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ANR celebrates STAR award winners

Winners of the 2020-21 ANR Staff Appreciation and Recognition (STAR) program were announced June 17.

The outstanding contributions of 18 individual UC ANR staff members and six teams were recognized and celebrated at an online town hall. The honored staff members will receive plaques and cash awards for their exceptional performance, creativity, organizational abilities, work success and teamwork.

The STAR winners are named below, followed by a quote from their nominator.  

Valerie Borel, horticulture and Master Gardener Program coordinator, UC Cooperative Extension in Los Angeles County

Valerie Borel

“With recommendations from the task force, Valerie significantly overhauled our process for selecting Master Gardeners. This included significantly updating the application and including a diverse committee of Master Gardeners in the review and selection process. This process, while time consuming for Valerie as our Master Gardener coordinator, led to recruitment and selection of Master Gardener trainees that are more diverse than in prior years.”

Guadalupe Cabrera
Guadalupe Cabrera, community education specialist with the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program, UCCE Orange County

“She has shown exceptional creativity and success this year during the COVID-19 stay at home order. She was the first EFNEP educator across our two-county team to recruit and deliver a completely virtual nutrition class series. Guadalupe also identified needs in the community and creatively addressed them by making her own recipe and food safety videos. To make her online classes engaging, she has conducted live online cooking demonstrations and incorporated activities to include youth who are learning at home with their parents.”

Vanity Campbell, proposal development coordinator 

Vanity Campbell

“Vanity developed an innovative two-day format for the 2020 Grant Essentials Summit that capitalized on academic engagement with state agencies to facilitate building relationships with programs while increasing grant- seeking capacity to identify and successfully apply for funding. In 2021, Vanity is expanding the program in collaboration with UC Merced to promote research and extension collaborations across the two institutions through presentation of agency grant programs and faculty research interests and needs.”

Kimberly Lamar
Kimberly Lamar, associate director in the Office of Contracts & Grants

“Kim quickly established expectations and guidelines to transition staff for the remote work environment in order to successfully continue to process proposals, award and subawards without interruption of service and workflow.”

Katie Churchill, administrative officer and financial manager, UCCE Capitol Corridor

Katie Churchill

“Her work this year was transformative with guiding our office through challenging times and ensuring our programs were having high impact on making our communities great places to live and work.”

Darrin Culp
Darrin Culp, farm superintendent, Intermountain Research and Extension Center

“Darrin successfully managed 30 demanding research projects. Under a normal year this a huge accomplishment, but Darrin was forced to find innovative ways of completing the fieldwork in a manner that fit COVID-19 safety guidelines and frequent staff absences due to family and childcare needs. Even more impressive was that IREC staff completed the projects under budget and on schedule… The 2020 growing season at IREC was particularly challenging due to a water shortage and wildfire smoke.”

Maru Fernandez, UCCE business partner team supervisor

Maru Fernandez

“One year ago, the two Business Operation Center Locations were consolidated. Maru has been instrumental in building the team of 9 new members since last July, many of whom have never met each other. She has taken on additional responsibilities of the vacant Budget Analyst position, and has demonstrated a commitment above and beyond what would be expected of her as Supervisor of Business Partner Teams 1-4.”

Laurie Fringer
Laurie Fringer, 4-H program representative, UCCE Madera County

“Without Laurie's diligence and support the move could have been disastrous! Laurie was a key point of contact over the course of three county directors with Madera County and she helped with design, layout and setup of the new office.”

Elaine Lander, urban & community IPM educator, Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program

Elaine Lander

“In the last year, she has continuously put effort into making ANR a more equitable and inclusive organization. She has served on the DEI advisory committee, is a founding member of the DEI council, contributed to the establishment of Employee Resource Groups, and served on the Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month planning committee. She has participated in multiple trainings through ANR and is now pursuing training on the Intercultural Development Inventory to build intercultural competence within her IPM program and our larger organization.”

Julie Lefko
Julie Lefko, CalFresh Healthy Living, UC nutrition educator in Santa Clara County

“Julie not only rapidly transitioned to providing nutrition education online, she also found ways to move our policy systems and environmental change work forward, despite the fact that many of our settings effectively did not exist during the pandemic. Her cafe´ promo videos, which encourage children to try new fruits and vegetables, have been recognized statewide.”

Brian Oatman, Risk & Safety Services director 

Brian Oatman

“Throughout his career with ANR this candidate has sought to find creative solutions for complex problems… Early in the pandemic when cleaning and disinfecting supplies were low, he worked with his staff to sort out what material county offices needed. He acquired these materials from a variety of sources and shipped them directly to county offices, so staff had cleaning supplies in a time when they were not available locally.”

Carmela Padilla

Carmela Padilla
, program coordinator, CalFresh Healthy Living, UC, UCCE Central Sierra

“She immediately recognized the need to support staff capacity to facilitate virtual education, and she has provided training on dozens of topics and new tools. Carmela also led the development of educational videos by the whole team, including an entire nutrition curriculum. She developed a YouTube channel that now hosts over 50 educational videos, which have been viewed more than 1,250 times in all. Carmela was involved in determining the content, reviewing, and sharing each of these videos, although they also represent the collective efforts of the entire talented team”.

Rita Palmer, community education supervisor 2, CalFresh Healthy Living, UC, UCCE Butte County

Rita Palmer

“Rita's proactive approach to continue programming as stay at home orders were issued resulted in new program partnerships, the hosting of a large virtual Student Agricultural Field Day event and CFHL, UC staff with new communication skillsets and abilities to engage others in their work. The day after stay-at-home orders were issued, Rita was delivering a Zoom presentation to food service staff in one of the largest school districts in the Butte Cluster region.”

Stephanie Parreira
Stephanie Parreira, IPM Writer/Editor

“We have nominated Stephanie for a STAR award because of her work during the past year to bring diversity, equity, and inclusion to the forefront within UC IPM and ANR on top of her current role and duties. In ANR, she has been the voice for people who felt their voices weren't being heard. For UC IPM, Stephanie is instrumental in operationalizing our diversity, equity, and inclusion objectives, and getting us closer to achieving our overall goal to be an equitable organization.”

Jodi Rosenbaum, ER business consultant

Jodi Rosenbaum

“Jodi is the primary person to receive reports when an employee is diagnosed with or exposed to COVID-19. Jodi's work to track cases, employee leave, and return to work has been outstanding and is vital to keeping ANR operational. Jodi developed new processes to receive private medical information, store it securely, and track employee status. This often requires urgent response at all hours and on off days.”

Vince Trotter
Vince Trotter, sustainable ag coordinator & agricultural ombudsman, UCCE Marin County

“Vince is being recognized for his leadership and contributions that underpinned the formation of the Bay Area Rancher Cooperative, known as BAR-C. He has been the primary coordinator and facilitator, resourceful in recruiting allies and partners like the California Center for Cooperative Development and Conservation Works, and organized the business plan development, including a confidential peer review process.”

Ricardo Vela, News & Outreach in Spanish (NOS) manager

Ricardo Vela

“During the pandemic, he conceived of and spearheaded three events for ANR employees that had never been done before. Ricardo and his NOS team put together a series of well-attended educational online events for Hispanic Heritage Month September-October. Ricardo produced a video of ANR colleagues and 4-H members sharing how they were affected by COVID-19. On Cesar Chavez's birthday, Ricardo hosted a webinar about the life of the civil rights icon.”

Nancy Zumkeller
Nancy Zumkeller, UC CalFresh Healthy Living, UC Nutrition Education Program supervisor, UCCE Fresno County

“Early into the shutdown, Nancy brought forth various opportunities and ideas to expand our program reach by leveraging relationships so that we could continue to serve our community… Additionally, Nancy volunteered to participate in state-level workgroups. She chaired one of the workgroups and made valuable suggestions on the equity and access challenges faced by the population we serve.”

 

COVID-19 Hands-on Operational Support Team: David Alamillo, Barbara Bellieu, Alan Chavez, Tammie Erhard, Melissa Figueroa, Veronica Geiger, David Hatter, Brian Oatman, Bart Sapeta, Kathryn Stein, Ron Walker, Rhett Woerly and Michael Zwahlen

When most UC ANR employees transitioned to working remotely, the COVID-19 Hands-on Operational Support Team ensured that employees had necessary equipment and that ANR business operations continued to function.

Alameda/Contra Costa Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program Team

Alameda/Contra Costa Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program Team: Nelly Camacho, Jennifer Ferreira, Eli Figueroa, Santo Lopez, Carla Moore, Jesus Osoria, Molica Sim and Leah Sourbeer

“Despite the challenges imposed by the pandemic, they collectively exhibited resilience, creativity, teamwork, and exceptional performance to execute the mission of EFNEP through virtual programming.”

Financial System Implementation at UCOP: Connie Tadesse and Jin Yu

“This past year, UCOP partnered with UCSD and UCM to undertake a major high risk business systems implementation replacing their legacy business systems and infrastructure with Oracle Cloud Financials. UCOP and the two campuses were the first, systemwide, at UC to take on something this broad in scope and magnitude for a business system transformation. Working with the Huron consultants, and the UCOP project team, their efforts ensured that UC ANR requirements were met.”

CalNat CES Team

CalNat CES Team: Sarah Angulo, Eliot Freutel and Brook Gamble

“The California Naturalist Program's three Community Education Specialists not only adjusted to the changing conditions, but made structural changes to the program that actually put it in a stronger position moving forward. Specifically, they made investments in online delivery, shared the best practices throughout our diverse network, diversified our delivery model to include direct delivery, and remained focused on maintaining a strong service orientation and building community among our clientele.”

UC West Side REC Team

UC West Side REC Team: Merf Solorio and Mark Strole

“We acknowledge the exceptional service, teamwork, and creativity of Rafael “Merf” Solorio, Superintendent, and Mark Strole, Chief Mechanic, of the ANR's West Side Research and Extension Center. Time and time again, they both go well beyond the routine demands and expectations of their respective job classifications in ways that are uncommon and greatly appreciated by all who work at the West Side. On behalf of the many ANR researchers who work at the West Side REC, register our sincere thanks to both Merf and Mark for their forward vision, skills, and attention to detail in getting things done in support of our efforts.”

Office of Contracts and Grants Team: Kim Lamar, Vanity Campbell, Andrea Davis, Heidi von Geldern, Kendra Rose and Suzanne Burton.

“This team processed a record-breaking FY2020 award total of over $46 million, an increase of almost $11 million, or 30% from the prior year. This was possible because this team is a solid and cohesive group of extremely remarkable research administration professionals.”

 

UC ANR employees get moving for UC Walks

Susan Weaver also won a fashion photo award for her UC ANR Walks team shot at Martial Cottle Park.

More than 50 ANR people got their daily steps in while participating in the annual UC Walks on May 12. They gathered online for light stretching to warm up, then went outside to walk or stayed on Zoom for group yoga. After the invigorating activity, participants reconvened on Zoom to do cool-down stretches and to share comments about the exercise.

UC ANR promotes wellness by encouraging employees to take time out of their day to be physically active.

The UC ANR Staff Assembly Wellness Committee, which organized the event, offered raffle and photo contest prizes.  

Winners of the UC Walks raffle were Laura Gonzalez, who won a $25 gift card, and Christopher Wong and Jan Newman, who each won a Fitbit. 

The UC Walks photo contest attracted 29 entries in the categories of fashion, urban and nature. Two winners were selected per category. Each winner will receive a $25 gift card to a sporting goods retailer of their choice. 

Elia Escalante's dogs won the UC ANR Walks photo contest for fashion.

Fashion photo winners were Elia Escalante with two dogs sporting UC ANR branding, and Susan Weaver at Martial Cottle Park. 

Ryan Keiffer won a nature photo award for this selfie taken at Mailliard Redwoods State Natural Reserve.
Sonia Rodriguez won a nature photo award for this shot of her granddaughter at Horseshoe Lake.

Nature photo winners were Ryan Keiffer at the Mailliard Redwoods State Natural Reserve and Sonia Rodriguez with her 6-year-old granddaughter at Horseshoe Lake.  


Sarah-Mae Nelson and her cat won an urban photo award.
Grilda Gomez also won an urban photo award.

Urban photo winners were Sarah-Mae Nelson and Grilda Gomez.  

Carrie Yarwood won Walking Bingo and Lauren Borges, Pam Kan-Rice and Brian Oatman topped the #UCANRmoves social media posts.

Lauren Borges won an award for her social media post.
Pam Kan-Rice won a social media award for this turkey tweet.


Brian Oatman and his dogs also won a social media award for this selfie tweet.

Thanks to Vanity Campbell, David Ritz, Scott Brayton, Nora Lopez and Molica Sim for organizing the UC ANR Walks activities.

 

UCCE spared by October wildfires

Kaan Kurtural evacuated 15 staff members from the Oakville viticultural research station as fire approached in Napa County.

California will be dealing with the effects of the October 2017 wildfires for years to come. The Northern California wildfires that ignited Oct. 8 grew into urban conflagrations and burned for days, killing 43 people and destroying at least 8,400 structures.

In Southern California, Niamh Quinn, UC Cooperative Extension human-wildlife advisor, tweeted a photo after outrunning the Canyon Fire 2, which burned over 9,000 acres and destroyed 25 structures.

Brian Oatman, director of Risk & Safety Services, contacted UC Cooperative Extension employees in Sonoma, Napa, Marin, Mendocino, Lake, Butte, Sutter, Yuba and Orange counties and at the Hopland, Sierra Foothill and South Coast research and extension centers.

On Oct. 10, Oatman sent an email to the ANR community giving a status report on the UC ANR offices in the fire zones, saying, “We have heard that all employees are safe.” He added, “In many counties, staff know of 4-H or Master Gardener families who have lost homes or suffered damage.”

In Solano County, 17 UC Master Gardener volunteers, maybe more, lost their homes in the fires. The UC Master Gardener Program quickly set up an online form to connect Master Gardener volunteers throughout the state who wanted to offer lodging, supplies and words of support to fellow volunteers impacted by the fires.

In Sonoma County, UC Cooperative Extension staff and 4-H members helped rescue livestock.

While most news media attention was focused on Northern California fires, Niamh Quinn, who tweets as SoCal Urban Wildlife, had to flee wildfire in Orange County.

ANR suffered no significant property damage, but some offices closed due to local evacuation orders.

Kaan Kurtural, UC Cooperative Extension viticulture specialist based in Oakville, said the viticulture research station went without electricity for 16 days. They brought in generators from UC Davis. 

To help evacuated Californians who returned to their homes recover from fires, Strategic Communications created a story map with links to UCCE county resources.

News reporters sought out several UC ANR experts to explain why the wildfires spread so quickly and burned so intensely and how the fires would affect agriculture. See the ANR News blog for the monthly news roundup for October.

If you would like volunteer or donate to fire recovery efforts, check with local food banks or organizations such as Sonoma County Recovers to find out what is needed. If you would like to contribute to UC Master Gardener volunteers who are in need, you can fill out a survey that was created to connect resources with the affected volunteers: ucanr.edu/mgrelief.

Posted on Monday, October 30, 2017 at 8:10 AM

UC ANR and AgStart receive $500,000 to cultivate the VINE

The Verde Innovation Network for Entrepreneurship will connect entrepreneurs statewide to resources to commercialize a new product or start a business.

California is constantly being challenged by pest invasions, obesity, labor shortages, water scarcity, food insecurity, climate change and more. To accelerate the development and adoption of technologies that address these challenges and advance food, agriculture and natural resources in California, UC Agriculture and Natural Resources and AgStart will receive a $500,000 grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) to cultivate the Verde Innovation Network for Entrepreneurship (the VINE).

Like a grapevine, the VINE will connect existing clusters of innovation across California and link entrepreneurs with mentors, advisors, collaborators, events, competitions, education and other services to turn good ideas into products and services people can use. 

“We want to make sure every Californian has the support system to take a novel idea and commercialize a new product or start a new business,” said VP Glenda Humiston. “They don't have to be a university inventor, they could be a farmer or a young person.”

John Selep of AgStart, left, works with Olivier Jerphagnon and Kevin Langham of Powwow Energy, which uses electric utility smartmeters to help growers measure irrigation water use.

AgStart itself was established with an EDA i6 Challenge grant to assist agriculture and food technology entrepreneurs in the Sacramento Valley region. Since 2012, AgStart has supported more than 58 entrepreneurs and their companies.

“In 2016, of the 16 entrepreneurial companies that AgStart assisted, eight resided outside our region, and leveraged AgStart's program to make connections into our Sacramento Valley region,” said John Selep, president of AgTech Innovation Alliance, AgStart's sponsor. 

“The VINE will expand this AgStart model of connecting entrepreneurs to the resources they need to be successful, to enable entrepreneurs residing anywhere in California to connect to the clusters of resources, contacts, mentors and potential partners that have emerged across the state,” said Selep.  

“The VINE is really exciting because of its potential to unite all the regions of California in an innovation ecosystem for food, agriculture and natural resources,” said Gabe Youtsey.
Gabriel Youtsey, UC ANR chief innovation officer, said the VINE won't recreate the wheel. 

 “There are many wonderful regional innovation hubs in food, agriculture and natural resources so we plan to bring value by amplifying their efforts, connecting regions and organizations into a more cohesive ecosystem, and bringing value-added resources that ultimately benefit all Californians through the innovations affecting our economic prosperity, food supply and environment,” Youtsey said.

UC Cooperative Extension specialists and advisors, who work in every county, can provide insight into real-world conditions that entrepreneurs should consider in the development stage. UC ANR's nine research and extension centers can provide locations to field-test products and demonstrate their effectiveness. For example, start-up Blue River is testing its technology by flying a drone over sorghum crops to collect data at the UC Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Parlier.

2017 Apps for Ag hackathon winners Sreejumon Kundilepurayil and Vidya Kannoly are getting help from UC ANR to commercialize their smartphone app.
“The VINE is really exciting because of its potential to unite all the regions of California in an innovation ecosystem for food, agriculture and natural resources,” said Youtsey. “Not only will it help bridge the Silicon Valley and Bay Area with California's food-producing valleys, but it will bring opportunities for our innovators and entrepreneurs in rural communities in every part of California to participate.”

For the last two years, UC ANR has hosted the Apps for Ag hackathon and has introduced the winners to mentors, tech industry advisors, farmers, funders and legal experts who can advise entrepreneurs on business structure.

The VINE, which is working with UC Davis Innovation Institute for Food and Health and Valley Vision, is being structured to complement other efforts to establish food, agriculture, and natural resources incubation and innovation resources in cluster locations around the state, such as the BlueTechValley Regional Innovation Cluster, the Western Growers Innovation & Technology Center, UC Merced's VentureLab and others.

Youtsey and Selep are seeking more VINE partners with expertise across the business spectrum.

“If our vision is successful, the VINE will make California the most fertile region in the world for entrepreneurs in ag and food technology to establish themselves, to prosper and grow,” Selep said.

Posted on Wednesday, September 27, 2017 at 6:45 PM

Names in the News

Slattery rejoins UCCE in Butte County 

Chelsey Slattery

Chelsey Slattery rejoined UC Cooperative Extension on Sept. 18, 2017, as an area nutrition, family, and consumer sciences advisor in Butte County.

From 2013 to 2016, Slattery was a UCCE community education specialist, supervising the UC CalFresh Nutrition Education Program in Colusa, Sutter and Yuba counties.

From July 2016 to September 2017, Slattery was a program manager at UC Davis Center for Nutrition Schools, where she oversaw a statewide, multi-component, evidence-based, and research-tested nutrition education program. She facilitated training in coordination with the UC CalFresh State Office and UC CalFresh counties throughout the state of California.

Concurrently, Slattery has been working as a per-diem nutrition specialist since 2015 at Shady Creek Outdoor Education Foundation, where she provides oversight and guidance for the Fit Quest program, bringing comprehensive children's wellness programs to Northern California schools. 

Slattery earned an M.S. in organizational leadership from the School of Business Management at National University. She completed a B.S. in exercise physiology/exercise science from CSU Chico.

Based in Oroville, Slattery can be reached at (530) 538-7201 and cslattery@ucanr.edu.

From left, Michelle Prysby, ANROSP president, Sabrina Drill and Marisa Rodriguez. Photo by Michele Richards.

California Naturalist wins ANROSP outstanding team award

The California Naturalist Program was named the 2017 Outstanding Team by the Alliance of Natural Resource Outreach and Service Programs (ANROSP). Sabrina Drill, associate director of California Naturalist and UC Cooperative Extension advisor, and Marisa Rodriguez, community education specialist with California Naturalist in Southern California, accepted the award on Sept. 21 at the annual ANROSP conference held at the World Forestry Center in Portland, Ore.

Led by director Adina Merenlender, a UC Cooperative Extension specialist at UC Berkeley, the CalNat staff includes Greg Ira, academic coordinator; Brook Gamble, community education specialist; Drill and Rodriguez.

Teamwork is fundamental to the program structure. Since 2012, California Naturalist has certified more than 1,800 Naturalists, who have logged over 100,000 volunteer hours.

The team credits its success to the support and efforts across UC ANR and an extended team of course partners, instructors, statewide partners, educators, scientists, conservation practitioners, and many others who have contributed to the continued adaptive development of the program.

Grant to be inducted into Ag Hall of Fame 

Joe Grant hangs mating disruption dispensers in orchard with Jhalendra Rijal

On Oct. 19, Joseph Grant, UC Cooperative Extension advisor emeritus, will be among the people inducted into the San Joaquin County Agricultural Hall of Fame at the 33rd Annual Agricultural Hall of Fame Banquet.

For most of his career, Grant, who retired in 2016, worked as a UC Cooperative Extension farm advisor and is known for his research on walnuts, cherries, apples, olives and other tree crops. 

“It's kind of awesome. I mean when you look at the other people that have been inducted into the Hall of Fame, I don't consider myself in that class of people so it's humbling,” Grant  said about his induction to the Lodi News-Sentinel.

In addition to Grant, the San Joaquin County Agricultural Hall of Fame will honor Henry “Skip” Foppiano, Jack and Pati Hamm and Hank Van Exel, and give a posthumous honor to winemaker Robert Gerald Mondavi.

According to the Hall of Fame, it “honors those individuals who have contributed to agriculture and to their community in significant ways.” 

The banquet will be held at the Robert J. Cabral Ag Center in Stockton. Tickets are $45 and can be purchased by calling the Greater Stockton Chamber of Commerce at (209) 547-2770 or by visiting http://stocktonchamber.org/ag-hall-of-fame

USDA-ARS bestows B.Y. Morrison Medal on Zalom

Frank Zalom receives the 2017 B.Y. Morrison Medal from Chavonda Jacobs-Young, the USDA-ARS administrator, at a ceremony in Waikoloa, Hawaii.

Frank Zalom, UC Davis distinguished professor of entomology and integrated pest management (IPM) specialist, has been named the recipient of the 2017 B.Y. Morrison Medal by U.S. Department of Agriculture/Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS).

Zalom is the first entomologist to receive the coveted award established in 1968, according to Kim Kaplan of the USDA-ARS Office of Communications.

Zalom was singled out for his outstanding work in IPM related to sustainable horticulture production, specifically for “his outstanding leadership and public service in IPM for horticultural crops at the regional, state, national and international levels; his stellar accomplishments in horticultural crops sustainability and pest management and his work ethic, service, courage and integrity, all driven by his insatiable curiosity and passion to solve problems in the horticultural crops landscape,” Kaplan said.

Zalom received the award, co-sponsored by USDA-ARS and the American Society for Horticultural Science (ASHS), on Sept. 21 at the ASHS conference in Waikoloa, Hawaii. He presented the Morrison Memorial Lecture on “Significance of Integrated Pest Management to Sustainable Horticultural Production – Observations and Experiences.”

Read more at //ucanr.edu/blogs/blogcore/postdetail.cfm?postnum=25218. -- Kathy Keatley Garvey

 

Posted on Wednesday, September 27, 2017 at 2:09 PM

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