- Author: Pamela Kan-Rice
Konrad Mathesius (pronounced “Muh-tay-zee-us”) is the new UCCE agronomy advisor for Yolo, Sacramento and Solano counties.
Mathesius, who joined ANR on June 27, will be working with growers and pest control advisers in the Capitol Corridor area to address issues related to soils, pests, diseases and production efficiency. In addition to collaborating on a few projects with UCCE advisor Rachael Long in alfalfa, dry beans and sunflowers, he will work on a wide range of agronomic crops including corn, wheat, barley and safflower.
Mathesius will work with growers and PCAs to mitigate crop losses by addressing pest and disease pressures and to help them comply with nitrogen, pesticide and water regulations. He also plans to develop crop guidelines based on difficulties associated with specific soils in the Capitol Corridor.
The native of Logan, Utah, earned his undergraduate degree at Utah State and his master's degrees in soil science and international agricultural development at UC Davis.
“After graduation, I spent a few years working in the private sector, where I gained a sense of respect for bottom lines and the hustle to make ends meet,” Mathesius said. “I intend to bring the question of cost and efficiency into most, if not all of my work.”
Based in Woodland, Mathesius can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and (530) 666-8704.
Kathryn Stein has joined ANR as executive assistant to Wendy Powers, Associate Vice President
Prior to joining ANR, Stein worked in the College of Engineering Dean's office at UC Berkeley for three and a half years. She earned a B.S. in environmental horticulture and urban forestry from the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at UC Davis. While in Davis, she worked for the Whole Earth Festival, an annual sustainability festival on the UC Davis campus.
Stein is based on the 10th floor of UCOP and can be reached at Kathryn.Stein@ucop.edu and (510) 587-6240.
Martinez and Au receive NIH Career Development Awards
Two researchers at the Nutrition Policy Institute have been awarded K01 Career Development Awards by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Lauren Au will research disparities in the relationship between the school nutrition environment and childhood obesity and Suzanna Martinez will study sleep duration and risk for obesity in Mexican-American children.
Martinez will receive $895,620 and Au will receive $840,871. Martinez has also been accepted into the K Scholars Program at UC San Francisco, which will provide her with peer support and mentorship to conduct the study.
Barbara Allen-Diaz, who retired as ANR vice president in 2015, is among five Land Grant university leaders recognized for Excellence in National Leadership by the Experiment Station Section of the Association of Public and Land‑grant Universities (APLU).
The other individuals honored with Allen-Diaz were:
- Walter A. Hill, Dean, College of Agriculture, Environment and Nutrition Sciences, Tuskegee University
- Steve Slack, formerly associate vice president for agricultural administration and director of OARDC, The Ohio State University (recently retired)
- Daniel Rossi, formerly executive director, Northeastern Regional Association of State Agricultural Experiment Station Directors (recently retired)
- William (Bill) Brown, dean of research and director of the Tennessee Agricultural Experiment Station, University of Tennessee
The resolution reads in part: “These leaders have personified the highest level of excellence by enhancing the cause and performance of the Regional Associations and Experiment Station Section in achieving their mission and the Land-grant ideal.”
The awards were announced at the annual Experiment Station Section meeting on Sept. 21 in Jackson Hole, Wyo.
As I reflected on these events, and on my career, I thought it would be a good time to briefly outline the history of the Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, how it was created and how it fits into the larger University of California.
As is common in the development of all great organizations, the history of the University of California is populated by larger-than-life figures as well as internal and external political battles for money, prestige and control. The history of agricultural science and teaching in the University and the development of UC ANR, as we know it today, was part and parcel to those struggles. It is a fascinating story and one that I encourage everyone to read about in books such as Science and Service, by Ann Foley Scheuring. I can only hit the highlights in this short article, but I hope that you will find this history as fascinating as I have.
The original University of California campus was at Berkeley. Tension between agricultural interests and agriculture-focused research on the one hand and the liberal arts and other sciences on the other has been part of our history from the beginning. Initially, the College of Agriculture within the new UC was politically very powerful, with a seat on the Regents, but agriculture programs had a paucity of students. It wasn't until such leaders as Edward Wickson, Eugene Hilgard, Thomas Hunt and others began to build the science base for agriculture that agricultural concerns began to take off at the University.
In 1905, the state legislature passed a bill to establish a University farm to ensure that UC was responding to agricultural needs. Although many sites were considered, Davisville (now called Davis) was chosen. The University Farm School offered a 3-year course open to any boy over the age of 15 with a grammar school education, shortly thereafter amended to a 2-year curriculum and a minimum age of 18. University students from Berkeley working toward a degree in agriculture were encouraged to attend the Farm School at Davis for a few months to add practical experience to their scientific work.
In 1920, several changes occurred affecting agricultural programs within the University. Until then, all agriculture faculty, research staff, and agricultural extension farm advisors held academic titles with the right to vote as members of the Academic Senate. When farm advisors exercised their voting rights on a particular issue over the objections of other Senate members, the Berkeley faculty moved to restrict Academic Senate membership to only those with academic teaching titles. This action removed Agricultural Extension faculty from the Academic Senate, and led to the creation of the Academic Assembly Council to represent extension academics. A second major change was the result of a reorganization of the College of Agriculture into four parts: the Department of Agriculture, for academic instruction leading to a university degree; the Agricultural Experiment Station (AES), for original research; the Agricultural Extension Service, for statewide public outreach; and the University Farm School. The Dean of the College of Agriculture would retain leadership over all four parts, but each part would also have its own head, and only the Department of Agriculture faculty would have Academic Senate membership.
Between 1952 and 1974, UC made numerous changes to its agriculture programs. Among the most notable were the conversion of Davis and Riverside to general campuses in the UC system and UCLA's elimination of its agricultural programs and transfer of its AES resources to Riverside.
In 1974, with another Regents' reorganization, the agriculture deans' reporting lines were moved from the Vice President of UC ANR to their respective campus chancellors. State AES funds were directed to the three campus chancellors, and AES faculties at Berkeley, Davis and Riverside now reported to their campus deans. The Agricultural Extension Service was renamed Cooperative Extension (CE) to better reflect its broadening social and economic purview across the state. The Vice President of UC ANR remained director of the AES and director of CE systemwide for UC, with all state CE funds and all federal AES and CE funds flowing to UC ANR.
Fast-forward to 2015: Today UC ANR remains as the vibrant, statewide academic research, education and outreach arm of UC, composed of more than 330 CE faculty. Some of these academics are located on campuses, some are at Research and Extension Centers and others are in county offices throughout the state. Cooperative Extension Specialists and Advisors work with AES colleagues and other campus-based colleagues to generate new knowledge and serve the needs of the people of California.
Tug-of-wars over money, prestige and control within the UC system have not disappeared, but the mission of UC and that of UCANR continue to ensure a thriving California with healthy and sustainable agricultural systems, healthy environments and healthy people. I, for one, am proud to serve this great organization!
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!
As we near the end of February and look ahead to the spring, there continues to be a tremendous amount of activity and good work going on within ANR. Thank you, as always, for your efforts.
This month, I'd like to focus on an event that likely hasn't hit your radar just yet – the Strategic Initiatives Conference scheduled to take place Oct. 5-7. Our Strategic Initiatives (SI) are a vital component of ANR's overall vision, and I truly hope as many of you as possible can take part in the conference to gain an appreciation for what's already been accomplished with the SIs and to get inspired for what's to come.
The conference will offer a rare opportunity for the entire SI community to come together. The organizing team is planning individual SI meetings, in-service training, and meetings with program teams and workgroups, among other activities. The individual SI gatherings give us a chance to discuss the broader direction of SI programmatic activities within each topic area.
We'll kick the conference off with a welcome dinner on the 5th. Hopefully, it will be an opportunity for all of you to meet the new VP of ANR.
One portion of the conference will be open to legislators and their aides. We'll focus that session on highlighting to our elected officials the progress made by each of the SIs, demonstrating to them our effective use of grant monies.
You'll soon see a save-the-date email, but it's not too early to get this important event on your calendars now.
Also, don't forget that the Work Environment workshops begin on Monday, March 2. Please attend the one in your region to engage in a lively discussion about the results of the Work Environment Assessment and how you can help the Division move forward.
I hope you'll enjoy this edition of ANR Report. As always, it's packed with news and features, including information on a bioeconomy conference coming up in April, new software and licenses available to UC ANR staff and academics, a poultry website offering answers about backyard chickens, the updated California Master Gardener Handbook, and other topics.
“Barbara has a record of outstanding research productivity that has affected the understanding and management of California rangelands and has had global impacts,” said Amy Ganguli, assistant professor of range science at New Mexico State University.
Barry co-chaired the conference planning committee with Alan Bower of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Several other ANR members also participated in planning the meeting: Larry Forero, Theresa Becchetti, Holly George, Jim Sullins, David Lile, Royce Larsen, Roger Ingram, Morgan Doran, Jeremy James, Mel George, Fadzayi Mashari, Julie Finzel, Jeff Stackhouse, Scott Oneto, Harper and Larson. Even more participated as speakers and attendees.
For conference highlights, select “social media” in the SRM 2015 Managing Diversity guidebook app (Redemption code “SRM2015”), created by Harper, or search for #SRM2015 on Twitter and Facebook.