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Posts Tagged: California Naturalist Program

CalNat celebrates virtual class graduates

This is an usual graduation photo for the outdoorsy UC California Naturalist Program, but one that says so much about adapting to the shelter-in-place restrictions to slow the spread of novel coronavirus.

Extra special congratulations are in order for the 2020 Tuleyome graduating class of certified California Naturalists. On Friday, March 20, via Zoom, the California Naturalist Program certified its latest class of California Naturalists while practicing appropriate physical distancing to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus or COVID-19.

Students met by video to present their capstone service-learning projects, including topics as diverse as nature journaling with kids, discovering soil types of field trip locations, cataloging game camera photos, unlocking the potentials of Zooniverse, building a new container for composting, and more. 

California Naturalist Program Director Greg Ira remarked to graduates that he is encouraged to see people finding refuge in the natural world in this difficult time. "Who knew that social distancing would bring so many people closer to nature?," Ira said. "How wonderful would it be to see a blossoming of natural history from this event? And who better to help guide these potential naturalists than a newly minted California Naturalist like yourself."

Posted on Wednesday, December 18, 2019 at 12:01 PM
  • Author: Brook Gamble

Project Learning Tree partners with 4-H and CalNat

UC ANR programs collaborate to integrate best practices in environmental learning and stewardship to expand programming and impacts throughout the state

Project Learning Tree (PLT) is an international, award-winning environmental education program, providing professional development training and workshops for teachers and other educators working with youth. A primary goal of PLT is to increase the environmental and scientific literacy of K-12 students in California through inquiry-based teaching and learning.

Transitioning from a 25-year home within CALFIRE, PLT joined UC ANR in 2013 to ensure a more collaborative and sustainable future for program expansion and development. This year, PLT moved administratively under the UC 4-H Youth Development Program, and is being delivered in partnership with 4-H and the California Naturalist Program.

Through this collaborative effort, UC ANR seeks to expand the reach of the PLT network by engaging existing 4-H Youth Development volunteers, staff, youth and partners and California Naturalist partners, while strengthening environmental education programming within these statewide programs. The collaboration also promotes connections and shared learning between naturalists and youth development staff and volunteers.

Currently, the UC ANR PLT program has a network of 20 active facilitators, offering 30 workshops annually, training nearly 2,000 educators who provide experiential learning activities focused on California ecosystems, forests and trees to more than 10,000 young people annually.

The collective impact of this three-dimensional program partnership will serve to both increase ecological sustainability of agriculture, landscapes and forestry to protect California's natural resources and increase environmental literacy, leading to a qualified workforce for California.

Posted on Thursday, September 27, 2018 at 2:50 PM
  • Author: Shannon J. Horrillo
  • Author: Sandy Derby
  • Author: Greg Ira
  • Author: Martin Smith
Focus Area Tags: 4-H, Natural Resources

UC Merced chancellor, 4-H’er and VP discuss community outreach with regents

From left, UC Merced Chancellor Dorothy Leland and 4-H member Melina Granados joined VP Humiston to discuss UC ANR impacts with UC regents.

UC VP Glenda Humiston, 4-H member Melina Granados of Riverside County and UC Merced Chancellor Dorothy Leland gave the UC regents a presentation about UC ANR's community outreach and impact. The Public Engagement & Development Committee meeting was held at the UCSF–Mission Bay Conference Center on Jan. 24, 2018, in San Francisco.

Opening the discussion, Humiston gave an overview of ANR, explaining that for 150 years ANR has been bringing the power of UC directly to the people in all California counties. Melina, who was born in Mexico, talked about her role as president of the Eastside Eagles 4-H club and what she has learned. Leland described joint projects between UC Merced and ANR in climate adaptation, nutrition and drone technology research.

Watch the 25-minute recording of the UC ANR presentation to the regents below, or visit https://youtu.be/ptFS8HwlsjE.

Posted on Tuesday, January 30, 2018 at 12:37 AM
Focus Area Tags: Economic Development, Environment, Family

AI can help growers more precisely manage their fields, Humiston tells Little Hoover Commission

Glenda Humiston gave testimony on the impacts of artificial intelligence in the agricultural sector to the Little Hoover Commission in Sacramento on Jan. 25.

Artificial intelligence, or AI, can improve precision agriculture by using sensed environmental data to “learn” and continually adapt, VP Glenda Humiston told the Little Hoover Commission at a hearing in Sacramento on Jan. 25.

The Little Hoover Commission is reviewing the impacts of artificial intelligence. While there is no singular definition, artificial intelligence encompasses a broad range of technologies that seek to approximate some aspect of human intelligence or behavior.  

Throughout its study, the commission will consider the potential policy role of California state government in areas such as regulation, workforce development and retraining.

Humiston was asked to give a statement on the impacts of artificial intelligence in the agricultural sector.

“California's working landscapes face some critical challenges; among those are drought, climate change, air quality, soil health, pests, pathogens and invasive species,” she said. “Additionally, rural/urban conflicts and urban sprawl continue to reduce available farm land and make viability of food production more difficult.

“Of importance to today's hearing, California's labor-intensive crops are facing increasing difficulty accessing necessary labor – both skilled and unskilled. This situation has led growers and universities to seek solutions through mechanization, automation and other new technologies.”

She sees opportunities in precision agriculture for growers and ranchers to more precisely manage their operations by using site- and crop-specific data gathered by new technologies.

“Artificial intelligence improves this further by using the sensed environmental data to ‘learn' and continually adapt to ever-changing conditions as it receives data that strengthens the computer's ‘intelligence,'” she said.

Humiston also outlined some of the challenges to harnessing the power of AI for agriculture.

“Artificial intelligence is extremely difficult in agriculture because of the huge amount of variability in environmental conditions across a single field,” she said. “This requires many sensors, complex algorithms, and large real-time data processing – all integrated and working together to inform decisions and actions.”

In a 2014 Pew Research Center survey, the vast majority of the 1,896 experts anticipated that robotics and artificial intelligence will “permeate wide segments of daily life by 2025.” The commission's artificial intelligence project will investigate the shape and speed of these changes in California and in society.

Through its public process, the commission intends to study the key challenges of artificial intelligence in California, its economic implications and how it can be used to solve societal ills. The commission will review issues such as justice, equity, safety and privacy. The project will consider recent studies on workforce impacts, which could include both job creation and job displacement. Possible mitigations and worker protections will be discussed as will examples of efforts to plan and prepare for innovations and labor transformations. 

To read Humiston's full testimony to the Little Hoover Commission, visit http://www.lhc.ca.gov/sites/lhc.ca.gov/files/CurrentStudies/ArtificialIntelligence/WrittenTestimony/HumistonJan2018.pdf.

 

Posted on Tuesday, January 30, 2018 at 12:20 AM
Focus Area Tags: Innovation

Names in the News

Katie Johnson
Johnson named nutrition, family and consumer sciences advisor

Cathryn “Katie” Johnson joined UCCE on Jan. 2, 2018, as an area nutrition, family and consumer sciences advisor for the Central Sierra Multi-County Partnership serving El Dorado, Amador, Calaveras and Tuolumne counties. The long-time resident of the Sierra foothills is passionate about developing an integrated approach to fighting chronic disease and improving community nutrition in the region.

Prior to joining UCCE, Johnson had been a health educator for the Stanislaus County Health Services Agency, Public Health Division, since January 2017. There, she worked on policy, systems and environmental change strategies, program planning and local evaluation for the SNAP-Ed/NEOP (Nutrition Education & Obesity Prevention) program, and served as the WIC (Women, Infants & Children) regional breastfeeding liaison.

From 2015 to 2016, Johnson held the positions of communication evaluation and development consultant and staff research assistant at the UC Merced Communication, Culture and Health Research Lab. At UC Merced, she contributed to strategic communications and formative evaluation for the CDC-funded PICH (Partnerships to Improve Community Health) project and coordinated community-engaged research on Merced residents' perceptions of health and safety. Previously, Johnson helped to manage small farms in Northern California and New Mexico, growing fruits and vegetables for sale at local markets. Johnson is also an international board-certified lactation consultant and has counseled breastfeeding families.

She earned a master of public health degree (with a concentration in public health nutrition) from UC Berkeley and a B.A. in environmental studies from Wellesley College.

Johnson is based in San Andreas and can be reached at (209) 754-6476 and ckrjohnson@ucanr.edu.

Laurent Ahiablame
Ahiablame joins UCCE San Diego County as director and water advisor

Laurent Ahiablame joined ANR as the UC Cooperative Extension director and water quality and management advisor in San Diego County on Dec. 18, 2017.

Ahiablame's research activities integrate environmental observations and computer modeling supported by ArcGIS to advance understanding of the fate and transport of water and related constituents across various spatial and temporal scales.

Prior to joining UCCE, Ahiablame was an assistant professor in the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering at South Dakota State University from 2014 to 2017. From 2013 to 2014, he was an assistant professor in the Department of Civil Engineering at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

Ahiablame earned a Ph.D. and a M.S. in agricultural and biological engineering from Purdue University and a B.S. in bioenvironmental engineering from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University.

Ahiablame can be reached at (858) 822-7673 and lmahiablame@ucanr.edu.

Kari Arnold
Arnold named orchard and vineyard systems advisor

Kari Arnold joined UCCE as an area orchard and vineyard systems advisor in Stanislaus and San Joaquin counties on Nov. 1, 2017.

Prior to joining UCCE, Arnold was a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Plant Pathology at UC Davis, where she participated in a statewide extension and outreach program involving viruses in grapevines and the certification program, collaborated with county viticulture advisors and industry leaders to facilitate grower workgroups for regional management of grapevine viruses, and provided presentations at grower meetings.

As a graduate student researcher from 2011 to October 2016, Arnold participated in individual grower meetings and surveys, facilitated and collaborated with a grower workgroup for areawide disease management in Napa vineyards, and conducted statistical characterization of spatial and temporal patterns of insect-vectored plant viruses. From 2009 to 2011, Arnold also worked as a staff research associate and nursery technician for Foundation Plant Services at UC Davis, where she provided employee training; worked on team oriented projects; provided tours, conducted virus indexing, and collected and analyzed data.

Arnold completed an M.S. and a Ph.D. in plant pathology from UC Davis and a B.S. in horticulture from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln.

Based in Modesto, Arnold can be reached at (209) 525-6821and klarnold@ucanr.edu. Follow her on Twitter @KariDigsPlants. 

Farzaneh Khorsandi
Khorsandi named ag safety and health engineer specialist 

Farzaneh Khorsandi Kouhanestani joined UCCE on Sept. 1, 2017, as an assistant agricultural safety and health engineer specialist in the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering at UC Davis.

Prior to joining UCCE, Khorsandi Kouhanestani worked as research assistant and Ph.D. student at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Her research is mainly related to agricultural machine design and evaluating the performance of the designed machines both experimentally and theoretically. The designed systems in the Ph.D. project were related to agricultural machinery safety. During her M.S. work, she designed, manufactured and evaluated the performance of a hand-held fruit harvester, a catch frame and a fruit sorter. After completing her M.S., she was a design engineer for an agricultural machinery design company, working on several design projects including a granule spreader, feed cutter and mixer and hay harvester.

Khorsandi Kouhanestani earned a B.S. in mechanics of agricultural machinery engineering in Iran, an M.S. in mechanics of agricultural machinery engineering from Shiraz University, Iran, and a Ph.D. in biosystems engineering from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

Khorsandi Kouhanestani is based at UC Davis and can be reached at (530) 752-7848 and fkhorsandi@ucdavis.edu.

Pramod Pandey
Pandey receives state's highest environmental honor 

California Safe Soil and Pramod Pandey, UCCE specialist in UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, were among 13 California organizations that received the state's highest environmental honor, the Governor's Environmental and Economic Leadership Award (GEELA), in a ceremony at the California Environmental Protection Agency in Sacramento on Jan. 17.

The award recognizes the public-private partnership and collaborative research among California Safe Soil, the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine and the California Department of Food and Agriculture to recycle organic food waste into fertilizer and feed for agricultural use.

California Safe Soil has a proprietary new technology – enzymatic digestion – to recycle organic biomass. However, they had to prove that recycling food into fertilizer and feed can be done safely, without foodborne pathogens.

California Safe Soil worked with Pandey to conduct pathogen challenge research. Annette Jones and Douglas Hepper at CDFA and Bart Weimer, professor in the School of Veterinary Medicine, and Glenn Young, professor in the Department of Food Science and Technology, helped formulate the pathogen challenge test, which provided the scientific results needed to allow CDFA to issue an operating license for the enzymatic digestion.

Pandey's research, which was published in a peer-reviewed journal, proved that California Safe Soil's method for recycling organic food waste into fertilizer and feed is based on robust science and technology.

GEELA recipients are chosen from five categories including climate change, ecosystem and land-use stewardship, environmental education, sustainable practices and waste reduction. 

Trevor Suslow
Suslow honored by Steinbeck Center

Trevor Suslow, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Plant Sciences at UC Davis and director of the Postharvest Center, received the 2017 Valley of the World Education Award given by the National Steinbeck Center in Salinas. The center established its Valley of the World Awards to honor key figures in the Salinas Valley agricultural industry.

“In the spirit of John Steinbeck's writings, the education award recognizes an individual who through his or her teaching and efforts has inspired and nourished a lifelong love of learning,” the center says on its website.

In presenting the award, the center described Suslow as having “one of the most active extension education and outreach programs” among extension specialists.

“Conservatively, he has provided over 1,500 local, state, national and international technical, extension education, training and outreach presentations on crop protection, soil and phyllosphere microbiology, biotechnology, fresh and fresh-cut produce quality systems, and microbial food safety of fresh produce,” the center wrote.

Soule named one of Top 20 under 40 in SLO

Katherine Soule

The San Luis Obispo Tribune has chosen Katherine Soule, UC Cooperative Extension director and advisor in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties, as one of its Top 20 under 40. The Tribune's annual competition recognizes young professionals “who are making significant contributions in the fields of health care, business, law, government and the nonprofit sector. Not only have they demonstrated excellence in their careers, they also have shown a profound commitment to public service.”

In the news article announcing the winners, the newspaper says that Soule has earned state and national recognition for improving community health and increasing diversity in youth participation.

“As the extension's youth, families and communities advisor for the last several years, Soule developed new 4-H programs engaging underserved youths and promoting healthy living, leadership and social development. Her efforts nearly doubled enrollment and boosted Latino participation 26.8 percent. She's delivered nutrition education to more than 10,000 people through various partnerships,” the Tribune wrote.

It goes on to add, “Soule is a founding member of the Cultivating Change Foundation, working to improve inclusivity for the LGBTQ community in agriculture locally and nationwide.”

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