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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.

Names in the News

Soule named assistant vice provost for CE

Katherine Soule

Katherine Soule will serve as ANR's new Assistant Vice Provost for Cooperative Extension. She will start her new duties on July 1, 2020, and continue to serve as UCCE director for San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties and as UCCE youth, families and communities advisor. The role was previously held by Lynn Schmitt-McQuitty until she assumed the role of Statewide 4-H Youth Development Program director.

“We are excited to have Katherine on the Cooperative Extension administrative team! She brings a breadth of Cooperative Extension experiences and leadership skills,” said Mark Lagrimini, vice provost for research and extension. “Katherine is known for her innovative, collaborative, and strengths-based leadership. She cares deeply about improving lives and working environments for her unit, her community and ANR.”

Soule earned her Ph.D. from the University of Georgia, Athens in 2013 and became the UCCE youth, families and communities advisor for San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties. In 2017, she accepted an additional appointment as UCCE director for these counties. She was elected as UC ANR's Academic Assembly Council president for a two-year term ending in June 2020.

"As the assistant vice provost of Cooperative Extension, I look forward to supporting the development and successes of new and existing county directors,” Soule said. “I hope to promote collaborative, cross-county communication, while focusing on identifying and meeting the needs of county directors across the division. We are all most effective when we learn from and support one another, so I look forward to connecting with academics, county directors, ANR leadership and other UC ANR personnel in this new role."

Choe, Dara and IPM team honored by Pacific Branch of ESA

Dong-Hwan Choe
UC ANR scientists Dong-Hwan Choe, Surendra Dara, David Haviland and Jhalendra Rijal received awards for their exemplary work from the Pacific Branch of the Entomological Society of America. The PBESA presented its annual awards on April 20, at a virtual ceremony due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Choe, UCCE specialist in the UC Riverside Department of Entomology, won the Medical, Urban, and Veterinary Entomology Award.

“Since joining the faculty at UC Riverside in 2011, [Choe] has developed an outstanding research and extension program dealing with the major urban structural pests and related issues in the western United States,” wrote Mike Rust, UC Riverside entomology professor, in his nomination letter.

His research includes exploiting the role of semiochemicals and behavior to control social insects and developing novel ant baits.

“Dr. Choe has been at the forefront of developing hydrogels as carriers of baits to control ants and yellowjackets. Developing cost-effective and environmentally safe delivery strategies has always been a major problem facing the use of ant baits in agriculture and urban setting. His pioneering biodegradable alginate beads promise to be a major advancement,” Rust wrote.

Surendra Dara
Choe also participates in workshops for agricultural pest control advisers, UC Master Gardeners and urban pest control operators.

Dara, UC Cooperative Extension entomology and biologicals advisor for San Luis Obispo and Ventura counties, won the Award for Excellence in Integrated Pest Management.

This annual award recognizes individuals who made outstanding contributions in research and outreach in the area of IPM. Dara's new IPM model has been well-received and its impact has been documented in a UC Delivers story. Dara is the first UC ANR scientist to receive this award and fourth from UC since the Pacific Branch began offering awards in this category in 2009.

The UC IPM Almond Pest Management Alliance Team won the Entomology Team Work Award. The team consists of UC IPM advisors David Haviland and Jhalendra Rijal, former UCCE advisor Emily Symmes, UCCE Kern County staff research associate Stephanie Rill, industry researcher Bradly Higbee of Trécé, USDA scientist Charles Burkes and Bob Curtis of the Almond Board of California.

The team encouraged the adoption of mating disruption for managing navel orangeworm, a major pest in almond orchards, especially in the San Joaquin Valley. After they began demonstrating that mating disruption proved to be an economical pest control method in orchards, they saw a rapid rise in growers adopting the technology. Based on a survey of pest control advisers and growers conducted in the early 2019, the anticipated use of navel orangeworm mating disruption for the 2019 season in San Joaquin Valley was 32%, as opposed to the 7% adoption in 2017. Kern County data showed a 26% countywide increase in the adoption of mating disruption from 2017-2018.

The UC IPM Almond Pest Management Alliance Team. From left, DPR Director Val Dolcini, Brad Higbee, Chuck Burkes, Jhalendra Rijal, David Haviland, UCCE staff research assistant Stephanie Rill, and the Almond Board’s Jesse Rosemond, Bob Curtis, Rebecca Bailey and Jenny Nicolau.

For more than a decade, the team conducted research on navel orangeworm, spider mites, leaffooted bug and ants that laid the groundwork for IPM adoption. For the past three years, the team put these IPM practices on display using nine demonstration orchards across the San Joaquin Valley as part of CDPR Pest Management Alliance and Almond Board of California grants.

The UC IPM Almond Pest Management Alliance Team received an award in February from the California Department of Pesticide Regulation and California Environmental Protection Agency

Three UC Davis faculty members were also selected for prestigious awards: Lynn Kimsey, Walter Leal and Robert Kimsey.

The Pacific Branch covers provinces/states in Canada, U.S. and Mexico on the Pacific Coast. 

Posted on Thursday, April 30, 2020 at 12:47 PM

Congressman Carbajal tours UCCE projects in SLO and Santa Barbara

Congressman Carbajal and Andrea Keisler discuss UC Master Food Preserver home food preservation lessons for CalFresh participants in San Luis Obispo County.

The UCCE team in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties met with Congressman Salud Carbajal and his team twice in the past few weeks. On Aug. 20, Jeremy Tittle, the congressman's chief of staff, and Erin Sandler, the congressman's scheduler, visited. The congressional staff met with UCCE advisors, office manager, and director to learn more about UCCE research and programming.

UCCE advisor Ben Faber led a tour of research and education collaborations at Cal Poly, sharing research occurring on pomegranates, blueberries and other crops. In the afternoon, UCCE advisor Mark Battany led a tour at Wolff Vineyard, discussing research on how climate conditions relate to frost and water management.

Carbajal’s staff toured UCCE research collaborations with Cal Poly SLO. From left, Laura Garner, Ben Faber, Chris Greer, Jeremy Tittle, Erin Sandler, Jerry Harris and Mark Battany.

The following week, Katherine Soule, UCCE director, met with Congressman Carbajal and project collaborators to discuss the outcomes and success of a USDA Community Food Project grant. On Sept. 5, the congressman visited with the project partners at the Food Bank Coalition of San Luis Obispo County. 

Community partners described their contributions to the project, including UCCE's efforts to reduce food waste, increase awareness of local food systems, and maximize limited food resources through the UC Master Food Preserver Program. For this project, UC Master Food Preservers teach low-cost, safe, home food preservation methods to clientele receiving food at food bank distribution sites. During this meeting, the partners also discussed the San Luis Obispo County CalFresh Alliance's objective to increase CalFresh participation in the county. 

San Luis Obispo County currently has one of the lowest CalFresh participation rates in the state so the partners have been working together to identify and address barriers to participation. Carbajal shared his concerns about the low rates of participation and his commitment to working to address food insecurity in the region.

These successful visits led Carbajal's team to schedule a meeting with 4-H youth, families and volunteers in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties in the next few months.

Posted on Friday, September 27, 2019 at 2:50 PM
  • Author: Katherine Soule

Academics sought to serve on Program Council

Academic Assembly Council is seeking self-nominations to serve on the ANR Program Council. The ANR Program Council advises the Vice President on Division-wide planning and delivery of programs and develops recommendations for allocation of Division resources.

More information about ANR Program Council can be found at https://ucanr.edu/sites/anrstaff/Divisionwide_Programs/Program_Council.

We are seeking academics with well-established programs, who can commit to monthly two-day, in-person meetings (scheduled dates below), most often held in Davis. Attendance at all Program Council meetings is mandatory and missing one or more meetings will result in removal for non-performance of the position. Please note that Program Council does not have a budget to support travel (meals during meetings will be provided). 

A list of all interested individuals will be sent to the Associate Vice President, who will review self-nominations with current ANR Program Council members on Oct. 1 - 2 to make the selection. We are seeking interest in two positions, both beginning January 2020.

Please complete this survey by Sept. 27 to express your interest. If you have already completed the survey, your self-nomination will be reviewed in October as well.

Scheduled meeting dates (Beginning 3 p.m. on Tuesday and ending at 3 p.m. on Wednesday):

  • January 7 & 8, 2020 (Davis)
  • February 4 & 5, 2020 (Davis)
  • March 17 & 18, 2020 (tentative)
  • April 7 & 8, 2020 (Davis)
  • May 5 & 6, 2020 (Davis, possibly offsite)
  • June 9 &10, 2020 (Davis)
  • July 7 & 8, 2020 (Davis)
  • No meeting August 2020
  • September 1 & 2, 2020 (Davis)
  • October 6 & 7, 2020 (Davis)
  • November 3 & 4, 2020 (Davis)
  • December meeting tentative, dates TBD

Sincerely,

Katherine Soule
Academic Assembly Council President

Wendy Powers
Associate Vice President

Posted on Monday, August 26, 2019 at 3:54 PM
  • Author: Katherine Soule

Names in the News

Jones named UCCE forestry advisor

Michael Jones

Michael Jones joined UCCE on Oct. 1, 2018, as the area forestry advisor in Mendocino, Lake and Sonoma counties. He specializes in forest entomology with a focus on forest health and integrated pest management of invasive and endemic forest pests.

Jones completed a Ph.D. in entomology from State University of New York, College of Environmental Science and Forestry and a B.S. in environmental biology and management from UC Davis.

Prior to joining UCCE, Jones was a graduate student and research project assistant at State University of New York. He developed and maintained research projects on delimitation, management, and biological control of the invasive forest pest emerald ash borer in New York. From 2010 to 2013, Jones was a research associate in the UC Davis Department of Entomology, in collaboration with the US Forest Service, Forest Health Protection in Southern California. He participated in a variety of forest pest research projects involving the detection, evaluation and management of endemic and invasive forest pests. He has been active in leading training activities for land managers and land owners in the field identification and management of forest pests, and training and supervising field crews in the collection of field data. As an undergraduate at UC Davis, he worked on sudden oak death with David Rizzo's lab group in the Department of Plant Pathology.

Based in Ukiah, Jones can be reached at (707) 463-4495 and mjones@ucanr.edu.

Sanchez named UCCE woody biomass specialist

Daniel Sanchez

Daniel Sanchez joined UCCE on Sept. 1, 2018, as a UC Cooperative Extension specialist in woody biomass utilization in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy & Management at UC Berkeley. Sanchez is an engineer and energy systems analyst studying the commercialization and deployment of energy technologies that remove CO2 from the atmosphere. Sanchez's work and engagement spans the academic, nongovernmental, and governmental sectors. As an assistant Cooperative Extension specialist, he runs the Carbon Removal Lab, which aims to commercialize sustainable negative emissions technologies, and supports outreach to policymakers and technologists in California and across the United States.

Sanchez earned a Ph.D. and a M.S. in energy and resources at UC Berkeley.  He completed a B.S.E in chemical and biomolecular engineering at University of Pennsylvania.

Prior to joining the faculty of UC Berkeley, Sanchez was a AAAS Congressional Science and Engineering Fellow serving in the Office of Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO). He has previously held positions with the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, Green for All, and the California Public Utilities Commission.

Sanchez is located in Mulford Hall and can be reached at (215) 593-4493 (cell) and sanchezd@berkeley.edu. Follow him on Twitter @Dan_L_Sanchez.

Larbi named UCCE ag application engineering specialist

Peter Larbi

Peter Larbi joined ANR on Aug. 13, 2018, as a UCCE area agricultural application engineering specialist at the Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center.

Prior to joining ANR, Larbi had been an Assistant Professor of Agricultural Systems Technology in the College of Agriculture at Arkansas State University since 2014. He developed an integrated teaching and research program related to agricultural systems technology; developed and managed research in precision agriculture, agricultural machinery systems, remote sensing and sensor technology; and provided service to the university, college, local community and general scientific community. Larbi held a joint appointment in the Division of Agriculture at University of Arkansas.

From 2012 to 2014, Larbi was a postdoctoral research associate at the Center for Precision and Automated Agricultural Systems at Washington State University. From 2011 to 2012, he was a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Florida Citrus Research and Education Center.

Larbi earned a Ph.D. in agricultural and biological engineering from University of Florida and a M.Sc. and a B.Sc. in agricultural engineering from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Kumasi, Ghana.

Larbi can be reached at (559) 646-6577 and palarbi@ucanr.edu.

Pyle joins Sierra Foothill REC grassland research team

Lysandra Pyle

Lysandra Pyle joined ANR on Aug. 15, 2018, as an assistant project scientist. Working closely with project directors at UC Sierra Foothill Research and Extension Center and Eastern Oregon Agricultural Research Center (EOARC), Pyle is leading a multistate research project investigating biotic and abiotic drivers of native grass recruitment on degraded intermountain rangeland and identifying potential management actions that can be used to improve large-scale restoration efforts.

Most of her field work and project development is being done from EOARC, which is in close proximity to the Oregon and California intermountain field sites. 

Pyle completed a Ph.D. in rangeland and wildlife resources from University of Alberta, Canada, and a B.Sc. in biology from University of Regina, Canada.

Prior to joining ANR, Pyle worked on contracts specializing in biodiversity monitoring and rangeland ecology while finishing a Ph.D. in rangeland and wildlife resources at the University of Alberta, conferred in April 2018. From November 2017 to March 2018, Pyle was a vascular plant technician with Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute (ABMI) at the Royal Alberta Museum. There, she identified vascular plants collected by ABMI technicians during the field season and contributed to publications.

Pyle also consulted as a plant community data analyst at Manitoba Forage and Grassland Association from January 2017 to March 2018, where she analyzed plant community data collected from the Aspen Parkland and Assiniboine Delta rangeland ecoregions, identified reference communities, and determined how they transition with disturbances such as grazing.

Her Ph.D. characterized the composition and diversity of grassland seed banks in two main studies: identified the diverse disturbance legacies and management histories of pastures on plant communities, seed banks, soils, and rangeland health, and examined legacy effects of pipelines on seed banks and biological soil crusts in native mixed grass prairie.

Pyle is based in Burns, Ore., and can be reached at (306) 551-1108 and lapyle@ucanr.edu. Follow her on Twitter at @GrasslandNerd.

Caeton named UCCE 4-H advisor

Nathaniel Caeton

Nathaniel Caeton was promoted to 4-H youth development advisor for Shasta, Tehama and Trinity counties on Aug. 1, 2018. 

Prior to accepting his current position as 4-H youth development advisor, Caeton had served as the 4-H community education specialist since 2013. He was responsible for overseeing the daily operations of the 4-H Youth Development Program in Shasta and Trinity counties.  During that time, he worked diligently to strengthen existing program relationships, while developing new relationships through outreach and collaboration. His master's work at CSU Monterey Bay combined multiple disciplines and built knowledge in the areas of learning theory, instructional design, instructional technology, interactive multimedia, assessment and evaluation. This enabled Caeton to plan, design, develop, implement and evaluate instructional programs. This work culminated in the creation of an electronic portfolio and capstone project, which involved the design and development of a one-hour e-learning module on diversity awareness for adult volunteers. He also actively volunteers with the Boy Scouts of America and the Civil Air Patrol.

Caeton earned an M.S. in instructional science and technology from CSU Monterey Bay and a B.A. in social sciences from CSU Chico.

Based in Redding, Caeton can be reached at (530) 224-4900 and nwcaeton@ucanr.edu.

Mahacek inducted into National 4-H Hall of Fame

Richard Mahacek
Richard Mahacek, UC Cooperative Extension 4-H youth development advisor in Merced County from 1976 to 2012, was inducted into the National 4-H Hall of Fame on Oct. 19 for his lifetime achievements and contributions to 4-H.

Mahacek was one of 15 people inducted during the ceremony at the National 4-H Youth Conference Center in Chevy Chase, Md.

“We are proud to recognize the 2018 National 4-H Hall of Fame honorees for the passion, dedication, vision and leadership they have shown toward young people during their many years of service to 4-H,” said Jeannette Rea Keywood, National 4-H Hall of Fame Committee chair.

Mahacek joined a 4-H Club in Sonoma County when he was 10. During his 35-year 4-H career, Mahacek placed an emphasis on mechanical sciences and engineering projects. His work included development of curricula and activities in science processes, robotics, computers, GIS/GPS, bio-security and environmental issues, such as watersheds and wildlife habitats.

In 1988, Mahacek was a member of the team that developed the 4-H SERIES (Science Experiences and Resources for Informal Educational Settings) curriculum, which was funded by the National Science Foundation and Kellogg. SERIES was the first comprehensive pragmatic science education curriculum to join 4-H's traditional projects. In 2004, Mahacek served on the national leadership team for 4-H SET (Science, Engineering and Technology), a program that succeeded SERIES. Now known as STEM (Science, Engineering, Technology and Math), the project aims to enhance young people's interest in developing the knowledge and skills needed for the 21st century's technically oriented careers.

The crowning achievement of his career was the development of the 4-H Junk Drawer Robotics curriculum in 2011. The curriculum shows how to engage children in building robotic devices with rubber bands, Popsicle sticks, medicine dispensers and bamboo skewers – the kinds of things people already have around the house. The robotics program develops skills that go beyond science and engineering. The children learn communications, teamwork and critical thinking.

Junk drawer robotics is one part of a three-track robotics curriculum. The other tracks are virtual robotics, in which participants build virtual robots on computers, and robotics platforms, which employs commercial robot building kits for materials. The package of robotics programs was the No. 1 selling 4-H curriculum in the nation in 2011. Mahacek was also a driving force in the community in founding the UC Merced Engineering Service Learning Program Castle Science and Technology Center. This facility used a former US Air Force facility to provide hands-on science experiences to the youth of the county.

Mahacek received many honors for his contributions to 4-H and UC Cooperative Extension. In 1988, he received distinguished service awards from the state and national 4-H associations. The Merced County Farm City Ag Business Committee presented him its Agri-Education Award in 1992. Mahacek received the “Hands-On Heroes Award” at the Merced County Children's Summit.

Mahacek said the 4-H program has evolved during his tenure, but it has not changed its core objectives.

“We went from being a predominantly ag program to including many other topics. Our members used to live in just rural settings, but now they come from the suburbs and urban neighborhoods,” Mahacek said. “But we're still promoting the concept of working together and gaining confidence by learning practical skills.”

The National 4-H Hall of Fame honorees are nominated by their home states, National 4-H Council, the National Association of Extension 4-H Agents or 4-H National Headquarters/National Institute of Food and Agriculture based upon their exceptional leadership at the local, state, national and international levels.

Wilen recognized for contributions to nursery industry

Cheryl Wilen, left, receives award from Loren Oki.

Cheryl Wilen, area IPM advisor based in San Diego County, was presented the Research Award by the California Association of Nurseries and Garden Centers (CANGC) for her contributions to the nursery industry at the CANGC Convention in San Diego on Oct. 10, 2018. 

“This award acknowledges Dr. Wilen's many significant contributions over her career that have benefited the California nursery and landscape industry,” said Loren Oki, UCCE environmental horticulture specialist in the Department of Plant Sciences at UC Davis and co-director of UC's Nursery & Floriculture Alliance, who presented the award to Wilen.

Wilen specializes in Integrated Pest Management (IPM) for ornamental plant production and maintenance in nurseries, greenhouses, field production, floriculture, turf and landscape, which has resulted in the use of pesticides in a more prescriptive manner and the development of alternative strategies to more efficiently control pests of ornamental plants. Although her primary research focus is the management of weeds, snails and slugs, her other areas of research include the Asian citrus psyllid, disease management in floricultural crops, nematode management in tomatoes, invertebrate pest management in nurseries, vertebrate pest management, mitigating pesticide contamination in surface water runoff, and soil solarization. 

Wilen also recently received the UC ANR Distinguished Service Award for leadership. She has served ANR as the acting and interim director of the Statewide UC IPM Program, leader of the Endemic and Invasive Pest and Disease Strategic Initiative, member of Program Council, organizer of the Pest Management Coordination Conference, chair of several UC ANR search committees, and chair and member of the South Coast Research and Extension Center Research Advisory Committee. 

Her current and previous professional service includes chair of the Basic Science Section Western Society of Weed Science, chair of Teaching and Technology Transfer Section Weed Science Society of America, chair or co-chair of meetings of professional organizations including the California Weed Science Society, and has served or is currently serving as a member of various committees of the Weed Science Society of America, Southern California Chapter of the California Association of Pest Control Advisers, Steering Committee of the 2015 International IPM Symposium, and the CANGC Research Advisory Committee.

The CANGC Research Award recipient is selected by their peers and colleagues from industry and academic community.

4-H teams bring home NAE4-HA awards

4-H staff from left, Dagmar Derrickson, Tamekia Wilkins, Marianne Bird, Claudia Diaz Carrasco, Charles Go, Lilliana Vega and Keith Nathaniel.

Katherine Soule, UC Cooperative Extension director and youth, families and communities advisor for San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties, and community educators Janelle Hansen, Andrea Hollister, Laura Pena, Dagmar Derickson, Shannon Klisch, Melissa LaFreniere, Yezenia Romero, Yudilia Tomsen, Miguel Diaz, Betsy Plascencia, JaNessa Willis and Lisa Paniagua won the Excellence in Healthy Living Programming Award for the Western Region. The team also won the NAE4-HA Excellence in Healthy Living Programming for California. The Excellence in Healthy Living Programming Award recognizes outstanding efforts and impacts of NAE4-HA members in healthy living programming, evaluation, and/or research projects.

JoLynn Miller, UC Cooperative Extension 4-H youth development advisor for the Central Sierra, won Excellence in 4-H Volunteerism Award for the North Central Region. Miller was part of a team with members from the North Central Region that created the National 4-H Volunteer E-Forum.

At the state level, Kendra Lewis, academic coordinator; Sheila Bakke, 4-H program representative in Solano County; Gloria Gonzalez, 4-H SET program representative, Valerie Williams, 4-H program representative, and Shannon Horrillo, statewide 4-H Youth Development Program director, won the 4-H Military Partnership Award

The purpose of the 4-H Military Partnership Award is to recognize the individual or team who has created a positive Extension image through his/her/their leadership and citizenship as it relates to the development of the 4-H Military Partnerships on U.S. Army, U.S. Air Force, and/or U.S. Navy installations and in the community as it pertains to Reserve Component service members and families.

John Borba, 4-H youth development advisor for Kern County, was honored with the 25 Years of Service Award, Steven Worker, 4-H youth development advisor for Marin, Sonoma and Napa counties received the Meritorious Service Award for service in 4-H programs for 15+ years. Charles Go, UC Cooperative Extension 4-H youth development advisor for Alameda and Contra Costa counties, received the Distinguished Service Award for more than 7 years of service. Go also has begun serving as western regional director on the NAE4-HA Board. Soule received the Achievement in Service Award for 3 to 6 years of service in 4-H programs.

They received the awards Oct. 10 at the National Association of Extension 4-H Agents conference in Columbus, Ohio.

Verdegaal inducted to San Joaquin County Agricultural Hall of Fame

Paul Verdegaal, left, is presented with Ag Hall of Fame award by Stockton Chamber of Commerce Special Events Director/Leadership Stockton Director Timm Quinn.

Paul Verdegaal, who retired after serving more than 30 years as UC Cooperative Extension viticulture advisor in San Joaquin County, was inducted into the San Joaquin County Agricultural Hall of Fame on Oct. 18. Donald Rough, who was a UCCE pomology advisor, will be inducted posthumously.

“Verdegaal helped remove the stigma that Lodi could not grow premium wine grapes through exhaustive research, leadership and work with growers,” wrote Bob Highfill, marketing and communications manager for the Lodi Winegrape Commission, in the Stockton Record.

“During Verdegaal's tenure as farm advisor, the grape and wine industry in San Joaquin County flourished. Thirty years ago, there were 43,370 acres of grapes cultivated in San Joaquin County. In 2017, there were close to 100,000 acres. In 1986, Lodi was first recognized as an American Viticulture Area, but many, including the University, still felt that premium wine varietals could not be grown commercially in the Valley. Verdegaal worked hard to change that stigma.”

Kabashima honored with Urban Tree Legacy Award

John Kabashima, right, receives Urban Tree Legacy Award.
John Kabashima, UCCE environmental horticulture advisor emeritus, received the Urban Tree Legacy Award by the California Urban Forests Council and the San Diego Regional Urban Forests Council at a ceremony in San Diego on Oct. 26.

Kabashima's varied research and extension programs have included the management of insects, diseases, and biological control of exotic and invasive pests. 

Kabashima, who retired in 2015 after 28 years of serving the nursery and landscape industry and homeowners in Orange and Los Angeles counties, continues to lead the battle against invasive shot hole borer pests that spread fusarium dieback, threatening trees in Southern California. On Oct. 3, Kabashima gave a presentation at an urban forest summit for public agencies, reviewing current pest concerns relating to trees for San Diego County and what the county needs to do to defend against future invasions.

He has provided testimony for the California Legislature to fund further research into these destructive pests. In January, Kabashima was instrumental in bringing together university scientists, federal and state government representatives, county agricultural commissioners and nonprofit organization leaders for a summit in the state capitol to coordinate their efforts to battle invasive pests.

Kabashima received his bachelor's degree in agricultural biology from Cal Poly Pomona, master's degree in pest management from UC Riverside, an MBA from Pepperdine University and a doctorate in Entomology from UC Riverside.  In 2014, he was inducted into the Green Industry Hall of Fame, and in 2016 he received the Arboriculture Research Award from the Western Chapter of the International Society of Arboriculture.

 
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