- (Public Value) UCANR: Building climate-resilient communities and ecosystems
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>
Zero-emission tractors perform many tasks of diesel tractors, without noise or exhaust
The University of California, a national leader in sustainability, has pledged to become carbon neutral by 2025. To reduce its reliance on fossil fuels, UC Agriculture and Natural Resources has replaced several of its diesel-powered tractors with electric tractors at its research and extension centers.
Seven of the nine UC research and extension centers – Intermountain located in Siskiyou County, Hopland in Mendocino County, Kearney and West Side in Fresno County, Lindcove in Tulare County, Desert in Imperial County and Hansen in Ventura County – started using the Solectrac e25 in July. The researchers plan to share what they learn from using the electric tractors.
“Charging is easy, we are using a standard 110V connection, no charging station needed,” said John Bailey, director of the University of California Hopland Research and Extension Center. “For faster charging, you can use a 220V connection – again, no charging station needed, just a regular receptacle – but we haven't gone there yet.”
The electric tractor runs for about five hours, depending on the type of use and the speed, on a charge.
“We will use the electric tractor to mix the soil for planting trees in the greenhouse,” said Ashraf El-kereamy, director of UC Lindcove Research and Extension Center in Exeter, which focuses on citrus research. “Also, for pulling the trailer with the fruit bins during harvest, it will be good as it does not emit any gases.”
The electric tractor is being used to move materials in the loader at UC Hopland REC. “It has worked well for this, functioning similarly to a standard diesel tractor,” said Bailey.
“We have also used it to clean our sheep barn, scraping the pens to get ready for lambing season,” Bailey said. “This involves pushing or dragging straw bedding and manure. The tractor functions well in tight spaces due to its compact size.”
Bailey learned one downside is that the front end is a little too light, making it difficult to generate enough downward pressure with the loader to effectively scrape the floor without reducing the front wheel traction.
“We are planning to add some weight to the front, a standard practice with tractors to increase traction. The tractor has the mounting to enable this so it should not be a big deal,” Bailey said. “Our operators really appreciate the lack of noise and exhaust, especially when working in the barn or in tight spaces.”
The small electric tractor is also being used in tight places at the UC Intermountain Research and Extension Center in Tulelake.
“The tractor that we obtained from the company is too small for the majority of our farm needs,” said Rob Wilson, Intermountain REC director. “We purchased a small box scraper and rototiller for the tractor and we are using it around our facility grounds. We also use it out in the field in tight spaces that are too small for our larger tractors to operate.”
“The tractor is quiet, powerful for its size and operates very similar to the diesel-powered tractors with regard to the controls, hydraulics and three-point assembly. The tractor also has a lot of torque and speed.”
Annemiek Schilder, director of UC Hansen Agricultural REC, added, “I think another advantage is that the tractors can go very slowly, which is helpful for some uses such as harvesting.”
The researchers will continue to evaluate the electric tractors throughout the year.
“Our main usage will come in the spring, mowing around our headquarters and on roadsides,” Bailey said. “We are purchasing a 4-foot flail mower that can mount to the rear PTO, but won't really put it into use until April.” The power take-off, or PTO, is the shaft that transfers power from the tractor to the attachment.
Other benefits of electric tractors include no engine oil to change and no diesel fuel.
“If the farmer already has solar, they will see close to zero fuel charges,” Bailey added. “Even without solar, their fuel costs should be reduced depending on local electrical cost. Also, the engine only has one moving part compared to dozens in a diesel tractor so maintenance costs should be reduced significantly, something that is proving true in electric cars.”
The Solectrac e25 tractors each cost $27,999 and the optional loader was about $4,000.
The California Air Resources Board is offering incentives to buy zero-emission equipment through its Funding Agricultural Replacement Measures for Emission Reductions Program. FARMER provides funding through local air districts for agricultural harvesting equipment, heavy-duty trucks, agricultural pump engines, tractors and other equipment used in agricultural operations.
With increased funding from Gov. Gavin Newsom and the state Legislature, University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources is continuing to hire scientists and staff to better serve California communities. The most recent people hired for UC Cooperative Extension bring expertise in wildfire, orchard crops, grapes, small-scale farms and youth development.
Barb Satink Wolfson began in her role as UC Cooperative Extension fire advisor for Monterey, San Benito, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties on June 30.
Her primary responsibilities include wildland fire-related research and outreach for the Central Coast region, while building trust, strong partnerships and collaborative relationships within both professional and non-professional communities.
Satink Wolfson earned her B.S. and M.S. in forestry from Northern Arizona University, and brings to UC ANR more than 20 years of fire-research and outreach experience in Arizona. Her favorite job, though, was working as a backcountry ranger in Yosemite National Park during her undergraduate years.
In her new role, Satink Wolfson hopes to address some of the questions behind the use of prescribed fire in a variety of ecosystems (such as coastal prairies and oak woodlands), and help all Central Coast communities build resilience to wildland fire so residents can live safely within fire-adapted landscapes.
Satink Wolfson, who will be based at the UCCE office in Hollister starting Aug. 1, can be reached at email@example.com.
Cameron Zuber has been named UC Cooperative Extension orchard crops advisor for Merced and Madera counties as of June 6. For Merced County, he will cover orchard crops such as stone fruit, walnuts and almonds, not including pistachios and figs. For Madera County, he will work with walnuts.
Zuber joined UC Cooperative Extension in 2016 as a staff researcher in Merced County. In his education and professional career, he has worked in understanding environmental and agricultural systems and their interactions with people, society and governance. Specifically with orchard crops, he has worked on fumigants and other soil pest controls, rootstocks and scion varietals, cultural practices relating to tree spacing and whole orchard recycling. He has also studied flood irrigation for groundwater recharge, irrigation and water management and soil, water and air interactions.
He earned his bachelor's degree in environmental biology and management from UC Davis and a master's degree in environmental systems from UC Merced.
Zuber is based in the UC Cooperative Extension office located at 2145 Wardrobe Ave, Merced, CA 95348 and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and (209) 385-7403.
Joy Hollingsworth began working as the new UCCE table grape advisor serving Tulare and Kings counties on May 16.
Prior to becoming a table grape advisor, Hollingsworth served for three years as the UCCE nutrient management/soil quality advisor for Fresno, Madera, Kings and Tulare counties. In that position she worked on research and extension projects in a variety of agricultural systems, including work on dairy manure, cover crops and biostimulants in raisin grapes.
Previously, Hollingsworth spent six years working as a research associate for the University of California on agronomic cropping systems, including sugar beets, canola and sorghum.
She earned a master's degree in plant science from California State University, Fresno, and a bachelor's degree in communication from UC Davis.
Luca Carmignani joined UCCE as a fire advisor for Orange and Los Angeles counties May 2. His research interests include image analysis, computer programming and scientific outreach.
Prior to joining UC ANR, Carmignani was a postdoctoral researcher in the Berkeley Fire Research Lab at UC Berkeley. His research has focused on fire and combustion applications, from wildland fires to material flammability.
He earned his Ph.D. in engineering sciences from the joint doctoral program between UC San Diego and San Diego State University after obtaining his bachelor's and master's degrees in aerospace engineering from the University of Pisa in Italy.
Kirsten Pearsons joined UC Cooperative Extension on March 1 as a small farm advisor for San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties. She is developing research and extension programs focused on integrating soil health practices and pest management strategies for small-scale farmers and specialty crops.
Prior to joining UC ANR, Pearsons was a postdoctoral researcher at the nonprofit Rodale Institute in Kutztown, Pennsylvania, where she focused on studying and promoting organic and regenerative agriculture. She worked on Rodale's long-term Farming Systems Trial, studying how organic and reduced-till field crop production affects long-term farm economics, soil health and water quality compared to conventional practices.
She earned a Ph.D. in entomology at Pennsylvania State University and a B.S. in environmental toxicology at UC Davis.
Pearsons is based in San Luis Obispo and can be reached at email@example.com and (805) 788-9486. She will be posting event information and resources for small-scale farms in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties on Instagram @ucceslosmallfarms.
Ricky Satomi joined UCCE Sutter-Yuba on March 15 as an area forestry and natural resources advisor in the Western Sierra Region (Sutter, Yuba, Butte, Nevada and Placer counties). He specializes in forest management with a focus on new technologies and wood products.
Prior to moving to UCCE Sutter-Yuba, Satomi served as a UCCE area forest advisor working on forestry and youth education issues for Shasta, Trinity and Siskiyou counties.
Satomi earned a Master of Forestry looking at the cost efficiency of forest mastication treatments, and a B.S. in forestry & natural resources and society & environment, both from UC Berkeley. He has also worked as a field forester working on various inventory and timber management programs throughout California.
In the coming year, he hopes to offer workshops for forest landowners and professionals around novel GIS tools, climate-smart silvicultural practices, reforestation best practices, and workforce development opportunities.
Satomi is based in Yuba City and can be reached at (530) 822-6213 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Erika Armstrong has joined the UCCE Central Sierra team as 4-H Program Representative for Tuolumne County.
Armstrong, who has spent her career working with nonprofit agencies and managing volunteer programs, worked with United Way Monterey County and the Alliance on Aging. She also was a campaign manager for a candidate for the Board of Supervisors of Monterey County. Her most recent job was stay-at-home mother for her daughters.
She holds a bachelor's degree in collaborative health and human communication from California State University Monterey Bay.
Armstrong is based at the Tuolumne office and can be reached at (209) 533-6990 and email@example.com.
Nearly $125,000 was donated for UC Cooperative Extension and the statewide programs, institutes and research centers that make up UC Agriculture and Natural Resources on GivingTuesday 2021, a globally recognized day of generosity,
“Our giving days are a small, but very important piece of UC ANR's annual fundraising,” said Greg Gibbs, executive director of Development Services. “In the last three months alone, we received two of the largest single gift pledges in our history – totaling $4.8 million to support research and extension.”
For GivingTuesday, on Nov. 30 this year, $40,000 was offered to incentivize giving to UC ANR projects and programs. This included $20,000 in matching funds provided by the California 4-H Foundation and donations from 4-H Foundation Board members designated for the 4-H program. It also included $20,000 awarded for programs that met challenges such as attracting the greatest number of unique donors on GivingTuesday. The prizes were drawn from funds raised throughout the year for UC ANR's Incentive Fund, which is used to encourage giving to all ANR programs.
Some donors left messages about why they support the programs, which collectively reach every county in California:
- “It's not always about what you have or get...it's more about what you give.” – Orange County
- “UCCE brings so much news we can use to the county. Thank you for all you do!” – Glenn County
- “4-H really helped me be a responsible person growing up. I am paying it forward. Thank you to all the adults who donate their time year after year.” – Sonoma County
- “Thank you for all your educational efforts to increase agricultural and native plant literacy!” – Ventura County
- “The 4-H Program helped our daughters develop their communication, leadership, citizenship, new skills and make lifetime friendships with others with the same passion. Our granddaughter enjoys it, too!” – Fresno County
- “UC ANR Elkus Ranch has been a foundational resource for my growing child and many children in the area. Thank you for this important work!” – Bay Area
- “Your work supports our business – flower farming in a way that works with nature. Thank you!” – UC Integrated Pest Management Program supporter
- “Thanks for keeping food safe and safely preserved.” – UC Master Food Preserver supporter
Examples of specific 4-H youth development projects made possible by the GivingTuesday donations include robotics in Placer County and leadership development, sheep and goat projects in Alameda County.
The UC Master Gardener Program will use the funds to develop a demonstration garden in San Luis Obispo County, the Sherwood Demonstration Garden in the Central Sierra, a sensory and pollinator garden in Stanislaus County and gardening projects in other parts of the state.
“These donations reflect donors' appreciation for UC ANR's work in their communities and we are so grateful for their support,” said Glenda Humiston, University of California vice president for agriculture and natural resources.
GivingTuesday is only one of many fundraising activities UC ANR conducts throughout the year.
To learn about other ways to contribute, visit https://donate.ucanr.edu.
Eight more UC Cooperative Extension (UCCE) advisor positions have been released for recruitment by Glenda Humiston, University of California vice president for agriculture and natural resources.
The UCCE job titles are followed by the counties they will serve:
- Central Sierra local food systems advisor; Amador, Calaveras, Tuolumne and El Dorado counties
- Vertebrate pest management advisor; Napa, Lake and Solano counties
- Specialty crops advisor; Sonoma, Marin and Napa counties
- Viticulture advisor; San Joaquin, Sacramento and Stanislaus counties
- Integrated pest management advisor; San Diego County
- 4-H youth development advisor; Placer and Nevada counties
- Environmental Horticulture Advisor; Los Angeles County
- Fire Advisor; San Benito, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz and Monterey counties
Including those listed above, UC Agriculture and Natural Resources has released 28 UCCE positions for recruitment over the past three months and Humiston plans to announce additional UCCE positions in November. The recruitments are being released in stages to avoid overwhelming the Human Resources team.
“This hiring is made possible by the state's historic investment in UC ANR's mission to bring the power of UC to all 58 California counties and improve the lives of all Californian,” said Humiston.
In 2022, Humiston plans to hire 70 more UCCE specialists and advisors to help Californians better address issues including climate change, wildfires, food security and pest management.