Twenty years ago, UC Cooperative Extension 4-H advisor Carla Sousa, working with retired kindergarten teacher Denise Nelson, launched the first teen survival conference in Visalia.
Even as its first participants are pushing middle age, the program continues to gather local teenagers to face the challenges of youth in the rural San Joaquin Valley community, according to a story in today's Visalia Times-Delta. The 2008 event takes place Oct. 14.
"When we started off, we had no idea," Sousa was quoted. "Was this going to last one year? Two years? Five years? Because of the reception, it makes you want to continue."
Teen pregnancy, mental health, higher education and employment opportunities were topics of the conference from the beginning. The program has evolved to address such issues as teenage depression, nutrition and eating disorders, and gender identity.
"Kids continue to grow up faster and faster," Nelson was quoted. "I think the value of the conference has grown because of the faster pace of our society and the greater stresses our youth have today."
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The UC Riverside faculty and staff newsletter Inside UCR includes a feature in the current issue about a long-standing ANR program housed at the Southern California campus, News and Information Outreach in Spanish (NOS).
The article traces the program's journey from its inception in 1981, when radio news stories were sent to California radio stations on gigantic reel-to-reel tapes, through a 27-year-long uninturrupted stream of information from the University to the Spanish-speaking public. The stories are still mailed directly to radio stations, but are also available for online listening on demand on computers worldwide.
Myriam Grajales-Hall, NOS manager, told writer Todd Ransom that the radio new stories provide very practical tips that the Hispanic listeners can apply to their daily lives.
Added public information representative, Alberto Hauffen:
“Because we are research-based, we have the credibility and have established a good working relationship with the news media. They use what we give them.”
The program's effectiveness and longevity has given it a devout following. Listeners often contact the NOS office directly for more in-depth advice on health issues.
“They look at us as a trusted friend,” Grajales-Hall was quoted. “It’s a big responsibility, but we can guide them to the right people.”
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Fresno Bee food writer Joan Obra doesn't stop with klatch in the kitchen, but scours research fields and neighborhood shops for her comprehensive culinary news. Her story this week focuses on a Sichuan pepper, a spice so hot it numbs the tongue. The pepper is part of an observational trial conducted by UC Cooperative Extension farm advisor Richard Molinar at the UC Kearney Research and Education Center near Parlier.
Typically, Sichuan pepper is imported from China. Molinar sees it as a potential crop for Valley small-scale farmers.
Nine years ago, he planted two Zanthoxylum armatum trees, a species of Sichuan pepper grown in Nepal, according to Obra's story. The trees came from a local Hmong family growing peppercorns for home use.
"We're just watching them to see how they do," Molinar was quoted. "I think it would be worth it to expand. It's kind of like jujubes and capers. There aren't a lot of these kinds of crops being grown in the United States. They are viable alternatives for our farmers."
UCCE's Michael Yang, a field assistant to Molinar, commented on the spice's use by Southeast Asian families. "They use the pepper to flavor everything from salsas to steamed fish," Obra paraphrased Yang.
Obra also made inquiries about Sichuan pepper at a high-end cooking store, an ethnic market and an upscale Chinese eatery, where the chef buys the spice from a Bay Area wholesaler.