UC President Michael Drake and UC regents were treated to virtual tours of UC ANR similar to the tour taken by legislators on Nov. 20.
On Dec. 2, UC regents Charlene Zettel, Cecilia Estolano and Richard Lieb, alumni regent Debby Stegura and Anne Shaw, secretary to the regents, took a 90-minute tour via Zoom. They were joined by members of the UC President's Advisory Commission Corinne Martinez, Connie Stewart, Paula Daniels and Stuart Van Horn.
On Dec. 8, President Drake was joined by UC regents Michael Cohen and Hadi Makarechian, student regent Jamaal Muwwakkil, alumni regent Eric Mart, regent-designate Cheryl Lott and student regent-designate Alexis Atsilvsgi Zaragoza.
In introducing the virtual tour, VP Glenda Humiston explained that UC ANR does much more than they would see that day. “This is just to pique your interest,” she said.
Before the tour, “learning boxes” containing samples of almonds, smoke-tainted wine, moringa powder, California grown coffee and many other items related to the presentations were shipped to the participants to give them a more interactive experience.
For example, while discussing the impact of wildfires, Stephanie Larson, livestock range management advisor and director of UCCE in Sonoma County, invited the participants to reach into the learning box for the two small wine samples to taste first the regular wine, then the wine made from grapes exposed to wildfire smoke to see if they could detect the smoke taint. Another popular item was the Shot Hole Borer ID kit which included a real (dead) shot hole borer in a vial with a magnifying glass and damaged wood sample.
During the presentations, tour participants were encouraged to write their questions in the Chat feature of Zoom and presenters followed up with information. They also engaged with questions and conversation at points during the tour.
The regents said they were very impressed with the work that UC ANR does. They urged UC ANR leadership to tell more people about UC ANR programs and let urban legislators know that the programs affect all 40 million Californians, not just rural communities.
At the end of the tour, Humiston said, “This is just the tip of the iceberg. There is so much more research going on.” She invited them to see more of UC ANR on actual field tours when coronavirus restrictions ease.
President Drake said he liked seeing the connection between globally important issues such as wildfire, climate and carbon soil sequestration and UCANR research. “It's good to know we're actively involved. Thank you for your hard work and contributions.”
Presenters included Missy Gable, director of the UC Master Gardener Program; Jim Farrar, director of the Integrated Pest Management Program; Greg Ira, director of the California Naturalist Program; Lorene Ritchie, director of the Nutrition Policy Institute; Kamal Khaira, director of CalFresh Healthy Living, UC; Cecilia Arellano Ibarra, former CalFresh Healthy Living, UC Youth-led Participatory Action Research participant and UC Davis sophomore; Lynn Schmitt-McQuitty, director of the 4-H Youth Development Program; Alexis Peña, senior at Buhach Colony high school and past Juntos 4-H program participant; Francisco Salazar, UC Merced student and past Juntos participant; Jhalendra Rijal, area IPM advisor; Ashraf El-Kereamy, UCCE specialist and director of Lindcove Research and Extension Center; Ruth Dahlquist-Willard, small farms advisor; Mike Mellano, third-generation flower grower in San Diego County, UC President's Advisory Commission member and California representative for the Council for Agricultural Research, Extension and Teaching; Betsy Karle, dairy advisor; Yana Valachovic, forestry advisor and UCCE director in Humboldt and Del Norte counties; and Larson.
Behind the scenes, many people contributed to the tour's success.
The story map framework of the virtual tour was introduced and supported by Shane Feirer and Robert Johnson of the Informatics and GIS Program, then Kathy Eftekhari, chief of staff and Anne Megaro, director of government and community relations, created the story map working with the 16 presenters to develop content. Ricardo Vela, manager of News and Information Outreach in Spanish edited most of the videos. Many people helped to assemble and ship learning box items, including 4-H members who sewed more than 40 COVID-19 masks as samples of their work in civic engagement.
A self-guided version of the virtual tour will be posted online in the new year.
Woodmansee named UCCE livestock and natural resources advisor
For the past four years, Woodmansee worked as a research assistant and UC Davis student in the UC Rangelands lab to address management challenges on grazing lands.
“As an undergraduate research assistant at the Chico State Beef Unit, I discovered my passion for rangeland science and management a discipline that combines my interests in social, ecological and livestock production research,” said Woodmansee, who completed her Master of Science in agronomy at UC Davis in November.
“I am very excited to join the community of Siskiyou County and to work with ranchers and land managers to identify research priorities, develop projects and address challenges related to livestock production and natural resource management,” she said.
Woodmansee will be based in Yreka and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Marandi joins Program Planning and Evaluation
Before joining UC ANR, Marandi worked for local government and nonprofits on community wellness and food security. She learned UC Cooperative Extension was working toward the same goals. In her last position at the Center for Ecoliteracy, she managed their California Food for California Kids initiative, which works statewide to increase public schools' commitment and capacity for serving fresh and locally grown foods.
She earned a B.A. in political science from UCLA and a Master of Public Health from the University of Southern California.
Marandi is based in Oakland at UCOP and can be reached at (510) 987-0100 and email@example.com.
Vargas promoted to community education supervisor 1
Vargas, who holds a Master's in Public Administration and a bachelor's degree in business administration, both from California State University, Stanislaus, began working for CalFresh Healthy Living, UC in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties as a Community Education Specialist II in March 2019.
As a public health professional, she has experience coordinating and implementing programs focusing on activity promotion, healthy eating, chronic disease management, maternity management, and tobacco cessation for adults and youth.
Vargas is based in San Luis Obispo and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sutherland and almond advisors honored for IPM work
Andrew Sutherland received an award of excellence for integrated pest management practitioners at academic institutions, and the California Almond IPM Team received a team award of excellence.
The honors are awarded to people or teams based on demonstrated results in:
- Reducing human health risks
- Minimizing adverse environmental effects from pests or pest-management activities
- Improving economic returns by reducing input costs or improving product or service quality
- Documenting outcomes such as reduced pesticide use, hazard reduction, improved economic returns or positive environmental impacts
- Developing or implementing innovative strategies
- Working successfully with teams
Sutherland is being honored for his pioneering work as the first Area Urban IPM Advisor in California, a position he has served since 2012. With no prior program or predecessor to follow, he was faced with the task of serving the IPM needs of over 15 diverse stakeholder groups ranging from structural, industrial and household pest control operators to retail store staff, housing and lodging managers and childcare providers. Some of the focus areas of his program include bed bugs, cockroaches and termite remediation and reduced-risk pest management in childcare facilities and low-income multi-unit housing. One of Sutherland's notable projects was the development of a clearinghouse website for bed bug prevention and management information, serving site-specific and state-specific client groups in the Western United States.
The California Almond IPM Team, composed of UC Cooperative Extension advisors and others, is being recognized with the Award of Excellence - Team as a role model for the implementation of integrated pest management practices.
Team members are UC Cooperative Extension advisors David Haviland and Jhalendra Rijal, former Cooperative Extension advisor Emily Symmes, Brad Higbee, who retired from Paramount Farming Company, and Charles Burkes of USDA-ARS.
For more than a decade, the team conducted research on navel orangeworm, spider mites, leaffooted bugs and ants that laid the groundwork for IPM adoption in almond orchards. The team's efforts pushed mating disruption along the IPM continuum from basic to applied research, applied research to demonstration plots, demonstration plots to extension, and extension to adoption and implementation against California's key pests of almonds. The team represents a prime example of the impacts that can be achieved through multi-organizational collaborative efforts. These collaborative efforts included private farming companies, university and U.S. Department of Agriculture scientists, extension specialists, growers and their associated commodity board.
For a full list of award winners, see https://ipmsymposium.org/2021/awards.html.
Blackburn honored by Alameda County Board of Supervisors
Mary Blackburn, UC Cooperative Extension nutrition, family and consumer sciences advisor, was honored Dec. 8 by the Alameda County Board of Supervisors with a resolution for her 50-plus years of work to help older adults, pregnant teens and other vulnerable people in Alameda County improve their health.
Blackburn, who has worked for UC ANR since 1990, joined the supervisors via Zoom to accept the honor and said she hopes the recognition motivates young people to serve their communities.
Noting her career began amid the racial unrest and turbulent times of the 1960s, Alameda County Supervisor Keith Carson said, "These kinds of accomplishments were pioneering."
Drill appointed to NUEL Steering Committee
NUEL encourages work across programmatic areas to serve the diverse needs of urban communities.
“My own area of interest, from the natural resources viewpoint, is to look at and extend the ways that urban ecosystems can enhance the resilience of cities,” Drill said. “For example, on the engineering side, this can mean applying nature-based solutions, such as floodplain restoration and rain gardens, to improve water supply and quality and to reduce the impacts of flooding. It also means benefiting urban communities by making sure that they have equitable access to the physical and mental health benefits of natural areas – in other words, paying special attention in park-poor lower income areas, and working to reduce barriers to access to nature for communities of color.”
Other extension personnel may focus on nutrition, community gardening and food deserts, or the needs of urban youth for positive development opportunities.
NUEL seeks to support extension academics working in these areas by providing professional development opportunities and promoting multistate collaboration and knowledge sharing for research and extension programming.
Parker named president of National Institutes for Water Resources
NIWR cooperates with the U.S. Geological Survey to support, coordinate and facilitate research through the annual base grants, national competitive grants, coordination grants, and in operating the NIWR-USGS Student Internship Program.
Stoddard and Daugovish receive vegetable research award
Scott Stoddard, UCCE vegetable crops farm advisor for Merced and Madera counties, and Oleg Daugovish, UCCE strawberry and vegetable crop advisor for Ventura County, were presented the Oscar Lorenz Vegetable Research Award during the Vegetable Crop Program Team meeting Dec. 11.
The UC Davis Plant Sciences Department established the Oscar Lorenz Vegetable Research Award and presents it annually to individuals contributing to vegetable research.
Stoddard, who has been with Cooperative Extension for 22 years, focuses his research program primarily on tomatoes, sweet potatoes and melons, with an emphasis on plant fertility, variety evaluation, pest management and particularly weed management.
“He is THE California sweetpotato expert, collaborating with other U.S. sweetpotato production areas on variety development and evaluation,” said Brenna Aegerter, who presented Stoddard's award. “He has also made great contributions to pest management in sweetpotato. Scott is a great colleague and researcher. He is practical, grower-oriented, hardworking and has great ideas.”
“Oleg has contributed to development of Chateau herbicide for celery and strawberry, and several herbicides in strawberry,” said Steve Fennimore, who presented Daugovish's award. “He currently is a key member of a group that is developing precision soilborne disease management strategies for strawberry and vegetable crops in rotation with strawberry. Oleg is a master of languages besides Russian and English. He has learned Spanish and I have heard several of his extension presentations in this language and he is fluent. He is engaged internationally and has done several projects in Africa and the Middle East to help poor farmers in developing countries.”
Oscar Lorenz, a UC Davis professor of vegetable crops from 1941 to 1982, is remembered as an exceptional scientist, administrator and for his dedication to the California vegetable industry.
Each Lorenz award recipient will receive a plaque and a check for $1,000.
Over $196,000 was collected for UC ANR programs on Giving Tuesday this year. Thanks to colleagues all over the state promoting the campaign, the number of people donating to UC ANR also increased. UC ANR received 854 gifts from 736 donors this year, up from 580 gifts from 494 donors in 2019.
“Heading into Giving Tuesday, I truly felt like a fortune teller trying to figure out how all the unprecedented events of 2020 were going to impact giving and our bottom line,” said Emily Delk, director of annual giving and donor stewardship, who coordinated the Giving Tuesday campaign. “So I was surprised to see that giving was up by nearly 50% over last year.”
After the Giving Tuesday website opened for donations at midnight, donors immediately began competing for matching funds to double their contributions to their chosen programs.
“The race to earn those matching funds is getting tighter and tighter each year!” Delk said. “The 4-H match was met within the first 45 minutes, and the ANR match was met within the first few hours. It was incredibly rewarding to see counties and statewide programs really lean into the campaign and how donors responded to the impact our work is making in their communities.”
In an article about UC ANR's record-breaking donations, California Ag Today wrote, “There is no denying that our agricultural systems would not be where they are today without the cooperative extension service. …Most all of us havebenefitted, either directly or indirectly from these programs and many turned out in support of Cooperative Extension on Giving Tuesday.”
Development Services presented Giving Tuesday Shout-Out awards to counties and programs in eight categories:
Best 1st Time Performer: 4-H in San Benito County
First Time Gift: UCCE Sonoma
Social Media Superstar (County): UC Master Gardener – Los Angeles
Social Media Superstar (Statewide Program): UC Master Gardener
Insomniac Award (12:00:07): California Naturalist
Outstanding Post: UCCE Sonoma
Best Use of Emojis: Sherwood Demo Garden – Placerville
Match Makers Award: President's Advisory Commission, Senior Leadership, 4-H Foundation Board; Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program
“The Shout-Out Awards are just a fun way to recognize those who really stretched their social media creativity and made the campaign their own,” Delk said. “And we'll be building on the success of this campaign next spring when we launch Big Dig Day on June 4…and the return of our gnome mascot, Happy McGivins!”
Although Giving Tuesday has passed, UC ANR accepts donations year-round at https://donate.ucanr.edu and donors can specify where their funds are directed.
- Author: Jeannette E. Warnert
UC Cooperative Extension specialist Jeff Dahlberg, also the director of the UC Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center (KARE) in Parlier, invoked his 35 years of sorghum expertise to increasing interest in growing the crop in California and to better understanding plants' ability to tolerate drought. Dahlberg retires Jan. 8.
As a Peace Corps volunteer in Niger in the early 1980s, Dahlberg was intrigued by sorghum, a staple food being cultivated by the country's vast population of subsistence farmers.
“I was impressed with the fact that sorghum was so drought tolerant,” Dahlberg said. “Nigerien farmers relied solely on rain for their sorghum and millet crops.”
Upon returning to the U.S., he earned a master's degree at the University of Arizona and a Ph.D. at Texas A&M, where his research focused on sorghum. He worked with the USDA Agricultural Research Service in Puerto Rico for 7 years and then spent the next 10 years as research director with the National Sorghum Producers in Lubbock, Texas.
When Dahlberg took the helm of the 330-acre UC agricultural research center in 2010, he and colleagues at the UC West Side Research and Extension Center and at UC Davis began conducting sorghum forage variety trials. Sorghum wasn't new to California. In the past, it had mainly been used for animal feed. But Dahlberg believed the crop's adaptability – excellent for forage, biofuels and gluten-free human food – offered the grain a rosy future in the Golden State.
"With our research, we have provided California farmers who are thinking about growing sorghum access to locally generated, research-based information to help them make the decision," Dahlberg said.
In 2015, Dahlberg and UC Berkeley specialist Peggy Lemaux launched a sweeping drought research project at KARE. The five-year study, funded with a $12.3 million grant from the Department of Energy, researched the genetics of drought tolerance in sorghum and how soil microbial communities interacted with sorghum roots to battle drought stress.
A journal article published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in 2018 presented the first detailed look at the role of drought in restructuring the root microbiome. The plant switches some genes on and some genes off when it detects water scarcity and access to water.
“That has implications for feeding the world, particularly considering the changing climate and weather patterns,” Dahlberg said.
In recent years, Dahlberg helped reestablish tea research at Kearney, initiated nearly 60 years ago in a study funded by Thomas J. Lipton, Inc. At the time, Lipton was seeking to grow tea for the instant tea market. When the Kearney tea research program was scrapped in 1981, a researcher had a handful of the best tea clones planted in the landscape around buildings at Kearney.
Those shrubs became the basis for a new tea research trial planted at Kearney in 2017 with UC Davis professor Jackie Gervay Hague to determine whether drought stress impacts the production of phenolics and tannins in the tea.
“We know we can grow good tea here and we can grow high tonnage,” Dahlberg said. “We want to determine if we can do that on a consistent basis and whether we can improve tea quality through irrigation management.”
In retirement, Dahlberg plans to relocate to Lake Ann, Mich., to be close to family. UC Cooperative Extension irrigation specialist Khaled Bali will serve as interim director of the UC Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center.
- Author: Mark Bell
The Strategic Initiatives offer a home for strategic thought - drawing on members of the wider UC ANR community and beyond to identify and address issues of current and emerging importance.
1. Expected Growth in Strategic Topics for 2021
The SI leaders continue to lead discussion on topics of importance for the future of UC ANR. Drawing on the vision of our future (pdf), the SIs are linking to ongoing efforts and leaders within our UC ANR community to create spaces for conversation and explore opportunities.
- Existing 2-page concept notes. Now available on the SI site.
- Fire: Concept Note Fire Advisors Network (draft). Kudos to Yana and others for their work on this concept paper.
- Food Systems: Concept Note Food systems (draft). Concepts here are emerging in part from the Food Systems Spotlight Webinar series led by Deanne Meyer and Lynn Schmitt-McQuitty.
- Urban extension/DEI: Concept Note Building California's Urban Community (draft). This and associated initiatives are benefiting from input by Keith Nathaniel and Frank McPherson.
- Extension of the Future: Concept Note Building California's Urban Community (draft) and Concept note working cross state and cross institute (draft). These are the latest as discussion evolves around opportunities to grow our presence throughout the state and across state lines. What could post-COVID tertiary education look like? What could be the role of UC ANR (i.e. working with community colleges, CSUs, UCs, internships…)? What other Funding & Incomes models are there?
- Health: Health Resilience Network Concept Note (draft) and Prop 63 - Mental Health Services Act Concept Note (draft). There is a growing emphasis on how UC ANR can support community health efforts.
- DEI: The Program Teams recently provided input on some of what is happening in relation to DEI in our programmatic work. We are seeing growth in the number of DEI (and justice) related initiatives. The SI's will be looking at how we can help build synergies and a shared vision.
- Reach: We will be looking more at how to help people feed in to the Integrated Web Platform project.
Feedback and suggestions welcome!
2. Sustainable Natural Resources SI Leader position open - join the SI team
Want to make a difference at the UC ANR program and policy level? Check out the opportunity as the Sustainable Natural Resources Strategic Initiative leader. In transitioning the leadership, many thanks to David Lile for his commitment to our Sustainable Natural Resources work. David was the Strategic Initiative leader for 3 years.
3. Ways to contribute
Here's how you can connect and contribute:
Learn more about our Workgroups and Program Teams.
Submit a Knowledge Stream "news you can use" post here.
Build your skills using the Learning and Development site.
For more on the SIs and their activities, contact:
Jim Farrar: Pests (EIPD)
David Lile: Natural Ecosystems (SNE) (departs role this month - thanks for all he has done!)
David Lewis: (Water)
Deanne Meyer: Food Systems (SFS)
Lynn Schmitt-McQuitty: Families and Communities (HFC)