- Author: Gregory C. Ira, Director, UC Environmental Stewards
In 2012, the California Naturalist certification course became a statewide program within UC Agriculture and Natural Resources known as the California Naturalist Program. For 10 years, the course and the program have shared the same name. In 2020, we added the new Climate Stewards certification course. Both courses use education and service to inspire and empower individuals to create more sustainable and resilient communities and ecosystems.
Unfortunately, our program name only reflected one half of our work. To better reflect the scope of both the California Naturalist and the Climate Stewards certification courses, we've renamed our program “UC Environmental Stewards.” This new program name reflects the overarching importance of environmental stewardship to both courses.
While the program name is new, the two courses remain unchanged. The California Naturalist course still proudly focuses on California's natural history under the emblem of the California sister butterfly, and the Climate Stewards course still builds community resilience under the emblem of the lupine. Anyone certified as a California Naturalist or Climate Steward is still a California Naturalist or Climate Steward. UC Environmental Stewards is simply the new programmatic home for these two courses, and potentially any others we may add in the future.
Along with our program name, we are excited to announce additions to our small but growing program team. Jill Santos joins the program in Ventura County at the end of the month and next month we welcome Michelle Peeters, who will support our partners in Northern California.
The growth of the Environmental Stewards program reflects the demand for our courses and the growing need for community and ecosystem resilience. As Californians search for ways to productively engage in local solutions to the challenges of climate change and biodiversity loss, they are finding our courses. Through community education, civic engagement, and the cultivation of a shared identity as environmental stewards, the program builds the adaptive capacity of individuals and communities to address the impacts we are already experiencing, as well as those yet to come.
Our collective impact network of 67 local partner organizations has conducted 422 California Naturalist and Climate Stewards courses and trained over 7,600 participants since the program started. These certified naturalists and stewards have gone on to volunteer over 240,000 hours of service across the state since 2018, worth over $6 million. The UC Environmental Stewards program continues the legacy of the original program started in 2012, and opens the door for many more Californians to effectively engage in discovery, action and stewardship.
- Author: Greg Ira
The UC California Naturalist (CalNat) Program is seeking nominations from across the University of California System for a Lead Scientist. The program is looking for a UC academic who is widely recognized in environmental science, conservation biology, ecology, global change, natural history, or related fields. The Lead Scientist will work with the CalNat program director to enhance the academic profile and connections of the program.
The primary purpose of this advisory role is to ensure continued high-level academic involvement and rigor for UC California Naturalist including the forthcoming Climate Stewards course. This new role opens an opportunity for a UC academic to connect directly with a growing public of amateur naturalists, community scientists, and environmental stewards (>4,000 statewide). The Lead Scientist will chair the Program Advisory Committee, which is made up of UC academics and external partners who meet online quarterly to help ensure that CalNat courses and community events reflect the latest state of knowledge in environmental science and informal science education. This role would benefit academics interested in research and extension focused on natural history, environmental education, climate communication, natural resource management, and diverse public participation in scientific research in California's ecosystems.
The Lead Scientist should have some service experience in their field such as with scientific societies and editorial boards. The program is asking for a three-year commitment with the opportunity to renew once. This is a university service opportunity and there is no salary or stipend attached to this role, but reimbursements for approved travel and expenses will be provided according to available unit funds. The program encourages self-nominations or the nomination of candidates who have acknowledged they would be interested.
For more information and the nomination form, please visit http://calnat.ucanr.edu/leadscientist. The deadline for nominations is April 24, 2020.
California Naturalist is a statewide program of the UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR), a statewide organization that brings UC research in agriculture, the environment, youth development and nutrition out to local communities to improve the lives of all Californians.
- Author: Andy Lyons
IGIS and the California Naturalist Program are pleased to help celebrate the launch of a new information portal on climate adaptation. The California Adaptation Clearinghouse was officially launched at the California Adaptation Forum in August in Sacramento. The site was developed by the Governor's Office of Planning and Research (OPR) in collaboration with the UC Berkeley Geospatial Innovation Facility, CalNat and IGIS.
The Clearinghouse is a database-driven platform with a wealth of curated resources for climate adaptation. The site originated out of Senate Bill 246, which mandates OPR to provide resources on climate adaptation for local governments, regional planning agencies, and other practitioners working on adaptation and resilience. The database also contains sea-level rise resources collected by the Ocean Protection Council under Assembly Bill 2516. It's an amazing resource for anyone looking to strengthen climate change preparedness in their local government, community, or business.
The database includes numerous planning resources that have been developed and vetted by experts in the field. For example, the Urban Sustainability Directors Network has a how-to guide for local governments on developing equitable, community-driven climate preparedness plans, which you can find in the Clearinghouse. There are also examples of vulnerability assessments, local plans, and funding strategies. The majority of resources are hosted by other organizations, but unlike a Google search all the resources in the Clearinghouse have been reviewed, annotated, and cataloged by subject matter specialists.
To help find resources, the Clearinghouse has a number of search options, including more than a dozen topic categories adapted from Safeguarding California, the state's overall roadmap for building climate change resiliency. You can also search by Type of Impact (e.g., drought, sea level rise), Resource Type (e.g., case study, assessment, policy guidance), and of course an interactive map. Each resource has a descriptive blurb so you can quickly find what you need.
Adaptation planning can be information intensive, so the Tools and Data section of the website is devoted to helping people find data and crunch the numbers. Interested in rangelands? Check out the CA Landscape Conservation Cooperative's compiled Threat Assessments to California Rangelands. Sea level rise? Perhaps the CosMos modeling tool from USGS, or the Surging Seas tool from Climate Central. Like all resources, each tool and dataset has a user-friendly description, a technical summary, a bit about the data, and links to the source. One of our favorites is the California Energy Commission's Cal-Adapt, which includes both historical and projected climate data downscaled for California.
Providing a more personal perspective, the Clearinghouse also contains stories about climate adaptation from individuals, community groups, and businesses. The stories were collected by the UC ANR California Naturalist Program and their vast network of certified naturalists. The climate stories are diverse and compelling, from a concerned grandmother who becomes engaged in a community choice energy program, to a solar project engineer working to strengthen measures to prevent heat stroke in field staff. An interactive Story Map developed by IGIS helps users find stories from their area, some of which even have audio or video clips so you can hear the story in the speaker's own words.
Climate adaptation is complicated, but information portals like the Clearinghouse allow anyone to tap into the incredible amount of work that has already been done in California and elsewhere. Rather than reinvent the wheel, local agencies can build upon vetted guidelines from similar areas. We are all fortunate that the State of California has invested in a platform to share curated resources for the long-term, because climate adaptation is already part of the new normal. More resources are in the pipeline, so check it out and then check back often to see what's new.
- Author: Pamela Kan-Rice
We recognize the program's accomplishments in their first five years – development of a new education and service program, creation of a network of more than 47 statewide partner institutions, and training over 2,600 Certified California Naturalists who have contributed over 140,000 hours of volunteer service (as of June 2018) – promoting the stewardship of California's natural resources.
To guide the program into the future, below is a summary of the direction and next steps for the California Naturalist Program:
1. Until recommendations in #2 below are addressed, roll out Climate Stewards as a continuing education opportunity within the UC California Naturalist program.
2. Revisit the current models that are being used to deliver the California Naturalist curriculum to consider an expansion in on-line instruction, post-course community engagement, and new UC ANR tools for program evaluation.
3. Continue efforts in equity, diversity and inclusion to increase the program's reach to new and underserved clientele; and focus the next needs assessment on the course participants since the first assessment was focused on partner organizations and instructors.
4. Develop a method to systematically collect success stories that are aligned with the UC ANR public value statements and metrics to illustrate contribution to UC ANR condition changes.
5. Add members to the Program Advisory Council who are external to UC ANR.
I look forward to working with the California Naturalist Program as it pursues these and other opportunities that may arise. In particular, I hope to explore how to incorporate more community and citizen science activities and expand collaboration with other UC ANR programs. Best wishes for the ongoing success and growth of the California Naturalist Program!
- Author: Pamela Kan-Rice
Jaspreet Sidhu joined UCCE on Sept. 4, 2018, as the vegetable crops advisor for Kern County.
Sidhu earned a Ph.D. in entomology from Louisiana State University and a M.S. in entomology and a B.S. in plant protection from Punjab Agricultural University, India.
Prior to joining UCCE, Sidhu was a research scientist at Virginia Tech (2016–2018). There, she coordinated and managed different projects funded by USAID in partner countries and provided assistance and expertise for the development of various components of IPM packages for tropical vegetables, fruits and other crops. At Louisiana State University, Sidhu was a research associate working on pest management in vegetable crops, focusing on efficacy trials, maintenance of field and greenhouse experimental trials and data collection and presentation (2014–2016). As a postdoctoral associate, she focused on stem borer management in rice in Louisiana. (2013–2014).
In addition to English, she is fluent in Punjabi and Hindi.
Sidhu is based in Bakersfield and can be reached at (661) 822-6222 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lucy Diekmann joined UCCE on Aug. 20, 2018, as the area urban agriculture and food systems advisor for Santa Clara and San Mateo counties.
Diekmann earned a Ph.D. in environmental science, policy and management from UC Berkeley, a M.S. in environmental sciences from University of Virginia, and a B.A. in history from Brown University.
Prior to joining UCCE, Diekmann was a USDA-NIFA postdoctoral fellow and academic year lecturer in the Department of Environmental Studies and Sciences at Santa Clara University. In these roles, she studied the impacts of and barriers to urban agriculture in Santa Clara County, conducting research in collaboration with community partners. She also coordinated a working group on equity in the food system as part of an eXtension Community of Practice. From 2011 to 2014, Diekmann worked as a consultant for Smart Growth California, where she provided outreach materials about land use, transportation and housing policies to a network of funders dedicated to building sustainable communities in California. Her dissertation research examined the social and cultural impacts of ecological restoration on an American Indian community in Humboldt and Del Norte counties.
Diekmann is based in San Jose and can be reached at (408) 282-3104 and email@example.com.
Zachary Salinger joined ANR on Aug. 15, 2018, as the food entrepreneurship academic coordinator under the UC Master Food Preserver program.
Prior to joining ANR, Salinger was working as CEO/founder of Basil (2016 to 2018), an off-the-grid vertical farm company in New Orleans. Basil's vertical farm model utilized 95 percent less water than traditional non-recirculating methods, no pesticides and an automated water system. He produced cherry tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant and squash for residents in food deserts. To complete this model, he established partnerships with energy, architecture and farming industries. In 2017, his venture won funding from the prestigious NewDay Award, through the Changemaker Institute Accelerator at the Phyllis M. Taylor Center for Social Innovation at Tulane University.
Salinger completed an MPH in nutrition and food security from Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine and a B.A. in psychology from UCLA.
Salinger is based at the ANR building at 2801 Second St. in Davis and can be reached at (530) 750-1245 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
Maggie La Rochelle Gunn joined UCCE on Aug. 6, 2018, as a 4-H Youth Development advisor in San Mateo and San Francisco counties.
Prior to joining UCCE, Gunn managed Putah Creek Café Garden in Winters from 2016 to 2018. She also owned a business that provided gardening services, mentorship and educational workshops on sustainable gardening and farming topics to local businesses and residents. Gunn's Ph.D. dissertation, titled Portrait of a Learning Farm: Re-rooting Selves, Natures and Relationships, was an ethnography of learning relationships at the UC Davis Student Farm. She examined learning motivations in the experiences of student farmers, socio-spatial relationships, education and production dynamics, critical social issues that bear on learning relationships and institutional dynamics of program management. Gunn's master's thesis, An Analysis of Youth Poems from the River of Words: Exploring Environmental Identity, Education, and Youth Development, was a thematic content analysis of over 700 poems written by young people in the U.S. for the River of Words Poetry Contest. This was a study of youth attitudes toward community and place, yielding insights about constructive learning models and the impacts of negative public discourse around young people and the environment.
Gunn earned her Ph.D. in geography and a M.S. in community and regional development from UC Davis, with emphases in community education and farm and garden-based learning. She earned a B.A. in English literature from UC San Diego.
Gunn is based at Elkus Ranch in Half Moon Bay and can be reached at (650) 276-7424 and email@example.com.
Liliana Vega joined UCCE on July 10, 2018, as a 4-H Youth Development advisor for San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties.
Prior to joining UCCE, Vega had been an extension educator at University of Idaho since 2008 and associate extension professor since 2012. In this role, she determined and assessed the needs of area youth, focusing on youth from underserved and minority audiences; developed relationships with other educational institutions, agencies and organizations; identified and prioritized educational needs; planned, developed, coordinated, implemented and evaluated educational programs. She provided leadership in delivering 4-H youth education, disseminated program results through publications and presentations and managed grants and budgets. From 2008 to 2011, Vega was an instructor with responsibilities for 4-H youth development educational programming, afterschool programs, community outreach, volunteer development, volunteer and staff supervision, providing educational opportunities and information to Latino families and networking and partnering with community organizations and institutions.
Vega completed a M.S. in education, adult/organizational learning and leadership from University of Idaho and a B.A. in multi-ethnic studies (minor in Mexican American Studies) from Boise State University.
Vega is based in San Luis Obispo and can be reached at (805) 781-4188 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mehdi Nemati joined UCCE on July 1, 2018, as an assistant specialist in water resource economics and policy in the School of Public Policy at UC Riverside. Nemati's role is to provide leadership throughout the state to develop mission-oriented research programs among colleagues and universities. He facilitates teamwork among government agencies, stakeholder groups and private industry with a focus on promoting sustainable and cost-effective strategies for addressing water-related issues, such as water scarcity/drought. His policy-oriented research and extension program focuses on economic issues associated with urban/municipal water use and water conservation programs, including alternative pricing structures (e.g., budget-based tiered rates and drought pricing), and rebate programs (e.g., turf grass removal); direct and indirect potable water reuse; design of enforcement and monitoring strategies; incentives for the adoption of conservation practices and technologies. He is fluent in Farsi as well as English.
Prior to joining UCCE, Nemati was a graduate research assistant and teaching assistant at University of Kentucky from 2013 to 2018. Nemati's Ph.D. dissertation, Essays on Environmental Economics and Policy, examined various water policies, including 2015 drought mandate, and urban water conservation technologies effectiveness in water use reduction. In addition to research, he has experience explaining critical economic and data-driven concepts to a lay audience. He is the lead author of white papers for Dropcountr company. These non-technical summaries of his research were prepared for Dropcountr management and subsequently shared with government representatives and utility providers.
Nemati received his Ph.D. in agricultural economics and M.S. in economics at the University of Kentucky. He also earned an M.S. in agricultural economics at the University of Tehran, and his B.S. in agricultural economics at the University of Kurdistan.
Selina Wang joined UCCE on July 1, 2018, as an assistant specialist in small-scale fruit and vegetable processing in the Department of Food Science and Technology at UC Davis. Wang's research program focuses on chemical quality, purity and nutrition parameters that occur during fruit and vegetable postharvest, processing and storage. Wang is also the research director of UC Davis Olive Center, leading collaborative projects with the university and industry and helping to find practical solutions to push the forefront of olive research and education. She is fluent in Mandarin as well as English.
Wang's postdoctoral project on evaluating the quality of extra virgin olive oil in supermarkets received worldwide attention in 2010 and 2011. Wang has been the research director of UC Davis Olive Center since 2012, developing more than 150 applied research projects in table olives and olive oil - including domestic/international standards, chemical method developments for rapid testing of quality and purity, best practices for harvesting/processing/storage, to byproduct management and health benefits.
Wang earned a Ph.D. in organic chemistry at UC Davis and a B.S. in chemistry at UC Santa Cruz.
Wang can be reached at (530) 752-5018 and email@example.com.
Lucien Crowder joined Communication Services and Information Technology in August as a senior writer and editor. He will write news articles, assist in writing opinion articles, edit a range of scientific and technical publications and manage publishing and production tasks for the peer-reviewed journal California Agriculture and the Publishing and Production group's other publications.
From 2012 until joining UC ANR, Crowder was senior editor at the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, a publication focused on technology-based threats to human civilization. For five years before joining the Bulletin, he was associate editor at Current History, a journal of contemporary international affairs. Previously, while living in Taiwan, he was a reporter for a business magazine and an editor at a daily newspaper. He holds a bachelor's degree in English language and literature from the University of Chicago.
Crowder is based at the ANR building in Davis and can be reached at (530) 750-1219 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mutters honored by rice industry
Randall “Cass” Mutters, UCCE advisor emeritus, received the California Rice Industry Award, which is sponsored by the California Cooperative Rice Research Foundation.
Mutters, who worked as a UC Cooperative Extension rice farming systems advisor in Butte County from 1994 until his retirement in 2017, was introduced by UCCE specialist Bruce Linquist.
“As an advisor, Cass conducted an applied research and outreach program directed towards rice growers, pest control advisers, and other rice industry stakeholders,” Linquist said. “Cass' work has been visionary and transformative. Through his efforts, he has helped the California rice industry adapt to new challenges, and remain viable and competitive. He is recognized nationally and internationally as a rice research and extension expert.”
Linquist named a few of Mutters' career achievements.
“Cass developed the Leaf Color Chart to determine mid-season rice nitrogen needs. This has been adopted not only in California but also in many other rice production areas of the world,” Linquist said. “He quantified the effects of cold water on rice growth and yield, providing the California rice industry information needed to mitigate cold water damage. He developed guidelines to drain fields in preparation for harvest that allow growers to save water while maintaining yield and grain quality. In collaboration with the Rice Experiment Station breeders, Cass refined harvesting guidelines for new rice varieties, allowing growers more harvest flexibility and reduced drying costs. He is co-author of the Rice Quality Handbook, the most important publication in California dealing with post-harvest management of rice and used widely by rice storage managers. He was also part of the team that developed the first agricultural carbon offset protocol, approved by environmental groups and regulatory agencies in the U.S.”
In addition, Mutters has collaborated with others to test new California rice varieties, develop nitrogen management guidelines, refine rice water use estimates, and develop strategies to manage herbicide resistant weeds.
As part of his outreach program, Mutters developed the Rice Quality and Rice Production Workshops, which have trained more than 1,000 growers and other rice industry representatives.
Mutters also served the rice industry by participating in many committees of state and national significance, such as the Rice Certification Act, California Air Resources Board Technical Advisory Committee, and the Rice Technical Working Group Executive Committee. Earlier this year, he was recognized for his service to the rice industry with the 2018 Rice Technical Working Group Distinguished Service Award.
Mutters was presented with the rice industry award on Aug 29, 2018, at the annual rice research meeting. The award is given annually to recognize and honor individuals from any segment of the rice industry who have made outstanding and distinguished contributions to the California rice industry. Recipients of the award are nominated and selected by a committee of rice growers and others appointed by the CCRRF Board of Directors.
A. James Downer, UC Cooperative Extension farm advisor for Ventura County, received the 2018 International Society of Arboriculture's (ISA) R.W Harris Author's Citation Award. This award of distinction is given to authors who consistently publish timely and valuable content related to the field of arboriculture.
Downer, who holds a Ph.D. in plant pathology, also teaches classes in arboriculture and plant pathology at California Polytechnic State University in Pomona. Presenting at conferences around the globe, he has managed active research that has resulted in over 50 peer-reviewed articles.
“Dr. Downer is a dedicated teacher of the pathology of landscape ornamentals, horticulture, and arboriculture, translating his research into practical outputs,” says Paul Ries, ISA board president. “He has spent over 30 years speaking at conferences not only in his chapter region but internationally as well.”
Downer was recognized during the opening ceremony of the ISA Annual International Conference and Trade Show on Aug. 5 in Columbus, Ohio.
CalNat wins evaluation award
The UC California Naturalist Program was honored by the Alliance of Natural Resource Outreach and Service Programs (ANROSP) for their work developing a comprehensive program evaluation and performance management system.
Program evaluation for the UC California Naturalist program has evolved over the last five years and matured into a comprehensive and functional system that provides the CalNat program team with useful information for assessing performance, setting priorities, refining practices and allocating resources.
All of the practices (except the Five-Year Program Review and the Needs Assessment) are conducted annually, allowing for comparisons from year to year. Each practice includes a separate data collection instrument to evaluate the instructors, courses and volunteer service effort and process for reporting integration into planning and operations.
- Data collection, including needs assessment, post course evaluation and site audit survey
- Data analysis, reporting and communication, including a course evaluation report, a partner scorecard and a site audit summary
- Planning and adaptive management, including an annual plan, strategic plan and business plan
- Integration into operations, including revising standard operating procedures, and business process improvements.
These elements together serve as the foundation for the current program evaluation and performance management system for the CalNat program.
Sabrina Drill, UC California Naturalist Program associate director and UCCE natural resources advisor for Los Angeles and Ventura counties, and community education specialists Marisa Rodriguez and Sarah Angulo accepted the award Sept. 12 at the annual ANROSP meeting in New Orleans.