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Posts Tagged: Rob Bennaton

RECs and county office staff update ANR leaders on current projects

UCCE Master Gardeners and 4-H members partner with City Slicker Farms, teaching people how to grow food in West Oakland.

To get acquainted with the people at each ANR location, Mark Lagrimini, vice provost of research and extension, has been visiting research and extension centers and UCCE county offices and touring the facilities.

“I'm impressed with how passionate and dedicated you are to helping people,” said Lagrimini to UCCE Contra Costa staff after listening to their project updates. He has been impressed with the work he has seen at all of his ANR visits. 

On Sept. 6, Lagrimini visited Hopland Research and Extension Center, three weeks after the River Fire consumed about two-thirds of its property.

John Bailey, right, shows Mark Lagrimini the difference in fire damage to grazed pasture on the left side of the fence compared to the ungrazed areas at Hopland REC.

“While the River Fire damaged parts of the center, none of the main buildings, residences, livestock nor staff were hurt by the fire,” said John Bailey, Hopland REC interim director.

Scientists are invited to a site tour on Oct. 19 to learn more about research opportunities at Hopland REC. 

“With Hopland REC's extensive pre-fire historical data, plus immediate post-fire, pre-rain observations that we are collecting, we have the foundation to support relevant and timely research on the effects of fire and mechanisms of recovery,” Bailey said.

Marisa Neelon, right, shows Mark Lagrimini, left, and Mark Bell the kitchen where UCCE Contra Costa County nutrition educators can prepare food.

AVP Wendy Powers and Mark Bell, vice provost of Strategic Initiatives and Statewide Programs, are joining Lagrimini for many of the visits to learn the latest about UCCE research and outreach and to answer questions from staff.

On Sept. 11, Rob Bennaton, UCCE director in Alameda and Contra Costa counties, introduced Powers, Lagrimini and Bell to UCCE staff in their Hayward offices, then took them to West Oakland to tour City Slicker Farms. UCCE Master Gardeners and 4-H members partner with City Slicker Farms, teaching people how to grow food at the site.

“Success to us is putting food where people need it and giving them the skills to grow food,” said Rodney Spencer, executive director of City Slicker Farms.

Mark Bell popped into the office of Leah Sourbeer, nutrition program supervisor, to introduce himself.

In Concord, Marisa Neelon, UCCE nutrition, family and consumer sciences advisor in Contra Costa County, gave Powers, Lagrimini and Bell a tour of the new office space, which includes space for Master Garden volunteers, a kitchen for nutrition educators to prepare food and a lab for farm and IPM advisors to store and analyze samples.  

UCCE Contra Costa shared quotes from participants whose lives were improved by applying EFNEP lessons.

Staff from each unit delivered a presentation about their current projects for the ANR leaders, who were joined by Humberto Izquierdo, agricultural commissioner for Contra Costa County and Matthew Slattengren, assistant agricultural commissioner.

Charles Go, 4-H youth advisor, and Adan Osoria, EFNEP community nutrition educator, described how 4-H and EFNEP teamed up for 4-H2O, an after school project aimed at reducing consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages and increasing water consumption to improve community health and wellness. They launched 4-H2O at John Swett High School in Crockett. At the request of 4-H members, the local school board approved hydration stations and instructed the schools to provide water at meal times, Go said.

4-H and EFNEP teamed up for 4-H2O, an after school project that succeeded at reducing consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages and increasing water consumption.

Andrew Sutherland, Bay Area urban IPM advisor, described his research on baiting for cockroaches, subterranean termites and yellowjackets and outreach to educate pest control professionals to practice IPM in schools and multi-unit housing.

“I appreciate the work Andrew does,” said Izquierdo, noting that there is a need for pest management education, especially among the county's urban and immigrant populations.

After seeing all of the presentations, Bell said, “The enthusiasm you bring to your job is inspiring.”

UCCE Contra Costa shared quotes from participants whose lives were improved by applying EFNEP lessons.

After the visit, Powers wrote in her ANR Adventures blog on Sept. 14: “The programs we've seen in Contra Costa and Alameda Counties this week as well as Santa Clara County a couple weeks back are good reminders of the benefits to all of UC ANR when we have strong, relevant programs in urban areas. These programs not only help the clientele, directly, but help increase the visibility of UC ANR and all of its programs across both urban and ag areas.”

On Sept. 26, Powers, Lagrimini and Bell visited UCCE Riverside, then UCCE San Bernardino the following day.

“We spent yesterday in Riverside meeting with the teams from both UCCE Riverside and UCCE San Bernardino,” Powers wrote in ANR Adventures on Sept. 27. “It was very informative, particularly seeing the fresh ideas that are coming from some of the new staff. We were able to hear about the tremendous success that both counties are having truly working as a team across program areas and layering their efforts for increased program success and support.”

Posted on Friday, September 28, 2018 at 8:07 PM

UC ANR meets new stakeholders at EcoFarm conference

Tyler Ash and Rachael Long enlightened EcoFarm attendees on UC ANR research and outreach.

Farmers, financiers, people from government agencies and nonprofit organizations who work with UC Cooperative Extension advisors, as well as beginning farmers seeking to contact their local UCCE advisors visited the UC ANR exhibit at the EcoFarm Conference Jan. 24-27 at Asilomar Conference Grounds in Pacific Grove.

Marketing assistant Tyler Ash apprised visitors perusing the racks of UC ANR publications of the resources available in their home counties and online.

Alda Pires and Laura Patterson talked to people about raising pigs and chickens.

Nearby, Alda Pires, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the School of Veterinary Medicine at UC Davis, and Ph.D. candidate Laura Patterson had their own booth to meet people raising small livestock and discuss their research projects. Patterson is studying pigs raised outdoors and Pires studies farming systems using raw manure as fertilizer.

“Sow Good” was the theme of the 38th annual EcoFarm Conference, which focused on regenerative agriculture.

Outside the exhibit tent, breakout sessions enlightened participants on dozens of topics from soil health to organic production practices to marketing. Rachael Long, UC Cooperative Extension advisor in Yolo County, was one of three panelists discussing the benefits of hedgerows. Because hedgerows provide habitat for beneficial insects, fewer insecticide sprays are needed for adjacent tomato fields, according to her study. Long said the hedgerows saved growers $260 per field per year.

Rob Bennaton showed participants how to evaluate soil structure and advised them to test soil for contaminants before planting food crops.

For backyard gardeners and urban growers, Rob Bennaton, UC Cooperative Extension urban agriculture advisor in the Bay Area, gave a talk on improving soil quality for growing food in urban areas. Before planting food crops in an urban plot, Bennaton advised the audience members to test the soil for contaminants such as lead, arsenic, chromium and mercury and to map where they sample the soil.

IPM advisor Kris Tollerup and wife Jennifer Charles Tollerup stopped by the booth.

After listening to participants in one session discuss the efficacy of cats for rodent control – orange tabby cats were deemed most effective – one attendee remarked that meeting new people at events such as EcoFarm helps reveal opportunities for UC ANR outreach.

Posted on Monday, January 29, 2018 at 12:16 AM

PAC discusses strategic plan and urban agriculture

At the recent President’s Advisory Commission meeting, President Napolitano praised UC ANR’s work in “areas of critical importance.”

Downtown Oakland was the site of the biannual UC President's Advisory Commission on Agriculture and Natural Resources (PAC) meeting on Aug. 9, which included a Q&A session with President Napolitano, program presentations from UC Cooperative Extension county directors Rob Bennaton and Igor Lacan, and updates from deans Helene Dillard (UC Davis), Keith Gilless (UC Berkeley) and Kathryn Uhrich (UC Riverside), as well as Executive Associate Dean John Pascoe (filling in for Dean Michael Lairmore, UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine). 

In her opening remarks, UC ANR Vice President Glenda Humiston introduced Mark Bell, the division's new vice provost for statewide programs and strategic initiatives. Bell spoke about the strength of the UC system, the diversity of programs offered by UC ANR statewide, and his plans to leverage the strong volunteer and staff base of programs like UC Master Gardeners and 4-H.

Humiston also offered updates on the division's strategic plan and the significant progress made in implementing its key goals. Associate Vice President Tu Tran then gave a presentation on the division's financial situation, which he titled “A Fiscal Plan for Success.” Tran addressed UC ANR's place in the state budget and its revenue projections through FY 2021-22, which includes significant growth in major gifts and fundraising.

Jerry Lohr, right, congratulated fellow PAC member Grant Davis on his new position as director of the state Department of Water Resources.

Bennaton and Lacan both gave spirited and enthusiastic presentations that were received well. Bennaton, who serves as county director for Alameda and Contra Costa counties as well as UCCE urban agriculture advisor for the Bay Area, discussed the benefits of urban agriculture and the assortment of activities going on in community development, habitat restoration and youth programming.

Lacan, also a UCCE environmental horticulture advisor for the Bay Area and co-director in San Mateo and San Francisco counties, talked about the diverse and richly rewarding work he spearheads in urban forestry. His work currently focuses on sustainable management of urban trees and urban water.

Following lunch, UC President Napolitano offered glowing remarks about UC ANR's contributions and the long-term strategy reflected in the division's new strategic plan. She said she was particularly impressed by ANR's recent work in water, childhood obesity, nutrition education, and Asian citrus psyllid, calling them “areas of critical importance.” She also praised Humiston's leadership in the area of tech innovation and partnerships.

During a Q&A period, the president engaged PAC members on various issues such as potential public-private partnerships that could involve UC ANR, targeted approaches to advocacy and deferred maintenance needs for UC writ large but also for UC ANR and its research and extension centers system, specifically.

The deans gave updates on research and activities occurring at their respective colleges and school.

The next PAC meeting is scheduled for December, also in Oakland. 

Posted on Wednesday, August 30, 2017 at 5:06 PM
  • Author: Mike Janes

Apply for UC Management Skills Assessment Program

Staff and academic people managers, are you ready for a leap in your management development? If yes, we encourage you to apply to the Management Skills Assessment Program (MSAP) by Wednesday, Jan. 18.

This program is designed to assess the management skills of high potential, early career supervisors and managers for future leadership opportunities at the University of California. The next MSAP will be April 17-20, 2017, at the UCLA Conference Center in Lake Arrowhead.

Two seats for the spring 2017 MSAP program are available for UC ANR employees.

Eligibility requirements include

  • Full-time career status with a current, satisfactory (or better) performance evaluation
  • Career Tracks job classification as a supervisor or manager

Participants will be selected based on an evaluation of the applicant's career goals in management, level of skills essential for performing management functions, and demonstrated career path and/or strong commitment to management skill development. The supervisor of the applicant is also required to complete a supporting statement as part of the application process and commit to participate in the required post-program activities. 

The cost for the program is $1,095 (including all program materials and room and board for three days and two nights). This does not include transportation or other related travel costs. ANR will cover the cost of the program (including eligible travel expenses) for the successful applicants.

Participants can expect a demanding program of activities from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. each day, with no time in between to check email or attend to work responsibilities. Assessees also eat with other assessees and share small condos.

Application instructions and further information about the program are at http://msap.ucr.edu/.  For affiliation, chooseUC ANR in the application. A UC ANR committee will review all applications and make the final selection. Completed applications must be submitted online at http://msap.ucr.edu by Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017. Supervisors also must complete a required section in the submission for application consideration. 

For more information, contact Jodi Azulai, ANR learning and development coordinator, at jlazulai@ucanr.edu.

Comments from MSAP participants

Vanessa Kenyon
Vanessa Kenyon

Nutrition Education Program Manager, UCCE Sacramento

MSAP brought to awareness things right under the surface that I could not pinpoint. I received confirmation on things I already knew about myself and areas I was grappling and how to hone in on these areas to make modifications to get a better response. I found MSAP to be a unique experience that brings together its people and talents while creating a space for deeper reflection, awareness and collective synergy. I was reminded just how vast and wide our spectrum of experience and knowledge truly is. It was a wonderful experience.

Rob Bennaton
Rob Bennaton

County Director, UCCE Alameda

MSAP helped me with goal setting, prioritizing, communication skills and gradually increasing efficiency. It also provided a greater context of the Country Director's role from a leadership perspective in team building.

MSAP cannot take place without Assessors. A big THANK YOU to Tunyalee Martin, associate director for UC IPM Communications, who said:

Tunyalee Martin
I was impressed by the MSAP assessees' communication and team skills, and ability to adapt and think on their feet. They were truly committed to going through the process and learning from the program. As a first time assessor, I felt welcomed and supported by my trainers to enable the learning process. What I wasn't prepared for was the intensity of each activity and how quickly the program went!  As a 2013 graduate of the MSAP program, I learned about myself and gained confidence as I worked through the activities. Being able to give back to the program was exceptionally rewarding. I feel fortunate to be able to experience MSAP again and I'm looking forward to next time.

Middle managers can become MSAP assessors

Assessors learn to observe and provide constructive feedback. They benefit in multiple ways:

  • Receive intensive practice using a feedback method that promotes effective interaction with employees and sound management
  • Contribute to the retention, growth, and development of University employees
  • Expanded contact and collaboration with other University managers committed to professional excellence
  • Develop greater self-awareness themselves
  • Expand their own professional networks across UC beyond their individual location
  • Learn better management practices from assessor training and from new colleague

Help UC ANR serve this systemwide initiative for upward mobility in the UC system. Academics may add the assessor service to their merit and promotion package. For information on how to become an assessor, contact Jodi Azulai at jlazulai@ucanr.edu.

 

Posted on Monday, December 19, 2016 at 10:34 AM
  • Author: Jodi Azulai

UCCE in Alameda County moves to Hayward

The UC Cooperative Extension office in Alameda County has relocated from Harbor Bay Parkway in the city of Alameda to Hayward. The new UCCE Alameda County address is 224 West Winton Ave., Suite 134, Hayward, CA 94544. Rob Bennaton, UCCE director for Alameda and Contra Costa counties, can be reached at (510) 670-5621. Please consult the ANR directory for the new phone numbers of other UCCE employees in Alameda County. 

Posted on Thursday, January 28, 2016 at 7:56 AM
 
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