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County Offices

Washoe County Programs

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.

Issue:

The foundation for literacy is built during the preschool years through reading. Time spent reading fosters children’s interest in reading and builds confidence, while helping to eliminate some of the severe consequences of poor literacy skills, including lack of grade retention, school failure, school dropout, delinquency, unemployment and underemployment.

The Nevada Literacy Coalition estimates that nearly 25 percent of youth and adults in the state have inadequate literacy skills, placing Nevada’s children at extremely high risk for developing illiteracy-related problems in the future. Studies show 51 percent of third-grade and 47 percent of fourth-grade students are below basic reading level. The percentage of Spanish-speaking immigrants is expected to increase in Nevada over the next 25 years, so it is likely that ever-larger numbers of children who are English-language learners and at risk for low achievement will be entering Nevada schools. Parents with limited language skills cannot always teach their preschoolers. Breaking the cycle is important to ensure that preschoolers have the reading skills needed to succeed.

What Has Been Done:

Family Storyteller is a six-week series of workshops targeting families at risk for low literacy and related problems. Each workshop includes viewing a 10-minute video, learning book-reading techniques, practicing reading to children and other literacy activities. A book and packet of materials go home with the parents and children so they can continue their reading and activities together.

The program has expanded statewide. In Las Vegas, it is taught in both English and Spanish — in homes as well as in group settings such as libraries, childcare centers, Classroom on Wheels and elementary schools.

There are four versions of Family Storyteller:

  • The original program for lower-literacy English-speaking families;
  • A second curriculum for English-language learners;
  • A third curriculum being developed for Spanish-speaking families who do not yet speak English; and
  • A fourth curriculum being pilot-tested for Native American families.
Impact:

Children’s literacy and language skills have improved as a result of Family Storyteller. Results of a comprehensive three-year evaluation show both parents and children gained in English vocabulary and book knowledge. Program evaluations statewide show that, after participating, parents and children read together more often; their literacy and language activities increased; and parents used the skills taught in the program more often.

After participating in the program:

  • Parents and children read together more often;
  • Parents used skills taught in the program, such as encouraging their children to guess what happens next and to learn new vocabulary words;
  • Parent-child literacy and language activities increased; and
  • Children increased their understanding of book basics and their enjoyment of reading.

Spanish-speaking families improved as follows:

  • Children and parents increased their English vocabulary;
  • Parents increased their ability to use English;
  • Parents increased their knowledge of book basics; and
  • Parents increased their shared reading skills and enjoyment of reading with their children.

Family Storyteller has been directly taught to more than 11,550 Nevada families, of which more than 80 percent are Hispanic, by UNCE educators and by more than 325 trained volunteers. The curriculum was selected as a national Cooperative Extension program to be distributed across the country. More than 235 curricula have been purchased for use in 29 other states.

In 2007, this program received the Western Extension Directors’ Award of Excellence.

Partners:

Nevada’s College of Education and Agricultural Experiment Station, the Northern Nevada Literacy Council, State Library System, Children’s Cabinet, Head Start, Even Start, Preschools and Private Donors.

See also: For additional information, visit the Family Storyteller Web site.

Contacts: Sally Martin, State Family Life Specialist, 775-784-7009,
Dan Weigel, Human Development Specialist, 775-784-4848
Southern Nevada: YaeBin Kim, Parenting Education and Child Development Specialist, 702-257-5521

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