- Author: Dohee Kim
Dennis Pittenger, area environmental horticulture advisor, retired on July 1, after 36 years of outstanding service to University of California Cooperative Extension.
Pittenger joined UC Cooperative Extension in 1981, after serving three years in The Ohio State University Cooperative Extension Service as an extension agent in the Cleveland area. In California, he conducted some of the first studies that quantified the minimum water requirements of landscape plants, paving the way for formulating state and local landscape water conservation programs. He has continued to develop and refine that work, leading to improved understanding of the water needs of landscape plants and improved methods for calculating irrigation scheduling.
Pittenger is a highly respected researcher and is nationally recognized for his comprehensive knowledge and experience in water management, palms and care of woody landscape plants. He has authored and co-authored more than 225 research articles and publications. One of his most valuable contributions in publications is the award-winning “California Master Gardener Handbook,” which is the University of California's most comprehensive basic horticulture reference (now in its second edition). It has become the definitive guide to gardening in California!
“It would not have been possible to produce a text of this quality and breadth without the contributions of the two dozen advisors, specialists and faculty and communication professionals at the university. This wonderful collaboration is the reason this book continues to set the standard nationally for Master Gardener program training references,” said Pittenger, who served as the technical editor.
He worked closely with many UC colleagues and members of the green industry to carry out educational programs and research studies. The response to his work came in the form of landscape professionals and arborists adopting methods and practices developed by his research. In 2010 and 2011, Pittenger received the Arboriculture Research Award from the Western Chapter of the International Society of Arboriculture. From 2012 to 2015, he was an appointed member of the American Society of Agriculture and Biological Engineers' technical committee to develop national standard methods for determining landscape water demand. In 2016, he was inducted to the California Green Industry Hall of Fame. Simply put, Pittenger's list of accomplishments and awards is long.
“We're truly going to miss his presence at UC Cooperative Extension, as he has played a key role in laying the foundation for our environmental horticulture program and its continued success,” said Keith Nathaniel, 4-H youth advisor and county director of UC Cooperative Extension in Los Angeles County.
Pittenger received his bachelor's and master's degrees in horticulture from The Ohio State University in Columbus. In addition, he completed graduate course work in soil science at the University of California, Riverside.
He looks forward to retirement, as it will allow him time to travel, enjoy good food, learn new skills and engage in consulting activities.