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Posts Tagged: Rachel Surls

Names in the News

Mariano Galla
Galla named UCCE farm advisor in Glenn, Butte and Tehama counties

Mariano Galla joined UCCE on June 5 as an area agronomic cropping systems and weed science advisor in Glenn, Butte and Tehama counties.

Prior to joining UCCE, Galla was a research scientist from 2010 to 2014 at Agrisearch Services (now part of Eurofin Agroscience Australia), an Australian contract-research company with offices spread throughout the country. During his four years with the company, Galla worked in different locations across Australia, where he gained experience in different cropping systems and environments. He was responsible for establishing and conducting field trials in horticulture and broad acreage agronomy and with plant varieties.

Galla earned an M.S. in international agricultural development and a B.S. in agricultural sciences from University of Florence in Italy. He is currently studying herbicide drift as a Ph.D. candidate in weed science at UC Davis, and he anticipates completing his doctorate in spring 2018. He speaks Italian fluently.

Based in Orland, Galla can be reached at (530) 865-1105 and mfgalla@ucanr.edu

Trish Bloemker Sowers
Sowers named executive director of 4-H Foundation

Trish Bloemker Sowers joined the Development Services team June 1 as the major gift officer/executive director of the 4-H Foundation. She is a seasoned development professional with more than a decade of major and principal gifts experience in the university setting. She has worked with collegiate alumni, parents and friends as well as corporate and foundation partners at a variety of institutions, including Carnegie Mellon University, Missouri University of Science & Technology and UC Davis. In addition, Sowers has served as an executive director to a variety of trade and professional association leaders, a role in which she excelled at chapter management, board development and volunteer recruitment. 

While she takes great pride in her previous development work, Sowers is especially excited to help strengthen and enhance the CA 4-H Foundation. 4-H is the organization that has had the greatest impact on her life and there has never been a cause in which she believes more passionately than 4-H. 

Sowers, a 10-year 4-H alumna, represented the Nebraska 4-H program as a state and national leadership winner at the National 4-H Congress, where she was selected to receive the Silver Presidential Tray for outstanding leadership. In addition, she was a delegate to the National 4-H Conference, served as a member of the Nebraska Teen Awareness Team and held key leadership roles in four consecutive state conferences. 

Sowers is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma and earned her master's degree at the University of Nebraska, while working full time in the Nebraska State 4-H office. She is a Certified Fund Raising Executive and an active volunteer for several educational and philanthropic organizations. 

Based at the ANR building in Davis, Sowers can be reached at (530) 750-1202 and tbsowers@ucanr.edu.

Bryan Schneider
Schneider named CNAS communications director

Bryan Schneider joined UC Riverside's College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences as its director of communications on June 19. In this role, he will oversee digital, web and print communications, along with marketing and events management, for the college, working closely with UCR's Strategic Communications office on media relations and various communications initiatives.

Working in higher education for over 17 years, Schneider came to UCR from the Claremont Colleges, where he co-managed the communications office for Claremont McKenna College. He also led award-winning marketing and web development teams for the Health Sciences enterprise at the University of Southern California, which included the Keck Medical Center of USC and the Keck School of Medicine. Prior to that, he led communications efforts at the USC Annenberg Center on Communication and Claremont Graduate University.

Prior to his career in public communications, Schneider was a grant writer and prospect researcher in development. He studied anthropology at UCLA and the University of Michigan.

Schneider is based in the CNAS Dean's Office in the Geology Building at UCR and can be reached at (951) 827-5304 and bryan.schneider@ucr.edu.

Messenger-Sikes and Fontecha join IPM

Belinda Messenger-Sikes
Belinda Messenger-Sikes joined UC IPM as an urban writer/editor on May 1. Messenger-Sikes will update Pest Notes publications and contribute to the Urban IPM Program's newsletters, blogs, online training course development and other materials. She will also assist academics and staff in developing curricula for various training materials aimed at UC Master Gardeners, retailers, pest management professionals and other urban audiences.

Messenger-Sikes holds a Ph.D. in plant pathology from UC Riverside. Her dissertation studied the use of calcium soil amendments for control of Phytophthora root rot of avocado. After graduating, she worked as a mycologist in the discovery section of AgraQuest, a biopesticide company in Davis. In 2000, she joined the pest management program at the California Department of Pesticide Regulation, where she worked in both urban and agricultural IPM. She initiated the school and child care IPM program and worked as the child care IPM specialist for eight years. Messenger-Sikes specialized in outreach and education of school staff and child care providers, introducing new users to the concepts and practices of IPM.

Messenger-Sikes is located at the ANR building in Davis. She can be reached at bmsikes@ucanr.edu and at (530) 750-1395.

Kathreen Fontecha
Kathreen Fontecha joined UC IPM as the web production coordinator and UI/UX designer on April 3. Fontecha will ensure a consistent and tested online design and user experience for the UC IPM website and digital products. She will produce wireframes and mockups, as well as create final HTML and CSS prototypes. Fontecha will coordinate and ensure that IPM content is clearly laid out and quickly and efficiently published to the UC IPM website. Working with the IT/Production staff, her first goal is to transition the website to a more mobile friendly look and feel.

Fontecha is joining UC IPM from ANR Communication Services and Information Technology (CSIT), where she was the senior artist working on producing print and digital materials for UC ANR publications, California Agriculture magazine article layouts, newsletters, infographics, signage and presentations. In addition to print production, she provided web strategy and user experience design. In this role, Fontecha developed wireframes and prototypes that provided efficient user interaction and considerations for responsive web design. 

Before CSIT, Fontecha worked for the California Lighting Technology Center (CLTC) at UC Davis as their senior graphic designer. She managed and produced CLTC's visual communications, including publications, photography and the design and content management of their website.

Fontecha is located at the ANR building in Davis. She can be reached at (530) 750-1386 and kmfontecha@ucanr.edu.

LeChé McGill
McGill named to Council of UC Staff Assemblies 

LeChé McGill, academic human resources business consultant, has been named the junior delegate for UC ANR to the Council of UC Staff Assemblies. In this role, she also now has a position on the UC ANR Staff Assembly Council. The current chair of UC ANR Staff Assembly, Matt Baur, and co-chair Christina Adamson, have one more year on their two-year terms at the helm.

All ANR staff employees are members of the ANR Staff Assembly. The elected leaders of the group seek staff input on policies, processes and programs and serve in an advisory capacity to ANR leadership, giving staff a collective voice on issues of concern. 

Surls' book wins Gold Medal

From Cows to Concrete” by Rachel Surls, UC Cooperative Extension sustainable food systems advisor in Los Angeles County, and Judith Gerber has earned the Gold Medal in the category of Regional (Adult Nonfiction) in the 19th annual Foreword Reviews Book of the Year Awards.

The announcement was made during the American Library Association's Annual Conference in Chicago on June 24. The awards recognize the best books published in 2016 from small, independent and university presses.

From the earliest pueblo cornfields to the struggles of farm workers to the rise of the environmental movement, "From Cows to Concrete" chronicles the epic tale of how agriculture forged Los Angeles into an urban metropolis, and how, ultimately, this farm empire spurred the very growth that paved it over, as sprawling suburbs swallowed up thousands of acres of prime farmland.

Surls and Gerber tell the continuing story of how, on the same land once squandered by corporate greed and “progress,” urban farmers are making inroads to a greener future. More than 150 vintage images expand the fascinating, detailed history.

Gerber, a second-generation Angeleno, is a farm and garden authority who has written about sustainable and urban farming, local foods and organic gardening for more than 20 years.

Over 2,000 entries were submitted in 66 categories, with Foreword's editors choosing the finalists, and a panel of over 150 librarians and booksellers acting as judges to pick the winners.

The book, published by Angel City Press, is available at http://anrcatalog.ucanr.edu/Details.aspx?itemNo=3549. 

Steve Elliott

Elliott and Garvey win ACE awards

Two communicators affiliated with UC ANR won a total of five awards for their writing and photography in a competition sponsored by the international Association for Communication Excellence in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Life and Human Sciences (ACE). The awards were presented at the ACE meeting, held June 13-16 in New Orleans.

Steve Elliott, communication coordinator for the Western Integrated Pest Management Center, received a gold award in promotional writing for his story, "Safflower Makes an Areawide IPM Program Work," published in the Western Front newsletter. Judges scored his work 100 out of a possible 100, saying, "You had me at Rodney Dangerfield. Very creative, the lead drew me right in wanting to read more. Excellent flow, packed with information in a narrative style. Congratulations on the terrific analytics for the newsletter."

He also received a bronze for his photo essay, "Loving the Land of Enchantment." Judges wrote: "Good variety of shot sizes which keeps it interesting. Diversity of stories along with photo content is engaging, and sticking to the IPM theme helps. There is so much text info that it was difficult to wade through. The words compliment the photos instead of the usual where the story supersedes the photos."

 

Garvey won a bronze ACE award for this photo of a monarch butterfly.

Kathy Keatley Garvey, communications specialist for the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, received a silver award (second place) for a photo series entitled the "Predator and the Pest: What's for Dinner?" on her Bug Squad post on the UC Agriculture and Natural Resources website on Oct. 3, 2016. Her series showed a praying mantis eating a cabbage white butterfly. Judges commented, "Definitely tells a story, interesting angles and good macro technique. Caught in the moment, but has a still life feel to it, like it's a diorama in a museum and we get to look at the scene from all sides. A unique look and good capture.
"

Garvey also won a bronze award for her feature photo "Save the Monarchs," posted Aug. 8, 2016, on her Bug Squad blog. It showed a monarch clinging to a finger. Judges said, "The detail in this photo is incredible. The lighting on the hand against the black background is definitely striking. And it makes the white spots on the monarch pop! Beautiful!"

This WSU-tagged monarch was featured in a Bug Squad blog post that won an ACE award. Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey

"WSU-Tagged Monarch: What a Traveler!" earned her a bronze award (third place) for blog writing on her Bug Squad blog. Judges wrote: "Short and sweet and to the point. Perfect for web reading. The photo is so helpful to the reader. The call to action at the end is a plus and not something I've seen on other entries. Fabulous use of social media to extend the reach of the article, too." – Kathy Keatley Garvey

William Walton
Walton wins Western Region NIFA teaching award

William Walton, a professor of entomology at UC Riverside, has been selected as the recipient of the 2017 Western Region Award for Excellence in College and University Teaching in the Food and Agricultural Sciences. He will be recognized at the Western Region Joint Summer Meeting in Portland, Ore., on July 12. 

The award, given by National Institute of Food and Agriculture at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, recognizes exceptional and innovative teaching in college and university agricultural and food science programs. Recipients exhibit “sustained, meritorious and exceptional teaching” that is “fundamental to recruiting and retaining the scientific and professional expertise essential to the future growth and progress of our nation's food and agricultural system.”

Each nominee is judged on teaching quality, philosophy of teaching and teaching methodology, service to the teaching profession and professional growth in teaching, professional growth and scholarly activity, and service to students.

“I have formulated my teaching goals and outcomes with the following thought in mind: if I ran into a former student on the street five years from now, what concepts in insect ecology would I hope that this person has retained?” Walton said. “I want my courses to provide benefits that transcend the subject matter, but I also want to balance new developments in pedagogy and technology with a fundamental understanding of the subject matter. Students need to be informed and inquisitive citizens who appreciate that learning is fun and a life-long process.”

Walton's laboratory works on integrating studies of mosquito biology and ecology with the design of control methodologies for pestiferous and pathogen-transmitting mosquitoes in wetlands. He was a National Academies Education Fellow in the Life Sciences, has served as president of the Society for Vector Ecology, and is president-elect of the American Mosquito Control Association. – Iqbal Pitalwalla

 

VP message to the ANR community

Barbara Allen-Diaz
Colleagues,

UC ANR always has a lot going on in the world of nutrition, but this month we seem as active as ever in this important space.

First came the announcement late in February that Pat Crawford, a UC ANR Cooperative Extension specialist who previously served as the director of the Atkins Center for Weight and Health at UC Berkeley, would be joining our Nutrition Policy Institute (NPI). Pat and her growing team of researchers will join NPI, which conducts research to inform, build, and strengthen nutrition-related policy, outreach and programs.

NPI then took center stage later in March when it distributed a national news release urging the U.S. Department of Agriculture to make water “first for thirst.” What this means, essentially, is that NPI is taking a strong stand in asking the federal government to promote plain drinking water as the healthiest beverage. We've even asked the USDA to add a symbol for water to its “MyPlate” graphic.

NPI developed a “Take Action!” page on its website with easy-to-follow guidelines for submitting comments on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. For those of you who might be interested in sharing with your friends and family, the “Take Action!” web page is located at http://npi.ucanr.edu/water.

Finally, on March 24, the Sacramento Bee published this op-ed piece penned by UC ANR Cooperative Extension advisor Rachel Surls from Los Angeles County. Working with our communications staff, Rachel writes eloquently about urban agriculture and cites several examples of how urban farming is working well in cities across our state. She clearly shows how those case studies support UC's Global Food Initiative and its goals.

As always, I appreciate the work all of you do on behalf of UC ANR and, by extension, for the people of California. Thank you!

Barbara

Posted on Tuesday, March 24, 2015 at 11:35 AM

How can ANR support urban farming in California?

Urban farming provides fresh produce for communities.
Here in California, the top agricultural producer in the nation, people too often go hungry. Fifteen percent of California households (roughly 5.5 million Californians) are “food insecure,” according to a 2013 USDA report, meaning they do not have “consistent access throughout the year to adequate food for healthy, active living,” according to Rachel Surls, UC Cooperative Extension advisor in Los Angeles County. Families with children are even more likely to run short on food.

Urban agriculture is one tool that has the potential to improve food security in California communities.

To better support the state's urban agriculture, a statewide assessment of urban agriculture needs was conducted by Surls, Gail Feenstra, deputy director of Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (SAREP); Sheila Golden, former SAREP staff member who now works for Community Alliance with Family Farmers; Ryan Galt, professor in the Department of Human and Community Development; Shermain Hardesty, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics; Cheryl Wilen, UC Cooperative Extension advisor in San Diego County; Claire Napawan, professor in the Department of Human Ecology; Valerie Borel, horticulture and natural resources program coordinator in Los Angeles County; Aziz Baameur, UC Cooperative Extension advisor in Santa Clara County; and Rob Bennaton, UC Cooperative Extension advisor in Contra Costa and Alameda counties.

The team conducted a survey of ANR personnel and interviewed urban farmers and policymakers.

They found that 65 percent of ANR academics and staff responding to the survey said that they had provided support, advice, technical assistance or served as a partner for urban agriculture activities within the past year.

ANR personnel said they would like to see educational materials developed specifically for urban agriculture on a number of topics, including pest management, water management, design of community projects, soil testing and remediation and tips for projects at schools.

Their study has been published in the February issue of Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems, a special issue on urban agriculture.

To read the full report, you can also view it at http://ucanr.edu/sites/UrbanAg/files/188371.pdf.

 

Urban ag project surveys ANR to assess needs

Dear Colleagues:
 
Urban agriculture* is gaining in popularity around California and the nation. Recently, ANR funded a project through its competitive grants program to conduct a needs assessment and develop resources for UCCE advisors and staff, urban agriculture practitioners and policymakers. Part of the needs assessment is learning about how ANR academic and program staff members are engaging with urban agriculture, and what resources would be helpful to them in assisting this clientele group.
 
As a member of the ANR community, please help us out by participating in a short survey at http://ucce.ucdavis.edu/survey/survey.cfm?surveynumber=9435. Our team hopes to gather input from CE specialists and advisors, AES faculty, program representatives, and other staff members in all program areas. If you are not sure if your community is considered “urban,” please go ahead and respond anyway. The survey closes March 15.
 
Our team includes Co-PI’s Aziz Baameur (UCCE Santa Clara County), Gail Feenstra (UC Davis ASI/SAREP), Shermain Hardesty (UC Small Farm Program), and Cheryl Wilen (UCCE San Diego County/UC IPM) and advisory committee members Susan Algert (UCCE Santa Clara County), Ryan Galt (UC Davis Dept. of Human and Community Services), Christy Getz (UC Berkeley Dept. of Environmental Science, Policy and Management), Carol Goldstein (UCLA Dept. of Urban Planning), Claire Napawan (UC Davis Dept. of Environmental Design), Andrew Sutherland (UCCE Alameda County/UC IPM), and Eli Zigas (SPUR-San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association).

Thank you in advance for your help! 
 
Rachel Surls, Project PI
Sustainable Food Systems Advisor
UCCE Los Angeles County
 
*Urban agriculture includes production (beyond that which is strictly for home consumption or educational purposes), distribution and marketing of food and other products within the cores of metropolitan areas and at their edges.  Examples include community, school, backyard, and rooftop gardens with a purpose extending beyond home consumption and education, urban market gardens, innovative food-production methods that maximize production in a small area, community supported agriculture based in urban areas, and family farms located in metropolitan greenbelts.”  (Adapted from the American Planning Association, 2011).

Posted on Tuesday, February 19, 2013 at 11:40 AM

UC ANR leader to 'Tweet' from the White House garden on Friday

Michelle Obama works in the White House kitchen garden. (White House photo.)
California will be well represented on Friday, Oct. 19, when Michelle Obama's kitchen garden – a model vegetable garden on the south lawn of the White House – is the site of a national "Tweetup.” Rose Hayden-Smith, UC Agriculture and Natural Resources sustainable food systems initiative leader, will be part of the White House Social Fall Garden Tour.

Follow the event in real time from 5 a.m. to 12 noon Pacific Time on Twitter using the tag #whgarden.

White House Social is a series of in-person meetings of people who engage with the White House through social media, including Twitter, Facebook and Google+. Hayden-Smith has followed Barack Obama, Michelle Obama and the White House on Twitter since Obama's election in 2008. She won the invitation after entering a contest that asked contestants to describe in 140 characters why they wanted to visit the White House garden.

"I'm really excited to be part of this,” said Hayden-Smith, who is also a UC Cooperative Extension advisor in Ventura County, specializing in 4-H youth, family and community development. "The fact that the Obamas are cultivating a food-producing garden on the grounds of the White House says really wonderful things about our country. The First Family is showing its concern about the health of Americans and reducing childhood obesity. That's something we at UC Cooperative Extension care a great deal about.”

Hayden-Smith Tweets as "Victory Grower” (@victorygrower) a persona she created to reflect her interest in a national revival of the Victory Garden movement, in which increasing food production was considered vital to bolstering national security by creating a more secure food supply.

"It's a different 'victory' now, but many of the goals are the same," Hayden-Smith said. "Gardens connect people with food and food production. Food is fundamental. It's what everyone shares in common. As we are entering a more challenging era of increased population and pressure on resources, it is vital for people to understand how to cultivate food.”

Hayden-Smith travels to Washington D.C. on Wednesday, Oct. 17. On Thursday, she and her colleague Rachel Surls (@rachelsurls), UCCE advisor in Los Angeles County, will tour urban garden projects in the nation's capital. They will be Tweeting about their tour on Thursday afternoon using the tag #urbanag.

Though not an official part of White House Social, Surls will have a brief tour of the White House Kitchen Garden on Friday. She will Tweet on Friday using the tag #whgarden.

Surls and Hayden-Smith are joining with UC Agriculture and Natural Resources to promote urban agriculture in California, an effort that is expected to generate multiple benefits. Gardening provides a way for people to be physically active, to improve food access, to increase fruit and vegetable consumption and to reconnect people with agriculture.

Posted on Tuesday, October 16, 2012 at 9:18 AM
 
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