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Washoe 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

4-H Afterschool

All children face risks as they grow and develop, but children who live in low-income housing or are homeless may be at higher risk for participating in risky behaviors. University of Nevada Cooperative Extension (UNCE) developed the 4-H After School Club (ASC) to teach children basic life skills including math, reading, science, positive communication, goal setting, self-responsibility, decision-making and good nutrition. Youth who have these life skills are less likely to participate in risky behaviors.

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.

Commercial Landscape Horticulture

Thistles prepared for the “Noxious Weeds and Weed Law” green industry class

Engaged Leadership Program

Washoe County, Nevada, needed advanced training and skill building for the county’s Community Advisory Board (CAB) members to help them to participate effectively in local government issues that impact their communities. University of Nevada Cooperative Extension developed and implemented an Engaged Leadership program to assist chairpersons and CAB members in their efforts to create and sustain effective boards.

Family Storyteller Literacy Program

National award-winning Family Storyteller is a literacy program aimed at encouraging and training parents to play a vital role in the literacy development of their children. Developed by University of Nevada Cooperative Extension (UNCE), KNPB-TV, the Washoe County libraries and Washoe County School District, the statewide program creates an opportunity for parents and young children to interact around literacy and language activities. Family Storyteller is designed especially for families that may have limited language skills and few children’s books at home.

Fun To Play

University of Nevada Cooperative Extension’s Fun To Play program targets families where, due to the young age, inexperience or limited resources of the parents, young children are placed at-risk for developmental delays and later school difficulties. Fun To Play is a series of weekly infant/child sessions aimed at improving the parenting skills of young parents by increasing the amount of learning activities and interaction they provide their children.

Green Industry Training Programs of Northern Nevada

Green Industry Training (GIT) and Green Industry Continuing Education Series (GICES) are cost- and time-efficient approaches to serving the Green Industries of northern Nevada, including nursery workers, landscapers, arborists, irrigation and lawn care professionals. The Green Industry Training program begins in late winter with eight three-hour sessions of entry-level training for new industry workers, for those desiring to work in the industry and for existing industry professionals desiring a skills "tune-up." After "basic training," industry members are invited to monthly continuing education opportunities — one hour per month over the noon hour — to hone and improve their skills.

Grow Your Own, Nevada

 A tray of vegetables

Grow Yourself Healthy

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.

Little Books and Little Cooks

Children scooping soil from a wheelbarrow into a carton

Living on the Land: Stewardship for Small Acreages


Living With Fire

Be Ember Aware publication

Master Gardeners in Nevada

 A bumblebee pollinating a yellow flower

NEMO Nevada, Nonpoint Education for Municipal Officials

The NEMO (Nonpoint Education for Municipal Officials) program was originated in Connecticut and has spread nationwide. University of Nevada Cooperative Extension offers the NEMO program in Washoe County. The premise is that improvements in land-use planning can result in protection of water resources, which can negate the need to fix problems after the fact by applying best management practices. The program will help land-use decision-makers understand the nature of the nonpoint source pollution problem and its impact on their lives, towns and natural resource base. This enables them to plan for growth and development while addressing water quality issues through educated land use decisions.

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.

Pick a better snack™ (formerly Chefs for Kids)

This evidence-based campaign focuses on building fruit and vegetable consumption in children through healthy snacking. Pick a better snack™ is a monthly, in-school nutrition education program for primary grade children in at-risk elementary schools in Clark and Washoe counties in Nevada. In addition to direct instruction, staff works with school wellness coordinators to build meaningful and sustainable programming to create a well environment in every school.

Qualified Water Efficient Landscaper (QWEL)

Man conducting irrigation water audit

Small Steps 4 Big Changes

Parent involvement is recognized as a key factor in making wise food selections and shaping food and health behavior attitudes that affect the child’s habits and food preferences. Conducted in partnership with the 4-H Youth Development Program, a series of ten nutrition lessons incorporate recipe preparation, food sampling and physical activity segments, with additional nutrition education content for the parent or adult caregiver. All lesson segments are focused on thriving within a limited budget, as well as increasing fruit and vegetable intake. This program has been successfully offered to five Reno Housing Authority (RHA) and other 4-H After School Program sites since the initial launch of the pilot program. The program fosters behavior changes identified by the Centers for Disease Control as being linked to childhood obesity prevention.

Team Nutrition “Smart Choices”

This program strives to address the public health issue of childhood obesity through building basic skills related to food selection and promoting an increased variety of nutritious foods consumed especially vegetables and fruits.

Water Wise

Water Wise is a new, online educational program that complements University of Nevada Cooperative Extension’s local watershed protection, storm water protection and land-use decision-maker education projects (NEMO-Nonpoint Education for Municipal Officials).

Weed Warriors Invasive Weed Training

The Weed Warriors Invasive Weed Training Program is held several times a year, usually in late winter or spring. This eight-hour, two-day introductory-level training introduces participants to the principles of Integrated Weed Management and focuses on improving ability to identify noxious weeds of local importance. A small fee is charged for program materials, and the class can be videoconferenced to other locations upon request. Each year, several dozen people go through the training and become certified Weed Warriors. Pesticide applicators receive six Continuing Education Credits for attending this course. Each year in May during a community event in the Truckee Meadows, Weed Warrior volunteers help rid parks and riverfront areas of invasive thistles.

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

Programs Program Information
4-H Youth Development
Cattlemen’s Update
Food Safety Project
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
Risk Management
Stronger Economies Together
Weed Prevention and Management
Youth for the Quality Care of Animals