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Outstanding work recognized with Distinguished Service Awards

Outstanding work recognized with Distinguished Service Awards

Sponsored by UC ANR and Academic Assembly Council, the Distinguished Service Awards (DSA) recognize service and academic excellence in UC Cooperative Extension over a significant period of time. Awards highlight the use of innovative methods and the integration of research, extension and leadership by UC ANR academics. Award categories include outstanding research, outstanding extension, outstanding new academic, outstanding team, and outstanding leader.

Congratulations to the 2020 DSA recipients!

Outstanding Research – Carlos Crisosto

Carlos Crisosto on right

Carlos Crisosto, UC Cooperative Extension postharvest physiology specialist, has demonstrated an exceptional research program with impacts on both the California food industry and consumers through his work on postharvest handling of tree fruits and nuts. His work has had a significant impact – reducing food loss, improving fruit quality and safety, and expanding markets for California agriculture. Highlights of Crisosto's work include his incorporation of consumer perceptions into the measurement of fruit quality, collaborative development and implementation of protocols for fruit ripening, transportation and retail handling, and research into consumer perceptions of different cultivars. His outstanding research has been coupled with an outreach and education program that included extension through site visits, in person workshops, short courses, manuals, popular articles, websites and collaboration. In addition to his academic successes, Crisosto was awarded the Industry Distinguished Service & Achievement Award by the California fig industry in recognition of supporting cultivar development and improving marketing and utilization of dried and fresh figs over his career. The success of Crisosto's program is a testament to the outstanding work in applied research that can be accomplished through UC ANR.

Outstanding Extension – Andrew Sutherland

Andrew Sutherland with palm weevil

Andrew Sutherland has shaped his pest management program based on his clientele needs since the beginning of his career at UC ANR in 2012 and has had great success implementing pest management programs in urban areas. He has done an extensive amount of work on bed bug, termite and cockroach control. He has worked with several agencies including structural pest control businesses, public health nurses, multi-family housing managers and UC Master Gardeners to deliver practical information on pest management. One ongoing project that has both a public health and an environmental impact in California is bait station systems for control of subterranean termites. The project is evaluating efficacy and costs associated with bait systems and looking into alternatives to liquid termicides, which have been identified as serious environmental contaminants in CA's surface water systems. His work has benefited urban populations in general, but has also reached under-served communities in the San Francisco Bay Area. Sutherland has made a major effort to reach out to Hispanic audiences, producing materials in Spanish and hosting public presentations and outreach events in low-income areas of his territory. He has worked with industry leaders collaborating on applied research projects considering economic challenges when designing programs that would be beneficial and relevant to his clientele.

Outstanding New Academic – Mae Culumber

Mae Culumber

Mae Culumber has been the CE nut crops advisor in Fresno County since June 2016. She has developed an outstanding applied research program in only 4 years, which addresses clientele needs and is in alignment with the ANR Strategic Vision. Her work provides innovative solutions to identify orchard management practices that maximize the efficient use of water and nutrient resources, and promote biochemical and physical soil characteristics that will lead to improvements in soil health and enhanced vigor and productivity of nut crops. Culumber's work primarily focused on innovative efforts that improved food system productivity. She established successful collaborations with advisors and specialists from UC Cooperative Extension, faculty from UC Davis Plant Sciences, and scientists from USDA-ARS Davis and Parlier to examine greenhouse gas emissions, and soil biochemical carbon and nitrogen dynamics in newly established orchards after whole orchard recycling. Her leadership of this basic and applied research team is exceptional for a newer advisor in the Assistant rank. Culumber recognizes and invests in developing useful information, strategies and trainings to impact and improve clientele practices, that also have statewide public value by protecting California's natural resources.

Outstanding Team – AB 589 Water Measurement Training Team

Khaled Bali speaks at an AB 589 Water Measurement Training in Cottonwood.

This team of CE specialists and advisors rapidly developed and coordinated a training program that met the needs of UC ANR's farming and ranching clientele, in a cost-effective and timely manner. California Senate Bill 88 requires all water right holders who have previously diverted or intend to divert more than 10 ac-ft per year to measure and report the water they divert to the State. For most ranchers and diverters impacted by SB 88, complying with the reporting requirements is expensive and burdensome. The cost and availability of professionals to design, install and calibrate diversion measurement systems resulted in a grass roots effort by California Cattlemen's Association and California Farm Bureau to seek an educational alternative for surface water diverters. With support from the University of California, Assembly Bill 589 (AB 589) was introduced and carried. It passed through the Assembly and the Senate with no opposition and was signed by Governor Brown. The bill allows diverters that complete the UC course to install and maintain measurement devices to comply with SB 88, saving them time and money. Working with industry (California Cattlemen's Association) and regulators (State Water Resources Control Board), the UC team provided a huge service to farming and ranching clientele, and the state. This is a true testament to UC ANR's ability to work with groups of differing interests in order to reach a common goal. The UC team has conducted 20 workshops since the bill was passed and certified over 1,200 diverters. One letter of reference indicated a cost savings of more than $4,000 on his ranch alone.

The AB 589 Water Measurement Training Team includes:

  • Larry Forero, UCCE director and livestock and natural resources advisor, Shasta County
  • Khaled Bali, UCCE irrigation water management specialist, Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center
  • Allan Fulton, UCCE irrigation and water resources advisor, Tehama County
  • Daniele Zaccaria, UCCE associate Cooperative Extension specialist, UC Davis
  • Theresa Becchetti, UCCE livestock and natural resources advisor, Stanislaus County
  • Josh Davy, UCCE director and livestock and natural resources advisor, Tehama County
  • Morgan Doran, UCCE director and livestock and natural resources advisor, UC Cooperative Extension Capitol Corridor
  • Julie Finzel, UCCE livestock and natural resources advisor, Kern County
  • Cari Koopmann Rivers, former UCCE director, Siskiyou County
  • Glenn McGourty, UCCE director and farm advisor, Mendocino County
  • Rebecca Ozeran, UCCE livestock advisor, Fresno County
  • Devii Rao, UCCE director and livestock and natural resources advisor, San Benito County
  • Tracy Schohr, UCCE livestock and natural resource advisor, Plumas-Sierra and Butte counties
  • Scott Stoddard, UCCE director and farm advisor, Merced County
  • Matthew Shapero, UCCE livestock & natural resource advisor, Ventura & Santa Barbara counties
  • Rhonda Smith, UCCE viticulture advisor, Sonoma County
  • Laura Snell, UCCE director, Modoc County
  • Jeff Stackhouse, UCCE livestock & natural resource advisor, Humboldt & Del Norte counties
  • Julé Rizzardo, assistant deputy director, Division of Water Rights, State Water Resources Control Board-Sacramento
  • Kyle Ochenduszko, deputy public works director, City of Benicia
  • Brian Coats, senior water resource control engineer, SWRCB-Sacramento
  • Jeff Yeazell, water resource control engineer, SWRCB-Sacramento
  • Chuck Arnold, water resource control engineer, SWRCB-Sacramento

Outstanding Leader – Katherine Soule

Katherine Soule

Katherine Soule holds a number formal leadership roles in ANR including leading several statewide programs locally, serving as director of UCCE in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties and as Academic Assembly Council president. Soule holds informal leadership roles as a mentor and colleague. Outside of ANR, she leads a national working group, is a local non-profit board member, and leads research and development for a professional organization.When Soule became county director (July 2017), she began strategic planning focused on building relationships with key stakeholders (administrative, clientele, academics, and community partners) and addressing the needs, opportunities, and challenges UCCE faces in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties. Her efforts focused on improving fiscal management, increasing understanding of UCCE, and eliminating program inefficiencies.

Soule uses strengths-based leadership and her leadership position to support and communicate the goals of academics' programs and their successes, while ensuring the fiscal resources needed to carry out their visions. She recognizes the strengths and expertise of those she leads and provides others with meaningful opportunities to develop shared visions and long-term objectives. She has supported the development and advancement of several team members, who have completed advanced degrees while working for UCCE, taken higher-level positions, and increased their professional contributions to their respective fields. She is sought throughout the ANR system to provide guidance and support for academics, statewide leaders and other personnel.

Posted on Monday, July 27, 2020 at 4:40 PM

STAR award winners celebrated

The IT team helped ANR employees get equipment needed to work remotely when the coronavirus pandemic made it inadvisable to work in ANR offices.
The 2019-2020 winners of UC ANR's Staff Appreciation and Recognition (STAR) Awards were recognized and celebrated on June 18. The awards reward outstanding individual and team performances by staff.

Individual Awards

Zeva Cho
Zeva Cho, 4-H Youth Development Program, CE San Mateo/San Francisco. “Since her start in 2016, Zeva's outstanding organizational abilities have been critical in organizing the club finances and records. Zeva also demonstrated her exceptional creativity by expanding the Healthy Living Ambassadors Program, which was the first program of its kind in California.”

Anna Dirkse
Anna Dirkse, Knotwood Outreach, UCCE Marin. “It's well-known in the valley that one of the original Fillmore Rock-Art poster artists is a local resident. Playing off of the alternative vibe, Anna designed a Fillmore inspired flyer to attract the eye of folks that might eschew something more straightforward or formal. That approach boosted program participation in an area that we thought was saturated.”

Veronica Geiger
Veronica Geiger, Payroll, Business Operations Center. “For 5 months, Veronica was the sole payroll transaction processor and during this time we were preparing to go live with UCPath and had a lot of clean up entry to make in PPS as well as standard fiscal year end entry in PPS. …we were able to make the necessary entries timely and within required deadlines.” 

Sally Harmsworth
Sally Harmsworth, Business Operations Center. “She has worked with Development Services and other units to reduce duplicative processes, saving time and money for the entire organization – one small example, creating a PCI compliance group for ANR so we don't duplicate effort on this time-consuming yearly process.”

Linda Harris
Linda Harris, Office of Risk & Safety Services. “Linda finds creative solutions to risk management challenges, often working with the UC ANR staff and partner agencies to address concerns, modify contract language, or make other adjustments so the program can go on.”

Rachel Lloyd
Rachel Lloyd, Administrative Policies & Business Contracts. “Rachel Lloyd made an exceptional contribution to the improved efficiency and productivity of the Controller's Office's Administrative Policies and Business Contracts unit. Rachel reviewed and mapped the current workflow for Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs), and designed and implemented an improved process.”

Belinda Messenger-Sikes
Belinda Messenger-Sikes, Integrated Pest Management. “Between 2018 and 2019 while UC IPM urban team was without a Community Education Specialist, Belinda took on several of the duties normally assigned to that position. In 2019, UC IPM urban team organized several training workshops but had difficulty finding a plant pathologist who was available on some of the dates. Belinda stepped up to be one of the trainers while still getting her other work done on time.” 

Sue Mosbacher
Sue Mosbacher, Master Food Preserver, CE Central Sierra. “She is currently facilitating the response to COVID-19 as well as the reappointment process for the 400+ current volunteers in 17 counties....Her work should be considered transformational to the organization as a whole.”

Shyra Murrey

Shyra Murrey, EFNEP State Office. “I pick 3 key words to describe Shyra:

1.    Creative - An updated review process (which I understand saved around $200K)
2.    Collaborative - Clearly works well with the 33 EFNEP educators
3.    Capable - A strong presenter

Stephanie Parreira
Stephanie Parreira, Integrated Pest Management. “Stephanie was integral in getting a new grant program with EPA off the ground. This assignment was outside of her normal duties, but she immediately took ownership and responsibility for leading daily processes. Her work ethic, attention to detail, project management and organizational skills have been invaluable to the program.”

Kaela Plank
Kaela Plank, Nutrition Policy Institute. “Kaela Plank's exceptional performance as Chair of the Staff Assembly Wellness Committee has contributed to the expansion of the committee's role in Staff Assembly and the support of employee health and wellness for ANR staff.”

Kendra Rose
Kendra Rose, Office of Contracts and Grants. “Last fall, Kendra worked directly with the California Department of Food and Agriculture to include in the Request for Proposal the ability for one of our 4-H programs to apply for the CalAgPlate License Plate Funds…. Now, thanks to Kendra there is a carve-out that allows UCANR 4-H Youth Programs to apply.”

Marcy Sousa
Marcy Sousa, UC Master Gardener, CE San Joaquin. “We couldn't have started our brand new Master Gardener Program in Stanislaus County without her hard work and help.”

Douzong Vang
Douzong Vang, Human Resources. “Because of the nature of  the new responsibilities for both UC ANR and UCPath, Douzong has often been required to initiate research to  determine nuances, steps and various paths to obtain resolution to complicated situations.”

Patti Verdugo Johnson
Patti Verdugo Johnson, Hansen Research & Extension Center and CE Ventura. “Her brain is constantly churning out solutions. No project is too big and no detail too small. Through all the complexities that make up the UCCE Ventura County and Hansen REC, Patti maintains a strong sense of fairness, unwavering professionalism and grace.”

Mary Vlandis
Mary Vlandis, Human Resources. Mary took point in collaborating on a new and very complicated process for Contracting Out/Creating Vendor Agreements. She worked tirelessly to push a UC ANR friendly outcome with systemwide labor and we were able to identify some very positive outcomes for our organization.

Jeannette Warnert
Jeannette Warnert, Strategic Communications. “Senior leadership charged Strategic Communications with spearheading UC ANR's first-ever hosted reception during the 2020 World Ag Expo, along with planning and staffing two trade show booths. Jeannette Warnert took on the leadership role for both the trade show presence and the reception.”

Michael Yang
Michael Yang, Small Farms and Specialty Crops, CE Fresno. Michael Yang has been working with UC Cooperative Extension in Fresno County for over 25 years serving the Southeast Asian farming community. …Many of these farmers are still in business because Michael helped them connect to a farmers market, complete paperwork for a variety of regulations, or solve production issues on their farm.”


Team Awards

CalFresh Healthy Living, UC in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties

The CalFresh Healthy Living, UC nutrition educators in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties oversee 200 4-H youth snack club leaders who have taught healthy habits to more than 4,500 of their peers. Their efforts have led to significant improvements in parity in 4-H for reaching Latino youth in their communities.
  • Miguel Diaz
  • Emily Dimond
  • Kelly Hong
  • Shannon Klisch
  • Melissa LaFreniere
  • Abbi Marrs
  • Betsy Plascencia
  • Rosa Vargas

Central Sierra Master Food Preserver Program Staff

Robin Cleveland and Sue Mosbacher of UCCE Central Sierra got a grant and extended Master Food Preserver classes to counties that don’t have a MFP program.

Robin Cleveland and Sue Mosbacher 

Information Technology (IT) Team 

  • David Hatter
  • Lora Schroeder
  • Ron Walker
  • Jonathan Wilson

Kearney Agricultural Research & Extension Center 

The KARE team worked collectively – at least 6 feet apart – during the coronavirus crisis to ensure research and essential functions at Kearney REC continue.
  • Ivan Aldana
  • Keith Byrum
  • Janie Duran
  • Marcia Holmes-Baker
  • Mike Kulow
  • Dale Pattigan
  • Vincent Silva
  • Patrick West

Nutrition Policy Institute 

In addition to their regular duties, the NPI Operations Transition Team members "worked together to maintain NPI operations during multiple unprecedented transitions: a reduction in team members, adoption of UC Path, an office move, and a transition to working from home during a pandemic."
  • Temika Green
  • Danielle Lee
  • Meirong Liao
  • Joni Rippee

UCCE San Bernardino Program Integration Stars 

This team has come together to create a seamless, meaningful program integration that proved to be successful in five schools in San Bernardino County. They have demonstrated that EFNEP, Master Gardener and Master Food Preserver program integration is not only possible, but can take each ANR program to a new height. School administrators and staff see the addition of MG and MFP as 'value-added' to EFNEP."
  • Christine Davidson
  • Dee Denton
  • Dalila Lizarraga
  • Marilynn Ljungberg
  • Margaret O'Neill
  • Roxana Puentes
  • Clara Wilshire 

For details about the achievements of the STAR winners, see the recording of the June event posted at


Posted on Friday, June 19, 2020 at 12:37 PM
Tags: June 2020 (0), STAR awards (0)

Celebrate STAR Award winners and retirees June 18

All UC ANR colleagues are invited to a special staff meeting and recognition event at 2 p.m. on Thursday, June 18. We will be celebrating the careers of UC ANR colleagues who are retiring July 1, 2020, and also recognizing the 2019-2020 winners of the Staff Appreciation and Recognition (STAR) Awards.

The event will be on Zoom. To join online, click

By telephone: US +1 669-900-6833  or +1 253-215-8782  or +1 346-248-7799  or +1 301-715-8592  or +1 312-626-6799  or +1 646-558-8656. International numbers available: Webinar ID: 952 7861 7548.

For more information about the event, visit

Posted on Friday, May 29, 2020 at 8:31 PM
Tags: May 2020 (0), STAR awards (0)

Nominate UCCE academics for service awards by April 17

Nominations are being accepted for the 2020 ANR Distinguished Service Awards, which are sponsored by UC Agriculture and Natural Resources and Academic Assembly Council.

The awards recognize and reward outstanding accomplishments in UC Cooperative Extension over a significant period of time in five areas: research, extension, new academic, team and leadership.

Take advantage of this wonderful opportunity to recognize outstanding achievement by yourself or your colleagues.

The biennial ANR Distinguished Service Awards recognize service and academic excellence in UC Cooperative Extension over a significant period of time. Awards highlight the use of innovative methods and the integration of research, extension and leadership.

Winners of individual awards will receive a certificate and $2,000. Winners of the team award will share $5,000. Complete award criteria and instructions for submitting nominations are at

Submit all materials in the nomination packet by 5 p.m., April 17, 2020, with the online survey at  2020 ANR Distinguished Service Awards.

For more information, feel free to contact the Academic Assembly Council Program Committee:

Jennifer Heguy,

Keith Nathaniel,

Susie Kocher,

Daniela Bruno, 

For more information about Academic Assembly Council, visit its website at



Posted on Wednesday, March 18, 2020 at 4:33 PM

STAR nominations accepted until April 6

[The deadline to nominate staff for a STAR Award has been extended to 11:59 p.m. on Friday, April 17.] 

Nominations are being accepted for the annual UC ANR Staff Appreciation and Recognition (STAR) Awards until Monday, April 6, 2020.

ANR is going ahead with the annual program despite the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The STAR program is our opportunity to celebrate and reward the great contributions of ANR's people, and this recognition is as important as ever right now,” said John Fox, executive director of Human Relations.

The program provides one-time $500 cash awards to eligible staff in recognition of outstanding achievement. Managers may nominate individuals and teams demonstrating exceptional performance, creativity, organizational abilities, work success and teamwork.  

Policy-covered ANR staff and members of the Clerical Unit (CX) are eligible to be nominated for STAR awards. Staff in other collective bargaining units, academics and members of the Senior Management Group are not eligible to receive STAR awards.

Nomination forms and program guidelines are available on the UC ANR Human Resources website. 

Send your nominations via e-mail to by April 6, 2020.

STAR Award winners will be celebrated during an ANR recognition event on June 18, 2020, even if it's a “virtual” Zoom event.

Posted on Monday, March 16, 2020 at 3:52 PM
Tags: March 2020 (0), STAR awards (0)

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