Graduate Students in Extension
University of California
Graduate Students in Extension

What We Do: Research & Extension Updates

A New Tool to Help Landowners Plan Irrigation for Pasture & Wetlands

August 19th, 2016 - Nathan Van Schmidt

During his winter, Graduate Student in Extension Nathan Van Schmidt interviewed landowners throughout the Gold Country region about their perspectives on irrigation, drought, wetlands, and West Nile virus. During this interviews, many landowners expressed an appreciation for the wetlands that resulted from irrigation runoff for pasture and green space, and wanted to know how much irrigation would be needed to create or expand a wetland and where would be best to apply it. To help landowners answer this question, he developed the Irrigation Planner, a new computer program to help landowners in Gold Country region of the Sierra Nevada foothills explore different scenarios of irrigation and estimate the flows of water and amount of pasture, wetland, and creeks that would result. The program is available as a free download from the Irrigation Planner website.  It was developed by Nathan Van Schmidt with guidance and assistance from his mentorship team of Sam Sandoval Solis, Roger Ingram, Cass Mutters, Van Butsic, and Steve Beissinger.



Understanding Climate Information Needs of Farmers

May 12th, 2016 - Kripa Jagannathan

Kripa Jagannathan presented her extension findings on almond grower's climate information needs for long-term decision-making at the Climate & Water Tools and Resources for Informed Agricultural Decisions workshop on May 12th at UC-Merced. This extension workshop brought together faculty members, county advisors, and agricultural producers to discuss a variety of topics relating to information needs and solutions under El Niño, drought, and a changing climate, including communicating climate change to water managers, new National Weather Service tools, and sustainable groundwater management.



Working With the Media Workshop: Addressing Controversial Topics

May 4th, 2016 - Nathan Van Schmidt

This workshop provided guidance to students, post-docs, and faculty members on how to work with the media for effective science communication and outreach. The workshop was organized by Nathan Van Schmidt and led by a panel of three staff and faculty members with extensive experience working with the media: Julie Van Scoy, the Berkeley College of Natural Resource's Director of Communications, Dr. Peggy Lemaux, Specialist in Science Communication, and Dr. Whendee Silver, Professor of CNR's Science Communications course. The workshop was a mix of presentations and open Q&A, and covered topics ranging from how to seek out media coverage, what media channels are available, preparing for interviews, and responding to controversial questions. The full notes for the event are available here and Julie Van Scoy's slides are available here.


Intro to GIS for Agriculture: Rangeland Focus

February 19th, 2016 - Matthew Shapero

Matthew Shapero hosted this introductory GIS workshop in coordination with the Geospatial Innovation Facility (GIF) and the Informatics and GIS Statewide Program (IGIS). The booked workshop was provided an presentation to introduce participants on what kind of analyses GIS may be used for, as well as the basic structures of spatial data. Participants also completed an an interactive exercise covering free and open source online rangeland data, analyzed datasets, and maps of rangelands in the California Central Valley.



5th Annual Cooperative Extension Showcase

November 19th, 2015 - Nathan Van Schmidt, Matthew Shapero, Kristen Shive, Kripa Jagannathan, and Adrienne Marshall 

The 2015-2016 Cooperative Extension  showcase featured lightning talks by 15  Cooperative  Extension academics and professionals describing their research, with a focus on potential collaborations for graduate students interested in GSE program. Topics for lightning talks included applied California research in land change science, agricultural production systems, food justice, urban agriculture, climate change, forest and rangeland ecology, entomology and integrated pest management, agritourism, nutrition, livestock, agricultural engineering, communication science, science literacy, and political ecology! Following the lightning talks there was a happy hour to give a chance for students to network with  Cooperative  Extension faculty and staff. You can find a list presenters and their presentation slides  here.
Workshop on Public Participation & Facilitation for Scientists and Students 
November 10th, 2015 -  Kristen Shive 
GSE Kristen Shive hosted a workshop on Public Participation & Facilitation for Scientists and Students.  The workshop was developed and taught by UC Cooperative Extension personnel Susan Kocher (Forestry/Natural Resources Advisor, Central Sierra) and Kimberly Rodriguez (Director, Hopland Research and Extension Center). The goal of this workshop was to help improve communication by building facilitation skills within the many groups involved in collaboration in natural resource management projects. Workshop participants learned skills for facilitating meetings on natural resource issues with diverse stakeholders, including how to encourage constructive communication, keep meetings on track and ensure all voices are heard.  Participants worked to build a common language to support collaboration, shared tools to prevent problems, and learned interventions to support success when problems. UC Cooperative Extension has developed training modules for all levels of natural resource management staff and stakeholders interested in developing these skills. 
Announcing the Graduate Students in Extension (GSE) 2016-2017 Fellowship Application 

The Graduate Group in Cooperative Extension is pleased to announce a funding source available to College of Natural Resources students for the 2016-2017 year, the third year of the Graduate Students in Extension (GSE) program. This program provides support to enable students to develop projects in applied research and outreach, with 3-12 months stipend and fee coverage equivalent to a 50%-time GSR during the semester and 100%-time GSR during the summer.

GSE applicants find Cooperative Extension academics (specialists and advisers) to collaborate with as mentors for their extension project. Students are expected to work with their mentors to develop research plans and/or co-author and produce extension materials and publications. Extension components may include meetings with clientele groups, webinars, extension publications, or other innovative delivery methods. The program is open to all CNR graduate students and projects can cover a wide variety of disciplines and topics.

For more information, see the Request for Proposals. A list of potential mentors and projects can be found here



Fire Ecology Workshop

October 2015 - Kristen Shive

GSE Kristen Shive and fellow ESPM graduate students led a 4-day Workshop on Fire Ecology in the Central Sierra Nevada for the Jepson Herbarium. Workshop participants included environmental consultants, arborists and botany enthusiasts.  Together, the ESPM students created a curriculum that taught participants about the role of fire in maintaining forest health, how forests have changed after 100 years of fire suppression, what that means for how fires are burning now, and what we can do to move forward. As a GSE, Kristen led the field tour of the 2013 Rim Fire in both Yosemite National Park and Stanislaus National Forest, challenging participants to think critically about how forest management influences fire behavior and fire effects, and the trade-offs inherent with different management options.


GSEs attend the UCANR Strategic Initiatives Conference
October 5-7, 2015  -  Nathan Van Schmidt, Matthew Shapero, Kristen Shive, Kripa Jagannathan, and Adrienne Marshall
The recent UC ANR Strategic Initatives Conference provided a forum to assess current and future directions for ANR, highlight impacts of the Strategic Initiatives, and meet and collaborate with other ANR employees. All five GSEs attended the conference. While there, they learned more about the structure and directions of ANR, met many of their colleagues, shared posters and "pop-up talks" about their research, and worked to develop relationships with potential future mentors for the GSE program.
Photo: Adrienne, Kripa, and Nathan take a brief break from the conference to explore the sights of Sacramento.
  NatureBridge staff training: Climate change impacts, adaptation, and mitigation
September 10th, 2015 - Adrienne Marshall
adrienne teaching 2
NatureBridge is a residential environmental education organization with campuses in multiple National Parks. Adrienne Marshall, a former educator at NatureBridge and current GSE, presented work from her GSE at the NatureBridge Yosemite staff training. Working with 30 educators, she presented updates on the state of our knowledge about climate change in the forests of the Sierra Nevada and place-based climate change activities educators could use with their students. The science presentation emphasized methods of inquiry, which are a critical part of the NatureBridge curriculum. The 30 educators present at the training will each work with hundreds of students in the coming school year, making this training an excellent opportunity to maximize the reach of the information developed through this GSE project. 

adrienne teaching 1
Northern California Chaparral Fuel Hazard Summit
May 19th -  Kate Wilkin, ESPM Graduate Student

Kate Wilkin and Jen Potts explaining graphic to group

photo credit: Lenya Quinn-Davidson
Participants included GSE Kate Wilkin, land owners, property managers, ranchers, and other researchers shared their experiences managing chaparral. They also learned about fuel hazard reduction treatments and toured a 10-year old fire/fire-surrogate study while focused on these key questions in chaparral: Should we treat or accept fuel hazard? If treatments occur, What treatment should be used?, and When should treatments occur? 
Media Training Workshop
May 8th -  Kevi Mace-Hill, ESPM Graduate Student
media training_credit Julie Van Scoy
Photo credit: Julie Van Scoy, 
The first cohort of Graduate Students in Extension finished out the year with a practical training on working with the media, organized by GSE Kate Wilkin. Ann Brody Guy, the director of communications of the College of Natural Resources at UC Berkeley, led the workshop. The media is an essential tool to get research results out to the public; however, it greatly benefits the scientists and the story if we are well prepared to communicate well. Ann covered how to prepare for an interview (have a quotable sentence!) as well as how to get coverage for your story. An engaged crowd of graduate students added to the discussion with useful and insightful questions. The full notes can be found  here Media training 5_8_15
School Insect Identification Workshop 
March 14th and 15th
by Kevi Mace-Hill, ESPM Graduate Student

On March 14th and 15th, GSE Kevi Mace-Hill participated in program coordinated by the San Mateo and San Francisco Cooperative Extension office at Elkus Ranch in Half Moon Bay. A group of 34 high school students were there to learn about and practice the 8 week nutrition and garden education program that they are going to be teaching in middle schools around the area. Kevi gave 4 workshops on identifying and sustainable managing insects in gardens. The weather was perfect for catching insects, and there were live specimens of many important insect groups discussed in the lessons!

2015 Cooperative Extension Showcase 
February 19, 2015
by Stella Cousins, ESPM Graduate Student 
The Graduate Students in Extension hosted our annual showcase on February 5. Thanks to everyone who came to share and learn!
The presentations were as varied as California's Agriculture and Natural Resources: We thank  Mary Blackburn, Family and Consumer Science Advisor for Alameda County, for sharing her programs and research promoting healthy habits for mature Americans and engaging people where they live. It was fascinating to hear about their success in reaching people across many languages and mobility challenges.  Kent Daane, Extension Specialist in ESPM, shared both his research on biocontrol and his perspective on the changing roles of advisors and AES faculty over the past few decades. The news on CE positions planned for the next two years was particularly engaging for PhD students completing their dissertations soon.  Mike De Lasaux, Natural Resource Advisor for Plumas and Sierra Counties, took us on a tour of the education, community engagement, and research he has conducted over a long and varied career in California forests. Also, current GSEs  Kevi Mace, Adam Calo, and  Stella Cousins shared short descriptions of their CE work in progress.
To close the Showcase,  Rob Bennton, Amber Kerr, and  Andrew Sutherland proposed research projects  that are in need graduate student involvement. They proposed projects that varied from urban agriculture to water use by cover crops and almonds to control of bed bugs and other urban pests. Descriptions are available on the  potential projects section of our website. And don't forget that the GSE Pilot Program applications are open until  March 6

Skills for Sharing workshop on active learning 


February 3rd, 2015

By Kevi Mace, ESPM Graduate Student

In November the Graduate Students in Extension organized a workshop on how youth and adults engage with information. The goal was to build communication  skills for informal education settings like group outreach, demonstrations, field trips, scientists-in-schools lessons, and other public venues.  
Our presenters were Lynn Schmitt-McQuitty and  Martin H. Smith.  
Lynn Schmitt-McQuitty is a county-based UC Cooperative Extension faculty, serving Santa Cruz, Monterey, and San Benito Counties. She develops multidisciplinary, integrated approaches that address the decline in youth science performance by utilizing professional development models and curricula to engage youth in self-directed learning and discovery. 
Martin H. Smith is a Cooperative Extension Specialist in Youth Scientific Literacy interested in reform-based educator professional development, nonformal science education, inquiry-based and experiential learning, curriculum development, and communities of practice. He has applied this to environmental science, bio-security, pre-harvest food safety, nutrition, and veterinary science.
We all learned quite a lot about guided inquiry as a teaching tool. It was especially fun to learn by doing with the build an airplane to understand physics exercise! The useful techniques and ideas brought to us by the presenters are already making their way into our extension work. 
Please consider joining us for future Skills for Sharing Workshops, which are advertised in the events section of this website

Bringing Forests Into Focus 

December 10, 2014
by Stella Cousins, ESPM Graduate Student

Do you remember the first time you looked through a hand lens? The weird and wonderful images visible with a tiny lens excite students of all ages. As part of my Cooperative Extension project, I’m building tools and activities for educators that look closely at forest ecosystems. I’m collaborating with the CE team behind the Forestry Institute for Teachers, and one fun way we share environmental concepts is through simple microscopes compatible with smartphones, which I used to take these photos of tree rings.

Read more in my recent post on the ESPM blog


Please BUG Me! 


October 11, 2014

Kevi Mace, a UC Berkeley Graduate Student in Extension, has been developing a project with her guiding professor Nick Mills and UC Cooperative Extension’s Virginia Bolshakova examining beneficial insects across a varied landscape using school, community, and private gardens in the San Francisco Peninsula. 

Starting with a colorful, visual presentation, Kevi introduced the basic characteristics of insects and their life cycles, talked about beneficial insects in the area, and gave them helpful tips to easily identify a few common groups of insects.

More details about the event can be found in this Healthy Environment Note, which was featured on the San Mateo Cooperative Extension website


 Introduction to Analysis of National Datasets in R, workshop led by Ph.D. Candidate Luke Macaulay. October 14, 2014


Where Fire is Working in California

September 29, 2014
By Kate Wilkin, ESPM Graduate Student

For one of my outreach projects this past summer, I guided environmental reporter and NPR affiliate Amy Quinton through Yosemite National Park’s Illilouette Creek Basin to discover what fire could be like in California, if fire suppression were replaced with better fire management. Listen to the episode about my trip with Amy on California Burning, a multimedia examination of how Californians are coping with the increased threat, technologies being developed to fight and predict fire, and how we can make forests less prone to megafires in the future.

Read the full story with video links and photos on the Department of Environmental Science, Policy & Management blog.



Workshop: The Role of Hunting in Modern Conservation Biology


September 15, 2014

GSE Luke Macaulay organized a workshop at the University of Montana, Missoula, on July 12, 2014, as part of the North American Congress for Conservation Biology.  The local newspaper, The Missoulian, covered the event.  The event was featured as the subject of a Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management blog entry. The blog includes more details and videos of several of the speakers.  More information about the speakers and topic may be found on Luke's website  


Writing Policy Briefs, workshop led by Professor David Zilbermann. February 25, 2014


Cooperative Extension Showcase, Spring of 2014


Web mapping workshop, led by Professor Maggi Kelly & Ph.D. Candidate Jenny Palomino. November 15, 2013


Graduate Seminar on Cooperative Extension, Spring 2013


Lessons in Collaborative Adaptive Management (CAM), Facilitation and Public Participation for Scientists and Students, workshop led by CE Advisor Susie Kocher, Executive Director for Academic Personnel Kim Rodrigues, and CE Advisor Kim Ingram. December 2, 2013


Cooperative Extension Showcase, Fall of 2012

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