- Author: Suzanne Morikawa
Volunteers play a vital role in the ongoing growth and development of those in the 4‑H Youth Development program. Our volunteers to serve as positive role models and support youth through strong youth-adult partnerships. We are grateful and honored to have their contributions to the University of California 4-H Youth Development Program.
Jaime Burroughs, 2018 Western Region Outstanding Lifetime Volunteer
Every year, each state can nominate two individual volunteers for the National 4‑H Salute to Excellence Awards, in recognition of their exemplary service to 4-H. One is an individual who has volunteered for 4-H for less than 10 years (Volunteer of the Year), and the other is an individual who has spent 10 or more years as a 4-H volunteer (Outstanding Lifetime Volunteer).
We are thrilled to announce that Jaime Burroughs of Foothill 4-H Club in Stanislaus County, has been voted the 2018 Western Region Outstanding Lifetime Volunteer! The National 4-H Selection Committee spent almost three months reviewing over 30 nominations from throughout the United States. Jaime is now eligible to be considered for the National Volunteer of the Year Award, which will be announced April 19, 2018.
A true 4-H'er
Jaime has been a lifelong member of 4-H. She joined the Tehama County 4-H program at age 7, and exited at 18. She was one of four in her county's history to be named a Diamond Star (now called State Ambassador) and served for two years. While still in college pursuing her teaching credential, she became an adult volunteer to fill the role of District Leader, then Educational Director for the California Focus conference.
"Jaime's involvement is even more impressive when you consider how her life has evolved over the almost two-decade span. She has been involved with Cal Focus while attending college, teaching high school, raising 5 children, and farming almonds."
Marcie Skelton, 4-H volunteer & alumni from Tehama County 4-H
In addition to volunteering at the state level, Jaime volunteered in her local 4-H club, Foothill 4-H, even before her own children were old enough to join. The club started with four members and has grown to almost 50 members. She has taken on the roles of co-community club leader and project leader for projects in sheep, swine, primary and outdoor activities.
Meet Jaime at California Focus
Registration is open for this year's California Focus conference! See our event page for more information.
Register online by May 21./span>/h2>/h4>/h2>/h2>
- Author: Jeannette E. Warnert
The growing popularity of crowd funding got UC Cooperative Extension advisor David Doll thinking.
“By everybody giving a little, you can get a lot,” he said. “We can do the same thing.”
Doll mulled over the idea for a few years, talked with his colleagues at UCCE in Merced County, and launched a unique funding plan for the future of agricultural research.
“Over the years, there has been a consistent erosion of base funding for our services, not only from UC, but also the county and federal governments,” he said. “We want to build a strong foundation for ag programming, like we had in the past. Something that would last longer than anyone's tenure in the office.”
Doll and UCCE county director in Merced County Scott Stoddard worked with the UC ANR Development office to solicit donations needed for the establishment of an endowment to support ag research in Merced County.
Initial fundraising over the last six months has brought in about $15,000 for the pioneering endeavor, enough to form an official, if small, endowment. The endowment can spin off interest and provide support for perpetuity.
“Eventually, we would like to see the endowment reach the $300,000 to $400,000 range, so it will bring a few thousand dollars each year and build in time with continual support from the community,” Doll said.
To make a contribution, go to the UCCE Merced County giving page, https://donate.ucanr.edu/pages/uccemerced. For designation, select the “Agriculture Extension and Research Endowment” in the dropdown menu.
Norton is “probably the kind of person everyone would like to know – a kind and gentle soul who exudes knowledge and wisdom,” said Bill Martin, executive director of Central Valley Farmland Trust.
For the past 10 years, Martin has worked on conserving farmland with Norton, who was a founding member of the Merced County Farmland and Open Space Trust, which merged with two other land trusts to become Central Valley Farmland Trust.
“He has an understanding of the landscape that is greatly appreciated,” Martin said of Norton. “He's very low-key, observant and provides timely input on provocative issues that come up at board meetings.”
Raised on a farm near Salida, north of Modesto, Norton studied pomology at Fresno State University, earning a B.S. and an M.S. in plant science before joining UC Cooperative Extension.
During his career, the UC Cooperative Extension advisor has helped Merced County growers solve problems in kiwifruit, Asian pears, prunes, peaches, strawberries, figs and pomegranates.
“When I started in 1979, there was rapid growth of two new industries – kiwifruit and Asian pears,” Norton said. “I conducted some early research trials on kiwifruit and authored a chapter of the new UC Cooperative Extension production manual for kiwifruit. I also spent a lot of time diagnosing Asian pear problems.”
Early in Norton's career, UC scientists introduced a device for measuring soil moisture called a neutron probe. The young advisor tested the device in peach orchards on clay-loam soils, attempting to correlate the probe, gypsum blocks, tensiometers and pressure chamber data.
“All of these tools were relatively new then,” said Norton. “Mid-day values had not been established yet so data collection entailed going out at 3 a.m. to pick leaves and measure the leaf water potential while crouching in the back seat of my government-issued Plymouth Fury.”
Collaborating with his UC Cooperative Extension colleague Roger Duncan in Stanislaus County, Norton conducted several research projects aimed at reducing labor costs in peaches. Projects included mechanical fruit thinning, chemical blossom thinning and various types of mechanical blossom thinning.
Research by Norton and his fellow Cooperative Extension advisors showed that mature prune trees could be pruned every other year and still produce desirable fruit size and maintain yields. Growers widely adopted the practice of alternate year pruning. Later, Cooperative Extension set out to demonstrate the new integrated prune farming practices where IPM tools were integral parts of the system.
In the early 1980s, when many grape growers were spraying pesticides three to four times a year, leafhoppers developed resistance to some insecticides. Norton and other UC experts saw the potential for biological control by the Anagris parasitic wasp. UC Cooperative Extension advisors persuaded growers to not spray the first or second generations of leafhoppers and let the beneficial insects control the pests. Now grape growers rarely have to spray for leafhoppers.
Over Norton's career, agriculture in Merced County has diversified. He began having strawberry meetings translated into Hmong or Lao for immigrant growers and studying pomegranates and figs.
Off the farm, Norton has been active in community development, organizing workshops for farmers on how to export their products, chairing the Merced County Economic Development Task Force twice and serving twice as president of the county's Chamber of Commerce.
“My favorite part of the job has always been doing farm calls, where I went out and visited growers and diagnosed problems, explaining the nature of the problem, and most importantly, suggest things to try,” Norton said.
In retirement, Norton plans on playing his tenor and bari sax in jazz bands, training UC Master Gardeners and volunteering with the local historical society and other organizations.
He has also been granted emeritus status by UC Agriculture and Natural Resources.
Capital Press: Advisor helps SJ Valley growers meet challenges, opportunities
- Author: Jeannette E. Warnert
The Merced Sun-Star today ran a front-page feature about UC Cooperative Extension farm advisor Maxwell Norton and his passion for the agricultural industry in Merced County.
The article is part of a weekly Sun-Star series, Merced Matters, which features "ordinary people doing extraordinary things, extraordinary people doing ordinary things, and a lot in between."
Perhaps because Norton's profile appears on Valentine's Day, writer Carol Reiter made the article something of a love story. It says that Norton:
- Loves agriculture
- Loves science
- Loves growers who farm the land in Merced
- Wants others to love the Valley as much as he does
And one of the experts asked to comment on the farm advisor said, "I love working with him."
In addition to traditional farm advisor duties, Norton has taken on a number of tasks designed to support and promote the agricultural industry in Merced County.
He was the founding director of Central Valley Farmland Trust, which as of June 2010 completed 15 agricultural conservation easements and protected 2,745 acres of working farm and ranch land in the northern San Joaquin Valley.
Norton planned a Merced County "blossom trail," which allows residents to tour country roads and enjoy the orchards when they are in bloom.
In 2010 he joined with a group of local agriculturalists to prepare a series of recordings that visitors can listen to in their cars while driving the historic roadway that connects the valley floor to Yosemite National Park. MP3 files can be downloaded from the Country Ventures website.
The recordings including information on points of historical interest, types of agricultural crops being grown, signs of early Native American residents, wildlife and geological features.
- Author: Mandi Bottoms
Posted by Luana Xiong, 14, Merced County, CA, on October 5, 2010 at 10:37 AM
My name is Luana Xiong. I am 14 years old and part of Merced County 4-H in California. I have been in 4-H for five years. Some of the projects I do in 4-H include photography and arts and crafts, but the one part of 4-H that I absolutely love is science.
National Youth Science Day has become an important aspect of 4-H. It has created so many opportunities for youth to learn about science and learn about 4-H. I have had the enjoyment of experiencing National Youth Science Day for the past two years. I have led and conducted both experiments each year. My goal out of leading these experiments was to pass my knowledge to others. This year I do not plan on taking the lead in the experiment 4-H2O, but I do plan on participating this year and learning more. My county plans on holding the event during National 4-H week.
I am interested because I love science and getting to learn anything about science is a great opportunity for me because I want to go into a science career. I want to become a cardiovascular surgeon so that I can help people. I chose this career because I have an interest in hearts and how they work. It fascinates me very much. I also want to be a doctor because of my culture. I am Hmong and the elderly Hmong people don’t really understand science or medical problems. I want to be the person who understands the culture, but also the science that is involved when they are sick.
Science is complicated and easy to understand at the same time, but it is also there to explain events. I think science is very important for youth to learn about because they should know that it affects them every single day and that they also affect science. Science is what keeps our feet to the ground and creates the possible discoveries for cures.
I just happen to love science a lot. My brain seems to always be starving for knowledge./span>