- Author: Jeannette E. Warnert
The $1 million UC Cooperative Extension Presidential Chair for California Grown Rice has been awarded to Whitney Brim-DeForest, UCCE rice advisor for Sutter, Yuba, Placer, Sacramento and Butte counties.
Brim-DeForest said she will use the funds generated from the endowed chair to hire a full-time technician to monitor a research study at UC Davis on weedy rice. Weedy rice is the same species as cultivated rice and it produces rice, however the grain falls off the plant before harvest.
She is part of a team of UC scientists that includes UCCE advisors Luis Espino and Michelle Lindfelder-Miles, and UCCE specialists Bruce Linquist and Kassim Al-Khatib who are conducting the five-year demonstration project to help farmers manage the problem.
“We don't know where weedy rice came from,” Brim-DeForest said. “It's a weed in every major rice growing area around the world. We were among the last areas to see it.”
In the UC Davis experiment, the scientists plan to demonstrate two potential weedy rice management strategies: rotate the rice crop with sorghum and create a “stale seed bed,” in which the field is irrigated and plants allowed to germinate, and then killed with an herbicide before the desired rice is planted.
“We want to demonstrate this in the field,” Brim-DeForest said. “In theory, it works. We want to show growers how long it will take to get weedy rice out of their fields.”
Half the funds for the endowed chair was provided by UC President Janet Napolitano; the other half was donated by the California Rice Research Board.
“The establishment of this endowed chair strengthens the long-standing public-private research partnership UC Cooperative Extension has had with the California rice industry,” said UC Agriculture and Natural Resources associate vice president Tu Tran, when the endowment was announced in 2016. “Continued research advancements will help the rice industry maintain its reputation for supplying a premium product for domestic and world markets.”
The chair appointment will be for a five-year term, and then reviewed and renewed or offered to another specialist or advisor working on California rice.
Brim-DeForest joined UCCE in 2016 after serving as a graduate student researcher in the Department of Plant Sciences at UC Davis, working at the California Rice Experiment Station in Biggs. She managed the UC Davis Weed Science field and greenhouse trials, and worked with industry and academic scientists to design field and greenhouse trials for weed management in rice.
- Author: Jeannette E. Warnert
UC President Janet Napolitano has approved the formation of a $1 million endowment to create the UC Cooperative Extension Presidential Chair for Agricultural Education in Orange County. Half the endowment was donated by the Orange County Farm Bureau; Napolitano matched the contribution through the presidential endowment fund.
The Orange County Farm Bureau is housed at the UC South Coast Research and Extension Center in Irvine. The two organizations have worked together closely since their formation more than 100 years ago.
“What Orange County Farm Bureau and the UC president's office have created will fund agricultural education activities in Orange County and the surrounding region for decades to come,” said UC ANR vice president Glenda Humiston. “This is a way for us to make sure the resources we need are there and that they're targeted for the needs identified by individuals at their local areas.”
President of the Orange County Farm Bureau, Mark Lopez, said the formation of the endowment will help the organization meet its goals.
“In our rapidly urbanizing county, the Farm Bureau is seeking to cement a legacy of ag in Orange County, and invest in the development of future leaders for agriculture,” Lopez said. "This donation, and the formation of the Presidential Chair for Ag Education, is directly in line with the mission of Orange County Farm Bureau.”
Director of the South Coast REC, Darren Haver, who is also a UC Cooperative Extension water resources advisor, holds the chair. He and his farm bureau colleagues will initially use the funds to expand an agricultural leadership and educational program for Orange County youth.
FARMS ( Farming, Agriculture, and Resource Management for Sustainability) Leadership, a program of the Center for Land-Based Learning implemented in Orange County by the Orange County Farm Bureau, in addition to the Orange County Farm Bureau's GROW program, offers field trips and hands-on learning over the course of a school year at locations such as the South Coast REC, acquainting students with wildlife areas, agriculture related businesses and research, colleges and universities where they gain valuable insight into the food and agriculture industry, associated careers and college opportunities. The programs have been open to ag students in Orange County for over five years promoting the importance of agriculture in their daily lives.
“The current programs serve approximately 90 students from four high schools located in Orange County that have agriculture programs,” Haver said. “With this new funding, we will be able to reach beyond the ag students and involve youth interested in math and sciences, but don't know much about agriculture.”
Humiston said she hopes that partnerships like this one can be formed across the state.
“This is a way for us to make sure the resources we need are there and that they're targeted for the needs identified by individuals at their local area,” Humiston said.
In announcing the establishment of the presidential endowment funding in 2014, Napolitano said it is imperative for UC to develop new models of philanthropy that recognize and honor the interests of donors while helping UC address its long-term funding needs.
“By supporting these endowed chairs, donors will be creating a lasting legacy at the university – one that will benefit many generations to come,” Napolitano said.