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Washoe County Programs

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.

Issue

Childhood and adolescence are the critical periods for development of good health practices. Many health behaviors established in childhood persist into adulthood. Because many chronic diseases are attributable to poor diet, physical inactivity and over/underweight, it is essential to start good health practices as early as possible. Proper nutrition is essential to a child’s physical, mental and cognitive development.

Although strong programs to build healthful eating and physical activity practices reduce the burden of chronic disease, there are very few programs teaching nutrition practices to children. Pick a better snack™ fills this gap, teaching second and third grade students the basic skills needed to make these healthful choices.

Individuals (including children) from lower socio-economic status are more likely to be obese or overweight than those of higher socio-economic status. As a group, Mexican American boys tend to have a higher incidence of overweight than non-Hispanic white or non-Hispanic black boys; and non-Hispanic black girls tend to have a higher prevalence of overweight than Mexican American or non-Hispanic white girls. Nevada consistently ranks among those states with the poorest self-reported eating and activity practices.

What Has Been Done

Every month, Cooperative Extension educators teach children about choosing foods that provide the greatest benefit to their bodies and the importance of physical activity. The curriculum reflects the essential experiences necessary for second and third graders as outlined in the standards of the Nevada Department of Education. The campaign includes in-class lessons on individual fruits and vegetables and includes a brief physical activity component in each lesson as well. Pick a better snack™ promotes health practices engendering lifelong, healthy lifestyles in children. These practices can lower risk for heart disease and other chronic diseases. In addition to direct education, wellness efforts are implemented throughout the school year with Smarter Lunchroom assessments, signage promoting healthy foods and physical activity; wellness events such as field day activities, Jump Rope for Heart, cooperation with school gardens; yoga classes, etc. Monthly Bingo cards and topical newsletters, written in both English and Spanish, are given to families to expand instruction into the home.

Chefs for Kids volunteers donate more than 3,000 hours yearly to prepare breakfasts for the children and raise funds to support the program. The Pick a better snack™/Chefs for Kids Program has reached more than 62,390 students since its inception 27 years ago. The program is offered in 14 schools in Clark County and three schools in Washoe County.

Impact

  • 39% of students reported increasing their fruit consumption
  • 46% of students reported increasing vegetable consumption
  • 76% of parents stated that their children were more willing to try new fruits and vegetables than they were previously
  • Fliers persuaded parents to purchase more fruits and vegetables than they normally did
  • Parent comments on the nutrition education program were quite positive.
    • “My son came home and asked me to buy eggplant! Great program for the kids. Thank you!”
    • “It was so good to try new things.”
    • “You teach her and she works hard on me and she works hard on me and my calories.”
    • “This really helped my picky eater try new foods. Thank you!”
    • “My son loves the nutrition class! We work on being more aware of nutrition facts and how many fruits and vegetables we eat. Thank you.”

Partners

Chefs for Kids Foundation, ACF Chefs Las Vegas, USDA Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Private Donations

Printable Program Impact

Contacts: Susan Lednicky, Program Officer, 702-257-5548,
Aurora Buffington, Faculty Instructor
Cathy Baptista, Community Based Instructor, 702-940-5426,
Crystal Momii, Community Based Instructor, 702-257-5591,
Debbie Presto, Community Based Instructor, 775-784-4848,
LaShuna Proctor, Community Based Instructor, 702-257-5569,
Elizabeth Mapula

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.

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.

Living on the Land: Stewardship for Small Acreages

Issue:

Living With Fire

Living with Fire is a comprehensive, multi-agency program aimed at teaching homeowners how to live more safely in high wildfire-hazard environments. The program, encompassing research and education, was developed in 1997 as a result of a collaboration between University of Nevada Cooperative Extension (UNCE), Nevada’s Agricultural Experiment Station and the Sierra Front Wildfire Cooperators, a group of 12 Nevada and California firefighting agencies.

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

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
Beef Quality Assurance
Cattlemen’s Update
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
Risk Management
Stronger Economies Together
Unmanned Aerial Systems
Weed Prevention and Management