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Posts Tagged: May 2021

Names in the News

Richards named ag land acquisitions academic coordinator

Chandra Richards

Chandra Mercedes Richards joined UC Cooperative Extension as agricultural land acquisitions academic coordinator II for San Diego, San Bernardino and Riverside counties on May 10.

As an agricultural lands acquisition academic coordinator II, Richards aims to better support San Bernardino, Riverside, and San Diego counties through the Sustainable Agricultural Lands Conservation (SALC) grant program. 

“More specifically, I will be identifying and addressing regional barriers to land use planning, connecting producers with ANR services and climate-smart technical assistance providers, supporting grant applications and agricultural assessments, and ultimately protecting agricultural systems in perpetuity,” she said.

The East Coast native has lived in California for 11 years and is rooted in San Diego. Prior to joining UC ANR, Richards was a conservation ecologist at the greater San Diego Resource Conservation District, where she led the agriculture, forest health, and habitat restoration programs and supported climate-smart agriculture through planning, education, and technical assistance. She also was a key grant writer and project implementation leader.

She earned a Ph.D. in soil biogeochemistry from UC Berkeley and double B.S. degrees in chemistry and mathematics from Pennsylvania State University.

Richards is based in San Diego and can be reached at

Bayless named Master Gardener Program coordinator

Aliya Bayless

Aliya Bayless has been named the UC Master Gardener Program coordinator for Tulare and Kings counties. She joined the UC Master Gardener Program in 2016 when she decided to start her own garden and, in her words, “didn't know anything about gardening.”

Bayless is originally from Baku, the capital city of Azerbaijan, located along the Caspian Sea, but has been a resident of Visalia since 2006. Although she grew up in the city, she learned to love plants (mostly house plants) from family members including her grandmother, father and aunt. When she was an adult, her dad finally bought a piece of land that he had dreamt of for many years. It was on this new property that he started his own garden with a lot of fruit trees and berries. Bayless helped him as much as she could, but like many gardeners, her main job was pulling weeds.

“Since then, I've learned a lot about gardening, met amazing people and enjoyed every minute of volunteering. I'm very excited to start my new journey as a program coordinator and hope that I will be able to help with the program and future projects,” she said. 

Bayless is based in Tulare and can be reached at – By Melissa Womack

Lewis selected to deliver ESA Founders' Memorial Lecture

Vernard Lewis, left, shown with Andrew Sutherland at Villa Termiti in Richmond

Vernard Lewis, emeritus UC Cooperative Extension specialist at UC Berkeley, has been selected to deliver the Founders' Memorial Lecture at the 2021 annual meeting of the Entomological Society of America, set Oct. 31-Nov. 3 at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver.

Lewis is a national and international authority on drywood termites and is known for his pioneering research on detection innovations and nonchemical methods of control. A nationally recognized urban entomologist, Lewis's research encompasses a variety of urban pests including ants, bed bugs, cockroaches and wood-boring beetles. He has authored and co-authored more than 150 refereed and trade magazine articles and book chapters on termites and household insect pests. 

The Founders' Memorial Award was established in 1958 to honor the memory of scientists who made outstanding contributions to entomology. On Nov. 2, Lewis will give a presentation on the life and legacy of African-American entomologist and civil rights advocate Margaret Collins.

To read more about Lewis' career, see and to learn more about Margaret Collins see Bug Squad

Tompkins recognized for fire safety

Ryan Tompkins shown with walls he built to demonstrate how fire moves on home construction.

The Plumas County Fire Safe Council announced Ryan Tompkins, UC Cooperative Extension forestry and natural resource advisor, as one of two new recipients in its Fire Safe Recognition Program on May 13.

Mike Flanigan of Flanigan-Leavitt Insurance nominated Tompkins for the award for playing a significant role in improving the community's fire safety and emergency preparedness.

“Ryan Tompkins has been a huge part of the progress made with the Quincy Firewise USA initiative,” Flanigan said in his nomination letter. “He is currently the UC Cooperative Extension Forester for Plumas, Sierra, and Lassen counties where his research focuses on forest restoration and post-fire restoration. He successfully received certification in his own neighborhood – Galleppi Ranch. He is thorough and keeps the committee focused. We on the Quincy Firewise Committee are very grateful for Ryan's professional input and support.”

Tompkins started his own firewise community four years ago. “Just my little neighborhood HOA of 36 residences,” Tompkins said, “but when I joined UC ANR, I really felt that I needed to focus on making the entire town of Quincy (over 2,000 residences) a Firewise USA Site to serve all the facets of our community and we did it this May!”

“Also, last December, we helped the Sierra Brooks community outside of Loyalton become the first NFPA Firewise USA Site in Sierra County! I'm now working with Sierra City (another community in Sierra County) on their assessment. I see value in the NFPA Firewise USA site program because it focuses on empowering residents to educate, outreach, and work together as a community in wildfire preparedness. It certainly isn't a panacea, but it's a start and a good way to engage folks.”   

South Coast REC honored as community service partner

A student harvests a carrot grown in a school garden.

Since October 2019, the Saddleback Valley Adult Transition Program and the South Coast Research and Extension Center have been developing a vocational training program for adult transition program students. As a result of this partnership, South Coast REC was recognized as Community Service Partner of the Year.

Starting on April 16, students began assisting with propagating vegetables in the South Coast REC greenhouse, harvesting, postharvest processing, maintaining vegetable crops, pruning, irrigating, and detecting and identifying insects. This unique partnership allows students to learn skills that can be applied in various settings vocationally, at home and on campus. UC Master Gardener volunteers helped them develop a more robust school garden.

“As the community starts to reopen, we look for further integration of the fruits and vegetables produced within our micro businesses for all students,” wrote Principal Raymund Bueche. “This includes the processing of produce and vegetables in the Educafe and Esperanza kitchens for student consumption and the addition of fresh items including smoothies and juices in Hope Café, a student-run coffee cart, and The Cutie Pie Café, a student-run restaurant.”

This project has also been embraced by Orange County Local Partnership Agreement, a group spearheaded by Chapman University to bring together organizations serving special needs and at-risk youth with training and on-the-job experiences as they transition from school to the workforce.



Posted on Thursday, May 27, 2021 at 1:49 PM

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Justice Program Team formed

Last month, UC ANR approved the creation of a new Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Justice (DEIJ) Program Team. The aim of this program team is to provide a forum for networking and cross-program/cross-disciplinary dialogue on DEIJ issues that promotes learning, collaboration, and improvement in UC ANR's capacity to engage and serve diverse (in terms of race, ethnicity, ability, gender, and sexual orientation) clientele across the state, and engage all clientele in embracing the benefits diversity brings to the state as a whole. California is a multicultural state rich with a population of diverse ancestry, and as a publicly funded institution, UC ANR has the responsibility to ensure we are effectively reaching all our California communities equitably.

“We envision that the program team will serve as a formal venue for individuals and workgroups committed to integrating DEIJ into their programmatic work to connect and learn from each others' experience,” said Clare Gupta, UCCE specialist, who is leading the effort with Sonja Brodt, Academic Coordinator for the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program. “It will also provide a means for colleagues new to this work to increase DEIJ capacity across ANR.”

“We anticipate that the DEIJ Program Team will complement rather than supplant participation in other program teams, given that the topic of DEIJ cuts across disciplines,” she said. “Beyond convening an annual meeting, we intend for this Program Team to serve as a vehicle for a number of other DEIJ engagement activities, training, and ‘network-smart extension' opportunities. The DEIJ Program Team will follow a collaborative leadership model, led by a rotating steering committee, with mutually agreed upon roles and responsibilities.”

If you would like to join the DEIJ Program Team, please contact Gupta at

Bringing DEIJ considerations to bear across the wide range of research and extension activities that take place within ANR will require a sustained, multidisciplinary, statewide effort that connects and builds on the work of those across the larger UC system who are already integrating DEIJ into their programmatic work.

The DEIJ Program Team will work together with the DEI Alliance, DEI Advisory Council, and newly formed Employment Resources Groups (ERGs) to provide a comprehensive framework for learning, collaboration, and organizational and programmatic change to improve ANR's impact in traditionally underserved communities around the state. 

Posted on Thursday, May 27, 2021 at 9:14 AM

Join conversations with UC ANR senior leaders June 23

UC ANR employees are invited to engage informally with UC ANR senior leadership and to discuss what's on your mind. The first Open Conversation session is 1-2 p.m., Wednesday, June 23, with AVP Wendy Powers and AVP-Business Operations Tu Tran.

To allow for open dialog, we are hoping to limit enrollment to 20 people per session so please register early if you are interested. Participants may submit specific questions and topics of interest when they complete the interest form.

We're also holding the dates below for future sessions. Dates and times may be adjusted as needed. 

Sept. 21, 1-2 p.m. with Vice President Glenda Humiston and Powers

Dec. 15, 1-2 p.m. with Humiston and Tran

Open Conversation sessions will be announced about one month prior to each session.

For more information, contact the ANR Program Support Unit at or 530-750-1361 (messages only).

Posted on Thursday, May 27, 2021 at 9:10 AM

Strategic Initiative Brief: Virtual lessons learned


The Strategic Initiatives offer a home for strategic thought, drawing on members of the wider UC ANR community and beyond to 1) help people connect and 2) to help them identify and address issues of current and emerging importance. 

1. Virtual lessons learned: Capturing the positives from COVID 

When shelter-in-place orders were issued, many ANR people quickly pivoted their programs, successfully using a range of virtual options to deliver them. A recent example was the Dairy Program Team, who creatively delivered their webinar series; speakers developed their messages as five-minute videos. These videos focused on major points and were then used as the introduction for panel discussions and Q&A. Feedback on the sessions was very positive (including an observation from a facilitator who noted that for the first time they didn't have to worry about speakers going over time!). 

See the Virtual delivery page on our Learning and Development site for tips on how to better deliver virtually.

4-H and other programs developed resources for virtual program delivery.

The way of the future? Many people have indicated they will continue to use many of the virtual delivery methods, noting they often ended up reaching more people than with their traditional approaches. Please visit the site and share new lessons learned to help your colleagues. 

For more on the SIs and their activities, contact:

Jim Farrar: Pests (EIPD)

OPEN: Natural Ecosystems (SNE) (Let us know if you are interested in making sure SNE has a voice)

David Lewis: (Water)

Deanne Meyer: Food Systems (SFS)

Lynn Schmitt-McQuitty: Families and Communities (HFC)

Mark Bell: Vice Provost (Strategic Initiatives and Statewide Programs)

Posted on Wednesday, May 26, 2021 at 6:53 PM
  • Author: Mark Bell

STAR winners and retirees to be recognized June 17

ANR will host a special staff recognition event on Thursday, June 17, from 2 to 4 p.m.  via Zoom. We will be celebrating our ANR colleagues who are retiring in June, and we will also recognize the 2020-2021 ANR Staff Appreciation and Recognition program (STAR) Award winners.

Please register by Friday, June 11, at Prior to the event, registrants will receive a formal confirmation email that includes the Zoom link.

Attention: STAR awardees, nominators and supervisors of awardees should register using the STAR registration form at, not the link above. 

For more information contact, Kellie McFarland at ANR Program Support Unit or (530) 750-1361. STAR Award winners will also be announced in the next ANR Employee News.

Posted on Wednesday, May 26, 2021 at 4:46 PM

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