Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources
Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources
Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources
University of California
Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources

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UC Berkeley honors Allen-Diaz

Barbara Allen-Diaz receives Berkeley Citation.
For her contributions to UC Berkeley and beyond the University, Barbara Allen-Diaz was awarded the prestigious Berkeley Citation. On behalf of Chancellor Nicholas Dirks, Keith Gilless, dean of the UC Berkeley College of Natural Resources, presented the campus's highest honor to the head of the University of California's Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources on June 19 at her retirement celebration at Lawrence Hall of Science in Berkeley.  

“I am incredibly honored to receive this special award,” said Allen-Diaz, who was visibly surprised and moved by Gilless's announcement.

The Berkeley Citation recognizes academic achievement and University service of the highest order. In addition to her contributions as a researcher, graduate student mentor and professor of range science, Allen-Diaz has served in many leadership roles for UC Berkeley and UC Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR).

“Her leadership as chair of the Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management, as Executive Associate Dean of the College of Natural Resources, and finally as the Vice President for Agriculture and Natural Resources has produced a legacy of accomplishments that few academics can match,” Gilless said. “The college would not have its remarkable Geospatial Innovation Facility without her foresight and willingness to make the necessary investment. ANR would not have the strategic plan that has guided a resurgent sense of how to implement the University's land grant mission.”

Allen-Diaz has served as a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the National Academy of Sciences and the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities. She has authored more than 170 research articles and presentations. In February, she became the first woman to receive the Society for Range Management's highest award, the Frederick G. Renner Award.

After earning her bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees at UC Berkeley, Allen-Diaz took a job with the U.S. Forest Service. In 1986, she joined the faculty at UC Berkeley faculty, where she studied the effects of livestock grazing on natural resources, oak woodlands and ecosystems of the Sierra Nevada and the effects of climate change on rangeland species and landscapes. At the end of June, she will retire as UC vice president and as Russell Rustici Chair in Rangeland in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management at UC Berkeley.

The Berkeley Citation was created in 1968, when the University of California celebrated its 100th birthday, to honor individuals or organizations that had rendered distinguished or extraordinary service to the university.

To read more about Allen-Diaz's career, see the latest issue of California Agriculture journal.  

Bill Frost, left, congratulates Allen-Diaz on receiving the Berkeley Citation.
Posted on Friday, June 26, 2015 at 4:07 PM

UC ANR leader in Butte County Susan Donohue retires

Susan Donohue, left, brought UC ANR nutrition education to Butte County.
A leader in UC Agriculture and Natural Resources nutrition education in Northern California, Susan Donohue retires July 1 after 38 years of service to UC Cooperative Extension and the community.

Donohue began working in extension after earning a teaching credential at the University of Hawaii and a master's degree in family studies at Michigan State. She was named home economist and 4-H advisor for Butte and Tehama counties in 1978 and held many positions over the years combining 4-H and home economics. "Home economist" was renamed “nutrition, family and consumer sciences advisor” during her career to more accurately reflect the job's scope.

As the nutrition, family and consumer sciences advisor, Donohue was responsible for setting up the first federally funded Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program in her part of the state. The program provides training to low-income families to help them follow federal nutrition guidelines, including the current iteration, MyPlate. Donohue also established an educational program for CalFresh (formerly food stamp) recipients, called UC CalFresh. The program helps families make the best use of their benefits with meal planning, smart shopping and home cooking, among other strategies.

In time, Donohue was promoted to director of UC ANR Cooperative Extension in Butte County. In that role she helped establish UC Master Gardeners in the region, a program which enlists volunteer gardening enthusiasts to share research-based information with the public on sustainable landscaping, orchards and vegetable gardening. Donohue also was instrumental in attracting a technology transfer initiative to monitor and maintain honey bee health to UC ANR Cooperative Extension in Butte County.

The “Bee Informed Partnership,” created with a $5 million grant from the USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture in 2011, identified common beekeeping management practices and developed best practices on a regional level. In addition to involving institutions already doing pollinator work, the partnership included local citizens working in beekeeping and associated industries.

Later in her career Donohue worked on a statewide leadership council for UC ANR's Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program.

“I really enjoyed the administrative component of the job,” Donohue said. Nevertheless, during the last year of her tenure she returned to the county for a chance to again work directly with local clients and organizations on nutrition education.

“There is no better job than Cooperative Extension,” Donohue said.

In retirement Donohue said she plans to enjoy a slower-paced life, national and international travel and volunteering.

Posted on Tuesday, June 23, 2015 at 8:28 AM
Tags: retirement (18), Susan Donohue (1)

University of California ANR wildfire experts

Dry, hot summer days mean fire weather in California.
UC ANR wildfire experts are stationed around the state and can answer questions on a diversity of issues related to the prevention, impacts, aftermath, and generally, the science of wildfire in California.

University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) is a division of the University with scientists based on three UC campuses and in UC Cooperative Extension offices serving all California counties. UC ANR conducts research and shares research-based information with the public about wildfire, agricultural production, environmental stewardship, water policy, youth development and nutrition. 

Travis Bean
UC ANR Cooperative Extension weed specialist at UC Riverside
Management of invasive plants that introduce or alter fire regimes
(951) 827-5130

Van Butsic
UC ANR Cooperative Extension specialist at UC Berkeley
Land change science including fire and land use planning
(510) 666-5400

Ryan DeSantis
UC ANR Cooperative Extension forestry/natural resources advisor for Shasta, Trinity and Siskiyou counties
Disturbance ecology, fire, dendrochronology, prescribed fire
(530) 224-4900

Mike De Lasaux
UC ANR Cooperative Extension natural resources advisor for Plumas and Sierra counties
Wildfire fuel reduction on small forest parcels, forestry and watershed management
(530) 283-6125

Sabrina Drill
UC ANR Cooperative Extension natural resources advisor for Los Angeles and Ventura counties
Plant arrangement, building design and maintenance to reduce fire risk, invasive weeds and pests contributing to fire risk
(626) 586-1975

Maggi Kelly
UC ANR Cooperative Extension natural resource monitoring specialist
Geographic information science, mapping forests
(510) 642-7272

Susan Kocher
UC ANR Cooperative Extension natural resources advisor in the Central Sierra
Defensible space, fire hazard mitigation in forests, post fire restoration
“Living with Fire in the Tahoe Basin” web site, http://www.livingwithfire.info/tahoe/
(530) 542-2571

Chris McDonald
UC ANR Cooperative Extension natural resources advisor
Desert species, invasive plants and fire
(909) 387-2242

Richard Minnich
Professor of earth sciences, UC ANR Agricultural Experiment Station, UC Riverside
Fire ecology of Southern California, Baja California, and temperate Mexico; exotic plant invasions, climate change.
(951) 827-5515

Max Moritz
UC ANR Cooperative Extension wildfire specialist in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management at UC Berkeley. He is located in Santa Barbara County.
Wildland fire, fire modeling, fire effects, shrubland ecosystems and spatial patterns of fire disturbance, climate change adaptation

Malcolm North
Associate professor of Forest Ecology, UC ANR ecologist
Forest recovery
(530) 754-7398

Dave Rizzo
Plant pathology professor, UC ANR pathologist
Fire and infectious disease
(530) 752-0300

Kimberly Rodrigues
UC ANR Cooperative Extension natural resources advisor 
Public participation in resource management
(530) 750-1283

Mark Schwartz
Environmental science professor at UC Davis and UC ANR ecologist
Forest plot mapping
(530) 752-0671

Tom Scott
UC ANR Cooperative Extension area natural resources wildlife specialist for Southern California
Conservation of wildlife, wildlife management at the urban-wildland interface, and response of plants and animal species to fire
(951) 827-5115

Scott Stephens
Professor of fire science and co-director Center for Fire Research and Outreach at UC Berkeley, UC ANR fire scientist
Fire ecology, fire behavior, wildfire, fuels treatments, forest mortality, fire policy
(510) 642-7304

Bill Stewart
UC ANR Cooperative Extension forestry specialist in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management at UC Berkeley and co-director Center for Fire Research and Outreach
Economics of fire prevention and fire suppression programs
(510) 643-3130

Yana Valachovic 
UC ANR Cooperative Extension forest advisor in Humboldt and Del Norte counties and UC lead for the Northern California Fire Science Consortium hub
Home and landscape design considerations for wildfire, prescribed fire, forest health and prescribed fire, wildfire and fuels in redwood, Douglas-fir and tanoak forests, fire education
(707) 445-7351

For more information, contact: Jeannette Warnert, (559) 240-9850, jewarnert@ucanr.edu and Pam Kan-Rice, (510) 206-3476, pam.kanrice@ucanr.edu

Posted on Monday, June 22, 2015 at 8:35 AM
Tags: wildfire (10)

Maxwell Norton, director of UCCE in Merced County, to retire after 36 years

Maxwell Norton
Maxwell Norton, UC Cooperative Extension director and advisor in Merced and Mariposa counties, plans to retire on July 1. Norton, who specializes in tree fruit, grapes and farmland preservation, has served Merced County growers for UC Agriculture and Natural Resources for 36 years.

Norton is “probably the kind of person everyone would like to know – a kind and gentle soul who exudes knowledge and wisdom,” said Bill Martin, executive director of Central Valley Farmland Trust.

For the past 10 years, Martin has worked on conserving farmland with Norton, who was a founding member of the Merced County Farmland and Open Space Trust, which merged with two other land trusts to become Central Valley Farmland Trust.

“He has an understanding of the landscape that is greatly appreciated,” Martin said of Norton. “He's very low-key, observant and provides timely input on provocative issues that come up at board meetings.”

Raised on a farm near Salida, north of Modesto, Norton studied pomology at Fresno State University, earning a B.S. and an M.S. in plant science before joining UC Cooperative Extension.

During his career, the UC Cooperative Extension advisor has helped Merced County growers solve problems in kiwifruit, Asian pears, prunes, peaches, strawberries, figs and pomegranates.

“When I started in 1979, there was rapid growth of two new industries – kiwifruit and Asian pears,” Norton said. “I conducted some early research trials on kiwifruit and authored a chapter of the new UC Cooperative Extension production manual for kiwifruit. I also spent a lot of time diagnosing Asian pear problems.” 

Early in Norton's career, UC scientists introduced a device for measuring soil moisture called a neutron probe.  The young advisor tested the device in peach orchards on clay-loam soils, attempting to correlate the probe, gypsum blocks, tensiometers and pressure chamber data. 

“All of these tools were relatively new then,” said Norton. “Mid-day values had not been established yet so data collection entailed going out at 3 a.m. to pick leaves and measure the leaf water potential while crouching in the back seat of my government-issued Plymouth Fury.”

Over his 36-year career, Norton has worked with kiwifruit, Asian pears, prunes, peaches, strawberries, figs and pomegranates.
Over the years, he has collaborated on many UC Cooperative Extension research projects for processing peaches, including mating disruption for oriental fruit moth. “Growers who farmed near towns were especially desperate for pest management tools that were more acceptable to urban neighbors,” he said.  

Collaborating with his UC Cooperative Extension colleague Roger Duncan in Stanislaus County, Norton conducted several research projects aimed at reducing labor costs in peaches. Projects included mechanical fruit thinning, chemical blossom thinning and various types of mechanical blossom thinning. 

Research by Norton and his fellow Cooperative Extension advisors showed that mature prune trees could be pruned every other year and still produce desirable fruit size and maintain yields. Growers widely adopted the practice of alternate year pruning.  Later, Cooperative Extension set out to demonstrate the new integrated prune farming practices where IPM tools were integral parts of the system.  

In the early 1980s, when many grape growers were spraying pesticides three to four times a year, leafhoppers developed resistance to some insecticides. Norton and other UC experts saw the potential for biological control by the Anagris parasitic wasp.  UC Cooperative Extension advisors persuaded growers to not spray the first or second generations of leafhoppers and let the beneficial insects control the pests. Now grape growers rarely have to spray for leafhoppers. 

Over Norton's career, agriculture in Merced County has diversified. He began having strawberry meetings translated into Hmong or Lao for immigrant growers and studying pomegranates and figs.

Off the farm, Norton has been active in community development, organizing workshops for farmers on how to export their products, chairing the Merced County Economic Development Task Force twice and serving twice as president of the county's Chamber of Commerce.   

“My favorite part of the job has always been doing farm calls, where I went out and visited growers and diagnosed problems, explaining the nature of the problem, and most importantly, suggest things to try,” Norton said.

In retirement, Norton plans on playing his tenor and bari sax in jazz bands, training UC Master Gardeners and volunteering with the local historical society and other organizations.

He has also been granted emeritus status by UC Agriculture and Natural Resources.


Posted on Wednesday, June 17, 2015 at 8:47 AM

Specialty food business workshops in Davis and Modesto

UC ANR to offer course aimed at starting successful specialty food businesses.

UC Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) will offer one-day intensive workshops in Davis July 9 and Modesto  July 15 to provide instruction on bringing  new food products to market.

“Starting a SUCCESSFUL Specialty Food Business,” presented by the UC ANR small farm program, will cover the fundamentals of the specialty food marketplace and how to start creating their own success story. Participants will spend the day with specialty food business experts and hear specialty food producers tell their stories.

All participants will receive a copy of the book, “Sell Your Specialty Food,” and will leave with a clearer understanding of the industry and real-world answers to their questions.

The July 9 workshop runs from 8:30 a.m. 4:30 p.m. at the UC ANR Building, San Joaquin Room, 2801 Second St., Davis. The July 15 workshop runs from 8:30 a.m. to 4:340 p.m. at the UC ANR Cooperative Extension office, 3800 Cornucopia Way, Harvest Hall in Modesto. The fee is $20.00, including lunch and snacks. Pre-registration and pre-payment is required, and space is limited.

“Specialty Food experts will discuss the business realities – from production to promotion. We'll cover financing, marketing, sales and distribution, as well as essential lessons about safe and legal production methods,” said workshop organizer and speaker Shermain Hardesty, a UC ANR Cooperative Extension specialist based at UC Davis. “Participants will also learn how to build their brand, get their product on the shelf, and price their product correctly for the market."

Other presenters will include Linda Harris, a UCCE specialist in Food Safety and Microbiology at UC Davis, and Tim Sullivan, a specialty foods consultant with Sage Food Group. Harris will teach a section on “Staying Safe and Legal: Food Safety & Regulations.” Sullivan will discuss multiple aspects of pricing and marketing specialty food products. Two successful local specialty food producers will tell their stories.

The workshop will include opportunities for attendees to ask questions. Those participants who already have a specialty food product are invited to bring it to the workshop for everyone to taste.

To register online for the July 9 workshop in Davis go to: ucanr.edu/spfoodsdavis. Download the workshop agenda here: ucanr.edu/spfoodsdavisagenda.

To register online for the July July 15 workshop in Modesto go to: ucanr.edu/spfoodmodesto. Download the workshop agenda here: ucanr.edu/spfoodsmodestoagenda.

For more information, contact Hardesty at (530) 752-0467 or shermain@primal.ucdavis.edu

This project is funded by the California Department of Food and Agriculture's Specialty Crop Block Grant Program.

Posted on Monday, June 8, 2015 at 9:12 AM

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