What is the status of the University of Nevada, Reno Cooperative Extension in Lincoln County? Director Holly Gatzke says it is doing well.

She gave an update at the County Commission meeting March 21.

For the past 10 years she has been working on trying to get a food industry going in the county where growers and ranchers can supply fruits, vegetables and meats to some of the high end restaurants and markets in the Vegas area. “People are taking more note that their health is dependent on what they eat, and coupled with that, we have a huge market there that we can serve. We have even been working with Utah State University on a few projects and maybe could expand into Southern Utah. Whatever works.”

In 2016 and beyond, Gatzke said she wants to create a local food website blog and move into the realm of social media. “The reality is that in the trainings I have done I have worked with a lot of people who have various connections and having such on a website will give people much quicker and easier access to get whatever information they need.”

A virtual ranch model for Southern Nevada was developed in 2015 which Gatzke explained was a project from Texas A&M University.

Studies focused on what was the impact of an area where there is so much federal land, like Southern Nevada, and ranchers. She said, “Now we have the model set up and we can better judge what happens under certain conditions, albeit laws and restrictions, endangered species, etc. Now we can be proactive and say if this or that is done, the likely outcome is this or that. The models can be a useful tool used to even make changes in policies, regulations and planning and measuring the economic impact. You have real numbers, real arguments for different things going on.”

She said these models are available for any local ranchers who may like to see them.

The Extension Workforce Program this past year had 33 adults go through, seven were employed after completing occupational training, five obtained commercial drivers licenses and two became paralegals.

There were 38 at-risk youth she said, 13 achieved their high school equivalency, three were enrolled in occupational training, 14 received work experience and three were employed.

“We have also been told that our program will be fully funded in the coming year,” she said, but mentioned as well that they have been having some trouble with the recently unemployed, but do have some funds to help with that aspect of the program.

The 4-H program increased the number of clubs and leaders and kids participating in 2015. “We are on track now to even do better in 2016,” she said. “I’m excited that there is a passion among some to keep helping the youth through 4-H.”

A local Lincoln County Extension website/social media outlet is also being planned Gatzke said, hopefully to start in the very near future. “To let people know what we are doing in all the areas in which we work.”