On Nevada Field Day on September 17, visitors are treated to a variety of hands-on activities, wine tastings, demonstrations, and giveaways, including a Farm-to-Fork cooking demonstration and samples at noon on the main stage of the University of Nevada, Reno’s very own Elisabeth Watkins. Known to many as Linden’s Farm Girl Chef, Watkins is a Food Network’s Chopped Junior winner and a TEDx host. She received her undergraduate degree and is working on her degree from the University’s College of Agriculture, Biotechnology & Natural Resources, which hosts the event, with its Experiment Station and Extension units. The event is from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., at the Field Lab of the university’s main station, 5895 Clean Water Way in Reno, near the intersection of McCarran Boulevard and Mill Street.
Watkins says she acquired her culinary skills through Extension’s 4-H youth development programs, and will use products and meats from the Desert Farming Initiative and Wolf Pack Meats from the Experiment Station. The initiative, which will also sell its organic products at the event, will run a commercial farm, including orchards, open fields, hoop houses and a greenhouse, and seek to promote climate-smart agriculture and food sovereignty through demonstrations, education, research and outreach. Wolf Pack Meats, which will offer tours at 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., provides USDA-inspected harvesting and processing services to local farmers, teaches students the latest meat technology and maintains its own herd to study ways to produce meat in greater quantities with a higher quality.
Other demonstrations on the main stage on Nevada Field Day include protecting your home from embers from wildfires, container gardening, and propagating native food and medicinal plants. In addition, the College’s award-winning student sports club, the Nevada Loggers, will host logging events, including chopping, chopping, and chainsaw demonstrations. There will also be tours of the sheep facilities (10:45am and 12:45pm) and livestock facilities (11am and 1pm).
The event is buzzing with activity at more than 40 stands focusing on the latest developments in agriculture, horticulture, food, natural resources and the environment. The new wool clothing line of the College’s Rafter 7 Merino sheep will be on display and for sale. The sheep are world famous for their fine, soft wool.
At the Wine Tasting Table, a partnership formed last fall between the College, the Experiment Station and the Nevada Grape Growers & Winemakers, samples will be given to those 21 and older. The partnership aims to support activities and events, such as classes, wine evaluations, vineyard tours, roundtables, professional speakers and more, to promote Nevada’s grape growing and winemaking industry.
On the tasting table are the university’s Riesling wines and the red blend wine. The riesling grapes are from Lenox Vineyards in Silver Springs. The award-winning Nevada Sunset Winery harvested the grapes and oversaw the winemaking operations. The red blend is made from four varieties from Nevada Sunset Winery, and the precise blend is the result of a wine blending competition sponsored by the College in February.
There will also be activities and information for children. The 4-H Youth Development Program will invite young people to participate in paper making, as an example of how 4-H projects engage young people in learning about science, health, citizenship and more. The Rethink Your Drink Nevada program will be present with healthy drink recipes for children and information on reducing children’s intake of sugary drinks.
Other stands will have activities and information for both adults and young people. Some will make tortillas from different varieties of corn to teach about plant breeding, sample products and ask tasters to provide feedback on sweetness for a research project, hand out fall seedlings and seed packets, give gardening tips, sell plants from plant research, and provide information about a variety to research projects carried out by the Institute, such as research into:
- weather and climate (Find out how you can help scientists learn more about Nevada.)
- plant breeding and genetics
- alternative low-water crops for Nevada
- the use of precision irrigation management methods and equipment to improve water conservation
- plant characteristics for adaptation to drought, salinity and heat
- increasing plant tolerance to harsh environments and increasing biomass productivity
- strategies for improving water use efficiency in plants
- production and use of cactus pears
- growing hemp in Nevada
- animal reproduction, genetics, nutrition and meat science (Kids, come pick up a cow puzzle.)
- using modern equipment to evaluate feed
- preserving and restoring the Great Basin land areas and improving sustainable farming practices
- use virtual fences and collars and ear tags with GPS tracking to manage grazing cows
- Methods to address forest fire management challenges in the Great Basin
- the relationship between diet and chronic kidney disease
- how bacteria and other microbes in the digestive tract affect the health of Nevadans (Get information about participating in the study.)
- a better understanding of insect hormones and sense of smell to discover new, safer insecticides and control practices. (See displays of live insects.)
- mosquitoes and ticks, and how to reduce their impact as carriers of diseases such as Lyme disease (See How to Remove a Tick.)
- economic factors throughout the state, including the economic value of hunting and the Nevada State Parks system
Nevada Field Day has been a College tradition for decades, and for more than 65 years, the faculties have used the 800-acre Main Station Field Lab to provide hands-on educational experiences for students and conduct research. It is home to hundreds of programs, such as those aimed at raising healthy livestock, controlling harmful weeds, developing low-water crops, and maintaining air and water quality.
“September is a great time of year for people to visit the University’s Main Station Field Lab,” said Bill Payne, Dean of the College. “There will be a lot to see and do, and it really helps people understand how we combine the university’s missions of teaching, research, and engagement with our communities to serve Nevadans in their daily lives.”
Faculty and staff will also be on hand to provide information about the college’s undergraduate and graduate degree programs, as well as programs offered by Extended Studies – non-credit professional development programs and industry-specific training programs.
Other organizations the College often partners with will also be on hand to provide information, including Nevada’s Western Regional Agricultural Stress Assistance Program; Great Basin Rangelands Research Unit, USDA – Agricultural Research Service; Nevada Section Association for Range Management; and Bees4Vets, a nonprofit organization that supports veterans and first responders with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI) by teaching beekeeping. The program uses space in the university’s Main Station Field Lab to run programs.
Finally, the Codfather Burgers & Hamburgers food truck is ready. Admission is free, thanks to the support of the Truckee Meadows Water Authority and Western Nevada Supply. For more information, call 775-784-6237. Individuals requiring reasonable accommodations should contact Paul Lessick, Civil Rights and Compliance Coordinator at least five days prior to the event.