San Mateo and San Francisco Counties
Quarterly News & Events September 2020
Introducing New Nutrition, Family & Consumer Sciences Advisor, Laura Vollmer!
Laura joins Cooperative Extension from the University of California’s Nutrition Policy Institute, where she helped to coordinate the National Drinking Water Alliance, a national network of allies working to ensure that all children in the US can drink water in the places where they live, learn, and play. In addition to contributing to NPI's work on drinking water, Laura also contributed to research on food security and the charitable food assistance system, and the impact of community nutrition and physical activity on children's health. From teaching at an elementary school garden program in Mountain View, CA, to running a summer camp kitchen in the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania, to fighting hunger at City Harvest, an emergency food provider in New York City, Laura has diverse experience working towards a more equitable food system.

Originally hailing from Montara, CA, Laura spent a brief cold period on the east coast, graduating from Wesleyan University with a BA in English, before beating a hasty retreat to California’s sunnier climes. Laura is a registered dietitian and holds an MPH from the University of California, Berkeley. When she’s not at work, you’ll often find her cooking, hiking, or swimming in the bay.

Laura is the advisor for San Mateo, San Francisco, & Santa Clara counties. She can be reached at
Program Happenings
Preserving Your Garden Harvest: October 1 | 12pm
This is a special seminar talk by Sue Mosbacher, UC Master Food Preserver Program Coordinator, Central Sierra. 
It's part of the Virtual 2020 UC Master Gardener Mini Conference. Visit their website for the full schedule, including talks from our colleagues in the Master Gardener program on topics from composting to houseplants to fire-safe landscaping. Attendance is free and no advance registration is required! All talks will be live-streamed through the UC Master Gardener channels on Facebook and YouTube and recordings will be available for viewing afterward.
Kids grow by reading about gardens
By: Arwen Griffith. Edited by: Susan Kornfeld & Cynthia Nations

Excerpt from On The Coastside Magazine, August 2020
Many of us in the University of California Master Gardener program fell in love with gardening as children, introduced by an older friend or family member who was a passionate gardener. Our mission is to teach the public about gardening sustainably, and what better way than to educate the next generation? With so many children learning at home for the foreseeable future, finding good resources is even more important. Here are some books you can enjoy with the children in your life to share the magic of growing things! Read more...
"Plan, Shop, Save, Cook" curriculum goes virtual
By: Alejandra Gonzalez & Elaine Silver, CalFresh Healthy Living, UCCE
When COVID-19 hit, we were made aware of an increasing number of roadblocks: from finding resources for our communities, to creating safety networks, to then allowing us to continue to provide our work. As we learned, creating a safe space for families to allow us in their homes can be challenging, especially with half of our population experiencing some sort of loss. Elaine Silver and Alejandra Gonzalez from the San Francisco/San Mateo county nutrition team, along with another member of our Santa Clara County team, Carmen Simmons, were able to create the “Plan, Shop, Save, Cook” curriculum virtually for CalFresh Healthy Living, UCCE. A facet of this curriculum teaches participants about seasonally available produce, which saves them money. Although we extremely miss seeing our participants and communities’ face to face interaction, this has helped us continue our work and having the joy of teaching and impacting communities online. Finally, after some hard work, we finalized our virtual curriculum’s state approval in Spanish/English and are eager to continue to reach old sites and newer participants.
By: William Easlea, Mary Vollinger, and Andra Nicoli
Collaboration between CalFresh Healthy Living, UCCE San Mateo County and local school increases access to green spaces and empowers youth through a Garden Buddy system.
The Issue
Woodrow Wilson Elementary school is located in Daly City, San Mateo County, a densely populated urban area near San Francisco. Over 72% of its 371 students qualify for the Free and Reduced Meal Program. The school has had no dedicated green space. There are documented health benefits received from spending time in green spaces, yet a 2019 landscape and urban planning study found inequities in access to urban vegetation in communities that have lower income levels and are more ethnically and racially diverse. Read more...

Nutrition education adapts to working from home
By: Elaine Smith, CalFresh Healthy Living, UCCE Educator
Since mid-March, I along with our team, have adapted to working at home and reaching out to our participants and agencies virtually. Upcoming in person classes and training had to be re-imagined or rescheduled. Everything needed to be re-figured.

Early on, I was able to lead a virtual training for managers at a child care agency in San Francisco we have worked with for many years. The training was very successful and had many benefits. It allowed me to train many people at once, rather than travel to each site to work with them individually.
Currently, I am part of a task force adapting adult curriculum to online platforms. We will be conducting a training for other Adult Educators this month to show them best practices in using the curriculum in a virtual setting. I am also working with a group of educators and supervisors to continue the Smarter Lunchroom work we have been performing in person in the schools. We have developed a survey to send out to Food Service Providers to find out their needs in the school districts they serve and how we can best support them.
I have been teaching a number of Adult classes through the Zoom platform, using power point slides, having adapted the adult curriculum to a virtual setting. I believe we have all “stepped up to the plate” and have been successful in meeting the needs of our participants and agencies at this time.
4-H Virtual Open House: September 13 | 3-5pm
What is 4-H? How can I join? When do clubs meet? What projects are offered?

If you are wondering any of these questions, join us for our Virtual Open House! 4-H is open to youth ages 5-18 years. Come join any of our community clubs and/or programs. Clubs offer a variety of projects. Meet our youth leaders, adult volunteers, and 4-H staff.
Interview with Parker, Pacifica 4-H
With the shelter in place order due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we did not have a County Fair this year. The county fair would have been a way for our 4-H’ers to show and demonstrate what they learned in their animal projects. Our 4-H Youth Development Program came up with a way for our 4-H’ers to virtually demonstrate their knowledge and end the year with a little competition. Here’s an interview with one of our 4-H members on her experience entering into the San Mateo County 4-H Virtual Livestock Show. 
My name is Parker. I am fourteen years old and just completed my fifth year with the Pacifica 4-H Club. This summer I competed in the San Mateo County Virtual Livestock Show in two categories - Market Turkey and Dairy Goat. My turkey won Grand Champion and my American Alpine dairy goat placed third.

How did you prepare for the virtual show?
I scheduled a time and place with our project leaders to make the videos, using our club's farm and a great time of day. Then I made sure my animals were show ready like they would be for fair - cleaning, trimming, practicing, leading and flipping. Then I reviewed the video requirements and practiced my videos a few times since you couldn't do any edits.
4-H helps evacuate family's farm animals
With the huge fires in our county, on August 20, a former 4-H family living in La Honda asked San Mateo/SF 4-H to help with housing their animals during the fire evacuation. Many families helped with transporting and unloading the animals to the Crystal Springs 4-H Farm as well as volunteering to help feed them. The 4-H Farm housed their many animals which included a cow, a heifer, 20 sheep, 4 goats, 50+ chickens, turkeys, 20 rabbits, ducks, geese, peacocks, guinea fowls, tortoise, and a few other animals. We are happy to know that the family’s home is safe and their animals are moving back home. They are very grateful to our 4-H community!
Due to the pandemic, the Life Skills Festival and Field Day that is normally held in May has been postponed until 2021. To share the work of our 4-H members who participated in STEM, sewing, food, and craft projects, some 4-H’ers submitted their work for our digital showcase.
Adventure Day is a private outdoor day of fun at UC Elkus Ranch for educational pods of children and adults. Participants can spend the day caring for our animals and gardens, making a nature-themed craft, going on hikes around the property, and so much more! A tailored experience to your group's interests and schedule. Available weekdays for 4 hours. Social bubbles can contain up to 8 children and 1-2 adults. Perfect for educational pods, social bubbles, and groups who want to supplement their at-home learning in our outdoor classroom. Learn more...
Private Ranch Tours are available for small groups! Tours are guided by one of our knowledgeable educators, bringing you through our gardens, historic barns, and animal pens. Tours are available Monday through Saturday for 1.5 hours. Private Ranch Tours are currently replacing the educational field trips the ranch typically hosts during the school year. Learn more...
Our kids are ready to find new homes! We have several very friendly kid goats available, having been handled regularly by staff, and they make great family pets! They are 100% Boer or a Boer cross, by our purebred Boer buck, Huckleberry Finn. The goats were born in February & March, are current on all their shots, and ready to find their new homes now! Contact Leslie Jensen at for more information.
Other News / Events / Opportunities

The UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, through the California Naturalist Program, is developing a UC Climate Stewards certification course. In collaboration with partners including formal and informal science institutions, we will deliver a public program that improves climate change literacy and civic engagement for community and ecosystem resilience throughout California. The UC California Naturalist Program will prepare UC Climate Stewards to communicate and engage in local solutions to advance community and ecosystem resilience. Our vision is for California to have engaged communities and functioning ecosystems that are resilient in a changing climate. Read more...

Need a reason to get out in nature? Book the Elkus Ranch Conference Center for your work or family event*! Located in the beautiful rolling hills and pastures of rural Half Moon Bay, it’s perfect for offsites, retreats, meetings, and more! Call Leslie Jensen to book: (650) 712-3151

*Current UC ANR COVID-19 guidelines restrict group gatherings to no more than 10 people.
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We hope that you and your family stay well during these challenging times.
Thank you for being a member of the UC Cooperative Extension community!
UC Cooperative Extension Offices
San Mateo / San Francisco Counties
Located at Elkus Ranch
1500 Purisima Creek Road
Half Moon Bay, CA 94019
Master Gardener Helpline:
The Master Gardener Helpline is currently operating remotely only, per their regular (M, W, Th) schedule. Please submit all inquires via email:

Mondays - 9am to 4pm
Wednesdays - 10:30am to 2pm
Thursdays - 9am to 4pm
It is the policy of the University of California (UC) and the UC Division of Agriculture & Natural Resources not to engage in discrimination against or harassment of any person in any of its programs or activities (Complete nondiscrimination policy statement can be found at )
Inquiries regarding ANR’s nondiscrimination policies may be directed to UCANR, Affirmative Action Compliance & Title IX Officer, University of California, Agriculture and Natural Resources, 2801 Second Street, Davis, CA 95618,(530) 750-1397.