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Children, Youth and Families Programs

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.


The conflict over water in northwestern Nevada typically involves adult stakeholders with little youth exposure. But, since youth are our future decision-makers and resource managers, it’s important to have a program to teach them about Nevada’s water issues and help them understand how to address water conflict.

Teaching students to collaborate is important to resolving future environmental issues. Many experts believe conventional litigious and legislative approaches don’t work because they encourage those on the losing end of the confrontation to undermine solutions. Learning about collaboration, however, will help youth to find lasting sustainable solutions to future water shortages and water quality issues. What’s more, studies have shown that people are demanding more involvement in the public decisions affecting natural resources in which they have a vested stake. This curriculum prepares students for that role.

What Has Been Done:

Requests for this curriculum came from a variety of sources, including American Indian tribal councils, local educators, environmental and recreation groups, and local irrigation districts. From 2000-2002, needs assessments were conducted in the Walker River Basin as well as with informants from the Pyramid Lake, Yerington and Walker River Paiute tribes. The curriculum that came out of this process was then presented to 75 American Indians from throughout the West at the 2003 Southwest Indian Agriculture Association Conference. All told, 500 individuals helped shape the curriculum through assessments, surveys and public forums.

Since 2003, private and public school teachers in northwestern Nevada have taught the curriculum in classroom settings. The “Calming the Waters” curriculum also was featured on the University’s Walker River Basin Project Web site, and new or expanded teaching sites include the Yerington Paiute Tribe in Lyon County and Smith Valley High School in Lyon County. The curriculum, in addition to examining historical issues and conflicts, also explores current water-conservation and water-quality issues and teaches collaborative skills to students. It incorporates social studies, language arts and mathematics, and borrows from such disciplines as economics, sociology, agriculture, ecology, physical geography and cultural geography.

During the course of study, students practice communication, joint fact-finding and cooperative problem-solving skills, working in groups to research and report on various aspects of water conflict. They learn the difference between an interest and a position, and they learn how personal values shape attitudes. Along the way they develop skills essential to successful teamwork.


More than 1,600 copies of the “Calming the Waters” curriculum are in circulation in private schools, public schools, tribal governments and after-school youth programs in Lyon, Storey, Mineral and Washoe counties. Test results show that students come away from these classes with improved knowledge of many subjects, including the geography of the Great Basin; the formation of Lake Lahontan and Walker and Pyramid lakes; the role of water in the lives of early Northern Paiute tribes; impacts of gold and silver mining on the region; key federal policies; and the effects of population growth on Nevada water use and issues.

Calming the Waters has received a number of awards, including the nationally competitive Association of Natural Resource Extension Professionals’ Gold Award; the National Association of County Agricultural Agents’ State Achievement Award for Excellence in 4-H and Youth Programming; the National Association of County Agricultural Agents State Award; and the U.S. Western Regional Finalist Award for an Extension Learning Module. It was also selected as the featured curriculum at the National Endowment for the Arts Teacher Institute in Nevada. It was nominated for a Western Extension Directors Award in 2009.

Printable Program Impact

Contact: Loretta Singletary, 775-463-6541

Children, Youth and Families Programs

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.

4-H Youth Development

4-H is a community of young people across America learning leadership, citizenship and life skills.

All 4 Kids

University of Nevada Cooperative Extension’s All 4 Kids: Healthy, Happy, Active, Fit program is an interdisciplinary approach to addressing child obesity. Developed by Cooperative Extension faculty from maternal/child nutrition, exercise physiology and child development, the All 4 Kids program helps children meet the Nevada Pre-Kindergarten (Pre-K) Standards while encouraging preschool children and families to practice healthy eating habits and be active every day.


University of Nevada Cooperative Extension (UNCE) developed Bootstraps, a high-risk youth program that helps teens return to school and/or gain meaningful work.

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.

Career Edge: Teens Taking Charge of Their Future! A Workforce Readiness Program

The Career Edge: Teens Taking Charge of Their Future! A workforce readiness program for high school students focused on skill development for workplace and job success. Career Edge helps high school students prepare to get their first "paying" job while working toward their dream job or career. Career Edge provides information and training on interview skills, résumé development, filling out applications, finding job leads and selecting appropriate clothing for the workplace. In addition, many "soft skills" needed in the workplace such as decision-making, teamwork, problem-solving and leadership are integrated throughout the program.

Churchill County Community Readiness Network

Nevada communities need rapid access to information during an emergency. In an effort to enhance community preparedness, safety and available resources and by using GPS and GIS mapping, University of Nevada Cooperative Extension’s 4-H youth and adult leaders in Churchill County are working with community emergency managers to address evacuation and shelter mapping.

Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP)

Exploring Your True Colors: Building an Effective Team & Team Development Course

Team Development Course

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.

Heart & Shield: Rural Domestic Violence Prevention Program

Young girls making collages with magazine pictures

Keeping Kids Safe: Recognizing, Reporting and Responding to Child Maltreatment

young girl sitting at desk in empty classroom

Little Books and Little Cooks

Children scooping soil from a wheelbarrow into a carton

Nevada State GEAR UP

Partners in Parenting

Partners in Parenting promotes positive parenting and child health and development, thereby preventing child abuse and other poor childhood outcomes.

Project MAGIC

Project MAGIC is an innovative, collaborative program designed to help juvenile offenders leave the criminal justice system and become productive members of society. While participating in the program, young people ages 12 to 18 learn: positive communication skills, team building, problem solving and decision making, self-responsibility, conflict resolution, aspiration building and goal setting. Youth also select and conduct a service project designed to benefit their community. Parent sessions include the same life skills.

Youth for the Quality Care of Animals

4-H members showing pigs