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ANR Employees

UCCE integrated pest management expert retires after 25-year career

Cheryl Wilen
UC Cooperative Extension integrated pest management advisor Cheryl Wilen retired in April after serving UC Agriculture and Natural Resources in a wide variety of leadership and academic capacities during her 25-year career. To help with transitions in the San Diego County UCCE office, Wilen accepted a six-month assignment in May to continue serving as interim director.

Wilen earned a bachelor's degree in horticulture at the University of Maryland, a master's degree in horticulture at University of Arizona and a doctoral degree at UC Riverside. Following graduation, Wilen worked a year at UC Riverside as a post-doctoral fellow.

In 1995, Wilen was hired by UC ANR to conduct applied research in the turf, ornamental horticulture and nursery industries to develop and promote the use of integrated pest management in San Diego, Los Angeles and Orange counties. She shared her results and information generated by scientists across the university with growers and pest control advisers to reduce the use of toxic pesticides, cut the cost of pest control and use environmentally sound methods in production.

Over the years, Wilen was frequently tapped to take on leadership roles while maintaining her academic program. She served as acting and interim director of the Statewide UC IPM Program, program leader of UCCE's Endemic and Invasive Pests and Diseases Strategic Initiative, and as county director in San Diego County. Wilen also had opportunities to take sabbatical and study leaves to improve her Spanish-speaking skills, learn about international participatory extension methodology and receive training on research methods to study snails and slugs.

“I love working with UC Agriculture and Natural Resources,” Wilen said. “The positions I held matched well with my professional and personal style. I always felt that I was responsible for choosing my destination and the journey to get there, whether that was my career or my research and extension programs.”

Wilen said she also valued the relationships she developed over the years in her job.

“I met and became friends with people in UC that I would never have been so lucky to know without the opportunities afforded me by serving on diverse committees,” Wilen said. “If I could give one piece of advice to early career people, it would be not to look at these requests as ‘but I'm so busy, I can't do it,' but rather, ‘this will expand my network and my worth to UC and the communities we serve and pay off in the long run.'”

Wilen has been awarded the honor of emeritus status, which will continue her academic relationship with UCCE even after her stint in the director post is complete.

“I have a couple of grants I'm continuing to work on,” she said.

She also has plans to do things that she didn't have time for while working full time.

“Plans for my free time include entering sweepstakes, organizing electronics cables, continuing to paddle with my outrigger canoe club, exploring the outdoors, travel, volunteering and enjoying time with my partner and the rest of my family,” she said.

Posted on Wednesday, June 24, 2020 at 8:48 AM
Tags: Cheryl Wilen (6), June 2020 (20), retirement (17)

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