Murillo-Barrick named ag land coordinator in San Joaquin Valley
Cristina Murillo-Barrick joined UC Cooperative Extension as an agricultural land acquisitions academic coordinator II on July 15, 2021. She will serve Fresno, Merced and Tulare counties.
In her new role with UCCE, Murillo-Barrick will support the mission of California's Sustainable Agricultural Land Conservation Program (SALC) to fight climate change by protecting productive farmland. Collaborating with the Strategic Growth Council and the Department of Conservation, she will provide local and regional planning agencies, land trusts, nonprofits, landowners and other stakeholders with input on critical land use issues, strategies and opportunities. This work will involve actively engaging partners, providing technical expertise and enhancing capacity of underserved communities.
Prior to joining UC ANR, Murillo-Barrick has been an environmental science educator at Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Yosemite National Park and Shenandoah National Park, trained ecotourism guides, and volunteered for programs in Nicaragua and Costa Rica.
Last year she and Clare Gupta, UC Cooperative Extension specialist, teamed up with California Institute for Rural Studies and the Community Water Center to produce the podcast Water is Gold: How Central Valley Communities are Still Fighting the Drought, this work was part of a National Science Foundation-funded multidisciplinary research project that examined the effects of groundwater, drought and climate change.
She earned an M.A. in geography, M.S. in community development, B.A. in international relations, and B.A. in Spanish, all from UC Davis. She is fluent in Spanish and trained in both translation and interpretation. Within this position, Murillo-Barrick said she hopes to “support, amplify and expand efforts to achieve agricultural sustainability and address climate change within California's most impacted communities. A fundamental piece of this work will involve providing sound technical assistance while centering on equity, antiracism and language justice.”
Murillo-Barrick is headquartered in Fresno and can be reached at (559) 458-6193 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gautam named area citrus IPM advisor
Sandipa Gautam joined UC Cooperative Extension as an area citrus IPM advisor on July 12, 2021.
Prior to accepting the UCCE advisor position, Gautam was an assistant research entomologist in the UC Riverside Department of Entomology. Since 2016 she had worked with UCCE specialist Beth Grafton-Cardwell at Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center leading a research group that works on integrated pest management in citrus. She has studied fungal feeding mites Lorryia formosa and Tarsonemus bakeri, California red scale, Asian citrus psyllid and the efficacy of treatments against arthropod pests of export concern.
She earned a Ph.D. and M.S. both in entomology from Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, and a B.S. in agriculture from Tribhuvan University in Nepal.
Baur named Western IPM Center director
After leading the Western Integrated Pest Management Center through the global COVID crisis as acting director, Matt Baur has been named permanent director effective July 1 to lead the center into the post-pandemic future.
Baur, an IPM practitioner and entomologist by training, had been the Western IPM Center's associate director since 2014.
“Like everyone, the center had to change the way we worked during the pandemic and some of those changes are likely to continue into our future,” Baur predicted. “The region we serve in the West is huge – Guam to Colorado, Alaska to New Mexico – and the remote technologies and virtual platforms we all became familiar with in 2020 can help us connect across those miles.”
Baur's goals for the center are to build on its successes and expand its outreach to serve new areas and audiences, promoting smart, safe and sustainable pest management across the region to protect the people, environment and economy of the American West.
Before joining the Western IPM Center, Baur worked as a research scientist at DuPont/Pioneer and was a research assistant professor at Louisiana State University. He received his doctorate in entomology at the University of Kentucky, Lexington, and his bachelor's degree in biology from UC San Diego. He is a licensed pest control adviser in the state of California.
Baur is based at the ANR building in Davis and can be reached at email@example.com.
Richards named ag land coordinator in Southern California
Chandra Mercedes Richards joined UC Cooperative Extension as agricultural land acquisitions academic coordinator II for San Diego, San Bernardino and Riverside counties on May 10.
As an agricultural lands acquisition academic coordinator II, Richards aims to better support San Bernardino, Riverside, and San Diego counties through the Sustainable Agricultural Lands Conservation (SALC) grant program.
“More specifically, I will be identifying and addressing regional barriers to land use planning, connecting producers with ANR services and climate-smart technical assistance providers, supporting grant applications and agricultural assessments, and ultimately protecting agricultural systems in perpetuity,” she said.
The East Coast native has lived in California for 11 years and is rooted in San Diego. Prior to joining UC ANR, Richards was a conservation ecologist at the greater San Diego Resource Conservation District, where she led the agriculture, forest health, and habitat restoration programs and supported climate-smart agriculture through planning, education, and technical assistance. She also was a key grant writer and project implementation leader.
She earned a Ph.D. in soil biogeochemistry from UC Berkeley and double B.S. degrees in chemistry and mathematics from Pennsylvania State University.
Richards is based in San Diego and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mohamed joins Kearney to study alfalfa irrigation
Abdelmoneim “Moneim” Mohamed joined UC ANR Feb. 1 as a project scientist focusing on alfalfa irrigation management.
Mohamed will be working with Khaled Bali, conducting research to identify the best irrigation management practices on alfalfa to enhance water use productivity while minimizing environmental impacts. The project focuses on crop growth and agronomic performance as affected by irrigation management, salinity and other factors.
Prior to joining UC ANR, Mohamed was an agricultural scientist for the Tropical Research and Education Center at the University of Florida. His previous work focused on modeling and optimizing the performance of moving sprinkler irrigation. He has also studied precision and automated irrigation.
After receiving his Ph.D. at Washington State University, Mohamed was an irrigation engineer for WSU Skagit County Extension Center working with extension agents and growers on improved irrigation practices, irrigation systems efficiency evaluation and crop water-use efficiency.
Mohamed earned a bachelor's degree in agricultural engineering from Zagazig University, Egypt, a master's degree in land and water resources management: irrigated agriculture from IAMB, Italy, and a doctorate in biological and agricultural engineering from Washington State University.
Mohamed is based at Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center and can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter @moneim_z.
After three years of limited hiring due to budget constraints, the University of California's Agriculture and Natural Resources has announced it will release 10 UC Cooperative Extension positions for recruitment.
UC ANR is home to the county-based UC Cooperative Extension, Integrated Pest Management, Master Gardener and 4-H Youth Development and other programs.
The new UC Cooperative Extension positions include:
- Plant Pathology Area Advisor, Santa Cruz County
- Soils and Irrigation Advisor, Kern County
- Urban Agriculture/Small Farms Area Advisor, San Bernardino County
- Community Nutrition & Innovative Technologies Specialist, UC Davis
- Forest and Fuels Management Specialist, UC Berkeley
- Subtropical Crops Pathology Specialist, UC Riverside
- Diversified Agricultural Systems Area Advisor, Lake County
- Forestry and Natural Resources Area Advisor, Sutter-Yuba counties
- 4-H Youth Development Advisor, San Mateo-San Francisco counties
- Integrated Vineyard Systems Area Advisor, Hopland Research and Extension Center
The county listed beside the advisor title is where the office for the employee will be located. All of the UC Cooperative Extension Advisor positions will serve multiple counties.
Last week, the state restored UC ANR's budget to pre-COVID levels of FY 2019-20 and provided a 5% increase plus an additional $32 million in ongoing funding, bringing total state support to $107.9 million for the division. Over the past 20 years, UC ANR had seen its budget decrease by almost 50% when adjusted for inflation.
“This budget increase is transformational,” said Glenda Humiston, UC vice president for agriculture and natural resources. “It will allow us to rebuild UC Cooperative Extension's boots-on-the-ground to help Californians cope with wildfire, drought, climate adaptation and economic development among other issues.”
Twenty UC Cooperative Extension positions have been designated as critically urgent to fill. To avoid overwhelming UC ANR's Human Resources staff, the other 10 positions of the 20 will be released in late September as they ramp up hiring for future recruitment.
“We look forward to releasing additional positions for recruitment – both academic and program support members – throughout the next several months,” said Humiston.
“We are extremely grateful to Governor Newsom, the Legislature and especially Senator John Laird, who championed the budget increase, and look forward to working with our community partners to leverage these resources.”
The state budget signed by Governor Newsom Monday night [July 12] includes a historic increase for the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources. The state restored UC ANR's budget to pre-COVID levels of FY 2019-20 and provided a 5% increase plus an additional $32 million in ongoing funding, bringing total state support to $107.9 million for the division, which contains the county-based UC Cooperative Extension, Integrated Pest Management and 4-H Youth Development programs.
“This budget increase is transformational and will allow us to rebuild UC Cooperative Extension's boots-on-the-ground to help Californians cope with wildfire, drought and climate adaptation,” said Glenda Humiston, UC vice president for agriculture and natural resources.
Over the past 20 years, state funding for UC ANR decreased by almost 50% (adjusted for inflation), resulting in a significant reduction of UC ANR's Cooperative Extension advisors and specialists – from 427 positions in 2001 down to only 269 in 2021 – creating vacancies in many critical positions.
“We appreciate UC ANR stakeholders for sounding the alarm,” Humiston said. “And we are immensely grateful to Senator John Laird, chair of the Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Subcommittee on Education, for recognizing this critical need and for his leadership and dedication to restoring UC ANR's budget to bring back Cooperative Extension throughout California.”
With this new funding, UC ANR will begin recruiting for 20 UC Cooperative Extension academic positions and prioritizing many more critical positions for hiring during the next several months.
“As in the past, we will be talking to our community partners and other stakeholders to identify the most pressing needs to prioritize the next round of hiring,” Humiston said. “We must identify positions to address California's emerging and future needs. While this state budget increase will allow UC ANR to hire more people, we will continue seeking funding from additional sources to expand access to our diverse resources for all Californians.”
To learn more about how UC ANR enhances economic prosperity, protects natural resources, develops an inclusive and equitable society, safeguards food, develops the workforce, builds climate resilience, and promotes the health of people and communities in California, see the stories in its 2020 annual report at https://ucanr.edu/sites/UCANR/files/352362.pdf.
UC Agriculture and Natural Resources brings the power of UC to all 58 California counties. Through research and Cooperative Extension in agriculture, natural resources, nutrition, economic and youth development, our mission is to improve the lives of all Californians. Learn more at ucanr.edu and support our work at donate.ucanr.edu.
Jeannette Warnert will retire July 1 after serving 31 years as a communications specialist for UC Agriculture and Natural Resources.
The editor of Western Farm Press, Tim Hearden, expressed his appreciation for Warnert's media relations expertise, writing, “We'll miss Jeannette's work and the help she's provided over the years.”
Communications methods have rapidly evolved over the past three decades. To ANR's benefit, Warnert has been an enthusiastic early adopter, figuring out how to use new media to deliver ANR news.
“When I started with UC ANR, there was no internet and no email,” Warnert said. “We photocopied news releases and mailed them to media, who transcribed them if they wanted to use the material. Film was dropped off at a lab, which provided us a proof sheet from which we could select black-and-white prints to mail to the media. Our jobs evolved rapidly and we had to continually update our skills as new technologies were introduced over the years.”
Along the way, she tutored her colleagues to use the World Wide Web and social media to disseminate information.
“I'm continually impressed by Jeannette's work ethic, can-do attitude, the quality of her writing, and her willingness to take on new projects,” said Linda Forbes, Strategic Communications director. “She is incredibly organized, always reliable, has great ideas and she's passionate about ANR's mission and people.”
Before joining UC ANR, Warnert worked as a reporter at a small daily newspaper in Los Angeles, in a hospital public relations department and in public relations for Toyota Motor Sales. After marrying and moving to Fresno, she worked briefly for the Fresno Fair and Radio Bilingue, then accepted the UC ANR public information representative job in 1990.
“I've enjoyed the opportunity to learn about agricultural science and work with so many intelligent and dedicated academics and staff,” Warnert said. “Knowing about the work of UC ANR makes me hopeful about the future, even as we face so many threats like drought, wildfire, climate change, invasive pests, etc. I especially enjoyed covering conservation agriculture for more than 20 years with stories about the potential for no-till and cover crops to improve soil health, sequester carbon, reduce dust emissions and use less water while maintaining farms' economic viability.”
Jeff Mitchell, UC Cooperative Extension conservation agriculture specialist based at Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center, described her as a “wonderful encourager and lifelong very good friend.”
“I consider Jeannette Warnert one of the exceptionally valuable workgroup colleagues that we could have ever had,” Mitchell said. “She was ever-ready in the trenches during our early formative days with superbly crafted communications, clear advice and guidance on outreach issues, and just an all-around level-headed colleague. She contributed so much to all that we have done over the years.”
Warnert, whose parents immigrated from The Netherlands, is fluent in conversational Spanish and often collaborated with the News and Information Outreach in Spanish team.
“Jeannette is one of a kind and will be truly missed,” said NOS' Lisa Rawleigh. “She has been a very helpful coworker with such a cheerful attitude and professionalism. She has done so much for us at NOS. I especially will cherish the meetings in Riverside when we were trying to get our webpage started and our conversations in Spanish talking about our kids and family vacations.”
In retirement, Warnert plans to spend more time with family – including her baby granddaughter and 90-year-old mother. “I hope to volunteer with the California Naturalist program and plan to apply to be a UC Master Gardener volunteer in Fresno County when the next class opens,” she said. “I'm also looking forward to more traveling, hiking, gardening, knitting, sewing and cooking.”
New book offers advice for discussing misconceptions and oversimplifications
Research can inform people to take appropriate action to solve problems, but effectively communicating is key. Faith Kearns, who works on emotional and contentious water-related issues such as climate change, drought and wildfire, has learned firsthand that the way scientists communicate can deeply affect people and communities.
“The book offers an on-the-ground perspective on communicating emotional and contentious topics and is filled with concrete examples from practitioners, which is different from many science communication books written by journalists or researchers,” Kearns said. “It is centered around practical tools like relating, listening, working with conflict, and understanding trauma, all with an eye toward equity and justice.”
Among the many issues addressed in the book – ranging from food security to disasters – climate change is one of the biggest. Meteorologist and climate journalist Eric Holthaus notes in the foreword that giving people scientific facts isn't convincing many people that there is a climate crisis, much less solving the climate emergency. “This crisis is getting worse not because of a deficit of information, after all, but because of a deficit of action,” writes Holthaus.
Grist journalist Kate Yoder wrote, “For a long time, scientists have relied on a ‘deficit' model of communication. The idea is that if people are given enough facts and data about, say, climate change, then they'd accept the science— in a logical, rational way — and decide to take action. This idea isn't necessarily wrong, but it ignores the messiness of the world and the role that emotions play in guiding decisions.”
Kearns begins the book with a personal anecdote that changed the way she thought about science communication. After she and her colleagues gave a presentation on wildfire preparation to residents in Mendocino County, an emotional audience member explained to Kearns that he had labored to keep a recent wildfire from consuming his property and the way the researchers had presented their information without attention to the fact that a fire had just burned through the area had been re-traumatizing.
“Many communicators, including myself, have neglected other pieces of communicating that don't have to do with providing information,” Kearns said. “It's so important to know who you are in conversation with and what they've been through. Their history, communities, and personal experiences impact how they will receive scientific information. One of the most important skills you can have as a science communicator is to be able to listen well.”
Jonathan Wai reviewed Kearns' book in Science. He wrote: “The book offers a view from the front lines of science communication, profiling practitioners who explain their journeys and share stories of relationship building and community engagement. Framing herself as a scientist turned science communicator, Kearns describe her vision for the future of the field, one in which relational communication is fundamental.”
Kearns acknowledges in the preface that a single book cannot be all things to all people. “My hope is that I can fairly treat the argument that emotion, conflict, and power struggles are already present in science communication and engagement work and that ignoring them is counterproductive,” she wrote.
Getting to the Heart of Science Communication is written for science communicators and scientists working at research institutions, government agencies, consulting firms or nonprofit organizations. In addition, it will be of interest to those working with scientists including journalists and decision-makers. People interested in science will also find much to consider in this updated view of the science communication landscape.
The 280-page paperback is published by Island Press and can be ordered for $30 (use code HEART for a publisher discount) at https://islandpress.org/books/getting-heart-science-communication and wherever books are sold.
For more about science communication, see Kearns' blog at https://faithkearns.substack.com.