Washoe County Programs
Nevada Radon Education Program
The Nevada Radon Education Program is a partnership with the Nevada State Health Division to educate Nevadans about the possible health risk posed by elevated levels of radon in the home. University of Nevada Cooperative Extension (UNCE) offers literature, educational programs and radon test kits in many county Extension offices.
Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that has no odor, color or taste and is produced by the breakdown of uranium in soil, rock and water. Uranium is found in all soils and in higher concentrations in granite, shale and phosphates. As it decays into radon gas, the radon moves through the soil into the atmosphere, where it is harmlessly dispersed in outdoor air or can enter buildings through foundation openings and become trapped inside. When it enters a building, it can accumulate and present a health concern for occupants. Buildings other than homes can also have radon concerns (such as commercial buildings, schools, apartments, etc.). Radon breaks down into several radioactive elements called radon decay products, which are solid particles that become suspended in air. They are extremely small and easily inhaled, where they can attach to lung tissue. Not everyone exposed to radon will get lung cancer, but the greater the amount of radon and the longer the exposure, the greater the risk of developing lung cancer. Radon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer behind smoking. More than 20,000 Americans die of radon-related lung cancer each year, making it the leading cause of lung cancer in nonsmokers.
What Has Been Done:
Since the fall of 2007, the Nevada Radon Education Program has been actively promoting awareness of the radon health risk to the citizens of Nevada through educational programs, displays, brochures, the Radon in Nevada Web site, www.unce.unr.edu/radon, newspaper press releases, TV reports and literature distribution. Cooperative Extension offices statewide offered free radon test kits for the first two years of the program, and free kits are still available to residents of Clark and Douglas counties. Other offices statewide now charge $5 per kit. During January 2009’s National Radon Action Month, public programs, as well as community group programs, were offered statewide in attempts to educate the public by direct contact. In the first quarter of 2008, 1,852 short-term radon test kits were distributed by the program. In the first quarter of 2009, more than 6,300 test kits were distributed. In addition, 403 short-term test kits were purchased from other retail sources and used during the quarter. Since 2007, UNCE’s Radon Program has responded to 4,800 phone calls or e-mails; spoken with nearly 17,300 people, and distributed nearly 70,000 publications or information pieces.
The number of short-term tests distributed during the fiscal year 2009 more than tripled from the previous year to 10,413 kits. The number of those kits that were used also tripled. The number of long-term tests distributed — which are typically recommended when short-term tests show radon levels above the acceptable standard — went from none in 2008 to 181 in 2009. The number of tests distributed and used have started to reach levels where the results are more statistically significant. For instance, more than 2,300 tests — the highest number of any county in Nevada — have been conducted in Washoe County, and the results indicate that nearly 20 percent of the homes have had radon levels above the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Action Level. In Douglas County, nearly 1,300 tests have been conducted and more than 40 percent of the homes have elevated radon levels. Overall, one in four homes in Nevada has elevated radon levels. UNCE provides information to property owners including contact information for certified mitigation professionals and encourages homeowners to mitigate their homes if elevated radon levels are determined. UNCE also encourages the inclusion of radon-resistant features in new construction. Installing radon-resistant features in new construction is a wise choice, as the cost to install the system is usually a fraction of the cost to fix an existing structure and the results can be more aesthetically pleasing.
See Also: For additional information, please visit the Nevada Radon Education website.
Contact: Susan Howe, Program Director, 775-336-0248 or 888-RADON10
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
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
Grow Your Own, Nevada is a statewide University of Nevada Cooperative Extension program designed to help people discover the secrets to gardening in our high-desert climate. The program includes eight two-hour weekly sessions. Classes are held live in Reno in the spring, summer and fall, and are provided by video conference to Cooperative Extension offices across the state.
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
Living on the Land: Stewardship for Small Acreages
Living With Fire
Master Gardeners in Nevada
Master Gardeners provide free, research-based horticulture information to Nevadans. They are volunteers who learn advanced plant science skills from at least 50 hours of classroom instruction by University of Nevada Cooperative Extension (UNCE) professionals. After training, Master Gardeners volunteer a minimum of at least 50 hours a year to pass along their newly acquired knowledge through the media, talks and workshops. They answer phone calls, send out informational materials and develop community gardens.
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.
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 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
|4-H Youth Development|
|Food Safety Project|
|Herds and Harvest|
|Invasive Species (Weeds)|
|Nevada Radon Education Program|
|Nevada State GEAR UP|
|Nevada Youth Range Camp|
|People of the Land|
|Pesticide Safety Education Program|
|Riparian and Watershed Assessment and Management|
|Stronger Economies Together|
|Weed Prevention and Management|