- 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.
- Author: Pamela Kan-Rice
“A group of us are retooling our workshops for online delivery and have seen tremendous interest,” said Yana Valachovic, UC Cooperative Extension forest advisor in Humboldt County. “We have been blown away by the interest in this approach. The April oak health workshop has over 452 people registered after a week of advertising. We probably would have only had 40 people for an in-person event.”
She added, “The prescribed fire for foresters class has 225 people registered after a week of advertising and we probably would have only had 60 people for an in-person event.”
“I am humbled by the interest and hopeful that we'll be able to deliver meaningful content and interaction,” Valachovic said. To accommodate a larger number of participants, she said they are prerecording talks, gathering questions in advance to manage the deluge of questions flowing into the chat box and scheduling live Q and A sessions on Zoom with the speakers and attendees.
For UC Master Food Preservers, nutrition educators and anyone else interested in safe food handling, Erin DiCaprio, UC Cooperative Extension food safety specialist in the Department of Food Science and Technology at UC Davis, partnered with colleagues at North Carolina State University to create coronavirus and food safety materials. There are nine peer-reviewed fact sheets answering COVID-19-related questions about takeout food, food safety, handling groceries and more. The fact sheets can be downloaded free from the COVID-19 section of the ANR catalog: https://anrcatalog.ucanr.edu/Items.aspx?hierId=1100.
The UC Master Food Preserver Program is training its volunteers via Zoom https://ucfoodsafety.ucdavis.edu/consumers/food-safety-home/home-food-preservation/uc-master-food-preserver-food-safety-training and will be demonstrating food preservation techniques via YouTube like this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SeoymcsLWlg.
To help Californians support local farmers, the UC Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education Program created the UC Agritourism Directory at www.calagtour.org. Consumers can look up local farms and ranches and purchase directly from the producer. The new UC SAREP webpage COVID-19 Shelter-in-Place Direct-from-Farm Resources, at http://www.calagtour.org/Shelter-in-Place_Resources, includes information and links to farms and ranches that offer box deliveries, farm stands, online ordering, delivery and pickup services, organized by region.
The UC Master Gardener Program is offering online training for volunteers at http://mg.ucanr.edu/Resources/eXtension_Campus/. Home gardeners trying to grow their own food can find resources at https://ucanr.edu/Coronavirus_and_COVID-19/Gardening/ and ask their local UC Master Gardener volunteers questions. To find local UC Master Gardeners, visit http://mg.ucanr.edu/FindUs/.
California Institute for Water Resources has created a new Water and COVID-19 web page that curates water safety, water use and water supply information. It includes links to information about COVID-19 from the Centers for Disease Control in Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Korean and from the World Health Organization in Spanish, French, Chinese, Arabic, and Russian. They plan to update the page at http://ciwr.ucanr.edu/California_Drought_Expertise/Water_COVID19 as the COVID-19 situation evolves.
In response to school closures, the UC Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program, or EFNEP, and CalFresh Healthy Living UC staff members statewide are providing curricula and other resources to teachers and community organizations to continue nutrition education.
“We surveyed the needs of the educators and are exploring ways to continue to offer evidence-based curriculum while building skills for staff in the area of online and distance learning, using Zoom and social media platforms, such as Facebook Live and YouTube, and other learning platforms such as Google Classroom,” said Katie Panarella, director of UC ANR's Nutrition, Family and Consumer Sciences Program.
Parents who are home schooling their children can get curricula and ideas for educational activities from their local UC Cooperative Extension offices.
The following are a few examples of UC Cooperative Extension activities in counties.
In San Luis Obispo County, CalFresh Health Living, UC built a YouTube Channel to provide nutrition, food safety and physical activity lessons that educators share with their students as part of their assigned schoolwork during shelter in place orders https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCN8eCNc4m1vCbgFrld42MHw/videos.
“Parents should check out our YouTube station for videos featuring nutrition educators covering topics from nutrition and cooking to fun physical activities that don't require any equipment,” Shannon Klisch, CalFresh Health Living, UC program supervisor in San Luis Obispo County.
“There are great ideas for active learning like the Alphabet scavenger hunt at https://youtu.be/M5wMryJkH7M, she said. “And lessons about the importance of eating a variety of foods using MyPlate, including the “Dairy gives us strong bones lesson” with a yogurt parfait recipe included that children of many different ages can help assemble at https://youtu.be/_OUF1nKMKMM.
For kids in Amador, Calaveras, El Dorado and Tuolumne counties, UCCE 4-H advisor JoLynn Miller has been livestreaming lessons on FaceBook Live at https://www.facebook.com/Tuolumnecounty4h. She recently wore a crazy hairdo for Spirit Week while delivering an embryology lesson featuring hatching chicks https://www.facebook.com/Tuolumnecounty4h/videos/235774560806010/.
In Sonoma County, UC Cooperative Extension created a Food Recovery Coalition webpage https://ucanr.edu/sites/SCRFC/ listing opportunities to volunteer, donate and more.
In San Bernardino County, UC Cooperative Extension is offering online classes twice a week on topics including growing food, sustainable landscaping, composting and pest management. For upcoming events, visit http://mgsb.ucanr.edu/.
In Tulare and Kings counties, Alice Escalante, UC ANR adult nutrition educator, is using WhatsApp to motivate her Walking Club participants to continue striding toward their walking goal of 10,000 steps a day as part of CalFresh Health Living, UC's nutrition and physical activity program.
In Imperial County, 4-H program representative Anita Martinez is leading cooking demonstrations and organizing 4-H All Stars to show their cooking skills via Facebook Live three times per week. “We have done nine cooking demonstrations on Facebook Live with more than 1.5k views for each one,” wrote Yu Meng, UC Cooperative Extension youth, family and community advisor.
In Sutter County, UC nutrition educators distributed "Lunch to Grow" packages to 125 families at a Yuba City Elementary School drive-through lunch pick up. Each package contained one vegetable plant seedling, a small bag of potting soil, a small pot and instructions for planting.
Starting in Napa County on April 11, people can join the SOD Blitz, a sudden oak death disease mapping project. Matteo Garbelotto, UCCE forest pathology specialist and adjunct professor in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management at UC Berkeley, redesigned the annual citizen science project to adhere to current coronavirus precautions to ensure the safety of participants. The series of SOD Blitzes will be held in communities between Napa and San Luis Obispo through June. For more information and the latest schedule, visit www.sodblitz.org.
Find a link to UCCE in your county on the map at https://ucanr.edu/About/Locations/.
- Author: Liz Sizensky
- Author: Ann Brody Guy
The San Francisco Chronicle reported this exercise in a 2016 interview with Crawford about newly approved USDA nutrition labels that would include added sugar information and thereby eliminate the need for such complex computations by consumers. Sadly, these nutrition guidelines have yet to come out. Why not, if we know that added sugar is related to heart disease, diabetes, tooth decay and other negative health conditions? Why hasn't this regulation been adopted? Crawford works to provide the research needed by policymakers to reduce the barriers to implementation of helpful policies such as this one.
Pat Crawford's work on improved food labeling is but one example of the way that for decades her timely and rigorous research has demonstrated the role of sugary foods and beverages in the development of diabetes, and obesity and in helping to fuel America's childhood obesity epidemic. In countless ways Crawford, who is retiring this year after more than 40 years of service at the University of California, has supported the adoption of public policies that promote safer, healthier food and beverages for all people, across the state and the nation.
You can draw direct lines from her resume to countless major policy advances in nutrition education and public health. Since earning her master's degree in public health nutrition and her registered dietician credential at UC Berkeley in 1972, Crawford has been a force of unceasing productivity as a researcher, an evaluator, an educator and a leader. Early in her career she managed the nation's largest biracial study of girls' health, the National Growth and Health Study. During the course of this long-term study, she went back to school to obtain her doctorate in public health nutrition. She soon was hired as the first UC Cooperative Extension Nutrition and Obesity Prevention specialist and she co-founded and directed UC Berkeley's Atkins Center for Weight and Health. The work of the center focused largely on food and nutrition policy to improve the health of children, and it provided a structure whereby University research could be effectively shared with community health workers throughout the state. Local and state health professionals found in the center an extension partner eager to conduct research that would answer important questions and provide real-world solutions, productively linking research, policy and practice.
The Center for Weight and Health, which in 2015 merged with the UC ANR Nutrition Policy Institute (NPI), became known for rigorous research that is aligned with UC ANR's core values of addressing food security, obesity, socioeconomically based health disparities, and access to healthy foods. After the merger, Crawford became NPI's Senior Director of Research, working with her long time collaborator, Lorrene Ritchie, the NPI director.
Ritchie stated that in addition to Crawford's academic achievements, she is the consummate mentor — a “career godmother” for Ritchie and many others. She said, “Pat has an uncanny ability of knowing what you are good at — even before you yourself do — and mentoring you to build on that strength. Likewise, she has an uncanny ability to know your weaknesses, and help you to overcome those by developing new skills or pairing you with others who have those skills.”
That kind of nurturing is rare, Ritchie noted, particularly in the competitive environment of academia. Through mentoring, she added, Crawford has ensured new generations of researchers will continue this work.
“Pat has proven that you can be caring and compassionate yet still be highly effective.”
What does highly effective look like? A few examples illustrate the impact that Pat Crawford's work has had on nutrition policies and trends.
To improve the food environment at child care centers and schools, the Center/NPI provided the evidence for:
- California's 2010 Healthy Beverages in Childcare Law, requiring child care centers to make water and other healthy beverages available at all times.
- The 2013 Foundations for Healthy Nutrition in Childcare Act, requiring nutrition education for all child care providers.
- “Competitive food” policies — banning unhealthy sodas and snacks that competed with more nutritious school lunches — a policy that started in California and later was implemented at the federal level in the USDA's 2016 “Smart Snacks Standards.”
- The expansion of school garden and cooking programs in California and nationwide.
- An expansion of support for replacing packaged foods with healthier scratch cooking in school cafeterias.
To promote more nutritious food in programs serving low-income families the Center/NPI advocated:
- Improvements in the federal Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program including quadrupling the amount of vegetables and legumes WIC provides and adding information about physical activity needs for young children.
- Food bank policies that increase the amount of fruits and vegetables distributed and reduce the amount of snack foods and sugary beverages. Their free online course on how to make these policy shifts is a popular web resource for food banks across the country.
To advance education and communication:
- Crawford co-founded the first interdisciplinary conference on childhood obesity. Twenty years later, the biennial meeting is the premier obesity conference in the nation.
- The “My Healthy Plate” nutrition-education tool, which replaced the old Healthy Eating Pyramid, was developed, tested, presented and promoted by Crawford and her extension colleagues before the plate concept was officially adopted by USDA in 2011.
- California became the first state to put calories on chain-restaurant menus. Crawford's evaluation of Kaiser Permanente's pilot study of menu-board labeling provided the evidence needed by policymakers. Calorie labeling in chain restaurants has been expanded nationwide.
- Crawford's evaluation of California's SNAP-Ed program, the education arm of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, (or SNAP, previously known as food stamps), has informed programming focused on the prevention of chronic disease through efficacious nutrition changes in the environment.
Although Crawford would be quick to tell you that her work is collaborative, she has been a researcher or important influence on nearly every population-based nutrition policy success. She has served as president of the California Nutrition Council and on countless state and national committees and task forces focused on improving health and addressing obesity, including being an advisor to California's Let's Get Healthy Task Force. Most recently, she co-authored a seminal Healthy People 2020 report for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, on model policies to increase fruit and vegetable intake in the population.
Training the next generation
Given her commitment and her influence, it's no wonder that Pat Crawford won the 2013 David Kessler Award for Extraordinary Contributions to the Public's Health, as well as multiple honors from the American Public Health Association. In 2018, the UC Berkeley School of Public Health honored Crawford as one of its 75 most influential alumni in recognition of her significant contributions to reduce the epidemic of childhood obesity in California and across the country. And she's not done yet — as an emeritus Cooperative Extension specialist, her research will go on. That won't surprise anyone who knows her. As Crawford said in a 2015 interview, “What keeps me passionate is knowing that change is possible when high-quality, policy-relevant research is conducted and communicated to decision-makers and those who work with children.”
To honor the work that Crawford does and to continue this kind of work, the Nutrition Policy Institute has established a student fellowship fund to train the next generation of students on nutrition research and its policy impacts. Donors to the student fellowship fund help honor Crawford and help NPI continue its work to improve the nutrition and health of children.
- Author: Rose Hayden-Smith, PhD
Dave, tell us more about where you're from.
I was born and raised in Maryville, Tennessee. From fifth through ninth grades, I lived in northern New Jersey, and then we moved back to Maryville. I attended Westminster College, near Pittsburgh. It changed my life in so many ways. For starters, I met my wife Mary Lynn there; we married the week after I graduated.
I also found my life's work there. There was a political science professor named Dale Hess, who became my mentor and friend. I went on to earn an MA in political science from Ohio State and was on track to do my Ph.D. there. Midway through the program, I decided it wasn't for me. I ended up at the University of Oregon. I studied community organizing, interviewing 18 community organizers at different stages in their lives. The question was: What sustains political commitment over time?
After a brief stint at San Jose State, I got a job at Mercer University in Atlanta. Sadly, the college was disbanded a few years later. That put us on the road to look for different opportunities. We ended up in Davis. After a semester as a “freeway flyer” teaching at three different community colleges, I showed up, hat in hand, on what became a series of wonderful opportunities at UC Davis.
What has your career trajectory been at UC?
I started teaching political science at UC Davis in the Fall of 1990. I knew Gail Feenstra, and she told me that SAREP was looking for an economic and public policy analyst. I told her, “I don't know anything about agricultural policy.” I didn't feel especially well qualified, but was asked, “Do you know a good idea when you see one?” I said, “I think so” and got the job.
I worked at SAREP and for the Political Science department. In 1996, Al Sokolow, Jim Grieshop, and Joan Wright put together a proposal to ANR Associate Vice President Henry Vaux to create the California Communities Program. I was tapped as its inaugural (and only) director. In 2000, a community development specialist position opened at UC Davis. I've been in that role for 19 years.
As a community development specialist, it was about finding partners who knew things I knew nothing about. I was fortunate to have had many wonderful individuals and groups to collaborate with over the course of my career, both within and outside of Extension.
I also served as the Strategic Initiative Leader for Healthy Families and Communities for almost four years, succeeding Sharon Junge and preceding Keith Nathaniel. I left that role when I started as the Associate Dean for Social and Human Sciences in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences in 2014.
Which accomplishments are you most proud of?
Pride doesn't come easily to good Calvinist Presbyterians! But I am proud to have done some form of specialist work in 38 of California's 58 counties. I spent a lot of time out in counties working with local advisors on projects. That work attempted to reflect the best intention of our system to bring campus and community together, to connect them, and to make sure learning is going both directions. Not just campus to community, but also community to campus.
I'm proud that the California Communities Program had a series of yearly conferences that highlighted critical topics in community development. Those conferences were good at including both internal and external audiences, connecting the university with stakeholders and the community.
My dad was a coach. In our family, it was all about the team. I pride myself on being a good team player. That's sometimes meant leading, and other times being a pinch hitter or utility infielder, or sometimes it's just lugging the bats back to the car. I've tried to find teams that matter and contribute in whatever way I can to their work.
What about memorable research?
I was fortunate to have had articles voted best in a journal for a particular year on three occasions. The most impactful one was a 2012 piece called “What works is workarounds,” which drew on more than 2,000 interviews I conducted with other team members in local communities throughout California. But the first one was the most interesting story.
Joan Wright and I were working in Humboldt County with Deb Giraud. We provided technical assistance to nine nonprofit groups and helped them develop outcome assessment plans for their own organization. Simultaneously, we did surveys and focus groups with foundations and agencies in the community that were funding the nonprofits. What was it they wanted to know? The funny thing was what came out on the other end: the old tried-and-true metrics, like the number of jobs created and wage levels of those jobs. None of the fancier new indicators mattered to funders.
Joan and I basically wrote the article – “Outcomes Assessment and the Paradox of Accountability” – as we drove five hours from Arcata back to Davis after our last trip up there. The article sort of wrote itself and won an award. It was the easiest writing experience I've ever had.
“As retirement has grown near, my main emotion has been gratitude.
UC has given me so many wonderful opportunities
that I would never have dreamed up myself."
What would you want to tell advisors and others beginning their career with UC?
I would say to find the people in the organization that you trust and who embody some kind of wisdom and experience that you value. Don't be afraid to call on them for advice and assistance.
The other thing is not to be afraid to make the job what you think it needs to be. The reality is that at its best Extension is a living organization, an adaptive organization, a responsive organization. It has to be willing to try new things, be new things, while holding on to the best of our land grant tradition. Often when people are starting out – particularly with our merit and promotion processes and other kinds of bureaucratic processes – there's a natural push towards meeting organizational expectations. That's important, but it's not the heart of the work and it's not what is going to keep you excited and passionate about the work. It's not what will keep you connected with the community and with what's on the minds of locals. I think it's important to keep focused on the passions that drew you to the work in the first place.
Any other takeaways?
I'm struck by the contradictions of the time we're in. In some ways, an organization like Cooperative Extension is absolutely more critical, more vital, and has more to contribute to public life than ever before. If there's anything missing in our public life, it is institutions that can bring people together, solve problems, realize dreams, and do so in a way where evidence, reason, and thoughtful discussion are the modus operandi, and not just passion and tribalism. We need this desperately. At its best, Extension does this and yet, here we are in an organization that has seen a decades-long funding decline, and in the eyes of some is becoming less and less relevant.
Part of the land grant mission, and the vitality of that, is to promote leadership and active citizenship in communities, and to promote connections between university and community. We live in a culture that has grown increasingly anti-intellectual. All things university-related have come to be considered ivory tower: disconnected, elite self-interested. We need to take seriously that critique, but it's not all we are, or all that we should be or could be. Extension at its best represents what that alternative can look like.
What are your hopes for retirement?
Mary Lynn and I are moving to Fort Collins, Colorado, to be closer to our son, daughter-in-law and our new grandson, Pax. I hope to do more writing, including potentially writing a book. I'm looking forward to joining a new church with my wife where she doesn't have to be the pastor; that will be a new experience for us. I'll certainly get involved in the civic life of Fort Collins in whatever ways make sense. No big travel plans for me: I'm a homebody; been there and done that. However, I would like to explore Colorado when it doesn't interfere with golf!