Ruth Crawford, UCCE Humboldt's first Home Advisor
UCCE Humboldt has a long-standing tradition of “neighbors helping neighbors,” which began in 1913 with the appointment of the first farm advisor, who assisted in farm and home matters. In 1943, UCCE Humboldt began using county home demonstration agents to help with home and food management, including preserving food for lean times and developing victory gardens. Demand grew for a UCCE home economics position, and in 1946, UCCE Humboldt appointed its first Home Advisor, Ruth Crawford, who assisted communities for 23 years by teaching bread making, food preservation, sewing, clothes recycling, mattress making, furniture reupholstering, and many other home improvement projects. In numerous Humboldt communities, she organized train-the-trainer “Home Advisor clubs,” in which she taught home economics skills to club leaders who in turn taught the same skills to women in their clubs and communities. Crawford also pioneered programs in television with a weekly show called “Market-orama,” which featured local guests and Cooperative Extension specialists. In the late 1960s, state budget cuts eliminated most of UC’s Home Advisor programs, and Crawford began to focus more on 4-H. Her successor, Evelyn Wunderlich, continued in the same spirit and began a program called "Money Sense," which trained volunteers to help low-income families and individuals stretch their resources and improve their diets and food safety in the home.
Today, UCCE Humboldt continues to support health and youth development through the Youth, Families, and Communities (YFC) program. The YFC Advisor, Dorina Espinoza, aims to address community needs through community outreach, education, and applied research. The YFC program has a focus on healthy behaviors, youth science literacy, citizenship, and positive youth development through the 4-H program and research. The program also focuses on promoting healthy behaviors to prevent childhood obesity and on extending and improving nutrition knowledge through the Expanded Foods and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP). The EFNEP provides resources to improve the well-being of low-income families through nutrition and health practices and offers eight weeks of nutrition education that helps families and youth make sound diet decisions, manage food budgets, and improve food safety. The YFC program also evaluates the EFNEP and promotes healthy communities through research and policies that support community health.
Since its inception, UCCE Humboldt has been at the forefront of youth development. The first three 4-H clubs established in California were in Arcata, Fortuna, and Ferndale and focused on agriculture and home economics projects. Today there are ten 4-H clubs located throughout Humboldt County, where nearly 500 club-based youth develop leadership, citizenship, and life skills by participating in a variety of hands-on projects, including engineering, animal science, gardening, and woodworking. By doing these projects, youth are able to build their confidence and reach their potential as leaders who are connected to their communities. Many 4-H youth learn important skills that later help them in their careers, including public speaking, record keeping, and running meetings. Humboldt’s 4-H members also help fulfill local needs by labeling Eureka’s storm drains, providing food and clothes to the homeless, and participating in therapeutic horseback riding and a guide dog program. In addition, 4-H collaborates with other groups to provide career and service opportunities for youth at the Northcoast Youth Summit, which was started by UCCE Humboldt 4-H All Stars ten years ago.
Humboldt’s 4-H program
4-H clubs began as agricultural clubs, but have since embraced engineering, woodworking, therapeutic horseback riding, and more
has enriched science, engineering, and technology (SET) activities in classroom, after-school programs, and the community, reaching an additional 600 youth. Sandy Sathrum, the UCCE Humboldt 4-H Representative, provides trainings and materials for after-school programs and for a charter school that uses the 4-H curriculum. UCCE Humboldt’s 4-H members assisted in the planning and implementation of a tree planting project at the 2009 4-H SET Expo at Redwood Acres Fairgrounds, where they also shared their knowledge about trees and other SET-related subjects with the public.