Like any place in the U.S., there is an opportunity for a college to help its surrounding communities thrive; after all, that is where our employees live. Guam is a small place just 212 sq miles and is a mix of rural and urban settings; mostly rural. The College of Natural & Applied Sciences’ (CNAS) Cooperative Extension & Outreach (C-E&O) activities reach farmers, businesses, schools, families, and individuals in Guam’s 19 villages. While smaller in manpower than in the past, with just ten faculty and about 50 others on various forms of soft and softer money, dedicated men and women serve a variety of needs in the community. These services and projects include:
Children’s Healthy Living Program (CHL)
This $25M consortium project, with the Pacific Rim Land Grants, aims to make a major impact on childhood health and obesity in the region. Guam-based initiatives include higher degree support for two Guam-based candidates, plus education of three Micronesian students at the University of Guam. Height and weight data is being collected on children in some villages, along with food prices, and that data is being submitted as part of a larger regional dataset. CHL’s Healthy Weight Initiative is on-the-ground engagement with families and individuals in healthier living.
Coconut Rhinoceros Beetle Project
Coconut trees are important to Guam because of the food, building materials, and beauty that coconut trees provide. The coconut rhinoceros beetle, a large invasive species is killing coconut trees by boring into the crown of the tree for sustenance. The hole that the beetle makes eventually makes the palm fronds fall off and the tree dies. This soft money project has provided great support in developing the science of rhino-beetle management.
Food Product Development and Training
Our food scientists and educational specialists have worked with local businesses and evolving entrepreneurs to develop or improve foods they want to sell to the public. Much of the outreach is done through other programs, like the New Farmer Program, as we want to encourage the use of Guam-grown food ingredients. This effort also addresses the growing need to teach how to handle and prepare food more safely. Our Master Food Preserver program responds to community needs for more advanced training.
Ironwood Tree Survival
It may not be obvious, but one of Guam’s traditional trees, the ironwood (Casuarina eqisetifolia ssp. eqisetifolia) is on the decline due to a still undefined pathogen or pathogens. Extension research work has been on going for a few years and there is a race against time to protect this important species. Collaborators from around the globe are helping our scientists to understand, and perhaps, solve this mystery.
Tomato Production Trials
Tomato viruses abound in tropical environments. Guam’s humid climate and year-round pests can make growing tomatoes a real challenge. Yet, tomatoes are good for us and are a favored food in many dishes. Field trials on farmer’s fields are being conducted to see which varieties are best suited for Guam’s environment as well as the marketplace. Early results look promising for a few varieties.