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.
Retiring this year will be:
Jim Sullins, director of UC ANR Cooperative Extension in Tulare and Kings counties and livestock range, and natural resources advisor, retires after 32 years of service. Sullins began his UC ANR career in Southern California, serving as livestock and range advisor for San Bernardino, Riverside, Los Angeles and Orange counties.
Early in his career, Sullins' work in rangeland management focused on applying scientific principles to the relationship of livestock grazing and implementation of the Endangered Species Act.
In July 1993, Sullins took the position of UC ANR CE director and livestock, range and natural resources advisor in Tulare County. In the advisor aspect of this role, he concentrated on watershed management and control of invasive species.
“I am proud to say we have been responsible for the untimely demise of many yellow starthistle plants,” Sullins said.
A significant moment in his career was prompted by the devastating citrus freeze of 1998. UC ANR CE stepped forward – as it did following after the previous “100-year freeze” of 1990 – to aid the community after thousands of acres of citrus were damaged and thousands of workers lost their jobs. Sullins co-chaired the community Freeze Relief Committee and the Fund Raising Committee, working with numerous nonprofits and establishing partnerships that have endured for years, enabling collaboration on additional projects.
Another major event during Sullins' tenure was development in 2001 of a new agricultural complex for UC ANR Cooperative Extension and the Tulare County Department of Agriculture. Sullins worked with the Tulare County Board of Supervisors, the Tulare County Agricultural Commissioner and industry support groups to build a modern and highly visible facility across Laspina Street from the World Ag Expo grounds in Tulare County.
Three years ago, Sullins also took the reins of UC ANR Cooperative Extension in Kings County.
“I believe that Cooperative Extension is the very best organization of its kind on earth,” Sullins said. “I have worked with committed and highly trained professionals who make a difference in the lives and livelihoods of the people they serve.”
In retirement, Sullins said he and his wife will ride California's highways and byways on his Harley motorcycle – a hobby he recently revived after a 30-year hiatus. He also plans to write some opinion pieces and look into editing and publishing two books written by his late mother. Retirement will also give him more time to spend with his grandchildren and following baseball. Sullins will stay active in the community as a volunteer with the World Ag Expo, working with the Happy Trails Therapeutic Riding Academy, and as president of the County Center Rotary Club in Visalia.
Cathi Lamp – nutrition, family and consumer sciences advisor – is completing a 27-year career with UC ANR Cooperative Extension. Lamp joined the organization after working for 10 years in the Tulare County Department of Health as a public health nutritionist.
She said the position appealed to her because it involved both research and community nutrition. Her work on a “nutrition plate” project exemplified the ability she had to identify a need in the community, find a solution, research its effectiveness and see the results benefit society.
“Years ago, the educators I worked with were telling me that people didn't understand the abstract nature of nutrition guidance in pyramid form,” Lamp said. “We started using a plate as a nutrition education tool in Tulare County.”
This led to a statewide research project to evaluate the use of the plate showing the proportions of foods needed to achieve a healthy diet in nutrition education. Lamp and her colleagues took the project a step further and photographed plates of familiar foods in proper proportions to demonstrate the concept. The pictures were evaluated by low-income families and many changes were made based on their feedback. The photographs are now incorporated into posters, handouts, and other teaching aids and are used in conjunction with nearly all UC ANR nutrition curricula for youth and adults. A UC ANR nutrition specialist asked if she could share the work conducted in California with USDA.
“She thinks that our project was instrumental in the eventual adoption of MyPlate to replace MyPyramid by USDA,” Lamp said. “We saw a local need, worked on it, did a study and developed it further, and had a considerable impact on providing clear nutrition education.”
In retirement, Lamp plans on traveling extensively, with places in Europe, Asia and Australia on her list of international destinations, plus sites in the U.S., including Savannah, Charleston, Austin and many national parks. She is interested in training from the Society for California Archaeology that will allow her to visit and record changes at archaeological and historical sites in the state.
Neil O'Connell, UC ANR Cooperative Extension citrus advisor, retired after 34 years serving Tulare County citrus producers. O'Connell studied entomology in college and took a position with Sunkist Growers, Inc. and then a packing association affiliated with Sunkist in Visalia. When he learned the local citrus advisor, John Pierson, was moving to a specialist position at the UC ANR Lindcove Research and Extension Center, he applied for the extension job.
O'Connell developed a strong relationship with citrus farmers and pest control advisers working in the citrus industry.
“They trusted my judgement and experience,” O'Connell said. “My interaction with growers was always pleasant and they were very appreciative of my efforts to help them solve problems.”
He views the current battle to control Asian citrus psyllid and the pest's ability to spread huanglongbing, a devastating citrus disease not yet found in California, as the biggest challenge to citrus producers since he became involved with the citrus industry four decades ago.
“Asian citrus psyllid and huanglongbing have stimulated a tremendous amount of research work in Florida and at the University of California,” O'Connell said, adding that he believes in the resiliency of California growers to overcome the challenge with the help of world-class University of California researchers.
O'Connell and his wife wish to travel in retirement, including trips to Alaska and Pacific Northwest among the first.
“I feel blessed to have been able to be in an organization that allows you to come to work each day and use the power of the University of California system to solve local problems and help improve people's lives,” Nader said.
After earning a bachelor's degree in animal science at California State University, Chico, and a master's degree in animal nutrition from UC Davis, Nader joined UC ANR in 1982 as a livestock and natural resources advisor in Lassen County. Over the years, advances in information technology dramatically changed the way he communicated with ranchers.
In the early 1980s, Nader mimeographed lengthy newsletters and mailed them to clientele. In recent times, he emailed a paragraph with hyperlinks to more information. While in Lassen County, Nader also maintained a morning agriculture radio program as a method of extending information.
“I am impressed that UC ANR allows advisors to able to lead collaborative groups to solve problems in the field,” Nader said, a practice that he used numerous times over his career.
Examples include his work in the Pine Creek Coordinated Management Plan and the Yuba and Butte counties coordinated pre-fire management plan. A recent article in California Agriculture journal, UC Cooperative Extension works with fire councils to reduce wildfires, highlights the pre-fire plan's role in stopping two potentially catastrophic fires. Although not a fire scientist himself, Nader aggregated the basic concepts from UC Cooperative Extension during a sabbatical leave to be better able to address problems of the local communities he served.
The groups that he worked with were honored with the Smoky Bear Award and the Cal Fire Service Award. The Pine Creek CRMP group's work was cited as a reason to not list the Eagle Lake trout as endangered. Nader also used his animal science background to work with other advisors to publish information on how grazing could be used as a tool reduce fuels.
In 1996, Nader transferred to Sutter and Yuba counties. He said looks back on the rice straw research he conducted with animal science specialist Peter Robinson there with a sense of fulfillment. Their work over 14 years showed that preventing rice straw from drying greatly increases the nutritional value to animals. Their work was one of the UC Cooperative Extension programs recognized with the Circle of Life award from the California Rice Commission.
Nader was named the Cattleman of the Year from both the Lassen and Butte county Cattlemen's associations. He was recognized by the California Cattlemen's Association for his education and research work. The Butte and Yuba Fire Safe Councils honored Nader for his assistance in forming and for actively participating in their councils.
“I saw the councils as the perfect platform to extend research information to local residents on what they could do to reduce their risks to wildfire,” Nader said.
During a presentation to UC President Dynes on pre-fire planning, the resulting discussion revealed a need to teach the thermal transfer process for people to better understand how fire science related to fire safety recommendations.
“This is an example of how the interaction with UC faculty that can perfect the impact of Cooperative Extension,” he said.
Nader said he especially enjoyed the people he worked with during his career.
“I appreciate all the clientele and ANR staff that allowed me to greatly enjoy the blessing of being a farm advisor for 32 years,” Nader said.
During retirement he plans to spend more time with his wife Marie and son Alan on their Modoc County ranch.
“Oh, the freedom,” Farfan-Ramirez said, remembering her arrival in California following high school graduation.
Farfan-Ramirez became a licensed vocational nurse and worked full time to help support her brothers and sisters, who were also living in the U.S. while their parents stayed behind in Peru. Noting her potential, a doctor colleague suggested she go back to school. Farfan-Ramirezs studied public health, earning a bachelor’s degree at UC Berkeley in 1978 and a master’s degree at California State University, Hayward, in 1983.
For two years she was administrator of Mission Neighborhood Health Center, the largest public community health clinic in San Francisco, managing 160 employees.
“It was a really difficult experience,” Farfan-Ramirez said. “I left thinking I would never do administrative work again.”
In 1983, she accepted a job with UC Cooperative Extension as a nutrition educator to have more opportunity to interact directly with low-income, Spanish-speaking families in Alameda County. However, it wasn’t long before Farfan-Ramirez’ new employer tapped her administrative skills.
“The County of Alameda faced budget difficulties,” Farfan-Ramirez said. “The county director asked if I could help him mobilize clientele and negotiate with department heads and county officials to prevent them from taking Cooperative Extension out of the budget. I did, but I really didn’t want to go back into administration.”
Nevertheless, when the county director position opened up a few years later, the regional director of UCCE at the time, Nikki King, suggested Farfan-Ramirez apply.
“My father taught me to be socially responsible and a role model. I saw how the job would allow me to help Latinos and other immigrants who have problems coping with a new society,” Farfan-Ramirez said. “I learned very early in life about ‘Si se puede.’ Yes, you can do it as long as you have determination and persistence. I think I’m the only person in the system to go from nutrition educator to county director.”
The local Latino community was also pleased to see a Latino woman in the UC Cooperative Extension leadership position.
“I think I was the first Latino woman selected as a director,” Farfan-Ramirez said.
Farfan-Ramirez managed the UCCE office for 25 years and maintained an active role in addressing the nutrition needs of under-served populations in Alameda County and Bay Area. A notable example was creation of the Nutrition Education Training Academy (NETA), a program which links UCCE and early childhood education providers to expose 3- to 5-year-old children and their parents to healthy eating habits.
For 10 years, NETA has trained early childhood professionals serving low-income populations in Alameda County. The concept of early childhood education in school settings expanded to other parts of the Bay Area and the state. It also helped bring attention to the issue of childhood obesity in child care settings.
The program quality and educational materials gained recognition and several Bay Area awards. NETA materials, all written by Farfan-Ramirez, became a model for other institutions. NETA is still the only program in Alameda County offering health and wellness for 3- to 5-year-old old children in a formal school setting.
Farfan-Ramirez was among the first to recognize the impact of impaired food systems on the eating habits of inner-city families.
“I conducted a food assessment in Oakland and discovered there were no supermarkets and no farmers markets, only mom-and-pop stores,” Farfan-Ramirez said. “I realized that nutrition education addressed just one part of the problem and that we should focus on changing the environment and improving access to good food.”
Today, evaluating the food system from farm to table has become a popular pursuit, but two decades ago, it was challenging for Farfan-Ramirez to convince agriculture professionals to pay attention to nutrition and for nutrition educators to look closely at agriculture.
In the late 1990s, UC Cooperative Extension in Alameda County was one of 30 community organizations that sought to create a center for sustainable urban agriculture and food systems at the Gil Tract, about 10 acres of farmland in Albany administered by UC Berkeley. Among the goals of the project was exploring the impact of urban farming activities on the nutrition and food self sufficiency of low-income Bay Area residents. The plan didn’t come to fruition, but it demonstrated the broad-based support necessary plus challenges associated with urban agriculture.
“Berkeley was really ahead of its time,” Farfan-Ramriez said.
Farfan-Ramirez was not deterred. As a member of the organizing committee for the statewide biennial Childhood Obesity Conference, she brought attention to the importance of addressing the complete food system rather than looking at nutrition in isolation. She created a food systems track at the conference and was chair of this series of presentations at three conferences.
Now, she said, UC Cooperative Extension and society as a whole recognize the potential benefits of promoting healthful food systems.
“When that happened, and the university approved positions in this area, I decided it was my time to go,” Farfan-Ramirez said. “It was a struggle. I owe a lot to my early upbringing. I never became the president, but I think I fulfilled my father’s dream.”
Farfan-Ramirez said she is looking forward to the freedom of retirement to explore her creative side, something career demands have preempted over the years.
“I’m hoping to do theater, dancing, poetry,” Farfan-Ramirez said. “I would like to travel in Europe and make connections with Latin American cultures.”
She will also maintain her involvement in promoting the development of healthy food systems in the Bay Area and internationally.
“There is a disconnect between agriculture and food. I want to be part of those pioneers working on improving our food systems, social justice and food sovereignty,” Farfan-Ramirez said. “That might be the secret to solving our biggest public health issue, obesity."