- Author: Brook Gamble
Extra special congratulations are in order for the 2020 Tuleyome graduating class of certified California Naturalists. On Friday, March 20, via Zoom, the California Naturalist Program certified its latest class of California Naturalists while practicing appropriate physical distancing to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus or COVID-19.
Students met by video to present their capstone service-learning projects, including topics as diverse as nature journaling with kids, discovering soil types of field trip locations, cataloging game camera photos, unlocking the potentials of Zooniverse, building a new container for composting, and more.
California Naturalist Program Director Greg Ira remarked to graduates that he is encouraged to see people finding refuge in the natural world in this difficult time. "Who knew that social distancing would bring so many people closer to nature?," Ira said. "How wonderful would it be to see a blossoming of natural history from this event? And who better to help guide these potential naturalists than a newly minted California Naturalist like yourself."
VP Humiston has announced the winners of the 2015-16 UC ANR Staff Appreciation and Recognition (STAR) awards, which recognize and reward outstanding individual and team performance of Agriculture and Natural Resources staff.
STAR awards allow managers to nominate staff who demonstrate exceptional performance, creativity, organizational abilities, work success and teamwork. The nominations were reviewed by a panel, which made recommendations to me.
Fourteen individuals won awards:
- Steve Dreistadt, Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program – “We at UC IPM, and those throughout ANR who have worked with him, respect and value Steve's integrity and commitment to communicating high-quality scientific information to solve pest problems.”
- Janie Duran and Marci Holmes-Baker, Kearney Agricultural Research andExtension Center/Lindcove Research and Extension Center – “During the past 14 months, they have assisted in the hiring and training of three business officers for Lindcove REC in addition to their many responsibilities at KARE, clearly demonstrating exceptional service and performance. Their organizational procedures have been adopted by the new staff at Lindcove REC, leading to greater efficiency in tracking accounts and recharging researchers.”
- Brook Gamble, California Naturalist Program – “Brook combines a broad understanding of the program with the attention to detail of a copy editor and the creativity of a graphic artist. Brook's insistence on quality, knowledge of the field and sheer volume of work make her an invaluable asset to the California Naturalist Program.”
- Leah Haynes, Master Gardener Program in UCCE Ventura County – “Her work in Ventura County is known throughout the state for excellence and high achievement. Ventura County Master Gardeners are ‘On Fire' with activity and excitement – Leah is a big part of that.”
- Allison Keaney, 4-H and Youth Development in UCCE Marin County – “Allison formed and led the growth and expansion of our 4-H in the Classroom program… The result has been a two-fold increase in the number of youth participating. She has become a leader for the UCCE Marin team by creating cross-discipline programming that leads to broader reach and greater impact for all programs combined.”
- Melissa LaFreniere, UCCE in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties – “Her contribution to our nutrition education team is invaluable, and she is always working behind the scenes to suggest and implement the most efficient way possible to deliver our programming. She is an exemplary employee with exceptional creativity, organizational and teamwork skills.”
- Chinh Lam, Integrated Pest Management Program – “Chinh's greatest skills are his ability to listen to input without becoming defensive, analyze the changes that should come from them, and do the work to make those changes happen. I appreciate his forward thinking and exceptional team and project management skills.”
- Kimberly Rodegerdts, Risk & Safety Services – “Kim has implemented a new program to centralize and consolidate the monitoring and management of background checks and criminal record data… I've heard many comments praising Kim's clear and helpful instructions, her quick response to any questions, and an appreciation of the volume of work she has accomplished.”
- Cole Smith, UCCE in Santa Clara County – “Cole has exceeded the expectations of TAC and UCCE for the compost program by developing a strong and diverse volunteer force and consistently delivering effective workshops on composting and waste reduction. His passion and interest in expanding the program has contributed to its notoriety and success.”
- Heidi Von Geldern, Contracts & Grants – “Heidi is committed to helping our customers and improving our team to assist UC ANR. She provides outstanding customer services. We rely on Heidi for her calm assessment of problematic situations and her directed strategies to resolve them.”
- Aubrey White, Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education Program (SAREP) – “Her persistence, creative energy, and professionalism was instrumental in gaining us a new website that has garnered positive feedback from our stakeholders for appearance and accessibility of information. She has created communications products that are exceptionally effective.”
- David White, Human Resources-Affirmative Action – “David went above and beyond in collecting and analyzing data in response to a comprehensive USDA NIFA review. He developed creative formulas to improve the required reports, and worked long hours to meet short deadlines.”
- May Woo, UCCE San Mateo/San Francisco – “As a nutrition educator, May maintains the highest quality standards and commitment to excellence. May Woo has been one of those bright stars that has quietly provided stability and guidance to UC CalFresh and UCCE San Mateo/San Francisco counties over the years.”
- Asian Citrus Psyllid Public Education Campaign Team: Jeannette Warnert, Tyler Ash, Myriam Grajales-Hall, Alberto Hauffen, Ray Lucas, Elizabeth Grafton-Cardwell and Mark Hoddle – The campaign successfully helped convey to California citrus tree owners the threat posed by ACP and the steps they can take to mitigate the hazards. UC ANR's Strategic Communications team thoughtfully brought together several key resources and components to execute an outreach plan, resulting in positive, quantifiable results.
- UC CalFresh Nutrition Education Program in Placer/Nevada counties: Rosemary Carter, Olivia Kosten, Carrie Yarwood, Megan Thompson, Michele Fisch and Annette Cosgrove – The team has exceeded expectations by integrating physical activity and reaching new audiences such as afterschool youth programs. More than 2,600 low-income school children receive nutrition education, and more than 10,000 adults learn about nutrition through workshops, newsletters and social media.
- UC CalFresh Nutrition Education Program in Central Sierra: Wendy West, Gretchen Birtwhistle, Hector Ochoa, Natalie Alfaro-Perez, Monica Drazba, Emily Metzger, Stacy Arhontes and Sandra Sturzenacker – Team achievements include delivering nutrition education to underserved, Spanish-speaking clientele in Lake Tahoe; collaborating with Boys and Girls Clubs in El Dorado County to provide physical activity resources and training utilizing the CATCH program; and establishing a Nutrition Education Partnership with FoodCorps.
The STAR winners received their awards at the Special Staff Meeting and Recognition Event June 16 at the UC ANR building in Davis.
- Author: Jeannette E. Warnert
The UC ANR California Naturalist program received a national honor in September, being named the “program of the year” by the Alliance for Natural Resource Outreach and Service Programs (ANROSP). California Naturalist associate director Sabrina Drill, the UC ANR Cooperative Extension natural resources advisor in Los Angeles and Ventura counties, attended the ANROSP annual conference in Tennessee to accept the award and lead a roundtable discussion on increasing diversity through collaborations with community colleges and conservation corps.
The program of the year award comes three years after California Naturalist began certifying naturalists and one year after its status in UC ANR was elevated to statewide program.
“When we were recognized by UC ANR as a statewide program, we arrived in the sphere of Cooperative Extension in California, and now, with this award, we've arrived at the national level,” Drill said.
In recent months, the California Naturalist program has posted a number of achievements:
- The organization passed the milestone of 1,000 certified naturalists, who have, combined, logged more than 30,000 volunteer hours.
- The number of partner organizations has grown from five in 2012 to 28 in 2015.
- The first biennial statewide California Naturalist conference attracted 200 participants in 2014. The second conference is scheduled for September 2016.
- A new academic coordinator, Gregory Ira, was hired. He is based at the UC ANR facility in Davis.
- A new California Naturalist online portal was established to log volunteer hours and serve as a communication and collaboration tool.
- New bio-region modules are being written to accompany the California Naturalist Handbook, a textbook for certification classes.
- A comprehensive instructor training manual has been completed.