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Spinelli named UCCE horticulture advisor

Gerry Spinelli

Gerardo Spinelli joined UC Cooperative Extension in San Diego County as a production horticulture advisor on Oct. 12, 2020. He will work with nurseries, floriculture and controlled environment plant production.

Prior to joining UCCE San Diego, Spinelli worked for the Resource Conservation District of Santa Cruz county since 2015 in irrigation and nitrogen management for strawberry and lettuce. He collaborated with Michael Cahn, UCCE advisor and technical expert for the Pajaro Valley Water Management Agency's conservation program, to promote the adoption of CropManage to optimize nitrogen and irrigation in Santa Cruz and Monterey counties.

He has also worked on nutrient and pest management in vegetables, lettuce hydroponic production and anaerobic soil disinfestation in banana at University of Hawaii, Manoa, and was a UCCE farm advisor for irrigation and vegetables in Stanislaus County. He also worked in Honduras on an irrigation development project providing technical assistance for smallholder corn and watermelon growers, and in London designing and installing landscape irrigation systems. He also lived in Lebanon, where he introduced integrated pest management in apple and olive production, rebuilt irrigation channels for tobacco and vegetable growers, began a queen bee breeding program and built sewage lines for the Wavel refugee camp.

Spinelli grew up in Italy on an olive and vegetable farm on the hills overlooking Florence and is fluent in Italian, English, French and Spanish.

He earned a B.S. in agronomy, an M.S. in tropical agriculture at the University of Florence, and a Master of International Agricultural Development and Ph.D. in horticulture and agronomy at UC Davis, focusing on plant physiology and water stress in almond orchards.  

Spinelli is based in San Diego and can be reached at (858) 822-7679 and gspinelli@ucanr.edu.

Amaral named pomology, water and soils advisor

Doug Amaral

Douglas Amaral joined UCCE in Kings and Tulare as pomology, water and soils advisor on Oct. 1, 2020.

Before joining UCCE, Amaral was a project scientist and postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Plant Sciences at UC Davis. His research has focused on the physiology and biochemistry of plant nutrient uptake, and molecular and genetic aspects of nutrient acquisition and tolerance in citrus, almonds, pistachios and other crops.

Amaral, who was born and raised in Brazil, is fluent in Portuguese and English. He earned a Ph.D. in plant and soil sciences at the University of Delaware, an M.S. in plant nutrition and soil fertility at Federal University of Lavras, Brazil, and a B.S. in biological sciences at University Center of Lavras, Brazil.

Amaral is based in Hanford and can be reached at (559) 852-2737 and amaral@ucanr.edu.

UCCE poster, newsletters win NACAA awards

Michael Rethwisch and Kassandra Allan won a national NACAA award for their applied research poster, “Dingy cutworm pheromone lures are not highly attractive to the closely related granulate cutworm.”

Three California state winning entries received national recognition at the recent annual meeting and professional improvement conferences of the National Association of County Agricultural Agents (NACAA) held virtually in late September and early October.

Michael Rethwisch, UCCE field crops advisor for Riverside County, and student assistant Kassandra Allan won a national NACAA award for their applied research poster, “Dingy cutworm pheromone lures are not highly attractive to the closely related granulate cutworm.” Rethwisch was also selected to give a presentation on comparative insecticide efficacy for lygus bug control.

The UC Dairy Newsletter was a national finalist entry and western regional winner in the Team Newsletter competition. UCCE advisors Jennifer Heguy, Daniela Bruno, Joy Hollingsworth and Betsy Karle collaborate on the newsletter.

The University of California Cooperative Extension Subtropical Horticulture News by Sonia Rios, UCCE subtropical horticulture advisor for Riverside and San Diego counties, was the western regional winner for individual newsletter.  

CAPCA honors Wilen for "Outstanding Contribution to Agriculture" 

Cheryl Wilen

Cheryl Wilen, UCCE integrated pest management advisor emeritus for San Diego, Orange and Los Angeles counties, received the 2020 Outstanding Contribution to Agriculture award by the California Association of Pest Control Advisers (CAPCA).

The Outstanding Contribution to Agriculture award recognizes individuals or organizations that have made a significant contribution to California agriculture. The former leader of UC ANR's Endemic and Invasive Pests and Diseases Strategic Initiative is known for her research and development of integrated pest management strategies for the turf, ornamental horticulture and nursery industries. Over the course of her career, Wilen has helped reduce the use of toxic pesticides, cut the cost of pest control and promote the use of environmentally sound methods in production.

Wilen, who retired from her 25-year UC ANR career in July, received the award during CAPCA's virtual annual conference on Oct. 12. She is currently on recall to serve as interim director for UCCE in San Diego.

4-H Youth Retention Study Team receives national award

The 4-H Youth Retention Study Team also received ANR's Distinguished Service Award for Outstanding Research in 2018.

The 4-H Youth Retention Study Team received the National Association of Extension 4-H Youth Professionals' “Susan Barkman Award for Research and Evaluation” Oct. 20, during the association's virtual conference.

The Youth Retention Study examined the retention and drop-out rates (nearly 50%) of first year 4-H members over a seven-year period to understand why youth leave the 4-H program. They found a lack of communication and the inability to understand and navigate the 4-H program contributed to attrition. These findings led to development of a handbook for families to navigate the 4-H program and a Project Leader Checklist for implementing the 4-H project experience. 

While the study focused on California, the team has engaged multiple states in an effort to document the national scope of this issue, and used the data to develop tools and strategies for addressing and extending that information through peer-reviewed articles, workshops and training.

The Youth Retention Study Team includes

  • JoLynn Miller, UCCE advisor for the Central Sierra
  • Kendra Lewis, University of New Hampshire State Specialist for Youth & Family Resiliency and former UCCE academic coordinator for evaluation for UC ANR Statewide 4-H Youth Development Program
  • Marianne Bird, UCCE advisor for the Capital Corridor
  • John Borba, UCCE advisor in Kern County
  • Claudia Diaz-Carrasco, UCCE advisor for Riverside and San Bernardino counties
  • Dorina Espinoza, UCCE advisor for Humboldt and Del Norte counties
  • Russell Hill, UCCE advisor for Merced, Mariposa and Madera counties
  • Car Mun Kok, UCCE advisor for Lake and Mendocino counties
  • Sue Manglallan, UCCE advisor emeritus in San Diego County
  • Kali Trzesniewski, UCCE specialist in UC Davis Department of Human & Community Development

Ronald becomes first woman to receive World Agriculture Prize

Pam Ronald, a UC Davis distinguished professor, whose work has revolutionized plant molecular genetics, has become the first woman to receive the World Agriculture Prize.

Ronald is recognized for her history of major discoveries in plant molecular genetics. In 1995, she isolated a key immune receptor that revealed a new mechanism with which plants and animals detect and respond to infection. Her discovery in 2006, with UC Davis plant scientist David Mackill, of a rice submergence tolerance gene facilitated the development of high-yielding, flood-tolerant rice varieties that have benefited millions of farmers in South and Southeast Asia.

The award ceremony will be virtually held at 5 p.m. on Nov. 30 from Nanjing Agricultural University, Jiangsu Province, China.

Read the full story by Amy Quinton at https://caes.ucdavis.edu/news/plant-pathologist-pamela-ronald-named-gchera-world-agriculture-prize-laureate.

Posted on Friday, October 30, 2020 at 10:25 AM

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