Undergraduates from Historically Black Colleges and Universities visit UC for summer session
Na'Zyia Dowdy-Arnold and Destinee S. Whitaker, both of Spelman College, Christopher Bass of Morehouse College, and Carlos Jackson of Tuskegee University spent the summer getting research experience with UC Berkeley scientists. The four undergraduates from Historically Black Colleges and Universities were participating in the UC Berkeley Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management HBCU Environmental Scholars Program.
“The program aims to facilitate two-way learning while fostering preparedness and belonging for HBCU students interested in graduate school at UC Berkeley,” said co-founder Rosalie Zdzienicka Fanshel, UC Berkeley doctoral candidate.
Now in its second year, the program, was co-founded by UC Berkeley professor Tim Bowles who also co-directs the program with Fanshel in cooperation with Tuskegee University and Spelman College faculty members.
“After two years as a mentor in the ESPM/UCB HBCU summer research immersion program, I was thrilled to witness the transformation of students,” said Vernard Lewis, emeritus UC Cooperative Extension entomology specialist. “This transformation included doing high-level science and increasing the feeling of belonging. The current cohort of four HBCU students have immersed themselves in lab and field sciences that include campus and ANR units. The hope is to expand the program and to increase the talent pool of HBCU students for graduate programs and careers at UC and ANR.”
During their two-month program, the students toured the San Joaquin Valley with Fanshel and Kristin Dobbin, UCCE water justice policy and planning specialist at UC Berkeley. They visited Allensworth, a utopian agricultural community focused on self-reliance in Tulare County founded in 1908 by African Americans, and UC Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Parlier, where they met Houston Wilson, UCCE entomology specialist.
Near the end of their stay, Lewis and his wife, Lisa Kala, who held administrative, research and teaching positions in UC Berkeley's Graduate School of Education for over 40 years, hosted a backyard barbecue at their Hayward home for the students to meet Black UC faculty, administrators and alumni.
Lewis assembled African American friends Mary Blackburn, Gloria Burkhalter, Bill Stevens, Bilal Shabazz and his daughter Amani, Fred Logan, Ben Tucker, Elize Brown, Gregory Bradley, Vincent Duncan, Maria Shalita, Carol Chambers-Blockton, Jariel Arvin, Frank McPherson and Charles Clary – some retired and others still enjoying long careers – to meet the young scholars on July 24. Harry LeGrande, emeritus UC Berkeley vice chancellor of student affairs who served in higher education for 45 years, joined the group by Zoom.
McPherson, who retired from UC ANR as UCCE director for the Bay Area in February, cooked up hot links, seafood gumbo and black-eyed peas, served with salad and fresh fruit for the occasion.
“It's okay to be different,” Lewis, the first Black entomologist hired at UC Berkeley, told the students. “You're not alone. We're all with you,” he added, gesturing to the older guests, who had described their professional journeys and how they navigated sometimes unfriendly environments. Some had graduated from college amid the civil rights movement of the 1960s.
Blackburn recalled being offered one of four coveted spots in UC Berkeley's new Master of Public Health Nutrition – Dietetic Internship program after graduating from Tuskegee University in 1963. It didn't seem feasible to move since her husband owned his business in Atlanta and they had four young children. But when the Tuskegee University president said she had to go, Blackburn understood that opportunity was not just about her and three days later she boarded a plane to California. In 1968, Blackburn became one of the first Registered Dietitians in the U.S. and completed her Ph.D. in human nutrition and health planning and administration at UC Berkeley in 1974.
“Find your allies; find your advocates,” Blackburn, UC Cooperative Extension's community nutrition and health advisor for Alameda County for the past 33 years, advised the students.
After the barbecue, the students began collecting email addresses and making connections with their new allies on LinkedIn.
“During our feedback sessions with the students, they expressed their appreciation to all those in attendance, especially Vernard Lewis, who orchestrated the event,” said McPherson. “One of the most important takeaways from the event was their desire to have this type of event with accomplished Black administrators and professionals continue to be part of the programming while at Berkeley.
“They also suggest that these events take place earlier, so that they might take advantage of the knowledge and experience these Black professionals bring to the table, not only as they return to their individual institutions and career paths, but also have access to this network while in the Bay Area.”
A week earlier, during a lunch with Blackburn and Lewis, the students had said they appreciated meeting the two accomplished Black scientists and wished they could meet more. That comment spurred Lewis and Blackburn to organize the barbecue. Despite the short notice, several of their Black colleagues attended. “They showed up because they care,” Lewis said.
They will continue to modify the program based on feedback from the students.
The first year of the program was funded by UC Berkeley's Berkeley Food Institute and Spelman College. The second year was funded by the UC Berkeley Office of Graduate Diversity; Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management; and donations from other campus programs and individuals. Each student receives a $5,000 stipend, room and board and travel.
Bowles and Fanshel have applied for a UC-HBCU initiative grant from UC Office of the President to continue the program for another three years.
The Black and Allied Employees hosted a webinar on June 14 to celebrate Juneteenth, the day when the last people held hostage under chattel slavery learned of their freedom — more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was issued.
Mary Blackburn, Ph.D., UC Cooperative Extension family and consumer sciences health and nutrition advisor in Alameda County, and Keith Nathaniel, Ed.D., 4-H youth development advisor and director of UCCE in Los Angeles County, described their educational and career journeys in agriculture and extension.
The hour-long discussion was moderated by Chandra Richards, UCCE agricultural land acquisitions academic coordinator serving San Bernardino, Riverside and San Diego counties, and organized by the Black and Allied Employees employee resource group.
Blackburn and Nathaniel related how their experiences shape their work and how their lives connect to current patterns of inequity.
Blackburn, who grew up in the Deep South and began her career in the turbulent 1960s, recalled being fired twice when Bay Area hospital administrators realized she was Black. But she found allies and advocates along her career path. After joining UC ANR in Alameda County in 1990, Dr. B, as she is affectionately called by colleagues, built a diverse team of educators – Black, Latino and Asian – who she credits for the success UCCE has had in accessing people in jail, transitional homes and public housing to provide education.
Nathaniel, who joined UC ANR in 1994, described some of the institutional challenges he has had to overcome as a 4-H advisor to serve Black youth. In Los Angeles County, members of the public don't understand that urban children can benefit from 4-H programs, he said. Nathaniel also pointed out that racism persists in subtle as well as overt ways. On search committees, he advises colleagues to be specific rather than describing a candidate as “not a good fit.”
Learn more about Blackburn and Nathaniel's experiences by viewing a recording of the Juneteenth webinar at https://youtu.be/yJ4Oo-VkgAE.
UC ANR employees are invited to join the UCOP Black Staff & Faculty Organization for a Juneteenth week of events!
More information and an event flyer (PDF) can be found on the UCOP page.
The UC ANR Black and Allied Employees are also hosting a "Celebrating Juneteenth" event on June 14, from 10:30 a.m. to noon, featuring Dr. Mary Blackburn and Dr. Keith Nathaniel (see Zoom information in event listings below).
Monday, June 12
Come learn about the significance of Juneteenth.
David H. Anthony III, professor emeritus of African History at UC Santa Cruz, will delve into the significance and history of Juneteenth, exploring its roots and its importance in American culture.
Join via Zoom https://ucop.zoom.us/j/93634417310#success
936 3441 7310
Tuesday, June 13
Join Cheryl Grills, Ph.D., as she discusses the meaning and importance of reparations, including the history of reparations in America. She will also provide information on how to support tangible reparations for American Descendants of Slavery.
Join via Zoom https://ucop.zoom.us/j/98089055733#success
962 5244 6327
Wednesday, June 14
Join UC ANR Black and Allied Employees as we learn about the lives of Dr. Keith Nathaniel and Dr. Mary Blackburn — including their journeys in agriculture and extension, how their experiences shape their work, and how their lives connect to present patterns of inequity that are commonly believed to be a thing of the past.
Meeting ID: 990 2448 4120
iPhone one-tap: +1669444917, 99024484120#, or +16699006833, 99024484120# US (San Jose)
Telephone (US): +1 669 900 6833
Wednesday, June 14
Kristin Nimmers from the California Black Power Network will speak about the importance of voting and voting rights.
Join via Zoom: https://ucop.zoom.us/j/98089055733#success
980 8905 5733
"Ferguson Rises" Film Screening
Thursday, June 15
Join UC colleagues for a special movie screening of "Ferguson Rises," followed by a thought-provoking discussion with esteemed speakers who will explore the themes and issues presented in the film.
In-person at Broadway Conference Center in Oakland or join via Zoom:
912 1559 5154
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 email@example.com.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 email@example.com.
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.
Laura Vollmer joined UC Cooperative Extension in San Mateo, San Francisco and Santa Clara counties on Sept. 8, 2020, as a nutrition, family and consumer sciences advisor.
For four years prior to becoming a UCCE advisor, Vollmer served as a policy analyst with the Nutrition Policy Institute. At NPI, she helped to provide strategic direction to the National Drinking Water Alliance, managed research, evaluation and policy advocacy efforts related to the charitable food assistance system and wrote policy briefs aimed at improving federal and state nutrition policy. She was a grant writer and institutional giving associate for City Harvest, an antihunger nonprofit in New York City, for two years.
She currently serves as a board member of Oakland-based Youth Outside, which works to ensure equitable access to the outdoors.
Vollmer is a registered dietitian and earned her Master of Public Health at UC Berkeley and Bachelor of Arts at Wesleyan University.
Vollmer is based in Half Moon Bay and can be reached at (650) 276-7429 and
Mary Blackburn, UCCE nutrition, family and consumer sciences advisor for Alameda County, received the National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences Hall of Fame Award on Sept. 14.
“Your dedication to NEAFCS has been exhibited through the educational resources and leadership you have provided to your community, state and across the nation throughout the years to help families improve their living conditions,” Roxie Price, NEAFCS president, wrote to Blackburn.
Blackburn, who has served with UC Cooperative Extension since 1990, is nationally renowned for her pioneering work delivering research-based nutrition and quality of life education to senior citizens, pregnant teens and other vulnerable groups. Collaborating with the UC CalFresh Healthy Living, UC program staff and UC Master Gardener volunteers, she recently launched a gardening project designed to improve the nutrition, physical activity and overall well-being of senior citizens living in affordable housing in Oakland, with special consideration for seniors with physical limitations.
“Mary Blackburn has really made a difference in the lives of Bay Area residents. Her work with local communities makes it easier for people to stay active and eat healthy food,” said Glenda Humiston, University of California vice president for agriculture and natural resources. “It's wonderful to see her receive national recognition from her peers.”
Read more about Blackburn's career at https://bit.ly/2ShbLUj.
Tulare, Kings and Alameda nutrition teams win NEAFCS awards
UC ANR was well-represented at the National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences Virtual Annual Session awards Sept. 14.
Deepa Srivastava, UCCE nutrition family and consumer sciences advisor in Tulare and Kings counties, and her CalFresh Healthy Living, UC & EFNEP Team was the second-place Western Region winner of the SNAP-ED/EFNEP award. Program supervisor Teresa Rios-Spicer and nutrition educators Marina Aguilera, Alice Escalante, Grilda G. Gomez, Maria Gutierrez, Mariana Lopez, Eldon Bueno and Susan L Lafferty share in the SNAP-ED/EFNEP award.
The third-place Western Region winner of the Community Partnership award was the Alameda County Nutrition Action Partnership (CNAP). The partnership coordinates and cross-promote SNAP-Ed and other public, private, and community programs, to benefits low income and vulnerable populations. Mary Blackburn, UCCE nutrition family and consumer sciences advisor for Alameda County, has represented UCCE in CNAP since the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed) providers organized in 2006.
UC CalFresh program supervisor Tuline Baykal, Marisa Neelon, UCCE nutrition family and consumer sciences advisor and Leah Sourbeer, nutrition program supervisor, share in the Community Partnership award.
Partners include Alameda County Area Agency on Aging, Alameda County Community Food Bank, Alameda County Nutrition Services, City Slicker Farmers, Project EAT Alameda County Office of Education, Oakland Unified School District Health Wellness and Nutrition, Alameda County Social Services Agency, All In To End Hunger, Fresh Approach, Inc., Healthy Oakland People and Environments, Mandela Marketplace, Oakland Food Policy Council, and Alameda County Women, Infant and Children.