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County Offices

Washoe County Programs

Living With Fire

Be Ember Aware publication

“Be Ember Aware!” is Living With Fire’s most popular publication. Photo by AP Images.

Multiagency program teaches Nevadans how to live more safely in high-wildfire-hazard environments


One of Nevada’s most pressing natural resource issues is the threat of wildfire to human life and property. During the 1990s, more acres burned in Nevada than in the previous 40 years combined. Much of Nevada is considered a high-wildfire-hazard environment, possessing all the ingredients necessary to support intense, uncontrollable wildfires. And within this environment, are homes, subdivisions and entire communities. Unfortunately, many homeowners are not prepared to survive wildfire. Research indicates that pre-fire activities performed by the homeowner, such as creating defensible space, removing debris from rain gutters, and screening vents, significantly improve home survivability. Prior to the Living With Fire Program, there was no organized effort to teach Nevadans how to reduce the wildfire threat. Consequently, it was unlikely that they would implement the practices necessary to reduce this threat to their families, properties and communities.

Response/What’s Been Done

Extension created the multiagency Living With Fire Program in 1997 to teach Nevadans how to live more safely in high-wildfire-hazard environments. Additionally, Nevada Wildfire Awareness Week/Month was established in 2014 as a means to expand outreach efforts with a coordinated, statewide campaign. The Living With Fire Program has received multiple regional and national awards, including the Great Basin Fire Mitigation, Education and Prevention Award in 2016. Program materials and social media have been used in 25 other states and in 25 countries. Program activities in 2017 included: distributing educational materials, organizing and conducting community workshops, promoting wildfire-threat-reduction techniques at community events, maintaining a comprehensive wildfire-threat-reduction website targeting Nevada residents, and supporting an organization that brings Nevada stakeholders together to create fire adapted communities.

Results/Impact and Partners

2017 statewide results include:

  • Distributed 18,426 copies of 18 different publications.
  • There were 19,427 online visits to view 43 different publications and educational tools, including nine to Spanish-language publications.
  • Granted permission to 13 entities from 10 states to use program materials.
  • Presented exhibits at 10 events.
  • Presented The Ember House and Juniper Toss youth activities at 24 events, resulting in 1,653 direct contacts.
  • Conducted three radio interviews and nine television interviews, plus there were three additional television broadcasts mentioning the program.
  • Delivered 16 wildfire-threat-reduction presentations to 475 individuals.
  • Gained new followers on Facebook, now totaling 878 followers located in 10 Nevada counties, eight states and 25 countries.
  • Collaborated with 220 entities (27 percent increase over 2016).

The Nevada Network of Fire Adapted Communities Membership and Advisory Board met five times and increased membership by 24 percent for a total of 207, including 172 community members and 35 partner members. In addition, 12 issues of The Network Pulse electronic newsletters were produced and distributed to 661 active contacts, a 9 percent increase over 2016. The Network also provided assistance to ArrowCreek Homeowners Association, Lakeview, Mound House, Palomino Valley, River Mount Park, Skyland and West Washoe. The Network annual conference had 105 participants from 10 Nevada counties. Of the participants who submitted a post-conference evaluation, 88 percent indicated that they were going to take some form of action as result of attending the event.

Partners included Bureau of Land Management ; Nevada Division of Forestry ; U.S. Forest Service ; Nevada State Fire Marshal Division ; local, state and federal firefighting agencies; public safety agencies; community organizations and local businesses.

Public Value Statement

Living With Fire materials have been used in 25 states and 25 countries. Past program awards include National Wildfire Mitigation Award (2015), W. K. Kellogg Foundation Engagement Awards Exemplary Project (2012), Excellence in Extension ― National Award Winner (2006), Excellence in Community Assistance ― National Fire Plan Award (2004), and USDA Honor Award (2002).



people taught about wildfire-threat-reduction at 16 presentations in 2017


copies of 18 different publications distributed in 2017


of 2017 conference attendees indicated they were going to take some form of action as a result of attending the event

"You should have seen all of the calls I was getting from the incident management teams wanting Living With Fire’s ‘Be Ember Aware!’ handouts. Definitely the most popular handout up here."

— Jordan Koppen, with the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, who was assisting incident teams and communities threatened by wildfires throughout the state in summer 2017. Nevada helped by rushing 7,900 copies of the publication to Montana.


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