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Posts Tagged: Kathryn Uhrich

ANR exchanges ideas, creates new collaborations in Ontario

“I don't know about you, but I'm really excited to have this gathering,” VP Glenda Humiston said, as she greeted the people attending the 2018 ANR Statewide Conference in Ontario. More than 650 people participated in the conference held April 9-12 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Ontario Airport. Humiston noted it was the first time since 2013 that all ANR employees had been invited to meet with their colleagues in person and discuss their work. 

Discussing innovation, panel member Wendell Brase of UC Irvine said ANR is a resource with UC because it is “connected with the public. You’re trusted in your community.”

There were keynote presentations, science sessions, trainings, program team and workgroup meetings, numerous breakout sessions to attend, puzzles to solve in the resource room, a pop-up studio for News and Information Outreach in Spanish interviews and dozens of research posters to read. ANR leaders discussed how to chart a sustainable future for ANR. Wendell Brase, UC Irvine associate chancellor for sustainability; Sam Traina, UC Merced vice chancellor of research and economic development; and Kathryn Uhrich, UC Riverside dean of the College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, whose research has spawned start-up companies, discussed opportunities for innovation. Wendy Powers, associate vice president, announced the winners of the Distinguished Service Awards

And in between, there was time to network with colleagues over meals and in the hallways.

ANR partners also joined the event, including members of the UC President's Advisory Commission on Agriculture and Natural Resources.

Great partnerships

“Think about what California's agriculture would be like without Cooperative Extension,” said California Department of Food and Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross, ex-officio PAC member and keynote speaker for the first day. “It doesn't just happen because of great farmers. It happens because of great partnerships. ANR is in every county.”

“I cannot tell you enough, what an asset you are to this state and to the industry that I love, agriculture, and to every consumer who has the joy of imbibing in our beverages and foods that come from these marvelous lands.”

Unique role in UC

On Tuesday afternoon, UC President Janet Napolitano joined the group. She called out ANR's work in climate change adaptation, agricultural innovation, food systems, food security, and nutrition education and noted the unique role it serves in advancing UC's Global Food, Carbon Neutrality, UC-Mexico initiatives.

Serving the Latino community requires more than translating words into Spanish, explained Lilia O'Hara, editor of San Diego Hoy, and Ricardo Vela.

She lauded 4-H for achieving parity in Latino youth participation in its programs, saying, “I think that says a lot about ANR's values and the impact it can have.”

Praising UCCE's outreach to economically disadvantaged Californians, the president said, “I'm going to continue to fight hard for funding for these programs at the federal level.”

Napolitano said she was pleased with the overall federal budget, noting that Congress increased funding for the National Institutes for Health and the National Science Foundation. “The University of California gets more NIH and NSF funding than any other university in the country. Almost 10 percent of the NIH research budget comes to the University of California so we have a lot at stake in those federal funds.” 

For updates on UC's state and federal budgets, Napolitano urged everyone to sign up at https://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/support-uc/ucan.

From left, Ramiro Lobo and Loren Oki talk with Mike Mellano, PAC member and one of California's delegates to the APLU Council on Agricultural Research, Extension and Teaching.

On the Huron report recommendations for moving ANR out of the Office of the President's structure, Napolitano said she has appointed a committee to review the options and offer its own recommendations before the November regents meeting.

Building pathways

The crowd was inspired by Antwi Akom, UC San Francisco and San Francisco State University professor and founding director of Social Innovation and Urban Opportunity Lab (SOUL) and co-founder and CEO of Streetwyze. In his presentation “Race, Space, Place and Waste: How Innovation, Education, and Inspiration Can Fearlessly Catalyze California Towards Becoming the World's Leader in Agriculture and Natural Resources Management,” Akom spoke passionately about building more pathways for a more diverse array of Californians to participate in ANR programs.

Keynote speaker Antwi Akom (center back in hat) was followed into the hall by ANR members who wanted to know more about Streetwyze.

“That's the first time I've seen members of the audience follow a keynote speaker out of the room,” Mark Bell, vice provost for Strategic Initiatives and Statewide Programs, later commented on the rock star treatment Akom received after his talk.

No layoffs

In her closing comments of the conference, Humiston said, “It was heartwarming to hear so many people tell legislators that ANR programs are important to them,” at the California Farm Bill hearing April 11 in Sacramento. If approved, the bill introduced by Assemblymember Anna Caballero (D-Salinas) would enable ANR to hire 45 more UCCE advisors and would offer incentives to adopt agricultural technology.

Concerning UC's budget challenges, Humiston said ANR is facing reductions in funding that will be absorbed through a slowdown in hiring and other means. 

“There will be no layoffs. I took this job to grow ANR not shrink it,” she said emphatically. “The more the people of California understand what ANR does, the more they want us to thrive and be in place to better serve their needs.”

Doug Parker talks with PAC member Steve Sinton and his wife Jane Sinton.

Humiston declared the conference productive and successful and thanked the Strategic Initiative leaders and conference and steering committee for planning the event and the Program Support Unit and volunteers for their hard work.

Doug Parker, Water SI, and Keith Nathaniel, Healthy Families and Communities SI, were the executive co-chairs and David Doll, Sustainable Food Systems; John Harper, Sustainable Natural Ecosystems; and Cheryl Wilen, Endemic and Invasive Pests and Diseases, were co-chairs.

The steering committee was composed of Michael Anderson, College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, UC Riverside; Mark Bell, Strategic Initiatives and Statewide Programs/Institutes; Sherry Cooper, Program Support Unit; John Fox, Human Resources; Chris Greer, UCCE San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties; Brad Hanson, Department of Plant Sciences, UC Davis; Darren Haver, South Coast Research and Extension Center and UCCE Orange County; Mike Janes, Strategic Communications; Maggi Kelly, Informatics and Geographic Information Systems and UC Berkeley; Neil McRoberts, Department of Plant Pathology, UC Davis; Katie Panarella, Nutrition, Family and Consumer Sciences Program and Policy; Maurice Pitesky, School of Veterinary Medicine, UC Davis; Joni Rippee, Program Planning and Evaluation; Rachel Surls, UCCE Los Angeles County; and Patti Wooten-Swanson, UCCE San Diego County.

ANR leadership plans to host the next ANR Statewide Conference in 2021.

Continue the conversations

To see snapshots from the conference on Twitter, search for the hashtag #UCANRconf2018.

If you missed the poster sessions, most of the project posters can be seen by clicking on the title links at http://ucanr.edu/sites/statewideconference2018/Posters_and_Displays.

“I've heard great things about a number of the sessions and have been discussing some follow-up ideas to build on concepts covered during some of those sessions,” Wendy Powers wrote in her ANR Adventures blog. “It would be a disappointment if we all left the meeting, got caught up in our obligations and programs, and didn't continue the conversations.”

Posted on Wednesday, May 2, 2018 at 1:44 PM

PAC discusses innovation and advocacy

President Napolitano, center, jokes with PAC chair Don Bransford, left.

Kicking off the meeting by expressing sympathy for everyone affected by wildfires – including the ANR members and Master Gardener volunteers who lost their homes – UC President Janet Napolitano met with the President's Advisory Commission (PAC) at their biannual meeting Dec. 13 at the Courtyard by Marriott in Emeryville.

President Napolitano focused her remarks on the challenges that remain with our food system, saying that she sees endless possibilities for ANR to bring food and ag together with science and technology for agricultural innovation. She also praised ANR for expanding access to its programs and achieving parity in participation of Latino youth in 4-H activities.

PAC member Craig McNamara, left, talks with Anne Megaro.
Asked about UC's role in production of the state's newly legal crop, Napolitano asked for a report from a systemwide group studying how UC can get involved in cannabis research without running afoul of federal law. VP Chief of Staff Jan Corlett, who represents ANR in that group, offered to relay the PAC's comments at their next meeting.

Napolitano invited the PAC members to join the UC Advocacy Network, or UCAN, to keep informed about state and federal issues that impact the university.

VP Glenda Humiston introduced Anne Megaro, governmental and community relations director. Megaro, who has a Ph.D. in animal science and was the California State Senate Committee on Agriculture's consultant for five years, spoke about her background and discussed how she is working with academics to cultivate relationships with elected officials by sharing stories about their work.

“Every legislator should know ANR because we're in their district,” Megaro said.

“How can I help you talk about ANR?” she asked the PAC members, who responded positively.

Gabe Youtsey discussed ANR's agriculture innovation strategy.

Gabe Youtsey, chief innovation officer, described how the Internet of Things, data analysis, robotics, artificial intelligence, drones and plant biotechnology are helping farmers cope with challenges, including workforce shortages, water scarcity and pest pressure. The Apps for Ag hackathons have produced useful tools, but poor rural connectivity is limiting the benefits. 

Dean Lairmore snapped a selfie with President Napolitano
“If we don't solve rural connectivity,” Youtsey warned, “We'll have ag brick instead of ag tech because it won't work.”

He also described the recently launched The VINE, which is designed to catalyze a statewide system to support innovation, entrepreneurship, expand economic opportunities and develop new technology for agriculture, natural resources and rural communities. Youtsey said food and agriculture need “patient capital” investors because venture capitalists desire a fast return on their investment.

Associate Vice President Wendy Powers briefed the commission on ANR's strategic plan. Our “Big Hairy Audacious Goal” is for every Californian to recognize the positive impact ANR has in their lives. The actions will be guided by UCANR's core values: excellence, community, innovation, inclusion, collaboration and integrity. Public value statements are being developed to shape our efforts and “they will give us the elevator speech to articulate who we are and what we do,” Powers said.

Dean Uhrich posted a selfie with President Napolitano on Instagram.
Powers also updated the PAC on recent successes, including boosting Giving Tuesday donations by 24 percent over 2016. She announced that 4-H increased its statewide youth enrollment by 18 percent and number of 4-H volunteers by 15 percent and that ANR has completed a salary equity program for staff and advisors and continues to improve internet speeds in county and REC facilities.

In the deans' updates, Keith Gilless announced that in June he will be stepping down as dean of the College of Natural Resources after 11 years to return to his academic work in fire research. Deans Helene Dillard of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Kathryn Uhrich of the College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, Michael Lairmore of the School of Veterinary Medicine and Gilless shared news of awards and large grants received and major projects underway in their respective colleges and school.

In wrapping up the meeting, Humiston announced that Mike Mellano, Dina Moore and Jean Marie Peltier will represent California in Washington D.C. for the CARET (Council on Agriculture Research, Extension and Teaching) meeting in March to advocate for agricultural research and the Farm Bill.

She invited the PAC members to meet next in April in Ontario, in conjunction with the ANR statewide meeting.

Names in the News

Greg Gibbs

Gibbs named major gifts director

Gregory Gibbs joined Development Services as director of major gifts on July 1. In this role, Gibbs heads the Major Gifts fundraising team on behalf of UCANR.

Gibbs joined the UC system in 2006 as development director for the UC Davis College of Engineering. He later assumed additional responsibility as senior director of Corporate Relations in the Engineering Dean's office. During his tenure at the UC Davis College of Engineering, Gibbs's team was responsible for raising over $90 million in donor funds for students, faculty, infrastructure and academic programs.

After graduating from the U.S. Air Force Academy, Gibbs began his career in 1985 as an officer in the U.S. Air Force, designing and analyzing satellite and missile systems to ensure national security. In 1992, he transitioned to the private sector and progressed through a series of technical sales and sales management positions of increasing responsibility at Ceridian Employer Services and Ascolta, a Cisco-certified Learning Solutions Partner focused on IT education. He subsequently relocated from Colorado to California to join the UC team.

His husband, Emilio Bejel, is a UC Davis distinguished professor in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese.

Gibbs is based in the ANR building at 2801 Second St. in Davis, and can be reached at (530) 750-1371, cell (530) 848-7860 and glgibbs@ucanr.edu.

Larry Bettiga
ASEV honors Bettiga with Extension Distinction Award

Larry Bettiga, UC Cooperative Extension viticulture farm advisor, received the American Society for Enology and Viticulture's Extension Distinction Award at ASEV's 68th National Conference in Bellevue, Wash., on June 28. This honor recognizes a current extension educator for outstanding contribution to an extension program or the advanced translation of novel research findings into commercially applicable tools for enologists or viticulturists.

Bettiga's research focuses on the influences of cultural practices, rootstock and clonal selection, and canopy management on grapevine growth and productivity, and the use of integrated approaches to solve pest management problems in coastal winegrape production systems. Bettiga has been a UCCE viticulture farm advisor for the past 32 years and currently conducts applied research and extension education programs for winegrape growers in Monterey, San Benito and Santa Cruz counties.

While stationed at the UC Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Parlier, he evaluated cultural practices for table, wine and raisin grapes to improve yield and quality for grape production in the southern San Joaquin Valley. He also worked on pest management projects for grapes and tree nuts while based at the UC Cooperative Extension office in Tulare County. 

Bettiga has authored and co-authored more than 400 technical articles, newsletters, research reports and abstracts. He has been an active member of ASEV since 1984, serving on the board of directors for five years, and was board president from 1999 to 2000.

Posted on Thursday, August 3, 2017 at 3:47 PM

Apps for Ag Hackathon winner uses AI to diagnose plant problems

Sreejumon Kundilepurayil, left, and Vidya Kannoly and their Dr. Green app took first place in the Apps for Ag hackathon. Dr. Green uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to quickly advise growers how to treat ailing plants.

For 48 hours, innovators and entrepreneurs at the Apps for Ag Hackathon labored over laptops at The Urban Hive in Sacramento before pitching their ideas to judges at the California State Fair. More than 40 people, some from as far as New York and Texas, competed for a $10,000 grand prize and assistance from UC Agriculture and Natural Resources to turn their ideas into commercial enterprises.

Ultimately Dr. Green, a mobile app to diagnose plant problems, took the top prize on Sunday (July 30). The second-place Greener app also helps people diagnose and treat plant diseases. Farm Table, an app that promotes agritourism, came in third place.

One goal of the hackathon was to produce solutions for military veterans who are becoming farmers. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs was a major sponsor of the event and leaders from Washington D.C. were on site all weekend participating.

“There was an amazing range of applications this year,” said Gabriel Youtsey, chief innovation officer.

Gabe Youtsey, right, oversaw the Apps for Ag hackathon.
Twelve teams pitched new ways to apply technology to improve the food system.

“There was an application to take a picture of a plant and it'll identify the plant disease – which can help anyone from backyard gardeners to professional growers – all the way to an application for community-supported fisheries, which helps fishermen better scale their businesses and allows for customers to get the freshest fish,” Youtsey said.

There was an app to match unemployed veterans with farm jobs, an online resource for bees, an app to simplify shipping logistics, an app for detecting mold on produce and many more solutions for food-related problems.

1st Place: Dr. Green

Figuring out why a plant is ailing can be time-consuming for a new farmer or backyard gardener. The plant doctor is always in with Dr. Green. The app created by Sreejumon Kundilepurayil and Vidya Kannoly of Pleasanton will help people identify crop diseases quickly through artificial intelligence and machine learning. The app can incorporate data from sensors monitoring temperature, light and soil moisture to alert growers to problems. Using a smart phone, backyard gardeners and growers can take a photo of plant symptoms and get a diagnosis or use the messaging feature to ask a question about symptoms and receive advice immediately.

Kundilepurayil and Kannoly won $10,000 and tickets to the UC Davis Food and Ag Entrepreneurship Academy, $3,000 worth of Google Cloud Platform credits, plus other resources to help the team start their venture. 

From left, Calvin Doval, Scott Kirkland, John Knoll and Shiang-Wan Chin's Greener app, which diagnoses plant diseases from a photo, took second place.

2nd Place: Greener

Using a smart phone, home gardeners can take a photo of plant symptoms and quickly get a diagnosis and recommended integrated pest management treatment from the Greener app, created by Scott Kirkland, John Knoll and Shiang-Wan Chin of Davis and Calvin Doval of Oakland. They won $5,000 and $1,000 worth of Google Cloud Platform credits and other resources to help start their venture.

From left, Heather Lee, Will Mitchell and Zhenting Zhou finished third with their Farm Table app, which promotes agritourism.

3rd Place: The Farm Table

The Farm Table app aims to make farms more economically sustainable and educate the public about food through agritourism. Heather Lee of San Francisco teamed up with Will Mitchell of Sacramento and Zhenting Zhou of New York City to create the agritourism app.

“We are making agritourism accessible to farmers by building a platform that's connecting visitors with farms,” said Lee. “This is going to help educate our communities on where their food comes from and create an additional revenue source for farmers.”

They won $2,500 and $1,000 worth of Google Cloud Platform credits and other resources to help start their venture.

USDA chief data officer Bobby Jones, center, was among the mentors advising hackathon participants on their projects at the Urban Hive in Sacramento.

Growing the pipeline of young innovators

Judges included Joshua Tuscher of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs; Robert Trice, investor and founder of The Mixing Bowl Hub; Jenna Rodriguez, product manager at Ceres Imaging; Ann Dunkin, chief information officer for the County of Santa Clara; and Jessica Smith, vice president of Strategic Partnerships at AngelHack.

Apps for Ag is a food and agriculture innovation event series hosted by UC ANR and sponsored by IO Labs, The Urban Hive, California Community Colleges and the California State Fair.

“We're growing the pipeline of young innovators, getting entrepreneurs and technologists interested in applying technology to solving problems in the food system,” said Youtsey, who led organization of the hackathon. 

“UC ANR is the original innovation engine in food, agriculture and natural resources in California and has been so for over 100 years. This is just taking another spin at tackling innovation in food and agriculture through an innovative competition style format with technology,” he said.

Additional support for the hackathon was provided by Valley Vision, The Mixing Bowl, Farmer Veteran Coalition, AngelHack, Nutiva, Google Cloud Platform, Royse Law Firm, Hot Italian, GTS Kombucha, Startup Sac, AgStart, StartupGrind Sacramento, Future Food, Internet Society San Francisco Bay Chapter, Sacramento Food Co-op, Balsamiq and YouNoodle.

Posted on Wednesday, August 2, 2017 at 3:51 PM

Tech meets ag at Forbes AgTech Summit in Salinas

"We have a unique opportunity in this nexus of agricultural bounty and technological innovation," said UC President Janet Napolitano at Forbes AgTech. From left, Breyta CEO Kevin Schelp, Salinas Mayor Joe Gunther, Gabe Youtsey, Mixing Bowl Hub partner Seana Day, Napolitano and Rob Trice.

“As we confront the problems in California today, we must ask ourselves, how will ag and tech solve these problems together? How can Salinas Valley and Silicon Valley work more harmoniously and how will the University of California's quest for new knowledge play a role?” said UC President Janet Napolitano to farmers, engineers, entrepreneurs and others attending the Third Annual Forbes AgTech Summit.

Silicon Valley, the birth place of high tech, converged with Salinas Valley, “the nation's salad bowl,” on June 28 and 29 in Salinas to explore opportunities to apply technology to agriculture's challenges. About 700 people participated in the invitation-only event, which was co-sponsored by the University of California and UC ANR.

ForbesLive interviewed Humiston about challenges and opportunities for technology in agriculture and the food system.

“The Forbes AgTech Summit brings together individuals and institutions from two integral parts of California's economic engine — agriculture and technology,” Napolitano said. ”The two have historically remained on parallel paths, each fueling the state's growth, but rarely converging. Yet, this is a unique moment here in California, and we have a unique opportunity in this nexus of agricultural bounty and technological innovation.”

Humiston, left, talks with Steve Forbes at a breakfast at the Forbes AgTech Summit.

Steve Forbes, chairman and editor-in-chief of Forbes Media, told Farm to Table Talk podcast, “Knowledge comes from experimentation, constant discovery, which agriculture has been doing for well over 1,000 years. That pace in agriculture is increasing today. There's no reason why, if we don't do silly things, the world, even though population will grow by 2 billion in the next three decades, the world won't have sufficient food, more abundant and healthier food than we can even imagine today. Human ingenuity will do it.”

Humiston, second from right, said rural broadband access limits technology adoption.

VP Glenda Humiston joined Sallie Calhoun, owner and manager of Paicines Ranch, and Trent McKnight, rancher and founder of Agricorps, to discuss challenges and opportunities to grow entrepreneurs in agriculture with moderator Rob Trice, co-founder and partner of The Mixing Bowl. McKnight said there is technology gap between rural and urban America. Humiston noted that poor access to high-speed broadband in rural regions could slow their adoption of technology.

In a four-minute video produced by Forbes, Humiston discusses challenges and opportunities for agriculture. She describes how The VINE, or The Verde Innovation Network for Entrepreneurship, is being launched by UCANR and led by Gabriel Youtsey, chief innovation officer, to cultivate regional innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystems in rural communities.

Education is important, said Brian Antle, second from right, because farm workers' tools are phones and iPads, not screwdrivers.

Between the rising cost of minimum wage, an aging working population and immigration crackdowns, farming is facing a worker shortage. Brian Antle of Tanimura & Antle, Dan Steere, co-founder and CEO of Abundant Robotics, and Javier Zamora, owner of JSM Organics, discussed with moderator David Mancera of Kitchen Table Advisors, how technology could perform work that people don't want to do. Antle pointed out that while machines can plant and cut, they cannot replace the judgment of skilled workers.

In her address, Napolitano explained UC's interest in agricultural technology.

“We started the UC Global Food Initiative three years ago to find scalable solutions to sustainably and nutritiously feed a growing world population — one that's expected to reach 8 billion people by 2025,” Napolitano said. “At the same time, for more than a hundred years, people at UC Agriculture and Natural Resources have equipped farmers across the state with the latest scientific and technological advances in agriculture.

“They connect cutting-edge innovation with the state's farmers, who produce half of the nation's fruit and vegetables and export food to countries around the world. And they are constantly generating and testing new ideas.”

UCCE advisor Michael Cahn demonstrated CropManage, UC ANR's online decision support tool for water and nutrient management of coastal crops, at the Forbes AgTech Innovation Showcase.

See related news coverage:

Napolitano Says Ag Needs Technology

UC a Key Link for AgTech

Greater collaboration between ag and tech coming

University of California kicks off Ag innovation program

Labor shortage in ag fueling technology

Posted on Tuesday, August 1, 2017 at 4:15 PM

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