California is constantly being challenged by pest invasions, obesity, labor shortages, water scarcity, food insecurity, climate change and more. To accelerate the development and adoption of technologies that address these challenges and advance food, agriculture and natural resources in California, UC Agriculture and Natural Resources and AgStart will receive a $500,000 grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) to cultivate the Verde Innovation Network for Entrepreneurship (the VINE).
Like a grapevine, the VINE will connect existing clusters of innovation across California and link entrepreneurs with mentors, advisors, collaborators, events, competitions, education and other services to turn good ideas into products and services people can use.
“We want to make sure every Californian has the support system to take a novel idea and commercialize a new product or start a new business,” said VP Glenda Humiston. “They don't have to be a university inventor, they could be a farmer or a young person.”
AgStart itself was established with an EDA i6 Challenge grant to assist agriculture and food technology entrepreneurs in the Sacramento Valley region. Since 2012, AgStart has supported more than 58 entrepreneurs and their companies.
“In 2016, of the 16 entrepreneurial companies that AgStart assisted, eight resided outside our region, and leveraged AgStart's program to make connections into our Sacramento Valley region,” said John Selep, president of AgTech Innovation Alliance, AgStart's sponsor.
“The VINE will expand this AgStart model of connecting entrepreneurs to the resources they need to be successful, to enable entrepreneurs residing anywhere in California to connect to the clusters of resources, contacts, mentors and potential partners that have emerged across the state,” said Selep.
“There are many wonderful regional innovation hubs in food, agriculture and natural resources so we plan to bring value by amplifying their efforts, connecting regions and organizations into a more cohesive ecosystem, and bringing value-added resources that ultimately benefit all Californians through the innovations affecting our economic prosperity, food supply and environment,” Youtsey said.
UC Cooperative Extension specialists and advisors, who work in every county, can provide insight into real-world conditions that entrepreneurs should consider in the development stage. UC ANR's nine research and extension centers can provide locations to field-test products and demonstrate their effectiveness. For example, start-up Blue River is testing its technology by flying a drone over sorghum crops to collect data at the UC Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Parlier.
For the last two years, UC ANR has hosted the Apps for Ag hackathon and has introduced the winners to mentors, tech industry advisors, farmers, funders and legal experts who can advise entrepreneurs on business structure.
The VINE, which is working with UC Davis Innovation Institute for Food and Health and Valley Vision, is being structured to complement other efforts to establish food, agriculture, and natural resources incubation and innovation resources in cluster locations around the state, such as the BlueTechValley Regional Innovation Cluster, the Western Growers Innovation & Technology Center, UC Merced's VentureLab and others.
Youtsey and Selep are seeking more VINE partners with expertise across the business spectrum.
“If our vision is successful, the VINE will make California the most fertile region in the world for entrepreneurs in ag and food technology to establish themselves, to prosper and grow,” Selep said.
Most consumers' first encounter with their food is in a grocery store or on a plate served in a restaurant, and they give little thought to how the food got there.
As a sponsor of CropMobster TV Season 2, UC Agriculture and Natural Resources is pleased to help introduce some of the Californians who toil behind the scenes to provide consumers the delicious and nutritious food we eat.
Nicky Bobby chats with farmers, people at nonprofit organizations that work to reduce food waste and hunger, scientists, land managers who steward our natural resources and business owners.
“Everybody's into food, but all too often people don't make the connection between food and agriculture,” said Vice President Glenda Humiston. “When you talk about agriculture, people think of two jobs – farmer and farmworker. There are thousands of jobs in the agricultural ecosystem.
“UC ANR is happy to support CropMobster in telling the stories of the men and women who supply us with safe and abundant food, the challenges that they face and the efforts being made to make the food system even better.”
CropMobster TV is a nonprofit storytelling and video project by CropMobster in collaboration with Food Tank and many other individual and organizational supporters to highlight the crucial work of everyday heroes working to feed their communities.
“Sponsorship and support from UC ANR, which does agricultural research and outreach in every California county, is helping us connect with communities throughout the state,” said Papadopoulos, CropMobster CEO. “We are also grateful for Food Tank and so many other individuals and organizations who are pitching in.”
“This is such a unique, energetic and needed effort to engage our populace on food and agriculture issues,” said Danielle Nierenberg, Food Tank president. “We are thrilled to partner with CropMobster and UC ANR and hope to see the CropMobster vision grow and spread!”
CropMobster TV episodes are posted on:
- Author: Jeannette E. Warnert
UC Agriculture and Natural Resources academics are often asked for interviews as expert sources in the news media. Serving in this capacity is an excellent way to share research-based information with the public and reinforce the important work done by UC ANR scientists.
UC ANR Strategic Communications encourages advisors and specialists to maintain open communications channels and build relationships with reporters, including those writing for small, local outlets, major metropolitan newspapers and trade publications. Another very effective outreach tool that is sometimes overlooked is the letter to the editor.
After an article is printed, academics may wish to praise the media for covering an important topic, provide data to support a point, give clarification on a subject, or suggest a correction on a factual error. This practice gets UC ANR onto a section of the paper that is perennially one of the most frequently read.
An example is a letter submitted last month by vice president Glenda Humiston after an op-ed was published in the Los Angeles Times (“Sacramento shouldn't be trying to get you to eat more beef” op-ed 2017). The musical artist who goes by Moby wrote about proposed legislation that would double the check off program for California beef. In the op-ed, Moby quotes statistics from the United Nations FAO that says global livestock represents nearly 15 percent of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions.
In her letter, Humiston quoted an Environmental Protection Agency source that says livestock's contribution of greenhouse gas emission is less than 5 percent.
“While it's true that cows emit methane, total livestock production in the U.S. accounts for just 4.2% of all greenhouse gas emissions. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, in 2014, agriculture contributed 9% of the total GHG emissions while industry (21%), transportation (27%) and electricity (29%) contributed the majority of greenhouse gas emissions. Importantly, by eating invasive plants that fuel wildfires and crowd out native wildflowers, grazing can provide numerous ecosystem services.”
Humiston also used the opportunity to emphasize the importance of publicly funded agricultural research:
“Agricultural research improves animal nutrition and health, allowing farmers to reduce the carbon footprint of livestock while producing more food. Beef is a high-quality protein source. As we seek to improve farming practices, excessive focus on livestock as an emission source is the wrong path to optimize solutions for climate change.”
The UC ANR Strategic Communications office can help place letters to the editor and edit letters. For more information, contact Strategic Communications director Michael Janes at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“I would not be standing in front of you here today in this job if it were not for 4-H,” VP Glenda Humiston told the audience at UC Office of the President, where she was the featured speaker on Aug. 16 for the Women We Admire speaker series. Humiston, who was the first in her family to attend college, credits attending 4-H camps held on a college campus for sparking her interest in higher education.
The Women We Admire series, initiated by the President's Advisory Committee on the Status of Women in 2009, brings women to UCOP from around the UC system to share insights about their careers, workplace challenges and work-life balance.
“My work has taken some really weird angles,” Humiston said. “In fact, when I talk to young people, one of the key messages I give them is to have a big goal out there, but to be flexible about which path you take to get there because you never know where the opportunity is going to show up.”
Humiston talked about the path – from her family's cattle ranch in Colorado, through Tunisia as a Peace Corps volunteer and various USDA posts – that led her to become UC vice president for agriculture and natural resources on Aug. 3, 2015. She also talked about what UC ANR is and what it could be.
The link to the hour-long audio and slides from Humiston's talk is http://www.ucop.edu/pacsw/_files/women-we-admire/humiston.mp4.
Bring your lunch and join Glenda Humiston, vice president of Agriculture and Natural Resources, for the next talk in the Women We Admire speaker series at UC Office of the President.
Date: Wednesday, Aug. 16
Time: 12 noon to 1 p.m.
Location: Franklin Lobby 1
Remote access: Via Zoom: https://UCOP.zoom.us/j/6987568179. By phone: (408) 638-0968 (toll charges apply),*4 (from a UCOP office phone), Meeting ID: 698-756-8179
She was born in California and raised on a cattle ranch in Colorado, where she was a member of 4-H. She came to UC ANR with more than 25 years of experience working on public policy development and program implementation supporting sustainability.
Humiston has served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Tunisia, as executive director of a nonprofit organization advocating farmland preservation and value-added agriculture development, and worked for several years as a consultant on environmental and agricultural issues throughout the West.
She served President Clinton as Deputy Undersecretary for Natural Resources and Environment at U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) from 1998 to 2001. She managed the Sustainable Development Institute at the 2002 World Summit for Sustainable Development in South Africa and the 2006 World Water Forum in Mexico City. In 2009, Humiston was appointed by President Obama to serve at the USDA as the California State Director, Rural Development.
She has produced a widely acclaimed guidebook “Access to Capital” and led efforts to bring rural issues to the forefront of the state's Economic Summit and policymakers throughout California.
Humiston earned her Ph.D. from UC Berkeley in Environmental Science, Policy and Management in 2009 with research focused on U.S. Farm Bill policy. She has a master's degree in international agricultural development from UC Davis and a bachelor's degree in animal science from Colorado State University.
Humiston's talk is part of the Women We Admire series, initiated by the President's Advisory Committee on the Status of Women (PACSW) in 2009. PACSW brings women to UCOP from around the system to share insights about their careers, workplace challenges and work-life balance. All members of the UCOP community are invited to learn how to make the most of working at UC.
Find upcoming speakers in the series and archived audio of past talks on the Women We Admire website.