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A healthy start back to school

With integrated pest management, school yards are healthier environments for children.
As summer is quickly coming to a close, and most kids have already headed back to school or will be returning in the next couple of weeks, integrated pest management will be an expected and important tool for the upcoming school year.

Classrooms, playgrounds, and athletic fields that were quiet during the summer months will once again be filled with the sounds of learning and playing. Landscape and pest management professionals have been taking advantage of the slow summer months preparing the grounds and facilities for the upcoming year. While at one time this may have meant heavy applications of pesticide to rid the facilities of pest problems, today schools are healthier environments for our kids.  

Schools are required to follow the Healthy Schools Act (HSA), a law passed in 2001 in response to increasing concern of pesticide exposure and resulting heath issues. The HSA gives parents and staff the “right to know” about what pesticides are being applied and requires schools to keep records of applications and report information to the state. The HSA also encourages the use of integrated pest management (IPM) and the adoption of least toxic pest management practices as the primary way of managing pests in schools. Each school or district appoints an IPM coordinator to carry out the requirements of the Healthy Schools Act.

Healthy Schools Act Reminders for the School Year
At the beginning of each academic year, schools must provide parents and staff in writing of all pesticide products expected to be used throughout the year. The notice must include the names of the products and active ingredients. Parents and staff who wish to be notified of each specific pesticide application at their school site can register to be notified individually by mail 72 hours before the application. At least 24 hours prior to a pesticide application, schools must post warning signs. The signs must remain up for at least 72 hours after the treatment.

Each school is also required to maintain records for at least four years of all pesticides used and to report pesticide use to both the county agricultural commissioner and the Department of Pesticide Regulation. There are certain products that are exempt from the notification and posting requirements of the HSA. These include reduced-risk pesticides, such as self-contained baits or traps or gels or pastes used for crack-and-crevice treatments. Antimicrobials and pesticides exempt from registration are exempt from all aspects of the Healthy Schools Act, including reporting.

While not required, schools are strongly encouraged under the HSA to adopt an integrated approach to managing pests. IPM focuses on long-term prevention of pests by monitoring and inspecting to find out what caused the pest and taking steps to eliminate those favorable conditions to reduce future problems. IPM uses a combination of methods to solve pest problems using least toxic pesticides only after other methods have allowed pests to exceed a tolerable level.

With IPM, schools get long-term solutions to pest problems. There is less pesticide used reducing the risk of pesticide exposure. Finally, less notification, posting, and recordkeeping is required from schools.

The California Department of Pesticide Regulation School IPM Program has a new handout reminding schools of the requirements of the HSA. For more information on the School IPM program and the Healthy Schools Act, visit the DPR website, and for more on IPM, visit the UC Statewide IPM website.

Posted on Wednesday, August 20, 2014 at 9:44 AM

Bakersfield gets a 'First Look' at UCCE centennial celebration

Brian Marsh, the director of UC Cooperative Extension in Kern County, talked about the upcoming UCCE centennial celebration with host Scott Cox on First Look, a web video and radio program that provides Kern County resident with an overview of the day's news. The program is broadcast on the Bakersfield Californian webpage and on KERN radio.

At a dinner Aug. 21 marking the 100th anniversary of UC Cooperative Extension, the organization will honor 14 Kern County families with a farming legacy that stretches back 100 years or more. Cox was impressed.

"For a family farm to be in business for 100 years, it's a tough way to make a living," Cox said. "There's a lot of temptation for kids to go off to school and learn how to do something else and sell the farm off. These are people who have stuck it out."

Marsh said the farming underway today is different than 100 years ago.

"The children are coming back to the farm with advanced degrees," Marsh said. "Farming isn't the simple life. .. There is a lot of technology, there's a lot of regulations to deal with. A lot of our products are exported, so you're dealing with international trade and residue concentrations in other countries."

Cox agreed. "From agribusiness, to science, there's a lot going on out there."

Marsh emphasized the importance of the California farming industry. "I like to eat everyday," he said.

Brian Marsh is the director of UC Cooperative Extension in Kern County and an agronomy farm advisor.
Posted on Wednesday, August 20, 2014 at 9:23 AM

The devil -- er, bacteria -- made me do it

Gut bacteria may affect both our cravings and moods to get us to eat what they want.
Many people worry about the outside of their gut – watching their weight and suffering through sit-ups in search of six-pack abs.

Research from UC San Francisco is showing that we also should pay attention to what's inside the gut.

Gut bacteria may affect both our cravings and moods to get us to eat what they want, and often are driving us toward obesity, according to an article published this month in the journal BioEssays.

Researchers concluded from a review of recent scientific literature that microbes influence human eating behavior and dietary choices to favor consumption of the particular nutrients they grow best on, rather than simply passively living off whatever nutrients we choose to send their way.

“Bacteria within the gut are manipulative,” said corresponding author on the paper Carlo Maley, director of the Center for Evolution and Cancer with the Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center at UCSF. “There is a diversity of interests represented in the microbiome, some aligned with our own dietary goals, and others not.”

We also can influence this diverse community of microbes, collectively known as the gut microbiome, by altering what we ingest, Maley said, with measurable changes in the microbiome within 24 hours of diet change.

“Our diets have a huge impact on microbial populations in the gut,” Maley said. “It's a whole ecosystem, and it's evolving on the time scale of minutes.”

The gut is a growing field for research.

Michael Fischbach, a UCSF assistant professor of bioengineering and therapeutic sciences, studies gut bacteria and how they could help reveal the causes and new treatments for Crohn's disease and obesity.

“When I look at a person, I don't just see a warm, shiny human being,” Fischbach said. “I see bacteria crawling all over you and living on every surface that's exposed and not exposed in your entire body. And you're lucky that they're there because these bacteria do very important things for you. They make your immune system function properly. They help you digest foods. And they produce important chemicals that serve as vitamins for your body.”

With advancements in genetic sequencing technology, Fischbach and colleagues are mining gut bacteria for natural products – small molecules from microbes – that could hold the key for treating diseases.

“You used to have to travel to the coast of Palau to mine the ocean sediment for drugs,” Fischbach said. “Now we can just check our gut!”

Fischbach discussed his gut research with collaborator Justin Sonnenburg, a Stanford University microbiologist with degrees from UC Davis and UC San Diego, at the recent New York Times Health for Tomorrow conference at UCSF Mission Bay Conference Center.

“The beauty of being in basic research is you don't know where you're going to end up,” Fischbach said after their panel presentation. “It's nice to be on a journey where you don't know where the ship lands. I hope it's going to improve human health.”

Read more:
-Do gut bacteria rule our minds?, UCSF
-Our microbiome may be looking out for itself, New York Times
-The next frontier of medicine, Slate
-Culturing for cures, UCSF

Posted on Tuesday, August 19, 2014 at 10:02 AM

UC research center in Tulelake commemorates UCCE centennial

The annual field day at the UC Intermountain Research and Extension Center held last week provided an opportunity to mark the 100th anniversary of UC Cooperative Extension with leaders of the organization, reported Todd Fitchette in Western Farm Press.

The research activities at the Intermountain center, situated near the California-Oregon border in Tulelake, focus on peppermint, horseradish, small grains, wheat, potatoes, alfalfa and onions. At the field day, UCCE researchers discussed the progress of alfalfa production in the Klamath Basin, suppressing white rot disease in processing onions, maximizing profitability of wheat, pest management in peppermint and other topics.

The Intermountain Research and Extension Center is one of nine centers under the UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR). The 140-acre facility provides UCCE advisors and specialists the space and support needed to conduct agricultural research in a high mountain interior valley climate zone.

Participants in the Intermountain REC field day included (from left) UCCE vice provost Chris Greer, IREC director Rob Wilson, REC system associate director Lisa Fischer, ANR vice president Barbara Allen-Diaz and ANR associate vice president Bill Frost. (Photo: Todd Fitchette, courtesy of Western Farm Press),
 
See 18 more pictures of the event in the Western Farm Press gallery.
Posted on Tuesday, August 19, 2014 at 9:04 AM

$7.12 billion state water bond to appear on November ballot

The 70-year-old Shasta Dam forms the largest reservoir in California.
The Water Quality, Supply, and Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2014 (Proposition 1) is set to appear on the November 2014 ballot. If approved by voters, it would “authorize $7.12 billion in general obligation bonds for state water supply infrastructure projects, such as public water system improvements, surface and groundwater storage, drinking water protection, water recycling and advanced water treatment technology, water supply management and conveyance, wastewater treatment, drought relief, emergency water supplies, and ecosystem and watershed protection and restoration.”

Per the full text of the proposition, the distribution of funds would be approximately as follows:

$810 million for expenditures and competitive grants and loans to integrated regional water management plan projects.

$520 million to improve water quality for “beneficial use,” for reducing and preventing drinking water contaminants in disadvantaged communities, and creating the State Water Pollution Control Revolving Fund Small Community Grant Fund.

$725 million for water recycling and advanced water treatment technology projects.

$900 million for competitive grants, and loans for projects to prevent or clean up the contamination of groundwater that serves as a source of drinking water.

$1.495 billion for competitive grants for multi-benefit ecosystem and watershed protection and restoration projects including:

  • Conservancies $327.5M.
  • Wildlife Conservation Board $200M (restoration of flows)
  • Department of Fish and Wildlife $285M (out of delta, no mitigation on Bay Delta Conservation Plan)
  • Department of Fish and Wildlife $87.5M (in delta with constraints)
  • State settlement obligations including CVPIA $475M
  • Rivers and creeks $120M

$2.7 billion for water storage projects, dams and reservoirs.

$395 million for statewide flood management projects and activities

To read the full text of the proposition visit Ballotpedia.

Posted on Monday, August 18, 2014 at 3:11 PM

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