Newsletter, April 2012

From Rockets to Roller Coasters

Celebrating Children ConferenceFrom rockets and roller coasters to poetry and performances, Expanding Horizons offers high-achieving children a chance to exercise both sides of their brains.

The two-week, summer program sponsored by UCR Extension exposes children in grades three through seven to creative and challenging material they may not get in their regular classroom. Classes, which start July 16, include: Beginning French for Young Learners; CSI: Riverside; Art with Pizzazz; Digging for Clues: A Glimpse of the Past; Magical World of Words; Physics in Action; On Stage with "Shakespeare Unshackled" and The Science of Rocketry.

Eileen Johnson, who coordinates the program for UCR Extension and who has been involved in Gifted and Talented Education at UCR Extension for 30 years, develops the courses around specific subject areas like math, science and the arts. Johnson tries to offer a language every year. Last year, it was Chinese. This year, students can study French. "It's important to get language into the curriculum since we're moving toward such a global society," Johnson said.

When she is setting up the program, Johnson polls her family and friends to find out what children are interested in, what TV shows and movies they are watching. For example, the popular CSI television series inspired "CSI: Riverside," in which students learn how to collect fingerprints, cast shoe prints and discover how a polygraph works.

Sarah Peterson, who taught fourth grade and facilitated the Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) program before retiring from the Val Verde Unified School District last year, will be teaching the art, theater and writing courses this summer. Students in "Magical World of Words" will create poetry in a variety of formats including combining random words or borrowed lines from someone else's poems. "It's amazing the themes that emerge out of seeming chaos," Peterson said.

"Shakespeare Unshackled" will give students a fun and witty introduction to Shakespeare in a musical production complete with costumes. "My goal is twofold: to give them experience in the arts and, through the arts, help them find their own voice, self expression and confidence," said Peterson, who recently was awarded the Distinguished Service Award from the California Association for the Gifted, Joshua Tree region.

Learn more about Exanding Horizons summer program offered at the UCR Extension.

In Demand: Human Resource Specialist

  • 100,000 new and replacement jobs predicted for HR Specialists between 2010 and 2020.
  • Salaries for HR Specialists range from about $40,000 to $70,000 with the median salary at $54,160, according to the Labor Department.

A growing number of companies, big and small, are investing resources in training, coaching and educating their workforce. And, they are hiring Human Resources Specialists to do the job.

Human Resources Specialists no longer focus strictly on recruiting, hiring and firing. Today, they are more focused on respecting the individual needs of each employee, whether it's training, time off for personal needs or providing educational opportunities.

"As we tend to the needs of the individual, they tend to work better, they stick around, they are more satisfied with their work and we see better results," said Mike Horspool, senior human resources analyst for the County of Riverside.

U.S. News and World Report listed Human Resources Specialist among the top 25 Best Jobs 2012 and the 7th Best Business Job, based on employment projections, average salaries and job satisfaction.

The Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, projects Human Resources Specialist employment will grow 28.3 percent between 2010 and 2020 as the economy continues to recover from the recession.

Horspool, who teaches courses in the UCR Extension Human Resources Management Certificate program, has a graduate degree in Industrial Organizational Psychology, an emerging field that focuses on behavior in the work environment.

His role as a Human Resources analyst is to work with managers, supervisors and executives, including elected officials. He trains them to coach and communicate with their employees, create effectiveness and buy-in, manage conflict and manage the whole individual.

The corporate focus in recent year has shifted from replacing to retaining workers.

"The job of the Human Resources manager is not only to attract the right people but to retain and develop them," Horspool said. "If we don't, we'll be at a strategic disadvantage."

For more information about UCR Extension's Human Resources Management Certificate.

This is one in a series of newsletter articles about in-demand professions.

Threatened Octogenarians

Threatened OctogenariansDesert tortoises are, by nature, very gentle, accepting creatures. They range throughout the Mojave Desert, hiding in burrows to escape scorching daytime temperatures and dining on grass, wildflowers and cacti, which also supply their water. And, even though they can live to be 100, they are threatened with extinction.

Learn all about these ancient reptiles during a three-day workshop sponsored by UCR Extension and taught by James W. Cornett, an ecology consultant, author and one of Southern California's best known naturalists. "The Desert Tortoises: A Natural History" begins Friday, April 27, at the UCR Palm Desert campus, 75-080 Frank Sinatra Drive.

Students will explore the fascinating life of one of California's best known and most threatened reptiles, the desert tortoise. They will have the opportunity to see desert tortoises at the Living Desert nature center in Palm Desert and in the wild. They also will learn about the outside forces that threaten to destroy the beloved reptiles, a topic that Cornett is passionate about and has written extensively on.

The biggest threat to the desert tortoise is exotic diseases that affect the respiratory tract. Several are severely debilitating and often fatal. Cornett said some of these diseases were introduced in the mid-1950s, probably by international pet traders, who imported reptiles that spread viruses to desert tortoises, which have no natural resistance.

The second biggest threat to the desert tortoise, which is much more recent, is the loss of habitat due to the proliferation of solar projects in desert regions of California. Cornett said the tortoises can't coexist within the facilities because the solar panels kill the plants they rely on for food and relocation efforts are seldom successful. "You can't release an animal from its established home range and put it in a new habitat and expect it to figure it all out before they run out of food and water," Cornett said. "It's really a desperation move and the chances of being successful are not considered great at this time."

Cornett is a proponent of solar energy but he would prefer to see solar panels on top of sterile rooftops instead of in massive arrays across the desert. "Someday the madness will cease," Cornett said. "But, we have a long way to go before that happens.

Find out more about "The Desert Tortoise: A Natural History" three-day workshop.

Velvety Red or Fruit Bomb?

Glass of WineFew people have a problem selecting an entrée off the food menu. But, choosing the right bottle from the wine list to pair with the food order can be challenging for most people.

Christopher Lee Longo, resident sommelier and wine buyer for Jensen's Finest Foods in Palm Springs, will take the mystery out of wine and food pairings in "Wine Appreciation" sponsored by UCR Extension beginning April 10.

Longo will introduce students to wines from various regions of the United States and the world. Students will learn to evaluate different wines based on their senses, become familiar with the terms and descriptions used in the wine industry and master the basics of pairing foods and wines.

Food pairings is not just red with meat and white with chicken. Different types of red and white wines complement different styles of food. "The pairing is usually determined by the weight of the wine," Longo said.

A blended red wine like a Zinfandel, Cabernet and Merlot blend goes great with barbecue, burgers and ribs. While a big Cabernet from Napa Valley pairs best with a big juicy rib eye steak, a lighter white like a Pinot Gris goes perfect with seafood or a really nice salad. At the other end of the spectrum, match a Chardonnay with a bigger, heartier dish like a chicken fettuccini Alfredo. Pinot Noir is the number one choice for turkey and it goes well with salmon, too.

"Once you get the ABCs down it will really improve your knowledge when selecting wine," Longo said. Pairings is only a portion of the class, which Longo conducts in a fun and unpretentious format. Students will stretch their wine vocabulary while learning to describe the taste, aroma and appearance of various wines. "Students will taste a wine and then try and figure out what it is by using their senses," Longo said. "Usually by the end of class, people get it."

Learn more about the Wine Appreciation course offered at the UCR Extension.

Job Seeker's Toolkit

Top 5 Tips for a Five-Star InterviewToolbox

You need to be proactive, professional and passionate if you expect to land a position in today's competitive job environment.

Silence your cell phone. Postpone your personal grooming. Refrain from bad-mouthing your former boss. While those tips may seem obvious for some serious job seekers, they were among the top 10 worst interview mistakes recounted in's annual survey of hiring managers.

Here are some tips to make your interview memorable in a positive way:

  1. Dress appropriately: Use common sense and the "two notches up" rule. While most job interviews call for a dark suit and tie for men and suit and conservative shoes for women, that attire might not be appropriate if you're applying for a job at a daycare center or an automotive garage. If the job calls for denim, move up two notches to nice slacks and a jacket or sweater. Remove visible piercings with the exception of earrings and cover up any tattoos. Make sure your shoes are shined and leave the spiked heels and sneakers at home. Go easy on the cologne or perfume; avoid flashy jewelry; make sure your hair and nails are clean and neat.
  2. Do Research: Make it your mission to learn everything you can about the company before you arrive for the interview. Fortunately, the Internet makes research a breeze. First, check out the company's website. Familiarize yourself with its mission, organizational chart, products and services. Read any news releases, newsletters or blogs. Check out the company's Facebook and Twitter pages. Search the company's name on Google News in case there are issues that may not be included on the company's own website.
  3. Anticipate questions: Nowadays, some companies test the candidate's creativity or ability to think on their feet by asking them to tell a joke or answer an offbeat question such as "What do you think of garden gnomes?" While it's impossible to predict every question, you will feel more relaxed and confident if you prepare responses for some of the most common interview questions. When asked to tell about yourself, keep your response professional, not personal. Use examples to illustrate your attributes such as leadership or team player. When asked your biggest weakness, turn it into a positive like "My former boss said I worked too hard." Other common questions include: why you left or are leaving your current job; why you want to work for this particular company, and what salary range are you expecting?
  4. Show enthusiasm: Arrive early and allow time for traffic and parking. Greet the interviewers with a firm handshake and look them in the eye. Listen intently instead of glancing around the room or fiddling with your tie. Speak clearly and confidently. Answer all questions. If you're not sure what's being asked, request clarification. Have several questions prepared based on your research and ask any additional questions that may have occurred to you during the interview. The more intelligent and informed questions you ask, the more interested you appear.
  5. Follow up: Once the interview is complete, ask when the company expects to make a decision. Request business cards from everyone involved. Send an email or hand-written, thank-you note to the interviewers within 24 hours. Make sure to reiterate why you are the best candidate for the job and that are you are looking forward to the next step in the process. If the decision date passes, call or email the hiring manager. Be brief and polite and positive. If you don't hear anything after a few more days, try again. While you may risk annoying an overworked hiring manager, you also are demonstrating that you are seriously interested in the position.

Remember, if you're not successful, try to learn from the experience. Some hiring managers are willing to give you feedback about why you weren't chosen. Critique you own performance and look for ways to improve. Then, spruce up your job search skills and don't look back.

Were you a gowk, a gobby or a stupid herring or just an April Fool?

If you were caught trying to pocket a quarter that was glued to the ground or sprinkling salt from the sugar bowl on April 1, you were not alone. While not exactly an international holiday, April Fools’ Day is celebrated in countries around the world and that’s no joke.

1). While the origins of April Fools’ Day are not clear, what is the most commonly held theory?

  1. April 1 marked the arrival of spring when Mother Nature “fooled” mankind with unpredictable weather.
  2. The day commemorates the fruitless mission of the English crow, who was sent from Noah’s ark in search of land.
  3. Those who were slow to switch from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar in the 1500s and continued celebrating the New Year on April 1 were called “fools.”
  4. The tradition is tied to the Roman’s end of winter celebration called Hilaria.

2) True or False? Unofficial rules have it that the pranking period ends at noon on April 1.

3) Different countries have different names for the victim of an April 1 joke or prank. Match the country with the name:

A. Gowk a. Sweden
B. Gobby b. Scotland
C. April Fish c. United States
D. April Fool d. England
E. Stupid Herring e. France

4) "April Fool" is also a:

  1. Name of a song by Manchester Orchestra

  2. Codename for a spy and double agent, who played a key role in downfall of Saddam Hussein

  3. Hindi movie about a slacker, whose love of practical jokes gets him in trouble with an international gang

  4. All of the above

5) Which of these were true April Fools’ Day hoaxes?

  1. The 1938 “War of the Worlds” panic caused by a radio broadcast that the United States was under attack by Martians.
  2. The 1957 BBC report that a mild winter resulted in an unusually large spaghetti crop for Swiss farmers.
  3. The 1996 Taco Bell newspaper ad announcing that the company had agreed to buy the Liberty Bell.
  4. The 1884 newspaper report from British Columbia that a Sasquatch or Bigfoot creature had been captured by a train crew

Answers: 1) C; 2) True; 3) A:b; B:d; C:e; D:c; E:a; 4) D; 5) B and C


Rising Star

Aaron WinchesterAaron Winchester is a naturally inquisitive person. Fortunately, his boss at the City of San Bernardino Municipal Water Department, doesn't mind.

As a student in UCR Extension's Purchasing, Logistics and Supply Chain Management certificate program, Winchester would take notes from class and then go back to work and ask his boss why the agency did or didn't do things a particular way. "He was receptive to all my questions," Winchester said. "If he didn't know, he would get back to me."

Winchester, a buyer for the department, enrolled in the program because he was interested in improving his chances for promotion and to prepare for the Certified Purchasing Manager (CPM) certificate. His stepfather, who was already enrolled in the certificate program, recommended it and his employer covered the cost.

The instructors, who were either working full time or retired from the profession, were among the program's most valuable assets. "They could relate their real-world experiences and share their knowledge with us as opposed to someone, who has studied the subject but never had any practical experience," Winchester said. He also learned from them about local associations like the Inland Empire chapter of the California Association of Public Purchasing Officers (CAPPO), which he joined.

Winchester has already applied the lessons he learned from the program to his work. "I've implemented all the ideas as much as I could at my level to hopefully make my job more efficient," Winchester said. "Some bigger changes may take longer to get the wheels rolling."

Eventually, he plans to take the CPM test and pursue his master's degree at La Sierra University in Riverside, which accepts some of the UCR Extension courses as credit classes towards a master's.

Learn more about the Purchasing, Logistics and Supply Chain Management certificate program.

More Information 

General Campus Information

University of California, Riverside
900 University Ave.
Riverside, CA 92521
Tel: (951) 827-1012

Contact Information

UC Riverside Extension Center
1200 University Ave.
Riverside, CA 92507-4596

UCR Extension Center

Tel: Work(951) 827-4105 or Toll-Free(800) 442-4990 toll-free
Fax: Fax(951) 827-7273