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UCCE economist Shermain Hardesty retires

Shermain Hardesty
After serving farmers and ranchers as an economist for more than 30 years, including 13 years as a UC Cooperative Extension specialist, Shermain Hardesty will retire July 1, 2017.

Hardesty's research and extension work has focused on the needs and opportunities of smaller-scale farmers and ranchers. Over the years, she studied cooperatives' performance, the development of local food markets and values-based supply chains, and alternative marketing channels for smaller-scale farms and ranches. She researched and reported on, among other topics, the economic impact of local food marketing and the impact of food safety regulations on smaller operators. Her well-researched studies have influenced the development of facilities, regulations and policies affecting smaller producers.

Hardesty organized numerous workshops for small-scale farmers and ranchers, covering a broad range of topics, including cooperatives, direct marketing, food safety, agritourism, specialty food businesses and other strategies for sustaining and diversifying small and mid-scale agricultural businesses. 

In her Specialty Food Workshop evaluations, Hardesty often received grateful comments, such as: “This was an awesome workshop! So informative, so helpful, so comprehensive.” “Well researched information - Wish had more time. Handouts great - lots of resources.” and “Gave me a great reality check, before proceeding to market.” 

Shermain Hardesty, left, converses with participants in a Personal Risk Management and Networking for Women Farmers & Ranchers workshop during the 2008 California Small Farm Conference in Tulare. Photo by Brenda Dawson

In addition, Hardesty taught an undergraduate class about cooperatives for eight years.

“I've appreciated having opportunities to interact with so many dedicated UC Cooperative Extension advisors and staff, and UC Davis graduate students on a tremendous variety of issues,” Hardesty said about her work with UC Agriculture and Natural Resources. “To me, it's been an incredible learning experience. I hope I have shared my insights effectively with the farming community.” 

Hardesty has served on numerous boards of directors and advisory committees over the years. Since 2007, she has helped lead the California Small Farm Conference Board of Directors in organizing an annual conference for small-scale farmers and farmers' market managers. She has also served on the board of the Davis Farmers Market, the California Department of Food and Agriculture's Direct Marketing Advisory Committee, The California Sheep Commission, the National Cooperative Business Association and the Davis Planning Commission.

Hardesty, who was born in Japan, sailed with her family under the Golden Gate Bridge to the Port of Oakland when she was seven years old. The family settled in Burlingame, where Hardesty learned English as her thirdlanguage. She received a B.A. in economics from UC Davis in 1973, an M.S. in agricultural economics from UC Davis in 1974, and then worked for the UC Davis Planning and Budget Office as an analyst from 1975 to 1980.

After receiving her doctorate from UC Davis in 1984, Hardesty was hired by Michigan State University as an assistant professor of agricultural economics. She returned to California in 1987, serving as the senior economist for the California Rice Growers Association and then as principal of the Food Marketing and Economics Group, a consulting firm. In 2002, Hardesty returned to academia as director of the UC Center for Cooperatives. When the center was closed in 2004, she became a UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at UC Davis.

UC Cooperative Extension developed blueberry varieties as a niche crop for small-scale farmers. Photo by Brenda Dawson
In 2007, Hardesty became director of the UC Small Farm Center, home of UC ANR's statewide Small Farm Program. She continued to lead the Small Farm Program until her retirement, working with a team of UC Cooperative Extension small farm advisors throughout the state, even after UC ANR closed the Small Farm Center due to budget reductions in 2010.

Shortly after the Small Farm Center's closure, USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) awarded the UC Small Farm Program team the 2010 National Diversity Award “…for an exemplary extension program, notable for its proven commitment to serving diverse farming communities throughout California with innovative approaches that help small farmers succeed.”

UC Cooperative Extension small farms advisors specialize in developing niche crops that work well for smaller-scale growers. Recent successes include blueberries and coffee.

“I will always remember being at the Kearney [Agricultural Research and Extension Center] blueberry field days and tasting the amazing variety of blueberries grown around California,” said Hardesty, “and the beauty of seeing coffee growing in the Santa Barbara Hills.”

In her retirement, Hardesty says she is “planning to travel with my husband to our national parks, get involved with a local food project, work on a mosaic panel for our patio and spend time with my new granddaughter and my sister. And who knows what else comes up!”

 

 

Posted on Monday, June 26, 2017 at 3:18 PM
  • Author: Penny Leff

UC Learning Center to shut down July 28 for upgrade

As announced in the May 2017 ANR Report, the UC Learning Center website (http://lms.ucdavis.edu) will be down in July for an upgrade. However, the dates have changed. The system will be unavailable for any activity beginning at 5 p.m. on Friday, July 28, 2017, for up to five business days. Please plan to do your compliance training and other training with that schedule in mind.

Posted on Friday, June 23, 2017 at 6:02 PM

Placer/Nevada county UCCE advisor Roger Ingram retires June 30

UC Cooperative Extension livestock and natural resources advisor Roger Ingram will retire June 30 after 31 years of efforts to sustain the ranchers and rangelands of Nevada and Placer counties.

Ingram joined Nevada County UCCE in 1986 after serving for three years as an extension agent with Texas A&M University, his alma mater. During his first seven years in Nevada County, Ingram also had a role with the 4-H Youth Development program, which he gave up in 1993 when he began working with Placer County ranchers. In 2007 Ingram also accepted the role of UCCE county director in Placer and Nevada counties.

UC Cooperative Extension livestock and natural resources advisor, Roger Ingram, retires June 30.

Ingram had a long career with UCCE, but the focus was constantly evolving to meet the changing needs of the community.

“My position has involved a lot of different jobs,” Ingram said. “That's the strength of UC Cooperative Extension. When new issues emerge, you can shift the program.”

Early on, Ingram devoted his attention to grazing management. When research began to show the benefits of low-stress livestock handling, Ingram brought in experts from around the country to provide hands-on demonstrations. Local ranchers learned that low-stress techniques were easier and safer for handlers and reduced livestock injuries, which helped the bottom line.

Since maintaining profitability was a key to keeping land and ranchers in the agriculture business, Ingram worked actively on numerous programs to boost revenues. One such effort was producing niche products, like grass-fed beef, which offered the potential for higher economic return to the ranch. In time, Ingram and a consortium of growers Ingram brought together helped form High Sierra Beef to market area ranchers' high-quality specialty meat to local restaurants, stores and families. In time, one of the board members bought the company and still operates it today.

Ingram worked with community leaders to launch PlacerGrown, a branding effort to add value to local products. Later a similar program, Nevada County Grown, was established for Nevada County.

Beginning farmers and ranchers, and a new generation land holders were a priority for Ingram's educational program. In 1992, he and fellow livestock advisor Dave Pratt created the California Grazing Academy – an intensive three-day training program that has continued to provide innovative grazing information to farmers, ranchers and land management professionals for 25 years. To date, more than 665 individuals have attended and now manage over a million acres of rangeland.

“At the Grazing Academy, our emphasis was on experiential learning,” Ingram said. “We spend 50 or 60 percent of the time in the field, working with cattle, designing fences, drought planning and studying ecology.”

When the similar need among goat producers became apparent, Ingram launched the California Browsing Academy in 2003. This later became the California Multi-Species Academy as interest in sheep production grew in the foothills. Modeled on the grazing academy, the multi-species academy also had an emphasis on experiential learning to reinforce classroom instruction.

Ingram became more focused on soil health in range and irrigated pasture later in his career. He said soil health is an area where more research is needed to understand the grazing management principles that will improve the soil and provide ecosystem services, such as carbon sequestration.

Ingram's contributions to supporting small-scale ranchers was recognized when he was presented with the Pedro Ilic Award for Outstanding Educator in 2013. The award is named for a Fresno County small farm advisor whose untimely death in 1994 prompted the small farm program to annually honor those who carry out his legacy of personal commitment to small-scale and family farming. In 2014, Ingram received the William Nickerl Award for Conservation Leadership from the Bear Yuba Land Trust.

Dan Macon, a Placer County sheep producer who most recently served as an assistant rangeland specialist at UC Davis, will succeed Ingram as livestock and natural resources advisor in Placer and Nevada counties beginning July 1. Cindy Fake, the UCCE horticulture and small farms advisor in Placer and Nevada counties, will take on Ingram's county director duties.

The University of California has conferred on Ingram the honor of emeritus status. For the time being, he plans to stay in Placer County and will help with beginning farmer and small business planning programs.

In retirement, Ingram will work with his own sheep and Border Collie sheep dogs. He will also be training to walk all or part of the 500-mile-long Camino de Santiago (The Way of St. James) in Spain in 2018 or 2019. He said he will take time to travel and looks forward to watching lots of major league baseball games.

Posted on Friday, June 23, 2017 at 8:34 AM
Tags: June 2017 (5), retirement (8), Roger Ingram (1)

UC Cooperative Extension advisor Deborah Giraud retires on June 30

After making significant and varied contributions to Humboldt and Del Norte counties during her 33-year career as a UC Cooperative Extension farm and community relations advisor, Deborah Giraud retires June 30.

Born and raised in Rhode Island, Giraud came west to attend Pomona College in Claremont, Calif.

“I wanted to escape New England and the winter weather,” Giraud said. “I wanted to come to California and be involved in farming.”

UC Cooperative Extension farm and community relations advisor Deborah Giraud retires June 30.

She never looked back. Giraud earned a bachelor's degree in botany, and was studying horticulture at California State Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo, when she was selected for an internship that would shape her career.

The program, established as a memorial for UC Cooperative Extension advisor Norman Ross, offered promising agriculture students the opportunity to spend alternate weeks during the summer with farm advisors and industry leaders throughout California.

“I traveled up and down the state. I made lifelong friends with farm advisors and I learned that to work in Cooperative Extension, UC Davis was the place to be,” Giraud said.

In 1983, she completed a master's degree in pomology at UC Davis; in 1984 she started her career in UC Cooperative Extension in Humboldt County.

Giraud managed a broad plant science program, participating in research and outreach to vegetable, fruit and ornamental crop farmers. A major focus of Giraud's research program was to support the Easter lily industry in Humboldt and Del Norte counties, where farmers produce bulbs that are shipped to greenhouses across the country to force the traditional white flowers each year in time for Easter. Working with UC Cooperative Extension specialist Becky Westerdahl, Giraud's projects focused on research to help growers manage the complex fungal and nematode pest pressures.

Giraud brought many new educational and research programs to the northwest corner of the state, including cottage food businesses, agritourism and farm-to-school programs. She was one of the first UCCE advisors in the state to work with farmers and ranchers on succession issues, teaching the subject at state and national conferences

Giraud also worked closely with Hmong community gardeners when the Southeast Asian refugees settled in Northern California.

“We had a community garden that I helped manage. I met a many families and helped get the kids involved in 4-H. Their many needs spurred my interest in community development,” Giraud said.

In 2011, Giraud was awarded a grant from the USDA Federally Recognized Tribes Extension Program to serve four tribes – Karuk, Hoopa, Wiyot and Yurok – with agriculture projects, community gardens, 4-H programs and food preservation. She helped the Hoopa Tribe receive a grant from the Humboldt Area Foundation to help fund the Rodeo Grounds Improvement Project. She has won several awards for her programs with underserved clientele.

“Deborah has made many outstanding contributions to both Humboldt and Del Norte counties and has had a lasting impact,” said Yana Valachovic, director of UCCE in Humboldt and Del Norte. “Deborah is a true community steward and I appreciate how much she has always been available to work on an issue or solve any problem.”

In retirement, Giraud plans to stay in Humboldt County and do a lot more camping and hiking around the U.S. Another goal is finding an opportunity to be an elementary school teacher's assistant.

“I miss being around little kids,” she said.

Posted on Tuesday, June 20, 2017 at 9:18 AM
Tags: Deborah Giraud (1), June 2017 (5), retirement (8)

Kern County UC Cooperative Extension vegetable crops advisor Joe Nunez retires

UCCE farm advisor Joe Nunez at a Kern County potato field day.
Kern County native Joe Nunez credits a series of supportive mentors for his successful agricultural science career on his home turf. The UC Cooperative Extension vegetable crops advisor retires June 30.

Nunez' first mentor was a professor at California State Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo. The teacher made space for Nunez in his laboratory and introduced the biology student to plant pathology and pest management. Upon graduation, Nunez was qualified for a nine-month position at the USDA agricultural research station in Shafter. With funding from CDFA, Nunez conducted research on guayule, a desert shrub that is a potential source of rubber. The U.S. Defense Department became interested in the rubber tree substitute during the 1970s oil embargo.

When the project ended, Nunez said another key mentor – USDA plant pathology scientist Dick Garber – offered him a job working in cotton research at Shafter.

After Garber retired, Nunez began work with UC Davis plant pathologist Mike Davis on a two-year project investigating cavity spot of carrots. Coordinating with Davis, Nunez ran trials on the carrot disease at the Shafter Research Station.

“Mike was probably the greatest mentor I had,” Nunez said. “He allowed me to work full time, and in the evenings, I would drive to Fresno State to get my masters' degree. That two-year position turned out to be eight years.”

In 1996, Nunez was named a UC Cooperative Extension vegetable crops farm advisor.

“My program focused a lot on carrots,” Nunez said. “I continued to work with Mike on cavity spot on carrots. And after all these years, it's still a problem.”

Cavity spot is caused by two different fungi. Nunez, Davis and other California researchers were able to confirm chemical and cultural solutions, but continuing research is critical to maintaining Kern County's $300 million carrot industry. Over the 30 years that Nunez and Davis collaborated on cavity spot, a single fungicide was found to control cavity spot.

“We knew we would have resistance issues,” Nunez said. “Sure enough, that's what we're seeing now.”

Nunez authored and co-authored dozens of research articles on carrot and potato diseases. He organized and hosted three international carrot conferences and became known and respected by the carrot industry worldwide. He is seeking emeritus status and plans to continue his carrot and potato research programs.

“Carrots and potatoes are too important to Kern County for me to stop,” Nunez said. “I have a lot of multi-state and multi-agency research projects under way. They need to keep going.”

Nunez also looks forward to having more time to spend at his Mammoth Mountain cabin, where he and his wife enjoy an array of summer activities, including hiking, mountain biking, fishing and kayaking. They also will spend more time with their five grandchildren.

Posted on Tuesday, June 20, 2017 at 9:17 AM
Tags: Joe Nunez (1), June 2017 (5), retirement (8)

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