- (Focus Area) 4-H
- Author: Pamela Kan-Rice
University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources continued hiring county-based scientists at a rapid pace over the summer. With increased funding from Gov. Gavin Newsom and the state Legislature, UC ANR recently hired UC Cooperative Extension advisors who bring expertise in wood products, wildfire, wildlife, food systems, urban and small-scale farms, 4-H youth development, pest management, drought, nutrition and environmental horticulture.
UC Cooperative Extension advisors work directly with community members to apply research-based information to improve the lives and livelihoods of Californians.
To see a list of UC Cooperative Extension advisors who have joined in the past few months, visit https://ucanr.edu/About/DirectorySearch/Recent_Hires. The most recently hired advisors are introduced below.
Cindy Chen joined UC Cooperative Extension Sept. 6 as a woody biomass and wood products advisor for the Central Sierra and Alpine and Mariposa counties.
After receiving her bachelor's in social ecology and master's in demography from UC Irvine, Chen completed her Ph.D. in environmental and forest sciences from the University of Washington, specializing in wood products processing and marketing. Chen has worked and lived in all three West Coast states over the past 20 years and she is familiar with the natural environment in the western U.S.
Her multidisciplinary expertise allows her to work on a wide range of projects covering topics such as population forecasting, environmental assessment, woody biomass transportation logistics, the end-of-life treatment of wood products and mass timber production optimization.
Chen has worked with nonprofit organizations, government agencies, research scientists and local stakeholders to investigate the environmental and economic benefits of wood utilization in the construction and energy industries. Her work in evaluating the environmental impacts of Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) production helped prepare for the opening of North America's largest mass timber manufacturing facility in Washington.
In addition to her work in the U.S., Chen also has collaborated extensively with international partners in research projects that explored the global market potential for wood products and bioenergy.
About this position, Chen says, “As the woody biomass and forest products advisor at UC ANR, my goal is to work with the Central Sierra communities in exploring innovative ways to better utilize California's forest resources and biomass, developing biomass processing programs that are appropriate for the region and contributing to local economic development.”
Chen is based in Tuolumne and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Katie Low, who began as the University of California Cooperative Extension statewide fire coordinator on Sept. 1, will fulfill two important functions for UC ANR's team of fire experts.
First, she will coordinate and partner with UCCE fire advisors throughout California to develop and deliver wildfire-related science and outreach materials for a wide range of communities across the state. Low said encouraging diversity in the network of fire experts and engaged communities will be crucial.
“One of my goals is to help build and maintain a diverse and inclusive community of fire and natural resource professionals,” she said.
Second, based at the UCCE office in Auburn, Low will collaborate with local natural resource professionals and residents in Nevada and Placer counties on projects that bolster community and ecosystem resilience to wildfire and climate change.
“I look forward to working with community groups, land managers and scientists to implement viable fire-resilient management strategies for ecosystems in the region and statewide,” Low said.
Equipped with bachelor's degrees in geography and ecosystems management and forestry, as well as a master's in forestry, all from UC Berkeley, Low brings a wealth of knowledge and a variety of experience.
As a fire and forest ecologist, she studied the impacts of fuels-reduction and forest-restoration treatments on Sierra Nevada mixed-conifer forests. Low also worked as operations coordinator for the California Outdoor Engagement Coalition, and as a forestry aide for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection's Forest Biometrics Program.
Low can be reached at (530) 889-7385 and email@example.com; follow her on Twitter @lowseverityfire.
Alison Deak joined UC Cooperative Extension on Aug. 22 as a fire advisor for Mariposa, Fresno and Madera counties. Since she began work, Deak has been focused on conducting a needs assessment and building rapport with community leaders.
Her role as fire advisor will include promoting the use of prescribed fire to help restore fire adapted landscapes. She will also prioritize community education, applied research and partnership building efforts that are based on scientifically informed ways to help communities mitigate, prepare for, and recover from wildfire.
Originally from northeast Ohio where there are no wildfires according to Deak, it was not until she moved to Colorado for college that she learned of their impact.
When the 2012 Waldo Canyon Fire occurred, Deak felt like her playground was burning down so she acted. She began volunteering with the wildfire recovery effort and her career into fire science took off from there.
Deak earned a bachelor's degree in geography and environmental studies from the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs and master's degrees in geography and nonprofit management from the University of Oregon.
Before moving to California and joining UC ANR, Deak worked as a wildland firefighter with the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management.
When asked what she is looking forward to most, Deak shared that she is passionate about increasing diversity in the fire science field and, particularly, empowering more women to join. She is eager to help community members prepare for wildfire and mitigate fire risk in a safe and competent manner.
Deak is located at the UC Cooperative Extension office in Mariposa County and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Olivia Henry joined UC ANR on Aug. 15 as regional food systems area advisor for Solano, Yolo, Sacramento, Placer and Nevada counties. Henry will focus on issues related to marketing, resilient supply chains, distribution infrastructure, processing infrastructure, financing models and food waste.
Prior to joining UC ANR, Henry worked in various newsrooms – including CapRadio, the Mendocino Voice, KALW Public Radio, San Francisco Public Press and Mother Jones – in community engagement, membership and communications roles. She also worked with Internews, a media development organization, to conduct information needs assessments in the San Joaquin Valley and Inland Empire regions.
Henry is still involved with community media, and currently serves as the assistant editor of a bimonthly, English and Spanish-language newspaper, “The Ivanhoe Sol,” in rural Tulare County.
She earned her bachelor's degree in journalism from Western Washington University and master's degree in community development from UC Davis. While at Davis, Henry studied models of community- and employee-owned news enterprises, with a focus on how stakeholder ownership can protect journalism as a public good. She also earned a graduate certificate in extension outreach and communication.
Henry said she is excited to be a part of UC ANR, which she has benefitted from as a certified California Naturalist and candidate California Master Beekeeper. She has previously worked at local farms, including a diversified orchard and targeted grazing operation.
Henry is based in Fairfield and can be reached at email@example.com.
Sally Neas began working as the 4-H youth development program advisor for UC Cooperative Extension in San Mateo and San Francisco counties on Aug. 1.
In her role, Neas incorporates environmental education into youth programs at Elkus Ranch and 4-H community clubs. She is also responsible for conducting research and developing new programs.
Neas has worked in youth development and environmental education for several years. When she first moved to California 12 years ago, she worked for Veggielution Community Farm in San Jose and helped launch their first youth development program.
Since then, she has worked in after-school programming focused on gardening and nutrition in Santa Cruz and has dedicated her time and energy to engaging youth in conversations about climate change.
“I'm interested in building conversations around climate change that focus on culturally relevant and personally meaningful approaches. Not a deficit approach that asks what we're going to give up, but what can we do as a collective,” said Neas.
Neas earned a doctorate in environmental education at UC Davis and a bachelor's in environmental studies from the University of the South in Tennessee.
Neas centered her dissertation on how young people understand and define climate change. Her research relied on oral histories collected from “youth that, historically, are not represented in the climate change space” such as youth of color and queer youth. To capture their stories, Neas initiated a digital storytelling project, drawing on the collaboration between art and science.
“I really felt bothered by not hearing educators adequately address climate change. It felt like a looming elephant in the room, where we either didn't talk about it at all or what we were saying wasn't helpful,” she said.
According to Neas, youth have a moral compass that, unlike in adults, has not been so degraded. Their creativity, compassion and drive inspire Neas to preserve these parts of herself. Moving forward, she is eager to create programs that are inclusive and representative of all youth that she serves.
Neas is based in Half Moon Bay and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tori Norville started on Aug. 1 as the new UC Cooperative Extension fire advisor for Sonoma, Napa and Marin counties.
In this capacity, Norville will work with residents and organizations within the wildland-urban interface to encourage and cultivate fire-adapted communities. She aims to provide education and outreach on home hardening, defensible space and the importance of forest and fuel management on the landscape.
While pursuing her bachelor's degree in forestry and natural resources at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Norville became interested in “disturbance ecology” – how factors such as disease, insects and fire affect landscapes and environments.
“Many of the forest health problems we are seeing are stemming from a lack of disturbance, which traditionally was fire,” Norville said.
Her understanding of fire and its effects deepened during her master's degree studies in forestry science (also at Cal Poly SLO), as well as through her seven years with CAL FIRE at the Jackson Demonstration State Forest in Mendocino County. She worked as the Registered Professional Forester for its Timber Sales Program, and then the Research and Demonstration Program.
Norville's firsthand experiences from the past few fire seasons have helped shape her goals and approach. She hopes to “work holistically with disturbances” – specifically fire – on the landscape to foster healthy forests and ecosystems that are adaptable and resilient, while also researching the environmental and social aspects of fuel-reduction projects and prescribed fire.
“Hopefully, I can begin to change the perception of fire from something we need to fear, to something we respect,” she said.
Norville, based at the UCCE office in Santa Rosa in Sonoma County, can be reached at email@example.com.
Jackie Atim began working as a UC Cooperative Extension specialist affiliated with UC Merced on July 11, based at Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Parlier.
Atim's work will include applied research focused on abiotic stress, which includes plant stress caused by extreme temperatures, high salinity, floods, drought or nutrient deficiency. In particular, she will be studying the genetic makeup of sorghum, its resistance to drought and the value it contributes to byproducts such as bioenergy.
California, as Atim explained, is an ideal place to study drought resilience given its semi-arid climate and water challenges. She is hopeful that California will establish sorghum as a climate-smart crop for forage and grain to address the challenges facing water-stressed production systems.
Furthermore, Atim will focus on “transforming science that can be consumed by ordinary farmers and growers alike.”
While Atim understands the importance of research-based decision-making, she also recognizes the challenges that non-academic audiences experience when applying such information. As a start, Atim anticipates collaborating with communications experts to simplify research findings and create visually appealing resources.
Before joining UC ANR, Atim worked as a plant pathologist for the National Agricultural Research Organization based at Mukono Zonal Agricultural Research and Development Institute in Uganda. In addition to pathology, Atim has expertise in plant breeding and entomology.
Atim earned a bachelor's degree in agriculture and education from Kyambogo University in Uganda. She has a master's degree in plant biotechnology from Wageningen University in the Netherlands, and a doctorate in agriculture, plant breeding and entomology from the University of Greenwich in the United Kingdom.
Atim can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @JackieAtim2.
Sudan Gyawaly joined UCCE on July 5 as an area integrated pest management advisor serving Butte, Sutter, Yuba, Glenn, Colusa and Tehama counties.
Prior to becoming an IPM advisor, Gyawaly was an associate specialist at UCCE in Stanislaus County, where he studied tree nut pests, including walnut husk fly, navel orangeworm, and Pacific flatheaded borer. Before that, he was a post-doctoral researcher at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University in Greensboro, studying pest management on vegetables and fruit trees on small farms.
In his new role, Gyawaly is learning about the crops and pest situation in the region by talking with growers and other stakeholders. He plans to develop a need-based applied IPM research and extension program for orchards, tree nuts and other crops grown in the region.
He earned an M.S. in entomology from West Virginia University and a Ph.D. in entomology from Virginia Tech.
He earned his undergraduate degree in agriculture in his native Nepal, then worked in rural areas of Nepal for a couple of years, providing sustainable vegetable production and pest management trainings to growers before moving to the United States in 2009 for graduate studies.
Gyawaly is based in Oroville and can be reached at email@example.com.
Breanna Martinico joined UC Cooperative Extension on July 5 as a human-wildlife interactions advisor for Napa, Lake and Solano counties. She will work on issues that involve wildlife as agricultural pests as well as beneficial species. To learn about priority issues for the area, she will be conducting a needs assessment.
Martinico is a wildlife biologist and ecologist, specializing in ornithology. Her past research addressed the role of birds on farms as pests and pest control agents. She has worked on projects investigating the important role farmland plays as habitat for California birds. In other work with the USDA Western Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program, she investigated the effects of agricultural land-use and pest management practices on raptor ecology and conservation.
“I am compelled by the co-existence and mutual benefits of humans and wildlife in agroecosystems and committed to working to find solutions that benefit both people and wildlife,” Martinico said. “I am excited to be part of UC ANR where I can develop a research and extension program that has the power to increase knowledge and adoption of management practices that promote ecological sustainability and increase farm viability in California.”
She earned a B.S. in wildlife, fish and conservation biology and M.S. in avian sciences, and has nearly completed her Ph.D. in ecology, all from UC Davis.
Martinico is based in Napa and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Irene Padasas started as UC Cooperative Extension community nutrition and health advisor for Tulare, Kings, Madera and Fresno counties on June 13.
Padasas will design her education and research programs for communities based on their priority needs within the broad areas of healthy lifestyles, health equity, food, nutrition, water security and safety, and climate change and health.
As part of UC Agriculture and Natural Resources' work to promote healthy families and communities, Padasas also will support the efforts of the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program in California and the Cal Fresh Healthy Living, University of California Nutrition Education Program.
After earning a bachelor's in special education at the University of the Philippines Diliman, and a master's in developmental psychology from the Ateneo de Manila University, Padasas received her Ph.D. in human sciences – with a specialization in global family health and well-being – from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln.
In Nebraska, Padasas played a significant role in extension programs that promote positive and healthy child and adolescent development, such as co-developing curriculum for UpStarts, a program that provides youth entrepreneurship and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) education for high school students in rural areas.
She also led the analyses of qualitative data from the Ecological Approach to Family Style Dining, a research intervention program that aims to support young children's health and nutrition in early childcare centers subsidized by USDA's Child and Adult Care Food Program.
Padasas' current research centers on social and cultural factors that shape the quality of life and well-being of families.
“To serve our communities more effectively as an advisor, I'm focused on exploring the role of culture in health communication to better understand adoption and acceptance of health and nutrition education programs in the community,” Padasas said.
Padasas is based at the UCCE office in Tulare and can be reached at email@example.com.
Clebson Goncalves joined UC Cooperative Extension on July 1 as a diversified agriculture advisor serving Lake and Mendocino counties.
Prior to moving to California, Goncalves was a postdoctoral researcher working on the management of turfgrass and ornamental crops for a USDA-SCRI project at the School of Plant and Environmental Sciences at Virginia Tech.
He has a bachelor's degree in agronomy (focused on plant pathology) and a master's degree and Ph.D. in agronomy sciences (plant production/ weed science) from Brazil, as well as an additional master's degree in crop and soil science (turfgrass/weed science) from Auburn University. He led field, greenhouse and lab research with a broad focus on plant production, crop protection and weed sciences.
Goncalves' current research centers around diversified agricultural farms, including vegetables, fruit and nut crops. He is also interested in integrated weed management practices exploring chemical and organic options, improving pesticide application technology, drone use for data collection, pesticide application and pollinator-serving plant communities.
Goncalves is based in Lakeport and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @clebson_g.
Chris Shogren joined UC ANR on June 5 as the environmental horticulture advisor for UC Cooperative Extension in Los Angeles County.
Shogren described his new role as “giving back to the community.” While he has more experience “growing plants than playing with insects,” Shogren's expertise includes all aspects of horticulture such as entomology, pathology, water use and more.
He earned a bachelor's degree in horticulture and agricultural business from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, and a doctorate in entomology from UC Riverside.
Much of what he knows not only comes from his formal academic training, but what he learned from his parents. Shogren grew up in Hemet, 25 miles outside of Palm Springs, and spent his childhood working at his parents' wholesale nursery. Building rapport with nurseries comes naturally to Shogren and he has been advising them since his days as a Ph.D. student.
Early in his career, Shogren worked on horticulture for Disneyland before joining the Citrus Research Board, where he focused on biocontrol rearing. Prior to joining UC ANR, Shogren mass reared fruit flies for U.S. Department of Agriculture research.
As an advisor, Shogren's top priority is to develop his program by first understanding the local issues and the key players that are addressing them such as advisors, researchers and industry groups. He believes that doing so will paint a clear picture of where and how he can be the most effective.
Shogren is based out of the UC Cooperative Extension office in Los Angeles County and can be reached at email@example.com.
Hardeep Singh joined UCCE Central Sierra as a local food systems advisor on June 1.
He transferred from the UCCE Fresno office where he worked as an assistant specialist in small farms and specialty crops. Singh, who is from Punjab, India, worked closely with Southeast Asian small farmers, African American farmers, Latino farmers and Punjabi farmers. Much of his work focused on healthy soil practices, the Irrigated Lands Regulatory Program, Coronavirus Food Assistance Program, and UC San Francisco COVID-19 Equity Project since 2020. He also worked as a vineyard operations intern with UCCE Fresno in the summer of 2019.
Singh holds a master's degree in plant science from California State University, Fresno with a distinction as Dean's Graduate Medalist. He also holds a bachelor's degree in agriculture from Punjab Agriculture University, Ludhiana, in India.
His research background includes crops such as moringa, cover crops, wine grapes, almonds, pistachios and citrus. With the exception of pistachios, Singh also has research experience in irrigation scheduling and nutrition management for these same crops.
Singh is interested in developing crop coefficients, studying nitrogen dynamics in specialty crops, and reducing production costs for small farms, which aligns with his goal of reducing poverty by engaging with socially disadvantaged communities and moving agriculture toward greater self-sustainability.
Singh is based in San Andreas and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and (559) 579-6065.
Amrita Mukherjee joined UC ANR on April 1 as an urban agriculture and small farms advisor serving Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Riverside and Orange counties.
Mukherjee's priority is to understand small farms' practices and needs, and to identify opportunities for improvement and/or collaboration. One challenge that Mukherjee is eager to overcome is getting information to farmers in a timely and organized manner.
“There's so much information out there and it's hard to know who is doing what,” she said. By implementing a communication system, Mukherjee believes that supporting small farms will become more efficient.
Originally from Bangladesh, Mukherjee grew up in a family of farmers and understands the struggles farmers encounter as laborers and as a business. Her upbringing inspired her to not only pursue a career in agriculture, but to alleviate the hardships that often burden farmers.
Previously, Mukherjee worked for the International Rice Research Institute where she examined flash flood risk-management in her homeland. She also worked for the Horticulture Innovation Lab management team at UC Davis as an assistant specialist in Bangladesh, focused on nutrition impacts of horticultural innovations.
Mukherjee earned a bachelor's degree in agriculture from Khulna University, a master's degree in biotechnology from Bangladesh Agricultural University, and a master's degree in horticulture, plant biology and post-harvest physiology from Kansas State University.
While she has dedicated the first few months of her role to networking, Mukherjee feels that building rapport with small-scale farmers is an ongoing process that is crucial to her role as an advisor.
When asked what she is most excited about, Mukherjee said that she wants to help farmers grow – not just their crops, but their business strategy and network. “I don't want to be a supervisor, I want to be a connector,” explained Mukherjee.
Mukherjee is based at the UC Cooperative Extension office in Highland in San Bernardino County and can be reached at email@example.com.
Saoimanu “Saoi” (rhymes with Maui) Sope joined UC ANR Strategic Communications on June 7 as a communications specialist to help journalists connect with UC ANR experts.
Prior to joining UC ANR, Sope worked in tobacco control policy for the state of California with a focus on effective messaging. Early in her career, she worked as a communications specialist for Driscoll's in Watsonville.
Sope earned a bachelor's degree in film and digital media and community studies from UC Santa Cruz and a Master of Public Health degree in environmental health science and certificate in toxicology from Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health.
Based at UC South Coast Research and Extension Center in Irvine, Sope can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @saoimanu.
- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
The Celebration of Life and Legacy of UC Cooperative Extension apiculturist emeritus Eric Mussen, held Aug. 28 in the Putah Creek Lodge, UC Davis, drew a standing-room only crowd who shared and applauded the many facets of his life: family man, bee scientist, athlete, angler, birder, photographer, humorist and a singer (doo wop).
They all remembered that engaging smile, a smile that could melt frozen ice cream (a dessert he loved).
Members of California's beekeeping and almond industries--Team Eric--came out in force to honor their hero, their mentor, their confidant, their friend. Some traveled from as far away as Washington state and Idaho.
UC Davis distinguished professor Walter Leal live-streamed the event and posted it today on YouTube at https://youtu.be/Kj5NuQ_rBuo.
Dr. Mussen, who preferred to be called "Eric," was an internationally known 38-year Extension apiculturist and an invaluable member of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology faculty since 1976. He died Friday, June 3 in his Davis home at age 78 from aggressive liver cancer.
Although Eric retired in 2014, he continued his many activities until a few weeks prior to his death. For nearly four decades, he drew praise as “the honey bee guru,” “the pulse of the bee industry" and as "the go-to person" when consumers, scientists, researchers, students, and the news media sought answers about honey bees. Colleagues described him as the “premier authority on bees and pollination in California, and one of the top beekeeping authorities nationwide,” “a treasure to the beekeeping industry," and "a walking encyclopedia when it comes to honey bees.” Among who sought his expertise: The Lehrer Hour, BBC, Good Morning America, National Public Radio (Science Friday), The New York Times, Boston Globe, and The Los Angeles Times.
The Aug. 28th celebration opened with a welcome by Steve Nadler, professor and chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology, who introduced Chancellor Gary May.
"Eric was a cherished friend to everyone here, to the UC Davis community, to his colleagues, to scientists and researchers, to agricultural growers and 4-H-ers, and to beekeepers and bee enthusiasts everywhere," the chancellor told the crowd. "He meant so much to the university and his work benefited us all. He represented the absolute best of UC Davis. He was an internationally recognized expert, dedicated to his work, and passionate about helping others and making the world a better place to be. His legacy will endure. It will endure through his research contributions and extension activities that served beekeeping operations across California and the nation. It will endure through the practices he helped put in place, sharing information with beekeeping groups. It will endure through the next generation of apiculturists he helped inspire. We'll remember his impact as the 'honey bee guru.' Much more than that, Eric will be remembered for his generosity, his kindness and his passion."
Emcee Gene Brandi, an icon in the bee industry and a family friend, served with Eric for 37 of his 39 years on the California State Beekeeping Association's Board of Directors. He currently chairs the Foundation for the Preservation of Honey Bees, Inc., and also served as president of American Beekeeping Federation and chaired both the California Apiary Board and National Honey Board.
One of Gene's many memorable comments: “To paraphrase a good friend of mine, (beekeeper) John Miller, “The people who really make a difference in this life are those who make things better. Eric Mussen made things better for the honey bee, beekeepers and the entire beekeeping industry and for that we are very grateful.”
There were scores of memorable comments from the speakers:
- Robert “Bob” Curtis, Carmichael, former director of Agricultural Affairs, Almond Board of California
- Ettamarie Peterson, veteran 4-H beekeeping project leader of the Liberty 4-H Club, Petaluma, a past president of the Sonoma County Beekeepers' Association, and a close friend of Eric's.
- Glenda Humiston, vice president of the UC Agriculture and Natural Resources, and Helene Dillard, dean of the UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (virtual eulogies)
- Elina Lastro Niño, UC Extension apiculturist who also read the text of UC Davis emeritus professor Norman Gary, who was unable to attend
- Diane Ullman, professor and former chair of the Department of Entomology and Nematology
- Mary Lou Flint, an emeritis associate director of the UC Statewide Integrated Pest Management (UC IPM) Program, and an emeritus Extension entomologist, Department of Entomology and Nematology
- Walter Leal, UC Davis distinguished professor and former chair of the then Department of Entomology
- Michael Parrella, dean of the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, University of Idaho, and a former chair of the Department of Entomology and Nematology
- And so many more...
Adding to the celebration: a memory table from the Mussen family; bee pins to all the guests from the National Honey Board; a bee observation hive display from UC Extension apiculturist Elina Lastro Niño, director of the California Master Beekeeper Program (CAMPB), and Wendy Mather, program manager of CAMPB; honey straw donations from JoshuaZeldner, Amina Harris of Z Specialty Food, LLC; and ice cream donations from Haagen-Dazs (HD). Eric worked closely with HD especially during the colony collapse disorder phenomenon and the installation of the UC Davis Bee Haven on Bee Biology Road, UC Davis.
Olive and Vine of UC Davis catered the event. CreaTions N' Events of Sacramento provided a bee-themed cake, complete with a skep and honey bees.
"The world," said Dr. Leal, a former chair of the Department of Entomology who knew Eric well, "is a lesser place without Eric."
Eric is survived by his wife, Helen Mussen, sons Timothy Mussen (Noelle) of Rancho Cordova, and their children Amber and Alex; Christopher Mussen (Jacqueline Silva), of Davis; his younger brother Alan Mussen (Lynda) and their daughter, Allie and husband, Nick Arnold, all of Peru, N.Y.; and other relatives in New York and Michigan.
Memorial contributions may made to the California State 4-H Beekeeping Program, with a note, "Eric Mussen Memorial Fund." Checks may be be made out to:
California 4-H Foundation
Attn: Development Services (Eric Mussen Memorial Fund, California State 4-H Beekeeping Program)
2801 Second Street
Davis, CA 95618
- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
It's NOT because they're unnecessary. She supplies them.
“I tell them when they join not to buy bees or equipment because I catch swarms for them and I have a lot of donated equipment including suits of all sizes,” said Ettamarie, widely known as Sonoma County's Queen Bee. “I give the parents and big teenagers the adult suits. It is important for at least one parent to have a suit because they are always there when we open the hives and I try to encourage parents to get involved. That is not hard to do because it isn't unusual for the parent to be the one pushing the child into the project because they want to know more about beekeeping!”
During the past 4-H year, September to June (similar to a traditional school year) she caught 19 swarms in the area and gave 17 to the 4-H'ers.
“I had to replace some colonies when the swarms failed to thrive,” she said. ”These young people are really understanding of all the things that can cause a colony to crash. We do forensics on failed colonies at some meetings. We discuss what can or did go wrong. I am always so pleased to hear them use great bee vocabularies. Even the little ones surprise me by their great questions and responses to my questions! It always puts a smile on my face to see them work with their colonies. Young people seem to be more calm around their bees than most adults. Once in awhile, I have even seen them pet their bees when they land on their gloves or arms.”
A retired 37-year school teacher, a 28-year beekeeper, and a 22-year 4-H beekeeping project leader, Ettamarie is a longtime member, a past president of the Sonoma County Beekeepers' Association (SCBA) and the current newsletter of SCBA's The Monthly Extractor.
Although the 4-H year runs from September to June, beekeeping is a year-around project. “It's a summer endeavor, too, so I do visits to their homes to check on their hives during the summer, of course.”
Teaching youths about bees comes naturally for the retired school teacher. She launched her 4-H beekeeping project in 2000 when her son Lew wanted his daughter, Kasey, “to take beekeeping because he wanted the local honey,” Ettamarie recalled. “Since I had been beekeeping since about 1994 or so they asked me to take on the project as leader. There was no other beekeeping project in the county at that time.” Today there are two in the county, and she generously supplies them with how-to literature.
Ettamarie doesn't follow a 4-H beekeeping manual. “I use an older manual, but to tell you the truth I have just used a bit of this and that together to run the meetings and give the young beekeepers a collection of worksheets that I have found useful,” she said. “For example, one page tells the life cycle and stages with days of the queen's, workers' and drones' eggs, larva and pupa. One page tells which days the workers do each job starting with cleaning house. One page describes diseases. One page shows all the hive parts.”
Of her current students, “two of the families are cousins and they have been in the project for three years. Their grandmother was my grandchildren's dairy project leader years ago so I feel like I am paying her back for all the years she helped them! She has gotten very interested in bees, too!”
One mother enrolled in a free online Pennsylvania State University beekeeping course the first year of the COVID pandemic lockdown. “She is great and has even helped catch one of her daughter's swarms!”
At every meeting, her 4-H'ers examine the bee activity in her observation hive. She also uses her own colonies to teach hive inspection, “and it is good for them to see the differences in each colony. Since I have experienced beekeepers every year, I am able to use them to demonstrate what to do. One of things I love about 4-H is that several older 4-H'ers can get teen leader experience and help the younger ones.”
“I think it is exciting to see young people get so involved with bees,” Ettamarie said. “Most of them stay in the project at least three years or more!”
What fascinates her about bees? "The bees are so fascinating because they work strictly by instinct and as one organism. They are so organized and teach us so much. I love watching how they approach various flowers, some they just land on, some they burrow down into and some they seem to nibble the part they can suck nectar from. I am also fascinated by how they have their favorite flowers. I say some flowers are equivalent to chocolate in my world! I have learned so much about flowers since I started keeping bees. They teach me to open my eyes and pay attention to the world! When my granddaughter and I started off on our trip to Italy this summer, she told me her mother warned her about me. My daughter told her grandma will stop at every flower to see if there is a bee on it and take a picture if she spots one! How well she knows me!"
In 2011, the Sonoma County 4-H Office presented her with the "Friend of 4-H Award" for her Liberty 4-H project leadership in beekeeping and her previous 4-H activities, including leader of sewing and poultry projects, when her children were enrolled in 4-H.
This year the Petaluma resident will be honored as the 2022 recipient of the Youth Ag and Leadership Foundation's 4-H Alumni Recognition Award for her many contributions to Sonoma County 4-H. The event takes place at a barbecue on Sept. 24 at a vineyard in Windsor “and I get a table for 8 at the barbecue!” she said. “My children and their spouses will fill the table!” Her three children are Karen Nau, a preschool teacher; Margie Hebert, a second-grade teacher, and Lew Peterson, an electrician and pilot.
The Petaluma Chamber of Commerce honored her several years ago but the COVID pandemic cancelled the ceremony. “I think I am getting a fat head with all of this recognition but I really love it! I taught for 37 years and didn't get this much appreciation!”
Ettamarie credits husband Ray with introducing her to agriculture. In the late 1960s he purchased 20 head of Angus cattle for their Potter Valley ranch. In 1972 the Petersons moved to their six-acre Petaluma farm, where they raise cows and chickens, grow vegetables, and keep bees. She currently maintains four bee colonies and an observation hive.
"My husband is not a beekeeper and loves to tell my friends beekeeping is addictive and there is a 12-step program to recovery!" Ettarmarie quipped. "He is all talk, of course! He really enjoys the honey and that I have something to keep me busy and happy, besides our six-acre farm and the huge family!"
"None of our children are beekeepers but our son, Lew, has had fun helping me catch swarms," she said. "His daughter, Jessie who is now an ag teacher at Tokay High School in Lodi, went to the Irish Beekeeping School one year and another granddaughter (now a special education teacher in the Santa Rosa School District) went with me another year. A side note about Jessie, she and her husband Lucas Chaves are buying the house in Lodi that is on property that my great-grandparents bought in 1900. The house on the property was built in 1948 by my grandfather for his sister and brother-in-law so I am very excited about that! It was a very small dairy farm originally and Jessie showed dairy cows in 4-H and FFA!"
Ettamarie says that "our California roots are very deep!" Her husband's family settled in Sonoma County in about 1850. "They were ranchers of course. Ray was born on his uncle's prune ranch in Healdsburg."
Always the teacher, Ettamarie takes her observation hive to school and other interested groups “to teach students and adults about bees.”
Beekeeping Manual. And the proposed California 4-H Beekeeping manual that she would love to work on? She would like it dedicated to the late Eric Mussen, Extension apiculturist based in the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. Mussen freely gave of his time and expertise to beekeepers throughout California, not only during his 1976-2014 career but during his retirement. He died June 3, 2022 at age 78 under hospice care at the family home in Davis.
Ettamarie wrote in the current edition of The Monthly Extractor that although Eric Mussen retired in 2014, he “never really left his job at UC Davis…and was, always ready to answer our questions… We were fortunate to have him almost annually as a speaker at our meetings. His talks were always straight-forward and honest and laced with humor. I remember the year he told us about the new product to fight mites, Check Mite +. This was made with Coumaphos, an organophosphate pesticide that is highly toxic. He told us all the problems. I remember asking him if he would use it and he looked me right in the eyes and said, ‘No!' This is just one example of his integrity.”
They also recalled that Mussen was a co-founder (and six-term president) of the Western Apicultural Society (WAS). “He supported a diverse group of beekeepers and worked hard to give them a speaking platform and have some fun coming together during those yearly gatherings,” they related. ”We will always remember him as a brilliant beekeeping teacher who educated so many of us.”
Pro-Bee. Mussen considered himself “pro-bee,” from helping a 4-H'er with a single colony to large scale commercial operations.
The Mussen family suggests memorial contributions be made to the California State 4-H Beekeeping Program, with a note, "Eric Mussen Memorial Fund." Checks may be made out to the California 4-H Foundation and mailed to:
California 4-H Foundation
Attn: Development Services (Eric Mussen Memorial Fund, California State 4-H Beekeeping Program)
2801 Second Street
Davis, CA 95618
Or, online donations may be made to the California State 4-H Beekeeping Program by accessing the main donor page and then clicking on the drop-down menu to "Beekeeping Program Scholarship."
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"Hay mucho que podemos aprender de un amigo que resulta ser un caballo". – Aleksandra Layland
"Entrenar mustangs es muy divertido", dijo Aubrielle, mientras una yegua de color castaño llamada Zuri acariciaba a la integrante de 4-H del condado de Shasta. Seis meses antes, el equino salvaje desconfiaba de ser tocado. Ahora lucía accesorios en su melena de estilo que combinaban con las joyas turquesa de la adolescente.
En los últimos años, UC Cooperative Extension en el condado de Modoc se ha asociado con Modoc National Forest para proporcionar alcance público y educación para apoyar la colocación y el cuidado de caballos salvajes de Devil's Garden en la esquina noreste de California. La adopción de potros reduce la sobrepoblación de caballos salvajes, lo que puede dañar los pastizales y la salud de los propios mustangs.
Este año, Laura Snell, asesora de ganado y recursos naturales de UC Cooperative Extension en el condado de Modoc, asignó caballos salvajes destetados a 40 jóvenes entre las edades de 9 y 19 años de todo el estado. Los mustangs tenían entre 4 y 6 meses de edad en enero cuando fueron recogidos en Alturas y llevados a casa por miembros de California 4-H y FFA, quienes los alimentan y cuidan.
"El momento en que pude tocarlo por primera vez es probablemente una de las partes más importantes del entrenamiento, así como mi progreso con él", dijo Morgan del condado de Monterey, quien pasó horas en el puesto con Bowie tratando de ganarse su confianza.
"Fue realmente increíble para mí que pude tocarlo el día 5", dijo. "En los videos que vi antes de conseguirlo, la mayoría de las veces tomó de una semana a tres semanas para que las personas en los videos tocaran sus mustangs salvajes. En ese momento es cuando realmente comienzas a hacer ese vínculo con un mustang salvaje".
"El momento en que pude quitar su etiqueta también fue una gran parte porque en ese momento sabes que el mustang confía en ti lo suficiente como para que te permita acercarte tanto para eliminar la etiqueta", dijo Morgan.
Los jóvenes entrenadores enseñan a los caballos a usar un cabestro, a salir y entrar a un remolque de caballos y a navegar a través de obstáculos. Algunos participantes también trabajan en trucos como acostar su caballo, caminar el caballo hacia atrás y caminar debajo del caballo. En junio, los participantes se reunieron en Alturas para mostrar sus progresos.
"Les brinda la oportunidad de buscar mentores adultos que sean entrenadores de caballos, aprender responsabilidad y aprender una variedad de cosas sobre el cuidado de un caballo salvaje y aprender más sobre sí mismos en el proceso", dijo Snell.
"Encontramos que a los jóvenes les va muy bien con los caballos salvajes. Es realmente una calle de doble sentido, con los caballos aprendiendo tanto como los jóvenes en los seis meses que están en entrenamiento", agregó.
Las hermanas Kailey y Maddi en el condado de San Benito adoptaron caballos destete. Quitar la etiqueta después de unas tres semanas fue un punto de inflexión para Maddi y su caballo Fiona.
"La razón por la cual no se le quitaba la etiqueta era que no habíamos podido acercarnos a ella en absoluto", dijo Maddi. "Ella tenía algo de agresión hacia la gente por miedo. Así que superar eso, y llegar al punto en que ella confiaba en mí y yo podía colocarle el cabestro y acercarme lo suficiente como para quitar esa etiqueta fue un gran logro. Después de eso, una vez que confió en mí, comenzó a hacerlo muy, muy bien y a volar a través de su entrenamiento".
"Ha sido increíble poder compartir esta experiencia con otra familia muy cercana", dijo la madre de Aubrielle, Ashley Phipps. "Nuestras hijas han pasado por todo el viaje juntas, comenzando con la visita a los corrales para recoger caballos juntas, hasta el proceso de entrenamiento. Mi hija es mayor que Brooklin y ha sido una gran mentora para ella, enseñando a Brooklin y a su caballo en el trayecto. ¡Ha sido un generador de confianza para mi hija! ¡Nuestras hijas nunca olvidarán esta experiencia! Y me encantó cada momento del proceso, verlos crecer a través de los altibajos. Este programa es una bendición".
Para calificar para el programa, los solicitantes deben completar una solicitud que incluye estar inscritos en un programa de caballos como el Proyecto Equino 4-H, demostrar que tienen instalaciones y alimento para los animales, designar un mentor y tener la aprobación de sus padres.
Los entrenadores y sus caballos compitieron en el Devil's Garden Colt Challenge el 18 de junio en Alturas, compitiendo por premios en halter, showmanship y carrera de obstáculos con la participación de jóvenes de 13 condados. Los premios totalizaron más de $ 3,000.
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- Author: Pamela Kan-Rice
“There is much we can learn from a friend who happens to be a horse.” — Aleksandra Layland
“Training mustangs is just so much fun,” said Aubrielle, as a chestnut-colored filly named Zuri nuzzled the 4-H member from Shasta County. Six months earlier, the young wild horse was wary of being touched. Now she was sporting accessories in her styled mane that matched the teenager's turquoise jewelry.
Over the past few years, UC Cooperative Extension in Modoc County has partnered with Modoc National Forest to provide public outreach and education to support the placement and care of wild horses from Devil's Garden at the northeastern corner of California. Adopting foals reduces overpopulation of wild horses, which can harm rangeland and the health of the mustangs themselves.
This year Laura Snell, UC Cooperative Extension livestock and natural resources advisor in Modoc County, assigned weanling wild horses to 40 youth between the ages of 9 and 19 from all over the state. The mustangs were 4 to 6 months old in January when they were picked up in Alturas and taken home by California 4-H and FFA members, who feed and care for them.
“The moment when I got to touch him for the first time is probably one of the biggest parts of training as well as my progress with him,” said Morgan of Monterey County, who spent hours in the stall with Bowie trying to gain his trust.
“It was really amazing to me that I was able to touch him on day 5,” she said. “In the videos I watched leading up to getting him, most of the time it took one week to three weeks for the people in the videos to touch their wild mustangs. At that moment is when you really start to make that bond with a wild mustang.”
“The moment when I got to remove his tag was a huge part as well because at that moment you know that the mustang trusts you enough that he is letting you get that close to remove the tag,” Morgan said.
The young trainers teach the horses to wear a halter, to load and unload from a horse trailer and to navigate through obstacles. Some participants also work on tricks such as laying their horse down, walking the horse backward and walking under the horse. In June, the participants gathered in Alturas to show their progress.
“It provides them an opportunity to seek out adult mentors who are horse trainers, learn responsibility, and learn a variety of things about caring for a wild horse and learning more about themselves in the process,” said Snell.
“We find that the youth do very well with wild horses. It's really a two-way street, with the horses learning just as much as the youth are in the six months they are in training,” she added.
Sisters Kailey and Maddi in San Benito County both adopted weanling horses. Removing the tag after about three weeks was a turning point for Maddi and her horse Fiona.
“The significance of getting the tag off was we hadn't been able to get near her at all,” said Maddi. “She had some aggression toward people out of fear. So getting past that, getting to the point where she trusted me and I could get that halter on her and get close enough to get that tag off was just a huge achievement. After that, once she trusted me, she started doing really, really well and flying through her training.”
Because wildfires are part of life in California, she taught Fiona to step over flames so she won't be afraid if they need to evacuate, Maddi told KSBW reporter Brisa Colon.
“It has been amazing to be able to share this experience with another very close family,” said Aubrielle's mother Ashley Phipps. “Our daughters have gone through the entire journey together starting with visiting the corrals to pick horses together, all the way through the training process. My daughter is older than Brooklin and has been a great mentor to her, teaching Brooklin and her horse along the way. It has been such a confidence builder for my daughter! Our girls will never forget this experience!!! And I loved every moment of watching them grow through the ups and downs. This program is such a blessing.”
To qualify for the program, applicants must fill out an application which includes being enrolled in a horse program such as the 4-H Equine Project, show they have facilities and feed for the animals, designate a mentor and have their parents' approval.
The trainers and their horses competed in the Devil's Garden Colt Challenge on June 18 in Alturas, vying for awards in halter, showmanship and obstacle course with youth from 13 counties participating. Prizes totaled over $3,000.