ANR Employees
University of California
ANR Employees

Posts Tagged: STAR awards

STAR award winners celebrated

The IT team helped ANR employees get equipment needed to work remotely when the coronavirus pandemic made it inadvisable to work in ANR offices.
The 2019-2020 winners of UC ANR's Staff Appreciation and Recognition (STAR) Awards were recognized and celebrated on June 18. The awards reward outstanding individual and team performances by staff.

Individual Awards

Zeva Cho
Zeva Cho, 4-H Youth Development Program, CE San Mateo/San Francisco. “Since her start in 2016, Zeva's outstanding organizational abilities have been critical in organizing the club finances and records. Zeva also demonstrated her exceptional creativity by expanding the Healthy Living Ambassadors Program, which was the first program of its kind in California.”

Anna Dirkse
Anna Dirkse, Knotwood Outreach, UCCE Marin. “It's well-known in the valley that one of the original Fillmore Rock-Art poster artists is a local resident. Playing off of the alternative vibe, Anna designed a Fillmore inspired flyer to attract the eye of folks that might eschew something more straightforward or formal. That approach boosted program participation in an area that we thought was saturated.”

Veronica Geiger
Veronica Geiger, Payroll, Business Operations Center. “For 5 months, Veronica was the sole payroll transaction processor and during this time we were preparing to go live with UCPath and had a lot of clean up entry to make in PPS as well as standard fiscal year end entry in PPS. …we were able to make the necessary entries timely and within required deadlines.” 

Sally Harmsworth
Sally Harmsworth, Business Operations Center. “She has worked with Development Services and other units to reduce duplicative processes, saving time and money for the entire organization – one small example, creating a PCI compliance group for ANR so we don't duplicate effort on this time-consuming yearly process.”

Linda Harris
Linda Harris, Office of Risk & Safety Services. “Linda finds creative solutions to risk management challenges, often working with the UC ANR staff and partner agencies to address concerns, modify contract language, or make other adjustments so the program can go on.”

Rachel Lloyd
Rachel Lloyd, Administrative Policies & Business Contracts. “Rachel Lloyd made an exceptional contribution to the improved efficiency and productivity of the Controller's Office's Administrative Policies and Business Contracts unit. Rachel reviewed and mapped the current workflow for Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs), and designed and implemented an improved process.”

Belinda Messenger-Sikes
Belinda Messenger-Sikes, Integrated Pest Management. “Between 2018 and 2019 while UC IPM urban team was without a Community Education Specialist, Belinda took on several of the duties normally assigned to that position. In 2019, UC IPM urban team organized several training workshops but had difficulty finding a plant pathologist who was available on some of the dates. Belinda stepped up to be one of the trainers while still getting her other work done on time.” 

Sue Mosbacher
Sue Mosbacher, Master Food Preserver, CE Central Sierra. “She is currently facilitating the response to COVID-19 as well as the reappointment process for the 400+ current volunteers in 17 counties....Her work should be considered transformational to the organization as a whole.”

Shyra Murrey

Shyra Murrey, EFNEP State Office. “I pick 3 key words to describe Shyra:

1.    Creative - An updated review process (which I understand saved around $200K)
2.    Collaborative - Clearly works well with the 33 EFNEP educators
3.    Capable - A strong presenter

Stephanie Parreira
Stephanie Parreira, Integrated Pest Management. “Stephanie was integral in getting a new grant program with EPA off the ground. This assignment was outside of her normal duties, but she immediately took ownership and responsibility for leading daily processes. Her work ethic, attention to detail, project management and organizational skills have been invaluable to the program.”

Kaela Plank
Kaela Plank, Nutrition Policy Institute. “Kaela Plank's exceptional performance as Chair of the Staff Assembly Wellness Committee has contributed to the expansion of the committee's role in Staff Assembly and the support of employee health and wellness for ANR staff.”

Kendra Rose
Kendra Rose, Office of Contracts and Grants. “Last fall, Kendra worked directly with the California Department of Food and Agriculture to include in the Request for Proposal the ability for one of our 4-H programs to apply for the CalAgPlate License Plate Funds…. Now, thanks to Kendra there is a carve-out that allows UCANR 4-H Youth Programs to apply.”

Marcy Sousa
Marcy Sousa, UC Master Gardener, CE San Joaquin. “We couldn't have started our brand new Master Gardener Program in Stanislaus County without her hard work and help.”

Douzong Vang
Douzong Vang, Human Resources. “Because of the nature of  the new responsibilities for both UC ANR and UCPath, Douzong has often been required to initiate research to  determine nuances, steps and various paths to obtain resolution to complicated situations.”

Patti Verdugo Johnson
Patti Verdugo Johnson, Hansen Research & Extension Center and CE Ventura. “Her brain is constantly churning out solutions. No project is too big and no detail too small. Through all the complexities that make up the UCCE Ventura County and Hansen REC, Patti maintains a strong sense of fairness, unwavering professionalism and grace.”

Mary Vlandis
Mary Vlandis, Human Resources. Mary took point in collaborating on a new and very complicated process for Contracting Out/Creating Vendor Agreements. She worked tirelessly to push a UC ANR friendly outcome with systemwide labor and we were able to identify some very positive outcomes for our organization.

Jeannette Warnert
Jeannette Warnert, Strategic Communications. “Senior leadership charged Strategic Communications with spearheading UC ANR's first-ever hosted reception during the 2020 World Ag Expo, along with planning and staffing two trade show booths. Jeannette Warnert took on the leadership role for both the trade show presence and the reception.”

Michael Yang
Michael Yang, Small Farms and Specialty Crops, CE Fresno. Michael Yang has been working with UC Cooperative Extension in Fresno County for over 25 years serving the Southeast Asian farming community. …Many of these farmers are still in business because Michael helped them connect to a farmers market, complete paperwork for a variety of regulations, or solve production issues on their farm.”


Team Awards

CalFresh Healthy Living, UC in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties

The CalFresh Healthy Living, UC nutrition educators in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties oversee 200 4-H youth snack club leaders who have taught healthy habits to more than 4,500 of their peers. Their efforts have led to significant improvements in parity in 4-H for reaching Latino youth in their communities.
  • Miguel Diaz
  • Emily Dimond
  • Kelly Hong
  • Shannon Klisch
  • Melissa LaFreniere
  • Abbi Marrs
  • Betsy Plascencia
  • Rosa Vargas

Central Sierra Master Food Preserver Program Staff

Robin Cleveland and Sue Mosbacher of UCCE Central Sierra got a grant and extended Master Food Preserver classes to counties that don’t have a MFP program.

Robin Cleveland and Sue Mosbacher 

Information Technology (IT) Team 

  • David Hatter
  • Lora Schroeder
  • Ron Walker
  • Jonathan Wilson

Kearney Agricultural Research & Extension Center 

The KARE team worked collectively – at least 6 feet apart – during the coronavirus crisis to ensure research and essential functions at Kearney REC continue.
  • Ivan Aldana
  • Keith Byrum
  • Janie Duran
  • Marcia Holmes-Baker
  • Mike Kulow
  • Dale Pattigan
  • Vincent Silva
  • Patrick West

Nutrition Policy Institute 

In addition to their regular duties, the NPI Operations Transition Team members "worked together to maintain NPI operations during multiple unprecedented transitions: a reduction in team members, adoption of UC Path, an office move, and a transition to working from home during a pandemic."
  • Temika Green
  • Danielle Lee
  • Meirong Liao
  • Joni Rippee

UCCE San Bernardino Program Integration Stars 

This team has come together to create a seamless, meaningful program integration that proved to be successful in five schools in San Bernardino County. They have demonstrated that EFNEP, Master Gardener and Master Food Preserver program integration is not only possible, but can take each ANR program to a new height. School administrators and staff see the addition of MG and MFP as 'value-added' to EFNEP."
  • Christine Davidson
  • Dee Denton
  • Dalila Lizarraga
  • Marilynn Ljungberg
  • Margaret O'Neill
  • Roxana Puentes
  • Clara Wilshire 

For details about the achievements of the STAR winners, see the recording of the June event posted at


Posted on Friday, June 19, 2020 at 12:37 PM

Celebrate STAR Award winners and retirees June 18

All UC ANR colleagues are invited to a special staff meeting and recognition event at 2 p.m. on Thursday, June 18. We will be celebrating the careers of UC ANR colleagues who are retiring July 1, 2020, and also recognizing the 2019-2020 winners of the Staff Appreciation and Recognition (STAR) Awards.

The event will be on Zoom. To join online, click

By telephone: US +1 669-900-6833  or +1 253-215-8782  or +1 346-248-7799  or +1 301-715-8592  or +1 312-626-6799  or +1 646-558-8656. International numbers available: Webinar ID: 952 7861 7548.

For more information about the event, visit

Posted on Friday, May 29, 2020 at 8:31 PM

STAR nominations accepted until April 6

[The deadline to nominate staff for a STAR Award has been extended to 11:59 p.m. on Friday, April 17.] 

Nominations are being accepted for the annual UC ANR Staff Appreciation and Recognition (STAR) Awards until Monday, April 6, 2020.

ANR is going ahead with the annual program despite the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The STAR program is our opportunity to celebrate and reward the great contributions of ANR's people, and this recognition is as important as ever right now,” said John Fox, executive director of Human Relations.

The program provides one-time $500 cash awards to eligible staff in recognition of outstanding achievement. Managers may nominate individuals and teams demonstrating exceptional performance, creativity, organizational abilities, work success and teamwork.  

Policy-covered ANR staff and members of the Clerical Unit (CX) are eligible to be nominated for STAR awards. Staff in other collective bargaining units, academics and members of the Senior Management Group are not eligible to receive STAR awards.

Nomination forms and program guidelines are available on the UC ANR Human Resources website. 

Send your nominations via e-mail to by April 6, 2020.

STAR Award winners will be celebrated during an ANR recognition event on June 18, 2020, even if it's a “virtual” Zoom event.

Posted on Monday, March 16, 2020 at 3:52 PM

Nominate staff for STAR awards by April 6

Nominations are being accepted for the ANR Staff Appreciation and Recognition (STAR) program for the fiscal year 2019-2020.

The purpose of the STAR program is to recognize and reward outstanding staff individual and team performance within UC Agriculture and Natural Resources. Recipients receive cash awards as well as recognition. ANR staff in PSS and MSP titles, as well as members of the Clerical Unit (CX), are eligible to be nominated for cash awards. STAR Awards will be celebrated during an ANR recognition event at the Second Street building in Davis on June 18, 2020.

The STAR program is your opportunity to celebrate and reward the great contributions of ANR's people.

The program provides cash awards to eligible staff in recognition of outstanding achievement. Managers may nominate individuals and teams demonstrating exceptional performance, creativity, organizational abilities, work success and teamwork. 

Under the STAR plan, managers can recognize, acknowledge and reward staff employees for exceptional performance or significant contributions related to and supportive of individual, departmental, divisional or organizational goals and objectives. Nominations are due Monday, April 6.

Send your nominations to Fiona Wei at by Monday, April 6, 2020.

We've streamlined the nomination form this year to simplify the process. Please find the Nomination Form, Star Award Guidelines & Restrictions and Local Plan on the STAR website:

Posted on Monday, February 24, 2020 at 5:01 PM
  • Author: Jodi Azulai

ANR recognizes outstanding staff performance with STAR awards

UC ANR presented its annual Staff Appreciation and Recognition (STAR) Awards June 18 to individuals and teams demonstrating exceptional performance, creativity, organizational abilities, work success and teamwork.

The STAR program is an opportunity to celebrate and reward the great contributions of ANR's people. The program provides one-time cash awards to eligible staff in recognition of outstanding achievement.  

John Fox, executive director of Human Resources, announced the STAR recipients and managers presented plaques to the following employees.

Alma Jackson
Alma Jackson, Academic Human Resources assistant

During the absence of an essential team member, Alma enthusiastically assumed higher-level responsibilities for all immigration-related visas and permanent-residency cases. Her dedicated work allowed Academic HR to provide a level of service to which international scholars are accustomed.

Alyssa Rodriguez
Alyssa Rodriguez, Staff Human Resources generalist

Alyssa demonstrated a high level of quality performance while she absorbed additional responsibilities as our temporary Leaves specialist. Not only did she learn and implement her new role quickly and efficiently, she also updated and improved Leave processes, while maintaining a high level of involvement with the HR Generalist staff.

Bonnie Nielsen


Bonnie Nielsen, communications specialist, UCCE Marin

Bonnie willingly took on significant additional event logistics and outreach roles for the 7th Sudden Oak Death Science Symposium, helping to make it a success. She contributed to the creative thinking and site architecture design and performed all the web layout and revision for the Grown in Marin website makeover. Learning new software, she provided peer leadership to the staff, leading the layout and production of the office's 2018 Annual Report as an online story map. 

Cheryl Reynolds
Cheryl Reynolds, writer and editor, UC IPM

With many difficult technical obstacles to overcome, Cheryl planned for and transferred 19 UC IPM online courses to eXtension, while delivering all of her other tasks without interruption. Her regular duties include timely reporting of DPR CE units, technical support to UC IPM online courses, developing two new courses, and hosting a series of UC PM webinars “UC Ag Experts Talk.”

Debbie Powell



Debbie Powell, Master Gardener coordinator, UCCE Calaveras & Tuolumne

Debbie aired her 100th radio show “Over the Garden Gate” on station KAAD-LP, 103.5 FM, which she started as an innovative way to provide educational material on home gardening and related topics. Since Feb 2017, she has regularly interviewed staff, UC Master Gardener Volunteers, subject matter experts and presenters at the Open Garden at the Master Gardener Demonstration Garden in San Andreas.

Hannah Bird
Hannah Bird, community educator, Hopland REC

Hannah drove outreach efforts to bring awareness to the unique research opportunity resulting from the unplanned wildfire, served as central organizer of a successful packed weekend of events around Hopland REC's annual sheep dog trails that raised over $10,000 net, and led successful fundraising and grant-writing efforts including winning a grant from the EPA to develop fire science curriculum adapted for the North Coast woodlands.

Jon Wilson


Jon Wilson, applications architect, ANR IT

Jon's expertise and effective communication has revolutionized Communication Services & Information Technology service to ANR. His dedication to highest quality products is evidenced by his extraordinary work with Project Board. He has also assumed responsibility for technical oversight of all applications developed and maintained by CSIT, challenging each team developer to keep quality and user experience at the forefront of every decision.

John Bailey
John Bailey, interim director & superintendent, Hopland REC

John is serving as both Hopland REC superintendent and interim director and he has performed beyond all expectations. His innovative thinking will result in better financial stability in the midst of severe cuts. His leadership allowed ranch staff to move 500 sheep, 6 guard dogs, and one sheep dog to safety during the River Fire. He also quickly organized an event on the ranch on Sept. 6 to showcase the burn areas for potential wildfire recovery research. 

Karina Hathorn



Karina Hathorn, community education specialist, UCCE Butte

In 2018, Karina worked to produce content for a garden-based workshop for SNAP-Ed. Her organization throughout curriculum development was impressive. During every planning meeting, she came prepared and presented to her CalFresh collaborators in a clear and meaningful manner. Her work effortlessly tied the training objectives to interactive modules, which allowed participants to apply the content they learned to the garden.

Kathleen Stewart
Kathleen Stewart, office/financial manager, UCCE San Mateo, San Francisco, Elkus Ranch

Kathleen's work has led her UCCE office to develop a budget that forecasts long-term staffing needs and ensures staffing levels align with funding levels and sources. Her organizational skills ensure on-time report submissions that include impact stories for our partners and the public. Her skill in recognizing both emerging opportunities for teamwork and the challenges to implementing it across programs brings excellence to UCCE San Mateo-San Francisco as a whole.

Kellie McFarland


Kellie McFarland, event specialist, ANR Program Support

Kellie managed the day-to-day tasks for all PSU staff when her director and another PSU staff member were on leave and another retired. She ensured that staff handled assignments and the unit's work continued. As Event Specialist 2 and lead, Kellie is an exceptionally high performer serving as a role model for other staff members. She is extremely productive and handles the most complex events independently. She attacks every task with tenacity, drive and positive attitude.

Leah Sourbeer
Leah Sourbeer, EFNEP program supervisor, UCCE Alameda & Contra Costa

Leah consistently demonstrates exceptional performance as an EFNEP supervisor in Alameda and Contra Costa counties. She is highly respected by her staff, academic advisor, UCCE colleagues and external partners. She often mentors other EFNEP supervisors and represents EFNEP staff on two University-wide committees. Leah excels because she leads by example and is a woman of high integrity and organizational capacity.

Mary Vollinger


Mary Vollinger, community education supervisor, UCCE San Mateo, San Francisco, Santa Clara

Mary stepped up to fill the role of the retired SNAP-Ed work plan coordinator. She has done an amazing job of coordinating 17 Snap-Ed funded partners and ensuring commitments to deadlines. Her creativity and can-do attitude led to an increased cross-program collaboration and great work success in all three counties. 

Susan Weaver
Susan Weaver, community educator, UCCE Santa Clara

Susan led a high-quality “teens as teachers” program that effectively strengthened 30 adolescents' leadership skills. She mentored 4-H volunteers in management roles to address the low rate of younger youths participating in club meetings. She facilitated the brainstorming of ideas and mentored volunteers to iterate and implement their ideas. The club encouraged attendance with more age-appropriate activities, which increased young people's attendance and engagement. 

Pam Kan Rice


Pam Kan Rice, assistant director, News and Information Outreach

Pam demonstrated and sustained exceptional performance that consistently exceeded goals and work expectations. She took on numerous additional duties, including social media and governmental relations, due to several CSIT position vacancies while producing high-quality work and carrying on effective collaborations.

Rob Broadhurst
Rob Broadhurst, development associate, Development Services

Rob has shown his unique talents and willingness to go above and beyond. He has developed creative approaches to projects resulting in dollars saved. He is known for his customer service and efforts to build a strong and positive work environment. He staged and produced the first in a series of Development Services webinars, using his personal home-studio equipment, often on his time, making the content come alive in an extremely professional manner.

Tu Tran, left, presents Robin Sanchez with her award.


Robin Sanchez, Interim Director, Administrative Policy and Business Contracts

Robin has managed her unit to achieve efficiencies and do more with less. As interim director, she and her unit have continued to provide good, timely service to ANR clientele. She has been a champion in implementing technology and tools to drive efficiency. Robin managed the development of a digital repository for all of UC ANR contacts and MOUs and subsequently implemented an instance Box to better manage in-process work on contracts and agreements.

Vince Trotter
Vince Trotter, agriculture coordinator/ag ombudsman, UCCE Marin

Vince has been repeatedly successful in developing educational resources and events and partnering on programs that have beneficial impact at the local, Marin and North Bay level, including programs this year on farmworker housing replacement, pond water use monitoring, and on-farm poultry processing.

Evan Talmage



Evan Talmage, evaluation analyst, Nutrition Policy Institute

Evan is one of NPI's most agreeable and cheerful employees. In December 2018, he juggled multiple high-priority deadlines, yet found time to complete an analysis of GIS data, identifying restaurants in low-income neighborhoods for our Healthy Default Beverage Study. This sample of restaurants was a crucial part of a very high-priority NPI project, with baseline data collection needing to be completed before Senate Bill 1192, which prohibits restaurants from serving soda or juice with kids' meals, went into effect on Jan. 1, 2019.

Sara Brizendine
Sara Brizendine, research administrator, Nutrition Policy Institute

Sara quickly established herself as a generous team player. She has helped cross-train another staff member, proactively reviewed all grant proposal instructions, and prepared a thorough set of instructions and a detailed timeline for principal investigators at NPI and our partnering organizations. She also coordinated with funders and Contracts & Grants to ensure that all proposal submissions and fund reports would be completed accurately and on time.


Team awards

EFNEP Alameda/Contra Costa Team - Nelly Camacho, Jennifer Ferreira, Eli Figueroa, Santos Lopez, Adan Osorio and Molica Sim.

EFNEP Alameda/Contra Costa Team - Nelly Camacho, Jennifer Ferreira, Eli Figueroa, Santos Lopez, Adan Osorio, Molica Sim

These youth educators significantly impacted student behavior. Partnering with 333 teachers and reaching 8,090 K-12 youth, their students reported a 71% increase in their ability to choose healthy foods and often report sharing their learning with their families. 

Project Board Team - Joni Rippee, Jon Wilson, Bryon Noel, Dave Krause, Kit Alviz, Katherine Webb-Martinez, Tina Jordan, Kim Ingram, Chris Greer, Sheila Barry, Chris Hanson

Project Board Team

Even though the Project Board Team members juggle many priorities in the Division, each person committed to a demanding meeting schedule and delivery milestones, all of which were met on time and under budget. The extraordinary amount of collaboration and team work in the Project Board Team are foundational to the success of this project. 

Giving Tuesday Campaign - Emily Delk and Melissa Womack

Giving Tuesday Campaign

Emily Delk of Development Services and Melissa Womack of UC Master Gardener Program worked outside their scope to collaborate across departments during the November 2018 Giving Tuesday Campaign. Their commitment and hard work resulted in a total of $121,262 raised, a 59% increase over the previous year.

Tulare & Kings Nutrition Education Team - Grilda Gomez, Elia Escalante, Marina Aguilera, Maria Gutierrez, Yesenia Medrano, Susan Lafferty, Maria Carbajal, Eldon Bueno, Teresa Spicer, Mariana Lopez

Tulare and Kings counties Nutrition Education Team

UC CalFresh and EFNEP teams worked with community partners to empower children, youth and families with knowledge, skills and behavior change to eat healthfully and be active. They contributed to a healthier Tulare and Kings community and aligned program goals with UC ANR's strategic initiative of Healthy Families, Healthy Communities.

Nutrition Policy Institute Team - Sarah Brizindine, Tamika Green, Phoebe Harpainter, Dani Lee, Sridharshi Hewawitharana, Meirong Liao, Shelly Mandel, Anna Martin, Kaela Plank, Evan Talmage

Nutrition Policy Institute Team

What could easily have taken one year, the NPI staff accomplished in 3 months. They collected baseline data from enough restaurants statewide to be able to examine changes resulting from Senate Bill 1192. They worked evenings and weekends to complete their work by the Jan. 1, 2019 deadline.

Posted on Thursday, June 20, 2019 at 11:35 AM
  • Author: Jodi Azulai

Read more

Webmaster Email: