As manager of UC ANR News and Information Outreach in Spanish (NOS), Grajales-Hall has worked with California's Spanish-language news media, produced radio and video programs, and adapted newsletters, curricula, scripts, brochures and press releases to inform the community on obesity and diabetes prevention, ecologically sound pest management, farmworker safety, emergency preparedness and youth development.
When Grajales-Hall was a teenager studying English in her native Bogotá, Colombia, she set her sights on working at the United Nations. She asked her parents for their permission to travel to the United States for intensive language instruction, never believing they would allow their shy daughter to venture so far from home. But permission was granted.
While studying languages at California State University, San Bernardino, she was hired to do clerical work at a Spanish language radio station in Redlands. The staff soon recognized the pleasant tonal quality of her voice.
“I started doing commercials. Then they asked me to do public affairs,” she said. “I began working on news. That's how it all started.”
A radio station colleague went to work for UC Cooperative Extension, and five months later recruited Grajales-Hall to be his part-time assistant. Two years later she came on full time and six years after that, Grajales-Hall was named the manager.
“I wanted to work for the UN, and ended up with the UC,” Grajales-Hall said. “One letter changed my life. And it couldn't have been any better.”
When Grajales-Hall came to the university in 1982, the Latino population in California was about 5 million. Today, the population has more than tripled.
“I am so impressed that 35 years ago, the University of California and Cooperative Extension had the foresight to establish an outreach service to the Spanish-speaking population,” Grajales-Hall said. “I've had the privilege to work with dozens of dedicated, brilliant UC academics and educators, and to assist them with their outreach efforts. I've learned so much from them.”
The program began with a monthly radio feed to 20 Spanish-language radio stations. As technology advanced continuously over the years, NOS, under Grajales-Hall's leadership, kept up with the times.
Reel-to-reel tapes gave way to cassettes, and then CDs. Now radio spots will be shared in MP3 format. The media needs also changed. In the early 1980s, radio stations welcomed 30 minutes of programming from UC. But in today's world of shortened attention spans, the team made adjustments.
“We still do radio. It's a viable way to get information out to the Latino community. But today we are lucky to get one minute of air time,” Grajales-Hall said. “Some stations only want 30-second spots.”
More information is shared via the program's website, and feeds on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. Through the years, Grajales-Hall and her staff made sure timely and practical information from the UC Cooperative Extension reached Spanish-speaking Californians.
“Coming from a different country, as an immigrant, I see the great value in the information and education we can provide to other immigrants in California,” Grajales-Hall said. “I understood their issues and concerns, their difficulty in navigating the system. To be able to make a difference, whether large or small, was always exciting.”
In retirement, Grajales-Hall envisions change, but will continue to serve her community.
“I came across a word doing translation research: ecdysis. That's when an insect sheds its skin and transforms. It's a time of great promise, of renewal, of transformation, and of vulnerability. That's how I feel about retirement,” Grajales-Hall said. “When you retire, you find yourself without the constraints of time and space. I'm looking forward to the time and space to redefine my life.”
In addition to traditional retirement pursuits of travel and relaxation, Grajales-Hall has esoteric endeavors on her to-do list.
“I want to be mindful. I want to see the sunrises and sunsets. I want to walk more on the beach,” she said. “I want to learn Italian, volunteer, scrapbook, spend time with family and friends and teach ESL (English as a second language). I want to serve, I want to give back.”
“California producers are now capturing the fresh fruit flavor of the olive,” Vossen said. “When I started, they were getting bad information from old-world producers. After visiting newer olive oil production regions and tasting good olive oil, I thought, ‘Oh boy, this is what we need in California.'”
Vossen launched a tasting panel and put on educational seminars. He studied and researched olive oil production, planted demonstration orchards and traveled around the world to learn from the most experienced producers and researchers.
California growers now use up-to-date farming methods, harvest mechanically or by hand to ensure fruit quality, and replaced antiquated oil extraction techniques with stainless steel decanters and centrifuges. The outcome is olive oil that tastes spicy, peppery and pungent; oil that serves more as a flavorful and valued condiment than an ordinary fat.
Vossen was immersed in extension education his whole life. His father was an extension agent in Minnesota for 40 years. His sister was an extension home economist. Though he went to the University of Minnesota with no intention to follow in their footsteps, he took a botany class and “totally fell in love with plants,” Vossen said. He earned a bachelor's degree in horticulture in 1978.
After graduation Vossen traveled to Happy Camp, near the Oregon border, to visit his brother.
“It was 70 degrees and sunny in the winter. I thought Northern California was paradise,” he said, and he decided to stay.
Vossen enrolled at UC Davis, earning a master's degree in pomology in 1981. Just a few days later he started his life's work as the pomology advisor for UC Cooperative Extension in Sonoma County. He later added responsibility for specialty crops in Marin County.
Over his career, Vossen developed and implemented a comprehensive research and extension program. He wrote hundreds of articles and made many presentations on the production and marketing of apples, Asian pears, kiwis, hazelnuts, chestnuts, berries, heirloom tomatoes and other crops.
He authored some of the first UC Agriculture and Natural Resources publications on organic production, founded the Sebastopol Apple Promotion Committee and a Sonoma County ag marketing program to promote local products, and formed the California Olive Oil Council. His olive oil sensory panel was the first to be recognized by the International Olive Oil Council in the new world.
A significant achievement of Vossen's career was establishment of a UC Master Gardener program in Sonoma County in 1982. At the time, few California counties had Master Gardener programs in place. Vossen enlisted volunteer gardening enthusiasts to be trained by UC academics in research-based gardening systems. The program has continued for 34 years, training 30 new volunteers every year. There are currently 320 active UC Master Gardeners in Sonoma County.
“We were the first to put together a board of directors and develop original programming,” Vossen said. “We made a difference in the community, reducing landfill inputs of green waste, improving water conservation and reducing pesticide use.”
In retirement, Vossen said he plans to garden, travel and enjoy good food.
“I will judge at olive oil competitions, do some private consulting and enjoy continuous summers hiking all over the northern hemisphere May to October and the southern hemisphere November to April,” Vossen said.
“California has the highest producing agricultural industry in the world, but there are too many children and families living here in poverty and hunger,” Schneider said. “So many of our youth do not graduate from high school and do not have opportunities to enhance their interests, skills and abilities. With ANR's youth, family and community programs, we're trying to take care of our own.”
Schneider came to ANR over 10 years ago as an academic coordinator for a large regional nutrition grant and within a year was hired as the nutrition, family and consumer sciences advisor for UC Cooperative Extension in Fresno County. In 2011, she was promoted to her position leading ANR's Youth, Families and Communities (YFC), which includes statewide nutrition education programs and the 4-H Youth Development program. Schneider praised her YFC team and their aim to provide support to county programs and coordinate with other ANR programs that contribute to healthy communities, such as ANR's nine Research and Extension Centers.
As a registered dietitian, Schneider worked for more than 20 years with individuals, hospitals, and communities in areas related to life span nutrition, diabetes, heart health and food management. She has a doctorate degree in food and nutrition management from Oregon State University and served as a nutrition professor at Fresno State from 2002 to 2005.
As the YFC director, Schneider and the YFC team have been developing new internal and external partnerships to facilitate the extension of UC ANR's research-proven healthy-living strategies to a larger audience in California.
“We are in exciting times right now,” Schneider said. “We are partners with two large grants. One is with UC Berkeley, UC ANR's Nutrition Policy Institute and the San Francisco School District to test a smart phone app that will provide youth with school lunch menu as well as nutrition messages. The second is with UC Davis. Our component is working with UC Davis Medical Center pediatric unit to provide our Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program to their patients.”
“UC ANR advisors and specialists are working all around California developing relationships and making connections,” Schneider said. “We have the healthy living initiative in 4-H, which considers youth health holistically. There are nutrition programs in senior centers, schools, parks and recreation facilities, and other community agencies working with partners to empower people with knowledge and skills to improve their nutritional health. 4-H engages youth in afterschool programs, camps, service learning projects, and community clubs helping young people find their spark, making science citizenship activities exciting and fulfilling. When you pull this all together, you see the strength of Cooperative Extension.”
Donohue began working in extension after earning a teaching credential at the University of Hawaii and a master's degree in family studies at Michigan State. She was named home economist and 4-H advisor for Butte and Tehama counties in 1978 and held many positions over the years combining 4-H and home economics. "Home economist" was renamed “nutrition, family and consumer sciences advisor” during her career to more accurately reflect the job's scope.
As the nutrition, family and consumer sciences advisor, Donohue was responsible for setting up the first federally funded Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program in her part of the state. The program provides training to low-income families to help them follow federal nutrition guidelines, including the current iteration, MyPlate. Donohue also established an educational program for CalFresh (formerly food stamp) recipients, called UC CalFresh. The program helps families make the best use of their benefits with meal planning, smart shopping and home cooking, among other strategies.
In time, Donohue was promoted to director of UC ANR Cooperative Extension in Butte County. In that role she helped establish UC Master Gardeners in the region, a program which enlists volunteer gardening enthusiasts to share research-based information with the public on sustainable landscaping, orchards and vegetable gardening. Donohue also was instrumental in attracting a technology transfer initiative to monitor and maintain honey bee health to UC ANR Cooperative Extension in Butte County.
The “Bee Informed Partnership,” created with a $5 million grant from the USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture in 2011, identified common beekeeping management practices and developed best practices on a regional level. In addition to involving institutions already doing pollinator work, the partnership included local citizens working in beekeeping and associated industries.
Later in her career Donohue worked on a statewide leadership council for UC ANR's Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program.
“I really enjoyed the administrative component of the job,” Donohue said. Nevertheless, during the last year of her tenure she returned to the county for a chance to again work directly with local clients and organizations on nutrition education.
“There is no better job than Cooperative Extension,” Donohue said.
In retirement Donohue said she plans to enjoy a slower-paced life, national and international travel and volunteering.
Peterson served the dairy industry in Southern California during a time of dramatic change. When he started in 1980, there were more than 400 dairy operations. Financial pressures and housing demands cut the number down to less than 100 today.
“A lot of them relocated and many have gone out of business,” Peterson said. “The places where they were located in Southern California are now homes.”
Peterson was at the helm when a new disease of cattle made its first U.S. appearance at a dairy in San Bernardino County. Peterson called in a UC Davis veterinarian who diagnosed hairy foot wart, an extremely contagious condition caused by bacteria that can lead to lameness and early culling. Today, dairy herds in the area can still have as many as 30 percent of the cattle with symptoms.
Peterson also worked closely with UC ANR Cooperative Extension specialists at UC Riverside to help dairy operators manage stable flies, one of the most serious pests of confined livestock in the U.S.
“Stable flies are both an economic and a neighbor problem,” Peterson said. “Dairies want to minimize flies to be good neighbors, maintain cow comfort and prevent disease.”
Peterson was an author of the UC ANR publication Predicting and Controlling Stable Flies on California Dairies. The publication details the impact of stable flies on cow milk production, provides descriptions and images of monitoring methods, and outlines ways to reduce the fly population.
“It's an ongoing problem, but we've been able to help dairies deal with stable flies in an economical and environmentally sound fashion,” Peterson said.
In retirement Peterson said he plans to stay in the San Bernardino area and take frequent trips to visit family in other parts of the country.