying mantis in her flight zone. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
The honey bee, intent on gathering nectar, doesn't notice a praying mantis in her flight zone. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

The honey bee, intent on gathering nectar, doesn't notice a praying mantis in her flight zone. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)


"Oops, what's that blocking my path?" the bee says. "Look at those spiked forelegs. This might not end well." (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

"Oops, what's that blocking my path?" the bee says. "Look at those spiked forelegs. This might not end well." (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

This honey bee survives to visit the African blue basil patch another day. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
This honey bee survives to visit the African blue basil patch another day. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

This honey bee survives to visit the African blue basil patch another day. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)


"Oh, well, I forgot to pray before breakfast." The praying mantis assumes its position. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

"Oh, well, I forgot to pray before breakfast." The praying mantis assumes its position. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Posted on Friday, September 18, 2020 at 5:29 PM
Focus Area Tags: Environment, Food, Natural Resources, Yard & Garden

UCCE advisor Rachel Surls receives 2018 Bradford Rominger Agricultural Sustainability Leadership Award

The Agricultural Sustainability Institute at UC Davis has announced that Rachel Surls, UC Cooperative Extension sustainable food systems advisor for Los Angeles County, is this year's recipient of the Eric Bradford and Charlie Rominger Agricultural Sustainability Leadership Award.

Rachel Surls (Click image to download high-resolution version.)
Surls has been committed to community gardens, school gardens, and urban agriculture since long before our cities took notice. For 30 years, she has worked at the UC Cooperative Extension Office in Los Angeles County, helping to bring city-grown food into the mainstream.

The Bradford Rominger award, given yearly, honors individuals who exhibit the leadership, work ethic and integrity epitomized by the late Eric Bradford, a livestock geneticist who gave 50 years of service to UC Davis, and the late Charlie Rominger, a fifth-generation Yolo County farmer and land preservationist.

“In her three decade career with UCCE, Rachel has developed a strong program addressing some of our most critical issues in sustainable agriculture,” says Keith Nathaniel, the Los Angeles County Cooperative Extension director. “She does so with innovative strategies, working with all aspects of the LA community. After 30 years doing this work, she continues to be active in the community she serves.”

In Surls' career, gardening has been a tool to build science literacy for school children, to increase self-sufficiency for communities impacted by economic downturn, and to create small businesses for urban entrepreneurs. As the interest in and support for urban agriculture has grown, she has been in the heart of Los Angeles, ready to respond to the needs of the city's farmers and gardeners.

Her role at Cooperative Extension started as a job to help start school gardens in LA. “I would drive to any school that wanted me and help them dig in the gardens,” Surl said. “I could find teachers who were interested in starting gardens, but I couldn't find principals and administrators to support it.”

Early on, some counseled Surls to find an area of expertise that was more serious than community and school gardens. Despite the criticism, “I just chugged along, doing what I knew was good and what I cared about,” Surl said.

And over time, the value of these programs has become more apparent, and support for them has grown. Surls continued along, working to start community gardens at public housing facilities, and overseeing the Los Angeles County UC Master Gardener program.

In 1997, she stepped into a role as the UC Cooperative Extension county director, ensuring the success of extension efforts for all of Los Angeles County for the next 14 years.

In 2008 came the great recession, and with it an uptick in public interest in home grown food.

“We were getting more and more calls in our office on how to be more self-sufficient,” Surls said. “The economics of the time rattled people, so they were thinking more about how to grow their own food, and how to maybe make some money by selling what they grow. And people needed the support and guidance to do that.”

Surls and her partners are working to meet that need through workshops in California's largest metropolitan areas and a website of resources to help new urban farmers get a leg up on farming in the city. Surls is also a member of the leadership board for the Los Angeles Food Policy Council.

The energy around urban agriculture today is palpable. And a career path that was once not taken seriously now is.

“That has really changed in our institution and culture,” Surl said. “We're hiring people to do this work!”

Persistent and focused, Surls' work is one of the reasons that progress is happening.

Surls will receive the award at the Celebrating Women in Agriculture event in Davis April 3. The event is free and open to the public. Learn more about the event here.

Bradford Rominger banner

 

Posted on Tuesday, March 20, 2018 at 8:57 AM
  • Author: Aubrey Thompson
Focus Area Tags: Agriculture, Health

Fine feathered friends forever

Jarred Burkett holds Twilight and Frostbite, chocolate red cochin bantams. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Forget BFF (Best Friends Forever).

For Solano County 4-H'er Jarred Burkett, it's also FFFF (Fine Feathered Friends Forever).

Jarred, 10, a member of the Sherwood Forest 4-H Club in Vallejo raises free-range chickens at his American Canyon home — not for showing at fairs or selling at junior livestock auctions, but as pets. The self-described “Chicken Dude” is as proud, protective and possessive of his poultry as the owner of the best-of-show at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.

He and Frostbite, his chocolate red cochin bantam, born April 1, 2016, are good buddies, just like the iconic TV stars Lassie and Timmy. In this case, it's not about “a boy and a dog” but “a boy and his chicken.”

At the recent Solano County 4-H Presentation Day, held at the Tremont Elementary School, Dixon, Jarred eagerly talked about Frostbite in his presentation that won a blue seal (“very good”) award. The origin of the name? “She was the whitest chick and she always pecked.”

“He loves his chickens,” says his mother, Mary Ann Burkett, a co-community leader of the Sherwood Forest 4-H Club and the Vallejo-Benicia representative to the Solano County 4-H Leaders' Council. “He climbs The Hill behind our house, where the chickens are. I'd say he spends about two hours a day, total, with them. He hangs out with them, collects the eggs (about 8 to 10 a day) and cleans the pens.”

Mom Mary Ann, dad Rick and their three children, Jessica, 16, Jordan, 12, and Jarred, live in a residential area that allows backyard chickens. The benefits, the family agrees, include not only positive learning experiences, but companionship, fresh eggs, and a bug-free environment.

There are no bugs at the Burkett property, thanks to their flock of 11 chickens.

“The 4-H Poultry Project provides youth a fun and hands-on learning experience that develops life skills; as well the opportunity to learn about caring for and raising chickens responsibly and humanely,” said Solano County 4-H Representative Valerie Williams. “Although it should not be their only source of food, chickens will snack on weeds, vegetable trimmings, as well as eat insects in your garden, making them great recyclers!”

A boy and his chicken: Jarred Burkett reads a book, "Chickens Aren’t the Only Ones," to Frostbite on The Hill. (Photo by Mary Ann Burkett)
“Chickens,” Williams said, “can make great pets, although not all communities allow backyard chickens.  If you decide to raise chickens, you should first review local ordinances.”

The Burketts, who home-school their youngsters, have also found a way to encourage both reading and physical education. That involves climbing The Hill and tending to the flock. Jarred pulls up a chair and reads to his chickens.

When he or his sisters feel a little sad, a hike up the hill to be with the chickens is all it takes. “Therapy,” says mom.

Frostbite clings to Jarred, and Jarred to her, especially after the bantam's near-death experience in January with a hawk. Jordan helped rescue her. Now one of their dogs alerts the flock to pending danger and the chickens run for cover.

As a 4-H'er, Jarred shows Frostbite at 4-H events; at the Solano County Fair's Youth Ag Day; and at other special events, but not for competition at county fairs. She's a pet. For Jarred, that means he won't leave his pet there alone, especially in a cage. Besides, her wings are clipped (a disqualification).

Another chicken enthusiast is Jarred's sister, Jordan, who owns Frostbite's mother, Twilight. Known as “The Chicken Whisperer,” Jordan communicated with her chicken during her gold-award talk on “Fowl Language, How Chickens Communicate” at the Solano County 4-H Presentation Day. Twilight “talked” and Jordan “deciphered.”

“Buh dup” is a general greeting that means “Hello, how are you? What's up?” Jordan says, while “Doh, doh, doh” is a call heard when the flock is roosting at night, and with broody hens saying “It's okay” to her chicks. “Bwah, bwah, bwah, bwah” is a loud deliberate noise, saying “I'm going to lay an egg.” Then when she does, it's “Bah-Gaw-Gawk, Bah-Gaw-Gawk, Bah-Gaw-Gawk,” a sound starting low and reaching a crescendo.

Poultry does have its rewards. Last year Jarred's record book was named the county winner in poultry. The third-year 4-H'er also takes three other projects: remote control projects, recordkeeping and paper quilling. When he's not involved with his chickens or studying, he's hanging out with his friends and family or playing video games, hiking and bicycling.

Jarred also takes Frostbite, cradled in his arms, when the Burketts shop at the Tractor Supply Co., American Canyon. Now their new mode of transportation is a "pet buggy," a gift from a friend. In fact, Jarred and Jordan wheeled their chickens around the playground in the mesh-covered buggy at the Solano County 4-H Presentation Day. The buggy, resembling a baby buggy (yes, passersby do a double take), not only keeps them safe, they said, but soothes them.

Mary Ann Burkett is sold on 4-H. “If it weren't for his love of chickens, Jarred would probably never do Presentation Day,” she said, adding “4-H brings youth out of their shells, or out of their comfort zone. Kids tend to be more outgoing when they enroll in 4-H.”

Seven of Solano County's 11 4-H clubs offer poultry projects: Elmira 4-H Club, Pleasants Valley 4-H Club, and Vaca Valley 4-H Club, all of Vacaville; Roving Clovers 4-H Club and Tremont 4- Club, both of Dixon; Sherwood Forest 4-H Club, Vallejo-Benicia; and the Rio Vista 4-H Club. 

Tremont offers their poultry projects countywide, so youth in any Solano County 4-H may enroll, Williams said. Tremont offers poultry projects to two age groups: primary members, 5 to 8 years old, and all other members,  9 to 19 years old.

The Solano County 4-H Youth Development Program, part of the UC Cooperative Extension Program, follows the motto, “Making the Best Better.” 4-H, which stands for head, heart, health and hands, is open to youths ages 5 to 19.  In age-appropriate projects, they learn skills through hands-on learning in projects ranging from arts and crafts, computers and leadership to dog care, poultry, rabbits and woodworking. They develop skills they would otherwise not attain at home or in public or private schools. For more information, contact 4-H Youth Development program representative Valerie Williams at vawilliams@ucanr.edu.

Jarred Burkett, 10, of the Sherwood Forest 4-H Club, Vallejo, talks about his chicken, Frostbite, at the Solano County 4-H Presentation Day, held recently in Dixon. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

4-H'ers Jordan and Jarred Burkett wheel their chickens, Frostbite and Twilight in a specially designed pet buggy, a gift from a friend. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Chickens transported in crates? No, in a buggy at the Solano County 4-H Presentation Day. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Closeup of a chocolate red cochin bantam, a 4-H pet. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Posted on Wednesday, March 8, 2017 at 8:46 AM

Gardening for Butterflies

She's only 11 years old, but already she's interested in butterflies. Selah Deuz of the Sherwood Forest 4-H Club, Vallejo, entered her display on...

Selah Deuz of the Sherwood Forest 4-H Club, Vallejo, stands by her butterfly display board at the Solano County 4-H Project Skills Day. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Selah Deuz of the Sherwood Forest 4-H Club, Vallejo, stands by her butterfly display board at the Solano County 4-H Project Skills Day. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Selah Deuz 8, of the Sherwood Forest 4-H Club, Vallejo, stands by her butterfly display board at the Solano County 4-H Project Skills Day. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

A Western tiger swallowtail, Papilio rutulus,  nectaring on Mexican sunflower (Tithonia). (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A Western tiger swallowtail, Papilio rutulus, nectaring on Mexican sunflower (Tithonia). (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

A Western tiger swallowtail, Papilio rutulus, nectaring on Mexican sunflower (Tithonia). (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

A male monarch, Danaus plexippus, foraging on a butterfly bush, Buddleja. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A male monarch, Danaus plexippus, foraging on a butterfly bush, Buddleja. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

A male monarch, Danaus plexippus, foraging on a butterfly bush, Buddleja. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

A Gulf Fritillary, Agraulis vanillae, stops to rest. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A Gulf Fritillary, Agraulis vanillae, stops to rest. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

A Gulf Fritillary, Agraulis vanillae, stops to rest. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Posted on Friday, February 3, 2017 at 6:43 PM

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