Created in 1859, the Pyramid Lake Reservation is located approximately 35 miles northeast of Reno in northwestern Nevada. About 25 percent of the Reservation’s 742 square miles is occupied by Pyramid Lake, which is about 27 miles long and 11 miles wide.
The reservation economy is primarily livestock production with some hay production with some tribal and school district employment. There are 366,000 acres dedicated to livestock grazing with 1,093 acres in irrigated hay pasture and forage. Tribal fishing and recreation enterprises also support the economy along with sand and gravel mining leases. The Pyramid Lake FRTEP extension program is focused on agriculture, youth development and senior health and wellness. Extension agents work with farmers and ranchers on financial and production risk management; local food production through the hoop house program; youth development in Veggies for Kids, 4-H Camp and RezRIDERS; Veggies for Seniors; and statewide participation in the Nevada Tribal Advisory Council.
Hoop house program
In the past, livestock has been the primary livelihood for people on the Pyramid Lake Reservation, but the community has evolved from concentrating on livestock to developing a hoop house program that will help to increase the supply and intake of fresh fruits and vegetables to promote healthier lifestyles for residents. The program has begun construction of eight 20 x 20-foot hoop house units in 2020. Extension agents are helping with the purchase of materials and supplies to build the hoop house units along with organizing the construction, ongoing monitoring and training. They’ll also organize farmer’s markets to sell excess production if hoop house growers and other community producers desire.
Reducing Risk through Interpersonal Development, Empowerment, Resiliency and Self-Determination (RezRIDERS) is a program for adolescents that focuses on core values, optimism, self-determination and self-regulation. The program includes lesson-based instruction on mental health and the promotion of positive mental health practices. The two primary goals of the program are to reduce adolescent substance use through self-regulation and to reduce symptoms of depression.
High school participants perform community outreach projects to improve their communities. As an incentive to participate, students have the opportunity to take part in extreme sports activities such as rock climbing and skiing that most youth on the reservation would not otherwise be able to do.
Veggies for Kids
The Veggies for Kids program is designed to support health eating by promoting increased intake of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, water and nutrient-dense beverages, as well as increase the use of and appreciation for healthy traditional Native American and Hispanic foods. This is an in-school program (Kindergarten through 3rd grade) at the Natchez Elementary School. Lessons provide information on each food group in a way that is easy for kids to understand, and students participate in hands-on activities that teach them how to prepare and cook healthy foods. The program was suspended by the COVID-19 pandemic but will resume when it is safe to do so.
Nevada offers three area camps at the Nevada State 4-H Camp in Lake Tahoe. Teens are selected and trained to be counselors for residential and day camps that provide educational program for youth through hands-on, experiential learning. Leadership skills that are given major emphasis include:
- Understanding self and character-building skills
- Communicating and relating to others
- Problem solving and decision making
- Managing resources
- Working with others
- Environmental stewardship
Veggies for Seniors & Seniors Eating Well
Pyramid Lake extension agents are in the process of creating a program to supply fresh fruits and vegetables to senior citizens age 65 and older for 13 weeks during the summer months. The program will source local food and distribute it to eligible participants in each of the three communities on the reservation. Each bag of produce will contain recipes for preparing the food.
Nik Wright – Extension Educator