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Lyon County Programs

Calming the Waters: Learning to Manage Western Water Conflict

Conflict has surrounded the Truckee, Carson and Walker River Basins for decades. Key issues include historical use on tribal lands, historical and current water rights, threats to water quality, and wildlife habitat protection. This program teaches youth about Nevada’s water issues and helps them develop the skills needed to address future water conflicts.


The conflict over water in northwestern Nevada typically involves adult stakeholders with little youth exposure. But, since youth are our future decision-makers and resource managers, it’s important to have a program to teach them about Nevada’s water issues and help them understand how to address water conflict.

Teaching students to collaborate is important to resolving future environmental issues. Many experts believe conventional litigious and legislative approaches don’t work because they encourage those on the losing end of the confrontation to undermine solutions. Learning about collaboration, however, will help youth to find lasting sustainable solutions to future water shortages and water quality issues. What’s more, studies have shown that people are demanding more involvement in the public decisions affecting natural resources in which they have a vested stake. This curriculum prepares students for that role.

What Has Been Done:

Requests for this curriculum came from a variety of sources, including American Indian tribal councils, local educators, environmental and recreation groups, and local irrigation districts. From 2000-2002, needs assessments were conducted in the Walker River Basin as well as with informants from the Pyramid Lake, Yerington and Walker River Paiute tribes. The curriculum that came out of this process was then presented to 75 American Indians from throughout the West at the 2003 Southwest Indian Agriculture Association Conference. All told, 500 individuals helped shape the curriculum through assessments, surveys and public forums.

Since 2003, private and public school teachers in northwestern Nevada have taught the curriculum in classroom settings. The “Calming the Waters” curriculum also was featured on the University’s Walker River Basin Project Web site, and new or expanded teaching sites include the Yerington Paiute Tribe in Lyon County and Smith Valley High School in Lyon County. The curriculum, in addition to examining historical issues and conflicts, also explores current water-conservation and water-quality issues and teaches collaborative skills to students. It incorporates social studies, language arts and mathematics, and borrows from such disciplines as economics, sociology, agriculture, ecology, physical geography and cultural geography.

During the course of study, students practice communication, joint fact-finding and cooperative problem-solving skills, working in groups to research and report on various aspects of water conflict. They learn the difference between an interest and a position, and they learn how personal values shape attitudes. Along the way they develop skills essential to successful teamwork.


More than 1,600 copies of the “Calming the Waters” curriculum are in circulation in private schools, public schools, tribal governments and after-school youth programs in Lyon, Storey, Mineral and Washoe counties. Test results show that students come away from these classes with improved knowledge of many subjects, including the geography of the Great Basin; the formation of Lake Lahontan and Walker and Pyramid lakes; the role of water in the lives of early Northern Paiute tribes; impacts of gold and silver mining on the region; key federal policies; and the effects of population growth on Nevada water use and issues.

Calming the Waters has received a number of awards, including the nationally competitive Association of Natural Resource Extension Professionals’ Gold Award; the National Association of County Agricultural Agents’ State Achievement Award for Excellence in 4-H and Youth Programming; the National Association of County Agricultural Agents State Award; and the U.S. Western Regional Finalist Award for an Extension Learning Module. It was also selected as the featured curriculum at the National Endowment for the Arts Teacher Institute in Nevada. It was nominated for a Western Extension Directors Award in 2009.

Printable Program Impact

Contact: Loretta Singletary, 775-463-6541

Programs Program Information

Calming the Waters: Learning to Manage Western Water Conflict

Conflict has surrounded the Truckee, Carson and Walker River Basins for decades. Key issues include historical use on tribal lands, historical and current water rights, threats to water quality, and wildlife habitat protection. This program teaches youth about Nevada’s water issues and helps them develop the skills needed to address future water conflicts.

Federally Recognized Tribal Extension Program

The purpose of Nevada’s Federally Recognized Tribal Extension Program (FRTEP) is to improve the ability of Native American farmers and ranchers to manage their agricultural enterprises effectively, efficiently and profitably.

Integrated Pest Management

Nevada Department of Agriculture’s records show the use of traditional pesticides continues to increase in the state. Nevada’s Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program helps agricultural producers, land managers; pest control operators, homeowners and other pest managers learn about and use alternative pest management strategies in a variety of environments and settings.

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) and IR-4 program

This program is to test potential pesticides necessary for producing forages in Nevada and submit requests for federal testing and registration from the IR-4 program, which is a federal cooperative program established in 1963 to help the producers of minor crops obtain clearances for pest control materials on those crops. The purpose of IR-4 is to work with farmers, agriculture scientists and Cooperative Extension personnel to carry out research and petition the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in order to obtain tolerances for specific pesticide uses needed by minor-crop producers.

Master Gardeners in Nevada

 A bumblebee pollinating a yellow flower

Noxious Weed Control and Awareness Education

Noxious and invasive weeds are widespread throughout Nevada. They threaten agricultural and rangeland productivity. Rural counties are susceptible to significant adverse economic damage. University of Nevada Cooperative Extension education programs help individuals and weed control organization reduce the abundance of noxious weeds.

Project MAGIC

Project MAGIC is an innovative, collaborative program designed to help juvenile offenders leave the criminal justice system and become productive members of society. While participating in the program, young people ages 12 to 18 learn: positive communication skills, team building, problem solving and decision making, self-responsibility, conflict resolution, aspiration building and goal setting. Youth also select and conduct a service project designed to benefit their community. Parent sessions include the same life skills.

Risk Management

University of Nevada Cooperative Extension (UNCE) develops and delivers a comprehensive risk management education program to livestock and forage producers in Nevada.

Sustainable Agricultural Practices

University of Nevada Cooperative Extension conducts several sustainable agriculture programs including researching alternative crops, introducing sustainable biodiversity/multiple use of rangelands, and increasing the number of pest control materials labeled in and increasing the knowledge and implementation rate of IPM practices in Nevada.

Tef Crop Production

The purpose of this program is to introduce Nevada farmers to and help train them in the cultivation of tef, a small-seeded grain and forage crop that requires less water than alfalfa and can be more profitable. There is a strong market for tef seed, which is made into flour to make an Ethiopian flat bread known as injera, as well as for tef hay as a high-quality horse hay.

Statewide Programs *Statewide programs may not be available in all counties

Programs Program Information
4-H Youth Development
Cattlemen’s Update
Food Safety Project
Grow Your Own, Nevada
Herds and Harvest
Integrated Riparian Management/Creeks and Communities
Invasive Species (Weeds)
Nevada Radon Education Program
Nevada State GEAR UP
Nevada Youth Range Camp
People of the Land
Pesticide Safety Education Program
Stronger Economies Together
Weed Prevention and Management
Youth for the Quality Care of Animals