- Author: Saoimanu Sope
National 4-H Council today (Sept. 29, 2023) announced that Michaela Auyeung of Los Gatos, is a runner-up for the 2024 4-H Youth in Action Award. Auyeung is recognized nationally for her commitment to providing STEM access and improving mental and physical well-being for girls in her community.
Auyeung, 17, provides free coding classes and instruction to girls through her program, Girls Who Love to Code. Through partnerships with two school systems, Girls Who Love to Code has engaged more than 250 girls while seeking to close the opportunity and education gap for girls in STEM. Auyeung also provided mental health workshops to aid students in addressing anxiety and created two school pantries to provide hygiene items, school supplies, and snacks to students in need. A senior in high school, Auyeung plans to continue to advocate for gender and socioeconomic equality in education through her outreach and beyond.
The 4-H Youth in Action Awards began in 2010 to recognize 4-H'ers who have overcome challenges and used the knowledge they gained in 4-H to create a lasting impact in their community. To learn more about the 4-H Youth in Action program and the 2024 runners-up, please visit http://4-H.org/YouthInAction.
4-H, the nation's largest youth development organization, grows confident young people who are empowered for life today and prepared for career tomorrow. 4-H programs empower nearly six million young people across the U.S. through experiences that develop critical life skills. 4-H is the youth development program of our nation's Cooperative Extension System and USDA, and serves every county and parish in the U.S. through a network of 110 public universities and more than 3,000 local Extension offices. Globally, 4-H collaborates with independent programs to empower one million youth in 50 countries. The research-backed 4-H experience grows young people who are four times more likely to contribute to their communities; two times more likely to make healthier choices; two times more likely to be civically active; and two times more likely to participate in STEM programs.
Learn more about 4-H at www.4-H.org, find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/4-H and on Twitter at https://twitter.com/4H. To learn more about the California 4-H Program, visit: https://4h.ucanr.edu/.
- Author: Saoimanu Sope
After 13 years of telling the UC ANR story through written articles and video production, Norma De la Vega retired on June 29. De la Vega joined UC ANR's News and Information Outreach in Spanish team in 2009 as a senior writer.
NOS fulfilled UC ANR's vision of developing educational and informational programs in Spanish to serve the Latino community. For more than 40 years, NOS has been producing information formatted for radio, television, and online audiences, and De la Vega has played an instrumental role in helping NOS expand its reach and diversify its creative approach to storytelling.
When she started, most of her writing focused on nutrition, highlighting groups like the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program and the Nutrition Policy Institute. “Norma's contributions were spot on,” said NOS Program Manager Ricardo Vela. “Her impact has been bringing the importance of nutrition into the stories that we bring to the community.”
De la Vega earned a bachelor's degree in science communications from Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México in her hometown of Mexico City. “Learning how to produce videos when I went to school was very different than now,” said De la Vega. “We didn't have the kind of cameras we do today.”
Following college, De la Vega worked as a television reporter in Tijuana before moving to San Diego County where she started focusing on writing. Prior to UC ANR, De La Vega worked as a writer for the Enlace Union-Tribune's Spanish newspaper in San Diego for nearly a decade.
Before it became NOS' primary medium for storytelling, De la Vega helped lead the team's video production effort despite her limited experience. “We weren't experts, but we realized the importance of video production to get our information out. It was a team effort,” she said.
In 2010, De la Vega wrote a story and produced a video on the importance of planning for old age. In many cases, adult children had to manage their parent's care without guidance, and most caregivers of the elderly spoke Spanish as their first language and needed more resources to do a better job.
De la Vega's story relied on research conducted by Patti Wooten Swanson, UCCE nutrition, family and consumer science advisor in San Diego. Not only was Swanson honored at the 2013 Galaxy Awards for her contribution to the story, but De la Vega, a member of the NOS team at the time, won first place at the Western Region Television/Video Communications Award Ceremony despite the lack of a Spanish language category.
In 2016, De la Vega produced a video of the first bilingual 4-H club, the result of a partnership with the Community Settlement Association in Riverside County. “A lot of good things were happening at that time and are happening now because ANR is evolving with more bilingual experts on different topics,” De la Vega said.
Although she started as a senior writer, De La Vega evolved and became a broadcast communications specialist. Her success in the role allowed her to become well-connected to other communicators and community leaders. “Norma always had a contact we needed for a story that we were working on,” said Miguel Sanchez, another broadcast communications specialist on the NOS team.
Lisa Rawleigh, NOS administrative assistant, established a personal and professional relationship with De la Vega. “Norma ensured that our Spanish articles were written properly and that we did not miss any accents or typos. I can always count on her to proofread my posts on social media,” said Rawleigh.
De la Vega said that she feels “enormously satisfied” to have worked with a team of fellow pioneers. “Although we were not experts, we learned so much every day and together,” De la Vega said. “Today, there are several experts in the production of community videos, and we helped enrich the graphic archive for UC ANR's community programs. I think our contribution was to lead the way in that direction.”
Looking ahead, De la Vega will be spending her retirement traveling and exploring other countries and cultures. Since she was a girl, De la Vega enjoyed swimming and can't wait to do more of it. “I love to swim because being in the water always makes me feel young,” she said.
Finally, De la Vega will enjoy quality time with her grandchildren, teaching them Spanish and volunteering at the Spanish immersion school they attend.
To read this story in Spanish, visit https://ucanr.edu/blogs/blogcore/postdetail.cfm?postnum=57440./span>
- Author: Pamela Kan-Rice
“After a nationwide search, Brent emerged as a proven and respected leader who will help us to strengthen partnerships, build trust, address challenges and define our 2040 strategic vision,” said Glenda Humiston, UC vice president for agriculture and natural resources.
Hales brings over 20 years of higher education research and leadership experience, including at land grant institutions and in Cooperative Extension. He currently serves as an associate dean of Pennsylvania State University's College of Agricultural Sciences and director of Penn State Extension.
“I am very excited to join the UC ANR family,” Hales said. “My grandfather was a 1939 graduate of the University of California, Berkeley and both of my parents grew up in California.”
Before joining Penn State in 2019, he served as the senior associate dean and chief financial officer of the University of Minnesota Extension, associate dean for the University of Minnesota Extension Center for Community Vitality, and the director of the Economic Development Authority Center at University of Minnesota, Crookston.
His research focuses on holistic community and economic development and entrepreneurship. He has spent his career working across the United States and the globe with underrepresented communities. Since 1998, Hales has worked with Native American Nations in asset development and capacity building.
“I am excited to collaborate with California's Native Nations, urban residents and underinvolved Californians as they seek to achieve their goals,” Hales said. “Some notable areas are tackling climate change, food security and workforce development.”
“What excites me most is to be part of the leadership team for the premier institution of Ag and Natural Resources research and extension in the United States,” Hales said. “The people, the facilities, the opportunities and the engagement with the communities and organizations of California is second to none.”
Hales earned a Ph.D. in rural sociology from Iowa State University, a master's degree in sociology from Middle Tennessee State University and a bachelor's degree in sociology from Brigham Young University in Utah.
He is the father of six children, is the grandfather of six grandchildren, and has been married to his best friend Candy for over 30 years.
Deanne Meyer, UC Cooperative Extension livestock specialist, has been serving UC ANR as interim associate vice president for research and Cooperative Extension over the past year and is assisting Hales with the transition.
- Author: Pamela Kan-Rice
September is National Preparedness Month, designated to encourage disaster and emergency readiness. To help Californians prepare for extreme heat, earthquakes, public safety power shutoffs and wildfire, University of California Cooperative Extension has created a disaster preparedness website organized for quick access to critical information.
The website https://ucanr.edu/Disaster contains fact sheets with tips for getting prepared.
“Unfortunately, with a warming climate, we are facing more and more extreme climate-related events such as heat waves, wildfires, power shutoffs and storms. All Californians need to step up their preparedness efforts to be ready to meet this more uncertain future,” said Susan Kocher, UC Cooperative Extension forestry advisor, who co-authored the disaster preparedness resources for the website.
The fact sheet for extreme heat events offers suggestions for avoiding heat exposure, such as identifying nearby cooling centers and covering windows to keep heat out. It also suggests things to do during hot weather such as staying hydrated, taking cool showers and keeping pets indoors. It describes symptoms of heat-related illnesses, which can have serious health effects.
Public Safety Power Shutoff
During extreme weather events, electrical power in high fire-threat areas may be shut off to prevent sparking. This precaution is known as a Public Safety Power Shutoff. A PSPS is most likely to occur from May to November, when conditions are the hottest and driest.
UC Cooperative Extension recommends signing up to receive PSPS alerts from your energy company. Experts also advise making a plan for medications that need to be refrigerated or medical devices that require power. To prevent foodborne illness, they offer suggestions for ensuring food safety during and after a power outage.
Wildfire and smoke
Wildfire smoke can harm your health. During wildfires, UC Cooperative Extension recommends wearing an N95 outdoors to reduce smoke exposure and taking steps to prevent smoke from entering buildings. To reduce wildfire risk, the website describes methods of removing flammable vegetation around homes.
UC Cooperative Extension offers safety tips for before, during and after an earthquake. Identifying the safest place in your home during an earthquake in advance is helpful. For example, doorways are not the safest place to be in modern homes. Experts recommend crawling under a sturdy desk or table, while avoiding areas next to windows, beneath ceiling fixtures or near large items that may fall during an earthquake.
The website also offers resources on drought, food safety after a fire, and wildfire preparedness and recovery.
In 2020 and 2021, Cooperative Extension researchers from around the country held listening sessions with community members who had experienced extreme weather events and other types of disasters to learn what had worked well, what had not, and how communities could be strengthened.
In response, these disaster resources were developed by Kocher, UC Davis undergraduate student Caydee Schweitzer, Tracy Schohr, UC Cooperative Extension livestock and natural resource advisor, and Vikram Koundinya, UC Cooperative Extension evaluation specialist. The group plans to add fact sheets on more disaster topics in the future.
This project was funded by a USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture Renewable Resources Extension Act grant.
MEDIA CONTACT: Susan Kocher, UC Cooperative Extension forestry advisor, firstname.lastname@example.org/h3>/h3>/h3>/h3>
- Author: Jeannette E. Warnert
Douglas Amaral is the new pomology, water and soils advisor in Kings and Tulare counties
“I am very excited to be part of the UC Cooperative Extension system and am looking forward to serving growers, producers, processors, and support industries for their research and extension needs in the Southern San Joaquin Valley,” Amaral said.
Before joining UCCE, Amaral was a project scientist and postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Plant Sciences at UC Davis. His research has focused on the physiology and biochemistry of plant nutrient uptake, and molecular and genetic aspects of nutrient acquisition and tolerance in citrus, almonds, pistachios and other crops.
Amaral said he is currently meeting growers in Kings and Tulare counties and assessing their needs.
“Numerous research needs exist in the tree nut industries, including, but not limited to, irrigation and fertigation efficiency, salinity management, and water use improvement,” he said. “I believe that the most relevant scientific inquiries start with observations of the challenges faced in the field and the opinions of observant growers and the vision of industry leaders.”
Amaral, who was born and raised in Brazil, is fluent in Portuguese and English. He earned a doctoral degree in plant and soil sciences at the University of Delaware, a master's degree in plant nutrition and soil fertility at Federal University of Lavras, Brazil, and a bachelor's degree in biological sciences at University Center of Lavras, Brazil.
Amaral is based in Hanford and can be reached at (559) 852-2737 and email@example.com. His Twitter handle is @UCCE_DougAmaral.
Apurba Barman named UCCE integrated pest management advisor in Imperial County
"I am very excited for my new role as IPM advisor based in Southern California and for the opportunity to serve one of the most important vegetable production regions in the state,” Barman said. “The diversity and intensity of crop production in this region demand targeted research to solve pest management issues and effective extension programs to reach out diverse clientele. I feel prepared for this job with my experience and passion to serve the community.”
Barman earned a bachelor's degree at Assam Agricultural University in India, and a master's degree at Texas Tech University, Lubbock. In 2011, he completed a doctoral degree at Texas A&M University in College Station, where he worked on insect pests of cotton. Subsequently, he worked as a cotton extension entomologist with Texas AgriLife Extension Service and developed a research program to understand the extent of damage and management of thrips in the Texas High Plains region.
Barman comes to UC Cooperative Extension from the University of Georgia, where he led a whitefly monitoring and management program targeting cropping systems in the southern region of the state. Barman can be reached at (209) 285-9810, firstname.lastname@example.org. His Twitter handle is @Ento_Barman.
José Luiz Carvalho de Souza Dias named area agronomy advisor in the northern San Joaquin Valley
Prior to joining UCCE, Carvalho de Souza Dias was a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, where he worked on identifying management practices and environmental factors to ensure successful establishment of alfalfa interseeded into corn silage, sustainable management of waterhemp in established alfalfa for dairy systems, and weed control, clover selectivity and resulting yield of grass-clover mixed swards.
“I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to work with growers, industry and academia within the agriculture industry in the Central Valley. It is amazing how diversified, complex, and productive the different production systems can be in the region,” Carvalho de Souza Dias said. “Knowing that I have the chance to work with many different challenges present in economically viable and sustainable crop production is something that makes me very excited and looking forward to the future.”
Carvalho de Souza Dias earned a doctoral degree in agronomy with a focus on weed science from the University of Florida, a master's degree in crop protection and bachelor's in agronomy from São Paulo State University in Brazil. He is fluent in Portuguese and English.
His doctoral research centered on developing and implementing integrated management practices to reduce giant smutgrass populations in bahiagrass pastures. For his master's degree, he researched herbicide selectivity in sugarcane. Based in Merced, Carvalho de Souza Dias can be reached at (209) 385-7403 and email@example.com.
UCCE feedlot management specialist to work at UC ANR's Desert Research and Extension Center
Carvalho grew up on his family's cattle and crop farm in the state of Goias in Brazil. In 2012, while an undergraduate, he came to the United States to work as an intern in the beef cattle reproduction and nutrition labs at The Ohio State University.
After earning a bachelor's degree in animal science at Federal University of Mato Grosso do Sul in Brazil, he completed a master's degree at University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. He recently earned his doctoral degree at Pennsylvania State University, where he conducted research projects to enhance the efficiency of Holstein steers in the feedlot.
“My plan as an extensionist and researcher at the Desert Research and Extension Center is to first understand what the needs are from our feedlot operations in Imperial County,” Carvalho told Stacey Amparano, Farm Smart manager, who wrote a Q&A with him. “After that, I plan to implement and conduct actions (research projects and on-farm training) to help our beef producers and farmworkers. I really hope that I can bring value to our stakeholders by providing information on nutrition and management, as well as helping to train and improve the lives of the workers in feed yards of our state.”
Read the full text of Carvalho's Q&A with Stacey Amparano at https://ucanr.edu/blogs/blogcore/postdetail.cfm?postnum=43442. Carvalho can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and (217) 418-0202. Follow Carvalho on Twitter at @pedrocattle.
New youth, families and communities academic coordinator named for Central Coast counties
The new position was created in a reorganization, and allowed the office to maintain existing multi-disciplinary programs, including Master Food Preservers, Master Gardeners, 4-H and CalFresh Healthy Living, UC.
“I am excited to step into this new role,” Klisch said. “I know that my six years of experience managing the CalFresh Healthy Living, UC program will help inform my academic work in community health and that experience has definitely helped prepare me for taking on a leadership role in the other Youth, Families and Communities program areas.”
As community education supervisor, Klisch led the expansion of 4-H programming across San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties through the UC Garden Nutrition Extender program and the 4-H Student Nutrition Advisory Council youth engagement program. Prior to joining UC ANR, Klisch worked as a private consultant with the Center for Family Strengthening.
“I am looking forward to having the time and the mandate to publish the results and accumulated data of our work in food security, positive youth development and healthy communities,” she said.
Klisch earned a master's degree in community health education at San Jose State University and a bachelor's degree in anthropology and communication from UC San Diego. She holds credentials as a master community health education specialist and community health education specialist. Klisch is headquartered in San Luis Obispo and can be reached at (805) 781-5951 and email@example.com.
Gerardo Spinelli is the new production horticulture advisor in San Diego County
“Since I saw the job description for this position, I thought, ‘Wow, what a cool job!'” Spinelli said. “The agricultural setting of San Diego County is quite unique and so is this position. I'll be working with thousands of crops, ornamentals, flowers, succulents, palms. And if it wasn't enough, I also get to work with urban agriculture and a new and dynamic vegetable production industry in hydroponics. Can you dig it?”
Prior to joining UCCE San Diego, Spinelli worked for the Santa Cruz Resource Conservation District since 2015, focusing on irrigation and nitrogen management for strawberry and lettuce. He collaborated with UCCE advisor Michael Cahn to promote the adoption of CropManage, an online decision-support tool that helps farmers optimize irrigation and nitrogen application.
Spinelli also served as a visiting scientist at the University of Hawaii, Manoa, College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources in the late 2010s, where he designed and built hydroponic farming systems for lettuce.
Spinelli grew up in Italy on an olive and vegetable farm on the hills overlooking Florence and is fluent in Italian, English, French and Spanish. He earned a bachelor's degree in agronomy and a master's degree in tropical agriculture at the University of Florence. He also earned a master's in international agricultural development and a doctorate in horticulture and agronomy at UC Davis. Spinelli can be reached at (858) 822-7679 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tian Tian is the new viticulture advisor in Kern County
“I feel very excited to join the UC Cooperative Extension and be part of this collaborative group,” Tian said. “I look forward to working with local growers and industry to improve management practices in the vineyard and increase the profit margin of table grape production.”
Tian earned a master's degree at California State University, Fresno, and a bachelor's degree at Northwest Agriculture and Forestry University, China, both in viticulture and enology. For several years she worked in industry, including an internship at E. & J. Gallo Winery in Modesto and as the assistant vineyard manager at Berryessa Gap Vineyard in Winters.
Tian's doctoral research focused on development of better guidelines for vineyard nitrogen management for growers in the Willamette Valley. She and the research team evaluated the influences of vineyard nitrogen on vine productivity, fruit composition and wine characteristics in chardonnay and pinot noir.
Tian can be reached at email@example.com. Her Twitter handle is @TianUcce.
Laura Vollmer is the nutrition, family and consumer sciences advisor for the Bay Area
“As a multigenerational Bay Area resident (born and bred on the San Mateo County coast), it's a dream come true to serve the community that raised me,” Vollmer said. “The Bay Area has long been a leader in child nutrition and I am particularly excited for the opportunity to help implement and evaluate innovative programs that support the well-being of children and communities.
Vollmer previously worked at the UC Nutrition Policy Institute, where she helped to coordinate the National Drinking Water Alliance, a national network of allies working to ensure that all children in the U.S. can drink water in the places where they live, learn and play. She also contributed to research on food security and the charitable food assistance system, and on the impact of community nutrition and physical activity on children's health. Vollmer served as a grant writer and institutional giving associate for City Harvest, an anti-hunger nonprofit in New York City, for two years.
Vollmer earned a bachelor's degree in English at Wesleyan University and earned a master's degree in public health from UC Berkeley. She is a registered dietitian. She is a board chair of Oakland-based Youth Outside, which works to ensure equitable access to the outdoors. When she's not at work, Vollmer enjoys swimming in the ocean, cooking and hiking.
Vollmer can be reached at (650) 276-7429, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Grace Woodmansee is the new livestock and natural resources advisor in Northern California
“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. “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.”
Woodmansee has a bachelor's degree from Chico State and completed a master's degree in agronomy at UC Davis in November. She will be based in Yreka and can be reached at email@example.com.