Extension News from the West

Flowering cacti

Flowering Nopale

Mid-spring is one of my favorite parts of the year in beautiful southern Nevada. Certainly, there are the obvious elements. This is the time when fruits have developed on leafy trees, many vegetables are ripe in the garden, and roses have gone insane in shades from deep magenta to pure white.

While I beam with delight when I go out into my lush, yet water-efficient, back yard, another part of my desert landscape is even more astounding. From the middle of April to about the middle of May, all the cactuses around my house go into reproductive mode. They produce flowers in a range of colors. These are short-lived blossoms, but many of them survive long enough to become fertilized and produce fruits. While it may sound odd to think of cactus fruits, these are just the plant’s seed packages, as with any other. Prickly pears are especially prolific. Prickly pears are the ones with green flattened stems, which are not leaves. The leaves long ago morphed into the spines that we wisely try to avoid.

It makes sense that they would have a short blooming time; after all, there is only a brief moment between the cool mornings of spring and the blistering afternoons of summer. Pollination of plants that we grow for fruits is generally more effective when temperatures are moderate. High heat can cause pollen to desiccate and become inviable. Even though cactus plants can obviously thrive in our long hot summers, their pollen is as fragile as any other.

We rarely look at cactuses (this is actually the plural) and think “oh great, the cactus crop is almost ready,” although we could.

When pollination is successful, these plants produce fruits that are often deep red — a dramatic contrast to the vivid green of the pads. Both the pads and the fruits are edible, but may not be terribly appealing since they are so well defended. Many have not one, but two kinds of spines to ward off predators. The first are the obvious spikes that could deter any creature with sense. The others are the virtually unseen, short, fine “glochids”, which easily detach from the plant and lodge in the skin. It is a challenge to remove them, and there are many expert opinions on the best way to do so. The smartest thing is to wear heavy gloves and handle the pads with sturdy tongs.

Nopales are edible prickly pear cactuses with no large spines, although they do have glochids, so it is important to treat them with care. Some sources claim their nutritional value makes them worth the effort.

They are low in carbohydrates and calories, with good levels of fiber, protein, minerals and antioxidant compounds. Some people call them “super fruits”, a meaningless designation we should shun. I would not recommend them as a dietary addition, since there are so many caveats I would need to include. Still, the pads and fruits are very attractive, so even if they were not part of the diet, they should definitely be an addition to the landscape.

Angela O’Callaghan, Social Horticulture Specialist for University of Nevada Cooperative Extension, can be reached via email or at 702-257-5581.

Schools and afterschool programs invited to register for Montana Harvest of the Month program

Montana State University Extension News - Wed, 04/27/2016 - 12:00am
<p>BOZEMAN Montana schools and afterschool programs can now register for the Montana Harvest of the Month program, which showcases...

MSU Extension in Gallatin County offers hay workshop May 3

Montana State University Extension News - Wed, 04/27/2016 - 12:00am
<p>Montana State University <a href="http://www.msuextension.org/gallatin/">Extension in Gallatin County</a>is offering a free public workshop about hay production basics. The workshop will...

Cooperative Extension hosts forum on managing weeds with crested wheatgrass

Cooperative Extension is hosting a forum on how to use crested wheatgrass to conquer bare spots and weeds 6 to 8 p.m., April 26.

Forum to discuss how to use crested wheatgrass to conquer bare spots and weeds

A big challenge for the small-acreage landowner is keeping weeds at bay. For lands not covered with pavement, lawn, mulch or ornamental landscaping, and for properties that receive little traffic, weeds seem to sneak onto the landscape. To help landowners control these weeds, University of Nevada Cooperative Extension presents “Conquer the Bare Spots and Weeds With Crested Wheatgrass,” 6 to 8 p.m., April 26 at the CVIC Hall, 1604 Esmeralda Ave. in Minden.

“As a drought-tolerant perennial species, crested wheatgrass may be just the ticket to out-compete the dreaded weeds,” said Extension Educator Steve Lewis, who coordinated the forum. “With a little irrigation, crested wheatgrass will remain green throughout the growing season. Or, without irrigation, the grass will go dormant at some point prior to the end of the growing season, but won’t die. As another benefit, crested wheatgrass may also provide some forage for grazing animals.”

The forum, part of the Agriculture Innovation Forum Series, will feature Crop Specialist Jay Davison, with University of Nevada Cooperative Extension, and Biomass and Seed Bank Coordinator Eric Roussel, with the Nevada Division of Forestry. Davison will review crested wheatgrass varieties, plant characteristics, planting recommendations, management and grazing/harvesting recommendations, environmental constraints, irrigation requirements versus dryland, production estimates, and benefits of weed competition and dust/erosion control. Roussel will talk about seed supply, rangeland drill equipment rental, and successes and failures he’s witnessed with crested wheatgrass seedings over the years.

The Agriculture Innovation Forum Series is designed to provide practical information and know-how for agricultural producers and small-acreage owners to optimize their land use potential and maintain agricultural open space in the Carson Valley. The series is intended to be an open dialogue format allowing attendees ample opportunity to ask questions and learn. The forums are free, and no registration is required. For more information on the April 26 forum, “Conquer the Bare Spots and Weeds With Crested Wheatgrass,” contact Lewis at 782-9960.

Cooperative Extension&#8217;s Grow Your Own, Nevada classes return in May

University of Nevada Cooperative Extension will present a workshop on “Tomatoes 101,” 6 to 8 p.m., May 17, as part of the “Grow Your Own, Nevada!” series of workshops May 3-26 on Tuesdays and Thursdays, 6 to 8 p.m.

Eight back-to-basics courses to be offered statewide

The average carrot travels over 1,800 miles to get to our dinner plates. Processing and shipment of food accounts for 93 percent of our food cost.

University of Nevada Cooperative Extension is offering eight new “Grow Your Own, Nevada!” classes at 10 locations statewide to help Nevadans who want to get on a path to more sustainable, local, healthy living by growing more of their own food.

“Anyone can become a better gardener by attending these classes,” Cooperative Extension Horticulture Specialist Heidi Kratsch said. “From the beginner to the advanced gardener, everyone can benefit from a Grow Your Own class.”

The series of workshops will run May 3 through May 26, and be held Tuesdays and Thursdays, 6 to 8 p.m. The workshops will provide gardeners and those interested in growing healthy foods with a back-to-the-basics guide to producing bountiful harvests in Nevada. The topics will include:

  • May 3: Warm-season Vegetable Gardening
  • May 5: Gardening in Nevada’s Soils
  • May 10: Know Nevada Insects: Decomposers and Pests
  • May 12: Know Nevada Insects: Pollinators and Beneficials
  • May 17: Tomatoes 101
  • May 19: Composting Made Easy
  • May 24: Preserving the Harvest: Hot-water Canning
  • May 26: Seed Saving

The workshops will be held at the Washoe County Cooperative Extension office, 4955 Energy Way in Reno, and will also be available via interactive video at Cooperative Extension offices in Battle Mountain, Carson City, Elko, Gardnerville, Hawthorne, Lovelock, Pahrump, Winnemucca and Yerington.

“Gardening in Nevada is a challenge,” Kratsch said. “But you can learn to deal with our harsh climate and poor soils by building on the success of others. Grow Your Own educators are experienced gardeners and growers and are excited to share what they know with the community.”

To register for any or all of the upcoming “Grow Your Own, Nevada!” classes, visit www.growyourownnevada.com. The class fee for those attending at the Washoe County office is $15 per class or $60 for all eight classes. The cost covers class supplies, materials and refreshments. Reno participants attending all eight classes will also receive a USB flash drive containing gardening resources. K-12 teachers and Master Gardeners in Reno receive a discount on registration cost. Class fees in other locations vary. Residents should contact their local Cooperative Extension office for information on attending the workshops in those locations. Persons in need of special accommodations or assistance should call at least three days prior to the scheduled event.

MSU Extension specialist recommends deep banding or tillage to prevent nitrogen fertilizer loss

Montana State University Extension News - Wed, 04/20/2016 - 12:00am
<p>Montana State University <a href="http://www.msuextension.org/">Extension</a>recommends that producers now applying urea fertilizer (46-0-0) protect it from volatilization loss (ammonia loss to...

Registration now open for Wildfire Awareness Half Marathon and 5K Runs in May

Events to raise money to help injured firefighters and the families of fallen firefighters

Runners enjoy the scenery during the 2014 Southern Nevada Wildland Fire Awareness Half Marathon and 5K. This year’s southern Nevada event is May 1 at Mt. Charleston, and the northern Nevada event is May 29 in Reno.

Registration is open for the Wildfire Awareness Half Marathon and 5K Trail Runs in Clark and Washoe counties, hosted by University of Nevada Cooperative Extension’s Living With Fire Program in partnership with the Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service and Desert Sky Adventures. All proceeds from the races will be donated to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation.

The Southern Nevada Wildland Fire Awareness Half Marathon and 5K Run is May 1, 8 a.m. — noon, at the new Spring Mountain Visitor’s Gateway, 2525 Kyle Canyon Road in Mt. Charleston. To register or for more information, visit http://desertskyadventures.com/wildlandlasvegas/.

The Northern Nevada Wildland Fire Awareness Half Marathon and 5K Run in Washoe County is May 29, 8 a.m. — noon, at Rancho San Rafael Regional Park, 1595 N. Sierra St. in Reno. To register or for more information, visit http://desertskyadventures.com/wildlandreno/.

Cost is $40 and includes a tech t-shirt, goodie bag, finisher’s medal, snacks and refreshments. Each location is limited to 300 participants. The race is part of the activities for Nevada Wildfire Awareness Month in May, which is a collaborative, multi-agency effort.

Participants will run through some of Nevada’s most infamous wildfire fuels, and there will be a variety of fire engines and displays of educational information. The public is invited to come out and cheer on the runners, visit with firefighter representatives and enjoy Nevada’s beauty.

The Wildland Firefighter Foundation is a nonprofit organization that provides assistance to fallen firefighters’ families and to firefighters injured in the line of duty. The proceeds of the race will help families travel to see firefighters who were injured while aiding another state; help the families of firefighters unable to work because they’re still healing; and help the families of firefighters killed while working.

Wildfire Awareness Month is a collaborative effort by local, state and federal firefighting agencies, University of Nevada Cooperative Extension and many others. This year’s wildfire awareness message, “Create Unity, Fire-Adapt Your Community!” stresses that when community members work together to prepare for wildfire, they can more effectively reduce the wildfire threat.

Extension’s Living With Fire Program, which began in 1998, teaches homeowners how to live more safely with the wildfire threat. The program has received numerous national awards, and been credited with spurring actions that have saved many homes. For more information about Living With Fire, visit www.LivingWithFire.info, or contact Sonya Sistare at University of Nevada Cooperative Extension, sistares@unce.unr.edu or 775-336-0271.

Compost on established plants

With the warm weather that has suddenly arrived, our lovely landscape plants have been producing foliage, flowers, and sometimes fruit enthusiastically, all in abundance. These wonderful signs of spring and summer are possible only because of the nutrition that plants are able to derive from the soil. Diligent desert gardeners are careful to improve levels of fertility, since the soils of the Mojave are notoriously poor.

In nature, the only way plants obtain their essential nutrients is from the soil. Plants that grow in areas where the soil is infertile generally tend to grow slowly, with small leaves and flowers. Gardens, even native style gardens, often include a few faster growing plants, with bigger leaves and flowers. Once we include these into the landscape, true desert soil is not able to provide enough nutrition for the plants to grow successfully.

Containers of fertilizers are available at nurseries or home stores. We do not use the term “plant food,” as plants actually make the food by taking carbon dioxide and water and converting them into sugars. The plants ultimately transform these sugars into everything that they need for growth, such as starches and oils.

It does not matter whether it is organic or conventional, expensive or bargain, soluble or slow-release. If a product claims to be a general-purpose fertilizer, it should contain at least the same three nutrients. These three are nitrogen (critical for leaves, green tissue and proteins), phosphorus (the mineral necessary for roots and reproduction), and potassium (which promotes good water and sugar circulation within the plant).

Conventional fertilizers are fine as sources of a certain number of mineral nutrients. If the gardener also wants to improve the structure of the soil, making it more amenable to root growth, then compost is an important addition. Compost is added when the garden is first installed, but after a few years, it does need to be replenished.

In vegetable gardens, the soil is amended with compost every year, before new crops are planted. Most domestic landscapes only need to be replaced in rare instances, since they are perennial. Perennials are able to continue growing, producing flowers and seeds for years on end. Incorporating compost could be challenging, since working the soil around shrubs and trees could damage tender roots.

Fortunately, the situation is not hopeless for anyone who wishes to incorporate compost into the perennial garden. It is, in fact, surprisingly easy. One needs to have compost, a bucket and a hose attached to a tap. The compost can be from any source.

The method works well, even on rock mulch. Take a couple of handfuls of compost, place them in the bucket full of water, and stir gently enough to suspend the mix. Once it looks like very dilute mud, pour it on the mulch around the plants. When it has drained, take the hose and wash off the mulch. The compost will work its way into the soil, improving it and slowly fertilizing the plants.

This is not “compost tea,” but that will be an article for another day.

Email or call Angela O’Callaghan,Social Horticulture Specialist for University of Nevada Cooperative Extension at 702-257-5581.

MSU Extension announces new soil fertility publication

Montana State University Extension News - Tue, 04/19/2016 - 12:00am
<p>Montana State University <a href="http://www.msuextension.org/">Extension</a>has announced a new publication called <a href="http://landresources.montana.edu/soilfertility/soilscoop.html">The Soil Scoop</a>, a two-page series providing condensed information...

Cooperative Extension hosts Capital City Farm Days

An Arrowhead Livestock 4-H Club member shows his dairy cow at Capital City Farm Days. This year, the event will run from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., April 21 and 22.

Youth learn the importance of agriculture in Nevada

University of Nevada Cooperative Extension’s 4-H presents Capital City Farm Days 8:30 a.m. - 2 p.m., April 21 and 22. Thirty presenters, including representatives from the Nevada Department of Agriculture, the Bureau of Land Management, the Nevada State Museum, and other local and state agriculture and natural resources organizations, will teach preschool and elementary-age youth about Nevada agriculture, where food and fiber come from, and environmental issues related to agriculture. Attendees include public, private and home-schooled students and their families from Carson City, Storey County, Douglas County and Dayton Valley.

“At this annual event, students, teachers and parent chaperones learn how ranching and farming in Nevada serve us, as well as the benefits and challenges of maintaining agriculture in our state,” Sandra Wallin, with the 4-H Youth Development Program, said. “All of the presenters love the event, and attendees look forward to it each year.”

Presentation topics and demonstrations include organic farming, water, noxious weeds, bees and rangeland. Future Farmers of America and 4-H youth bring their livestock project animals and talk about what it takes to raise a market animal. There will be wild horses and burros, fiber spinning and weaving demonstrations, and a herding demonstration. A life-sized dairy cow model that attendees can milk will be provided by the Department of Agriculture. On Friday, Wolf Pack Meats representatives will talk about how animals are readied for market, as well as the health benefits of quality-processed meat.

Capital City Farm Days has been a part of Carson City Cooperative Extension outreach to the community for 18 years. Cooperative Extension’s 4-H Youth Development Education Program teaches leadership, citizenship and life skills to thousands of Nevada youth ages 5 to 19 each year, through activities such as practicing robotics and raising animals, with an emphasis on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education.

For more information about Capital City Farm Days, call 775-887-2252, or contact Wallin at wallins@unce.unr.edu, Jim Barcellos at barcellosj@unce.unr.edu, or Lindsay Chichester at chichesterl@unce.unr.edu.

WHO: University of Nevada Cooperative Extension 4-H Youth Development

WHAT: Capital City Farm Days

WHEN: April 21 and 22, 8:30 a.m. - 2 p.m. Largest number of students between 10 a.m. and noon.

WHERE: Carson City Fairgrounds, Fuji Park, 601 Clear Creek Road

Nevada Wildfire Awareness Month kicks off May 1

Hugh Gallagher Elementary schoolchildren learned about the dangers of embers during a wildfire by playing the Ember House activity during Wildfire Awareness Month last year.

University of Nevada Cooperative Extension urges Nevadans to prepare their homes for wildfire

University of Nevada Cooperative Extension is once again coordinating the collaborative efforts of federal, state and local fire services, public safety agencies, community organizations and others to participate in Nevada Wildfire Awareness Month throughout May. This year’s message is “Create Unity, Fire-Adapt Your Community!” to stress that when community members work together to prepare for wildfire, they can effectively reduce the wildfire threat.

“Residents of a fire-adapted community understand that they share their level of wildfire risk with their neighbors,” said Ed Smith, University of Nevada Cooperative Extension natural resource specialist and co-manager of the Living With Fire educational program. “If one house is inadequately prepared, the risk to the whole neighborhood increases. A sense that ‘we are all in this together’ is prevalent.”

Events are scheduled across the state to encourage residents to take action. Cooperative Extension’s Living With Fire Program representatives will be participating in many of this year’s events, including:

  • May 1: Southern Nevada Wildland Fire Awareness Half Marathon and 5K Run, 8 a.m. — noon, at the Mt. Charleston Visitor Center, 2525 Kyle Canyon Road in Mt. Charleston. To register or for more information, visit http://desertskyadventures.com/wildlandlasvegas/.
  • May 6: Ember House activity at the Eureka Department of Natural Resources’ Firewise event, 11 a.m. — 1 p.m., at the Eureka Fire House, 10306 Main St. in Eureka.
  • May 7: Ember House activity at the Northeastern Nevada Wildfire Prevention Group’s Elko Wildfire Preparedness Day event, noon — 4 p.m., at Home Depot, 2955 Mountain City Hwy. in Elko.
  • May 14: Ember House activity at the Washoe Valley Alliance’s Third Annual Celebrate Washoe Valley community event, 10 a.m. — 2 p.m., at Washoe Lake State Park, 4855 Eastlake Blvd. in Carson City.
  • May 21: Junk The Junipers, 8 a.m. — 1 p.m., at the Nevada Division of Forestry location at 885 Eastlake Blvd. in Washoe Valley, and at the lot adjacent to the Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District’s Silver Lake Volunteer Fire Station, 11525 Red Rock Road in Silver Lake.
  • May 29: Northern Nevada Wildland Fire Awareness Half Marathon and 5K Run, 8 a.m. — noon, at Rancho San Rafael Regional Park, 1595 N. Sierra St. in Reno. To register or for more information, visit http://desertskyadventures.com/wildlandreno/.

Nevadans are invited to find activities in their area at www.livingwithfire.info calendar to learn about the steps they can take to prepare their homes for wildfire.

Nevada Wildfire Awareness Month is a collaborative effort by local, state and federal firefighting agencies, University of Nevada Cooperative Extension and many others. Major funding partners include the Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service, Nevada Division of Forestry and Nevada State Fire Marshal Division.

For more information on Nevada Wildfire Awareness Month events and for information on how to reduce your wildfire threat, visit www.LivingWithFire.info or contact Sonya Sistare at University of Nevada Cooperative Extension, sistares@unce.unr.edu or 775-336-0271.

Cooperative Extension presents weed-control education April 26 &#8212; 28

Cheatgrass is one of many invasive weeds that will be discussed at the Weed Extravaganza in Elko, Nev., April 26 — 28.

Event teaches how to manage weeds and minimize damage

Opportunistic weeds pose major challenges to those managing public lands, ranches, farms and other landscapes. University of Nevada Cooperative Extension, in collaboration with other partners, will present the annual Weed Extravaganza April 26 — 28 to help Nevadans deal with this year’s weed challenges with the latest information available.

“Invasive weeds can out-compete native vegetation, crops and livestock forage,” said Natural Resources Extension Specialist Kent McAdoo, the event coordinator. “They can also pose fire hazards, lead to erosion and water quality issues, and impact wildlife habitat. It’s important that everyone has the latest information to identify and control these weeds to minimize damage to our lands, wildlife, crops and economy.”

The workshop will be offered April 26 — 28 at the California Trail Interpretive Center, 8 miles west of Elko, Nev. The workshop will include a wide range of topics aimed at giving land managers, ranchers and agricultural producers the latest information on controlling invasive weeds.

The event begins with the Elko County Weed Summit on April 26, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. This year’s featured speaker is Dave Stewart, with BioWest Ag Solutions, who will discuss “Bacterial Treatment for Cheatgrass Control.” There will be information on weed regulations, weed-free certification and understanding root systems, from the Nevada Department of Agriculture, Nevada Weed Management Association, Bureau of Land Management and University of Nevada Cooperative Extension. McAdoo will host an afternoon field trip demonstrating how to identify weeds during their vulnerable growth stages.

As part of the Weed Extravaganza, the Pesticide Applicator Training/Weed Identification and Management Workshop will be offered the next day, April 27, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. This workshop is tailored for those seeking restricted-use pesticide certification. Topics will include weed identification and management, vertebrate pest management, pesticide regulations, pollinator protection, recordkeeping and equipment calibration, and worker protection.

The April 26 and 27 workshops are free, and participants can earn up to 14 Continuing Education Units. Attendees are encouraged to RSVP to Candie Kevan at kevanc@unce.unr.edu or 775-738-7291 by April 21 so that complimentary lunches can be provided for all participants on April 26. Certification exams will be conducted by the Nevada Department of Agriculture at 7:15 a.m., April 28. The exam fee is $50 at the door. Nevada Pesticide Applicator Training Manual sets may be obtained free online at http://www.unce.unr.edu/programs/sites/pesticide/.

The California Trail Interpretive Center is located just off I-80, at Hunter Exit 292, 8 miles west of Elko, Nev. The Weed Extravaganza is sponsored by the Humboldt Watershed Cooperative Weed Management Area, Northeastern Nevada Stewardship Group, Nevada Department of Agriculture and University of Nevada Cooperative Extension. Persons in need of special accommodations or assistance should call at least three days prior to the event. For more information, call 775-738-7291.

Cheers!

Washington State University Extension News - Thu, 04/14/2016 - 2:25pm
Viticulture and Enology Students Recognized for Excellence Student Employee of the Year

Congratulations to Trevor Powers, who was recognized as a finalist for the WSU Tri-Cities Student Employee of the Year Award. The award honors the student who goes “above and beyond” in their work for WSU Tri-Cities. Trevor was recognized for his management of the Albert Ravenholt Teaching and Research Vineyard under the guidance of Dr. Bhaskar Bondada, Associate Professor of Viticulture.

Daniel Hottell

2016 CAHNRS Student Awards

The 2016 CAHNRS Honors Banquet was held in Pullman on March 24. The annual gala highlights students who represent the College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences at its best. Congratulations to winners from the Viticulture and Enology Program:

Outstanding Seniors: these students were recognized for academic excellence, maintaining a 3.0 GPA or above and in the top 25 percent in their major.

  • Daniel Hottell (VE Major-Tri-Cities)- Outstanding Senior Award
  •  Molly Warren (VE Major-Pullman) Outstanding Senior Award

    Molly Warren

Congratulations to these V&E students nominated for awards this year:

  • Suzanne Kaye (Tri-Cities) – Aggie of the Year
  • Trevor Powers (Tri-Cities) – Outstanding Junior in Agricultural or Natural Resource Science
  • McKinley Dixon (Pullman) – Outstanding Junior in Agricultural or Natural Resource Science
  • Melanie Ford (Tri-Cities) – Emerging Undergraduate in Agricultural or Natural Resource Sciences

 

Wine Chemistry Professor Awarded “Partners in Science” Grant

Dr. Tom Collins will partner with Frederick Burke of Chiawana High School in Pasco, Wash. on a research project titled “Characterizing the Chemical Composition of Washington State Wines,” over the next two summers thanks to a $15,000 grant award from the M. J. Murdock Charitable Trust.

The M. J. Murdock Charitable Trust provides grants to organizations in the Pacific Northwest that seek to strengthen the region’s educational and cultural base in creative and sustainable ways. This grant aims to improve science education by enabling outstanding high school science teachers to form partnerships with research scientists to conduct basic science research for two consecutive summers. At the end of the each summer, the teachers will share their research at both regional and national Partners in Science Conferences.

 

 

A passion for predators: From T-Rex to insects

Washington State University Extension News - Thu, 04/14/2016 - 10:29am

Doctoral student Joseph Taylor lights up when he talks about bugs. From his undergraduate work at Washington and Lee University in Virginia to his graduate work here at Washington State University, his research on insect predators has already resulted in some substantial success, including the recent award of a prestigious National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship.

Doctoral student Joseph Taylor

Although he is passionate about insects now, Joseph’s journey initially started with excitement over a much larger predator.

“When I was a kid I loved dinosaurs, especially the T-Rex,” he said. “I wanted to become a paleontologist until I disappointingly found out that dinosaurs were extinct. I wanted a career that involved live animals, not dead ones.”

Joseph carried his interest in animals to Washington and Lee University—but he quickly became frustrated that most of the introductory-level biology courses were pre-med focused. It wasn’t until he took a course from his advisor, Dr. Lawrence Hurd, that he gained a fascination with insects. He realized that insects are diverse and numerous and their systems operate similar to most other animals.

“I had no idea how much I would love insects,” said Joseph. “I was completely converted.”

Joseph earned a Bachelor of Science degree in biology with a minor in Russian language and culture from Washington and Lee. While there he conducted three years of research, which resulted in two publications with a third well underway. His research was on the praying mantis, a feisty little predator with a triangular head that pivots like a cat. The upright position and folding forearms of the insect led to its nickname, which is a bit of a misnomer for a creature known to practice cannibalism and prey on animals larger than itself.

“I saw a video once of a praying mantis attacking a snake,” says Joseph. “During my research, I had to raise scores of them, and they’re actually kind of like tiny kittens when they’re young. They groom themselves like a cat, and can see you from about 20 feet away. But as adults they’re more like a T-Rex. Honestly, if I shrunk down to the size of an adult praying mantis, it would happily eat me.”

Now a doctoral student in Dr. William Snyder’s lab here at Washington State University, Joseph is studying Carabid beetles, commonly known as ground beetles. A group of formidable and ravenous predators, the ground beetles’ role in agriculture is extremely beneficial, feeding on insects that can potentially destroy crops. However, ground beetles can be very indiscriminate, consuming smaller crop-friendly beetles. Joseph is looking for ways to help these insect predators do their jobs better in order to eventually move away from broad spectrum pesticides. His NSF grant proposal focused on this research.

The Grant Proposal

During his first semester at WSU last fall, Joseph talked with his advisor about writing a proposal for the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship—a program that supports outstanding graduate students who are pursuing graduate degrees in STEM fields. Joseph received significant guidance from his advisor on writing the proposal, and felt confident of its strength when he mailed it off. In March he was excited when he received notification of the fellowship award.

In addition to the NSF Fellowship, Joseph was also awarded an ARCS (Achievement Rewards for College Scientists) scholarship. This scholarship, supported by the ARCS Seattle Chapter, supports the best and brightest doctoral students in STEM disciplines at both WSU and the UW. Washington State University has been a member of the ARCS Foundation since 2000 and currently helps fund 36 doctoral students. Students for this scholarship are nominated by their department.

Why WSU?

In 2015, the Graduate School invited Joseph to visit WSU on its Research Assistantship for Diverse Scholars (RADS) program, which is intended to increase graduate student diversity. The RADS awards are funded through a partnership of the Graduate School and the department/program of the prospective student. Hurd, Joseph’s advisor at Washington and Lee, had been Snyder’s undergraduate advisor and was familiar with his research in the Department of Entomology at WSU. He encouraged Joseph to consider a doctoral program here. After Joseph reached out to WSU and expressed an interest, he was invited for a RADS visit based upon his prior academic achievement.

“When I arrived in Pullman for the visit, I instantly liked the campus,” said Joseph. “The people in Dr. Snyder’s laboratory were all really friendly—I was surprised that a university the size of WSU seemed like such a close community. I was also ready to do something different—to get away and trying something new.”

Although born in California, Joseph spent the majority of his life on the east coast. His mother was in the Army, which moved the family fairly regularly. He and his twin brother played football in high school and also for Washington and Lee University, where they both played safety. Because of his athletic background, Joseph enjoys being at a university and a community full of sports fans—but he also enjoys sitting in the stadium seats instead of playing on the field.

“My body is much happier. It’s nice to see someone get tackled on the field and know it won’t be me hurting the next day,” he laughed.

But to assuage his competitive drive and vigor, Joseph has taken up fencing, something he’s always been interested in. “It’s been a lot of fun and helps get rid of that excess energy,” he said.

What started as a passion for dinosaurs has evolved into an exciting career in entomology for Joseph. Ultimately, his fully funded research may help create more efficient and less invasive solutions for farmers resulting in a healthier and more reliable food supply for the world.

Joseph hopes to work for the USDA on pest management after earning his doctoral degree. Eventually, he would like to return to academia and continue to broaden his knowledge about the complex interactions between insect predators and their prey.

Junior Master Gardeners plan service project in Moapa Valley

Students will learn about endemic and native species and plant Milkweed seeds

Monarch Butterflies

University of Nevada Cooperative Extension Junior Master Gardeners (JMG) of Southern Nevada will be participating in a community service event on May 7, 2016. The students will meet at 9 a.m. at the US Fish and Wildlife Service located at 4240 Warm Springs Rd, Moapa, Nev. where they will learn about endemic native species; some of which are endangered or sensitive.

The students will then travel to the Southern Nevada Water Authority’s Warm Springs Natural Area where they will be planting native Milkweed to attract Monarch butterflies. The Warm Springs Natural Area is located approximately seven miles northwest of the town of Moapa, and contains more than two dozen springs, which form the headwaters of the Muddy River.

Since southern Nevada is part of a migratory pathway for this sensitive species of butterflies, planting Milkweed encourages them to lay their eggs on the plants. The goal is to plant over 2,000 native milkweed plants.

Community service is part of the JMG program. Along with JMG students, their parents and siblings, community members are encouraged to participate. 4-H members and their families are also invited to attend.

The event should wrap-up around 1 p.m. and families are welcome to bring a lunch for a picnic before returning to the Las Vegas.

If you are interested in attending, email or call Karyn Johnson at 702-257-5523. Plan to wear closed toed shoes, a hat and sunscreen, and bring a refillable (not disposable) drinking container.

Looking for educational gardening activities for the summer?

Junior Master Gardeners offers a great learning experience

Junior Master Gardener’s picking peas at the Children’s Demonstration Gardens

Searching for fun, educational activities for your children this summer? Check out University of Nevada Cooperative Extension’s Junior Master Gardener™ (JMG) program. Beginning in June, your child can experience hands-on gardening activities while learning about plants, water, soil, veggies and more, with an end product they can eat! In addition, your child can learn leadership skills, service, safety with tools, community service and much more from this 4-H program.

The Junior Master Gardener program is open to all children ages 6-12. The 8-session summer season class fee is $52. Classes are held from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. each week. If you live in the north part of the valley, there are weekly Friday Junior Master Gardener classes at the Research Center and Demonstration Orchard (4600 Horse Road, North Las Vegas, Nev.) from June 17 to August 5. If you live in the south part of the valley, the Tuesday Junior Master Gardener classes will be held at the Lifelong Learning Center’s Outdoor Education Center (8050 Paradise Road, Las Vegas, Nev.) from June 14 to August 2.

Registration begins May 1. For more information and to register, please email or call Karyn Johnson at 702-257-5523.Students must register to participate. For more information on the nation-wide JMG program, visit JMG.org.

MSU Extension Gallatin County and the Gallatin Valley Land Trust receive wildfire grant

Montana State University Extension News - Thu, 04/14/2016 - 12:00am
<p>Montana State University <a href="http://www.gallatinextension.com">Extension in Gallatin County</a>and the <a href="gvlt.org/">Gallatin Valley Land Trust </a>have received a grant to support...

MSU Extension announces weekly plant clinic

Montana State University Extension News - Thu, 04/14/2016 - 12:00am
<p>Montana State University <a href="http://www.gallatinextension.com">Extension Gallatin County </a>will host a weekly plant clinic from 1:15-4 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays, from...

Stormwater pollution: Solutions within reach

Washington State University Extension News - Wed, 04/13/2016 - 10:43am

“Stormwater runoff is the No. 1 source of pollution affecting Puget Sound and one-third of Washington state’s waters. Untreated stormwater damages the health of fish, shellfish and marine mammals that depend on clean water.”

–Op-Ed The Seattle Times, April 12, 2016.

The time to act on stormwater pollution is now and WSU is committed to solutions that work.

Learn more in this Seattle Times Op-Ed by John Stark, director of the WSU Puyallup Research and Extension Center and the Washington Stormwater Center, and  Christopher J. Keane, WSU vice president for research.

Also, check out this great video from the 2016 WSU Innovators lecture - Stormwater detox : How natural infrastructure can help save salmon

2016 4-H Resident camp at Lake Tahoe

4-H membership is not required!

4-H Logo

University of Nevada Cooperative Extension Southern Area’s 4-H resident camp is being held at the Nevada State 4-H Camp at beautiful Lake Tahoe from July 24 - 29, 2016. Registration is open to campers between the ages of 9-15 until the camp is full.

This year’s camp utilizes the 4-H Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (S.T.E.A.M.) program. During the six days, campers will participate in activities centering on nature, healthy lifestyles, robotics, Global Positioning Systems (GPS), rocketry, dramatic arts, leadership, creative arts, and much more.

Cost of the camp is $450 and includes transportation, meals, T-shirt, and activities. If you would like your child to attend camp, please email or call Karen Best at 702-257-5538. Discounts are available for 4-H members.

4-H is an organization that primarily focuses on positive youth development and is open to all youth ages 5 to 19. 4-H is a community of young people across America learning leadership, citizenship, life skills and technical skills through active participation in events, projects and community service. 4-H is the largest out-of-school youth organization in the United States with over 7 million members. There are over 49,000 young people engaged in 4-H programs across the state of Nevada. 4-H is delivered in many different settings including community and project clubs, military and 4-H afterschool programs; special interest groups; school enrichment; faith-based; camping and more.