- (Focus Area) 4-H
- Author: Pamela Kan-Rice
University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources continued bringing scientists and their practical knowledge to counties across the state throughout the fall and winter. With increased funding from Gov. Gavin Newsom and the state Legislature, UC ANR recently hired UC Cooperative Extension advisors, specialists and academic coordinators who bring expertise in drought, wildfire, food systems, urban and small-scale farms, livestock, 4-H youth development, pest management, wildlife, nutrition and environmental horticulture.
In addition to providing research and extension in traditional subjects, the new hires include scientists who will address water justice policy, climate-smart agriculture, food safety, organic crop production, waste management and economic development for urban and rural communities.
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.
Flavie Audoin (pronounced Flah-vee Oh-dwan) joined UCCE Central Sierra on Jan. 17 as a livestock and natural resources area advisor serving Calaveras, Amador, El Dorado and Tuolumne counties.
For the last six years, Audoin has been studying the seasonal grazing behavior, diet selection, and meat characteristics of range-fed Raramuri Criollo cattle in southeastern Arizona. Audoin worked directly with Deb and Dennis Moroney, who introduced Criollo cattle in southeastern Arizona about 10 years ago. This experience in the United States provided Audoin with knowledge and skills in rangelands, livestock production (cattle and sheep), direct marketing and science communication. In addition to working on her research, she has also been able to improve her skills as a ranch hand – branding, gathering cattle horseback in rough country, using low-stress livestock handling methods, sheep shearing, fixing fences and water lines, and marketing meat directly to consumers.
Before starting her Ph.D., Audoin was an advisor to beef producers in France and worked for nine years at France's leading brand of packaged meats and meat products while studying.
Born and raised in France, Audoin earned a bachelor's degree in life sciences at Notre Dame de Bonnes Nouvelles, Beaupréau, and technical degree in agronomy with a major in crop and animal production at IUT Angers-Cholet, Angers, then completed an engineering degree in agronomy (equivalent to a masters' degree in the U.S.) with a major in breeding and systems of production at VetAgro Sup, Clermont-Ferrand. She completed a Ph.D. in natural resources from the University of Arizona, where her research focused on ecology, management and restoration of rangelands, with a minor in animal science. She also received a graduate certificate in science communication from the University of Arizona.
Audoin is based in Calaveras and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and (209) 454-8472.
Samuel Ikendi joined UC ANR on Dec. 12 as an academic coordinator for climate-smart agriculture.
As an academic coordinator, Ikendi will work with farmers and ranchers, state and federal agencies, campus-based academics and Cooperative Extension academics across the state to implement climate-smart agriculture education through workshops and training. He will develop outreach materials such as curricula and fact sheets.
Before joining UC ANR, Ikendi worked at Iowa State University as a postdoctoral research associate on a project to establish core concepts to improve graduate plant-breeding education, curriculum development, and monitoring. He also worked for the Center for Sustainable Rural Livelihoods and Iowa State University's Uganda Program in Uganda, where he developed performance tracking indicators, conducted the annual evaluation, and developed privacy data protection documents. As an intern with ISU Extension and Outreach, he assisted the county outreach coordinators with delivering research-based educational programming to promote positive youth development.
Ikendi earned a Ph.D. in agricultural extension education and dual master's degrees in community and regional planning and sustainable agriculture from Iowa State University. He earned a bachelor's degree in agribusiness management from Makerere University, Kampala in Uganda.
Ikendi is based at UC Merced and can be reached at email@example.com.
Katie Reidy joined UC ANR on Dec. 5 as the statewide postfire academic coordinator. She will be overseeing a postfire forest resilience education program for private forest landowners. Reidy will coordinate weekly educational workshops held on Zoom with lessons catered to specific ecosystems, and collaboration with local agencies to promote post-fire education. The goal is to help fire-affected communities begin the process of reversing the ecological, economic and environmental impacts of fire.
Reidy grew up in Chicago and received an undergraduate degree from University of North Carolina, Asheville. In 2016, she became an environmental educator at Yosemite National Park. In 2020, she moved to Plumas County and worked for the Feather River Resource Conservation District and began to understand the complexities of natural resource management and the implications of fire on the local landscapes. This compelled her to earn a master's degree in environmental studies with a certificate in science communications and environmental education at the University of Idaho.
After personal experience with catastrophic fire, she is eager and ready to connect and assist communities as the postfire academic coordinator, to combine her passion for ecology and forestry management with outreach and education.
Reidy is based at the UCCE Central Sierra office in Placerville and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Janessa Hartmann joined UC ANR on Nov. 1 as the UCCE community health and nutrition advisor for Shasta, Trinity and Tehama counties to promote education and advance policy, systems and environmental changes that benefit local communities.
Having lived and worked in Shasta County for over a decade, Hartmann is committed to improving the region's health and wellness. She will be developing an integrated and equitable health and nutrition program, applying the latest research and data to address needs identified by the community – especially those of vulnerable populations such as older foster youth.
In addition to focusing on positive youth development, Hartmann also aims to improve food security by expanding access to affordable and healthy food.
“I hope to support community partners in health and nutrition across our region, and amplify existing effective programs,” she said. “I also look forward to working alongside the awesome CalFresh Healthy Living, University of California nutrition education program.”
Although Hartmann began her career in the environmental remediation field, she later worked on food sovereignty and security issues in central Mexico as a Peace Corps volunteer. In 2016, she became the CalFresh Healthy Living, UC program supervisor for Shasta, Trinity and Tehama counties. Subsequently, Hartmann joined Shasta County Public Health, where, during the height of the pandemic, she served as director of the COVID-19 Child Care, School and Higher Education Unit.
Hartmann earned her B.S. in environmental science from Georgia College and State University, an M.S. in environmental science and engineering from Colorado School of Mines and another M.S. in nutritional science from California State University, Chico.
Based at the UCCE Shasta County office in Redding, Hartmann can be reached at email@example.com.
Prakash Kumar Jha joined UC ANR as an assistant project scientist on Nov. 1 and is responsible for developing decision support tools that help growers understand and minimize climate risks, specifically CalAgroClimate.
Prior to coming to California, he worked as a postdoctoral fellow for over five years in Italy, Spain and Colombia. Jha is eager to understand what California's climate will look like in the next five to 10 years. Currently, he is working with climate prediction systems to determine future weather conditions, which growers can use to prepare for situations like low versus high chill hours, shortage of irrigation water and high temperature stress in plants.
Jha recognizes that areas currently used for agriculture might not be suitable for some crops a couple of years from now. For example, Jha is identifying which geographical areas growers should invest in while considering factors such as regulations limiting water use. His work will help growers consider the long-term implications of the decisions they make today.
Before earning a Ph.D. in science management of climate change from the University of Venice Ca' Foscari, Italy, he completed two master's degrees – one in climate change adaptation from the University of the Sunshine Coast, Australia, and another in sociology from Tribhuvan University in Nepal.
Originally from Nepal, Jha is excited about the diversity of crops the California offers. “I'm looking forward to expanding my knowledge, especially in tomatoes, cottons, almonds and pistachios,” he said.
Jha is based at the UC Merced-Sierra Nevada Research Institute and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fatemeh Khodadadi joined UC Riverside in October as an assistant professor of extension in the Department of Plant Pathology. She brings expertise in fungal and bacterial diseases of fruit and nut trees and an increasing interest in subtropical plant diseases caused by a variety of plant pathogens.
Khodadadi's research focuses on plant pathogens and disease management strategies for subtropical trees, especially citrus and avocado. She studies identification, characterization and development of molecular methods to detect fungal, bacterial and viral diseases affecting citrus and avocado, including but not limited to avocado branch canker and dieback caused by Botryosphaeria species, phytophthora root rot, sweet orange scab caused by Elsinöe australis, avocado sunblotch viroid and other problematic pathogens on citrus and avocado in California. She also studies the citrus and avocado defense responses to pathogens and the efficacy of fungicides and bactericides.
Before joining UC Cooperative Extension, she held postdoctoral fellowships at Cornell University and Virginia Tech conducting research in bacteriology, mycology, genomics, plant pathology and plant disease management focusing on Colletotrichum species (bitter rot of apple), Erwinia amylovora (fire blight), and Diplocarpon coronaria (apple leaf and fruit blotch).
She identified, described and characterized for the first time a new Colletotrichum species that causes apple bitter rot and belongs to the C. gloeosporioides species complex. Her team named it C. noveboracense.
Khodadadi earned her M.S. and Ph.D. at Shahid Bahonar University of Kerman, Iran. For her M.S., she studied aflatoxin-producing fungi contaminating pistachio. In her Ph.D. research, partly conducted at UC Davis, she studied the interaction between walnut and bacterial blight disease caused by Xanthomonas arboricola pv. juglandis (Xaj).
Khodadadi is based in the UC Riverside Department of Microbiology & Plant Pathology and can be reached at email@example.com. She will be posting about her research at https://subtropicalplantpathology.com/category/blog-posts/.
Alec Dompka began with UC ANR on Oct. 20 as a rural communities economic development advisor. He will serve as technical support for economic development projects in Del Norte, Humboldt and Trinity counties.
Dompka said he aims to help local communities by working with government entities and private businesses to coordinate and facilitate beneficial projects.
“In this position, I hope to engage with people in the counties to tie them more closely with planning their economic development,” Dompka said. “I hope to show that economic development in rural communities can be locally led and directed, inclusive and effective.”
By applying technical knowledge and science-based expertise to these projects, Dompka said he also hopes to “generate research that pushes forward our understanding of what economic development looks like for rural communities.”
Born and raised in Raleigh, North Carolina, Dompka earned a bachelor's degree from North Carolina State, double-majoring in political science and economics. He also holds an M.A. in agricultural and natural resources economics from NC State.
Dompka is based at the Del Norte County UC Cooperative Extension office in Crescent City and can be reached at (707) 464-4711 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @Alec_rural_dev.
Kirsten Pearsons began working as a UC Cooperative Extension integrated pest management entomology advisor for Monterey, Santa Cruz and San Benito counties on Nov. 7. This is a new role for Pearsons, who joined UC ANR in March as a small farms advisor in San Luis Obispo County.
Pearsons focuses on insect-related concerns on the Central Coast, such as impatiens necrotic spot virus (INSV), a disease transmitted to lettuce by thrips, and identifying possible solutions. In collaboration with USDA scientists and her UC colleagues, Pearsons is researching the biology and ecology of the thrips populations that vector INSV to identify existing tools and new strategies that can help growers manage thrips and INSV.
Though her research focuses on lettuce and cole crops, Pearsons also supports berry growers and other specialty crop producers in the region with large-scale producers and agricultural pest control advisers as current clients.
Pearsons earned a bachelor's in environmental toxicology from UC Davis and a Ph.D. in entomology from Pennsylvania State University, studying how pest management strategies adopted in field crop systems affect non-target soil invertebrates.
During her undergraduate studies at UC Davis, Pearsons was curious to know what alternatives existed for broad-spectrum pesticides.
“Funny enough, I took my first entomology class just to get a basic idea of insect biology, because a lot of what I was learning in my toxicology courses had to do with insecticides,” she said. “The staff and the other students in the entomology department were so awesome that it didn't take much for me to completely fall for the subject.”
Prior to UC ANR, Pearsons worked for the Rodale Institute, an organic research institute in Pennsylvania.
Pearsons is based out of the UCCE Monterey Bay County office and can be reached at email@example.com.
Cuong “Jimmy” Nguyen joined UC Cooperative Extension on Nov. 1 as an assistant food safety and organic production area advisor for Imperial and Riverside counties.
“Organic produce has a shorter shelf life and is more susceptible to outbreaks, recalls and foodborne illness due to the lack of chemical sanitizers and fungicides,” Nguyen said. “Therefore, my future research agenda will continue the focus on improving the quality and safety of organic produce commodities by developing alternatives to chemical fumigations/fungicides, as well as organic pest management without the use of chemical sanitizer or pesticide.”
While earning his Ph.D. in food science at UC Davis, Nguyen developed two novel sanitizing platforms for surface decontamination and liquid systems disinfection. The two systems involve the newly discovered synergistic disinfection effect between natural antimicrobials and UV-A light treatment or ultrasound treatment.
“I am also interested in rapid detection methods using bacteriophage targeting foodborne microbes, and microscopic detection of bacterial microcolonies for early screening and prevention of foodborne outbreaks,” he said.
Nguyen earned a master's degree at Tokyo University of Agriculture in Japan, where he studied sensory and food safety quality of meat, and a bachelor's degree in agriculture at Nong Lam University in Vietnam, where he studied postharvest technologies for food and vegetable commodities. He is fluent in English, Japanese and Vietnamese.
Nguyen is based in Holtville and can be reached at (442) 265-7700 and
Yu-Chen Wang joined UC Cooperative Extension Oct. 3 as a plant pathology advisor for Santa Cruz, Monterey and San Benito counties.
“Vegetable and berry are the major crops I work on currently,” said Wang, who will be working with a wide range of crops and different cropping systems on the Central Coast. “So far, I have been contacted by a wide range of growers – including (those who grow) lettuce, broccoli, pepper, celery, bean, apple, strawberry and blackberry – about their disease problems. I am passionate about providing insight to help the community on their disease problems.”
“The lettuce industry here is suffering from impatiens necrotic spot virus (INSV) vectored by Western flower thrip along with soilborne diseases,” she said. Lettuce growers in the Salinas Valley lost an estimated $50 million to $100 million last year and a lettuce supply shortage occurred. Working alongside fellow advisors, UC specialists and industry partners, Wang will be seeking long-term solutions for the industry.
Prior to becoming a UCCE advisor, Wang worked at AVRDC-World Vegetable Center, for a vegetable seed company, and at UC Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center on research and development.
Wang, a native of Taipei, Taiwan, earned her B.S. and M.S. in horticultural and crop science at National Taiwan University. She earned a second M.S. in plant protection from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo.
“The idea of farmers feeding the world and awareness of crop loss by pests motivated me to pursue a career in agriculture and plant protection,” she said. “During my M.S. at Cal Poly, I worked closely with the California strawberry growers on industry-oriented research. I look forward to extending my study to vegetable and berry crops and serving the farming community.”
Wang is based in Watsonville and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and (831) 201-9689.
Ashley Hooper joined UC ANR on Sept. 1 as the UC Cooperative Extension urban community resiliency advisor in Los Angeles County, a brand-new position. In her role, Hooper is tasked with working with communities who have historically been disadvantaged due to inequitable systems and/or policies.
In collaboration with the community, Hooper will lead efforts focused on building resilience and adaptive capacity. This could look like increasing the community's access to capital, green space, transportation, nutritious food or education.
She already has leveraged data, collected by different organizations, to conduct a content analysis of needs assessments across dimensions of community resilience, such as access to parks and healthcare. Then, as next steps, she will prioritize interviews and field observations.
During her master's program, Hooper worked as a research assistant for the Bureau of Business and Economic Research, where she led interviews with community members facing or trying to counter various inequities like limited access to broadband, housing and health care. For her Ph.D. dissertation, she focused on identifying barriers to and opportunities for resilient food systems in Los Angeles County.
After attending the California Economic Summit in October, Hooper shared her excitement for the prospect of using the arts in building community resilience.
“I went to a creative-economy working group session, and I was reminded of how much the arts and cultural community has to offer in the process of building adaptive capacity in communities,” she said.
Hooper earned a Ph.D. in urban and environmental planning and policy from UC Irvine. She earned a bachelor's degree in psychology and a master's degree in water resources with a concentration in policy and management from the University of New Mexico.
Hooper is based out of the UCCE office in Los Angeles County and can be reached at email@example.com.
Joanna Solins joined UC ANR on Oct. 3 as a UC Cooperative Extension environmental horticulture advisor for Sacramento, Solano and Yolo counties.
Solins will focus on research and outreach related to urban plants, landscaping and climate change, while building relationships with county and municipal governments, nonprofits, landscape and tree care professionals, nursery growers and utilities, among others. She also will support the UC Master Gardener coordinators in her assigned counties, collaborating to extend knowledge and resources to community members.
“My core goals are to improve the climate suitability and ecological performance of urban landscaping and promote the equitable distribution of benefits from urban plants,” Solins said.
After attaining a bachelor's degree in environmental studies at Vassar College, Solins began her career leading outreach education programs for the New England Aquarium and writing for educational publishers. She also worked in communications at the Coral Reef Alliance in San Francisco before starting graduate school at UC Davis, which culminated in a master's in geography and Ph.D. in ecology.
Solins' research at UC Davis combined field studies and geographic information system analysis to investigate plant communities, tree canopy and soils along urban creeks in the Sacramento area. She also carried out postdoctoral research on green stormwater infrastructure, urban forest composition, and the water demand of urban vegetation across California, and contributed to projects examining residential landscaping and urban heat in Sacramento.
Solins is based in Sacramento and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (916) 875-2409.
Stephanie Mar joined UC Cooperative Extension on Oct. 3 as the assistant organic materials management advisor serving Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego counties. Mar is responsible for investigating ways to divert organic wastes from landfills to alternative end markets, such as circular food economies, composting and wastewater reclamation.
“To me, waste doesn't have an end life, just a next life,” said Mar. “A lot of people don't know what happens to their waste after the garbage truck comes or they flush a toilet, so a part of my job is to understand what we are wasting and what happens to it.”
Mar attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she earned a master's degree in public health focused on environmental science and engineering, and a master's degree in city and regional planning focused on land use and environmental planning. She also has a bachelor's degree in public health from UC Berkeley.
Much of Mar's professional experience, like her time working for the City of Berkeley, is centered on community outreach and policy development, two strengths that she believes will serve her well in this new role.
Previously, Mar worked as a public health analyst for UC San Francisco and as a social research analyst with the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services too. Both of which strengthened her understanding of policy and program development, implementation, and monitoring and evaluation.
“Research gives us a lot of information, but then there's a need for translation from what we know to what it actually means,” she said. “There are a lot of people doing different things [to manage their waste], so there's a need for coordination and dispersal of information."
Mar's background in policy development is something she'll rely on to operationalize the research being done by herself and her colleagues.
Behavioral change is one of Mar's anticipated challenges in this role. Even if research and policy efforts yield successful results, encouraging the community to adapt can be an uphill battle.
“Sorting trash, for example, is more of a mental burden than a physical one,” she explained. “We know what the research says and what we need to do, it's just about developing the market to make it happen.”
Mar is based out of Irvine at the South Coast Research and Extension Center and can be reached at email@example.com.
Kristin Dobbin has joined UC ANR and the Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management at UC Berkeley as a UC Cooperative Extension specialist focused on water justice policy and planning.
Originally from Utah, Dobbin comes to Rausser College from UC Los Angeles' Luskin Center for Innovation, where she was a National Science Foundation postdoctoral fellow. Dobbin pairs her love for rural communities, community natural resource management and environmental justice organizing with a strong belief that research can and should play an important role in advancing policy. She hopes to leverage her new position, the first of its kind for UC, to uplift community water managers and impacted residents as leaders and experts in conversations surrounding water management and access.
“It's a dream and a responsibility to be assuming a role that so perfectly weds research and impact,” Dobbin tweeted about her new UC Cooperative Extension water justice policy and planning specialist role.
Dobbin earned her Ph.D. in ecology with an emphasis in environmental policy and human ecology from UC Davis and B.A. in environmental analysis from Pitzer College in Claremont. Prior to graduate school, she worked for the Community Water Center – a grassroots environmental justice organization that advances community-driven solutions for water justice in the Central Valley.
Dobbin is based at UC Berkeley and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @kbdobbin.
Kristen Shive has joined UC ANR and the Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management at UC Berkeley as a UC Cooperative Extension specialist focused on forest and fuels management.
Bringing more than 20 years of experience in conservation, forest and fire management, and ecology, her work broadly focuses on restoring fire to fire-adapted ecosystems, prioritizing areas for restoration, and understanding shifting fire regimes. Prior to joining UC ANR, Shive led the forest program science team for The Nature Conservancy's California Chapter and was the director of science for Save the Redwoods League. She also has worked for the National Park Service in Alaska, California, and Wyoming, most recently as the fire ecologist for Yosemite National Park.
She earned her master's degree in forestry from Northern Arizona University and a Ph.D. in ecosystem science from UC Berkeley.
Shive is based at UC Berkeley and can be reached at email@example.com and (630) 917-5170 and on Twitter @klshive.
Matt Rodriguez joined UC Cooperative Extension on Sept. 5 as a 4-H youth development advisor for Nevada, Placer, Sutter and Yuba counties. As a 4-H advisor, Rodriguez implements extension education and applied research programs grounded in positive youth development theory. He also provides expertise to enhance volunteer engagement in 4-H youth development programs.
Rodriguez earned his Ph.D. from the University of Maryland's School of Public Health in the Department of Family Science. His dissertation, “Influence of Latinx Fathers' Behaviors, Cognitions, Affect, and Family Congruence on Youth Energy Balance-Related Health Outcomes,” investigated Latinx father involvement in the context of youth energy balance-related behaviors. During his doctoral training, Rodriguez also supported several USDA-funded research initiatives involving Latinx fathers and youth. His recent publication, "Predictors Associated with Fathers' Successful Completion of the FOCUS Program,” investigated a sample of fathers in Texas who participated in a child welfare parenting intervention.
Rodriguez currently co-chairs the Men in Families focus group at the National Council on Family Relations. He was also recently elected as Section Counselor for the American Public Health Association's Health Informatics Information Technology section.
Prior to his doctoral studies, Rodriguez was a professional web developer for several large nonprofits in the Midwest. Growing up in a multicultural family with ancestry deriving from Puerto Rico, Japan, Nigeria and England, he embraces the importance of cultural diversity and competency in his family science research.
Rodriguez is based in Auburn and can be reached at (530) 889-7391 and firstname.lastname@example.org and on social media @MattR_Rodriguez.
- Author: Eve Dowdell
Congratulations to our California 4-H Grown Youth in Action winner, Sruthi Sudarsan!
Despite struggling with social anxiety, Sruthi found the confidence and skills to start her organization, Project C.A.R.E.
Throughout her adolescence, Sruthi Sudarsan struggled with social anxiety. With the help of her 4-H club public speaking and puppetry projects, she found the voice and confidence to rise, despite those struggles.
Sruthi hopes her outreach and efforts will motivate future generations to rise to the challenge of leadership and community development.
Unsurprisingly, Sruthi's work doesn't stop there. Using her spark of teaching traditional Indian dance to young children, she raised enough money to build and supply a preschool bathroom in Cambodia. She also used her resources to provide the preschool with educational services on the necessity of basic hygiene. Her passions for encouraging youth to overcome personal obstacles and ignite positive change led her to host a mentorship program with Project C.A.R.E. This program trains students to find their civic engagement spark and execute projects using those sparks. She hopes this program will motivate future generations to rise to the challenge of leadership and community development. Sruthi currently has trained over a hundred middle schoolers to become dynamic community leaders and activists. Sruthi also works with younger children, using her puppetry skills to create educational skits about social issues to connect with children ages five to eleven.
As both Youth in Action and State Ambassador, Sruthi cultivates her impact through events, service, and projects.
Sruthi's mentors, leaders, friends, and family both in and outside of 4-H are proud to see her conquer challenges and utilize her personal development to make a national impact. We cannot wait to see what more she accomplishes over this next year—and beyond!/h3>/h3>/h3>/h2>
- Author: Eve Dowdell
The Member of Excellence Award recognizes a 4-H member for personal achievement and improvement, setting goals and completing them, excelling beyond expectations, overcoming hardships, and for outstanding and long-term contributions to the 4-H Program. The Member of Excellence Award is sponsored by the Thomas and Dorothy Leavey Foundation.
Recipient: Johnathan Salters, San Joaquin County
Johnathan Salters earned this award for his longtime contribution to the 4-H program. His service as County and State Ambassador has shown him to be a true leader, planning and representing his County and State at events and conferences on every level. He charismatically inspires and mentors his fellow 4-H'ers. Johnathan excels at partnering with adult volunteers and staff to promote the California 4-H platform. Furthermore, he has a heart for his community, serving homeless children, fire fighters, and many others.
The 2022 Robert Brownlee Science Golden Clover Award
The Robert Brownlee Science Award recognizes science inquiry and experiential learning in 4-H work to help youth increase knowledge, skills and competencies and improve their attitudes about science. This includes increasing science awareness and use in 4-H projects by testing predictions and making sense of observations. The Robert Brownlee Science Award is sponsored by the Robert Brownlee Foundation. In honor of the visionary, Robert Brownlee (1942-1991), the Foundation was established in 1987 to provide financial awards for creating and maintaining innovative programs for youth.
Harini Muthu earned this award by designing and publishing a cell phone app that logs 4-H activities by Record Book category, which in turn makes the Record Book process less daunting. Harini encountered a setback when working on her Record Book and worked to resolve it not just for herself, but for all California 4-H'ers. Harini pressed through the arduous process of learning a new programming language, coding the app, and making it compatible for all devices. Once the app was created, Harini worked to get the app approved by the State Incentives & Recognition Advisory Committee. With only a few changes, Harini was able to get it approved. The 4-H Activity Tracker is now available for free on the Apple and Google app stores.
The 2022 Jack and Robert Clay Outdoor Adventure Golden Clover Award
The Jack and Robert Clay Outdoor Adventure Award recognizes outstanding achievement, leadership, and promotion of 4-H camping and outdoor adventures such as camping, fishing, hiking, climbing, GIS/GPS, among others. The Jack and Robert Clay Outdoor Adventure Award is sponsored by the Friends of Jack and Robert Clay. Following a tragic accident in 1987, this Memorial Award was established by the family and friends of Jack Clay and his son, Robert, who were enthusiastically involved in the 4-H camping and outdoor adventure projects as leader and junior leader in Alameda County.
Dean and Kai Wu earned this award by starting the first Rolling Hills 4-H Fishing Project to share their passion and key techniques for fishing with other urban 4-H'ers. This project started online in 2020 and by 2021, they transitioned to meeting in-person. Shifting from distance-learning activities to hands-on activities was exciting for everyone because many of the project members had never fished before. Using the skills they gained as Fishing Project leaders, Dean and Kai organized a fundraiser fishing tournament for the Sean N. Parker Center for Allergy and Asthma Research at Stanford University. They raised over $8,000 to support kids who struggle with life threatening food allergies. Dean and Kai Wu not only supported their fellow 4-H members with their skills and passion, but they benefited the broader community as well.
The 2022 Fundraising Award Golden Clover Award
The Fundraising Award recognizes an individual and/or group for efforts in fundraising for both financial and in-kind donations generated for local, county, and state levels. Recipients share methods and processes to raise funds and educate others in the fundraising process. The Fundraising Award is sponsored by the Thomas and Dorothy Leavey Foundation.
The Placer County Judging Team earned this award for their marketing and fundraising efforts to raise money for their county. To fundraise, this team of two 4-H members – Myah Davidson and Joey Stephani - started a “Knowledge Skill-A-Thon” at each of their counties' fairs. They contacted their fairs, proposed their idea, and got both fairs to agree to the event. They spent hours creating and finalizing their idea of a youth-led knowledge test and marketed their event. The “Knowledge Skill-A-Thon” had an amazing turnout. The team also received a $1,000 add-on from an observer for their “hard work” and dedication. Through their successful event, they created a memorable learning opportunity for youth of all ages.
The 2022 Volunteer Leader Mentoring Golden Clover Award
The Volunteer Leader Mentoring Award recognizes a volunteer who changes the life of a peer or youth in a positive manner. The Volunteer Leader Mentoring Award is sponsored by the Thomas and Dorothy Leavey Foundation.
Michelle Sawyer earned this award for embodying a “4-H is about the kids” attitude and her unwavering support of the 4-H members in her county. On top of being an active project member, county council member, and club leader for over ten years, Michelle has been a confidante and friend to many members. She always pushes youth to demonstrate and test their skills at events, both within and outside Sonoma County. Michelle goes above and beyond to encourage and inspire youth at 4-H camp, fair auctions, community service projects, and countless other events.
The 2022 Emerging 4-H Leader Golden Clover Award
The Emerging 4-H Award recognizes a volunteer with five or fewer years of excellent 4-H volunteer service in the 4-H Youth Development Program. The Emerging 4-H Leader award is sponsored by the Thomas and Dorothy Leavey Foundation.
Elizabeth McWhorter earned this award for her broad range of contributions to the 4-H program at the state and county levels. In 2020, Elizabeth joined 4-H and has provided excellent service in just 2 years! Her service on the State 4-H STEM Education Advisory Committee led her to promote youth engagement in STEM and STEM-related careers at various events, including the State Leadership Conference and State 4-H Field Day. Elizabeth's county work includes Alameda County Ambassador Co-Advisor, Countywide Career Exploration project leader, and co-planner for several events and fundraisers. Elizabeth exemplifies dependability, competency, and commitment to 4-H and its members.
The 2022 Collaboration & Outreach Golden Clover Award
The Collaboration & Outreach Award recognizes individuals or groups who increase awareness of the 4-H Program with communities that are new to 4-H. The Collaboration & Outreach Award is sponsored by the Thomas and Dorothy Leavey Foundation.
The Nature Explorers Camp earned this award by increased interest in environmental education through a 5-day 4-H day-camp for Latinx children in K-3rd grade. Camp teen and adult leaders worked to promote the camp and provide Spanish translations for campers and their families. This camp partnered with several Cooperative Extension programs and other youth-serving programs. Each partner group led one day of activities, ranging from Project Learning Tree to Valley Water and “Veggielution” field trips.
The 2022 Civic Engagement Golden Clover Award
The Civic Engagement Award recognizes a group or individual for contributions that demonstrate living the definition of civic engagement: working to make a difference in the civic life of our communities and developing the combination of knowledge, skills, values, and motivation to make that difference. The Civic Engagement Award is sponsored by the Thomas and Dorothy Leavey Foundation.
The Civic Engagement Academy Planning Team earned this award by planning and hosting the one-time, five-day Civic Engagement Academy. This statewide conference was organized in under three months. Both youth and adult delegates learned more about civic engagement and how to make a difference in their communities. The delegates developed a community service-learning project to ignite positive change in their counties.
The 2022 Special Event Group Award Golden Clover Award
The Special Event Award recognizes a member and/or volunteer for individual leadership roles within 4-H camps, conferences, and trainings. This award is given to a group for outstanding educational events or activities that involve youth-adult partnerships in planning and delivery, reach a wide array of youth, and strive to meet local needs. The Special Event Award is sponsored by the Thomas and Dorothy Leavey Foundation.
The Public Speaking & Communications Statewide Advisory Committee earned this award for their research and programming to support 4-H'ers to learn and practice skills, improve attitudes toward public speaking, and strengthen self-efficacy. This committee was formed in 2020. In just two years, they have coordinated regional and state public speaking events, activities, research, and evaluation. This committee of 26 members has greatly aided the California 4-H program to help youth improve their public speaking confidence and abilities.
Learn more about the 4-H Golden Clover Award, eligibility standards, and award categories.
- 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 email@example.com.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org; 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 email@example.com.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 email@example.com.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 email@example.com. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 email@example.com.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 email@example.com. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 email@example.com 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 email@example.com. 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