To promote the exchange and sharing of agricultural extension information, several U.S. Land Grant institutions have formed an alliance with 10 Chinese agricultural universities. From June 17 to 22, UC ANR took a group of scientists from Chinese agricultural universities on a tour of agriculture in Northern California.
“The Chinese face many of the same issues that we do here in the U.S.,” said VP Glenda Humiston. “The Chinese universities want to improve rural economic development to lift up the quality of life for people in rural communities. They are also responding to global climate change, drought and pests while trying to improve food security and water use efficiency. They see UC Cooperative Extension as an effective research model; we hope that scientific collaborations will accelerate solutions and help maintain relations for California agriculture with China.”
The Chinese Extension Alliance Delegation included Song Hui, vice dean of the New Rural Development Research Institute of Northeast Agricultural University; Sun Wenpeng, professional extension personnel of Northeast Agricultural University; Luo Jian, associate professor of business at Hunan Agricultural University; He Minghui, associate professor of business at Hunan Agricultural University; and Li Peng, director of the Office of Invigorating Agriculture with Science and Education in the Department of Science and Technology.
The group toured Oregon agriculture with Oregon State University representatives, then drove from Klamath Falls with Humiston and Greg Gibbs and Rob Broadhurst of Development Services to begin the California tour at UC ANR's Intermountain Research and Extension Center in Tulelake. Rob Wilson, Intermountain REC director, showed them research being conducted on potatoes and mint breeding. From there, the group headed out to tour Shasta Dam.
In Redding, Larry Forero, UCCE director in Shasta County, and Rick Satomi, UCCE forest advisor, told the Chinese delegates about local research and outreach, then introduced them to 4-H youth and families at the Shasta District Fair, where 4-H members were bringing livestock for show.
UCCE advisors Josh Davy and Allan Fulton discussed orchards and water in Tehama County.
In Yuba City, UCCE director Janine Hasey and her staff gave the guests an overview of UCCE programs in Yuba and Sutter counties and plans for celebrating the office's 100th anniversary on Aug. 24. They met with UCCE pomology advisors, who gave them a tour of Sierra Gold Nurseries orchards and walnut rootstock research sites and discussed collaborations with growers.
Stephanie Larson, UCCE director in Sonoma County, drove the group around areas in Santa Rosa that burned in October and discussed UCCE's fire research and outreach to the community. The group also met with UCCE staff in Sonoma County to discuss food access, 4-H youth development, natural resources and wine grapes.
For a view of UC Cooperative Extension from the campus perspective, Mark Bell, vice provost of Strategic Initiatives and Statewide Programs, introduced the group to colleagues in the College of Agricultural & Environmental Sciences at UC Davis. They met with Mimi Rose, program coordinator for international programs; Martin Smith, UCCE specialist in the Department of Human Ecology; Ron Tjeerdema, associate dean for Environmental Sciences; Bruce Linquist, UCCE rice specialist; Jim Hill, emeritus UCCE specialist; and Louise Ferguson, UCCE specialist and founder of the Fruit and Nut Research and Information Center.
Anne Megaro, director of governmental and community relations, introduced the group to Gail Feenstra, deputy director and food systems coordinator of UC ANR's Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program, and Sonja Brodt, academic coordinator. Then they toured the Russell Ranch Sustainable Agriculture Facility with soil science post-doc Daoyuan Wang and the UC Davis Student Farm with its director Katharina Ullmann.
“They have extension in China, but it is not like ours,” said Megaro. “They are looking to strengthen their advisor positions and develop a mechanism for career advancement, similar to what we have in the U.S.”
The Chinese Extension Alliance Delegation wrapped up their tour at UC ANR's offices in Davis to learn about UC ANR's statewide programs. Jim Farrar discussed the Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program, Missy Gable described the Master Gardener Program, Shannon Horrillo talked about the 4-H youth development program, Greg Ira explained California Naturalist; and Katie Panarella covered the Nutrition, Family and Consumer Sciences, Expanded Food Nutrition Education (EFNEP) and Master Food Preserver programs.
Humiston, who met with the China-US University-based Agricultural Extension Alliance in China in March of 2017, said, “We look forward to collaborating with our agricultural extension colleagues in China.”
See more photos of the tour at https://www.flickr.com/gp/151501801@N07/YVBqk6.
Ag Day at the Capitol was held in Sacramento on March 20. This year's theme was “Climate-smart, California Grown,” honoring the environmental stewardship and innovation of the state's farmers.
Dozens of legislators attended Ag Day at the Capitol, stopping at UC ANR's booth to examine the various varieties of citrus from Lindcove Research and Extension Center and marveling at the different shapes and sizes of avocados grown at South Coast Research and Extension Center.
Senate Pro Tempore Toni Atkins of San Diego, who became the first woman to lead the California Senate on March 21, held Sheldon 4-H club member Bella Albiani's hen as she talked with her and VP Glenda Humiston.
Michelle Leinfelder-Miles, UC Cooperative Extension advisor for Delta crops in San Joaquin, Sacramento, Yolo, Solano and Contra Costa counties, answered visitors' questions about research and agronomy.
Sean Hogan, academic coordinator for Informatics and Geographic Information Systems (IGIS) Program, showed visitors some of the information drones can gather and how researchers and farmers can use the data.
On March 19, the day before the event, Anne Megaro, director of government and community relations; Tyler Ash, marketing and social media coordinator; Pam Kan-Rice, assistant director of news and information outreach; and Meredith Turner of UC State Government Relations, visited the offices of legislators to invite them to visit the UC ANR booth at Ag Day.
“Ag Day is one of the most highly attended events at the state capitol, and I am so pleased that UC ANR was there to show legislators and the public all the great research and public service that we have to offer California, ” said Megaro. “There is nothing like a hands-on experience and being able to see, touch and smell actual fruit grown by the University. The best part? When they realize the food they already enjoy at home came from our agricultural research. It's a great example of UC at work.”
To educate legislators and staffers about some of the benefits Californians receive from research made possible with state funding, they handed out bags of Tango mandarins – the seedless, easy-to-peel citrus variety developed by UC Riverside genetics professor Mikeal Roose and sold as Cuties and Halos – along with the 2017 UC ANR annual report.
The annual event is hosted by the California Department of Food and Agriculture in partnership with California Women for Agriculture and the California Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom.
More photos and a video below. To see Twitter coverage of this year's Ag Day at the Capitol, look for the hashtag #AgDay2018.
Kicking off the meeting by expressing sympathy for everyone affected by wildfires – including the ANR members and Master Gardener volunteers who lost their homes – UC President Janet Napolitano met with the President's Advisory Commission (PAC) at their biannual meeting Dec. 13 at the Courtyard by Marriott in Emeryville.
President Napolitano focused her remarks on the challenges that remain with our food system, saying that she sees endless possibilities for ANR to bring food and ag together with science and technology for agricultural innovation. She also praised ANR for expanding access to its programs and achieving parity in participation of Latino youth in 4-H activities.
Napolitano invited the PAC members to join the UC Advocacy Network, or UCAN, to keep informed about state and federal issues that impact the university.
VP Glenda Humiston introduced Anne Megaro, governmental and community relations director. Megaro, who has a Ph.D. in animal science and was the California State Senate Committee on Agriculture's consultant for five years, spoke about her background and discussed how she is working with academics to cultivate relationships with elected officials by sharing stories about their work.
“Every legislator should know ANR because we're in their district,” Megaro said.
“How can I help you talk about ANR?” she asked the PAC members, who responded positively.
Gabe Youtsey, chief innovation officer, described how the Internet of Things, data analysis, robotics, artificial intelligence, drones and plant biotechnology are helping farmers cope with challenges, including workforce shortages, water scarcity and pest pressure. The Apps for Ag hackathons have produced useful tools, but poor rural connectivity is limiting the benefits.
He also described the recently launched The VINE, which is designed to catalyze a statewide system to support innovation, entrepreneurship, expand economic opportunities and develop new technology for agriculture, natural resources and rural communities. Youtsey said food and agriculture need “patient capital” investors because venture capitalists desire a fast return on their investment.
Associate Vice President Wendy Powers briefed the commission on ANR's strategic plan. Our “Big Hairy Audacious Goal” is for every Californian to recognize the positive impact ANR has in their lives. The actions will be guided by UCANR's core values: excellence, community, innovation, inclusion, collaboration and integrity. Public value statements are being developed to shape our efforts and “they will give us the elevator speech to articulate who we are and what we do,” Powers said.
In the deans' updates, Keith Gilless announced that in June he will be stepping down as dean of the College of Natural Resources after 11 years to return to his academic work in fire research. Deans Helene Dillard of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Kathryn Uhrich of the College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, Michael Lairmore of the School of Veterinary Medicine and Gilless shared news of awards and large grants received and major projects underway in their respective colleges and school.
In wrapping up the meeting, Humiston announced that Mike Mellano, Dina Moore and Jean Marie Peltier will represent California in Washington D.C. for the CARET (Council on Agriculture Research, Extension and Teaching) meeting in March to advocate for agricultural research and the Farm Bill.
She invited the PAC members to meet next in April in Ontario, in conjunction with the ANR statewide meeting.
- Author: Anne Megaro, Ph.D.
Anne Megaro is government and community relations director for the University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources. She helps bench and field researchers spread the good news of their work by “sharing their story” with policymakers and community stakeholders. She earned a Ph.D. in Animal Science from Cornell University and was a 2010-2011 AAAS Science and Technology Fellow.
If you had to explain, in layman's terms, your current research area and the impact of your work on human lives, could to do it? Could you do it in five minutes?
This was one question asked of me during my interview for the AAAS Science and Technology Fellowship, which is a highly regarded and competitive year-long program geared toward Ph.D., M.D., and D.V.M. graduates who are looking to explore what it would be like to work in public policy on Capitol Hill. I like to think that I nailed this question in my interview (“I research milk fat and how it's healthy for people”), but then again, my research was easily translational…. and I had a lot of practice. In graduate school, I was constantly fielding questions from people outside my department who, when they found out I worked with cows, would instantly pepper me with a myriad of questions about milk – ranging from nutrition to hormone use to animal welfare. I loved the fact that every person I spoke to left our conversation knowing a little bit more about food and how it's produced.
What I didn't know then, however, was that these moments were perfect opportunities to reach people outside of the science arena and bring them into the fold, a step closer to understanding a world that seems too complex or foreign to comprehend. Science shouldn't be a black box and research shouldn't be siloed away from the view of – and use by – other professions. The world is increasingly dependent on science to deliver new technologies and research breakthroughs that will expand our knowledge and allow us to continue pursing healthy and prosperous lives.
To break down these silos, we need to learn how to translate science into forms that can be used by other professions, especially those professions that determine public policy. The good news is that there are science-minded legislators and staffers in the halls of Congress and in state capitols. Some have science backgrounds, some are – quite literally – rocket scientists, and some do not have science degrees but are exceptionally intelligent. They will be receptive to hearing about your research and what it will do to transform society. However, they likely won't have an hour to spend with you to discuss your work. At best, a half hour. Most likely, 15 minutes… and your meeting might take place in a loud, crowded, hallway.
Which brings us back to my initial point – the importance of being able to share your research in a five-minute “elevator” speech. If enough scientists stood willing and able to reach out and communicate their science, communicate their expertise, communicate the knowledge it has taken years of hard but exciting work to attain, where would we be? Would there be greater interest and support from Congress for agricultural research? Would a fundamental understanding of the challenges and opportunities facing farmers and the production gains needed to feed a world of nine billion people by 2050 stimulate greater conversation? How wonderful would it be if the information communicated came from unbiased, non-political, science-driven, credible, and professional sources?
Honing the skill of communicating to policymakers is not simple. It usually requires political prowess and sensitivity to current events. This should not take away from your message and it absolutely should not skew your research results. It should, however, keep you thinking about how to deliver your message to specific audiences. Be mindful that most elected officials and their staff will not have time to read a scientific article or annual report. Instead, develop a one-page “leave-behind” that is paragraph-free and full of graphics (not graphs). Make your message clear, and give real-world examples of your work's impact. Most importantly, follow up with an email or hand-written thank-you note. It's always nice to be nice, and you will be remembered for it.
I will step off my soapbox with this message: science is no longer limited to the reach of laboratories and universities. It leaks and stretches into all factions of life and is essential to the productivity, prosperity, and health of all people. With increasing scientific discoveries in nutrition, medicine, agricultural production, natural resource and environmental science, it is essential that science be effectively communicated and shared with non-scientists. So, the next time someone asks you about your research, don't tell them you work on anti-carcinogenic bioactive fatty acids. Tell them you're working to make milk fat healthier. Tell them how your work could transform society. Share your story.
Sarah Light joined UCCE on July 5, 2017, as an area agronomy advisor in Sutter, Yuba and Colusa counties.
Light earned a dual M.S. in soil science & botany and plant pathology from Oregon State University and conducted her graduate research in potato production at the Hermiston Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Eastern Oregon. Light, who speaks Spanish, also holds a B.A. in Latin American studies with a minor in Spanish literature from Brandeis University.
Prior to joining UCCE, Light was working as a Biological Science Technician for the USDA Agricultural Research Service on a project that evaluated the impact of biochar application on soil water properties. Light volunteered with the USAID Farmer-to-Farmer program in Malawi and worked for several years in small-scale farms and gardens in the Bay Area.
Light is based in Yuba City and can be reached at (530) 822-7515 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
Luke Milliron joined UCCE on June 12, 2017, as an area sustainable orchard systems advisor in Butte, Glenn and Tehama counties.
Prior to joining UCCE, Milliron worked as an agronomy technician at Dellavalle Laboratory, Inc. since April 2016. He was responsible for soil and plant tissue sampling in almond, walnut, grapevine and processing tomato systems. He also supported grower irrigation management with neutron probe, pressure chamber and watermark readings.
From January 2015 to March 2016, Milliron was a UC Cooperative Extension horticulture intern, funded by the Almond Board of California and the California Dried Plum Board. During his internship, he was based in UCCE Sutter-Yuba and San Joaquin counties where he worked on 20 UCCE trials in almond, prune, walnut, processing tomato and landscape horticulture. Milliron also assisted UCCE farm advisors on visits with almond, prune, walnut and tomato growers, wrote newsletter articles and delivered talks to growers and pest control advisers.
Milliron earned an M.S. in horticulture and agronomy from UC Davis. His research focused on the measurement of almond tree water stress during winter dormancy. He earned a B.S. in agricultural science, with an option in crops and horticulture from California State University, Chico.
Milliron is based in Oroville and can be reached at (530) 828-9666 and email@example.com and on Twitter @MillironLuke.
Ricky Satomi joined UCCE on May 15, 2017, as an Area Forestry and Natural Resources Advisor in Shasta, Trinity and Siskiyou counties.
Satomi earned an M.S. in forestry from UC Berkeley and a B.S. in forestry & natural resources and society & environment from UC Berkeley.
Prior to joining UCCE, Satomi worked as a research associate with the UC Wood Biomass Utilization Group, analyzing wood utilization capacity in California. His master's thesis focused on productivity and cost tracking of forest fuel mastication treatments using open source geospatial analysis. He also developed interactive web and audiovisual platforms to enhance delivery of forest management practices to the public. From 2009 to 2013, Satomi was a field forester working on inventory and management plans for land ownerships throughout Northern California.
Satomi is based in Redding and can be reached at (530) 224-4900 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
Aliasghar Montazar joined UCCE on June 1, 2017, as an area irrigation and water management advisor in Imperial and Riverside counties.
Prior to joining UCCE, Montazar was a project scientist in the Department of Plant Sciences at UC Davis for three years. From 2011 to 2014, he was a research associate in the Department of Land, Air and Water Resources at UC Davis. He is also a former associate professor at the Department of Irrigation and Drainage Engineering at the University of Tehran, Iran. Montazar has more than 15 years of research, extension, teaching and technical consulting experience and has served in several leadership positions in agricultural water management and irrigation engineering in California and abroad.
Montazar, who is fluent in Persian and Arabic, earned a Ph.D. in irrigation and drainage from University of Tehran, Iran; an M.S. in irrigation structures from Tarbiat Modares University, Iran; and a B.S. in irrigation engineering from Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, Iran.
Montazaris is based in Holtville and can be reached at (442) 265-7707 and email@example.com.
Wei-ting Chen joined UCCE on Aug. 29, 2016, as the area nutrition, family and consumer sciences advisor in San Mateo, Santa Clara and San Francisco counties.
Prior to joining UCCE, Chen worked for a health communications firm based in Atlanta, Ga., where she managed health communication projects for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and led user research and evaluation efforts for web-based health communication products.
At Johns Hopkins University, she developed an urban agriculture summer training program for low-income inner-city teens, led the founding and operations of the university's first community garden, conducted a literature review on the topics of community food security and farm-to-school through the Center for a Livable Future at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and surveyed SNAP recipients at farmers markets about their experience with fruit and vegetable incentives. Her dissertation combined her interest in poverty, social policy, and food system issues and examined public assistance-dependent mothers experience as consumers in the food system and how they made food decisions for their households. From 2005 to 2008, Chen, who is fluent in Mandarin Chinese, worked for the California Charter Schools Association coordinating its board and leadership development program.
She earned a Ph.D. and an M.A. in sociology at Johns Hopkins University and her B.A. in political science and sociology at UC Davis.
Chen is based in Half Moon Bay and can be reached at (650) 276-7429 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
Anne Megaro joined UC ANR as government and community relations director on Aug. 28. In her new role, Megaro will guide UC ANR employees in nurturing relationships with government officials and will monitor legislation that could affect UC ANR. She will also develop programs to promote community awareness of UC ANR.
Megaro, who earned a Ph.D. in animal science from Cornell University and a B.S. in animal science and management from UC Davis, brings a solid understanding of agriculture, science and the UC system along with knowledge of California's legislative processes.
“We're absolutely thrilled to have someone of Anne's caliber and credentials on board at UC ANR,” said Vice President Glenda Humiston. “Her hiring is a real coup for us and couldn't come at a more critical time. Educating our elected officials about the value of ANR research and outreach is always important, but especially as we try to increase investment in research infrastructure to address issues such as water, wildfire, invasive pests, food insecurity and other challenges facing the state.”
For the past five years, Megaro has been the California State Senate Committee on Agriculture's consultant. As the sole agriculture committee consultant for the Senate, Megaro planned legislative hearings, conducted independent research and analyzed agricultural bills to advise senators and staff on policy and legislative issues. She collaborated with senators, assembly members, governor's staff, legislative staff, government agencies, stakeholders and members of the public to resolve issues related to specific bills or policies.
“With the goodwill she's developed and contacts she's made in the state Senate, coupled with her ability to work with UC Cooperative Extension county directors and Research and Extension Center directors on effectively engaging policymakers at the local level, Anne will elevate UC ANR's ability to connect people with the data they need to make informed policy decisions,” Humiston said.
Megaro is based at the ANR building in Davis in Room 178 and can be reached at (530) 750-1218 and email@example.com.
Darren Haver has agreed to serve as the interim associate director of the Research and Extension Center system, effective Oct. 1, 2017. Haver has served as the UC Cooperative Extension water resources advisor in Orange County since 2002, director of South Coast Research and Extension Center in Irvine since 2009 and director of UC Cooperative Extension in Orange County beginning in 2011.
“Darren brings a wealth of experience to this position,” said Wendy Powers, associate vice president and interim REC director. “We continue to develop a plan to address administrative vacancies and look forward to working with him in this interim role.”
Haver will serve in this capacity until June 30, 2018, or until a new director is appointed. He will succeed Lisa Fischer, who plans to retire from UC ANR in September after five years as associate director of the REC system.
“Under her direction, each REC has developed a strategic plan to set the course for the future and numerous capital improvements have been made to the RECs, including new office and conference spaces,” said Powers. “We wish Lisa the very best as she takes on new adventures.”
John Harper, UCCE livestock advisor for Mendocino and Lake counties, received the California Wool Growers Association's Golden Fleece Award at their annual meeting Aug. 19 in Cambria.
The Golden Fleece Award is presented each year to a living and active member of the California Wool Growers Association or a public official who through his or her position has made a lasting contribution to the California sheep industry. This is the “un-sung hero” award. Recipients are intended to be those individuals who have given unremitting support and service to the California sheep industry and received little recognition for their efforts.
“John Harper was honored with the California Wool Growers Association Golden Fleece Award for his unrecognized contributions as livestock/natural resources advisor for Mendocino and Lake counties to the California sheep industry over the years,” said Erica Sanko, CWGA executive director. “John is known statewide and nationally for his sheep shearing and wool grading schools, which provides a much-needed resource of qualified sheep shearers for the California sheep industry.”
Since 1990, Harper has been hosting the UC Cooperative Extension Sheep Shearing School, which is the only program of its kind in California. At the five-day intensive course, more than 300 students from California, other states and other countries have been trained to shear sheep, giving them skills to start a new and profitable career. Harper, who serves as secretary for the Mendocino/Lake Wool Growers Association, has also authored or co-authored more than 350 research-based articles and publications.
Roger Ingram, UCCE advisor emeritus, was named the 2017 Blue Ribbon Award recipient by the Nevada County Fairgrounds Board of Directors. The award was created by Western Fairs Association (WFA), a nonprofit trade association serving the fair industry, to recognize those who support and contribute to the quality of their local fair. During opening ceremonies on Aug. 9, Ingram was recognized for his contributions to the agriculture programs at the Nevada County Fairgrounds.
Ingram's involvement with the fair began in 1986 when he joined UC Cooperative Extension as the 4-H/livestock and natural resources advisor in Nevada County. At the Nevada County Fair, he organized and conducted a livestock judging contest until 1995. He has been instrumental in coordinating carcass quality programs for fair animals and working with exhibitors and leaders to understand the data and to use it to improve their feeding and management practices.
From 2006 to 2011, Ingram gave a series of agriculture-related presentations at the fair as part of the workshop series coordinated by the Nevada County Resource Conservation District.
“For decades, Roger has been an advocate of local youth in agriculture, particularly the youth at the Nevada County Fair,” said Rea Callender, CEO of the Nevada County Fairgrounds. “His contributions to the agriculture programs at the Fairgrounds have educated adults and children. Whether it's participating in the annual farm day, assisting with agricultural youth programs, serving as a guest speaker in the seminar series at the fair, or assisting the kids at the fair – his work is invaluable.”
Putting Youth on the Map wins UC tech award
The University of California recognized 10 teams from across the system with the 2017 Larry L. Sautter Award. Putting Youth on the Map won a Golden Award. The Center for Regional Change's interactive website provides analyses of California youth well-being and curricula on how to use them. The website is a resource for researchers and policymakers, as well as youth and adult advocates, who are working to ensure the well-being of young people in the state.
The annual award, which is sponsored by the UC Information Technology Leadership Council, recognizes collaborative innovations in information technology that advance the university's mission of teaching, research, public service and patient care, or that improve the effectiveness of university processes. The award encourages collaboration and solution sharing across the UC system. Systemwide Chief Information Officer Tom Andriola announced the winners Aug. 8 at the UC Computing Services Conference in San Diego.
Nancy Erbstein, who holds a research faculty appointment in the UC Davis Department of Human Ecology, is the principal investigator for the project. UC Cooperative Extension advisors Charles Go, Russell Hill, Anna Martin, Fe Moncloa, Terri Spezzano and Steven Worker; UCCE nutrition education coordinator Dennis Carrasquilla, UC CalFresh director David Ginsburg and former Youth, Families and Communities Program director Constance Schneider contributed to the development of Putting Youth on the Map.
The resource was created with support from The California Endowment, UCANR, the Center for Collaborative Research for an Equitable California and Sierra Health Foundation.