- Author: Saoimanu Sope
John Borba, UC Cooperative Extension Kern County's 4-H youth development advisor, retired on July 1. For over 20 years, Borba has been key to the success of the 4-H program in Kern County, which affords young people an opportunity to test and strengthen their leadership skills while finding and building community.
Borba began working with UC Agriculture and Natural Resources in 1992 as the 4-H program representative for Tulare County. In 1999 he relocated to Oregon to work as an advisor for Oregon State University's Extension team before returning to California in Kern County in 2000.
For 30 years, Borba has focused on improving the lives of young people.
“I appreciated many things about John,” said Marianne Bird, 4-H youth development advisor for Sacramento County. “He was never the ‘sage on the stage,' but rather a thoughtful, competent partner who led from behind. And I loved to watch him teach – asking questions, engaging his audience, enthusiastic about his topic. He was an excellent teacher.”
Bird and Borba worked closely together, supporting and developing statewide 4-H camp programs for 15 years.
“He helped lead an amazing team of 4-H staff, volunteers, youth and academics in some of the most rewarding work of my career,” Bird said.
Together, Bird and Borba prioritized program improvement by presenting research findings at national and international camp conferences, conducting eight statewide conferences, developing camp safety and risk management resources, and authoring two books.
Among the 4-H activities offered in Kern County, Borba oversaw Operation Military Kids for children whose parents were deployed by the National Guard and the Reserves, connecting them with resources, social enrichment, recreational activities and educational opportunities.
To attract more Latino youth, families and volunteers into 4-H, Borba and his 4-H colleagues developed culturally relevant programs. As a result, the number of Latino youth participating in the 4-H program increased more than 250% in three years. The National Association of Extension 4-H Youth Development Professionals recognized the achievement with its Diversity & Inclusion: Expanding the 4-H Audience Award in 2021.
“Of the many programs, research projects, and activities that John led, it was his dedication to the Shooting Sports Program that had the most impact on and created significant impact for the youth and families who participated,” said Russell Hill, associate 4-H youth development advisor for Madera and Mariposa counties.
Borba's support resulted in the program – which promotes safety sportsmanship and ethical behavior – serving more than 4,500 youth annually with at least 16 hours of instruction to the more than 1,000 volunteers throughout his tenure.
“John really took the Shooting Sports program to a level of coordination, improved training and volunteer development, and tracking of data,” Hill said.
While his work focused on youth, Borba's leadership and positive impact were felt among his colleagues as well. Borba, who earned an M.S. in human resources from Chapman University, contributed greatly to the workplace environment and culture.
“I am grateful for being able to work with and for John Borba as the director and advisor in this office for 10 years,” said Carol Heaton, Kern County 4-H office support technician. “It is without question that he treats everyone the same way: direct, considerate, honorable, with understanding and compassion. All this with a keen sense of humor. He is someone I look up to.”
Sue McKinney, 4-H program representative, agreed and added that Borba is the best supervisor she has ever had.
“He was always quick to share his knowledge,” McKinney said. “In everything he did you could see his deep dedication to the 4-H program. He will be greatly missed by everyone in this office.”
Southwest 4-H Leader Amy Andrews notes that 4-H youth and leaders in Kern County will surely miss Borba's presence too.
“John Borba is a kind, helpful and caring person towards each and every person, whether they are in 4-H or not,” Andrews said.
In retirement, Borba, who has received the prestigious emeritus status from UC ANR, will continue to serve young people by developing a 4-H Avian Embryology Program. It is expected to launch in 2023.
“The goal of this program is to serve as an outreach tool for the Kern County 4-H program and the University of California. It has the potential to reach thousands of youth who would normally not be able to participate in a 4-H club,” he said, explaining that many of the participants are from populations underserved by the traditional 4-H club model.
Borba is hopeful that this program will contribute to enhanced classroom learning experiences and excite young people about animal science and food production processes. He also believes that it will contribute to improved behavior and attendance in school.
- Author: Mike Hsu
During nearly 20 years at UC Agriculture and Natural Resources, Lori Renstrom has embodied the spirit of the organization: a dedication to service and a roll-up-your-sleeves, whatever-it-takes ethic.
“It's true for most people at ANR – especially in a team kind of environment,” said Renstrom, the office manager at UC Cooperative Extension in San Diego since 2010. “People just seem to pitch in and get things done. It needs to be done, and so it gets done.”
As she gets ready to retire on July 1, Renstrom can look back on a whole lot of “done” in her vital administrative role – including transitioning all personnel from San Diego County support staff to UC employee status, moving the entire operation to a new building when their former one was demolished, and opening a satellite office in Escondido, in the north part of the county.
“They were just really heartfelt letters, so it was just really rewarding,” Renstrom recalled. “You feel like you're really doing something for the community, and the girls were so appreciative.”
Her passion for helping young people first brought Renstrom to UCCE San Diego in 2003, when she served as program manager for Off to a Good Start, under First 5 California, a statewide movement to promote early childhood development.
The program, funded for 8½ years at UCCE San Diego, offered educational opportunities and resources to families and local organizations – especially in the predominantly Hispanic communities of the South Bay – to assist them in providing the best environment for learning and growth for their children.
“We literally helped thousands of parents really understand that they are their child's first and most important teacher,” Renstrom said.
Renstrom's commitment to strengthening communities also extended to UC ANR itself. In 2014, she attended a workshop that revealed the results of a UC-wide work environment survey, as well as the challenges and opportunities across the system. For UC ANR, it was the need for a representative body for nonrepresented staff.
“Being here in San Diego, I would get UC San Diego's Staff Assembly bulletin; we were quote-unquote ‘members' of UCSD Staff Assembly and so I was like, ‘Why don't we have one?'” said Renstrom.
Responding to Vice President for Agriculture and Natural Resources Glenda Humiston's call for volunteers, Renstrom played an instrumental role in defining the function, structure and bylaws of the nascent Staff Assembly Council. She also served as treasurer for its first two years, and was UC ANR's first senior delegate to the Council of University of California Staff Assemblies.
In addition to providing support for ANR employees, Staff Assembly Council was invaluable in making more people across UC aware of the organization's work throughout the state, Renstrom said.
“Not only are we connected throughout the state for ANR, we're now being connected with all the UC campuses, which is amazing…it kind of starts connecting dots for people,” she explained.
Another original member of ANR Staff Assembly Council, Nikolai Schweitzer, said that Renstrom has been invaluable in a variety of roles during the first seven years of the body's history.
“Lori's leadership skills with creating, developing and managing the Staff Assembly Ambassador program, the Wellness Program and the 2018 Statewide ANR Conference Staff Assembly events have been unparalleled,” said Schweitzer, agriculture supervisor at UC Sierra Foothill Research and Extension Center. “Lori's dedication and service to UC ANR Staff Assembly is the reason for its successes and her contributions will be missed.”
In retirement, Renstrom aims to tackle home improvement projects, read to kids at the local library, and travel with family, friends and “active senior groups.” And, befitting her personality and career, she will not be joining those tours where participants passively watch the world go by.
“I don't want to ride a bus and just look at things through the bus window,” she said with a laugh.
The University of California 4-H Youth Development Program has published a new strategic plan designed to increase its impact.
The mission of the UC 4-H Youth Development Program engages youth in reaching their fullest potential while advancing the field of youth development. 4-H is a model for the program and practice of positive youth development. 4-H promotes positive outcomes for young people through the direct delivery of programs (e.g., 4-H clubs and 4-H camps) and through other formal and nonformal settings (e.g., schools and military installations).
UC 4-H provides training to practitioners and educators, and extends research-based information and educational content to the community to enrich and enhance the lives and well-being of young people in other settings.
In addition, UC 4-H academics contribute to the knowledge base through conducting applied research in the areas of positive youth development, science education, healthy living, civic engagement, leadership development, college and career readiness, inclusivity, volunteer development and management, and professional development for staff and volunteers.
This strategic plan focuses on key areas for increased impact. The key strategic themes that emerged are:
- Strengthen access, equity, and participation
- Increase opportunities for meaningful youth engagement
- Improve organizational infrastructure
- Advance youth development research and extension
The complete plan is available at UC 4-H's website: http://4h.ucanr.edu/About/Mission.
- Author: Pamela Kan-Rice
UC ANR's 4-H Youth Development Program raised $80,619 for California youth from its supporters purchasing paper clovers at Tractor Supply for $1 or more Oct. 3–14, finishing second only to Texas in the 2018 Fall Paper Clover campaign during National 4-H Week.
For the first time ever, 4-H nationally raised over $1 million in a single Paper Clover campaign. The $1,032,711 is the highest amount ever raised in the annual fundraising campaign.
Enhancing the Tractor Supply Campaign was National 4-H Spirit Day on Oct. 9, on which everyone nationwide was encouraged to wear a 4-H shirt, a clover or green and post selfies on social media using #InspireKidstoDo or #TrueLeaders to show support for 4-H youth. People throughout the state turned green, including many right here at ANR.
By posting photos of ANR employees demonstrating their 4-H spirit on social media, Suzanne Morikawa, marketing and communications specialist for 4-H and EFNEP, took the opportunity to show the connection between 4-H and other ANR programs.
“We really appreciate our ANR colleagues participating in these fun ways to support our 4-H youth!” said Shannon Horrillo, statewide 4-H Program director.
The Paper Clover campaign contributes to the support of California 4-H leadership and camp activities. The funds raised will benefit California 4-H members who wish to attend 4-H camps and leadership conferences across the country.
Since it began in 2010, the partnership between Tractor Supply and 4-H has generated more than $11 million in essential funding nationwide.
Boards of supervisors in Sonoma, Fresno, Marin, Glenn, San Luis Obispo, Mariposa, Santa Barbara, Kern, San Diego, Napa and Imperial counties presented their local 4-H members with resolutions or proclamations for National 4-H Week.
- Author: Shannon J. Horrillo
- Author: Sandy Derby
- Author: Greg Ira
- Author: Martin Smith
Project Learning Tree (PLT) is an international, award-winning environmental education program, providing professional development training and workshops for teachers and other educators working with youth. A primary goal of PLT is to increase the environmental and scientific literacy of K-12 students in California through inquiry-based teaching and learning.
Transitioning from a 25-year home within CALFIRE, PLT joined UC ANR in 2013 to ensure a more collaborative and sustainable future for program expansion and development. This year, PLT moved administratively under the UC 4-H Youth Development Program, and is being delivered in partnership with 4-H and the California Naturalist Program.
Through this collaborative effort, UC ANR seeks to expand the reach of the PLT network by engaging existing 4-H Youth Development volunteers, staff, youth and partners and California Naturalist partners, while strengthening environmental education programming within these statewide programs. The collaboration also promotes connections and shared learning between naturalists and youth development staff and volunteers.
Currently, the UC ANR PLT program has a network of 20 active facilitators, offering 30 workshops annually, training nearly 2,000 educators who provide experiential learning activities focused on California ecosystems, forests and trees to more than 10,000 young people annually.
The collective impact of this three-dimensional program partnership will serve to both increase ecological sustainability of agriculture, landscapes and forestry to protect California's natural resources and increase environmental literacy, leading to a qualified workforce for California.