Posts Tagged: Rita Palmer
Winners of the 2020-21 ANR Staff Appreciation and Recognition (STAR) program were announced June 17.
The outstanding contributions of 18 individual UC ANR staff members and six teams were recognized and celebrated at an online town hall. The honored staff members will receive plaques and cash awards for their exceptional performance, creativity, organizational abilities, work success and teamwork.
The STAR winners are named below, followed by a quote from their nominator.
Valerie Borel, horticulture and Master Gardener Program coordinator, UC Cooperative Extension in Los Angeles County
“With recommendations from the task force, Valerie significantly overhauled our process for selecting Master Gardeners. This included significantly updating the application and including a diverse committee of Master Gardeners in the review and selection process. This process, while time consuming for Valerie as our Master Gardener coordinator, led to recruitment and selection of Master Gardener trainees that are more diverse than in prior years.”
“She has shown exceptional creativity and success this year during the COVID-19 stay at home order. She was the first EFNEP educator across our two-county team to recruit and deliver a completely virtual nutrition class series. Guadalupe also identified needs in the community and creatively addressed them by making her own recipe and food safety videos. To make her online classes engaging, she has conducted live online cooking demonstrations and incorporated activities to include youth who are learning at home with their parents.”
Vanity Campbell, proposal development coordinator
“Vanity developed an innovative two-day format for the 2020 Grant Essentials Summit that capitalized on academic engagement with state agencies to facilitate building relationships with programs while increasing grant- seeking capacity to identify and successfully apply for funding. In 2021, Vanity is expanding the program in collaboration with UC Merced to promote research and extension collaborations across the two institutions through presentation of agency grant programs and faculty research interests and needs.”
“Kim quickly established expectations and guidelines to transition staff for the remote work environment in order to successfully continue to process proposals, award and subawards without interruption of service and workflow.”
Katie Churchill, administrative officer and financial manager, UCCE Capitol Corridor
“Her work this year was transformative with guiding our office through challenging times and ensuring our programs were having high impact on making our communities great places to live and work.”
“Darrin successfully managed 30 demanding research projects. Under a normal year this a huge accomplishment, but Darrin was forced to find innovative ways of completing the fieldwork in a manner that fit COVID-19 safety guidelines and frequent staff absences due to family and childcare needs. Even more impressive was that IREC staff completed the projects under budget and on schedule… The 2020 growing season at IREC was particularly challenging due to a water shortage and wildfire smoke.”
Maru Fernandez, UCCE business partner team supervisor
“One year ago, the two Business Operation Center Locations were consolidated. Maru has been instrumental in building the team of 9 new members since last July, many of whom have never met each other. She has taken on additional responsibilities of the vacant Budget Analyst position, and has demonstrated a commitment above and beyond what would be expected of her as Supervisor of Business Partner Teams 1-4.”
“Without Laurie's diligence and support the move could have been disastrous! Laurie was a key point of contact over the course of three county directors with Madera County and she helped with design, layout and setup of the new office.”
Elaine Lander, urban & community IPM educator, Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program
“In the last year, she has continuously put effort into making ANR a more equitable and inclusive organization. She has served on the DEI advisory committee, is a founding member of the DEI council, contributed to the establishment of Employee Resource Groups, and served on the Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month planning committee. She has participated in multiple trainings through ANR and is now pursuing training on the Intercultural Development Inventory to build intercultural competence within her IPM program and our larger organization.”
“Julie not only rapidly transitioned to providing nutrition education online, she also found ways to move our policy systems and environmental change work forward, despite the fact that many of our settings effectively did not exist during the pandemic. Her cafe´ promo videos, which encourage children to try new fruits and vegetables, have been recognized statewide.”
Brian Oatman, Risk & Safety Services director
“Throughout his career with ANR this candidate has sought to find creative solutions for complex problems… Early in the pandemic when cleaning and disinfecting supplies were low, he worked with his staff to sort out what material county offices needed. He acquired these materials from a variety of sources and shipped them directly to county offices, so staff had cleaning supplies in a time when they were not available locally.”
“She immediately recognized the need to support staff capacity to facilitate virtual education, and she has provided training on dozens of topics and new tools. Carmela also led the development of educational videos by the whole team, including an entire nutrition curriculum. She developed a YouTube channel that now hosts over 50 educational videos, which have been viewed more than 1,250 times in all. Carmela was involved in determining the content, reviewing, and sharing each of these videos, although they also represent the collective efforts of the entire talented team”.
Rita Palmer, community education supervisor 2, CalFresh Healthy Living, UC, UCCE Butte County
“Rita's proactive approach to continue programming as stay at home orders were issued resulted in new program partnerships, the hosting of a large virtual Student Agricultural Field Day event and CFHL, UC staff with new communication skillsets and abilities to engage others in their work. The day after stay-at-home orders were issued, Rita was delivering a Zoom presentation to food service staff in one of the largest school districts in the Butte Cluster region.”
“We have nominated Stephanie for a STAR award because of her work during the past year to bring diversity, equity, and inclusion to the forefront within UC IPM and ANR on top of her current role and duties. In ANR, she has been the voice for people who felt their voices weren't being heard. For UC IPM, Stephanie is instrumental in operationalizing our diversity, equity, and inclusion objectives, and getting us closer to achieving our overall goal to be an equitable organization.”
Jodi Rosenbaum, ER business consultant
“Jodi is the primary person to receive reports when an employee is diagnosed with or exposed to COVID-19. Jodi's work to track cases, employee leave, and return to work has been outstanding and is vital to keeping ANR operational. Jodi developed new processes to receive private medical information, store it securely, and track employee status. This often requires urgent response at all hours and on off days.”
“Vince is being recognized for his leadership and contributions that underpinned the formation of the Bay Area Rancher Cooperative, known as BAR-C. He has been the primary coordinator and facilitator, resourceful in recruiting allies and partners like the California Center for Cooperative Development and Conservation Works, and organized the business plan development, including a confidential peer review process.”
Ricardo Vela, News & Outreach in Spanish (NOS) manager
“During the pandemic, he conceived of and spearheaded three events for ANR employees that had never been done before. Ricardo and his NOS team put together a series of well-attended educational online events for Hispanic Heritage Month September-October. Ricardo produced a video of ANR colleagues and 4-H members sharing how they were affected by COVID-19. On Cesar Chavez's birthday, Ricardo hosted a webinar about the life of the civil rights icon.”
“Early into the shutdown, Nancy brought forth various opportunities and ideas to expand our program reach by leveraging relationships so that we could continue to serve our community… Additionally, Nancy volunteered to participate in state-level workgroups. She chaired one of the workgroups and made valuable suggestions on the equity and access challenges faced by the population we serve.”
COVID-19 Hands-on Operational Support Team: David Alamillo, Barbara Bellieu, Alan Chavez, Tammie Erhard, Melissa Figueroa, Veronica Geiger, David Hatter, Brian Oatman, Bart Sapeta, Kathryn Stein, Ron Walker, Rhett Woerly and Michael Zwahlen
When most UC ANR employees transitioned to working remotely, the COVID-19 Hands-on Operational Support Team ensured that employees had necessary equipment and that ANR business operations continued to function.
Alameda/Contra Costa Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program Team: Nelly Camacho, Jennifer Ferreira, Eli Figueroa, Santo Lopez, Carla Moore, Jesus Osoria, Molica Sim and Leah Sourbeer
“Despite the challenges imposed by the pandemic, they collectively exhibited resilience, creativity, teamwork, and exceptional performance to execute the mission of EFNEP through virtual programming.”
Financial System Implementation at UCOP: Connie Tadesse and Jin Yu
“This past year, UCOP partnered with UCSD and UCM to undertake a major high risk business systems implementation replacing their legacy business systems and infrastructure with Oracle Cloud Financials. UCOP and the two campuses were the first, systemwide, at UC to take on something this broad in scope and magnitude for a business system transformation. Working with the Huron consultants, and the UCOP project team, their efforts ensured that UC ANR requirements were met.”
CalNat CES Team: Sarah Angulo, Eliot Freutel and Brook Gamble
“The California Naturalist Program's three Community Education Specialists not only adjusted to the changing conditions, but made structural changes to the program that actually put it in a stronger position moving forward. Specifically, they made investments in online delivery, shared the best practices throughout our diverse network, diversified our delivery model to include direct delivery, and remained focused on maintaining a strong service orientation and building community among our clientele.”
UC West Side REC Team: Merf Solorio and Mark Strole
“We acknowledge the exceptional service, teamwork, and creativity of Rafael “Merf” Solorio, Superintendent, and Mark Strole, Chief Mechanic, of the ANR's West Side Research and Extension Center. Time and time again, they both go well beyond the routine demands and expectations of their respective job classifications in ways that are uncommon and greatly appreciated by all who work at the West Side. On behalf of the many ANR researchers who work at the West Side REC, register our sincere thanks to both Merf and Mark for their forward vision, skills, and attention to detail in getting things done in support of our efforts.”
Office of Contracts and Grants Team: Kim Lamar, Vanity Campbell, Andrea Davis, Heidi von Geldern, Kendra Rose and Suzanne Burton.
“This team processed a record-breaking FY2020 award total of over $46 million, an increase of almost $11 million, or 30% from the prior year. This was possible because this team is a solid and cohesive group of extremely remarkable research administration professionals.”
UC VP Glenda Humiston, 4-H member Melina Granados of Riverside County and UC Merced Chancellor Dorothy Leland gave the UC regents a presentation about UC ANR's community outreach and impact. The Public Engagement & Development Committee meeting was held at the UCSF–Mission Bay Conference Center on Jan. 24, 2018, in San Francisco.
Opening the discussion, Humiston gave an overview of ANR, explaining that for 150 years ANR has been bringing the power of UC directly to the people in all California counties. Melina, who was born in Mexico, talked about her role as president of the Eastside Eagles 4-H club and what she has learned. Leland described joint projects between UC Merced and ANR in climate adaptation, nutrition and drone technology research.
Watch the 25-minute recording of the UC ANR presentation to the regents below, or visit https://youtu.be/ptFS8HwlsjE.
Artificial intelligence, or AI, can improve precision agriculture by using sensed environmental data to “learn” and continually adapt, VP Glenda Humiston told the Little Hoover Commission at a hearing in Sacramento on Jan. 25.
The Little Hoover Commission is reviewing the impacts of artificial intelligence. While there is no singular definition, artificial intelligence encompasses a broad range of technologies that seek to approximate some aspect of human intelligence or behavior.
Throughout its study, the commission will consider the potential policy role of California state government in areas such as regulation, workforce development and retraining.
Humiston was asked to give a statement on the impacts of artificial intelligence in the agricultural sector.
“California's working landscapes face some critical challenges; among those are drought, climate change, air quality, soil health, pests, pathogens and invasive species,” she said. “Additionally, rural/urban conflicts and urban sprawl continue to reduce available farm land and make viability of food production more difficult.
“Of importance to today's hearing, California's labor-intensive crops are facing increasing difficulty accessing necessary labor – both skilled and unskilled. This situation has led growers and universities to seek solutions through mechanization, automation and other new technologies.”
She sees opportunities in precision agriculture for growers and ranchers to more precisely manage their operations by using site- and crop-specific data gathered by new technologies.
“Artificial intelligence improves this further by using the sensed environmental data to ‘learn' and continually adapt to ever-changing conditions as it receives data that strengthens the computer's ‘intelligence,'” she said.
Humiston also outlined some of the challenges to harnessing the power of AI for agriculture.
“Artificial intelligence is extremely difficult in agriculture because of the huge amount of variability in environmental conditions across a single field,” she said. “This requires many sensors, complex algorithms, and large real-time data processing – all integrated and working together to inform decisions and actions.”
In a 2014 Pew Research Center survey, the vast majority of the 1,896 experts anticipated that robotics and artificial intelligence will “permeate wide segments of daily life by 2025.” The commission's artificial intelligence project will investigate the shape and speed of these changes in California and in society.
Through its public process, the commission intends to study the key challenges of artificial intelligence in California, its economic implications and how it can be used to solve societal ills. The commission will review issues such as justice, equity, safety and privacy. The project will consider recent studies on workforce impacts, which could include both job creation and job displacement. Possible mitigations and worker protections will be discussed as will examples of efforts to plan and prepare for innovations and labor transformations.
To read Humiston's full testimony to the Little Hoover Commission, visit http://www.lhc.ca.gov/sites/lhc.ca.gov/files/CurrentStudies/ArtificialIntelligence/WrittenTestimony/HumistonJan2018.pdf.
Cathryn “Katie” Johnson joined UCCE on Jan. 2, 2018, as an area nutrition, family and consumer sciences advisor for the Central Sierra Multi-County Partnership serving El Dorado, Amador, Calaveras and Tuolumne counties. The long-time resident of the Sierra foothills is passionate about developing an integrated approach to fighting chronic disease and improving community nutrition in the region.
Prior to joining UCCE, Johnson had been a health educator for the Stanislaus County Health Services Agency, Public Health Division, since January 2017. There, she worked on policy, systems and environmental change strategies, program planning and local evaluation for the SNAP-Ed/NEOP (Nutrition Education & Obesity Prevention) program, and served as the WIC (Women, Infants & Children) regional breastfeeding liaison.
From 2015 to 2016, Johnson held the positions of communication evaluation and development consultant and staff research assistant at the UC Merced Communication, Culture and Health Research Lab. At UC Merced, she contributed to strategic communications and formative evaluation for the CDC-funded PICH (Partnerships to Improve Community Health) project and coordinated community-engaged research on Merced residents' perceptions of health and safety. Previously, Johnson helped to manage small farms in Northern California and New Mexico, growing fruits and vegetables for sale at local markets. Johnson is also an international board-certified lactation consultant and has counseled breastfeeding families.
She earned a master of public health degree (with a concentration in public health nutrition) from UC Berkeley and a B.A. in environmental studies from Wellesley College.
Johnson is based in San Andreas and can be reached at (209) 754-6476 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
Laurent Ahiablame joined ANR as the UC Cooperative Extension director and water quality and management advisor in San Diego County on Dec. 18, 2017.
Ahiablame's research activities integrate environmental observations and computer modeling supported by ArcGIS to advance understanding of the fate and transport of water and related constituents across various spatial and temporal scales.
Prior to joining UCCE, Ahiablame was an assistant professor in the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering at South Dakota State University from 2014 to 2017. From 2013 to 2014, he was an assistant professor in the Department of Civil Engineering at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.
Ahiablame earned a Ph.D. and a M.S. in agricultural and biological engineering from Purdue University and a B.S. in bioenvironmental engineering from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University.
Ahiablame can be reached at (858) 822-7673 and email@example.com.
Kari Arnold joined UCCE as an area orchard and vineyard systems advisor in Stanislaus and San Joaquin counties on Nov. 1, 2017.
Prior to joining UCCE, Arnold was a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Plant Pathology at UC Davis, where she participated in a statewide extension and outreach program involving viruses in grapevines and the certification program, collaborated with county viticulture advisors and industry leaders to facilitate grower workgroups for regional management of grapevine viruses, and provided presentations at grower meetings.
As a graduate student researcher from 2011 to October 2016, Arnold participated in individual grower meetings and surveys, facilitated and collaborated with a grower workgroup for areawide disease management in Napa vineyards, and conducted statistical characterization of spatial and temporal patterns of insect-vectored plant viruses. From 2009 to 2011, Arnold also worked as a staff research associate and nursery technician for Foundation Plant Services at UC Davis, where she provided employee training; worked on team oriented projects; provided tours, conducted virus indexing, and collected and analyzed data.
Arnold completed an M.S. and a Ph.D. in plant pathology from UC Davis and a B.S. in horticulture from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln.
Based in Modesto, Arnold can be reached at (209) 525-6821and firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @KariDigsPlants.
Farzaneh Khorsandi Kouhanestani joined UCCE on Sept. 1, 2017, as an assistant agricultural safety and health engineer specialist in the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering at UC Davis.
Prior to joining UCCE, Khorsandi Kouhanestani worked as research assistant and Ph.D. student at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Her research is mainly related to agricultural machine design and evaluating the performance of the designed machines both experimentally and theoretically. The designed systems in the Ph.D. project were related to agricultural machinery safety. During her M.S. work, she designed, manufactured and evaluated the performance of a hand-held fruit harvester, a catch frame and a fruit sorter. After completing her M.S., she was a design engineer for an agricultural machinery design company, working on several design projects including a granule spreader, feed cutter and mixer and hay harvester.
Khorsandi Kouhanestani earned a B.S. in mechanics of agricultural machinery engineering in Iran, an M.S. in mechanics of agricultural machinery engineering from Shiraz University, Iran, and a Ph.D. in biosystems engineering from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
Khorsandi Kouhanestani is based at UC Davis and can be reached at (530) 752-7848 and email@example.com.
California Safe Soil and Pramod Pandey, UCCE specialist in UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, were among 13 California organizations that received the state's highest environmental honor, the Governor's Environmental and Economic Leadership Award (GEELA), in a ceremony at the California Environmental Protection Agency in Sacramento on Jan. 17.
The award recognizes the public-private partnership and collaborative research among California Safe Soil, the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine and the California Department of Food and Agriculture to recycle organic food waste into fertilizer and feed for agricultural use.
California Safe Soil has a proprietary new technology – enzymatic digestion – to recycle organic biomass. However, they had to prove that recycling food into fertilizer and feed can be done safely, without foodborne pathogens.
California Safe Soil worked with Pandey to conduct pathogen challenge research. Annette Jones and Douglas Hepper at CDFA and Bart Weimer, professor in the School of Veterinary Medicine, and Glenn Young, professor in the Department of Food Science and Technology, helped formulate the pathogen challenge test, which provided the scientific results needed to allow CDFA to issue an operating license for the enzymatic digestion.
Pandey's research, which was published in a peer-reviewed journal, proved that California Safe Soil's method for recycling organic food waste into fertilizer and feed is based on robust science and technology.
GEELA recipients are chosen from five categories including climate change, ecosystem and land-use stewardship, environmental education, sustainable practices and waste reduction.
Trevor Suslow, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Plant Sciences at UC Davis and director of the Postharvest Center, received the 2017 Valley of the World Education Award given by the National Steinbeck Center in Salinas. The center established its Valley of the World Awards to honor key figures in the Salinas Valley agricultural industry.
“In the spirit of John Steinbeck's writings, the education award recognizes an individual who through his or her teaching and efforts has inspired and nourished a lifelong love of learning,” the center says on its website.
In presenting the award, the center described Suslow as having “one of the most active extension education and outreach programs” among extension specialists.
“Conservatively, he has provided over 1,500 local, state, national and international technical, extension education, training and outreach presentations on crop protection, soil and phyllosphere microbiology, biotechnology, fresh and fresh-cut produce quality systems, and microbial food safety of fresh produce,” the center wrote.
Soule named one of Top 20 under 40 in SLO
The San Luis Obispo Tribune has chosen Katherine Soule, UC Cooperative Extension director and advisor in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties, as one of its Top 20 under 40. The Tribune's annual competition recognizes young professionals “who are making significant contributions in the fields of health care, business, law, government and the nonprofit sector. Not only have they demonstrated excellence in their careers, they also have shown a profound commitment to public service.”
In the news article announcing the winners, the newspaper says that Soule has earned state and national recognition for improving community health and increasing diversity in youth participation.
“As the extension's youth, families and communities advisor for the last several years, Soule developed new 4-H programs engaging underserved youths and promoting healthy living, leadership and social development. Her efforts nearly doubled enrollment and boosted Latino participation 26.8 percent. She's delivered nutrition education to more than 10,000 people through various partnerships,” the Tribune wrote.
It goes on to add, “Soule is a founding member of the Cultivating Change Foundation, working to improve inclusivity for the LGBTQ community in agriculture locally and nationwide.”
An ongoing effort to collect, digitally preserve and share 100 years of historical records by the UC Cooperative Extension (UCCE) has earned the UC Merced Library a more than $300,000 grant.
“We're extremely proud to be able to further the work already begun on the UCCE project,” UC Merced Chancellor Dorothy Leland said. “Our library is producing a collection that demonstrates the organization's lasting effects on the state, the work it has done in the past and its potential for the future.”
The work is especially relevant to the San Joaquin Valley, said Emily Lin, the UC Merced Library's Head of Digital Curation and Scholarship.
“We have a lot of archives and historic records based around urban centers, but we haven't been collecting the records of rural California in any systematic way,” she said. “But rural California has had an incredible influence on the state's history. California was transformed by agriculture over the past century.”
The Archivist of the United States approved the $308,900 grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission for “A Century of Impact: Documenting the Work of the Cooperative Extension in California's Counties.” The three-year project will begin in the summer, after Lin and others hire a group of undergraduate students to help with the work. Additionally, the project will be part of an informational booth at the World Ag Expo in February in Tulare — UC Merced's first appearance at the exposition, which draws more than 100,000 people from all over the world.
“We were convinced the history of Cooperative Extension in California was worthy of preserving when we launched the pilot project four years ago,” said Glenda Humiston, vice president of UC Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR), the organization that oversees UCCE. “The federal grant to continue this work confirms the value of UCCE history and its contribution to California's prosperity.”
A pilot project, begun after the 2014 centennial of the UCCE, looked at Merced, Ventura and Humboldt counties' UCCE records, and produced a stack of material 70 linear feet long — just for Merced County. A banker box is about 1 linear foot.
Records from Humboldt County included disaster responses from the 1955 and 1964 historic floods, while Merced County's records were mainly about crops, irrigation, the beginnings of the Merced Irrigation District and 4-H. Each county's records provide insight into its unique characteristics, Lin said.
The new project will collect 100 years' worth of reports and historic photographs from 20 California counties — in the Valley, along the coast, up north at the edges of the Sierra and along the southern border — and will geocode all the records.
“This project is of great potential value in supporting a number of lines of existing research, as well as in opening up new and fruitful areas of inquiry into the interrelated topics of democracy, technology and community,” said David Campbell, a political scientist and the associate dean for social/human sciences in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at UC Davis. He wrote a letter of support for the project that was included in the application.
The digitization project will help researchers at all levels, Professor Mario Sifuentez said.
“It provides access to a trove of documents that shed light on the nature and development of agriculture in the region, which amazingly has been understudied,” he said. “Despite living in the heart of one of the most productive agricultural regions of the world, few people really understand how agriculture in the Central Valley works. I am invested in producing work and helping students produce work that explains the historical trajectory of how the Valley ended up as ‘The Valley,' and agriculture is the main component of that story.”
The archives set the stage for many research projects across many disciplines. Historians will find the records helpful, but so will people studying progressive era institutions, immigration, race relations, social movements, technological change or the rich history of food and agriculture in California, Campbell said. There are also implications for political science and public policy scholarship; environmental and climate studies around such topics as water and pesticide use; material for economists and labor market scholars; and geographers.
The library is working with the San Joaquin Valley Historical Society, and San Diego State University will also have a set of the records digitized when the project is completed. In addition, regional 4-H students will be part of the project, helping tag and digitize the material.
Cornell University Professor Scott Peters, a historian of higher education who wrote a letter of support for the project, said engaging with local students and their families through a 4-H project is particularly valuable.
“It's always important to help young people connect with the history of their communities,” Peters said. “These historical materials will enrich their understanding of the vision, values, ideals, tensions, dilemmas and struggles that the work of building a democratic culture in partnership with higher education requires and involves. And it helps them understand their own role in history and ask themselves what they are creating and leaving that will be part of history 100 years from now.”
After the 2014 centennial, UC ANR allocated funds to locate a professional archivist at the UC Merced library, which is becoming known for creating comprehensive digital collections of historical materials.
Archivist Lisa Vallen began work with the three pilot counties. She found UCCE records in the National Archives as well as pictures, negatives and documents spread throughout the state.
“Ideally, historical records should be kept in a space that's climate controlled,” Vallen said. “In Ventura, they have some in a container on a farm. That's not ideal at all.”
The ANR hopes this project will help not only researchers, but will educate the public and policy makers about UCCE.
“There's no question about the value of this project and the richness it brings to the whole state, not just UC,” said UC Merced University Librarian Haipeng Li.