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The Great Valley Center:  Connect. Inspire. Act.

Updates & Highlights

May 2012

It is a busy time of year in the Valley! In our personal lives it is a time of graduations, school ending for the summer and the beginning of summer vacations. In the midst of all this activity, we want to take a moment to check in and update you on the important projects that have been keeping Great Valley Center busy.

This newsletter includes updates on recently completed projects and information on some of our current programs you will see progressing over the coming months. As usual, we are also including updates on the other projects taking place in the Valley.
We want to thank you in advance for taking the time out of your busy lives to read about the work we are doing here and we hope that you will update us on what you are doing. Don’t forget to send us information about your programs, initiatives and events that will impact our Great Valley. 
-- Dejeune Shelton, Executive Director
Photo of 2012 National Parks Institute class in Yosemite National Park

GVC Program Updates

National Parks Institute wraps up
We are proud to report on the successful conclusion of the third National Parks Institute, a 12-day seminar organized collaboratively by University of California, Merced, National Parks Service and Great Valley Center. The NPI seminar, which migrates from Fort Baker in Marin County to UC Merced and winds up in Yosemite National Park, brought together 27 leaders in park and protected area management, including 11 leaders from countries around the world!  Under the theme of “Leading Strategic Change”, participants tackled topics ranging from the affects of climate change on national parks to exploring how to build value to the park visit experience in order to compete for scarce resources. Class members left with fresh strategic planning and leadership skills, gained a broader understanding of some of the complex issues faced by their colleagues, and established a network of new contacts.
Child abuse prevention video completed
GVC, working with the Merced County Office of Education (MCOE) and Merced Education Television, has completed production of an abuse prevention video for parents as part of its grant from the Child Abuse Protection Act (CAPTA) program. The federally funded project provides abuse prevention education to Spanish speaking parents and children in Merced County. The video has both Spanish and English versions and is expected to debut in May or June.  Entitled “No More Silence,” the video will provide an important tool in educating parents about child abuse prevention.  For more information contact Jami Westervelt at or (209) 522-5103 x122.
Green Communities – Central Valley: Reaching final stages of data collection
The Great Valley Center is actively working with 14 local governments in San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Merced and Kern Counties to develop comprehensive, no-cost municipal greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions inventories. The Central Valley Green Communities program, administered by Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), and funded by California utility customers under the auspices of the California Public Utilities Commission; kicked off in January. With nearly all data collected in the various regions, the program has picked up momentum. 

The program provides a beneficial service and resource  to budget-strapped local governments, which often suffer from reduced staffing, to quantify and address GHG emissions. Click here to learn about the program's accomplishments and read testimonials from participating cities.
Green Communities also provides valuable training and hands-on experience to the college interns collecting and analyzing the data. Over the last five months the program has offered seven training sessions for participating local government partners and interns.
Caldean Biscocho, a graduate of UC Davis, said of his internship experience, “Upon joining the Great Valley Center as an intern, I have become well-acquainted with some consummate professionals.  I keep them as role models.  They exude passion and proficiency in all their efforts to develop Green Communities.  It is a pleasure to be a part of this team where collaboration and learning are a regular occurrence."
This is the second time the Green Communities program has been offered in the northern San Joaquin Valley, with ten projects being completed last year. For more information, visit the Green Communities information pages on the Great Valley Center website
The Green Communities Program is a collaboration between Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability and the Great Valley Center. The program is dedicated to providing innovative energy efficiency and climate change solutions for local governments and communities in the Central Valley within PG&E service areas.
SJVR Broadband Consortium surveying digital literacy and telehealth programs
The Great Valley Center, on behalf of the San Joaquin Valley Regional Broadband Consortium (SJVRBC) Digital Literacy and Telehealth Workgroups, is gathering more information about existing digital literacy and internet training programs offered at libraries and community organizations, and telehealth and telemedicine programs offered at clinics, health organizations and hospitals throughout the Central Valley. In the near future we will be sending out survey links and requesting participation in order to gather information on existing and potential digital literacy and telehealth programs. The mapping of existing programs will assist the Digital Literacy and Telehealth Workgroups in identifying current offerings, best practices and areas where training or services are lacking. If you have any information about digital literacy training or telehealth services in the Valley, please contact Linda Hoile at (209) 522-5103 x140 or so that we may follow up. If your organization offers a program in one of these areas please provide as much information as possible with your email.  If you know of other organizations that have similar programs, please just email the contact person and the location of the program.

The SJVRBC received funding from the California Public Utilities Commission to focus on accelerating deployment, accessibility and adoption of broadband within Fresno, Kern, Kings, Madera, Merced, San Joaquin, Stanislaus and Tulare Counties over the next three years. The next quarterly Consortium meeting will be held in July and will include a conference call option. Closing the digital divide will require a multifaceted broadband plan with input and expertise from partners throughout the Valley. If you are interested in participating contact Rachel Audino,
California Connects adds community trainers and partnerships 
GVC welcomes the two newest community trainers for the California Connects program - Elva Peele in Mariposa County and Lynn Austin in El Dorado County. CA Connects aims to increase Internet literacy and use among low income and Spanish-speaking adults in 18 counties in California. Four additional trainers may join the program as early as June. This would leave one trainer position open and GVC is now accepting applications for a Tulare County trainer. Applicants must be bilingual and a job description is available online.  A schedule for trainings listed by county and a training coverage map are also available on the GVC website. Please contact the community trainer in your area for additional information.

Photo of California Connects graduates in Ceres
Ceres class proudly displays certificates of completion for CA Connects course.

Partnerships with local organizations that provide training sites are essential to success. Over the last three months, GVC has welcomed new partners/training sites in Colusa, Fresno, Mariposa, Merced, Placer, San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Visalia, Tulare and Tuolumne Counties. A list of current CA Connects community partnerships is available online. For more information on CA Connects or community partnership opportunities, contact Desiree Holden at or call (209) 522-5103 x136.
Photo of first CA Connects class to finish program in Visalia
Graduates of the first CA Connects class in Visalia pose with their certificates. The training was held in partnership with Visalia Unified School District - Migrant Education Program.

Environmental Indicators Report nears completion
GVC has been working cooperatively with UC Merced to complete the next Indicators Report. The report will be the Environmental Indicators Report, with sponsorship funding coming from AT&T.  In order to conserve environmental resources, the publication will be distributed primarily through online sources. We expect to post this new publication to the GVC website in June. Watch your inbox for the link GVC will send out when it is posted. For more information contact Linda Hoile at (209) 522-5103 x140 or

Share your news

The purpose of the Great Valley Center’s e-newsletter is to provide you with updates on current GVC programs, as well as bring you news and highlights from around the Central Valley.  We want to know what is going on in your area that will impact the region.  Please send news and links for activities that are addressing the economic, environmental, educational and social challenges in your community to Linda Hoile at
Photo of people paddling on the Tuolumne River

Valley Highlights

Paddle to the Sea raises awareness for California waterways
The Tuolumne River Trust’s 4th annual Paddle to the Sea begins in June 2012 and will bring together hundreds of people in the Central Valley to paddle and have fun along the Tuolumne, American, and Merced Rivers. The event helps to raise awareness and funds for river protection and to vividly demonstrate how we are all connected through California’s waterways. From the fly-fisher in Yosemite, to the farmer in Modesto, to the family in San Francisco, to the salmon fisher in the Pacific, Californians depend on our waterways to thrive in our daily lives. Paddle to the Sea offers participation opportunities both on and off the water and beginning paddlers are welcome.  Visit to learn how to get involved.

CASF funding applications deadline extended
The deadlines for applying for grants through the California Advanced Services Fund (CASF) was extended on May 10. In February 2012, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) made enhancements to the CASF, which aims to bring high-speed broadband Internet service to unserved and underserved communities in California and spur job creation, economic growth, and social benefits by increasing access to the internet. 
A CASF Broadband Project Requirements Summary is available online.  Companies and organizations that are planning to apply for funds to support projects in the San Joaquin Valley are urged to contact the San Joaquin Valley Regional Broadband Consortium for additional information and assistance – Christine Nutting, Associate Director, Office of Community and Economic Development, California State University, Fresno, at (559) 294-2230 or

USDA invites grant applications to provide rural broadband service
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced last week that the United States Department of Agriculture is accepting applications through the Community Connect Broadband program for grants to provide broadband service to residents of remote, rural communities. Community Connect grants are made available to the most rural, unserved and economically challenged areas. The funds are used to build broadband infrastructure. Awardees are also required to establish community centers that offer free public access to broadband. Read more here. 

Valley Blueprint Toolkit provides resources for planners and decision makers
The Council of Governments for the eight-county San Joaquin Valley Blueprint region wants to remind you that the San Joaquin Valley Blueprint Planners Toolkit is active and continually receiving updates. The toolkit was launched in fall 2010 so that community members, government and agency staff, and decision-makers have the online resources necessary to create sustainable, vibrant communities. The Toolkit provides a source for California planning law and topical case studies, templates, and other resources needed by cities and counties to incorporate smart growth initiatives, strategies, plans and ordinances. The Toolkit is designed to evolve and expand over time as conditions change and new challenges emerge with new information and case studies added on a regular basis, and maintaining it as a flexible, contemporary, and relevant resource.  When it comes to planning, there is no one-size-fits-all formula for creating sustainable communities. However, the Toolkit provides tested resources that local governments can use to initiate change and generate returns on their investment. For more information visit the Toolkit website.

Watershed Management Workshops enrolling now
The Sacramento River Watershed Program, on behalf of the State Water Resources Control Board and Statewide Watershed Program, is presenting a series of Watershed Management Workshops to be held across the state, including workshops in the Northern Sacramento Valley and the San Joaquin /Tulare Basin. The series includes integrated two-day workshops focused on Principles of Watershed Management, Watershed Restoration, and Watershed Monitoring and Adaptive Management. The workshop schedule and registration are available online. Space is limited to 40 people per workshop. Visit SRWP for more information or contact Dennis Bowker, Watershed Workshop Coordinator, (707) 253-8295, (530) 304-2448 or

California Watchable Wildlife presents photo contest awards
California Watchable Wildlife and Outdoor California held a ceremony at the State Capitol on April 23 to recognize the Grand Prize and People’s Choice Award winners for the year-long photo contest. Chuck Bonham, Director, Department of Fish and Game, presented the Grand Prize to Lyle Madeson for his image of an Osprey and Red-tailed Hawk hooked onto the same fish in midair at Clear Lake State Park. The People’s Choice Award, selected by visitors to California Watchable Wildlife’s Facebook page, was presented to Cathy Cooper of Fairfield for her photograph of a Green Heron with a small fish taken at Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area. Monthly albums of winners and entries are posted at Many of the entries also now grace the wildlife viewing site profiles on the website.

On the Calendar

State of the Sacramento River Watershed Forum
May 22, 2012, Sheraton Grand Hotel, Sacramento
The Sacramento River Watershed Program’s fourth annual conference will provide the latest news on topics affecting the Sacramento River Watershed. The morning keynote address on California’s water future will be provided byCongressman John Garamendi. Forum topics will include government’s role in Sacramento watershed management, developing flow requirements for the Sacramento/San Joaquin Bay-Delta, Southern California water interests, a Sacramento Valley flood management update and more. An evening reception will provide an opportunity to network. Registration is $125 and includes breakfast, lunch, reception and meeting materials, and online registration is available. Contact SRWP for more information.

CA Higher Education Sustainability Conference
June 18-21, 2012, University of California, Davis
The California Higher Education Sustainability Conference (CHESC) highlights cutting-edge case studies as well as research, curriculum development, and community partnerships in a cross section of topic areas including climate action planning, energy, food systems, green building, healthcare, institutional sustainability, business services, and social equity. The event is jointly organized by private colleges, California Community Colleges, California State Universities and the University of California. Also included is a Student Convergence – a free, half-day workshop on Thursday, June 21, and students can participate without attending the main conference. For more information visit their website or contact Katie Maynard, CHESC Event Manager and Sustainability Coordinator for UC Santa Barbara, (805) 448-5111,

Fresno County Farm Bureau Celebrating Friends of Agriculture
June 28, 2012, Fresno Fairgrounds – Farm Bureau members, media guests and community members will celebrate agriculture and present the annual Journalism Awards that recognize excellence in reporting on agricultural issues from journalists throughout the region.  Tickets are $25 and are available online.

Links of Interest

Sun shines brightly on solar power firms in Central Valley

Farmers retool to feed China

Valley banks pay most TARP funds back
Central Valley beet farmers closer to massive bioenergy plant
Mortgage fraud hits Valley hard

California raisin exports strong

Home construction to stay slow despite gains

Cities save through LED streetlights

California farmers feel pain - Water allowance cut amid unusually dry winter

California cherry growers scramble to fend off fruit fly

Photo of a vineyard in the Central Valley