WSU Master Gardener Volunteers of Cowlitz County and the Broadway Learning Center in Longview are partnering on a gardening, nutrition, and recycling project. Approximately 200 children in the Head Start program and Longview School District Handicapped Preschool program and their families benefit from the project. WSU Master Gardener Volunteers are teaching participants environmental awareness and how to grow food for their families. Debbie Zbaeren, Nutrition Assistant for the Family Nutrition Education Program, is teaching families to prepare the fresh produce they grow.
The project began in March with the assembly of worm composting bins for each classroom. This activity was aimed at teaching recycling and composting. The children were delighted by the worms and saved their lunch scraps to feed to their worms. The children also began saving milk cartons that were then recycled to plant seeds in. The resulting seedlings were transplanted to raised beds.
The goals of this partnership are to open new doors of discovery through plant science and integrate activities with learning skills. As a result of this program children became aware of their environment, understand where food comes from and have the opportunity to grow food for their families. In addition, parents are learning how gardening will help them stretch their food dollars while adding nutritious, fresh produce to their families diets.
The Environmental Information Cooperative (EIC) is a collaboration of six partners: WSU Cooperative Extension, WSU Van-couver, the city of Vancouver, Clark County, Clark Public Utilities (a water and electric utility), and the Southwest Air Pollution Control Authority. The cooperatives motto is, Together, we can make a difference!
One example of the work of the EIC is the Worms Go To School, teacher in-service workshop, sponsored each year by the EIC and Washington State University Cooperative Extension. This workshop is an opportunity for K12 teachers to learn about the science of composting systems and how to use worms for food waste composting. Teachers evaluate activities from the curriculum guide, Worms Eat Our Garbage, and other related resources, learn how to integrate activities about composting systems into thematic units, and how to tailor these lessons to help students meet the Essential Academic Learning Requirements.
Teachers have the opportunity to meet and ask questions of local experts in the field of vermicomposting and are provided instruction and materials to build an active vermicomposting system. EIC staff develop and coordinate the workshop content and facilitate the presentation. Staff from WSU Cooperative Extension and Master Com-posters/Recyclers present the workshop instruction and hands-on activities, explaining the anatomy and life cycle of the worm, the biology and ecology of the worm bin, and the many environmental benefits of compost. By the end of the workshop, each teacher has an active worm bin, a copy of Worms Eat Our Garbage, and lesson plans suitable for the classroom study of organisms and their relationships in a worm bin ecosystem; science inquiry and life processes; and the role composting systems play in reducing waste. Teachers are also provided the opportunity to obtain clock hours, available through the ESD 112.
This nine-year partnership is unique in the state and region. The secret of its success is in the cooperation and commitment of the partners, a shared vision that includes diverse groups of people working together to educate citizens, a shared goal to provide current, comprehensive environmental education to the citizens of Clark County, and a need to use resources efficiently. For more information, contact Sally Fisher, Chair of the EIC governing committee (Clark County Environmental Services), 360-397-6118 x4939, or Doug Steinbarger, WSU Clark County Extension, (360) 254-8436.
The Panhandle Lake 4-H Camp is a secluded retreat located on over 450 acres in a very rural wooded portion of Mason County. The facility is currently used by over 13,000 people per year from a spectrum of non-profit community organizations, school groups, and 4-H members. It provides an ideal setting and opportunity for an environmental educational experience. Last year, WSU Cooperative Extension Mason County and the Panhandle Lake 4-H Camp Board partnered to develop an interpretive trail system that would provide facility users with an increased understanding and appreciation of forest uses and their ecosystems, including wildlife and salmon habitat needs.
To fund this goal, Extension faculty Bob Simmons requested and received $4,000 from the Simpson Foundation to develop an interpretive trail system. The recently completed trail system has interpretive signs and a guidebook that includes information about the local climate, geology, land use, local economy, and history, as well as more detailed information related to native flora and fauna of the watershed.
American consumers eat nearly fifty percent of their meals away from homein restaurants and fast food establishments. Through a partnership with the Mason County Public Health Services, WSU Cooperative Extension provides Food Worker Card training. After six months of classes over 600 individuals took the course and obtained their Food Worker Cards.
Class evaluations show the majority of participants plan to make significant changes in food safety practices, such as cleaning and sanitizing, avoiding cross-contamination, cooling foods, and end-point cooking temperatures. This helps insure when you eat away from home your food will be safe.
Grays Harbor County
WSU Cooperative Extension, in partnership with the Washington State Department of Ecology, launched a new volunteer program this spring called WSU Master Environmental Stewardship Educators. This unique program required an inter-generational link between senior volunteers and K12 youth. The educators teach youth throughout Grays Harbor County the importance of good stewardship practices to preserve the environment for future generations. It is anticipated that over 1,000 youth will participate and learn how to make responsible choices in everyday activities for environmental preservation.
One hundred fifty youth in grades 7 through 12 from 3 school districts in Grays Harbor County are taking part in the Governors Gear Up project as part of a contract with WSU Cooperative Extension. Targeting at-risk youth, WSU Gear Up staff mentor both parents and youth in setting goals for the future with a focus on post-secondary education. In this project, adult and youth mentors help students during after school study and homework sessions. A dozen field trips to colleges and vocational schools provide opportunities for firsthand experience and assessment. Participating students report increased homework completion and more thoughts about their future. Teacher feedback indicates improved attitudes and participation in classroom activities, especially for some less engaged students. Summer activities for Gear Up students focus on community service, such as providing support to parks and recreation programs, tutoring grade school students in reading, helping the volunteer chore service program for the elderly, and cleaning up public areas. Parents responses to summer activities are very positive, as there are few if any activities provided by communities, especially in more rural areas. Students are demonstrating improved behavior and social skills as well as increased focus on academic progress.
Proper Functioning Condition is a new multidisciplinary, multi-agency method for evaluating a stream ecosystems ability to handle the energy of the water flowing through the system. This stream assessment method, developed by the National Riparian Service Team in Prineville, Oregon, is a powerful tool to assist communities and agencies with stream restoration.
David Deardorff, WSU Extension Faculty in Jefferson County and western Washington PFC coordinator, led forty-two students through the two-day course in June. The participants came from throughout western Washington and represented a diversity of federal, state, and county governments as well as the private sector. PFC methods have proven successful in many western states and students are anxious to repeat PFC success in Washington. The course was sponsored by WSU Jefferson County Cooperative Extension and Olympic Peninsula Water Watchers, a non-profit organization of watershed stewardship volunteers promoting watershed education and improved watershed management. The stream assessment training is offered twice a year as part of Dear-dorffs water resources education program in Jefferson County. Proper application of PFC results has significantly decreased stream restoration costs and recovery time.
The Adelante Program serves Latino families in Lewis County. Adelante means forward in Spanish and exemplifies the goals of this comprehensive family support program. Parents and other relatives caring for children participate in classes that teach parenting skills and expectations in the United States for parent-child relationships. The adults also attend classes in money management and English.
Adelante has a strong youth component. Latino youth, many of whom are at risk for not finishing high school, and gang involvement, participate in weekly sessions with Adelante Program coordinator Cecilia Reyes Kemp. The youth group activities include homework time, hands-on science projects, alcohol and other drug abuse prevention education, and peer support. Family field trips are also a part of the program. The program takes place at the newly opened Centralia Family Support Center and in private homes in Lewis County. Eight series were offered during the 19992000 program year. The program is funded through grants from Lewis County Social Services and the Lewis County Community Network.
Some significant changes have taken place in the lives of both adult and youth participants. Adults who have graduated from the 12-week parenting class have used their certificates to qualify as home child care providers and have started their own businesses. Youth in the program are showing marked improvement in school performance and are able to combat racism in the school setting in an effective manner. Parents also report improved relationships with their children.
What can a group of 25 dedicated 4-H kids accomplish? The answeranything they set their minds to! Based on planning, budgeting, and work skills learned in 4-H projects and programs, 25 Skamania County 4-H youth completed their goal of a two-week tour of Greece. They wanted to do something memorable and significant, so following a 4-H theme of Learn by Doing, these youth spent two years raising funds and planning for this trip. Several of them raised funds through sale of 4-H project products. They chose Greece because of its historical significance and cultural treasures.
Approximately 280 youth from this small rural southwest Washington county are enrolled in the Skamania County 4-H program. Local WSU faculty member Ole Helgerson comments, The fact that a group of young people have developed the capacity to plan for and achieve a goal for this time period speaks to me of the positive life skills learned by 4-H program participants.
One abundant item for many kids during the summer is time. But, without appropriate activities, that free time can spell trouble. WSU Cooperative Extension is working in cooperation with St. James Family Center and Wahkiakum County Human Services to help solve this traditional problem for area youth.
The Summer Youth Adventure Program is again providing fun, educational, skill-building activities for over 600 of Wahkiakum Countys youth. In its sixth year, the program uses 4-H youth and adult volunteers, as well as other community resource people, as teachers and leaders. It has served an estimated 3,500 youth since its inception. This program is a great example of a community organizing to solve its own problems. The impact of these activities will pay benefits for years to come.
Over 300 individuals attended the recent North American Lavender Conference in Sequim. About two-thirds of conference goers were from Washington, Oregon, California, and other western states, but, they also came from other parts of the U.S., like Tennessee, Connecticut, Wisconsin, and Michigan, and from as far away as New Zealand and Mexico. The conference took place July 17 and 18, the two days immediately following the 4th annual Celebrate Lavender Festival in Sequim. About two-thirds of the conference attendees also attended the festival which hosted 10,00012,000 visitors.
WSU Cooperative Extension co-sponsored this event with the Sequim Lavender Growers Association. Many of the local lavender growers presented workshops on a wide variety of topics. The conference concluded with a number of featured speakers and lavender growers forming a panel and having a question and answer session with the audience on the topic of The Future of Lavender.
The annual lavender festival and this conference have really helped to place Sequims rapidly growing lavender industry squarely in the national limelight of lavender production and marketing. These events have also contributed in a major way to a greater sense of community pride and solidarity. Lavender has a great potential in this area to help improve both our local agricultural economy and the tourism economy. More lavender information can be found at www.lavenderfarms.com.
Olympia has Germ City and it is contagious. Germ City, a hands-on hand washing activity to raise awareness of health issues associated with dirty hands, is getting nation-wide attention. (See feature article on cover.) Leadership for the Germ City activity has been carried on by Susie Craig, WSU Food Safety specialist in Thurston County.
Several states are taking steps to duplicate this educational activity.
Spartina, commonly known as cord-grass, is threatening native saltmarshes of western Washington, with the most severe problem in Willapa Bay in Pacific County. Spartina dramatically alters critical intertidal habitat used by shellfish, migratory birds, juvenile fish, and other wildlife species. Its rapid growth traps sediment, reducing waterflow, and changing the elevation of the intertidal zone. Traditional control techniques using mowing or herbicide application for the nearly 4,000 acres affected, are not only time consuming and expensive, but have not kept pace with the plants rapid spread.
In cooperation with other local organizations, WSU Cooperative Extension in Pacific County received funding to investigate the use of the biological control insect Prokelisia marginata, a leafhopper showing great promise for local control of this exotic weed. Research has demonstrated that the leafhopper is specific for Spartina, and will kill the plant in several weeks. Recently granted USDA permits allowed leafhoppers to be imported from California, and caged monitoring of eleven sites was begun. It is hoped that after release this fall, the insects will increase in numbers, providing an effective and less costly control method for Spartina in Willapa Bay.