USDA Forest Service
 

Pacific Southwest Research Station

 

Pacific Southwest Research Station
800 Buchanan Street
Albany, CA 94710-0011

(510) 559-6300

United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service. USDA logo which links to the department's national site. Forest Service logo which links to the agency's national site.

About Us: Research Accomplishments 2012

[an error occurred while processing this directive]

Community Service

Starts with a Seed
PSW-Hilo
Children add soil to plastic containers that will hold seeds to be planted as part of the Starts with a Seed program in Hilo, Hawaii. [Photo by Kainana Francisco] On-click enlarges photo.Children add soil to plastic containers that will hold seeds to be planted as part of the Starts with a Seed program in Hilo, Hawaii. [Photo by Kainana Francisco]

In April 2011, the station's Institute of Pacific Islands Forestry in Hilo, Hawai‘i launched the Starts with a Seed program with the mission to connect children to Hawai‘i's forests. Funding from the More Kids in the Woods program in FY2012 helped expand and ensure the program's success. The program hosted 441 K-12 students, 35 community members, and 11 university students on field trips and service learning trips. Many of the participants came from urban and/or underserved communities.

Field trips are designed to pique participants' curiosity as they experience the outdoors, develop an appreciation for forests, learn about ongoing research projects, and hear about native tree uses and stories. Service learning trip participants gather native seeds for propagation, prepare planting sites, and plant native plants in degraded forest areas with partners. Program coordinators also conducted two "train the trainer" workshops on ecological restoration techniques, where 11 educators and students gathered seeds and conducted plant monitoring.

The program worked with two East Hawai‘i charter schools to purchase, build, and supply a greenhouse for each campus. Additionally, the program connected Hawai‘i Island students to students in the Jasper National Park stewardship education project located in the Canadian Rockies in Alberta. Students shared experiences and points of view on temperate/tropical forests via video teleconference.

Program partners include Mauna Kea Watershed Alliance, University of Hawaii at Hilo, Pacific Internship Programs for Exploring Science, Department of Hawaiian Homelands, Hawai‘i National Park Service, Kohala Watershed Partnership, Three Mountain Alliance, Kohala Center, and the Hawaii Division of Forestry and Wildlife (Natural Area Reserves).

Progress Ranch Community Garden Project
PSW-Davis
A boy digs a hole so he can plant a tomato plant into a raised garden bed, as part of the Progress Ranch community garden project in Davis, California. [U.S. Forest Service] On-click enlarges photo.A boy digs a hole so he can plant a tomato plant into a raised garden bed, as part of the Progress Ranch community garden project in Davis, California. [U.S. Forest Service]
A boy digs a hole so he can plant a tomato plant into a raised garden bed, as part of the Progress Ranch community garden project in Davis, California. [U.S. Forest Service] On-click enlarges photo.A boy digs a hole so he can plant a tomato plant into a raised garden bed, as part of the Progress Ranch community garden project in Davis, California. [U.S. Forest Service]

Forest Service employees from the Pacific Southwest Research Station and State and Private Forestry in Davis, Calif. kicked off Earth Day on April 22, 2012, by completing a three-month community garden project for a local boys' home. Forty volunteers worked with six boys from Progress Ranch, a residential home in Davis for boys ages 6-12, to build raised bed gardens in the facility's backyard. Each boy tended to and planted vegetables in his own plot.

The project met the objectives of the USDA's "People's Garden" Initiative objectives for community service, partnerships, and sustainability. Employees contributed more than $500 for construction materials and the local Ace Hardware store and its employees donated another $175 for seeds, seedlings, trellises, and other materials.

Richmond Edible Forest, PSW-Albany
Volunteers use rakes and shovels to distribute mulch along the Richmond Greenway. [U.S. Forest Service] On-click enlarges photo.Volunteers use rakes and shovels to distribute mulch along the Richmond Greenway. [U.S. Forest Service]

On Jan. 16, 2012—Martin Luther King Jr. National Day of Service—staff from the station's Albany headquarters partnered with the Urban Tilth in Richmond, Calif. to plant some 60 fruit trees on the Richmond Edible Forest. They joined nearly 400 community volunteers who worked on multiple sites along the Richmond Greenway—a former three-mile rail byway bordered by 32 acres of community gardens, composting sites, and recreational space in a densely populated, underserved community—removing weeds, collecting seeds, and replanting garden beds. For the past several years, station staff has collaborated on the edible forest with Urban Tilth, a nonprofit that promotes community agriculture in west Contra Costa County, by providing scientific expertise, as well as physical labor, to the project. The edible forest serves as an environmental education site where station scientists and Forest Service land managers teach kids about the benefits of trees and forested landscapes.

The project is a partnership between the U.S. Forest Service, Urban Tilth, the city of Richmond, and the West Contra Costa Unified School District. The partnership engages 700 underserved youth in education programs to learn how to install "edible forests" in Richmond parks and school areas.

PSW helped fund The Richmond Edible Forest Project through a U.S. Forest Service More Kids in the Woods program grant. The More Kids in the Woods program's goal is to work with community partners to help America's youth learn more about their local environment and careers in natural resources.

Centro de Niños, PSW-Riverside

Scientists and staff at the station's Riverside lab continued its long-time community relationship with Centro de Niños, a children's center run by Concilio for the Spanish Speaking of the Inland Empire. The Riverside, Calif.-based nonprofit is dedicated to providing childcare services and bilingual instruction to children of underserved and financially needy families in the area.

During the 2011 holiday season, station scientists and staff kicked off a Thanksgiving food drive and a holiday toy drive for Centro de Niños children and families. Eleven families received a box with all the fixings for a Thanksgiving dinner, including a turkey, potatoes, rice, beans, yams, flour, canned vegetables, juices and dessert. To get into the holiday spirit, about 90 children, ages 3-5, took home a special holiday gift.

In September 2012, just prior to the beginning of the new school year, scientists and staff donated backpacks, lunch boxes, pencils, paper, crayons and other school supplies to 12 entering kindergarteners from Centro de Niños. They also donated 325 pounds of dried goods to Centro de Niños through the Feds Feed Families campaign.

"I believe in making sure that everyone has an opportunity to succeed," said Armando González-Cabán, a research economist at PSW-Riverside, who has been volunteering for Centro de Niños for more than 25 years. "These children are from families in need, so why not do something for them to make their lives better?"

Last Modified: May 1, 2013 06:45:48 PM