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San Benito County
University of California
San Benito County

Spotlight Stories

UC Delivers in San Benito County!

Urban Gleaning Supports Community Food Bank

 

The Issue

Urban Gleaning Supports Community Food Bank
Despite California’s economic and agricultural prosperity, over one in four Californians are hungry or at serious risk of hunger—significantly worse than the nation as a whole. Hunger is a symptom of poverty; far too many families experience devastating health consequences when their low wages or modest public benefits cannot cover the cost of housing, utilities, and food (California Food Policy Advocates, 2013). In San Benito County, 20.1% of children live in food insecure households (Kids Count, 2014) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 2015 declared seven of eleven schools in the Hollister school district as Community Eligibility Provision sites, meaning breakfast and lunch have no cost for all students at the campuses as part of an effort to encourage students in high-poverty areas to take advantage of carefully balanced, nutritious meals.

What Has ANR Done?

Modeled after an Urban Gleaning program in Portland Oregon, San Benito County 4-H’er Claire Gastello coordinated an effort to glean unpicked citrus fruit from local homes throughout the city of Hollister and donate the harvested fruit to the local food pantry. The project was important to Gastello a nine-year 4-H member of the Cienega 4-H club “because it gave me a chance to give back to my community and develop leadership skills”. Rather than seeing mature citrus fruit that has fallen to the ground go to waste, Claire did an environmental scan of the community to determine where unharvested fruit was available, worked with homeowners to obtain their consent to glean the fruit, and trained 4-H members and parents on how to properly use tools to safely conduct the harvest. With community service being a major focal point of the 4-H Youth Development Program, and with a monetary contribution from the San Benito County 4-H Council of $400.00, this project actively engaged 56 4-H members and adult volunteers in addressing food insecurity issues in San Benito County instead of just being passive receivers of information.

The Payoff

Two-thousand pounds of citrus donated to the community food bank of San Benito County

“I think the most important thing I learned from this project is organization. It takes a lot of effort and organization to make any event happen. I had to write a newspaper ad, knock on doors, and talk to the people in our community, and go to different [4-H] clubs to spread the word about my project. I also had to go to [4-H] Council twice. All of this took organization”. Most importantly, the citizens of San Benito County benefited from the project by feeding the hungry with two-thousand pounds of citrus, cleaning up unused fruit, and supporting the community pantry which provides food security to over 9000 individuals annually.

Clientele Testimonial

“This project taught me about agriculture in our county and about the community pantry and how it helps people in our community”. Clair Gastello

Contact

Supporting Unit:

San Benito County
 
Lynn Schmitt-McQuitty
Youth Development Advisor
UCCE San Benito, Monterey and Santa Cruz Counties
831-637-5346 x 12
lschmittmcquitty@ucanr.edu

 

Tech Wizards – Building social support through science mentoring

The Issue

Tech Wizards – Building social support through science mentoring
Mentor and mentee investigating composting worms

Studies of mentoring and informal science programs have shown that adult mentors can play an important role in facilitating the development of positive identities for youth in informal science education by providing youth with opportunities to see themselves as capable of knowing, understanding, and doing science (NRC, 2009). Family, peers, mentors, and community members can provide social support by providing information, advice, material assistance, concern, encouragement, and feedback. When informal science mentoring opportunities are combined with social support, they have the potential to more positively impact participants in ways that pursuing these aspirations alone cannot meet. 

What Has ANR Done?

Since 2013, the Monterey and San Benito County 4-H youth development program has been delivering the 4-H Tech Wizards program to traditionally under-served audiences in an effort to use science as a way to build social support through peer mentoring. Participating in weekly program sessions throughout the course of 12-months, high school aged teens mentor elementary students on robotics, engineering, gardening, nutrition, and other science-based topics to develop healthy and positive relationships with science and each other. To date 465 elementary students, 75 high school teens and 34 professional staff have participated in the project which has led to over 3000 mentoring hours.

The Payoff

Using informal science mentors correlates to high levels of support to achieve academic and career goals.

Mentees used the perceptions of social support survey, a 9-point Likert-type scale (0 - 3 = low, 4 – 6 = medium, 7 – 9 = high) to self-report how much support they receive from family, their peers in the mentoring program, their mentor, and community in achievement of their academic and career goals. The results showed that 90 % of mentees ranked support from their mentor as high, 78 % found support from their family was high, 73 % noted high support from other mentees, and 63% found high support from their community. The significance of mentees indicating high support from their mentors in supporting academic achievement goals suggests that mentors play an important role in creating a positive learning environment where learning, exploration, and investigation can happen with the guidance of an understanding and supportive mentor.

Clientele Testimonial

“Informational support has to be the most prominent type of support in the class this year. Everyone is always so eager to help, explain, or demonstrate how certain activities are done. The best aspect of this is that the mentors encourage this. If they are asked a clarification question, they open it up to the group in order for them to answer it”. - Site Coordinator

“Everyone in class has a sense of belonging. They might be a rambunctious bunch, but they are always very inclusive of everyone in the class. I feel that it is the way the lessons are set-up that gives the students the opportunity to interact in a more social atmosphere as opposed to reading from a textbook”. - Program Leader

“Whenever the students would get frustrated with other students or whenever they would struggle with the activity, the mentors were always there trying to help them relax and giving them alternative options on how to tackle the question they were having trouble with.” - Program Leader

Contact

Lynn Schmitt-McQuitty, County Director: San Benito County, Science Literacy Youth Development Advisor: Santa Cruz, Monterey, and San Benito Counties, lschmittmcquitty@ucanr.edu


UCCE San Benito County
3228 Southside Road
Hollister, CA 95023
831-637-5346 x 12
lschmittmcquitty@ucanr.edu
831-637-7111 (fax) 

 

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TechXcite – Local Youth Discover Engineering

The Issue

TechXcite – Local Youth Discover Engineering
Girls develop engineering skills through the use of everyday objects
Studies of informal science education programs have recommended emphasizing human versus technological aspects of science in curriculum design. Specifically, one study recommends “making STEM fields more attractive…to girls by…promoting science as a human inquiry, involving the hands and the heart as well as the brain, one’s personal interests and tastes––rather than an anonymous application of a universal method” (Froschl, Sprung, Archer, & Fancsali, 2003). Additionally, research indicates that “New teaching and learning models are needed to provide students with the ability to engage in scientific inquiry” (Skelton, Seevers, Dormondy, & Hodnett, 2012). For both genders, hands-on experiences such as using tools and equipment have been found to enhance interest in science (Hansen, Walker, & Flom, 1995) and are related to higher math and science achievement (Campbell, Jolly, Hoey, & Perlman, 2002). Girls, in particular, were six times more likely to consider engineering as a career following hands-on engineering activities (Campbell & Shackford, 1990). 

What Has ANR Done?

Collaborating with National 4-H Council and the Pratt School of Engineering at Duke, the 4-H Youth Development program in San Benito,Monterey, and Santa Cruz counties provided professional development workshops, curriculum supplies, and technical support todeliverTechXcite curriculum modules in 4-H Community Clubandafterschool programs.TheTechXcite curriculum attracts boys, girls, rural, and urban studentsinafterschool programs to STEM fields and careers through engaging, substantive, and applicable, hands-on lessons. Ten sites reached over 160 youth with engineering curriculum focusing on prosthetic arms, infrared remote controls, solar-powered cars, harvesting rainwater, and imaging of biological systems during a nine-month period.

The Payoff

Curriculum engaged all students and improved competence in science and engineering

Evaluation results generated by Compass Research and Evaluation indicated that 98% of instructors believe that students learned and demonstrated improved competence in science and engineering. Results also indicated that the modules are applicable to real-world situations (96%) and provided real-world examples and uses of technology (85%). With respect to gender differences, instructors very much or completely agreed that both male students (87%) and female students (72%) were engagedwithTechXcite. Most instructors very much or completely agreed that after participatinginTechXcite students showed improved attitudes toward science and engineering (65%), and increased initiative to explore science and engineering topics (64%).

Clientele Testimonial

TechXcite was a wonderful program which brought opportunities for our youth to get hands-on discovery-based learning experiences. The youth got excited every week when itwasTechXcite time; therefore, they were very engaged in the materials and activities provided. We will continue touseTechXcite as our youth really enjoyed the program.

Contact

Supporting Unit:

San Benito, Monterey, Santa Cruz counties 
 
Lynn Schmitt-McQuitty
County Director: San Benito County
Science Literacy Youth Development Advisor: Santa Cruz, Monterey and San Benito Counties

UCCE San Benito County
3228 Southside Road
Hollister, CA 95023
831-637-5346 x 12
lschmittmcquitty@ucanr.edu
831-637-7111 (fax) 
Webmaster Email: lschmittmcquitty@ucanr.edu