Posts Tagged: Qi Zhou
This is one of a series of stories featuring a sampling of UC ANR academics whose work exemplifies the public value UC ANR brings to California.
The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted life for everyone, with information about COVID-19 changing daily. For Californians who aren't fluent in English, obtaining reliable information is particularly difficult. Aparna Gazula, a University of California Cooperative Extension advisor who serves Santa Clara, San Benito and Santa Cruz counties, has been providing COVID-19-related information in Chinese and Spanish for immigrant Bay Area farmers.
In March, when restaurants shut down to curb the spread of the virus, many restaurants and wholesale produce markets cancelled produce orders placed with farmers. Language, cultural differences, low computer literacy and limited access to computers created barriers for small-scale, immigrant farmers in the Bay Area to quickly find new buyers for their perishable produce. Gazula introduced them to food banks, hoping they would accept the produce donations, but the food banks were not set up to pick up donations from small farmers.
Most small-scale farmers lack the financial capital to absorb the revenue shock. To help offset losses from unsold specialty crops, the UCCE advisor and Qi Zhou, the small farm program assistant specialist, have been helping Asian and Latino farmers complete English-language disaster aid applications.
“Since March, we have helped farmers apply for Covid-19-related farmer relief funds,” Gazula said. So far, she said, four of the 17 immigrant farmers who applied to the American Farmland Trust Farmer Relief Fund have received a total of $4,000, and 10 farmers of the 30 who applied to the California Family Farmer Emergency Fund received a total of $42,500.
Recently the U.S. Department of Agriculture expanded the list of specialty crops eligible for its Coronavirus Food Assistance Program to include bok choy, daikon and other vegetables with a deadline of Sept. 11. Communicating by phone and the app We Chat, Gazula and Zhou, who speaks Mandarin, notified local farmers, and advised them how to apply for the disaster funds. Zhou, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service rangeland management specialist Ling He and another NRCS staff member assisted 64 farmers in completing applications over the past week.
Bob Kuang, president of the Bay Area Chinese Growers Association, shares UCCE information with the association's growers.
“Most of my members don't understand English so they [UC Cooperative Extension] help, like for policy and safety,” Kuang said, providing information the growers can't find elsewhere in Chinese.”
When she was a girl, Gazula saw how hard farmers work to make a living off the land while spending summers and winter breaks at her grandparents' farm in India, where they grew rice, mung beans and chili peppers.
“Farmers are very hardworking people, and small farmers even more so as they manage everything on the farm,” said the small farms and specialty crops advisor. “Their grit, determination to succeed and hardworking spirit truly inspire me.”
“I'd like to help them be successful as much as I can,” she said, “be it research-based information to farm successfully or bilingual support to help them better navigate regulations or apply for grant funds.”
In addition to helping farmers apply for financial relief, Gazula alerted the farmers to shelter in place rules and is delivering COVID-19 safety information about masks, sanitation and social distancing requirements in Chinese and Spanish to them.
“We also helped farmers implement COVID-19-related protocols on their farms,” she said. “We are currently putting together 200 COVID-19 kits that will help farmers comply with worker health and safety-related protocols on their farms. The COVID-19 kits contain reusable masks, hand sanitizer, bilingual Cal OSHA guidelines for employers regarding COVID-19, and a resources sheet listing where to buy the enclosed items.”
When she's not involved in COVID-19 crisis communications, Gazula continues to conduct research on nitrogen uptake in bok choy and bell peppers and irrigation management. She collaborates with Linda Chu, Guo Ping Yuan, Han Qiang Kuang and other Santa Clara County growers who allow the farm advisor to study crops on their farms.
“They do research, like test irrigation systems for right amount of water for the crop and nutrition – fertilizer – for the crop. They do lot of things,” said Bob Kuang, of the Bay Area Chinese Growers Association, who provides land at his farm in Gilroy for UCCE studies.
Gazula also advises farmers on how to implement the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) on their farms and fulfill irrigated land nitrogen reporting. Fines for not complying with regulations can threaten the economic sustainability of small family farms.
Although the majority of growers she works with regularly have limited English and need assistance filing reports to the government, others consult her for production information they can't get elsewhere for the specialty crops they grow. Farmers of Korean, Japanese, Indian and Vietnamese ancestry and others attend meetings to learn the latest research on Asian vegetables such as daikon radish, napa cabbage, bok choy, on choy and various Asian leafy mustard crops including gai choy and pea shoots.
Gazula, who joined UC Cooperative Extension in 2016, currently works with about 180 small-scale growers in San Benito and Santa Clara counties and hopes to expand her outreach to farmers in Santa Cruz County.
To help small farmers adapt to climate change, Gazula and Zhou partnered with UC Agriculture and Natural Resources' Healthy Soils Program staff and Santa Clara County Farm Bureau for technical assistance and held workshops during the winter. Zhou helped the farmers apply for grants from the California Department of Food and Agriculture's State Water Efficiency & Enhancement Program and Healthy Soils Program. The 22 farmers who received CDFA grants brought a total of $424,111 into Santa Clara County.
The outreach work UC Cooperative Extension does wouldn't be possible without the help of bilingual staff such as Zhou, the scientist Gazula hired with grant funds in September, and some translation support from partner organizations and growers as well.
“Relying on partners for translation support isn't practical,” Gazula explained. “Outreach is most effective when it is targeted. It's not just literally translating words, but translating the information the words convey. Because we provide outreach materials to comply with regulations, the language in these materials is very technical and it's important that the information is presented accurately. We also depend on relationships with the farmers to extend the information within their communities. Long-term, it's easier to do outreach with support from our own staff.”
Competition is stiff for money to serve non-English-speaking Californians because the state is home to so many immigrants with different needs. The majority of the grants she uses for outreach are for food safety. The local Open Space Authority, which promotes preserving land for open spaces, has also provided funds for small and beginning farmer outreach and education.
Gazula draws on the expertise of fellow UC Cooperative Extension farm advisors across the state. For example, she said, Richard Smith, who specializes in vegetable production, and Michael Cahn, who specializes in irrigation and water resources, are always willing to help, even though they are not assigned to serve Santa Clara County.
“Farmers already have tremendous challenges when it comes to being successful,” Gazula said. “I feel language barriers and lack of access to the same resources as fluent English-speaking growers shouldn't be the reason they can't farm successfully.”
Expanding its expertise in water, soil, pest management, forestry and small farms, five new academics and a county director have joined the ranks of UC Cooperative Extension.
Forest stewardship education academic coordinator
UC Cooperative Extension Central Sierra - Amador, Calaveras, Tuolumne and El Dorado counties
In November 2019, Kim Ingram was named the academic coordinator for forest stewardship education in UC Cooperative Extension's Central Sierra office, which includes Amador, Calaveras, Tuolumne and El Dorado counties.
Previously, Ingram was an academic human resources business partner in UC ANR's Human Resources, leading academic recruitments, analyzing data and managing the academic merit and promotion process. Ingram also served as a community education specialist for the UC Sierra Nevada Adaptive Management Project and Sierra Nevada Watershed Ecosystem Enhancement Project. In that role, she planned, managed and implemented collaborations between UC, agencies, local communities and stakeholders, developed training curriculum and facilitated meetings, workshops and events related to forestry and fire issues in the Sierra Nevada. She is an instructor of record for the UC California Naturalist Program and published a “Natural History of the Sierra Nevada” for use in California Naturalist Program trainings.
Ingram earned a master's degree in education, adult education and training from Colorado State University. She also holds a bachelor's degree in political science with a minor in environmental ethics from Humboldt State University.
Ingram can be reached at email@example.com.
UC Cooperative Extension water and watershed sciences specialist
Based at UC Merced
Safeeq Khan joined UC ANR in October 2019 as a UC Cooperative Extension assistant water and watershed sciences specialist. His research focuses on understanding the interaction between climate and ecosystems to inform land and water management. He uses data-driven numerical models as a research tool to aid in the understanding of watershed systems. As a CE specialist, Khan will develop and carry out collaborative, multifaceted research and extension related to mountain hydrology and their linkage with downstream water uses statewide, with special attention to the Sierra Nevada-Central Valley watersheds.
Prior to joining UC ANR, Khan was a professional researcher and adjunct professor in the department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at UC Merced for five years. Khan brings more than 10 years of research, education and extension experience. He has published more than 35 peer-reviewed journal papers and book chapters, successfully secured several externally funded projects, and presented his work to a diverse range of audiences through digital and print media, workshops and conferences.
Khan has worked very closely with state and federal agencies, local landowners and nonprofit organizations, both in California and elsewhere. He has led several projects related to watershed management, from investigating the impact of non-native tree species and groundwater overdraft on streamflow in Hawaii to mapping hydrological vulnerabilities to climate change in the Pacific Northwest. More recently, his research has been focused on evaluating climate change and watershed restoration impacts on water and forest health and developing stakeholder-driven adaptive decision support tools. He serves as an associate editor for the journal Hydrological Processes. Khan is also a co-director of UC Merced's first Innovations at the Nexus of Food, Energy and Water Systems (INFEWS) grant that addresses connected wildland-storage-cropland subsystems in California.
Khan earned a Ph.D. in natural resources and environmental management from University of Hawaii at Manoa. He also holds a master's degree in agricultural systems and management from Indian Institute of Technology in Kharagpur, India, and a bachelor's degree in agricultural engineering from CSA University of Agriculture and Technology Kanpur, India. In addition to English, he is fluent in Hindi and Urdu.
Khan is based at UC Merced and can be reached at (209) 386-3623 and firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @safeeqkhan.
Area integrated pest management advisor
UC Cooperative Extension in Sonoma, Napa, Mendocino and Lake counties
Cindy Kron joined UC Cooperative Extension as area-wide IPM advisor for Sonoma, Napa, Mendocino and Lake counties in September 2019.
Before joining UCCE, Kron studied the three-cornered alfalfa hopper as a research entomologist for USDA in their Crop Disease, Pests and Genetics research unit. She tested cover crop species as feeding and reproductive hosts of the three-cornered alfalfa hopper in addition to testing commercially available biocontrol agents against the different life stages of the treehopper. She collaborated with a UC Davis colleague to create a degree day model that predicts the ideal timing to implement cultural control measures with the greatest impact on treehopper populations.
Kron has conducted research on a variety of insects including a two-year vineyard study on the population dynamics of Virginia creeper leafhopper, western grape leafhopper and variegated leafhopper. For her dissertation, she investigated the biology and behavior of the three-cornered alfalfa hopper and their relationship with vineyards. She also studied the effects of temperature on the developmental rate of the invasive European grapevine moth and reared brown marmorated stink bugs for USDA fumigation studies.
“My experiences have motivated me to help growers, stakeholders and the industry solve agricultural pest management problems through applied research by identifying IPM strategies and tactics that are economically feasible and implementable while having the lowest environmental impact,” Kron said.
Kron earned her bachelor's degree in viticulture and enology, with a minor in agricultural pest management, and her doctorate in entomology at UC Davis.
She is based in Santa Rosa and can be reached at email@example.com.
UC Cooperative Extension specialist in soil-plant-water relations
Based at UC Davis
Mallika Nocco joined UC ANR in September 2019 as a UC Cooperative Extension specialist in soil-plant-water relations, based at UC Davis. She earned her bachelor's degree in cultural studies/comparative literature and philosophy from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. After five years in the corporate world, Nocco decided to pursue her interest in soil, plants, and the conundrum of sustainable agriculture. She completed a master's degree in soil science and a Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the Nelson Institute's Environment and Resources Program.
Nocco is based at UC Davis and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @mallika_nocco.
Director of UC Cooperative Extension in Fresno, Madera, Kings and Tulare counties
Karmjot Randhawa joined UC ANR in September 2019 as the UC Cooperative Extension director for Fresno, Madera, Kings and Tulare counties.
In this newly created position, Randhawa is responsible for the coordination and overall operations of Cooperative Extension programs these Central Valley counties. Unlike traditional county director positions, Randhawa doesn't have academic research responsibilities, so she can focus on overseeing the educational and applied research programs and providing direction and leadership to the academic and support staff within the county extension programs.
Prior to joining ANR, the Central Valley native was the research translation operations manager at George Mason University's Center for Climate Change Communication.
“I look forward to increasing the visibility of UCCE by communicating the positive impacts realized by the people who live in the San Joaquin Valley and benefit from the research activities and contributions of these units,” Randhawa said.
Randhawa received her bachelor's and master's degrees in research psychology at California State University, Fresno, and received her MBA from Johns Hopkins University. She is currently completing the Climate Change and Health Certification Program at Yale University.
Randhawa is based in Fresno and can be reached at (559) 241-7514 and email@example.com.
UC Cooperative Extension assistant specialist for small farms in Santa Clara County
Qi Zhou joined UC ANR in September 2019 as a UCCE assistant specialist for small farms in Santa Clara County. She will work closely with project directors at UCCE Santa Clara to lead research and extension work related to food safety practices on small farms, beginning farmer education and Asian vegetable production.
Prior to joining UC ANR, Zhou conducted research on peach fruit production at Clemson University. At Huazhong Agricultural University, Zhou designed and conducted an experiment that identified the differences between flood-tolerant and flood-susceptible poplar seedlings. Zhou has published several scientific manuscripts and abstracts and given extension presentations.
Zhou earned a Ph.D. in plant and environmental sciences with a minor in statistics from Clemson University, South Carolina, a master's degree in horticulture and forestry from Huazhong Agricultural University, China, and a bachelor's degree in horticulture from Hunan Agricultural University, China. In addition to English, Zhou is fluent in Mandarin.
Zhou is based in San Jose and can be reached at (408) 282-3109 and firstname.lastname@example.org.