The Lincoln County Cooperative Extension Service had a good year in 2016.
Extension Educator Holly Gatzke gave her annual report at the county commission meeting Feb. 6.
She said the University of Nevada/Reno has a new dean and new structure for the extension service and it will take a little time to get all things running smoothly.
A new website is about to be launched for the extension office in Caliente, Gatzke said. ?We felt we weren?t getting information out to the public on what we are doing in different programs and want to reach them in a way that they are connecting with each other and other agencies.?
She added, ?We will also have activity connecting to Facebook and email and such, so that when we have new events and new information for the public, it will be sent out on that avenue.?
In the report, Gatzke outlined the major programs at the extension office. For example, local foods industry, getting foods grown locally and in the state for sale within stores and grown within the state. Another is the Workforce development program which is funded by a separate grant that hires two full-time and one three-quarter time workers in the county. ?Last year we had 31 adult participants in the program,? she said. Sixteen found full-time employment and the others received occupational training.?
In addition, there were 53 at-risk youth served, ranging in age from 17 to 24. ?If we have youth in the county who are in trouble, or have dropped out of school, we can take them at a younger age. However, work and career is our focus, and the younger ones are usually not ready before their later teens.?
There were seven in the program who achieved their 2016 high school diploma or equivalent, she noted. Three youth enrolled in occupational training and 35 went through the work experience program, and 13 youth gained employment. She said also workers comp is now available through the extension service office in Caliente.
Gatzke said the pilot community garden, just along the side of the office building, began in 2016 with three families growing vegetables at the demonstration level.
The extension service is also continuing to work in the area of local economic development, in particular, the International Mountain Bicycling Association, seeking to build trails in the mountains around Caliente and in conjunction with Kershaw-Ryan State Park.
Gatzke said she wants to help the local businesses and residents get ready for the expected influx when the bike trails finally do open. ?We are connected with rural development experts to get some necessary background assessments to be able to support the riders, tourists and others coming in. While the trails might be in Caliente, if we are doing this right, this will impact the whole of Lincoln County, and the more we can show [what?s here to] those who come, the more days they stay and the more money they spend here, and that will be a great advantage to everybody, so we are taking a countywide approach to that whole program.?
Talking about the 4-H program, Gatzke said, ?There were 34 clubs in 2016. 42 volunteers that make it work, all the wonderful leaders that step forward; 211 kids were registered in 4-H, which meant 34 percent of the youth in Lincoln County, ages 5-18, were participating, and we had 352 entries in the 4-H county fair in 2016.?