Newsletter, April 2011

From the I.E. to Hollywood

hollywoodHollywood may be the Entertainment capital of the world but the Inland Empire is very much in the forefront of producing the creative people behind the scenes who make things happen.

UCR Extension is adding Entertainment Design to its cadre of Digital Arts and New Media Design programs that already include Video Game and Content Design Creation and Digital Arts and Design. "There are substantial opportunities for finding jobs in entertainment graphics – but one needs to get the training first, to have the career they want," said Eric Teitelbaum, who proposed the Entertainment Design program to UCR Extension Director Sandra Richards. Eric has extensive background and experience in program development, educational television production, marketing and administration. He and his brother, Bill, wrote and illustrated the Pink Panther comic strip that started in 2005. They also created the nationally syndicated business cartoon, "Bottomliners", syndicated by Tribune Media Services.

Entertainment design encompasses a whole array of projects. A movie is produced but it's also marketed. That requires an artist capable of designing advertising layouts, television commercials and promotional websites. Products associated with the movie need to be created and sold, again requiring the skills of a production artist for pencil layouts, styling a photo-shoot or creating a 3-D design for product packaging. From sketching cartoon characters to designing video game storyboards, the entertainment industry employs artists, both full time and freelance, in an array of creative job categories related to new media, print, television, radio gaming and cinema.

In a series of intensive Saturday workshops, students will acquire the necessary skills for taking the first step in their creative career development. They will train in a modern computer lab environment using the latest industry software. Students will emerge from the Entertainment Design program with an electronic portfolio of skills required to enter the marketplace. "Certainly students are not going to come out and be an art director for a major motion picture right away. That takes time and plenty of portfolio credits to reach that level," Eric said. "But, they are going to have a set of skills that will allow them to seek entry-level job opportunities in a variety of job categories."

Instructors in the program include:

  • Bill Teitelbaum, an award-winning Entertainment Industry Designer, whose credits include being co-creator of the "Pink Panther" comic strip, a product licensing designer for the "Power Rangers" and former vice president/licensing art for CBS/King World
  • Robert Dillworth, an Entertainment New Media Designer, whose credits include website development for the Red Hot Chili Peppers and media art for Sony, Warner and Verizon-Qualcom Brew Project.
  • Jill Thayer, an Artist-Designer whose creative credits include Disney, NBC, and Buck Owens Entertainment.

In another year or two, Sandra would like to add an Industrial Design program in which students would develop designs for commercial products such as automobiles and cell phones.

"I would like for UCR Extension to be a place that someone automatically thinks of when they think of any kind of design element whether it's digital, entertainment, video or commercial products," she said.

Up Close and Personal in the Desert

Kurt LeuschnerYou don't have to be interested in birds or bugs to get a bang out of UCR Extension's Desert Field Studies program.

Spend an educational and enjoyable weekend exploring firsthand the history and natural wonders of the Mojave National Preserve at the Desert Studies Center in Zzyzx and the Desert Institute at Joshua Tree National Park."It's so special, it's so unique, it's so different, and it's very extreme," said Kurt Leuschner, a Professor of Natural Resources at the College of the Desert and one of the expert instructors at the Desert Studies Center. "It's a rare opportunity for students to get to spend a weekend or couple of nights inside this protected area." ]

UCR Extension's Desert Field Studies program is one of only a few university-based field nature study programs in the nation. Courses provide a perfect educational experience for teachers, volunteer interpreters, park visitors and anyone else interested in the desert environment. Kurt first came to the Desert Studies Center 16 years ago as a student and has been teaching there for the past 12 years. He visits as often as he can, usually 4 to 5 weekends a year. "A lot of people who take our classes have never been to a place like this before," he said. "It's exciting for them to see things they've never seen, climb a sand dune, see a Golden Eagle up close, go into a lava tube, or see a scorpion glow at night." 

Students are amazed at how plants and animals can survive in such harsh conditions where temperatures can exceed 110 degrees, Leuschner said. They learn about Kangaroo Rats that have learned to survive without water, spider Beetles that have a natural sunscreen on their elytra, birds like the Cactus Wren and Black-throated Sparrow that build nests among the cactus spines, and a strange, flycatcher-type bird called the Phainopepla, that looks like a black Cardinal, nests two times per year in different environments, and survives mainly on poisonous mistletoe berries.

The Desert Studies Center in the northwestern corner of the Mojave National Preserve is about a two-hour drive from Riverside. Visitors stay in rustic yet comfortable accommodations and the food is awesome. Days are most often spent in the field observing wildlife and the desert surroundings and learning as you go.

"Every time we go out there, it's different. The weather is different. The plants and animals are different. You never know what to expect." Kurt said. Some nights, students go out after dark looking for owls, nighthawks or scorpions. Other times, they will listen to a lecture or watch a movie. "I wish everyone could have the experience of visiting the Desert Studies Center. There's no better place to learn about the wonders of the Mojave Desert. Students don't even have to be especially interested in birds and bugs to have a good time. That's why I think everyone leaves the class with a good feeling."

Spring classes at the Desert Studies Center include:

  • "Exploring the Central Mojave Desert: Earthquakes, Volcanoes, and Ice Age Lakes," Norman Meek, Ph.D. Professor of Geography and Environmental Studies, California State University, San Bernardino, April 8 through 10.
  • "Botanical Illustration of Desert Flora," Donald Davidson, botanical illustrator for the National Park Service's Celebrating Wildflowers website, April 8 through 10.
  • "Birdlife of the Eastern Mojave-Spring Migration," Mr. Leuschner, Professor of Natural Resources, College of the Desert, April 15 through 17.
  • "Natural and Cultural History of the Mojave National Preserve: Soda Lake to Kelso Dunes – The Low Country," Robert Fulton, manager - Desert Students Center, California State University, April 15 through 17.
  • "Insects and Other Arthropods of the East Mojave Desert," Mr. Leuschner, May 13 through 15.
  • "Lizards and Snakes of the East Mojave," William F. Presch, Ph.D., Professor of Biological Science, California State University, Fullerton, May 27 through 29.

UCR Extension also partners with the Desert Institute at Joshua Tree National Park to offer a series of weekend classes on topics ranging from snakes to archeology. There are no overnight accommodations at the Desert Institute but campgrounds and nearly lodging are available.

Spring classes at the Desert Institute at Joshua Tree National Park include:

  • "Reptiles and Amphibians of Joshua Tree National Park," Jeffrey Burkhart, Ph.D., Professor of Biology, University of La Verne, April 22 through 24.
  • "Birds of Joshua Tree National Park," Mr. Leuschner, April 29 through May 1.

Learn more about UCR Extension's Desert Field Studies.

Expert Advice on Healthy Plants

Van Gundy

You don't have to be a plant pathologist to grow healthy plants in Southern California but it doesn't hurt.

Seymour Van Gundy, Dean Emeritus of the UC Riverside College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, has transformed his half-acre lot in the Hillcrest section of Riverside into an oasis of cymbidium orchids, plumeria and blueberry bushes. The biggest challenges to growing lush green plants in a desert climate, according to Dr. Van Gundy, is: weather, water and pests. The plant has to be suited for the climate you want to grow it in. Blueberries for instance have always been considered a northern plant until the University of Florida developed varieties that are suitable for southern climates. In the past ten years, California has become the fifth largest blueberry producer in the U.S. behind Michigan, New Jersey, Oregon and Washington.

Peaches have the same issues with climate. "A peach tree from Michigan would not produce anything here," Van Gundy said. "It won't get cold enough to stimulate flowering." Knowing how much water to give your plants can be difficult to gauge. Too much water can result in root rot. Too little can cause them to shrivel and die. It's important to use soil and pots with good drainage and to water only when the soil appears dry. Pests, which come in all shapes and sizes, always pose a problem. Birds are the worst pests when it comes to blueberries. Forget the scarecrow. Dr. Van Gundy suggests nets or streamers.

Scale, which are tiny insects, attack orchids. And, root rot plagues plumeria. Other pests include: bacteria; fungus; nematodes; and rabbits, which love to nibble on fresh blueberry shoots.Healthy plants are resistant to most pests but not much can be done about the coyotes, who like to gnaw on the drip irrigation lines."You have to look at the plants to tell whether they're happy plants or not," Dr. Van Gundy said. "If a plant isn't growing like is should, there's something wrong like not enough water or not enough fertilizer."

Dr. Van Gundy teaches two classes at UCR Extension. "Growing Blueberries, Raspberries and Blackberries for Home Gardens" is scheduled for May 13 and 14. He also teaches how to grow plumeria in the summer.

Learn more about the classes that Dr. Van Gundy will be teaching.

Can You Answer These Top 5 Income Tax Questions?

  1. Can I claim a charitable deduction even if I don't have a receipt?
  2. Can I write off my dry cleaning bill for suits I'm required to wear for work?
  3. Are acupuncture, stop-smoking clinics and gym memberships deductible medical costs?
  4. Can I claim my son/daughter as a dependent since I supported him all year?
  5. Do I have to report unemployment compensation as income?

Dennis Phillips, owner of Dennis Phillips and Associates in Redlands, has heard them all during his 35 years with the IRS and his 32 years teaching tax planning and related courses at UCR Extension.

These are his responses:

  1. The IRS will not allow a charitable deduction unless the taxpayer can show bank records, cancelled checks or account statements documenting the contribution amount. If you give cash, you must get written acknowledgment from the charity to get a deduction. If you give more than $250, a written statement from the organization is required. Just having a cancelled check is not sufficient.
  2. You can only deduct dry cleaning expenses for uniforms and work clothes that are required as a condition of employment and the clothes are not adaptable for everyday wear.
  3. Acupuncture is definitely a medical expense for tax purposes. Stop-smoking programs and prescribed drugs to alleviate nicotine withdrawal are deductible. The programs do not have to be recommended by a physician. Nonprescription nicotine patches and gum are not deductible. Weight loss programs (but not food) as treatments for a specific disease, including health club costs if necessary to fulfill the person's exercise needs, are deductible. Obesity is a disease as long as a doctor has made a diagnosis of obesity.
  4. Can I claim my son/daughter as a dependent since I supported him all year? Generally you can claim a child as a dependent. However, if your dependent has earned more than $3,650 and is not a full-time student and is over the age of 18, you cannot claim this child.
  5. Yes, you do have to report unemployment compensation as income.

Phillips gives his Tax Planning students a basic understanding of income tax, tax issues and tax planning techniques. His IRS backgrounds allows him to share additional insights into things the IRS looks for when it reviews an income tax return.

The Tax Planning course, which is required for UCR Extension Certificates in Accounting and Taxation, begins April 6.

Learn more about Tax Planning and Certificates in Accounting and Taxation.

Test Your Yoga Knowledge

1. Asana a. Science of breathing
2. Savasana b. A specific style of yoga known for its use of props
3. Downward-Facing Tree    c. Deeply relaxing pose, also called corpse pose
4. Pranayama d. Posture or poses
5. Iyengar yoga e. Handstand

If you don't know a Downward-Facing Dog from a Downward-Facing Tree, you might consider signing up for UCR Extension's Iyengar yoga Institute Weekend Seminar and Workshop on May 14 and 15.

Christine Stein from the BKS Iyengar Institute of Los Angeles and director of Govinda's Yoga Studio will lead the workshop. Stein has been a certified Iyengar instructor since 1992. She travels to India every year to study with Yogacharya BKS Iyengar, a world-renowned yoga teacher. The weekend workshop will include philosophy of yoga practice, of yogic life, and will include practice of asanas (poses), and pranayama (yogic breathing). Yoga can be practiced by anyone who has a desire to improve their health and awareness. UCR Extension is the only university program to offer a sequential, professional-level yoga curriculum developed in consultation with Yogacharya BKS Iyengar. In addition to beginning courses designed for the personal health and wellbeing, the Iyengar Yoga Certificate Program at UCR Extension introduces students to the ancient scriptures of yoga, yogic philosophy and yoga's roots, history and traditions. The series includes a specialized study program in the Fundamentals of Yoga and two certificate programs: Theory and Practice and Teacher Training.

Iyengar's philosophy is that yoga is for everyone regardless of gender, social status, religion and physical condition. He developed a series of props such as blankets, blocks and belts to help make yoga accessible for the elderly and the physically challenged.

Many studies have documented the therapeutic value of yoga for pain management, asthma and carpal-tunnel syndrome.

Answers to the quiz: 1d; 2c; 3e; 4a; 5b

Find out more about the weekend workshop and UCR Extension's Iyengar Yoga Certificate Program.

Eliminate the Guesswork with Life Care Planning

Linda StempelWhether you're a parent of a special needs child or the child of a parent with dementia, the present can be challenging and the future is full of unknowns. Life care plans can help by eliminating some of the guesswork. Life care plans are designed to help families figure out the medical care, medication, equipment and supplies their loved ones need now and in the future and how much that care and treatment will cost. "The main goal of life care planning is to insure the best care possible to prevent further disability, illness or injury of any kind," said Linda Stempel , who teachers UCR Extension's Life Care Planning course. "We want to make sure the person continues to function at the highest level possible." For example, if a patient is using a manual wheelchair, there will come a point when they will experience shoulder or hand injuries if they don't switch to an electric wheelchair, which will need to be replaced every five years or so.

A life care planner will determine the time line and replacement schedule so the individual's family or care giver has an idea of how much money they will need for future expenditures. "Wheelchairs, transportation, specialty beds, even incontinent aids all cost money. So, we need to make sure the person taking care of them knows within a certain time frame that they need to have so much money set aside for those objects," Ms. Stempel said. She has extensive experience as a registered nurse and as a rehab nurse case manager for two major insurance companies. Eighteen years ago, she started Advanced Health Care Services in Irvine providing case management and life care planning services. Stempel has been teaching life care planning at UCR Extension since 2003.

Life care plans typically are used more by attorneys, who are working to settle personal injury or malpractice cases. They need to know how much medical care the individual is going to need and what it's going to cost over time in order to reach an appropriate settlement. Insurance companies use life care plans to determine how much money to have in reserves to cover the individual's needs. In addition, parents of special needs children need to know what level of medical care and types of equipment the child will need as they grow up and what those costs are going to be. Life care plans can help children of aging parents determine their needs and the types of resources and living arrangements available to meet those needs and their budgets.

Life Care Planning is a relatively new and growing field. In order to be certified, life care planners need to have minimum of a bachelor's degree in a subject related to health care and have worked with people with disabilities or chronic condition for at least five years. Those who meet the criteria must pass an exam to become certified. Ms. Stempel's Life Care Planning class, which begins May 17, is a required course for UCR Extension's Certificate in Medical Case Management. It is taught online.

Find out more about the Life Care Planning class and UCR Extension's Certificate in Medical Case Management.

Give This Teacher a Gold Star!

Anyone who can make Physics simple and fun deserves a gold star!

"I don't believe there is any complicated subject that can't be taught by any teacher," said Samantha Gregory, who teaches Physics and Chemistry courses at UCR Extension for teachers who want to become certified to teach science. "Once the teacher starts coming to take these classes, she or he can break the fear barrier and learn to present the subject as simple, fun, and interesting."

Dr. Gregory earned her Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Alabama in Huntsville. She has been teaching Physics and Chemistry courses for teachers at UCR Extension since 1999 and was honored recently with the Instructor Excellence Award. Currently, she teaches Physics and Chemistry at Kaiser High School in Fontana and Physical Science and Astronomy at Moreno Valley College. Most of her students are teachers who are teaching a different subject now but have always wanted to teach science. Other may not have a strong science background but they want to earn the Introductory Subject Matter Authorization in Science or the Supplementary Authorization in Science that allow them to teach science up through ninth grade. "It is never too late to start to add or change the subject you teach," Dr. Gregory said. "This is the beauty of America and the importance of these classes offered by UCR Extension and Dr. Sue Teele."

The trick to making a difficult subject accessible is to understand that today's elementary, middle, and high school students are creative and smart. Teachers can use an example from the students' background to grab their attention then start to build on it to introduce the concept and to make it more sophisticated.

"After all, if it makes sense, it must be Physics," Dr. Gregory said.

Learn more about  UCR Extension's Supplementary Authorization in Introductory Science and Introductory Subject Matter Authorization in Science programs.

Rising Star


Torrey Mahall started writing short fantasy stories about her friends when she was in kindergarten.

She published her first book, "The Search for the Golden Mission," in August 2009. The book, told through the eyes of a fourth-grader, tracks the adventures of twins, Allison and Mark, and Mishie, their flying tour guide, as they visit California's 21 missions in search of a golden treasure.

Torrey, a sixth-grader at Woodcrest Elementary School, and her family visited all 21 missions when she was in fourth grade, which is the year that California public school students study the missions. She started keeping a travelogue about each visit and then decided to make it more interesting by adding fictional characters, humor and mystery.

Torrey credits her experiences in UCR Extension's Expanding Horizons program for introducing her to new ideas and opportunities. Expanding Horizons is a two-week, summer, academic enrichment program for eager learners and gifted students in third through seventh grades. Energetic and creative teachers bring math, science and the arts to life through educational and entertaining activities.

"The filmmaking class made me want to be a scriptwriter. The theatre class made me more comfortable on stage and the creative writing classes enhanced my storytelling abilities," said Torrey, who has attended Expanding Horizons for three summers. The skills she learned in theatre class have come in handy. Now that Torrey is a celebrity of sorts, she's been invited to make numerous presentations to hundreds of young people about her book.

A lot of students ask her which mission she liked best. Torrey's said her favorite was Mission San Juan Capistrano because it's really open and there is a lot to see. During her presentations, Torrey not only talks about her book, she encourages other young people to write. "The number one suggestion I have is if they have an idea, no matter how dumb it may sound, or if they're afraid other people might not like it, go ahead and try. It might turn out really good!" For example, one of the stories Torrey is working on now, about a girl adjusting to life in the suburbs after living on a farm, started out as a random piece about somebody getting chased by a cow and evolved into a story.

Torrey's favorite author is James Patterson and her favorite books are Patterson's "Maximum Ride" series. "He's kind of my idol right now," Torrey said. Her book has been sold in 15 of the California Mission gift shops, 21 school supply stores, the Mission Inn Museum gift shop, the California Welcome Center in San Bernardino, and on-line through,, and Torrey will be signing books at the Los Angeles Times Book Festival at USC April 30 and May 1.

Read more about Torrey on her website:

Find out more about Expanding Horizons.

More Information 

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Riverside, CA 92521
Tel: (951) 827-1012

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Riverside, CA 92507-4596

UCR Extension Center

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