For "outstanding achievements and notable contributions in disseminating science-based beekeeping information since 2016,” the UC Davis-based California Master Beekeeper Program (CAMBP) won a 2023 UC Davis Staff Assembly “Citation of Excellence” and praise from Chancellor Gary May.
CAMBP director and founder Elina Lastro Niño, associate professor of Cooperative Extension and a member of UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology faculty, and co-program manager Wendy Mather share the Faculty-Staff Partnership Award.
Niño, UC Extension apiculturist since 2014, founded CAMBP in 2016. Mather joined the program in March of 2018. Also integral to the program is Kian Nikzad, but as a newer employee, was ineligible to be nominated.
The awards ceremony, held Sept. 12 in the International Center on campus, singled out “some of our most exceptional UC Davis individuals and teams,” Chancellor May said in his presentation.
Nikzad accepted the award on behalf of Niño, who was participating in Apimondia in Santiago, Chile, conferring with colleagues at the UC Davis Chile Life Sciences Innovation Center, a part of UC Davis Global Affairs. She was assisting them in developing a sustainable and environmentally friendly science-based beekeeping program to support the success of farmers and beekeepers at all economic levels.
“I truly appreciate everything you do on a daily basis to make UC Davis a wonderful place,” the chancellor said. “You are the heart of UC Davis and I'm grateful for your dedication and hard work...you “contribute to our university's success and make UC Davis a more enjoyable, creative, inclusive and invigorating place to work.”
Nomination. Nominators of "The Bee Team" lauded Niño and Mather for providing a “program of learning, teaching, research, and public service, goes above and beyond in delivering comprehensive, science-based information about honey bees and honey bee health. They continually and consistently develop, improve, and refine their statewide curriculum that educates stewards in a train-the-trainer program to disseminate accurate, timely, and crucial information. Honey bees pollinate more than 30 California crops, including almonds, a $5 billion industry (no bees, no pollination, no almonds). Indeed, California produces more than a third of our country's vegetables and three-quarters of our fruits and nuts. However, colony losses are alarming due to pesticides, pests, predators and pathogens.”
As of Sept. 15, 2023, CAMBP has donated 34,000 hours of volunteer time and served 209,000 individuals in education, outreach and beekeeping mentorship. If a volunteer hour were to be calculated at $26.87, CAMBP has given $913,580 back to California in service of science-based beekeeping and honey bee health.
Scholarships. “No money?” wrote the nominators (Kathy Keatley Garvey, Nora Orozco and Tabatha Yang from the Department of Entomology and Nematology). “No problem. (CAMBP) has donated 12 scholarships, worth $250 each; helped novices who can't afford mentoring or equipment by linking them with veteran beekeepers; and is engaging in free bee removals--rescuing and relocating bees.”
Over the past year, CAMBP has developed and expanded its educational materials. This includes launching an asynchronous online course and in-person preparatory programs with its partners. It is updating safety materials and developing an Epinephrine auto-injector/CPR course, geared toward “everyone from 4-H beekeepers to novice beekeepers to the general public,” the nominators wrote.
CAMBP also teaches “schoolchildren about bees at specially guided garden tours at UC Davis, inspiring them “to care for the bees and plant nectar and pollen resources.”
Its website, accessible to the public, offers a list of classes and knowledge-based information, including backyard beekeeping, bees in the neighborhood, bees and beekeeping regulations, defensive bees, live honey bee removals, and protecting pollinators.
“Bottom line,” the nominators concluded, “our ‘B' Team is really an ‘A' Team, an outstanding example of UC Davis teaching, research and service; a team providing exemplary service and contributions; and a team that creates and maintains high morale and embodies the Principles of Community.”
Joint Statement. In a joint statement following the awards ceremony, Mather and Nikzad said: “We share this award with our passionate and caring member volunteers. Our members are deeply committed to honey bee health, science-based beekeeping practices, and, most importantly, to each other. Their enthusiasm and dedication drive our mission forward. We wish to acknowledge Elina Niño for her visionary leadership; she has brought together various stakeholders, including growers, bee breeders, commercial, sideline, and hobbyist beekeepers, as well as the general public, through CAMBP, UC Davis, UC Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) and UC Cooperative Extension (UCCE). We missed having her at the ceremony.”
At the Staff Assembly ceremony, one other team received a Faculty-Staff Partnership Award Excellence Award: the Graduate Mentoring Initiative, comprised of Ambarish Kulkarni, faculty, Department of Chemical Engineering; Pamela Lein, faculty, Department of Molecular Bioscience; and Elizabeth Sturdy, staff, director of the Mentoring and Academic Success Initiative, Graduate Studies.
Serving as co-chairs of the 2023 Citations of Excellence Committee were Darolyn Striley, manager of the Office of Student Development, School of Medicine, and Mary Carrillo, business operations manager, Languages and Literatures.
Staff Assembly sponsors the annual Citations of Excellence awards program to provide recognition for UC Davis and UC Davis Health individual staff and staff teams “who have demonstrated outstanding achievement in one of the following areas: teaching, research, service, innovation, supervision, mentorship, team awards and faculty/staff partnership award.”
Honored are the duo of CAMBP director Elina Lastro Niño, associate professor of Cooperative Extension and a member of the faculty of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, and co-program manager Wendy Mather, staff. Niño founded CAMBP in 2016.
They will receive the award from Chancellor Gary May at a fall reception.
"The award seeks to highlight teams who actively develop and encourage faculty/staff partnerships and as a result are able to make notable contributions to UC Davis that contribute to the University's Mission of Teaching, Research, and Service; and who exemplify outstanding achievement and/or service," according to Staff Assembly officials.
Since 2016, CAMBP has:
- Given 32,000 hours of volunteer time (Beneficial Educational Experiences) and served 186,630 individuals in education, outreach and beekeeping mentorship. If a volunteer hour is worth $26.87, the program has given $859,840 back to the state of California in service of science-based beekeeping and honey bee health.
- Enrolled 185 Honey Bee Ambassadors (a level established in 2021), 494 Apprentice, 93 Journey level candidates and certified 20 Master level beekeepers. There are 12 members in 2023 participating in their Master Capstone projects.
- Since the team began tracking Continuing Education Experiences in 2020, they're recorded 3752 hours
- They're also working on updating a safety manual.
Thanks to generous support from the Office of the Chancellor, Staff Assembly will award the staff winners with a total of some $17,000. Niño is one of three faculty recognized. (See list)
Niño and Mather are being honored as "The Bee Team."
Elina Niño, in addition to being the Extension apiculturist for the state of California, a member of the entomology-nematology faculty, director of CAMBP, and a honey bee researcher, serves as the faculty director of the UC Davis Bee Haven, a half-acre bee garden on Bee Biology Road.
"My primary responsibilities are in providing professional support and education to California's beekeepers, growers, pesticide applicators, and other stakeholder groups," she writes on the CAMBP website. "I teach numerous beginner, intermediate and advanced beekeeping workshops, the culmination of which has resulted in the establishment of the first ever California Master Beekeeper Program serving beekeepers of California and neighboring states. I am also currently working on the development of apiculture education for veterinarians in collaboration with the Western Institute of Food Safety and Security (WIFFS). In addition to teaching formal workshops I serve on various commodity boards as a research liaison and adviser allowing me to directly impact California Agriculture. (See more)
Wendy Mather, a beekeeper since 2007, says she enjoys sharing her passion for bees, education, environmental stewardship and program design with the CAMBP. She achieved her Journey Level Beekeeper certification from the University of Montana in 2015. She owned and operated Hardscrabble Honey, self-described as "a modest sideline operation in central Ontario which averaged 1000 kgs of clean wildflower honey each year." She also worked as the Honey Bee Health tech representative for NOD Apiary Products in Canada and the United States.
As a social service worker and adult educator, Mather taught community development, program design and portfolio development at Loyalist College in Belleville, Ontario. (Kian Nikzad serves as the co-program manager of CAMBP but as a new employee, was ineligible to be nominated.)
Citations of Excellence
UC Davis Staff Assembly's annual Citations of Excellence awards program provides recognition for UC Davis and UC Davis Health individual staff and staff teams, who have demonstrated outstanding achievement in one of the following areas: teaching, research, service, innovation, supervision, mentorship, team awards and faculty/staff partnership award.
The Faculty/Staff Partnership Award is meant for those who "go above and beyond the minimum requirements of their positions," according to Staff Assembly officials. "This award is intended for small teams of 2-4 individuals consisting of at least one career staff and one faculty member. Faculty are eligible to be nominated and to win this award, but are not eligible for the monetary prize." The narrative for the Faculty/Staff Partnership Award is limited to 4000 characters (approximately 750 words). Under the rules, nominations are confidential, and names and gender of the nominees and their departments are withheld.
The nominators wrote that the bee team "provides a program of learning, teaching, research, and public service, goes above and beyond in delivering comprehensive, science-based information about honey bees and honey bee health. They continually and consistently develop, improve, and refine their statewide curriculum that educates stewards in a train-the-trainer program to disseminate accurate, timely, and crucial information. Honey bees pollinate more than 30 California crops, including almonds, a $5 billion industry (no bees, no pollination, no almonds). Indeed, California produces more than a third of our country's vegetables and three-quarters of our fruits and nuts. However, colony losses are alarming due to pesticides, pests, predators and pathogens. Since 2016 our team has (1) donated 32,000 hours of volunteer time and served 186,630 individuals in education, outreach and beekeeping mentorship (note that if you calculate a volunteer hour at $26.87, our team has given $859,840 back to California in service of science-based beekeeping and honey bee health and (2) enrolled 185 Bee Ambassadors (a level established in 2021), 494 Apprentice, 93 Journey level candidates and certified 20 Master level beekeepers. Note that of the participants, 75 are current or former UC Davis employees or alumni. Since 2020, our team has recorded 3752 hours in Continuing Education Experiences."
"Our team lengthens their office hours, going above and beyond in helping others (such as “My colony is overwhelmed with varroa mites—what can I do?”) listening to them and resolving issues. At Zoom meetings, phone calls, and office meetings, they praise participants for their questions before responding! “Good question, so glad you asked that!” is commonplace and helps build and maintain high morale. It also exemplifies the values of collaboration and collegiality."
"Their website is a wealth of information, including course offerings and knowledge-based information, including backyard beekeeping, bees in the neighborhood, bees and beekeeping regulations, defensive bees, live honey bee removals, and protecting pollinators. This information is available to the public, not limited to program participants."
"Our team has posted the UC Davis Principles of Community on its website and has added to it. 'We affirm the dignity inherent in all of us, and we strive to maintain a climate of equity and justice demonstrated by respect for one another…We acknowledge that our society carries within it historical and deep-rooted injustices and biases. Therefore, we endeavor to foster mutual understanding and respect among the many parts of our whole.' "
"Bottom line, our 'B' Team is really an 'A' Team, an outstanding example of UC Davis teaching, research and service; a team providing exemplary service and contributions; and a team that creates and maintains high morale and embodies the Principles of Community."
Also recognized for a Faculty-Staff Partnership Award:
Graduate Mentoring Initiative
- Elizabeth Sturdy, director of Mentoring and Academic Success Initiatives, Graduate Studies
- Pamela Lein, professor, Molecular Biosciences
- Ambar Kulkarni, associate professor, Chemical Engineering
Other recipients of Citations of Excellence awards include:
Innovation Award: Faye Perata, director, Residential Operations, Student Housing and Dining Services
Mentorship Award: Mike Waid, technical lead, Information and Educational Technology (IET)
Service Award: Grace Dell'Olio, administrative assistant, Animal Sciences
Supervision Award: Meshell Louderman, chief administration officer, Engineering Computer Science
Teaching Award: Joseph Pacini, curriculum coordinator, Veterinary Medicine: Dean's Office
Team Award: Orientation Team, New Student Academic Services, comprised of:
- Catrina Wagner, director, New Student Academic Services
- Amy Oleynik, Lead Orientation Program coordinator, New Student Academic Services
- Joseph Villegas, Orientation Program coordinator, New Student Academic Services
- Jessica Acuña, Orientation Program coordinator, New Student Academic Services
- Gabe Bellue, Orientation Administrative Assistant, New Student Academic Services
- Lian Boos, director, Center for Student Involvement
Co-chairs of the 2023 Citations of Excellence program are Darolyn Striley, manager, UC Davis School of Medicine Office of Student Development, and Mary Carrillo, business office manager, UC Davis Languages and Literatures. Lauren McDiarmid, chair of Graduate Studies, serves as the 2022-23 chair of Staff Assembly.
Dyer was selected the recipient of the honorable mention award, or second place, in the highly competitive service award category of the Citation for Excellence program, for his service to the Bohart Museum, Department of Entomology and Nematology, and the public. He was nominated by Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum and a UC Davis distinguished professor of entomology; Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator of the Bohart, and Kathy Keatley Garvey, communications specialist, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. (See Bug Squad blog)
Berks received a Staff Assembly scholarship to work toward her master's degree in cybersecurity at National University. A member of the Phoenix Cluster Information Technology (IT) team since December 2018, she recently accepted a promotion to join the Campus Information and Educational Technology (IET) Security Operations Center. Her last day with the Phoenix Cluster IT team was Sept. 2.
The annual Staff Assembly Award presentation took place Monday, Sept. 12 in the Alpha Gamma Rho Hall of the Walter J. Buehler Alumni Center. Awards presented included citations of excellence, a faculty and staff partnership award, and staff and staff dependent scholarships. (See list of award winners)
UC Davis Chancellor Gary May congratulated the recipients.
In his remarks, Chancellor May told the crowd: "This is truly an exciting time for UC Davis. I hope you heard that we were ranked #2 nationally among public universities in Washington Monthly's 2022 Guide and Rankings. On top of that, UC Davis retained its No. 4 public university ranking in America's Top College List 2022 by Forbes. In some places UC Davis is the top, such as No. 1 for sustainabilty. UC Davis is also ranked No. 1 in the nation for diversity, inclusiveness and internationalization. And, we recently set a university record by attracting more than $1 billion in annual research awards. Fewer than 20 universities in the country can claim this."
"I could go on," the chancellor continued, "but the fact of the matter is that we are doing great work at UC Davis, and each of you are a part of this effort. I know how important your expertise, experience and institutional memory are to advancing the university's success. It's sometimes difficult to appreciate how our individual contributions make a difference in the 'big picture.' But every day, the work of staff are critical to our university projects, our operations and our campus environment."
The chancellor pointed out: "These behind-the-scene efforts are what keep UC Davis humming and in tune with our mission of excellence in teaching, research and public service. They are a big part of what your university and Staff Assembly recognizes and thanks you for today. The individuals and teams we honor this afternoon have gone 'above and beyond' all expectations to make UC Davis a more enjoyable, creative, inclusive and invigorating place to work.
He added: "I am proud of all UC Davis staff, but the individuals and teams we honor this afternoon have gone above and beyond in contributing to the university's success. Thank you so much for your outstanding contributions to UC Davis. Our university is a better place today because of your accomplishments, because of your hard work and because of your inspiring dedication to excellence."
In all, the UC Davis Staff Assembly awarded individual honors in five categories for its Citation of Excellence program: innovation, mentorship, service, supervision, and teaching, as well as a team award and a faculty and staff partnership award. The Staff Assembly also awarded scholarships to campus and UC Davis Health staff and staff dependents.
Jennifer Jackson, chair of the UC Davis Staff Assembly, and Jana Avila, chair of the UC Davis Health Staff Assembly, welcomed the crowd. Jackson serves as the Academic Program analyst in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Dean's Office, and works with undergraduate student data for the college. Avila is the Affiliate Network manager.
The UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology's bee garden is the first on the list of the UC Davis Staff Assembly's "2022-23 Aggie Explorations" tours.
UC Davis staff are invited to register and participate on the Tuesday, Sept. 20 tour of the half-acre bee garden, known as the UC Davis Bee Haven. It is located next to the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility on Bee Biology Road, west of the UC Davis campus. The event takes place from noon to 1 p.m. and is open only to staff.
UC Extension apiculturist Elina Lastro Niño of the Department of Entomology and Nematology serves the faculty director of the garden, and Christine Casey is the academic program management officer.
The garden was planted in the fall of 2019 under the direction of interim department chair Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology. Häagen-Dazs was the primary donor. (See timeline and history of the garden.)
"The Honey Bee Haven will be a pollinator paradise," Kimsey related in December 2008. "It will provide a much needed, year-round food source for our bees at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility. We anticipate it also will be a gathering place to inform and educate the public about bees. We are grateful to Haagen-Dazs for its continued efforts to ensure bee health."
The garden, Kimsey said, would include a seasonal variety of blooming plants that will provide a year-round food source for honey bees. It would be a living laboratory supporting research into the nutritional needs and natural feeding behaviors of honey bees and other insect pollinators. She added that visitors would be able to glean ideas on how to establish their own bee-friendly gardens and help to improve the nutrition of bees in their own backyards.
UC Davis Staff Assembly has scheduled five campus tours as part of its "A Taste of UC Davis," commemorating the UC Davis ranking as the nation's leading school in agriculture. The tours are open to staff only.
In addition to the UC Davis Bee Haven, venues include (see updates here):
- UC Davis Brewing Lab
Thursday, Oct. 27, Noon to 1 p.m.
- The Pantry
Thursday, Nov. 17, Noon to 1 p.m.
- UC Davis Student Farm
Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023, Noon to 1 p.m.
- Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science
Wednesday, Feb. 22, Noon to 1 p.m.
- UC Davis Meat Laboratory
- UC Davis Coffee Center
- UC Noel-Nordfelt Animal Science Goat Dairy and Creamery
"We are currently recruiting participants for our Breakfast with the Chancellor series!" noted Scott Loewen-Towner, UC Davis Staff Asssembly coordinator, conference and event services. The Breakfast with the Chancellor program is a unique opportunity for staff to meet with the Chancellor and fellow campus leaders to discuss topics that impact staff. Through this program, we invite staff to share ideas on how to improve processes, increase revenue, implement solutions to challenges experienced by staff, and more. Learn more and submit your interest form to attend Breakfast with the Chancellor."
In the highly competitive “service award” category of the UC Davis Staff Assembly's annual 2022 Citations of Excellence program, Dyer received the second-place honor or honorable mention. The university employs some 17,000 academic and administrative staff.
Dyer, who holds a bachelor's degree in entomology (2018) from UC Davis, began volunteering at the Bohart Museum in 2015, advanced to a paid internship in 2016, and then in 2018, accepted his current position as the lab assistant.
Dyer overcame three obstacles: a challenging childhood, a marriage that didn't work, and the loss of his home and hometown in the 2018 raging inferno in Paradise known as “The Camp Fire.” He successfully struggled from #ParadiseStrong to #DyerStrong.
“Ninety-five percent of the town is gone,” Paradise council member Michael Zuccolillo told the San Francisco Chronicle in a news story published Nov. 10, 2018. “The remaining 5 percent of buildings are barely standing. I felt like I was living in a bad dream. It was unrecognizable. I had to keep asking, ‘Where are we?' All the landmarks are gone. Block by block, nothing. Anybody who had a house in Paradise probably doesn't anymore.”
Love of Science. Dyer today credits his “love of science” with helping him overcome life's hardships. “And now in return, he inspires others to love science,” wrote his three nominators Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology; Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator; and Kathy Keatley Garvey, communications specialist, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
Kimsey described him as “bright, gifted and personable. It doesn't matter what needs to be done in the museum, curation, insect identification, live colony care, computer or software issues, and working with student volunteers, he takes care of it. It is so rare to find someone who can do some of these tasks so well, much less all of them like he can.”
Another faculty member added this to the nomination packet: “(Brennen) is what I would generally characterize as a servant leader, defined by a philosophy and practice that aims to enrich the lives of the people. He works to build a better organization, and create a more caring environment for everyone. He is an exceptionally hard worker who is always available to assist students, staff, volunteers alike.”
An alumnus: “(Brennen) is incredible. He is intelligent, meticulous and proactive, and goes above and beyond to assist peers and colleagues. For example, when I was finishing my PhD thesis, I needed photos of insect specimens to add to my last chapter, but I had neither the time nor the skills to utilize our modern microscope to photograph specimens. He generously offered to help, and did so perfectly and quickly. If he hadn't been so reliable and proactive, I wouldn't have been able to finish my PhD in time.”
Accolades. Other comments from faculty and colleagues:
- “Frankly, we do not know what we would do without him. He is that exemplary. He is always kind, courteous, respectful, reliable, flexible, and eager to help with any project. When you ask for a favor or task from him, you can count on it being done promptly and correctly.”
- “(Brennen) steps up to difficult tasks, such as taking the lead in a landmark, three-year, federally funded project of surveying and databasing insects from three counties in the Sacramento River Delta (to date, 700 species, including 30 new species). He does it all, from organizing collections, coordinating field trips, and training interns, to helping graduate students, faculty and peers with equipment, including the GIGAmacro system and freeze freeze dryer; and assisting them with their projects and publications, such as imaging holotypes and photographing specimens for their publications. With BioQuip closed and supplies scarce, he even designs collecting equipment!”
- “He also serves as the unofficial IT specialist. (Brennen), who learned to dismantle and resassemble computers as a child, troubleshoots the office computers and printers, and assists with the website.
- “He volunteers to drive hundreds of miles to bring back collections, donations or other materials. He eagerly supports UC Davis Picnic Day, (Bohart) open houses, and UC Davis Biodiversity Museum Day. He engages with visitors, showing them displays, answering their questions, and encouraging them to ask more!”
- “(Brennen) strongly supports diversity, equity and inclusion. When a colleague's developmentally disabled aunt arrived for a tour, he noticed her limitless enthusiasm and curiosity for insects, so he headed to the Arboretum to bring back a male Valley carpenter bee (a blond, green-eyed bee known as a ‘teddy bear bee') and let the aunt hold it (note that ‘boy bees don't sting') before releasing it. Her joy, glee and excitement were as unforgettable as (Brennen's) kindness, thoughtfulness and generosity.”
- “(Brennen) has been an anchor to the museum, especially these last COVID years. We are a small team who tries to do big things. (Brennen) is the glue that holds everything together and gets the job done. He supports all aspects of the (workplace) from research to outreach and education. He is tireless and very deserving of recognition. He is not someone who likes to step into the limelight, but is definitely behind the scenes making everything happen smoothly. He is also just a caring and kind co-worker and sensitive to inclusivity and equity.”
In summary, the nominators wrote that (Brennen) “epitomizes the excellence of our UC Davis workforce.”
Dyer said he is humbled and honored to be singled out for the award.
The judging criteria in the service award category included
- Provides exemplary services to students, staff, faculty and/or general campus
- Makes notable contributions to the department and/or campus
- Creates and maintains high morale
- Embodies the Principles of Community
In all, the UC Davis Staff Assembly awarded individual honors in five categories: innovation, mentorship, service, supervision, and teaching, as well as a team award and a faculty and staff partnership award. The judges also awarded scholarships to staff and staff dependents. (See award winners)
The Bohart Museum, founded in 1946 and located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane, houses a global collection of eight million insects. It also maintains a live “petting zoo” (Madagascar hissing cockroaches, stick insects and tarantulas) and an insect-themed gift shop.