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Posts Tagged: Master Gardener Program

Names in the News

Hedrick joins statewide EFNEP 

Christie Hedrick

Christie Hedrick started a new role Dec. 5 as a statewide coordinator with the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program. Hedrick will oversee state level administration and provide support to counties implementing the EFNEP program. In this role, she is excited to begin working with and supporting the EFNEP team throughout the state. 

Hedrick has been a part of UC ANR for more than 14 years. She began her career with UC ANR in 2008 with the CalFresh Healthy Living, UCCE Yolo County Program (CFHL, UCCE Yolo). She provided program oversight and implementation to low-income schools and communities. Her expertise is in education and development of food literacy, healthy eating behaviors, and cooking skills specifically aimed at increasing self-efficacy and nutrition security.

She earned a bachelor's degree in food and nutrition and a Master of Public Health degree from California State University, Sacramento.

Hedrick is based at the UC ANR building in Davis, office 260C, and can be reached at (530) 390-9753 and

Vasicsek joins NPI 

Reka Vasicsek

Reka Vasicsek joined the Nutrition Policy Institute on Dec. 6 as a program assistant, supporting NPI's operational and research project functions. 

Vasicsek has worked at the intersection of nutrition, public health and social justice to help communities mitigate the impact of climate change on food security. Her past research focused on the cardiometabolic impacts of fiber supplementation, as well as iodine bioavailability after modulation of the gut microbiome. She has experience assessing school lunch programs and previously worked with Friends of the Earth's climate-friendly school food team. 

She earned her bachelor's degree in French and Spanish literature from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and her master's degree in human nutrition with a specialization in public health from the University of Glasgow.

Vasicsek is based at UCOP in Oakland and can be reached at (510) 987-9270 and

Dompka to help spark economy in Del Norte, Humboldt and Trinity counties 

Alec Dompka

Alec Dompka began with UC ANR on Oct. 20 as a rural communities economic development advisor. He will serve as technical support for economic development projects in Del Norte, Humboldt and Trinity counties.

Dompka said he aims to help local communities by working with government entities and private businesses to coordinate and facilitate beneficial projects.

“In this position, I hope to engage with people in the counties to tie them more closely with planning their economic development,” Dompka said. “I hope to show that economic development in rural communities can be locally led and directed, inclusive and effective.”

By applying technical knowledge and science-based expertise to these projects, Dompka said he also hopes to “generate research that pushes forward our understanding of what economic development looks like for rural communities.”

Born and raised in Raleigh, North Carolina, Dompka earned a bachelor's degree from North Carolina State, double-majoring in political science and economics. He also holds an M.A. in agricultural and natural resources economics from NC State.

Dompka is based at the Del Norte County UC Cooperative Extension office in Crescent City and can be reached at (707) 464-4711 or Follow him on Twitter @Alec_rural_dev.

Pearsons named IPM advisor for Monterey County 

Kirsten Pearsons

Kirsten Pearsons began working as a UC Cooperative Extension integrated pest management entomology advisor for Monterey County on Nov. 7. This is a new role for Pearsons, who joined UC ANR in March as a small farms advisor in San Luis Obispo County.

Pearsons focuses on insect-related concerns on the Central Coast, such as impatiens necrotic spot virus (INSV), a disease transmitted to lettuce by thrips, and identifying possible solutions. In collaboration with USDA scientists and her UC colleagues, Pearsons is researching the biology and ecology of the thrips populations that vector INSV to identify existing tools and new strategies that can help growers manage thrips and INSV.

Though her research focuses on lettuce and cole crops, Pearsons also supports berry growers and other specialty crop producers in the region with large-scale producers and agricultural pest control advisers as current clients. 

Pearsons earned a bachelor's in environmental toxicology from UC Davis and a Ph.D. in entomology from Pennsylvania State University, studying how pest management strategies adopted in field crop systems affect non-target soil invertebrates.

During her undergraduate studies at UC Davis, Pearsons was curious to know what alternatives existed for broad-spectrum pesticides.

“Funny enough, I took my first entomology class just to get a basic idea of insect biology, because a lot of what I was learning in my toxicology courses had to do with insecticides,” she said. “The staff and the other students in the entomology department were so awesome that it didn't take much for me to completely fall for the subject.” 

Prior to UC ANR, Pearsons worked for the Rodale Institute, an organic research institute in Pennsylvania.

Pearsons is based out of the UCCE Monterey County office and can be reached at

UC Master Gardener Evaluation Team wins award 

Missy Gable

The UC Master Gardener Program and Program Planning and Evaluation team have been honored by the American Evaluation Association with the 2022 Excellence in Extension Program Evaluation Award.

Kit Alviz, program policy analyst; Tamekia Wilkins, youth, family and communities data analyst; Missy Gable, UC Master Gardener Program director; Katherine Webb-Martinez, Program Planning and Evaluation director; and Melissa Womack, UC Master Gardener Program communications specialist, received the award on Nov. 3.

The award also recognizes the hard work and dedication of program coordinators and volunteers, who do the programming and collect the data necessary to ensure the success of program evaluation efforts.

The data is used in the latest UC Master Gardener Program impact report and the UC ANR 2021 Annual Report. As the UC Master Gardener Program's evaluation efforts continue to expand statewide, they remain focused on continuing to improve their practices on collecting and reporting impact, to better meet community needs and build support for the program. 

“The Extension Education Evaluation Award is awarded for an evaluation of outstanding quality. This team has established the gold standard to improve Extension program evaluation and provide accountability for public funds invested in the UC Master Gardener Program,” said Deanne Meyer, UC ANR interim associate vice president.

Ag commissioner praises Woodmansee 

Grace Woodmansee

Between wildfires and drought in 2022, the UCCE Siskiyou County staff in the Yreka office has faced considerable adversity this year so they were pleased to receive a complimentary letter from Siskiyou County agricultural commissioner Jim Smith.

“I received a very positive letter from the Siskiyou County agricultural commissioner commending Grace Woodmansee, Siskiyou UCCE livestock advisor, for her hard work and success with the Siskiyou Livestock Pass program this year,” Rob Wilson, interim director for UCCE Siskiyou County and farm advisor, wrote in an email. 

“Grace was instrumental in setting up this program in the county and it paid large dividends this year given the numerous wildfires in the county,” Wilson wrote.  

Smith, who has worked with Woodmansee for the last two years on the Ag Pass program, wrote, “Grace promoted this program following the disastrous wildfires in Butte County…This effort in Siskiyou was very timely since we have been experiencing ever more serious wildfires.” 

The McKinney Fire, which broke out July 29 about 10 miles west of Yreka, killed four people, destroyed 185 structures and burned 60,138 acres. The Mill Fire started Sept. 2 in Weed and quickly spread to burn 3,935 acres. 

“Most of our staff dealt with wildfire evacuations and numerous smoky days,” Wilson said. “Samantha Clawson, Siskiyou County office coordinator, had her house burnt to the ground. I'm proud of all the staff this year for helping the community get through difficult times with the livestock pass program, housing neighboring animals, and covering for each other.”

Posted on Thursday, December 22, 2022 at 8:00 AM

UC Master Gardener virtual Mini-Conference succeeds as livestream event

The virtual 2020 UC Master Gardener Mini-Conference was held Sept. 29–Oct. 1 online. It was a livestream success. All nine sessions streamed directly to the statewide Facebook and YouTube channels, which made for lively comments and instant access to recordings.

The UC Master Gardener Program recognized 52 of the 6,000 volunteers from across the state as "Gardeners with Heart" in celebration of the program's 40th year.

If you did not get a chance to join the conference live, or you just want to re-watch a session, they are all conveniently available on the statewide UC Master Gardener Program's YouTube channel.

Read Lauren Snowden's UC Master Gardener blog post for a wrap up of the virtual 2020 Mini-Conference at

The 2020 UC Master Gardener Mini-Conference was a virtual, livestream event.


Posted on Tuesday, October 20, 2020 at 8:32 AM

Master Gardeners get a shout out in UCnetwork

Haley Kerr, left, and Yolanda Silva of CalFresh Healthy Living, UC, gave away tomato plants donated by UC Master Gardeners of Contra Costa County to families of schoolchildren in Alameda County. The joint project is mentioned in the May UCnetwork.

If you are a staff employee, you should be receiving UCnetwork — a monthly e-newsletter for UC staff systemwide.

Under Campus Buzz, the May edition features UC Master Gardener Program for offering useful resources online for home gardeners and donating vegetable plants to schoolchildren in Alameda County.

Delivered directly to your inbox each month, each issue contains:

  • Tips for maximizing UC's generous benefits — including those you may not be aware of
  • Resources to support your professional development and career goals
  • Stories and profiles of UC's remarkable staff
  • Ways to stay healthy, on and off the job

UCnetwork is sent the second Wednesday of each month to all staff employees and contract staff. Send suggestions, story ideas or feedback to If you are a nonacademic staff member and have not received UCnetwork, please email

Posted on Monday, May 25, 2020 at 1:18 PM

UC Master Gardener Conference brings together volunteers, coordinators, advisors and industry experts for learning experience

UC Master Gardener Conference participants explored Rancho Los Cerritos and admired the popcorn cassia.

The 2017 UC Master Gardener Conference was buzzing with activity as participants learned about the latest research in home horticulture and networked with fellow gardening enthusiasts in Long Beach on Aug. 22-25.

“It turns out there is far more to the UC Master Gardener Conference than talk about gardening!” AVP Wendy Powers wrote in her ANR Adventures blog. “I was unable to attend as many talks as I had hoped but those I made were great – filled with timely information from UC ANR advisors.”

Anne Schellman, urban UC IPM educator, taught conference participants how to make an insect collection.
Over the three days, participants could choose from 58 sessions to learn about subjects such as training fruit trees, pruning grapevines or roses, managing garden pests, selecting low-water-use plants, photographing plants, making an insect collection and many more.

The attendees took field trips to tour gardens at Rancho Los Cerritos in Long Beach, South Coast Research and Extension Center in Irvine, Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Gardens and Huntington Botanical Gardens.

UC Master Gardeners who have reached milestones over 5,000 volunteer hours were honored.
Missy Gable learned about the very first UC Master Gardener Conference, which took place in 1994, from volunteer Elaine Byrd of Riverside County.
Keynote speaker Adam Schwerner, Disneyland Resort's director of horticulture and resort entertainment, talked about the magic and comingling of ornamental horticulture and art. Allan Armitage, University of Georgia professor emeritus and author of 14 books, riffed on the personal experience of gardening. Rosalind Creasy, a pioneer in the field of edible landscaping, spoke and signed copies of some of her most recent publications, including “Edible Flower Garden” and “Edible Herb Garden.”
"The 2017 UC Master Gardener Conference was an extraordinary event that connected the vast network of volunteers, coordinators, advisors and industry experts from across California!” said Missy Gable, director of the UC Master Gardener Program. "We were extremely excited to be able to learn together and most importantly celebrate the incredible impacts and accomplishments of our volunteers."
At the conference, volunteers celebrated the winners of the 2017 UC Master Gardener Search for Excellence awards. UC Master Gardener Programs in Los Angeles, Orange and Marin counties took the top three awards of the Search for Excellence competition. First place went to Los Angeles County with its “Grow LA Victory Garden Initiative,” second place was Orange County's radio show: "In the Garden with UC Master Gardeners” and third place was Marin County's “Dig it, Grow it, Eat it."

For shoppers, the conference MarketPlace was stocked with handcrafted items from UC Master Gardener volunteers, gardening tools and UC ANR publications. Funds raised from the sales will be used to support the county programs. 

UC Master Gardener volunteers from Riverside County took a break to snap a group photo to share on social media.
Posted on Wednesday, August 30, 2017 at 8:23 AM

Yvonne Savio, UC Master Gardener coordinator for Los Angeles County, retires

Yvonne Savio
Yvonne Savio, Master Gardener coordinator for UC Cooperative Extension in Los Angeles County, will retire at the end of June after 21 years of working to grow an impressively large crop of UC Master Gardener volunteers willing to work in areas where there was the greatest need.

She and her army of volunteers taught thousands of residents how to grow their own food even before public interest in home gardening and urban agriculture expanded in Southern California.

Savio worked with people at hundreds of gardens in schools, communities, senior centers and homeless shelters to get gardening information to those who needed or wanted it and became widely recognized for much of the success of the UC Master Gardener Program in Los Angeles County.

In 2004, Huell Howser interviewed the Master Gardener coordinator for his California's Gold television series. In 2010, she was named Horticulturist of the Year by the Southern California Horticulture Society and featured in the Pasadena Star-News. Recently, Savio's work with volunteers interested in gardening was featured in the Los Angeles Times.

Savio will retire in her childhood home in Pasadena with her husband, Tom, a railroad historian and enthusiast. She plans to do some traveling, continue contributing to garden-based learning, and stay busy working in her terraced garden filled with fruit trees, vegetables and roses.

Savio has developed a website ( to inform Southern California gardeners of local events and opportunities. 

Posted on Tuesday, June 23, 2015 at 6:58 PM
  • Author: Dohee Kim

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