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Celebration Corner


CSAC CEO Graham Knaus, left, presented the CSAC Challenge Award to Jen Miller, Shannon Klisch and Mishelle Costa. Photo by Chris Greer

CSAC honors UCCE San Luis Obispo team

A representative of the California State Association of Counties (CSAC) presented the County of San Luis Obispo with the 2023 CSDC Challenge Award during the Board of Supervisors meeting on April 9.

The annual award is presented to California counties to highlight innovative programs developed at the county level.

CSAC CEO Graham Knaus presented the CSAC Challenge Award for the Cross-Sector Partnerships for Food and Nutrition Security program to Jen Miller, County of San Luis Obispo health promotion division manager; Shannon Klisch, County of San Luis Obispo department head and director of UC Cooperative Extension in San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, and Ventura counties; and Mishelle Costa, CalFresh Healthy Living, UC community education supervisor.

The team developed partnerships with multiple organizations to ensure that fresh produce is more available in the surrounding community. They collaborated to increase the number of markets that accept CalFresh and offer Market Match, provide a more consistent and welcoming experience for CalFresh customers across markets, and increase the visibility of farmers market nutrition incentives.

Together, they have increased equitable access to healthy food and support for local farmers.

According to the County of San Luis Obispo, 8.4% of all residents and 9.7% of all children countywide are defined as food insecure, or "lacking consistent access to enough food for an active, healthy life."

Battany honored with ASEV Extension Distinction Award

Mark Battany

Mark Battany,  UCCE water management and biometeorology advisor in San Luis Obispo and Sant Barbara counties, has been selected for the 2024 American Society for Enology and Viticulture Extension's Distinction Award.

The ASEV Extension Distinction Award is given to a current ASEV member and extension educator based on their contributions to enology or viticulture through their extension program, or the translation of novel research findings into commercially applicable tools for enologists or viticulturists.

Battany will present “Flipping dimensions: A vertical weather view helps illuminate vineyard challenges,” at the 75th ASEV National Conference in Portland, Oregon, on June 19.

CalFresh Healthy Living, UCCE Riverside and partners win health equity award

From left, Faith Morreo, tribal ambassador, Esmeralda Nunez and Andra Nicoli.

CalFresh Healthy Living, UCCE Riverside, CFHL, UC Davis and the Torres Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indians Community Wellness Committee Partnership are being honored with the first National Cooperative Extension health equity award.

The 2024 National Cooperative Extension Priester Health Equity Award recognizes extraordinary programs and professionals that are modeling next-generation work in the area of health and well-being.

The project includes nutrition, garden and physical activity education with the Torres Martinez community. The overarching goal is to foster greater health and well-being through activities that engage the participants with culturally relevant materials and work to restore traditional food systems. 

From left, Philip Waisen, Claudia Carlos, Esmeralda Nunez and Vianca Nunez.

The team includes Claudia Carlos, CFHL, UCCE Riverside supervisor; the Coachella Valley team of community nutrition educators Esmeralda Nunez, Vianca Nunez and Jackie Velarde; Andra Nicoli, CFHL, UC Davis project policy analyst; and Chutima Ganthavorn, UCCE nutrition, families and consumer sciences advisor emeritus.

UCCE Riverside County farm advisor Philip Waisen, through a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention grant titled ACORNS, pairs lesson activities with farm and nutritional health webinars. UCCE Riverside Master Gardener Brad Hardison offers garden support, resources and education.

Tribal Council Vice Chairman Joseph Mirelez and Community Wellness Committee members anchor health-education initiative activities in local tradition and events for sustained effectiveness.

The award will be presented at the National Health Outreach and Engagement Conference on May 13-15 in Greenville, South Carolina.

Kudos for Rose, Casseer

Kendra Rose, senior contracts and grants officer and Dilshan Casseer, proposal development coordinator, earned gratitude from Whitney Brim-DeForest, UCCE director in Sutter and Yuba counties and rice and wild rice advisor.

“I would like to shout out Kendra Rose and Dilshan Casseer for their incredible help in preparing a grant for submission!” said Brim-DeForest. “They have both gone above and beyond, assisting in editing and writing, helping me and my co-PIs prepare draft documents for submission. Their guidance, preparation and timely meetings have made this process incredibly easy for my colleagues and me. Thank you so much to both of them!”

Larson receives ASI Bradford-Rominger Leadership Award

Stephanie Larson
Stephanie Larson, UC Cooperative Extension director and livestock and range advisor for Sonoma County, is one of two recipients of the Eric Bradford & Charlie Rominger Agricultural Sustainability Leadership Award, which is given by the Agricultural Sustainability Institute at UC Davis. Annie Main, a pioneering farmer at Good Humus in Yolo County, is the other honoree.

Larson has spent more than 40 years working for UC Cooperative Extension to address opportunities and issues that California ranchers face in their agricultural businesses. Her interdisciplinary approach to issues facing livestock producers, rangeland owners and managers, and the public aims to maintain and increase the sustainability of agriculture systems and the environment, with a particular focus on ecosystem services in counties under threat from encroachment by urban development.

“Stephanie is the gold standard of what a UC ANR advisor should be – she has a robust, relevant county program, provides leadership and vision for statewide programs; she offers her service to professional societies and she is highly regarded by all who work with her,” said Theresa Becchetti, UC Cooperative Extension livestock advisor, one of the 20 UCCE peers who nominated Larson for the award.

Larson and Main will receive their awards at a ceremony featuring distinguished speaker Hannah Wittman, interim co-director of the University of British Columbia Centre for Climate Justice, on Wednesday, May 15, 4–7 p.m. To register for the event, visit

The Bradford-Rominger award recognizes and honors individuals who exhibit the leadership, work ethic and integrity epitomized by the late Eric Bradford, a livestock geneticist who gave 50 years of service to UC Davis, and the late Charlie Rominger, a fifth-generation Yolo County farmer and land preservationist. The annual award was suspended during the COVID-19 pandemic and these will be the first awards given since 2020.

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