Disasters are increasingly common in California, ranging from droughts, floods and wildfires to human health (e.g. COVID-19). Given the frequency of disasters in California, it is important that UC ANR is prepared to engage before, during, and after emergencies across the state.
The new UC ANR Workgroup on Disaster Preparedness and Response will create a forum to bring together colleagues across multiple disciplines to support our communities through trainings, grants, research and extension projects.
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.
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.
Mary Maffly Ciricillo brings more than 20 years of professional experience to her new role as the director of Annual Giving for UC ANR. She comes to ANR from the UC Davis Graduate School of Management, where she was director of Development & Alumni Relations, steward of the Business Partnership Program and point person on building connections, community and involvement of the school's alumni.
Ciricillo has spent the last 10 years in diverse roles at UC Davis, creating and growing programs that help further university goals. She launched UC Davis goClub, the campus alternative and sustainable transportation program. To get goClub rolling, Ciricillo signed on sponsors, built new relationships across campus and the business community, and revved up the marketing plan to encourage campus commuting options, such as carpool, vanpool, bike, walk, bus and train.
Before joining UC Davis, Ciricillo was an account executive in the communications industry, developing branding and marketing solutions. Her clients included The Gap, Oracle, Knight Ridder Newspapers, the San Francisco Ballet and the Tech Museum of Innovation in Silicon Valley.
She earned a B.A. in history with a minor in business from San Francisco State University.
Based in Davis, Ciricillo can be reached at (530) 750-1302, cell (530) 219-1085 and email@example.com.
Karle and Lightle on team honored for conservation innovation
The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and California Association of Resource Conservation Districts presented its prestigious Excellence in Innovation award to the Glenn County Soil Partnership, which includes the Glenn County Resource Conservation District, UC Cooperative Extension in Glenn County and the NRCS field office in Willows.
Betsy Karle, UCCE county director and dairy advisor, and Dani Lightle, UCCE orchard systems advisor, both based in Glenn County, are among the partners working together to promote and encourage healthy soils and greatly increased local interest among farmers. Their goal is to increase awareness of the importance of soil health and to create a forum for farmers to share information and learn from each other. To ensure a locally led process, the partners created a farmer-led Steering and Technical Advisory Committee made up of farmers and local experts.
“Dani Lightle was a key player in the process and she has taken the opportunity to tackle some very interesting questions about cover cropping in orchards,” said Karle. “UCCE specialist Jeff Mitchell has also been a key motivator and has logged hundreds of miles and countless hours to support the effort.”
“Your partnership is bringing back a focus on conservation planning, technical assistance and management change motivated by the desire to enhance the health of the soil resource,” said NRCS state conservationist Carlos Suarez, who presented the award.
“You wisely chose to root your leadership in local farmers and agencies, combining agency and university technical knowledge with private business skills and real world know-how. This makes your partnership credible and inspiring to local farmers who are open to improving the health of their soil.”
“This is the best way to engage our customers in conservation planning that results in regenerative agriculture and ecological benefits,” Suarez said.
The Soil Partnership received the award on Nov. 17 during the 71st annual California Association of Resource Conservation Districts' conference in Ontario.
UC Cooperative Extension natural resources advisor Sabrina Drill has been elected to the board of the Alliance of Natural Resource Outreach Service Programs (ANROSP). Drill is associate director of the UC California Naturalist Program.
ANROSP is the national organization in which master naturalist programs from around the country share methods and information to train naturalists, build local and statewide communities, and support their efforts to protect, enhance, understand, and teach the public about each state's unique natural history.
“As a board member, the things I am most keen to work on are strengthening efforts to professionalize participatory citizen science, and build bonds with groups like the new Citizen Science Association and communities of practice like SciStarter,” Drill said. “In addition, I want to build on our individual efforts to increase the demographic diversity of naturalists.”
Drill's role in the national organization will support the continued growth and development of the California Naturalist program, which was established in 2012.
“Working across states, I think we'd like to again see how we might garner national support to grow our programs, and see where we can use nationally developed educational and evaluation tools,” Drill said. “For example, we recently published a paper in Conservation Biology with Virginia Master Naturalist looking at how our training programs enhanced individuals' experiences as citizen scientists, and the opportunity to compare programs was very enlightening. Being an active part of ANROSP leadership can enhance these efforts.”
ANROSP holds a national conference each year in September, where it presents awards in five categories: program of the year, outstanding educational materials, outstanding team, outstanding volunteer project and outstanding program evaluation. In 2015, the UC ANR California Naturalist program was named the “program of the year” by ANROSP
- 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.