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Posts Tagged: Rob Bennaton

RECs and county office staff update ANR leaders on current projects

UCCE Master Gardeners and 4-H members partner with City Slicker Farms, teaching people how to grow food in West Oakland.

To get acquainted with the people at each ANR location, Mark Lagrimini, vice provost of research and extension, has been visiting research and extension centers and UCCE county offices and touring the facilities.

“I'm impressed with how passionate and dedicated you are to helping people,” said Lagrimini to UCCE Contra Costa staff after listening to their project updates. He has been impressed with the work he has seen at all of his ANR visits. 

On Sept. 6, Lagrimini visited Hopland Research and Extension Center, three weeks after the River Fire consumed about two-thirds of its property.

John Bailey, right, shows Mark Lagrimini the difference in fire damage to grazed pasture on the left side of the fence compared to the ungrazed areas at Hopland REC.

“While the River Fire damaged parts of the center, none of the main buildings, residences, livestock nor staff were hurt by the fire,” said John Bailey, Hopland REC interim director.

Scientists are invited to a site tour on Oct. 19 to learn more about research opportunities at Hopland REC. 

“With Hopland REC's extensive pre-fire historical data, plus immediate post-fire, pre-rain observations that we are collecting, we have the foundation to support relevant and timely research on the effects of fire and mechanisms of recovery,” Bailey said.

Marisa Neelon, right, shows Mark Lagrimini, left, and Mark Bell the kitchen where UCCE Contra Costa County nutrition educators can prepare food.

AVP Wendy Powers and Mark Bell, vice provost of Strategic Initiatives and Statewide Programs, are joining Lagrimini for many of the visits to learn the latest about UCCE research and outreach and to answer questions from staff.

On Sept. 11, Rob Bennaton, UCCE director in Alameda and Contra Costa counties, introduced Powers, Lagrimini and Bell to UCCE staff in their Hayward offices, then took them to West Oakland to tour City Slicker Farms. UCCE Master Gardeners and 4-H members partner with City Slicker Farms, teaching people how to grow food at the site.

“Success to us is putting food where people need it and giving them the skills to grow food,” said Rodney Spencer, executive director of City Slicker Farms.

Mark Bell popped into the office of Leah Sourbeer, nutrition program supervisor, to introduce himself.

In Concord, Marisa Neelon, UCCE nutrition, family and consumer sciences advisor in Contra Costa County, gave Powers, Lagrimini and Bell a tour of the new office space, which includes space for Master Garden volunteers, a kitchen for nutrition educators to prepare food and a lab for farm and IPM advisors to store and analyze samples.  

UCCE Contra Costa shared quotes from participants whose lives were improved by applying EFNEP lessons.

Staff from each unit delivered a presentation about their current projects for the ANR leaders, who were joined by Humberto Izquierdo, agricultural commissioner for Contra Costa County and Matthew Slattengren, assistant agricultural commissioner.

Charles Go, 4-H youth advisor, and Adan Osoria, EFNEP community nutrition educator, described how 4-H and EFNEP teamed up for 4-H2O, an after school project aimed at reducing consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages and increasing water consumption to improve community health and wellness. They launched 4-H2O at John Swett High School in Crockett. At the request of 4-H members, the local school board approved hydration stations and instructed the schools to provide water at meal times, Go said.

4-H and EFNEP teamed up for 4-H2O, an after school project that succeeded at reducing consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages and increasing water consumption.

Andrew Sutherland, Bay Area urban IPM advisor, described his research on baiting for cockroaches, subterranean termites and yellowjackets and outreach to educate pest control professionals to practice IPM in schools and multi-unit housing.

“I appreciate the work Andrew does,” said Izquierdo, noting that there is a need for pest management education, especially among the county's urban and immigrant populations.

After seeing all of the presentations, Bell said, “The enthusiasm you bring to your job is inspiring.”

UCCE Contra Costa shared quotes from participants whose lives were improved by applying EFNEP lessons.

After the visit, Powers wrote in her ANR Adventures blog on Sept. 14: “The programs we've seen in Contra Costa and Alameda Counties this week as well as Santa Clara County a couple weeks back are good reminders of the benefits to all of UC ANR when we have strong, relevant programs in urban areas. These programs not only help the clientele, directly, but help increase the visibility of UC ANR and all of its programs across both urban and ag areas.”

On Sept. 26, Powers, Lagrimini and Bell visited UCCE Riverside, then UCCE San Bernardino the following day.

“We spent yesterday in Riverside meeting with the teams from both UCCE Riverside and UCCE San Bernardino,” Powers wrote in ANR Adventures on Sept. 27. “It was very informative, particularly seeing the fresh ideas that are coming from some of the new staff. We were able to hear about the tremendous success that both counties are having truly working as a team across program areas and layering their efforts for increased program success and support.”

UC ANR meets new stakeholders at EcoFarm conference

Tyler Ash and Rachael Long enlightened EcoFarm attendees on UC ANR research and outreach.

Farmers, financiers, people from government agencies and nonprofit organizations who work with UC Cooperative Extension advisors, as well as beginning farmers seeking to contact their local UCCE advisors visited the UC ANR exhibit at the EcoFarm Conference Jan. 24-27 at Asilomar Conference Grounds in Pacific Grove.

Marketing assistant Tyler Ash apprised visitors perusing the racks of UC ANR publications of the resources available in their home counties and online.

Alda Pires and Laura Patterson talked to people about raising pigs and chickens.

Nearby, Alda Pires, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the School of Veterinary Medicine at UC Davis, and Ph.D. candidate Laura Patterson had their own booth to meet people raising small livestock and discuss their research projects. Patterson is studying pigs raised outdoors and Pires studies farming systems using raw manure as fertilizer.

“Sow Good” was the theme of the 38th annual EcoFarm Conference, which focused on regenerative agriculture.

Outside the exhibit tent, breakout sessions enlightened participants on dozens of topics from soil health to organic production practices to marketing. Rachael Long, UC Cooperative Extension advisor in Yolo County, was one of three panelists discussing the benefits of hedgerows. Because hedgerows provide habitat for beneficial insects, fewer insecticide sprays are needed for adjacent tomato fields, according to her study. Long said the hedgerows saved growers $260 per field per year.

Rob Bennaton showed participants how to evaluate soil structure and advised them to test soil for contaminants before planting food crops.

For backyard gardeners and urban growers, Rob Bennaton, UC Cooperative Extension urban agriculture advisor in the Bay Area, gave a talk on improving soil quality for growing food in urban areas. Before planting food crops in an urban plot, Bennaton advised the audience members to test the soil for contaminants such as lead, arsenic, chromium and mercury and to map where they sample the soil.

IPM advisor Kris Tollerup and wife Jennifer Charles Tollerup stopped by the booth.

After listening to participants in one session discuss the efficacy of cats for rodent control – orange tabby cats were deemed most effective – one attendee remarked that meeting new people at events such as EcoFarm helps reveal opportunities for UC ANR outreach.

Posted on Monday, January 29, 2018 at 12:16 AM

PAC discusses strategic plan and urban agriculture

At the recent President’s Advisory Commission meeting, President Napolitano praised UC ANR’s work in “areas of critical importance.”

Downtown Oakland was the site of the biannual UC President's Advisory Commission on Agriculture and Natural Resources (PAC) meeting on Aug. 9, which included a Q&A session with President Napolitano, program presentations from UC Cooperative Extension county directors Rob Bennaton and Igor Lacan, and updates from deans Helene Dillard (UC Davis), Keith Gilless (UC Berkeley) and Kathryn Uhrich (UC Riverside), as well as Executive Associate Dean John Pascoe (filling in for Dean Michael Lairmore, UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine). 

In her opening remarks, UC ANR Vice President Glenda Humiston introduced Mark Bell, the division's new vice provost for statewide programs and strategic initiatives. Bell spoke about the strength of the UC system, the diversity of programs offered by UC ANR statewide, and his plans to leverage the strong volunteer and staff base of programs like UC Master Gardeners and 4-H.

Humiston also offered updates on the division's strategic plan and the significant progress made in implementing its key goals. Associate Vice President Tu Tran then gave a presentation on the division's financial situation, which he titled “A Fiscal Plan for Success.” Tran addressed UC ANR's place in the state budget and its revenue projections through FY 2021-22, which includes significant growth in major gifts and fundraising.

Jerry Lohr, right, congratulated fellow PAC member Grant Davis on his new position as director of the state Department of Water Resources.

Bennaton and Lacan both gave spirited and enthusiastic presentations that were received well. Bennaton, who serves as county director for Alameda and Contra Costa counties as well as UCCE urban agriculture advisor for the Bay Area, discussed the benefits of urban agriculture and the assortment of activities going on in community development, habitat restoration and youth programming.

Lacan, also a UCCE environmental horticulture advisor for the Bay Area and co-director in San Mateo and San Francisco counties, talked about the diverse and richly rewarding work he spearheads in urban forestry. His work currently focuses on sustainable management of urban trees and urban water.

Following lunch, UC President Napolitano offered glowing remarks about UC ANR's contributions and the long-term strategy reflected in the division's new strategic plan. She said she was particularly impressed by ANR's recent work in water, childhood obesity, nutrition education, and Asian citrus psyllid, calling them “areas of critical importance.” She also praised Humiston's leadership in the area of tech innovation and partnerships.

During a Q&A period, the president engaged PAC members on various issues such as potential public-private partnerships that could involve UC ANR, targeted approaches to advocacy and deferred maintenance needs for UC writ large but also for UC ANR and its research and extension centers system, specifically.

The deans gave updates on research and activities occurring at their respective colleges and school.

The next PAC meeting is scheduled for December, also in Oakland. 

Posted on Wednesday, August 30, 2017 at 5:06 PM
  • Author: Mike Janes

Travel funds available for UCCE specialists, AES faculty to collaborate with off-campus ANR academics

ANR will be making additional travel support available for UC Cooperative Extension specialists to collaborate with ANR academics off-campus, including UCCE advisors in the counties and ANR academics at the RECs in fiscal year 2017/18.

With the level of funds available, each specialist may apply for up to $2,500 for FY 2017/18 (travel reports must be submitted within 45 days of travel, and funds must be expended by June 30, 2018). These travel funds must be utilized by the UCCE specialists only and cannot be used for out-of-state travel.

UC ANR values the work of AES faculty across the three partner campuses. As the recognized lead for the California Agriculture Experiment Station, UC ANR receives federal Hatch funds to support the AES mission and distributes those funds to the three partner campuses to manage and support AES faculty. In recognition of the importance of the partnership between UC ANR academics and AES faculty, UC ANR is expanding the travel support program to include AES faculty as part of a pilot program. Upon completion of a request, UC ANR will support travel by AES faculty to meet and work with UC ANR county-based or REC-based academics. Support is limited to $1,000 per AES faculty member with a cap on the total pool of funds available set at $25,000 for FY17-18. Additional support may be available through the campuses; AES faculty should consult their departments or colleges to determine if additional support is available. Travel support must be used by the AES faculty member for his/her own travel to plan and execute research or present research findings at meetings hosted by UC ANR academics.

Completing a short online survey is the only step to apply for these funds.

A brief survey form is accessible from your ANR Portal. The direct link is http://ucanr.edu/survey/survey.cfm?surveynumber=18400. The survey asks 

•        Name and title of specialist requesting support

•        Project/Program name

•        Brief project description (one paragraph)

•        Collaborating advisors

There is no deadline for applications for these travel funds, but they must be expended in the fiscal year 2017/18.

 

Posted on Wednesday, August 30, 2017 at 4:35 PM

Names in the News

Light joins UCCE as agronomy advisor

Sarah Light

Sarah Light joined UCCE on July 5, 2017, as an area agronomy advisor in Sutter, Yuba and Colusa counties.

Light earned a dual M.S. in soil science & botany and plant pathology from Oregon State University and conducted her graduate research in potato production at the Hermiston Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Eastern Oregon. Light, who speaks Spanish, also holds a B.A. in Latin American studies with a minor in Spanish literature from Brandeis University.

Prior to joining UCCE, Light was working as a Biological Science Technician for the USDA Agricultural Research Service on a project that evaluated the impact of biochar application on soil water properties. Light volunteered with the USAID Farmer-to-Farmer program in Malawi and worked for several years in small-scale farms and gardens in the Bay Area.

Light is based in Yuba City and can be reached at (530) 822-7515 and selight@ucanr.edu.

Milliron named UCCE orchards advisor

Luke Milliron

Luke Milliron joined UCCE on June 12, 2017, as an area sustainable orchard systems advisor in Butte, Glenn and Tehama counties.

Prior to joining UCCE, Milliron worked as an agronomy technician at Dellavalle Laboratory, Inc. since April 2016. He was responsible for soil and plant tissue sampling in almond, walnut, grapevine and processing tomato systems. He also supported grower irrigation management with neutron probe, pressure chamber and watermark readings.

From January 2015 to March 2016, Milliron was a UC Cooperative Extension horticulture intern, funded by the Almond Board of California and the California Dried Plum Board. During his internship, he was based in UCCE Sutter-Yuba and San Joaquin counties where he worked on 20 UCCE trials in almond, prune, walnut, processing tomato and landscape horticulture. Milliron also assisted UCCE farm advisors on visits with almond, prune, walnut and tomato growers, wrote newsletter articles and delivered talks to growers and pest control advisers.

Milliron earned an M.S. in horticulture and agronomy from UC Davis. His research focused on the measurement of almond tree water stress during winter dormancy. He earned a B.S. in agricultural science, with an option in crops and horticulture from California State University, Chico.

Milliron is based in Oroville and can be reached at (530) 828-9666 and lkmilliron@ucanr.edu and on Twitter @MillironLuke.

Satomi joins UCCE as forestry advisor

Ricky Satomi

Ricky Satomi joined UCCE on May 15, 2017, as an Area Forestry and Natural Resources Advisor in Shasta, Trinity and Siskiyou counties.

Satomi earned an M.S. in forestry from UC Berkeley and a B.S. in forestry & natural resources and society & environment from UC Berkeley.

Prior to joining UCCE, Satomi worked as a research associate with the UC Wood Biomass Utilization Group, analyzing wood utilization capacity in California. His master's thesis focused on productivity and cost tracking of forest fuel mastication treatments using open source geospatial analysis. He also developed interactive web and audiovisual platforms to enhance delivery of forest management practices to the public. From 2009 to 2013, Satomi was a field forester working on inventory and management plans for land ownerships throughout Northern California.

Satomi is based in Redding and can be reached at (530) 224-4900 and rpsatomi@ucanr.edu.

Montazar joins UCCE as water management advisor

Ali Montazar

Aliasghar Montazar joined UCCE on June 1, 2017, as an area irrigation and water management advisor in Imperial and Riverside counties.

Prior to joining UCCE, Montazar was a project scientist in the Department of Plant Sciences at UC Davis for three years. From 2011 to 2014, he was a research associate in the Department of Land, Air and Water Resources at UC Davis. He is also a former associate professor at the Department of Irrigation and Drainage Engineering at the University of Tehran, Iran. Montazar has more than 15 years of research, extension, teaching and technical consulting experience and has served in several leadership positions in agricultural water management and irrigation engineering in California and abroad.

Montazar, who is fluent in Persian and Arabic, earned a Ph.D. in irrigation and drainage from University of Tehran, Iran; an M.S. in irrigation structures from Tarbiat Modares University, Iran; and a B.S. in irrigation engineering from Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, Iran.

Montazaris is based in Holtville and can be reached at (442) 265-7707 and amontazar@ucanr.edu.

Chen named nutrition, family and consumer sciences advisor

Wei-ting Chen

Wei-ting Chen joined UCCE on Aug. 29, 2016, as the area nutrition, family and consumer sciences advisor in San Mateo, Santa Clara and San Francisco counties.

Prior to joining UCCE, Chen worked for a health communications firm based in Atlanta, Ga., where she managed health communication projects for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and led user research and evaluation efforts for web-based health communication products.

At Johns Hopkins University, she developed an urban agriculture summer training program for low-income inner-city teens, led the founding and operations of the university's first community garden, conducted a literature review on the topics of community food security and farm-to-school through the Center for a Livable Future at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and surveyed SNAP recipients at farmers markets about their experience with fruit and vegetable incentives. Her dissertation combined her interest in poverty, social policy, and food system issues and examined public assistance-dependent mothers experience as consumers in the food system and how they made food decisions for their households. From 2005 to 2008, Chen, who is fluent in Mandarin Chinese, worked for the California Charter Schools Association coordinating its board and leadership development program.

She earned a Ph.D. and an M.A. in sociology at Johns Hopkins University and her B.A. in political science and sociology at UC Davis.

Chen is based in Half Moon Bay and can be reached at (650) 276-7429 and wtgchen@ucanr.edu.

Megaro joins ANR as government and community relations director

Anne Megaro

Anne Megaro joined UC ANR as government and community relations director on Aug. 28. In her new role, Megaro will guide UC ANR employees in nurturing relationships with government officials and will monitor legislation that could affect UC ANR. She will also develop programs to promote community awareness of UC ANR.

Megaro, who earned a Ph.D. in animal science from Cornell University and a B.S. in animal science and management from UC Davis, brings a solid understanding of agriculture, science and the UC system along with knowledge of California's legislative processes.

“We're absolutely thrilled to have someone of Anne's caliber and credentials on board at UC ANR,” said Vice President Glenda Humiston. “Her hiring is a real coup for us and couldn't come at a more critical time. Educating our elected officials about the value of ANR research and outreach is always important, but especially as we try to increase investment in research infrastructure to address issues such as water, wildfire, invasive pests, food insecurity and other challenges facing the state.”

For the past five years, Megaro has been the California State Senate Committee on Agriculture's consultant. As the sole agriculture committee consultant for the Senate, Megaro planned legislative hearings, conducted independent research and analyzed agricultural bills to advise senators and staff on policy and legislative issues. She collaborated with senators, assembly members, governor's staff, legislative staff, government agencies, stakeholders and members of the public to resolve issues related to specific bills or policies.

“With the goodwill she's developed and contacts she's made in the state Senate, coupled with her ability to work with UC Cooperative Extension county directors and Research and Extension Center directors on effectively engaging policymakers at the local level, Anne will elevate UC ANR's ability to connect people with the data they need to make informed policy decisions,” Humiston said.

Megaro is based at the ANR building in Davis in Room 178 and can be reached at (530) 750-1218 and ammegaro@ucanr.edu.

Haver named interim associate director of REC system

Darren Haver

Darren Haver has agreed to serve as the interim associate director of the Research and Extension Center system, effective Oct. 1, 2017. Haver has served as the UC Cooperative Extension water resources advisor in Orange County since 2002, director of South Coast Research and Extension Center in Irvine since 2009 and director of UC Cooperative Extension in Orange County beginning in 2011.

“Darren brings a wealth of experience to this position,” said Wendy Powers, associate vice president and interim REC director. “We continue to develop a plan to address administrative vacancies and look forward to working with him in this interim role.”

Haver will serve in this capacity until June 30, 2018, or until a new director is appointed. He will succeed Lisa Fischer, who plans to retire from UC ANR in September after five years as associate director of the REC system.

“Under her direction, each REC has developed a strategic plan to set the course for the future and numerous capital improvements have been made to the RECs, including new office and conference spaces,” said Powers. “We wish Lisa the very best as she takes on new adventures.”

Harper honored by California Wool Growers

John Harper

John Harper, UCCE livestock advisor for Mendocino and Lake counties, received the California Wool Growers Association's Golden Fleece Award at their annual meeting Aug. 19 in Cambria.

The Golden Fleece Award is presented each year to a living and active member of the California Wool Growers Association or a public official who through his or her position has made a lasting contribution to the California sheep industry. This is the “un-sung hero” award. Recipients are intended to be those individuals who have given unremitting support and service to the California sheep industry and received little recognition for their efforts.

“John Harper was honored with the California Wool Growers Association Golden Fleece Award for his unrecognized contributions as livestock/natural resources advisor for Mendocino and Lake counties to the California sheep industry over the years,” said Erica Sanko, CWGA executive director. “John is known statewide and nationally for his sheep shearing and wool grading schools, which provides a much-needed resource of qualified sheep shearers for the California sheep industry.”

Since 1990, Harper has been hosting the UC Cooperative Extension Sheep Shearing School, which is the only program of its kind in California. At the five-day intensive course, more than 300 students from California, other states and other countries have been trained to shear sheep, giving them skills to start a new and profitable career. Harper, who serves as secretary for the Mendocino/Lake Wool Growers Association, has also authored or co-authored more than 350 research-based articles and publications.

Ingram honored by Nevada County Fair board

Roger Ingram

Roger Ingram, UCCE advisor emeritus, was named the 2017 Blue Ribbon Award recipient by the Nevada County Fairgrounds Board of Directors. The award was created by Western Fairs Association (WFA), a nonprofit trade association serving the fair industry, to recognize those who support and contribute to the quality of their local fair. During opening ceremonies on Aug. 9, Ingram was recognized for his contributions to the agriculture programs at the Nevada County Fairgrounds.

Ingram's involvement with the fair began in 1986 when he joined UC Cooperative Extension as the 4-H/livestock and natural resources advisor in Nevada County. At the Nevada County Fair, he organized and conducted a livestock judging contest until 1995. He has been instrumental in coordinating carcass quality programs for fair animals and working with exhibitors and leaders to understand the data and to use it to improve their feeding and management practices.

From 2006 to 2011, Ingram gave a series of agriculture-related presentations at the fair as part of the workshop series coordinated by the Nevada County Resource Conservation District.

“For decades, Roger has been an advocate of local youth in agriculture, particularly the youth at the Nevada County Fair,” said Rea Callender, CEO of the Nevada County Fairgrounds. “His contributions to the agriculture programs at the Fairgrounds have educated adults and children.  Whether it's participating in the annual farm day, assisting with agricultural youth programs, serving as a guest speaker in the seminar series at the fair, or assisting the kids at the fair – his work is invaluable.”

 

Putting Youth on the Map wins UC tech award

The University of California recognized 10 teams from across the system with the 2017 Larry L. Sautter Award. Putting Youth on the Map won a Golden Award. The Center for Regional Change's interactive website provides analyses of California youth well-being and curricula on how to use them. The website is a resource for researchers and policymakers, as well as youth and adult advocates, who are working to ensure the well-being of young people in the state.

The annual award, which is sponsored by the UC Information Technology Leadership Council, recognizes collaborative innovations in information technology that advance the university's mission of teaching, research, public service and patient care, or that improve the effectiveness of university processes. The award encourages collaboration and solution sharing across the UC system. Systemwide Chief Information Officer Tom Andriola announced the winners Aug. 8 at the UC Computing Services Conference in San Diego.

Nancy Erbstein, who holds a research faculty appointment in the UC Davis Department of Human Ecology, is the principal investigator for the project. UC Cooperative Extension advisors Charles Go, Russell Hill, Anna Martin, Fe Moncloa, Terri Spezzano and Steven Worker; UCCE nutrition education coordinator Dennis Carrasquilla, UC CalFresh director David Ginsburg and former Youth, Families and Communities Program director Constance Schneider contributed to the development of Putting Youth on the Map.

The resource was created with support from The California Endowment, UCANR, the Center for Collaborative Research for an Equitable California and Sierra Health Foundation.

The Putting Youth on the Map website is at http://interact.regionalchange.ucdavis.edu/youth.

 

 
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