University of California, Division of Agricultural and Natural Resources

Special Education Students Cultivate Farm Skills at South Coast REC

Partnership with Esperanza Education Center provides blueprint for other adult transition programs

By UCANR

For students at Esperanza Education Center, an adult transition program serving students with disabilities in south Orange County, there was something deeply satisfying about handpicking 2,000 pounds of avocados.

“There’s a tangible, visual element where you’re like, ‘Wow, I did that – I did it, I can see it, I can feel it in my bones and my muscles,’” said Ray Bueche, principal of the school in Mission Viejo, within the Saddleback Valley Unified School District. “There’s a real sense of accomplishment that you’re seeing in some of these students.”

Ranging in age from 18 to 22, the students are in an adult education program that helps advance their independent living skills and prepare them for meaningful work and careers. They are able to experience the thrill of the harvest – and a variety of other farming activities – through the school’s innovative partnership with UC South Coast Research and Extension Center, a UC Agriculture and Natural Resources facility that supports researchers and delivers outreach and education programs.

Given UC ANR’s emphasis on workforce development, Jason Suppes, a community education specialist at South Coast REC, contacted Bueche in 2019 about a potential collaboration. While Esperanza has many partnerships with retail stores and nonprofits that give students invaluable work experiences, none of them offer the farm environment that South Coast REC could provide.

“Part of developing [our students] is getting a wide range of opportunities in a variety of vocational areas,” Bueche explained. “Agriculture is one that’s very hard for us to find.”

Program ‘wildly successful’ from beginning

Unlike other job sites that bring the students in less frequently, South Coast REC committed to hosting the young people every week for three hours (COVID-19 measures permitting), with Suppes and colleague Tammy Majcherek leading them in planting, weeding, maintenance, harvesting and more.

“We can provide opportunities for students to learn skills that could help them potentially find employment in a garden center, in a nursery, at landscapers,” Suppes said. “The program was wildly successful out of the gate.”

Mike Seyler, an Esperanza teacher who accompanies the students to South Coast REC, has seen firsthand the positive impacts of the partnership. He said one student – who at first balked at the idea of being outside, getting dirty and performing physical labor – eventually grew to like the work and took great pride in pulling carrots from the ground and sharing them with his family.

“To physically actually ‘see’ the work you did – they don’t always get to do that,” Seyler said. “It was cool to see someone, who didn’t necessarily like being outdoors, really enjoy it now.”

The change of pace – and place – was especially beneficial for one young woman at Esperanza. Bueche said the nature of the work and the setting helped the student grow socially, as she relished the teamwork and camaraderie needed to accomplish their goals on the farm.

“We really saw a different person come out through her experiences there – she felt more self-confident; she was more personable with people; she was talking more,” said Bueche, who added that she has leveraged the skills she gained into a paid work-based learning experience with a local retailer.

Students bring produce to school, community

All students benefit from Esperanza’s partnership with South Coast REC, as surplus produce from the center’s fields is donated to make healthy school lunches. In addition, students use REC-grown fruits and vegetables at their monthly pop-up restaurant, where they hone skills in preparing and serving a three-course meal.

Their peers, who harvested the produce, derive immense satisfaction from seeing the fruits of their labor go directly to the school.

“They’re able to enjoy eating the stuff that they’re working for,” Seyler said. “And then they see everyone else enjoying it, and I think that really translates well for these guys.”

The students also played a prominent role in an avocado sale last summer, for which they picked 2,000 pounds of produce, bagged the fruit in 10-pound bags and then distributed preorders to the public from a stand at South Coast REC. Proceeds from the event were used to purchase farm tools, shirts and other gear.

“It was an incredible success – everyone loved the avocados,” Bueche said. “The students loved it; the parents came out; community members supported it.”

Those successes illustrate the power of a strong partnership; the South Coast REC team, in fact, received the school’s “Community Partner of the Year” Award for 2020-21, for persevering through the pandemic to deliver the beneficial programs for students.

Over the last two years, Suppes and Bueche – through a lot of creativity and some trial and error – have sketched a roadmap for growing productive relationships between similar organizations and adult transition programs. And after presenting those results to colleagues, other local school districts and nonprofits such as Goodwill and My Day Counts have contacted South Coast REC to provide similar experiences for community members.

2022-02-08T08:40:05-08:00February 8th, 2022|

USDA Announces Plenary Speakers for 2022 Agricultural Outlook Forum

Glenda Humiston to speak on market opportunities for climate smart agriculture

By Pamela Kan-Rice, UCANR

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced plenary speakers for the 2022 Agricultural Outlook Forum, themed “New Paths to Sustainability and Productivity Growth” to be held virtually Feb. 24–25, 2022.

The opening plenary session will feature a fireside chat between Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and Elizabeth Economy, senior advisor to the Secretary of Commerce. Secretary Vilsack and Economy will discuss U.S.-China agricultural trade relations and prospects for the Chinese agriculture market.

The Secretary’s discussion will be followed by a panel titled “Growing Market Opportunities for Climate Smart, Sustainable Agriculture Systems,” which will bring together sector leaders to discuss how climate smart, sustainable production practices can generate both environmental and economic returns, while still meeting the needs of consumers.

Speakers at the plenary panel include:

  • David Allen, VP of Sustainability at PepsiCo Foods;
  • Glenda Humiston, Vice President, Agriculture & Natural Resources at University of California;
  • Mike McCloskey, Co-Founder and CEO of Select Milk Producers;
  • Elena Rice, Chief Scientific Officer of Genus, PLC; and
  • Emily Skor, CEO, Growth Energy

“The Outlook Forum is USDA’s largest event of the year. Being asked by Secretary Vilsack to serve on the opening plenary panel is a significant honor,” said Humiston.

Also, during the Thursday morning session, USDA Chief Economist Seth Meyer will unveil the Department’s 2022 outlook for U.S. commodity markets and trade and discuss the U.S. farm income situation.

Along with the plenary session, Forum attendees can choose from 30 sessions with more than 90 speakers. The concurrent track sessions and topics supporting this year’s theme are: climate mitigation and adaptation, supply chain resilience, commodity outlooks, frontiers in agricultural production and technology and U.S. trade and global markets.

Visit the Agricultural Outlook Forum website to register and read the program at a glance. Follow the conversation at #AgOutlook on USDA’s TwitterInstagram, and Facebook.

Registration to the 2022 Outlook Forum is free but required. Register at https://www.labroots.com/ms/virtual-event/usda-aof-2022.

USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. In the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe, healthy, and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit www.usda.gov.

2022-01-27T10:59:05-08:00January 27th, 2022|

Farmers Invited to Tour Cover Crops in Sacramento Valley March 3

Farmers and ranchers are invited on a tour to learn how to use cover crops to build soil health. A full-day tour of several cover crop sites in orchards and annual crop fields in the Sacramento Valley is being offered on March 3 by the Western Cover Crop Council’s Southwest Region Committee.

“The goal of this tour is to demonstrate ways to use cover crops effectively in annual crops and orchards in the Sacramento Valley,” said tour organizer Sarah Light, UC Cooperative Extension agronomy advisor.

“This tour will cover a range of topics, including cover crop selection, equipment needed to manage cover crops, considerations for cover cropping in the region, and the importance of building soil health,” said Light, who is also chair of the Western Cover Crop Council’s Southwest Region Committee and a board member of the Western Cover Crop Council.

Cover crop species, cultivars and mixes including legumes, grasses and brassicas will be showcased in Colusa County, with farmers, UC Cooperative Extension specialists and researchers giving presentations.

The tour bus will depart from the Colusa County Cooperative Extension Office at 100 Sunrise Blvd., Suite E, Colusa, CA 95932 at 8 a.m. and return at 7:30 p.m.

Priority registration is limited to farmers and ranchers until Feb. 1. Other interested people may join after Feb. 1. ​The $50 registration fee includes morning refreshments, transportation, lunch and dinner. To register or to see the agenda, visit https://surveys.ucanr.edu/survey.cfm?surveynumber=36190.

Source: UCANR

2022-01-25T08:28:47-08:00January 25th, 2022|

California Marijuana Growers Can’t Take Much to the Bank

Study analyzes tension between legal cannabis, financial industry

Legalization of marijuana in California has helped some financial institutions in the state increase their assets. At the same time, many banks, feeling stifled by federal regulations, deny services to licensed growers, manufacturers and retailers, a new study shows.

“Licensed cannabis businesses need to bank their cash and take out loans to build their businesses, but many banks worry that by doing business with the cannabis industry, they’ll be flouting federal laws,” said co-author Keith Taylor, University of California Cooperative Extension community development specialist. “Banks that won’t accept legal cannabis cash deposits and don’t provide loans, aren’t monetizing their deposits. Marginalized cannabis communities are missing out on capital.”

Of the banks and credit unions contacted by researchers at The Ohio State University and University of California for the study, most were not knowingly involved in the cannabis industry.

Combining data on bank holdings and interviews with growers and bankers, the research –published online in the journal Agricultural Finance Review – paints an initial picture of how the marijuana and financial industries co-exist in California now, and suggests regulatory changes could create new opportunities for both.

The data analysis did make one thing clear: Legalization of the estimated $16 billion marijuana industry in California has been a boon to financial institutions. But restricted access to banking, from checking accounts to loans, perpetuates inequities for those participating in the legal production of cannabis – while unlicensed, illegal growing and exporting continues as an enormous cash-based sector of the industry.

“We need a better understanding of the economics of this industry and all of the questions and implications related to it so the impacts of policy choices are intentional,” said lead study author Zoë Plakias, assistant professor of agricultural, environmental and development economics at The Ohio State University.

“If we want to have a more equitable society and allow communities to keep more of the value of this crop, how do we do that? We first need to characterize what happens in communities when you legalize cannabis.”

Plakias and Margaret Jodlowski, assistant professor of agricultural, environmental and development economics at Ohio State, conducted the study with researchers Taylor, Parisa Kavousi and Taylor Giamo at the University of California, Davis.

“The tensions we are observing in the cannabis banking space comes about in part due to the inequity felt between large cannabis and small and legacy operators,” Taylor said. “The ‘big guys’ are able to absorb a great deal more than ‘Ma and Pa.’”

Legalization benefited financial institutions indirectly

Marijuana is listed as a Schedule 1 drug under the federal Controlled Substances Act. Even in states that have legalized recreational and medicinal use of cannabis, it is still a federal crime to possess, buy or sell marijuana. California legalized recreational cannabis for adults in 2016, and the industry is overseen by the Department of Cannabis Control.

Data used by the researchers for this study included bank and credit union call data for the years 2015-2020. The analysis showed that assets held by financial institutions in counties that legalized marijuana had increased in that period by almost $750 million and loan activity rose by about $500 million.

These benefits are presumed to be spillover effects of better overall economic health that followed cannabis legalization in specific counties, Jodlowski said, because the interviews with financial institutions indicated there has been little appetite among banks to associate with the marijuana industry.

“It’s important to remember when talking about loans that it’s not possible to identify whether they were for cannabis operations, and they’re probably not based on what we heard from stakeholders,” she said. “It’s more of a general relationship. The bank is doing better, and they’re able to lend out more in general and earn more interest from loans.”

When they narrowed the analysis to banks that operate only in California, the researchers found that for each single new manufacturing or retail license, bank assets and loan capacity grew by tens of thousands of dollars. Cannabis cultivation licenses, on the other hand, had no impact on California banks’ holdings.

“This suggests that a lot of the economic benefits of legalization come from other stages of the supply chain – and it’s not a foregone conclusion that farmers benefit from legalization,” Plakias said. “There’s a need to think about how farmers who are producing cannabis in the legal market, often operating in rural environments with a weaker economic base to start with, can be supported in the context of economic development.”

The team also interviewed marijuana farmers and representatives from banks and credit unions in Humboldt, Trinity and Mendocino counties – the “Emerald Triangle” region known historically in California and nationally for the quantity and quality of marijuana produced there.

Cannabis growers face obstacles, risk-adverse bankers

On the financial side, bankers reported being hamstrung by ambiguous federal guidelines that pose a real risk to financing cannabis, largely because banks are required to report suspicious transactions to the federal government. They might be seen as players in a criminal enterprise even by providing banking services to employees who work for licensed members of the cannabis industry, or they could lose big on lending if cannabis-related assets backing a loan were seized by federal agents.

“What’s consistent across all financial institutions is that it’s very costly, and does involve taking on some risk, to be in compliance with all of the guidelines – the risk being that even if you follow all guidelines to the letter, there’s no assurance that you can’t still get in trouble,” Plakias said.

Cannabis growers they interviewed reported paying fees ranging from $200 to $3,000 per month for bank accounts, which they found to be cost prohibitive. These limitations leave most licensed marijuana producers and retailers in the lurch, forcing them to rely on nontraditional financing arrangements – maybe investing in friends’ endeavors – or risk running cash operations.

“There is a lot of evidence that cash can be better for a local economy because cash tends to stay local – but we are now a credit-based economy,” Jodlowski said. “In this day and age it’s incredibly harmful for local economic development to have an entire sector that’s denied access to credit, because so much of developing as a household, or individual, or industry requires credit and requires demonstration of credit-worthiness.

“That’s a fundamental harm of these sorts of restrictions.”

This research is part of a larger project on cannabis and community economic development in California supported by a grant from the UC Davis Cannabis and Hemp Research Center. As part of this project, the California authors on this paper recently published a review of the opportunities and challenges marijuana legalization poses for localities in which the crop is cultivated and sold.

“It’s clear we need policies making cannabis banking and finance more equitable,” Taylor said. “It’s also clear that ‘Ma and Pa’ enterprises need to associate together in formal organizations so they can achieve economies of scale and harness their political power to endure the transition to legal.”

Despite the stigma attached to marijuana, even when legal, its status as California’s most valuable crop – estimated to be worth more than almonds and dairy combined – attracts outsiders who are better-equipped to come up with funding to get their operations started and compete with legacy growers who have lived and worked in California for generations.

This trend necessitates development of evidence-based policies that take all participants into consideration, the Ohio State researchers say.

“Our findings speak to confusion around existing policies and the need for streamlining, clarifying and having a more unified approach to regulating this industry,” Jodlowski said.

2022-01-20T13:14:22-08:00January 20th, 2022|

UC Davis Entomology Major Known Internationally as ‘Gwentomologist’

UC Davis entomology major Gwen Edosh with a whip scorpion she collected in Tucson. The 21-year-old undergraduate researcher has 21,999 followers on her Instagram account.

By Kathy Keatley Garvey

If you follow “Gwentomologist” on Instagram, you’ll see fascinating images, videos and data on scores of insects, including bees, butterflies and beetles, and such curious critters as wasp-mimicking beetles (genus Clytus) and “burying beetles” or  Nicrophorus beetles (genus Nicrophorus). 

And you’ll see arthropods such as jumping spiders (family Salticidae) and scorpions (superfamily Scorpionoidea).
Who is Gwentomologist? 

She’s 21-year-old Gwendolyn “Gwen” Erdosh, a UC Davis entomology major and undergraduate researcher with 21,900 followers on Instagram, where she shares her fascination, passion and growing scientific knowledge of entomology with the intensity of a moth heading for light. 

Erdosh, president of the UC Davis Entomology Club, a scholar in the campuswide Research Scholars Program in Insect Biology (RSPIB), the recipient of a Provost’s Undergraduate Fellowship (PUF) research award,  and a volunteer at the Bohart Museum of Entomology, brims with enthusiasm.  

In a recent post, she related how she “raised this gorgeous female Hemileuca eglanterina (sheep moth) from a tiny caterpillar!! First time successfully rearing these species. I got a male and female, and I was hoping they’d mate but it never happened. Guess they didn’t like each other. I have some eggs overwintering, and I hope they make it ‘til the spring!”

“I’m in awe with this species of silkmoth,” Gwen continued. “They are one of the few northern California native silkmoths (Saturniidae) and feed on Ceanothus and choke cherry leaves. The adults are day-flying and can fly incredible fast in a zig-zag motion, making catching them extremely hard. The males can be seen flying high in the Sierra mountains in July. Females are much harder to spot, as they are slower and hide out in the foliage, emitting pheromones to attract the males towards them. 

“The best way to see the adult is to rear caterpillars,” Gwen noted. “In the past, I attempted to rear the caterpillars and ran out of host plant. With no method of transportation to the high sierras, I had to give them rose leaves, which worked…until it didn’t. They all got a disease and died. This time, I had tons of host plant, and was able to return to the mountains in my car to get more (they eat way more than you’d expect). I’m really happy that I was able to raise this species successfully, and hope to do it again next spring! The insect season is coming to a close, but certain species only come out around this time, so I’ll be on the lookout.” 

Gwen launched her Instagram account in 2013 to share her passion for moths and butterflies (Lepidoptera).  “Back then, it was one of only a few accounts that focused on such a niche interest,” she said. “It quickly grew in popularity and a community of insect-obsessed teenager formed, all with similar goals. Through social media, we were able to make amazing connections, which I still have today. Eventually, my passion expanded from just Lepidoptera to a fascination with every type of arthropod on the planet!” 

 “On my page, I mainly post my own macro-photographs with detailed captions about the featured insect,” Gwen explained. “My goal is to not only teach others, but also learn a lot myself. I also post fun and engaging videos to encourage others to pursue entomology. Many times, people have told me that my page helped them decide that they wanted to pursue entomology as a career! I love being able to spread the love of insects to others, and will continue to be active on my page.” Additionally, she maintains a YouTube account as “gwentomologist.” 

A 2018 graduate of Los Gatos High School, Santa Clara County, and a UC Davis student since 2019, she anticipates receiving her bachelor’s degree in 2023. In February 2020, she applied for—and was accepted—into the highly competitive RSPIB program, which aims to provide undergraduates with closely mentored research experiences in biology. She studies with community ecologist and professor Louie Yang, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, one of the three RSPIB founders.   

“I actually first met Gwen when she was still in high school,” said Professor Yang. “She was doing a research project with monarch butterflies and emailed me with a few questions. Even then, I was impressed with her knowledge, focus and determination, and was glad to hear when she came to UC Davis. She applied to the Research Scholars Program in Insect Biology early on, and was a stand-out student in my ENT 105 Insect Ecology class in 2020. It has been great to have Gwen in our lab, and to see her continuing to develop as a scientist.” 

Gwen’s interest in entomology began with caterpillars. 

“Ever since I can remember, I have always loved caterpillars,” Gwen said. “As a little kid, I would collect any caterpillar I saw and raise it to adulthood.” Amazed that a caterpillar could “magically change” into a moth or butterfly, she decided “to make a book matching every caterpillar to its adult. I did my own research online and in books I had, and soon was quite knowledgeable about Lepidoptera. The summer before 9th grade, I attended Bio Boot camp, the summer camp for kids led by the Bohart Museum, and Tabatha Yang (education and outreach coordinator). “This was the experience that led me to choose entomology as a career. During this camp, I learned everything about entomology and had a chance to meet real entomologists at UC Davis, and do field work. I fell in love with it and kept coming back each summer for the camp.” 

Gwen started her own insect collection, inspired by Jeff Smith (curator of the Bohart Museum’s Lepidoptera collection). “Since then, I have never doubted my decision to be an entomologist, not even once. My passion only grew once I entered college, and I consider entomology a lifelong journey of discovering everything about these beautiful, intricate, and fascinating creatures.” 

“Gwen is one of those students who instantly shows you her enthusiasm and enjoyment of entomology,” Smith said, “and it is just this kind of person who we hope will continue in this important field of science. For those of us looking ahead at the oncoming ‘golden years’ we need to ensure that there will be competent young scientists who will continue the research and who will discover so many more fascinating things about the world of ‘bugs.’ Gwen clearly will be one of these, and I am proud to be associated with her.” 

Gwen said she is most interested in four insect orders: Hymenoptera, Neuroptera, Coleoptera and Hemiptera. “I also really like Mygalomorphs. I am really fascinated by parasitoids, and hope to do research with parasitoids (wasps, flies, etc.) in the future.” 

Following her UC Davis graduation, she plans “to work abroad for a year in South America doing research. I then want to apply for graduate school in the United States. I may decide to get my masters first in systematics, and then decide if I want to get my PhD in insect ecology or insect systematics. I cannot decide between the two. However, I definitely want to pursue a career as a professor and researcher.”

Some of her role models include Louie Yang, Lynn Kimsey (director of the Bohart Museum and a UC Davis distinguished professor), Greg Kareofelas (Bohart associate), Jason Bond (UC Davis spider specialist, professor and associate dean), and Jason Dombroskie (manager of the Cornell University Insect Collection and coordinator of the Insect Diagnostic Lab.) 

“It is always great to see someone be able to pursue their passion and be successful,” Kareofelas said, adding that Gwen sometimes accompanies him on his many field trips and “she is always welcome.  Her enthusiasm, knowledge and energy make these trips a memorable and learning event for both of us! Her photographic skills enable her to record the insects ‘in nature’ and as a curated specimen. Her curated specimens are an example of how a collection should be made and how it should look.” 

As a 15-year-old high school student, Gwen traveled to the Bohart Museum in 2016 for its annual Moth Night and conferred with many of the scientists. 

At age 16, she served an entomology internship at Cornell University, where her work included identifying microlepidoptra in the family Tortricidae; sampling monarch butterflies for Ophryocystis elektroscirrha (OE) spores; catching and tagging the gray petaltail dragonfly (Petalurid) at a local state park; and collecting, identifying and presenting moths for a Moth Night program at the Roger Tory Peterson Institute of Natural History. 

“It was incredible!” Gwen said. “That was my first exposure to insect systematics and I fell in love with it. We also did a lot of ecology projects in the field. The best part about it was that for the first time, I was taken seriously and treated like any other scientist–even though I was only 16. I was able to get out of my comfort zone, and grow from it. It was my first time living away from my family for an extended period of time, and it was my first experience in a professional environment. I learned how to dissect tiny moth genitalia, how to differentiate species, how new species are given names and how the process works, how to do public outreach events, how to conduct field research, and how to stay accountable. Jason Dombroskie was an amazing mentor and I seriously cannot thank him enough for his kindness, support, and encouragement.” 

That was not her first internship.  Gwen gained experience at a five-week internship in the summer of 2018 at the Monteverde Butterfly Gardens in Costa Rica, where she studied insects, conducted tours, and cared for the arthropods in the insectarium.

At age 12, while attending Bio Boot Camp, Gwen learned about the UC Davis Entomology Club, advised by forensic entomologist Robert Kimsey of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. “It had always been my dream to be president one day. From the moment I entered UC Davis, I immersed myself in the club, and became extremely active in it.”  She attends all the meetings and field trips; the members now include some of her closest friends.  Before advancing to president this year, she served as vice president in 2020 and social media coordinator in 2019. 

 “I’m super passionate about the club,” Gwen acknowledged. “In fact, it’s my favorite time of the week during the quarter. The people in the club are absolutely incredible, and we all inspire each other in so many different ways. I feel so grateful that this organization exists at UC Davis, and I’m glad I have a team of officers that really put in the work to make it an inclusive, fun, and educational environment for anyone who wants to join.” 

In addition, Gwen is vice president of the UC Davis STEM Careers Club, booking speakers, and inspiring students to enter the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. She has also worked as a youth steward for Grassroots Ecology of Central California (removing invasive plants, planting native grasses and trees, and surveying mammals and birds using a motion-activated camera); and as a volunteer counselor at the Walden West Summer Camp, a nature summer camp for elementary-school age youths.   

Although sometimes mistaken for a teenager–“I look young for my age and I’m 5′ 1”–Gwen doesn’t let that stop her. “I now have accepted who I am and I do not let what others think of me affect me or my goals. I am glad that I am unique!” 

Gwen’s hobbies and interests closely align with her career plans. They include collecting, photographing, and pinning insects; exploring and observing wildlife; traveling; creating art;  producing music on FL Studio (digital audio workstation); and spending time with her friends—two-legged friends (people), six-legged friends (insects) and eight-legged friends (arachnids). 

2021-12-22T14:42:03-08:00December 22nd, 2021|

UC Davis Will be at World Ag Expo!

Associate Dean Oberbauer to join UC Davis agricultural experts at World Ag Expo

(Pictured are UC Davis Aggie Ambassadors, who will on hand to greet expo-goers.)

Associate Dean Anita Oberbauer with the UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences will gather with fellow scientists, staff and students at the World Ag Expo in Tulare, February 11-13, to chat with farmers, prospective students, alumni and leaders throughout the agricultural industry.

More than 100,000 people are expected to attend the 53rd annual event, where 1,400 exhibitors display cutting-edge agricultural technology and equipment over a massive 2.6 million square feet of show grounds.

“I’m delighted to take part in this incredible agricultural exhibition,” said Oberbauer, who is associate dean of agricultural sciences for the college and a professor in animal science. “I look forward to discussing the college’s latest development in agricultural research, meeting prospective students and reconnecting with alumni and friends from the Central Valley and beyond.”

Professor Oberbauer will be at the UC Davis booth—located in the Ag Career and Education Center—from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 13. She will be joined by Christopher Glick, associate dean for development and external relations, who will attend the expo all three days. The UC Davis booth has been expanded this year to provide extra space for alumni and others to gather.

Throughout the event, various college experts in livestock, nutrition, plant pathology, engineering, economics and more will be available to discuss agricultural issues and visit with attendees. Aggie Ambassadors and undergraduate student advisors will be on hand to answer questions about UC Davis majors and campus life.

“Prospective students can learn about our majors and the career paths they provide,” said Sue Ebeler, associate dean of undergraduate academic programs and professor in viticulture and enology. Ebeler will be at the UC Davis booth on Feb. 13.

In addition to Associate Deans Oberbauer, Glick and Ebeler, college experts attending the expo include:

  • Deanne Meyer, Cooperative Extension specialist in livestock waste management, who will be available all days
  • Rachael Goodhue, department chair and professor in agricultural and resource economics, who will be available Feb. 11
  • Florent Trouillas, assistant Cooperative Extension specialist in plant pathology, who will be at the expo Feb. 11
  • Farzaneh Khorsandi, assistant Cooperative Extension specialist in biological and agricultural engineering, will be available Feb. 11 and Feb. 12
  • Gerado Mackenzi, associate professor of nutrition, will be available Feb. 12
  • Patricia Oteiza, nutrition professor, will be available on Feb. 12.

UC Davis is ranked first in the nation for agriculture, plant sciences, animal science and agricultural economics. The College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences enrolled more than 2,000 new students in the fall of 2019, many of them from California’s Central Valley. The college offers 28 majors—everything from agriculture to nutrition to global disease biology.

“The World Ag Expo is an incredible event,” Ebeler said. “We get to meet with leaders from around the world, as well as with the passionate young people who are the future of agriculture.”

 

 

2021-05-12T11:05:01-07:00February 7th, 2020|

Giving Tuesday Big for UC

Giving Tuesday Donations Exceed UC ANR Expectations

By Pam Kan-Rice, UC Agriculture & Natural Resources

On Giving Tuesday 2019, donors gave $130,311 over 24 hours for UC Cooperative Extension, statewide programs and research and extension centers that make up the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources network.

The donations will help UC Agriculture and Natural Resources extend the power of UC research in agriculture, natural resources, nutrition, and youth development to more Californians in their own communities to improve their lives.

“The generosity of our donors will help us keep 4-H leadership-building activities affordable for California kids, and fund research into living with wildfire, farming in a changing climate, healthier foods, pest control for home and environment, and many other issues that concern Californians,” said Glenda Humiston, UC vice president for agriculture and natural resources.

“UC ANR researchers and educators are working in every county to bring practical, science-based answers to residents wherever they live in the state,” noted Humiston.

Thanks to generous donors, volunteers, staff and board members who gave a total of $40,000 in matching funds, there was an incentive for donors across the state who wanted to double the impact of their gifts.

“We set a goal of collecting a total of $125,000 for 4-H and UC ANR from more than 500 donors on Giving Tuesday,” said Emily Delk, UC ANR director of annual giving and donor stewardship. In all, UC ANR received 580 donations on Giving Tuesday.

Donations are still being accepted to boost UC ANR programs and research for a healthier California. To give, visit http://donate.ucanr.edu.

To learn more about how UC ANR is helping your community, visit https://ucanr.edu/About/Locations and follow @ucanr on social media.

2019-12-12T14:14:30-08:00December 12th, 2019|

Climate-Smart Team Announced for Farmers

UC Cooperative Extension Deploys Team of 10 to Help Farmers Practice Climate-Smart Agriculture

By Jeannette Warnert, UCANR Communications Specialist

Scientists are developing climate-smart farming practices, California is offering financial incentives to implement them, and now a group of 10 UC Cooperative Extension climate-smart educators are taking the program to the next level.

To help farmers apply for grants to improve soil quality and enhance irrigation systems, UC Agriculture and Natural Resources partnered with the California Department of Food and Agriculture to put climate smart educators in 10 California communities.  The educators are working closely with UCCE advisors to help farmers and ranchers improve soil health, irrigation practices and manure management.

The climate smart programs offered by CDFA and promoted by UC ANR educators are:

The educators provide hands-on assistance to farmers and ranchers through the complex application process, conduct field days with climate-smart farmers, establish demonstration plots to share the practices, and work with farmers who are voluntarily implementing climate-smart farming.

Most of the educators were hired in early 2019, just weeks before the application deadline. They are now gearing up for a second cycle of applications. The state funded 194 projects in 2018, and 217 in 2019.

Each of the educators has a passion for agriculture and the environment, shaped by their upbringing, experiences and education.

“I am interested in carrying out research that focuses on the adoption and economics of climate change best management practices. The practices should help farmers continue their business,” said Esther Mosase, climate-smart educator in San Diego County. “I’m interested in seeing policymakers making policies that have a farmer as a focal point. They have been here long, they have been tilling the land, they can also contribute in coming up with better solutions that reduce climate change.”

The state is providing incentives for farmers to improve soil health in order to moderate the conditions that are driving global climate change. Improving soil health increases its ability to store carbon and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Side benefits include improved water infiltration, nutrient cycling and dust control.

Farmers can apply for three-year grants to implement new practices on their farm, such as reducing tillage, growing cover crops and applying compost. Conventional farm practices turn the earth, releasing the stored carbon back into the atmosphere.

UCCE’s 10 new climate-smart educators are:

Britta Baskerville
UC Cooperative Extension, Mendocino County
blbaskerville@ucanr.edu, (707) 463-4158

Baskerville started college as a theater major in Sacramento, then realized that wouldn’t result in a viable career. After suffering from an autoimmune disease tied to microbiome health, she began to understand the important role of the food and agricultural industries in public health. Baskerville earned a bachelor’s degree from UC Berkeley that combines sustainable agriculture with the sociological and ecological impacts of agriculture, natural resources conservation and public health.

Last summer, Baskerville served as a program coordinator in an adaptive agriculture learning environment, where she designed two practicum programs for adults. She is considering a career in the food industry.

Caddie Bergren
UC Cooperative Extension, Merced County
cmbergren@ucanr.edu, (209) 385-7403

Bergren grew up in a small fishing town on an island in Alaska. She earned a bachelor’s degree in earth systems at Stanford University in 2013, and then spent two and a half years in Paraguay as a Peace Corps volunteer. Bergren worked with a women’s garden cooperative and with subsistence farmers. She spent the last three years as a community organizer.

“I was so excited to find this job, which combines my interests in working directly with all kinds of people on the intersection of agriculture and climate change,” Bergren said. “I’ve especially enjoyed using my Spanish-language skills to work with traditionally underserved farmers in this area.”

Dana Brady
UC Cooperative Extension, Glenn County
dmbrady@ucanr.edu
, (530) 517-8187

Brady completed a bachelor’s degree in animal science at Chico State University in 2018. She was familiar with UC Cooperative Extension through school and had visited UCCE research sites.

Brady grew up in a farming and ranching family in rural Linden, southeast of Stockton.

“My earliest memory is of my grandfather’s farm, where he had an emu, donkey and llama,” she said. “I was in 4-H and FFA as long as I can remember.”

In addition to working directly with farmers on grant applications, Brady has been helping advisors in Glenn County on research projects and building relationships in the community through workshops and seminars.

“I am also very excited for an upcoming event at an elementary school farm day to present about Climate Smart Agriculture and presenting at some bigger events later this year with a few others in the cohort,” Brady said.

Samikshya (Sami) Budhathoki
UC Cooperative Extension, Fresno and Madera counties
sbudhathoki@ucanr.edu, (559) 241-7515

A native of Nepal, Budhathoki traveled to the United States in 2015 to attend college at Fresno State, where she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in plant science. During her studies, she completed a weed and salinity management project with professor Anil Shrestha. Budhathoki served as an intern in plant pathology with Bayer Crop Science.

She developed in interest in agriculture because of the industry’s importance to society and the world.

“Some people don’t get enough to eat even once a day. I wanted to join the effort to end world hunger and food insecurity,” Budhathoki said.

Budhathoke said she also is concerned about climate change and welcomes the opportunity to help farmers maintain a sustainable agriculture industry even in the face of climate change.

In the future, she plans to pursue graduate studies in climate change or water management.

Emily Lovell
UC Cooperative Extension, Yolo, Solano and Sacramento counties
ejlovell@ucanr.edu, (530) 405-9777

Lovell grew up in Sacramento and developed an interest in agriculture when she was overcoming a serious illness. She graduated from UC Davis in 2016 with a bachelor’s degree in sustainable agriculture and food systems.

“Originally, I didn’t want to make money in agriculture,” she said. “I wanted to live off the land. I believe farming is a political act and I wanted to help return power to the people through farming and land ownership.”

Lovell said she is interested in pursuing a graduate degree in an area that combines community resiliency through localized food systems and economics and, eventually, becoming a crop adviser.

Esther Mosase
San Diego County
enmosase@ucanr.edu, (858) 282-6737

Mosase has a master’s degree in agricultural engineering from Botswana College of Agriculture and a doctorate from South Dakota State University in civil engineering. Her master’s research focused on water resources, watershed modeling and management.

Raised in a farming family in Botswana, Mosase experienced the impact of climate change firsthand.

“I remember we had drought years, normal years and extremely wet years,” she said. “Twenty years ago, it was not uncommon for open water to freeze. But now we get mild winters and very hot summers. Rain-fed agriculture is now a risky enterprise compared to two decades ago.”

In addition to helping farmers with the climate-smart farming grant applications, Mosase is helping farmers cope with water quality concerns.

“For instance, one farmer wanted to improve the water quality at the edge of his avocado and citrus farm before it enters the stream. He also wanted to be helped with pools of standing water in the farm that usually affect the health of avocado trees,” Mosase said. “We advised him on what to do regarding the standing water, but for the edge of the field treatment, we decided to install bioreactors.”

Mosase will help collect field data on the bioreactors’ effectiveness and plans to publish the results.

Valerie Perez
UC Cooperative Extension, Santa Cruz County
valperez@ucanr.edu, (831) 763-8028

Perez earned a bachelor’s degree in agricultural business at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo in 2018. She accepted an internship with a large animal veterinarian, and found her passion, she said. In addition to working as a climate smart community educator, Perez is taking prerequisite courses for veterinary school. She hopes her career will lead to conducting research to benefit the meat industry.

“I’ve always been interested in ways to better agriculture and how our systems could improve, but it wasn’t until I received this job that my interest for climate-smart agriculture really peaked,” Perez said. “Agriculture is such an important industry, it is vital that we find ways to educate one another on how to better what we have been doing for so many years.”

Allison Rowe
UC Cooperative Extension, Ventura County
amrowe@ucanr.edu
, (805) 645-1464

Rowe has a bachelor’s degree in biology from Colorado College in Colorado Springs and a master’s degree from the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management at UC Santa Barbara. Her background and interests focus on the interface of land management and climate change.

“Everyone and everything is interwoven with our food system and yet so much of how we produce food accelerates climate change,” Rowe said. “I enjoy being at the interface of science and education, where the rubber meets the road. I wanted to find a role where I could work with people on the ground and implement solutions to climate change while contributing to resilient farming economies.”

She said it is encouraging to see that farmers and ranchers are interested in climate-smart agriculture and welcome the technical assistance.

Kristian Salgado
UC Cooperative Extension, Imperial County
kmsalgado@ucanr.edu, (442) 265-7700

Salgado attended San Diego State University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in 2014 with a double major in psychology and environmental studies and minors in counseling and social change. She earned a master’s degree in social science at Humboldt State University in 2018.

“My background in agriculture is very broad ranging, from topics relating to public health concerns connected to agriculture production – pesticide drift and agricultural burning – to food insecurity in low-income communities,” Salgado said.

Salgado is a native of Calexico, a city located across the border from its sister city, Mexicali, Mexico. Her farming experience centers on urban agriculture.

“Growing food on non-agricultural land has allowed me to learn the technical/scientific processes that go into growing food,” she said.

Salgado plans to continue her education in a doctoral program in ethnic studies at UC San Diego, where she can focus on several overlapping areas of interest, including race studies, food justice, sustainable agriculture, climate change, environmental decision-making processes, and participatory action research methodology and practices.

Shulamit Shroder
UC Cooperative Extension, Kern County
sashroder@ucanr.edu, (661) 868-2168

Shroder attended college at the University of Maryland in College Park, earning bachelor’s degrees in environmental science and policy and in Spanish language, literature and cultures. She has worked in an agricultural research lab, in the gardens at the University of Maryland and in a nearby organic farm. After graduating in 2016, Shroder volunteered with the Peace Corps in Senegal, West Africa, where she trained farmers on gardening and agroforestry techniques and extended improved varieties of staple crops like beans, corn, millet and sorghum.

“While serving in Senegal, I saw firsthand the effects of desertification and erratic rainfall on the ability of the community to feed itself,” she said

Shroder intends to earn a master’s degree and continue to research and promote sustainable agriculture techniques.

2019-12-06T17:15:40-08:00December 5th, 2019|

Mating Disruption For NOW Works

Trials Show that Mating Disruption Works Well to Offset NOW Damage

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor

Mating disruption for navel orangeworm works. David Haviland is a UCANR, farm advisor, Kern County. “We all know navel orangeworm is not a simple pest to control and it takes an integrated pest management approach. We know the base of that sanitation—getting rid of all the mummies in the winter to make sure that we reset the clock when navel orangeworm comes back in the spring,” noted Haviland.

“We know that the earlier you harvest, the better you’re going to be. So early and timely harvest is going to help. We know insecticides helped. They’ve been around a while and they’re effective and, certainly, people are using them,” said Haviland. “At the same time, those three things alone don’t always control the pest to the level you need. And that’s where mating disruption can come in as the other leg on the IPM chair.”

Haviland has tested the mating disruption products. Currently, there are three different groups of products registered. There are the aerosol products that releases pheromone throughout at certain intervals throughout the season. The second group, what we call the Meso emitter, that’s a rubber strip that’s hung in the trees that passively releases the pheromone all year and the third group, which is new, is as a sprayable pheromone. It’s one that you put in the tank and you spray it along with an insecticide or fungicide.

“In 2017 trials the big take-home message this that all three of the aerosol products were effective. They all work well, as does the Meso emitter, so all those work about the same,” noted Haviland.

In 2017/2018 Haviland had larger trials that confirmed their previous results. “The earlier trial showed a 40 to 50% reduction in damage, while the later trial on larger acreage showed a 60 to 70% reduction in damage, which was a positive return on investment to the grower,” he said.  In 2018, Haviland conducted the first UC trial on sprayable pheromone products.  They did not work very well.

2021-05-12T11:01:45-07:00November 15th, 2019|

Summer Annual Weeds Need Control Now

Avoid Allowing Summer Annual Weeds Going to Seed

By Chris McDonald UCANR Inland and Desert Natural Resources Advisor, San Bernardino County

As the summer heat is finally nearing its end, and its officially fall on the calendar, there unfortunately is a new crop of weeds flowering right now. Some of our summer annuls have started to go to seed, others are just about ready, and others are already starting to senesce. In order to manage these weeds, managers must stop the plants from reproducing. With our summer annuals that means stopping the plants from producing seeds, right about now, (or maybe three weeks ago).

However, treating a giant tumbleweed right now isn’t really my favorite activity. I’d rather spend my time treating small tumbleweeds and working more effectively and also using less labor and/or herbicides to do it in the process. (Well I’d rather not have any tumbleweed in the first place.)

If treating the weeds when they are small is more efficient and uses less pesticides, when can we treat them at the smallest? To answer this, we need to know when our summer annuals germinate. When do our summer annuals germinate? There are several different germination periods for ‘summer’ annuals. Some of our summer annuals actually germinate in the winter to early spring from January to March, others germinate in the spring from March through May.

Weeds like yellow star thistle and stinkwort germinate in the winter from January to March. Tumbleweed and goat’s head germinate in the spring (March to May). Despite their different starting times, they will all grow during the late spring and summer as small plants hiding under a crop of larger weeds or in open areas, until they get large enough in the mid-summer to grow tall and more noticeable than our long dead winter weeds.

Other summer annual weeds, like spurges (such as spotted spurge,Euphorbia maculata, and also some other spurges), can germinate throughout the spring and summer as long as the soil is moist and warm. This summer annual can be much shorter lived than the other summer annuals mentioned above. In the desert, spurges might germinate after a monsoon, in other locations they might germinate in areas that have been irrigated or receive a little extra moisture or where the soil is moist.

The summer annuals on your property might be growing right now because of insufficient weed management in the winter and the spring! Other summer annuals might have germinated with the onset of high temperatures and need to be controlled in the early summer.

This pattern does not hold true for all species and all conditions, especially if irrigation continues throughout the spring and summer, or if there is a late spring storm or if summer monsoons deliver rains early. Sometimes even some of our winter annuals which should have flowered in February to April, germinate late in the season, and flower in June. It’s unusual and it does also happen.

If you can figure out what species of summer annual weed you have, then you may be able to figure out when it germinated and prioritize your weed treatments for that time period, in the winter and spring for some species and in the heat of summer for other species. Hopefully you will save yourself some time instead of letting them all grow into bigger and harder to treat summer annuals.

2021-05-12T11:01:46-07:00October 8th, 2019|
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