UC ANR had a major presence at World Ag Expo Feb. 13-15 in Tulare. In addition to exhibits inside the Pavilion, this year, UC ANR hosted a series of well-attended researcher demonstrations of citrus varieties, soil quality and other subjects in a tent outside. UC ANR scientists also gave presentations on “hot topics” ranging from the use of drones and other electronic technology in production agriculture to animal health to human nutrition.
“Between our tent and our Pavilion space, there's been a lot of very good engagement and discussions with the primary stakeholder audience,” said Mike Janes, Strategic Communications director.
On the opening day of the expo, USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue held a town hall to hear from members of California's agriculture industry concerns about the upcoming Farm Bill. VP Glenda Humiston was among those present for the discussion, which attracted considerable media attention.
Western Farm Press wrote: “While trade, labor and regulatory issues may top the list of agricultural policy issues Perdue faces in Washington D.C., Glenda Humiston, Vice President of the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources Division of the state's Land Grant university, stressed the importance of adequate research funding and federal definitions of rural versus urban, which she said is having detrimental impacts across California on important program funding.”
“If a county has one town that has 50,000 population in it, the entire county is labeled metropolitan for purposes of allocating funding,” Humiston said in the Hanford Sentinel.
“Humiston said that while UCANR has a ‘proud tradition of research in California,' the university is plagued by reduced budgets at the same time the state is plagued by a new invasive pest every several weeks. She said for the university to stay ahead of these issues and to help growers in these and many other areas, additional funding is vital,” Farm Press reporter Todd Fitchette wrote.
In private communication, Fitchette said that widespread applause broke out from the audience in response to Humiston's comments.
Downtown Oakland was the site of December's biannual UC President's Advisory Commission on Agriculture and Natural Resources (PAC) meeting, which focused on President Janet Napolitano's Carbon Neutrality, Global Food, UC-Mexico and Innovation and Entrepreneurship initiatives, and the ways in which UC ANR can support them moving forward.
After opening remarks from UC ANR vice president Glenda Humiston, each of the Presidential Initiatives took center stage, with two-to-three person teams each offering brief presentations. The teams each included one or more UC ANR representatives, who spoke about the division's contributions – current and future – to the initiative in question.
Tapan Pathak, UC Cooperative Extension specialist for climate adaptation in agriculture (at UC Merced and the Sierra Nevada Research Institute), offered insights into what UC ANR is doing in regards to carbon neutrality. Pathak's expertise is focused on how the latest climate science can help agricultural producers reduce risks and enhance profitability.
On the UC-Mexico Initiative, Khaled Bali, UC Cooperative Extension advisor for irrigation and water management and director for Imperial County, spoke about UC ANR's collaborative research and education programs with Universidad Autonoma de Baja California in Mexicali. Mike Janes, UC ANR's strategic communications director, discussed the division's News and Information Outreach in Spanish operation in Riverside, noting the variety of communications products that office disseminates to California's Latino and Spanish-speaking populations that might be leveraged by the UC-Mexico initiative.
David Doll, UC Cooperative Extension advisor in pomology in Merced County, addressed UC ANR's work related to the UC Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Technology Commercialization Initiative. Among other data points, Doll alluded to the many patents and licenses generated by UC ANR throughout the years.
Finally, to demonstrate just one UC ANR activity that has successfully been supporting the Global Food Initiative, Rose Hayden-Smith, UC Cooperative Extension advisor for 4-H youth, family and community development in Ventura County, discussed the UC Food Observer blog she created in support of the GFI. She offered demonstrable evidence of the blog's vast reach and impact.
Following lunch, UC President Napolitano offered glowing remarks about UC ANR's contributions, not only to the Presidential Initiatives but to the UC system generally. She said she was committed to the division's growth and sustainability.
A series of updates followed from the deans of the UC Berkeley College of Natural Resources (Keith Gilless), the UC Davis College of Agriculture and Environmental Science (Helene Dillard), the UC Riverside College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences (Michael Anderson), and the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine (Michael Lairmore).
To give PAC members an opportunity to converse with the presenters about the initiatives informally, they concluded the meeting with a dinner reception at the nearby home of President Napolitano.
Janes came on board in early February, joining Senuta and Youtsey as the three directors charged by ANR Vice President Barbara Allen-Diaz with developing a comprehensive plan to lead CSIT into the future. Janes's strategic communications will more effectively take advantage of ANR's strong research base by placing a greater emphasis on proactive media relations, ANR branding and a more dynamic and compelling Web presence.
“It's clear that UCANR is highly engaged in programs and activities that are highly relevant to Californians, but many state leaders and the general public often don't seem to understand the vital role that ANR plays,” says Janes. “We're determined to raise UCANR's public profile, and fortunately there's plenty of great material from which we can work.”
Among other projects, Janes and his team, which includes staff providing news and information outreach in English and Spanish, will work closely with Youtsey and his Web development staff on a redesign of the main ANR website. The joint team is currently identifying an external vendor to assess needs and set a strategy for the ANR website redesign. As part of this assessment, a number of ANR senior leaders, academics and staff members will be interviewed for their insight into programmatic and audience needs.
“A website redesign will not just make it easier for our constituents to find information, but will also help them to better understand ANR on a single page, to better highlight our mission and initiatives and to foster deeper engagement with the public in a visually appealing format,” says Youtsey.
To create a strategic plan for information technology, Youtsey has traveled and met extensively with the ANR community to understand how technology is used in support of ANR's mission. The resulting IT plan includes several key projects designed to extend the Division's reach into rural areas with improved networking, to use new and existing data to enhance ANR research, and to connect communities using technology.
“Innovative approaches to research, education and outreach by ANR increasingly rely on a strong foundation of technology,” says Youtsey. “Faster and more reliable networks, modern computers, software tools, social networking and conferencing technologies will all play a part in helping ANR deliver an astounding range of service to California.”
Youtsey will offer an hour-long webinar via UCOP Information Technology Services on May 5 at 1 p.m. about technology at ANR. Details can be found at http://ucop.edu/information-technology-services/initiatives/webinars.html
Many in ANR are well familiar with the CSIT's publishing group, which produces and markets peer-reviewed ANR publications and California Agriculture journal, videos and Division promotional materials and manages the online peer-review systems and the Media Repository. Senuta's publishing operations plan focuses on a new business model and expansion of the Division's publishing options to include e-books, single-copy print-on-demand and repurposed content. She is working to connect with recently hired ANR academics to make them aware of available publishing opportunities and, with executive editor Jim Downing, strengthen California Agriculture's news section as a venue for highlighting Division research for new audiences.
“Like the greater publishing industry, we are expanding our formats to ensure sustainability and increase market reach. Part of this effort is to ensure a variety of publishing opportunities for Division authors to extend ANR research,” Senuta says. “We can't produce it all, so we must target wisely. But what ANR has that many publishers envy is our content — objective, based in science and simply interesting.”
Future endeavors, with support from the Communications Advisory Board, include revitalizing publishing for underserved audiences and investigating the possibility of peer-review credit for academic writing published on ANR webpages.
Please join me in welcoming our new Strategic Communications Director to ANR. Mike Janes comes to us from the Sandia National Laboratory in Livermore where he has been the Communications and Media Relations Officer for over ten years. His extensive experience with communicating science to a wider audience is a skill that will greatly benefit ANR.
As you all know, we are heavily involved with many of the President's Initiatives – Food, Carbon Neutrality and Mexico. In support of these initiatives, we have an opportunity to share the research and program delivery stories from our academics all over the state of California. Mr. Janes is arriving at a critical time to help us leverage these opportunities, and showcase the exceptional work of ANR.
Mr. Janes also led the lab's Diversity and Inclusion Action Planning Team, and we look forward to having him engage with our own efforts to ensure that ANR has a welcoming and inclusive work environment. Earlier in his career, Mr. Janes worked as the Media Relations Director for the American Institute of Architects, and as the Senior Media Relations Manager for Special Olympics International.
Mr. Janes is an Air Force veteran and has an M.A in strategic communication and leadership and a B.A. in broadcast communications. He will be based in Davis and starts on February 2, 2015.
Shijian (George) Zhuang joined UCCE on Jan. 2 as a viticulture advisor in Fresno County. His background is in Viticulture and Enology, Food Science and Horticultural Science. Zhuang's research focuses on wine, raisin and table grapes.
Prior to joining UCCE, Zhuang was a viticulture intern at E & J Gallo Winery where he worked on several research projects that included precision viticulture and differential irrigation. This experience provided him a greater understanding about viticulture and vineyard management in the Central Valley and the needs and future challenges of the grape industry, such as limited water availability, labor shortage and invasive pest species. From 2009 to 2012, Zhuang was a master graduate research assistant at Michigan State University where he participated in research projects such as experimental trials of new varieties (NE 10-20), early leaf removal on pinot noir, foliar nitrogen application on chardonnay and crop and canopy management on concord grapes. Zhuang also worked on canopy microclimate management and crop load manipulation in order to improve fruit quality. During his research study, Zhuang gained skills in the analysis of different chemical components, such as anthocyanins and phenolics, in grapes and wines as well as grape flavor chemistry components such as methoxypyrazines.
Zhuang earned a B.S. in viticulture and enology from China Agricultural University, Beijing, China, and a M.S. in horticulture from Michigan State University. His master's thesis focused on the impact of viticultural practices (crop load and canopy management) on fruit quality of cabernet franc grapevines grown under cool climate conditions.
Zhuang can be reached at (559) 241-7506 and email@example.com.
Jim Downing is California Agriculture journal's new executive editor. Downing, who joined UC on Jan. 12, is familiar with UC Cooperative Extension from his years covering agriculture, energy and climate policy for the Sacramento Bee. He even read California Agriculture as an undergrad at Cornell University.
Until joining UC ANR, he was principal in Jim Downing Consulting, where he wrote and produced publications on science, natural resources, policy and management for clients such as the Nature Conservancy, the Water Education Foundation and the Union of Concerned Scientists. Besides his Bee reporting, Downing has professional experience in agriculture, with international fellowships in water reuse and reclamation and in rural and urban water quality. He has two master's degrees from UC Berkeley, one in civil and environmental engineering and the other in energy and resources.
In his new position, Downing will oversee California Agriculture's content, quality, accuracy and strategic direction, planning and producing issues that speak to the journal's educated and cross-disciplinary readers.
Downing can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and (530) 750-1352.
UCCE nutrition honored in Kings County
The UC CalFresh Nutrition Education Program in Kings County was honored as the Most Outstanding Support Agency at the 2014 Kings Prevention Awards. UC CalFresh community educator Sue Lafferty and UC CalFresh program representative Denise Cuendett accepted the award at a breakfast program on Dec. 4 in Hanford. The Kings Prevention Awards were presented by a local coalition called the Kings Partnership for Prevention.