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UPDATE, News from Cooperative Extension Logo

Issue: No. 8 | January 2014Make a gift

UPDATE is published by University of Nevada Cooperative Extension, the college that extends the knowledge of University of Nevada, Reno to local communities throughout the state. UPDATE is a compilation of news, articles, events and helpful publications produced by Cooperative Extension faculty and staff, who work in six program areas – agriculture; horticulture; natural resources; health and nutrition; community development; and children, youth and families. Cooperative Extension will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2014.

Dean's Message

Mark Walker

Welcome to 2014! 2013 was a productive year, and we are looking forward to another year of serving our State's continuing and emerging needs.

In the coming year, some of our plans for Extension include:

  • strengthening our 4-H programs by investing in training for county 4-H coordinators and volunteers,
  • identifying short-term program priorities to provide a sound foundation for growth,
  • working with University of Nevada's leadership to enhance the University's service, community engagement and outreach mission, and
  • working with the Governor's office for Economic Development to reach communities with interests in several important initiatives and opportunities. This includes involvement with drones, especially for work with environmental management.

We are also conducting searches for county Extension educators in Elko and Lyon counties. In addition, we are preparing requests for budget enhancements for the next state legislative session, especially to be sure that our 4-H programs can take advantage of the resources available through the University of Nevada and elsewhere in the Nevada System of Higher Education.

To help us in all these endeavors, we are holding a Planning Retreat for Educators and Specialists—our tenure-track faculty—in Tonopah in mid-January. I welcome the opportunity to discuss these and other plans with stakeholders and community members. If you have time, please feel free to call. Thank you for your continued support and interest in Cooperative Extension.


Mark Walker, Dean and Director

Program Spotlight

Nevadans encouraged to test their homes for radon — a dangerous gas

Susan Howe, radon program director; and Jamie Roice-Gomes, radon education coordinator; give a radon test kit to an attendee at a community event.

Free radon test kits are available now through Feb. 28 at University of Nevada Cooperative Extension offices and partner offices statewide. Nevadans are encouraged to take advantage of this free offer to test their homes for this dangerous gas. The tests are extremely easy to conduct.

Radon is a radioactive, colorless, odorless and tasteless gas that comes from the ground. It accumulates in homes and can cause lung cancer. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates 21,000 Americans die each year from radon-induced lung cancer, killing more people than secondhand smoke, drunk driving, falls in the home, drowning or house fires. This type of lung cancer is preventable, and the only way to know if a home has elevated levels is to test it.

Read more »

See also: Nevada Radon Poster Contest winners announced


Nevada looks at 'drones' for economic development and natural resource efforts

Close up of drone

Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS), or drones, may be relatively small, but could have a big impact on Nevada's economy and natural resources, especially when the necessary pieces and experts come together to do the work and research.

To that end, University of Nevada Cooperative Extension, in partnership with the Governor's Office of Economic Development and the University's Center for Economic Development at the College of Business, held a public workshop on unmanned aerial systems, with a focus on how communities in Nevada can become involved with this economic initiative. The workshop was broadcast Nov. 18 from Cooperative Extension's Lifelong Learning Center in Las Vegas via videoconference to 16 locations in Nevada, including the University of Nevada, Reno campus.

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'Great Ideas From Growers' peer-mentoring discussions begin Jan. 13

Beginning Jan. 13, University of Nevada Cooperative Extension will offer five "Great Ideas From Growers" sessions, where small farm producers from across the state can share their knowledge and experiences to help each other improve their businesses.

"This provides an opportunity for owners of small, specialized farms to learn from others' experiences" said Extension Educator Holly Gatzke, who will lead the sessions.

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Cooperative Extension to test large-scale production and use of biochar

University of Nevada Cooperative Extension, with other partners, is embarking on a large-scale three-year project to find more efficient ways to increase water conservation and plant growth, and decrease the release of fossil fuel in the Great Basin.

Cooperative Extension, in partnership with Eureka County, the Nevada Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service, the U.S. Forest Service, the Eastern Nevada Landscape Coalition and the Nevada Department of Wildlife, is testing a "mobile rotary pyrolysis reactor." The machine works by baking woody debris left behind from harvest, logging or mine site-clearing without using oxygen. This produces a charcoal-like substance called biochar, as well as bio-oil and bio-gas. Theoretically, the bio-gas can be burned for energy and can power the reactor, the bio-oil can be collected and refined, and the biochar can be added to soil to increase the soil's productivity and water retention.

This will be the first large-scale field test of the reactor and the biochar's uses. Applications of biochar will be tested in Eureka County's Diamond Valley and the Ruby Hill Mine.

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All 4 Kids program addresses childhood obesity

University of Nevada Cooperative Extension's All 4 Kids: Healthy, Happy, Active, Fit program was recently highlighted in International Innovation for its outstanding contributions to the childhood obesity epidemic.

All 4 Kids® was developed in 2008 to target childhood obesity issues within the US, and encourage preschool children to make positive nutritional choices and enjoy physical activities on a regular basis as part of a healthy lifestyle. Over the past five years, the project has expanded considerably and is now receiving nationwide recognition.

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Master Gardener honored for 20,000 volunteer hours

University of Nevada Cooperative Extension Master Gardener Richard Leifried was honored for contributing over 20,000 volunteer hours on Master Gardener projects. Richard has been a Master Gardener in the Las Vegas program since 1994. He volunteers regularly on the Home Gardening Help Line and helps organize the monthly membership meetings.

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For more information on the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension, contact Claudene Wharton at 775-784-7070 or visit our website at

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