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Outstanding academics recognized with Distinguished Service Awards

Outstanding academics recognized with Distinguished Service Awards

Winners of the Distinguished Service Awards were announced June 13. Sponsored by UC ANR and Academic Assembly Council, the Distinguished Service Awards recognize service and academic excellence in UC Cooperative Extension over a significant period of time. The 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, outstanding leader and contribution to diversity, equity and inclusion.

We are pleased to congratulate and recognize this year's honorees:

Outstanding Research - Mark Hoddle 

Mark Hoddle

Mark Hoddle has been a UCCE specialist in biological control in UC Riverside Department of Entomology for 25 years. His research program on biocontrol of invasive pests that attack agricultural crops, threaten wilderness areas, and degrade urban landscapes in California has been supported by more than $14.5 million in grants from commodity boards and state and federal agencies and have significant impacts in California, nationally and internationally.

Highlights of his work include the successful biological control of the glassy-winged sharpshooter, a species of palm weevil (Rhynchophorus vulneratus), the Asian citrus psyllid and the Argentine ant, resulting in a massive reduction and elimination of these pests in California and other states and countries.

Hoddle also has developed proactive biocontrol and integrated pest management programs for pests not yet present in California but that are likely to invade, including the spotted lantern fly, the avocado seed moth and the avocado seed weevil.

His outstanding research has led to over 200 publications in peer-reviewed journals, books and book chapters. He also has published over 100 extension articles and 40 web pages. His outreach includes interviews for TV, radio, newspapers, magazines and podcasts.

In addition to his academic successes, Hoddle has mentored seven graduate students, more than 40 undergraduate students and nine post-graduate researchers. He also has received several national and international awards throughout his career.

Outstanding Extension - Lyn Brock 

Lyn Brock

Lyn Brock is the academic coordinator for statewide training for both the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program and CalFresh Healthy Living, University of California. Brock leads the training and professional development efforts for academics and staff that work at the state and county levels for both programs.

When the COVID-19 pandemic began, the EFNEP and CFHL, UC programs were stymied by the inability to provide in-person education. Through her persistence, innovation and leadership, Brock transitioned more than 140 program staff to virtual delivery in a matter of months so that they could continue to serve the people of California. 

She spearheaded novel trainings pertaining to a wide variety of topics that suddenly became relevant, including learner-centered programming, online learning platforms and copyright policies, among others. Under her leadership, 24 evidence-based curricula were adapted for virtual delivery during the pandemic. These programs are still regarded by the programs' federally funded partners as cutting-edge in virtual education.

Brock has produced numerous limited distribution publications and also presented during conferences, trainings and presentations to extend knowledge in her role as training coordinator. Highlights of her extension work include the What's Up Wednesday meetings, virtual staff check-in meetings to facilitate communication between program leadership staff. She also developed training material and trained staff on available virtual platforms to allow them to deliver programs virtually.

Outstanding New Academic - Aparna Gazula 

Aparna Gazula

Aparna Gazula became a UCCE small farms advisor in 2016. Her extension program provides training and technical assistance for nutrient management, pest management, irrigation and food safety to diversified vegetable farmers in Santa Clara, San Benito and Santa Cruz counties.

Because a majority of the crops grown by Asian immigrant farmers – including amaranth, bok choy, gai choy, gai lan, a choy, Chinese celery, edible chrysanthemum, yam leaves, garlic chives and pea tips – are considered minor crops, there is little research-based information about them that can be used as the basis for management decisions or to fulfill regulatory requirements.In six years, she has secured more than $1.6 million in grant funding for research, outreach and technical assistance to fill information gaps on pest management, food safety and water and nutrient management.

Many of the socially disadvantaged farmers Gazula works with face language and cultural barriers. To provide targeted extension to non-English speaking farmers, she secured grant funding to hire specialists and educators who are fluent in Cantonese and Spanish. With her team, Gazula provides technical assistance, workshops, and outreach publications in Chinese and Spanish.

She also has led her team in assisting farmers in the region to access pandemic relief funding and state programs to improve soil health and water use efficiency. Gazula and her team helped non-English-speaking farmers submit over 200 applications for relief between April and December 2020. These farmers received $3.1 million in emergency aid, allowing them to maintain vegetable production during the pandemic. With her team she also provided training and technical assistance, in both Cantonese and English, to farmers about the State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program and Healthy Soils Program.

Although Gazula is a new academic, she is recognized throughout the region for her expertise and is often called on by community and local government groups to contribute to food and farming initiatives. She has established herself as a leader in supporting the Asian vegetable industry.

Outstanding Team - UC ANR Winter Cover Cropping/Water Use Team

The UC ANR Winter Cover Cropping/Water Use Team is composed of UCCE specialists Daniele Zaccaria, Samuel Sandoval Solis, Amelie Gaudin, Jeff Mitchell and Khaled Bali, UCCE advisor Dan Munk and UC Davis students Alyssa DeVincentis and Anna Gomes.

In direct response to prominent knowledge gaps around implementing the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, the team conducted a focused applied research program on water-related impacts of winter cover crops in California's Central Valley from 2016 to 2019.

Their research showed that the benefits of winter cropping in processing tomato and almond production systems offset or compensated for water used during the winter by the cover crops. Contrary to widespread belief, research results showed that cover crops did not use a lot of soil water because evapotranspiration during this period is normally low, crops shade and cool the soil surface, and improve soil aggregation, pore space and soil water infiltration and retention. 

This research provided the basis for a series of 11 invited extension education presentations and outreach activities to inform and guide policy implementation of local stakeholder agencies and entities including the Madera Regional Water Management Group, the American Farmland Trust's SJV Conservation Partnership Program, the CA/NV Chapter of the Soil and Water Conservation Society, and the East Stanislaus, the Eastern Merced, Fresno, Kings, and Tulare Counties Resource Conservation Districts, as well as the California Irrigation Institute. 

Outstanding Leader - Gail Feenstra 

Gail Feenstra

Gail Feenstra, director of the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program, is a distinguished leader and visionary, not only in UC ANR, but across the food systems landscape. Her career has been exemplary in terms of her pioneering success in applied, multidisciplinary research, evaluation, and outreach. In the early 1990s, Feenstra began to parlay her graduate training in nutrition along with her experience in community development and food systems into what was then a very new, poorly studied discipline that she would continue to develop and lead for the next three decades.

This field of work comprises regional food systems that merge the business and livelihood needs of small- and mid-scale farmers with the economic well-being and nutritional health of their local communities. Feenstra developed SAREP's and the nation's understanding of values-based supply chains. She has been a pioneer in the farm-to-school movement and has developed widely adopted tools for farm-to-school evaluation. In recognition of her stature in this field, CDFA selected her to lead a four-year, $60 million evaluation of its Farm to School Grant Program.

Feenstra also has shown tremendous leadership within UC ANR through her role as co-chair of the California Communities and Food Systems Program Team where she has helped shape collaborations within UC ANR. She has worked to bridge interconnected disciplines of nutrition, food, health, community development and agriculture within UC ANR. She also has led efforts to work across program teams, particularly in developing new specialist and advisor position descriptions. Her energy is infectious and her leadership through collaboration is compelling. The Agriculture, Food and Human Values Society recently honored Feenstra with its 2022 Richard P. Haynes Distinguished Lifetime Achievement Award.

Outstanding Contribution to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion - Katherine Soule 

Katherine Soule

Katherine Soule began her DEI work in 2013, focusing on providing solutions to the challenges that marginalized youth, families and communities face on the Central Coast.

Her work particularly focused on the needs of Latino youth and families, LGBTQ+ youth and adults, neurodivergent people, and individuals living in poverty. Through a timely intervention, Soule's DEI work has helped to increase health equity, improve food security and safety, and promote economic prosperity in marginalized communities.

She implemented a very impactful “Schools as Hubs of Health” program that reached more than 4,000 students annually in more than 150 classrooms and created a college and career readiness pathway that engaged more than 12,000 youth. She brings an interdisciplinary approach to her work with an emphasis on engaged and participatory research, and lifelong commitment to personally unlearning and decolonizing.

Soule also demonstrates DEI leadership by serving on the UC ANR DEI Advisory Council as the inaugural chair and serving on the City of San Luis Obispo's DEI Taskforce.

Posted on Monday, June 27, 2022 at 1:10 PM

Names in the News

Khaira to lead UC CalFresh

Kamal Khaira

Kamaljeet (Kamal) Singh-Khaira has accepted the position of director of the University of California CalFresh Nutrition Education Program, also known as UC CalFresh. Singh-Khaira began her new role on June 18, 2018, succeeding David Ginsburg, who retired after leading UC CalFresh since 2008. 

“We are very fortunate to have another strong leader to direct the UC CalFresh program,” said Helene Dillard, dean of the UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. “Under David Ginsburg's leadership, our program has grown substantially and become a widely emulated model across the nation. Kamal Singh-Khaira—with her more than 20 years of experience developing and implementing health and active living initiatives—is ideally positioned to lead the program into the future.”

Prior to joining UC CalFresh, Singh-Khaira was an independent consultant. She previously held leadership positions with the Network for a Healthy California and the American Heart Association.  

Singh-Khaira has a master's degree in community development from UC Davis and is the 2012 recipient of that program's Ted Bradshaw Award, honoring an alum of the program who exemplifies the passion, humanity and devotion for community empowerment. In 2015 Singh-Khaira received a U.S. Department of Agriculture Western Region Food and Nutrition Service Recognition Award honoring her professional contributions and leadership in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) education efforts. 

Singh-Khaira is based at UC Davis and can be reached at (530) 752-0555 and kjkhaira@ucdavis.edu.

Bruno named UCCE quantitative policy analysis specialist

Ellen Bruno

Ellen Bruno joined UCCE on July 1, 2018, as an assistant specialist in quantitative policy analysis Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at UC Berkeley.

Bruno will develop a research and extension program that focuses on policy issues relevant to California's agriculture and natural resources. Much of her current research and extension work relates to the changing regulatory structure of groundwater in California and the potential for groundwater trading.

Prior to joining UCCE, Bruno was a graduate student researcher in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at UC Davis. Her Ph.D. dissertation, titled “An Evaluation of Policy Instruments for Sustainable Groundwater Management,” assessed the potential of market-based instruments for improving management of groundwater for agriculture. 

Bruno earned her B.S. in management science from UC San Diego and M.S. and Ph.D. in agricultural and resource economics from UC Davis.

Bruno is located at 223 Giannini Hall at UC Berkeley, and can be reached at ebruno@berkeley.edu.

Marshall-Wheeler named 4-H advisor

Nicole Marshall-Wheeler

Nicole Marshall-Wheeler is now an area 4-H youth development advisor for Colusa, Sutter and Yuba counties as of June 1, 2018.

Marshall-Wheeler joined UCCE in 2016 as a 4-H youth development community education specialist in Butte County, providing oversight and leadership to the county's 4-H Youth Development Program, coordinating and managing nearly 200 volunteers and 500 youth. She also worked two summers (2014 and 2015) as a 4-H events assistant for UC ANR California 4-H State Office. From 2010 to 2016, she was an after school program director and leader at Chico Area Recreation and Park District, overseeing 200 youth and 10 staff, budget management, mentorship and resolving conflict with staff, youth and parents. As a California 4-H alumna, she was a Butte County 4-H All-Star and California 4-H State Ambassador.

Marshall-Wheeler is based in Colusa and can be reached at (530) 458-0570 and nmarshall@ucanr.edu.

Sanchez joins NOS

Miguel Sanchez

Miguel Sanchez joined ANR's News and Information Outreach in Spanish (NOS) as a broadcast communications specialist on July 1. He will be producing videos and writing news releases in English and Spanish to provide ANR's research-based information to Latino Californians.

Prior to joining NOS, Sanchez was the technical director for Entravision on KVER Univision Notivalle for six years in Palm Desert, helping to produce the evening newscast and upload news to the station's social media platforms. From 2003 to 2012, he was a video editor, photojournalist and technical director for newscasts in Santa Maria for KCOY-12 CBS and KKFX-11 FOX, then Entravision on KPMR Univision 38.

He earned an associate's degree in multimedia from Brooks College in Long Beach.

Sanchez is based at Rubideaux Hall in Riverside and can be reached at (951) 781-2124 and
miguel.sanchez@ucr.edu.

Koopman Rivers named UCCE Siskiyou County director

Carissa Koopman Rivers is the new director for UC Cooperative Extension in Siskiyou County. Koopman Rivers, a UCCE livestock and natural resources advisor, succeeds the late Steve Orloff. She is based in Yreka and can be reached at (530) 842-2711 and ckrivers@ucanr.edu.

JoLynn Miller, a 4-H youth development advisor, is serving as the interim director for UCCE Central Sierra while Scott Oneto is on a one-year sabbatical leave. Miller is based in Sonora and can be reached at (209) 533-5686, cell (209) 588-6757 and jlmiller@ucanr.edu.

At Hopland Research & Extension Center, superintendent John Bailey has been serving as interim director since Kim Rodrigues retired July 1. Bailey can be reached at (707) 744-1424 x112 and jtbailey@ucanr.edu.

From left, VP Glenda Humiston, Dan Munk and AVP Wendy Powers attended the Western Extension Directors Association meeting in Guam.

CASI Center wins WEDA Award of Excellence

The Conservation Agriculture Systems Innovation (CASI) Center received this year's Award of Excellence from the Western Extension Directors Association (WEDA). Dan Munk, UCCE farm advisor in Fresno County and CASI member, delivered a presentation on CASI's goals and accomplishments on July 10 at the WEDA annual conference in Guam, then accepted the award on behalf of the group.

The WEDA Award of Excellence is presented annually to recognize Extension outreach education programming that has achieved outstanding accomplishments, results and impacts in addressing contemporary issues in one or more of the 13 Western states and Pacific Island U.S. Territories.

Composed of scientists and growers, the CASI Center develops and delivers information on the economic and environmental benefits of conservation agriculture systems and strives to increase adoption of locally appropriate systems in California. CASI was founded by and continues to be fueled by Jeff Mitchell, UCCE specialist.

Surveys conducted by the CASI Center indicate that no-tillage and strip-tillage practices were used on less than 0.5 percent of California's annual crop acreage in 2004 (http://casi.ucanr.edu/?blogstart=51& blogasset=14128), but today, an estimated 45 percent of dairy silage acreage in California now uses these production techniques. Major transformations toward reduced disturbance tillage systems have occurred in several other crops including tomatoes, sorghum and cotton.

The application for consideration for the WEDA recognition was submitted by Brenna Aegerter, Howard Ferris, UC Davis professor Amelie Gaudin, UC Merced professor Teamrat Ghezzehei, Kurt Hembree, William Horwath, Louise Jackson, Betsy Karle, Sarah Light, Mark Lundy, Dan Marcum, Milt McGiffen, Glenn McGourty, Michelle Leinfelder-Miles, Mitchell, Gene Miyao, Munk, Tapan Pathak, Samuel Sandoval-Solis, Gary Sposito, Scott Stoddard, Tom Turini, Amber Vinchesi, Jeannette Warnert and Daniele Zaccaria.

In their application, they wrote: “In concert with these reductions in tillage intensity and soil disturbance, estimates of PM10 or fugitive dust by the SJV Air Pollution Control District indicate about 9.2 tons per day lower emissions that are likely due to reductions in tillage intensity and soil disturbance in the eight-county San Joaquin Valley region that was out of compliance with US EPA air quality standards in the early 2000s. This effort was one of several agricultural management approaches that helped the San Joaquin Valley Air Basin achieve and maintain attainment of the PM10 air quality standard. Further evidence of our impacts includes our leadership and founding role in the creation of the California Farm Demonstration Network, as well as our organizing of a very dynamic group of organic farmers in California that is now working together on no-till organic food production systems. Our impact also extends to what we term ‘saturation visibility' of our work through an average of 65 public presentations annually and over 50,000 views of our CASI videos. CASI is now widely recognized as the ‘go to' organization in California for science- and experience-based information and leadership on conservation agriculture principles, practices and systems.”

WEDA represents Alaska, American Samoa, Arizona, California, Colorado, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Micronesia, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Northern Mariana Islands, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.

 

 

Posted on Wednesday, August 1, 2018 at 8:19 AM

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