Barbara Allen-Diaz, University of California Vice President, Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, talked with California Ag Today about the 100th anniversary of the Cooperative Extension.
On May 8, 1914, President Woodrow Wilson signed into law the Smith-Lever Act, which created Cooperative Extension to help farmers, homemakers and youth apply the latest university research to improve their lives.
“For us, it’s very exciting,” said Allen-Diaz, “because we re going to celebrate our 100th birthday party of Cooperative Extension over this entire year; but in particular, on May 8, 2014, we will try to engage as many people as possible across the state of California in our day called, “A Celebration of Science and Service.”
Allen-Diaz continued, “We’re asking folks through our local community groups, public K-12 schools, students on our campuses, all of our 4-H clubs throughout the state, even folks on our Google campus, to participate with us in celebrating 100th years of cooperative extension by being a scientist for the day.”
Cooperative Extension wants everybody to go to their “Be a Scientist for a Day” website for this day of citizen science and service, to answer all three or any one of the three following questions:
“The first question is on pollinators,” said Allen-Diaz. “We want people to count how many pollinators they see outside in their yard, in their school garden, at their place of work, wherever they are when they log on, and count how many pollinators, such as bees, butterflies, dragonflies, etc., they see over a three-minute period.”
“We have information on our website to learn about pollinators, since we’re an education institute, and how important they are not only to the future of agriculture,” she explained, “but really to the future of life on this planet. Because that’s how plants are able to produce seeds—having their flowers pollinated.”
“Pollinators are an incredibly important part of our ecosystems throughout the world so, not only for food production,” commented Allen-Diaz, “but also for the health of all our ecosystems.
“The second question deals with water,” continued Allen-Diaz. “Obviously, water is incredibly important to all of us. In this particular year of record drought we’d really like to know how you conserve water in your daily life. There will be a series of drop down menus where you can input your data.”
Allen-Diaz stated, “The third question is on food, again with drop-down menus. Where does your food come from? Where do you get your food?”
“We ask for your location, though you can choose not to answer,” remarked Allen-Diaz, “whether people log on through their phone, computer, iPad or other instruments. With these geopoints, we can analyze the data and produce a map of the state and show everyone where pollinators are, water use by region, and where our food comes from. The more people who log on and participate, to the more we can populate our map of California.”
“For 100 years, we have engaged our local communities to work with us in problem-solving issues of importance in agricultural natural resources, nutrition, urban horticulture, home economics, and use development,” said Allen-Diaz.