Tree Trimming at Your Own Risk

Money Plant
Tree trimming might be a risky way for a young person to earn some coins during the summer.

If your son or daughter is determined to work with a tree trimming outfit, the number one concern is safety. Youngsters shouldn’t be climbing trees or going near a wood chipper which grinds limbs and leaves that have been pruned from a standing tree.

The best opportunities for this kind of internship involves work with a nonprofit such as the Sacramento  Tree Foundation or a government agencies such as a county arborist program. As well, nurseries provide ample opportunity for learning about different tree species and their needs.

Tree cutting, topping and stump grinding are specialties that should be left to businesses that have been doing that work for years.

Discernment about work safety is a tremendous lesson for your cherished kid. Scaffolding, chemical application, mechanized removal systems present immense risks. So does out-of-doors work involving crews using hand held equipment such as rakes and shovels. Parents and guardians can find work safety information through state agencies or through the school systems. Visiting work sites with your offspring is an important task for learning the safety pros and cons of a part-time job. In fact, most warehouse or casual work assignment includes some machinery that poses dangerous elements. Even a benign grocer story may have chemical waste systems or mechanized disposal programs that have special rules and procedures for safe operation.







Transition Strong: WorkAbility


Work-Ability is the name of a California Department of Education program designed to give individual attention to special education  students in the areas of vocational preparedness, work experience and career placement.  Structured in individual regions throughout the state, Work-Ability provides school-based career development, but also funded internships.

A key to benefit from this government resource is for families to fully explore the program in order to take advantage of individualized services.

One way to learn about Work-Ability is to google the Family Transition Network Committee. This group offers Transition Journeys, an informal newsletter that provides ideas and practices in utilizing transition services. According to one website, the Network chair, Denice Welter, can be reached at 805 497-355.  The Department of Ed. consultant specializing in Work-Ability is Linda Wyatt  at 916 322-3254.

Ideally, as seen by one case study from Transition Journeys, Work-Ability can include multiple job-site exposures and internships. Throughout the secondary period of education, these exposures can “dovetail” with school experiences (as well as with personal connections to Work-Ability mentoring) to guide a student to establishment of strong career-interest areas. And, perhaps just as important, can guide a student into paid internships that match those same career interests.

One approach to finding individualized mentoring  for a student is to work with a locally based Work-Ability mentor. Mentors work under the direction and training of one or more regional manager.

Another and more comprehensive approach is to contact and to reach out to the regional manager in your area. Manager Lisa Fettig (   OR 530-723-8888) explains that parents can access a directory of mentors. Finding mentors in different areas may be important if their is an industry or job opportunity of interest to you that lies outside of your Work-Ability region.  For example, for a student in a small town in Yolo County who is interested in State Government or the UC Davis Medical Center, it may be helpful to reach out to a mentor or manager in Sacramento who has had direct experience with these career areas.


Transition Strong: Health Clubs

The best way to find out about working at California Family Fitness (CFF) or other “work out clubs” is to snag a few free passes from a chatty sales rep and then go in and observe while you pump some iron or walk a treadmill.

I like my CFF club at Hwy 50 and sunrise.  The assistant ops. manager who does the hiring is willing to hire workers without the perfect resume. “People need to do the job,” he says. “That’s my criterion.”

Many of the jobs at CFF have to do with sales ability and, especially, getting along with other staff members.

By visiting the club, you can see that sales (ie, customer services) is paramount.  Trainers get rated on their client list, etc.

However, perhaps more importantly is how you, as a new worker, relate to veteran staff. For example, if you start at CFF as a seasonal swim instructor, success might well depend upon building casual friendships with other teachers, housekeeping staff or even management. You might get hired with a fresh Red Cross certificate and a solid interview, but how well you enjoy the job will be how well you fill the inevitable dead time, transitions and the OJT process with cordiality and good listening skills.

One tip: after a few weeks learning the ropes, identify topics or interests the senior staff enjoy discussing. Maybe her or she is a soccer fan or a really big fan of wall climbing. By judicially returning to short but enjoyable interactions with middle management, you can go a long way to establishing some employment tenure in your own right.

Transition Strong: Pathway

The book Dark Horse (HarperCollins) by Harvard educator Todd Rose is a must read for parents with kids following a unique pathway into the world of work.

The “dark horse” refers to a learner/student who doesn’t follow the “cookie cutter” route into the job market.  Instead of OR in addition to the SAT, college or technical programs, this learner finds stepping stones that conform to their interests, passions and values.

In short, these learners (maybe your kids?) gain an early sense of themselves. Turning off the hand-held media,  through talking to friends and family these learners gain a  sense of who they are and who they want to become.

A short section of the book (and an author podcast) can be found on the HarperCollins website.

School professionals, of course, can assist in the dialogue that families and mentors have with young learners. The Transition Planning Inventory from Pro-Ed publications has a “preferences and interests” form that can be used when talking to your student.

Basic “life” questions are a start to clarifying vocational decisions. For example, as a parent you might want to ask your son or daughter what they admire about their friends. You might want to ask your young scholar on his or her perceived strengths at home, school or in extracurricular settings.

In the Transition Planning Inventory questionnaires (which can usually be obtained from your school counselor or psychologist) pre-career questions  are listed in the domains of work, school and in general “life” activities such as leisure activity.

Family discussion and interaction, according to the author Rose, are perhaps more important than formal question strategies.  Home and neighborhood interactions clarify career-related values.  They also serve to form and to strengthen them.

This sort of family/community dialogue can not be learned from a one-day class. However, home communication and the discourse setting or the sharing atmosphere of your family is key to the development and identification of job values and understanding.

Moreover, you may already know a great deal about your young scholar even before high school. Does he or she like to work outdoors or indoors?  Which family projects does he or she seem to prefer?

Finally, the more your student talks and reflects about his or her own very strong passions, the better he or she will visualize and stick to a critical path (ie, job and career focus). Examples of stepping stones in a career pathway might include interests and experiences in cooking, gardening or a passion for literacy ranging from using a map application to using numbers in testing soil PH in your garden (these are only examples).

A career stepping stone, also, might simply be a trip to another city where he or she saw workers at a job site or in a fancy office. Student need time and space to discuss these experiences. Then, the more complete and reinforced will become self-knowledge about the eventual work path. And, with this understanding, the closer your scholar will be to guiding him or herself along a critical path leading toward meaningful industry and career.

Transition Strong: Cooking

Love cooking? Interested in cooking for a career?

A’Delle, the school psychologists at Davis High, suggests reaching out to contacts you already  have in the community. Clubs, neighborhood groups and local businesses have event and services that require food preparation.

Ask: “Who has been doing the cooking for your Fall Harvest event?” [PS: That’s just one example!]  Then, call them for the scoop and skinny.


The Davis Food Coop is a tremendous resource if you think you might have a cooking bug. Go to the events calendar at  to find out what’s hot and tasty. Food preparation, as a field, has a huge range of opportunities from baking to grocery service.  Even the late Anthony Bourdain started as a short-order chef sweating over a hot stove. Then, of course, he became famous writing about other cooks and the fascinating lives they lived.

One good way to explore the diversity of cooking is to join a facebook group sponsored by the Davis Food Coop. You can, for example, hook up to a Vegan facebook group,  a teaching kitchen group or even a very active group that learns to cook for families with infants. This last group, called the Toddler group, has an amazing 314 members.

Don’t forget the Food Coop at 537 G St. in Davis has free patio cooking classes (often on Thursdays) that are free of charge. These classes can be found on the events calendar mentioned above.

Other ideas

Other ideas for cooking experience are almost too many to mention. At you can volunteer to bake a cake for someone’s birthday. The public library at 315 E 14th St. has a kitchen gardening class.

The best idea is to keep networking in Davis and surrounds to expand your cooking passion any  your culinary resume.





Transition Strong: McDonalds Burgers

Yesterday I had the pleasure of meeting the Hiring Manager at a McDonalds in Sacramento.

Lilly admits that applicants are required to write their resume on line at

However, the key to getting a job at the burger business might actually be to establish a physical contact. “I come in to work on Saturday to review all the applications,” she explains.  When she sees someone she likes she calls them in for an interview. “I keep the application for six months,” she says. Eventually, everyone who gets through the interview will get a job.

According to Lilly, the thing that she looks for in an applicant are basic skills. For example: teamwork, multitasking and dealing with conflicts.  When young people in high school or college can give examples of exhibiting these skills she is almost always impressed.

Work history, moreover, isn’t the story.  Can the applicant give an example of when they used multitasking at home or at school?  Can they give instances when they toggled between helping one person and then, quickly, to helping another person?

Clearly, anyone can go to a McDonalds restaurant to determine if it seems like a safe, orderly and cheerful place to work. Not all of them, of course, are good work environments.

Also, a potential job applicant can go to a McDonalds and ask to see the Hiring Manager. Sometimes, surprisingly, this person isn’t a supervisor or even a veteran worker. Like Lilly he or she might have only worked their a year or two.

In the case of Lilly, she would be an ideal interviewer.  According to her, even successful applicants who might need special help or accommodations would be welcome. Her brother, she says, had an IEP in high school and, because of speech problems, needed help in the work he eventually found.

“Sometimes people might be able to work at the grill or at loading frozen food,” she says. In fact, at her restaurant almost always the people who work in customer service are female.

Finally, the goal of working at McDonalds should be a realistic one. Gaining the trust and skill to operate the cash register is certainly a plus. Another objective might just be lasting a year with a person as honest and seemingly caring as Lilly. That would be a very positive achievement.

Transition Strong: UC Davis Med Center

Locating an interesting volunteer position at UC Davis Medical Center (or other hospitals) might involve different types of explorations. Generally, volunteers at the hospital need to be at least 16 years of age.

If you are a Transition Strong student (or parent) you can always explore your own interests even before you know where you want to work.  Ask your own doctor or school nurse to refer you to a specialist and make an appointment for an “informational interview.” Maybe you are thinking about public health, which can start with keeping your kitchen clean or recognizing a bug trap that the county worker has set in your tree.  Go and meet the health worker in your city or county who works with doctors in these areas.

Not sure about the different medical areas? I like to go to the Mayo Clinic website which is easy to read. It really is a survey of all the different medical fields and services.

If you are 16  and super-eager to apply (I am using UCD as an example), one exploratory path might be to visit and to complete the online application at

With some planning, though, a freshman or sophomore might consider a long-term strategy for exploring and preparing for a solid volunteer placement at UC Davis or at one of its many satellites.

For starters, maybe you know a doctor or hospital administrator who has met you and wants to use your services for, say, four hours a week (which is a standard period of service for Med Center). This person can contact the volunteer services office at 916 734-2401 and request a so-called Individual Placement form so you can begin your application process.

As well, special volunteer programs exist at UC Davis such as volunteer programs such as those offered by the Hospice Program. Best thing to do: explore these programs at the hospital website at

The best advice for any student interested in a strong transition  to the workaday world is to start your first year in high school. Talk to your school nurse, take first aid training, study medical vocabulary in your biology class. Make it fun by getting involved in a community event such as a walkathon sponsored by the Heart Association or the Lung Association or one of many other public service groups In other words, start building a resume around your own medical and volunteer  interests.




Unwanted Flies in Arden-Arcade


Joshua, the security guard who patrols WinCo Foods in the Country Club Plaza parking lot says he has seen “unauthorized use” of the dumpster designated for food waste on the south side of the south side of the store.

Above the reeking food dumpster is a swarm of flies. Inside are decomposing packages of raw Tortilla Land dough.

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s website, raw dough is a major cause of E.Coli infection, which can cause liver and kidney damage.

“I don’t think they empty this dumpster on the weekends,” says Joshua. He says he has notified the staff at WinCo of the problem of the open dumpster. “It’s up to them to keep it closed,” he says.

Joshua allows me to take a picture of the dumpster contents and then begins to write up another report on his cell phone.

Clearly, I wonder about the many homeless people in this part of the low-income Arden-Arcade area who might be “dumpster diving” to get something to eat.

At the very least, this dumpster should be locked and secured.  Where it is located against the side of the WinCo store where a pedestrian could have easy, unobserved access to its very dubious treats.

Karina’s July “Healthy Drink Tray”

The Perfect Smoothie

With all the warm weather sometimes you just want to eat something cold! Smoothies are a great on the go for breakfast . But sometimes when you buy them at the store they have a lot of hidden sugar and calories. Here’s how you can experiment at home with your favorite ingredients to make your perfect healthy smoothie.

1/2 cup – Liquid: A liquid is needed to mix all the ingredients together. Use a milk of your choice, water, or even coconut water. Try to avoid using juice so you don’t have all the added sugar.

1 cup – Frozen banana: The secret to smoothie making is using frozen banana! This will give you the rich, creamy smoothie texture. If you prefer a more liquid consistency then just use a raw banana.

1/2 cup – Frozen fruit: Choose your favorite fruits – berries, grapes, cherries and more. You can buy fruit already frozen or freeze them on your on your own!

1/4 cup – Protein: Will help you stay fuller longer. Choose from low fat yogurt, cottage cheese or tofu.

1-1/2 cup – Greens: Drink your greens! You can add spinach, kale, arugula, beets, or chard.

1 Tbsp – Additions: Add extra nutrition by adding your favorite nut butter, chia seeds, flax seeds, or hemp seeds.

Karina’s June, 2018 Food Basket!




Why is eating fresh, locally grown food better than food from the grocery? Two main reasons that come to mind: fresh foods taste better! And they are rich in nutrients!

Purchasing fresh foods also reduces the consumption of additives like preservatives, pesticides and hormones. These chemicals are used by mass-producing farmers to help food grow quickly and last longer.

But there can also be disadvantages to consider. Since fresh foods do not have additives they have a shorter shelf life and should be consumed quickly. There is also a cost concern. It is commonly found that fresh foods are more expensive than conventionally grown foods. In contrast to fresh foods, conventionally grown foods are still far more popular. Why? (you may ask). Because it is convenient! Conventionally grown food still dominates grocery stores, providing readily available options to consumers at a cheaper price. At any time of the year a person can walk into a grocery and find any fruit or vegetable – whether in season or not. But that doesn’t mean it is more nutritious! Many foods that have been processed have added sodium, coloring, sugars or other chemicals to help preserve and add taste. Consuming these additives may cause your body to react negatively and cause gastrointestinal side effects. Luckily, the public is becoming more aware of the benefits of eating locally and these food are becoming more abundant in grocery stores in Northern California. So, next time you plan your groceries for the week try looking for specials in your local grocery stores. Some stores like Sprouts have weekly specials on local produce at affordable prices. And if you are on a really tight budget try your local food bank. Many food banks have multiple weekly local food distributions for free! No application or personal information required!