Climate

UC ANR Expands Expertise for Climate Change, Economic Development With New Hires

By Pam Kan-Rice and Mike Hsu, UCANR

University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources continued bringing scientists and their practical knowledge to counties across the state throughout the fall and winter. With increased funding from Gov. Gavin Newsom and the state Legislature, UC ANR recently hired UC Cooperative Extension advisors, specialists and academic coordinators who bring expertise in drought, wildfire, food systems, urban and small-scale farms, livestock, 4-H youth development, pest management, wildlife, nutrition and environmental horticulture.

In addition to providing research and extension in traditional subjects, the new hires include scientists who will address water justice policy, climate-smart agriculture, food safety, organic crop production, waste management and economic development for urban and rural communities.

UC Cooperative Extension advisors work directly with community members to apply research-based information to improve the lives and livelihoods of Californians.

To see a list of UC Cooperative Extension advisors who have joined in the past few months, visit https://ucanr.edu/About/DirectorySearch/Recent_Hires. The most recently hired advisors are introduced below. 

Audoin joins Central Sierra as UCCE livestock advisor

Flavie Audoin (pronounced Flah-vee Oh-dwan) joined UCCE Central Sierra on Jan. 17 as a livestock and natural resources area advisor serving Calaveras, Amador, El Dorado and Tuolumne counties. 

For the last six years, Audoin has been studying the seasonal grazing behavior, diet selection, and meat characteristics of range-fed Raramuri Criollo cattle in southeastern Arizona. Audoin worked directly with Deb and Dennis Moroney, who introduced Criollo cattle in southeastern Arizona about 10 years ago. This experience in the United States provided Audoin with knowledge and skills in rangelands, livestock production (cattle and sheep), direct marketing and science communication. In addition to working on her research, she has also been able to improve her skills as a ranch hand – branding, gathering cattle horseback in rough country, using low-stress livestock handling methods, sheep shearing, fixing fences and water lines, and marketing meat directly to consumers. 

Before starting her Ph.D., Audoin was an advisor to beef producers in France and worked for nine years at France’s leading brand of packaged meats and meat products while studying. 

Born and raised in France, Audoin earned a bachelor’s degree in life sciences at Notre Dame de Bonnes Nouvelles, Beaupréau, and technical degree in agronomy with a major in crop and animal production at IUT Angers-Cholet, Angers, then completed an engineering degree in agronomy (equivalent to a masters’ degree in the U.S.) with a major in breeding and systems of production at VetAgro Sup, Clermont-Ferrand. She completed a Ph.D. in natural resources from the University of Arizona, where her research focused on ecology, management and restoration of rangelands, with a minor in animal science. She also received a graduate certificate in science communication from the University of Arizona.

Audoin is based in Calaveras and can be reached at faudoin@ucanr.edu and (209) 454-8472.

Ikendi named academic coordinator for climate-smart agriculture

Samuel Ikendi joined UC ANR on Dec. 12 as an academic coordinator for climate-smart agriculture. 

As an academic coordinator, Ikendi will work with farmers and ranchers, state and federal agencies, campus-based academics and Cooperative Extension academics across the state to implement climate-smart agriculture education through workshops and training. He will develop outreach materials such as curricula and fact sheets.

Before joining UC ANR, Ikendi worked at Iowa State University as a postdoctoral research associate on a project to establish core concepts to improve graduate plant-breeding education, curriculum development, and monitoring. He also worked for the Center for Sustainable Rural Livelihoods and Iowa State University’s Uganda Program in Uganda, where he developed performance tracking indicators, conducted the annual evaluation, and developed privacy data protection documents. As an intern with ISU Extension and Outreach, he assisted the county outreach coordinators with delivering research-based educational programming to promote positive youth development.  

Ikendi earned a Ph.D. in agricultural extension education and dual master’s degrees in community and regional planning and sustainable agriculture from Iowa State University. He earned a bachelor’s degree in agribusiness management from Makerere University, Kampala in Uganda. 

Ikendi is based at UC Merced and can be reached at sikendi@ucanr.edu

Reidy named statewide postfire academic coordinator

Katie Reidy joined UC ANR on Dec. 5 as the statewide postfire academic coordinator. She will be overseeing a postfire forest resilience education program for private forest landowners. Reidy will coordinate weekly educational workshops held on Zoom with lessons catered to specific ecosystems, and collaboration with local agencies to promote post-fire education. The goal is to help fire-affected communities begin the process of reversing the ecological, economic and environmental impacts of fire. 

Reidy grew up in Chicago and received an undergraduate degree from University of North Carolina, Asheville. In 2016, she became an environmental educator at Yosemite National Park. In 2020, she moved to Plumas County and worked for the Feather River Resource Conservation District and began to understand the complexities of natural resource management and the implications of fire on the local landscapes. This compelled her to earn a master’s degree in environmental studies with a certificate in science communications and environmental education at the University of Idaho.

After personal experience with catastrophic fire, she is eager and ready to connect and assist communities as the postfire academic coordinator, to combine her passion for ecology and forestry management with outreach and education. 

Reidy is based at the UCCE Central Sierra office in Placerville and can be reached at kkreidy@ucanr.edu

Hartmann named UCCE community health and nutrition advisor

Janessa Hartmann joined UC ANR on Nov. 1 as the UCCE community health and nutrition advisor for Shasta, Trinity and Tehama counties to promote education and advance policy, systems and environmental changes that benefit local communities. 

Having lived and worked in Shasta County for over a decade, Hartmann is committed to improving the region’s health and wellness. She will be developing an integrated and equitable health and nutrition program, applying the latest research and data to address needs identified by the community – especially those of vulnerable populations such as older foster youth. 

In addition to focusing on positive youth development, Hartmann also aims to improve food security by expanding access to affordable and healthy food. 

“I hope to support community partners in health and nutrition across our region, and amplify existing effective programs,” she said. “I also look forward to working alongside the awesome CalFresh Healthy Living, University of California nutrition education program.”

Although Hartmann began her career in the environmental remediation field, she later worked on food sovereignty and security issues in central Mexico as a Peace Corps volunteer. In 2016, she became the CalFresh Healthy Living, UC program supervisor for Shasta, Trinity and Tehama counties. Subsequently, Hartmann joined Shasta County Public Health, where, during the height of the pandemic, she served as director of the COVID-19 Child Care, School and Higher Education Unit. 

Hartmann earned her B.S. in environmental science from Georgia College and State University, an M.S. in environmental science and engineering from Colorado School of Mines and another M.S. in nutritional science from California State University, Chico. 

Based at the UCCE Shasta County office in Redding, Hartmann can be reached at jlhartmann@ucanr.edu.

Jha joins UC ANR to address climate adaption

Prakash Kumar Jha joined UC ANR as an assistant project scientist on Nov. 1 and is responsible for developing decision support tools that help growers understand and minimize climate risks, specifically CalAgroClimate.

Prior to coming to California, he worked as a postdoctoral fellow for over five years in Italy, Spain and Colombia. Jha is eager to understand what California’s climate will look like in the next five to 10 years. Currently, he is working with climate prediction systems to determine future weather conditions, which growers can use to prepare for situations like low versus high chill hours, shortage of irrigation water and high temperature stress in plants.

Jha recognizes that areas currently used for agriculture might not be suitable for some crops a couple of years from now. For example, Jha is identifying which geographical areas growers should invest in while considering factors such as regulations limiting water use. His work will help growers consider the long-term implications of the decisions they make today.   

Before earning a Ph.D. in science management of climate change from the University of Venice Ca’ Foscari, Italy, he completed two master’s degrees – one in climate change adaptation from the University of the Sunshine Coast, Australia, and another in sociology from Tribhuvan University in Nepal. 

Originally from Nepal, Jha is excited about the diversity of crops the California offers. “I’m looking forward to expanding my knowledge, especially in tomatoes, cottons, almonds and pistachios,” he said.

Jha is based at the UC Merced-Sierra Nevada Research Institute and can be reached at prajha@ucanr.edu.

Khodadadi named UCCE plant pathology specialist

Fatemeh Khodadadi joined UC Riverside in October as an assistant professor of extension in the Department of Plant Pathology. She brings expertise in fungal and bacterial diseases of fruit and nut trees and an increasing interest in subtropical plant diseases caused by a variety of plant pathogens. 

Khodadadi’s research focuses on plant pathogens and disease management strategies for subtropical trees, especially citrus and avocado. She studies identification, characterization and development of molecular methods to detect fungal, bacterial and viral diseases affecting citrus and avocado, including but not limited to avocado branch canker and dieback caused by Botryosphaeria species, phytophthora root rot, sweet orange scab caused by Elsinöe australis, avocado sunblotch viroid and other problematic pathogens on citrus and avocado in California. She also studies the citrus and avocado defense responses to pathogens and the efficacy of fungicides and bactericides.

Before joining UC Cooperative Extension, she held postdoctoral fellowships at Cornell University and Virginia Tech conducting research in bacteriology, mycology, genomics, plant pathology and plant disease management focusing on Colletotrichum species (bitter rot of apple), Erwinia amylovora (fire blight), and Diplocarpon coronaria (apple leaf and fruit blotch). 

She identified, described and characterized for the first time a new Colletotrichum species that causes apple bitter rot and belongs to the C. gloeosporioides species complex. Her team named it C. noveboracense.

Khodadadi earned her M.S. and Ph.D. at Shahid Bahonar University of Kerman, Iran. For her M.S., she studied aflatoxin-producing fungi contaminating pistachio. In her Ph.D. research, partly conducted at UC Davis, she studied the interaction between walnut and bacterial blight disease caused by Xanthomonas arboricola pv. juglandis (Xaj). 

Khodadadi is based in the UC Riverside Department of Microbiology & Plant Pathology and can be reached at fatemeh.khodadadi@ucr.edu. She will be posting about her research at https://subtropicalplantpathology.com/category/blog-posts/.

Dompka to help spark economy in Del Norte, Humboldt and Trinity counties

Alec Dompka began with UC ANR on Oct. 20 as a rural communities economic development advisor. He will serve as technical support for economic development projects in Del Norte, Humboldt and Trinity counties.

Dompka said he aims to help local communities by working with government entities and private businesses to coordinate and facilitate beneficial projects.

“In this position, I hope to engage with people in the counties to tie them more closely with planning their economic development,” Dompka said. “I hope to show that economic development in rural communities can be locally led and directed, inclusive and effective.”

By applying technical knowledge and science-based expertise to these projects, Dompka said he also hopes to “generate research that pushes forward our understanding of what economic development looks like for rural communities.”

Born and raised in Raleigh, North Carolina, Dompka earned a bachelor’s degree from North Carolina State, double-majoring in political science and economics. He also holds an M.A. in agricultural and natural resources economics from NC State. 

Dompka is based at the Del Norte County UC Cooperative Extension office in Crescent City and can be reached at (707) 464-4711 or addompka@ucanr.edu. Follow him on Twitter @Alec_rural_dev.

Pearsons named IPM advisor for Monterey County

Kirsten Pearsons began working as a UC Cooperative Extension integrated pest management entomology advisor for Monterey, Santa Cruz and San Benito counties on Nov. 7. This is a new role for Pearsons, who joined UC ANR in March as a small farms advisor in San Luis Obispo County.

Pearsons focuses on insect-related concerns on the Central Coast, such as impatiens necrotic spot virus (INSV), a disease transmitted to lettuce by thrips, and identifying possible solutions. In collaboration with USDA scientists and her UC colleagues, Pearsons is researching the biology and ecology of the thrips populations that vector INSV to identify existing tools and new strategies that can help growers manage thrips and INSV.

Though her research focuses on lettuce and cole crops, Pearsons also supports berry growers and other specialty crop producers in the region with large-scale producers and agricultural pest control advisers as current clients. 

Pearsons earned a bachelor’s in environmental toxicology from UC Davis and a Ph.D. in entomology from Pennsylvania State University, studying how pest management strategies adopted in field crop systems affect non-target soil invertebrates.

During her undergraduate studies at UC Davis, Pearsons was curious to know what alternatives existed for broad-spectrum pesticides.

“Funny enough, I took my first entomology class just to get a basic idea of insect biology, because a lot of what I was learning in my toxicology courses had to do with insecticides,” she said. “The staff and the other students in the entomology department were so awesome that it didn’t take much for me to completely fall for the subject.”

Prior to UC ANR, Pearsons worked for the Rodale Institute, an organic research institute in Pennsylvania.

Pearsons is based out of the UCCE Monterey Bay County office and can be reached at kapearsons@ucanr.edu

Nguyen named UCCE food safety and organic production advisor

Cuong “Jimmy” Nguyen joined UC Cooperative Extension on Nov. 1 as an assistant food safety and organic production area advisor for Imperial and Riverside counties.

“Organic produce has a shorter shelf life and is more susceptible to outbreaks, recalls and foodborne illness due to the lack of chemical sanitizers and fungicides,” Nguyen said. “Therefore, my future research agenda will continue the focus on improving the quality and safety of organic produce commodities by developing alternatives to chemical fumigations/fungicides, as well as organic pest management without the use of chemical sanitizer or pesticide.”

While earning his Ph.D. in food science at UC Davis, Nguyen developed two novel sanitizing platforms for surface decontamination and liquid systems disinfection. The two systems involve the newly discovered synergistic disinfection effect between natural antimicrobials and UV-A light treatment or ultrasound treatment. 

“I am also interested in rapid detection methods using bacteriophage targeting foodborne microbes, and microscopic detection of bacterial microcolonies for early screening and prevention of foodborne outbreaks,” he said.

Nguyen earned a master’s degree at Tokyo University of Agriculture in Japan, where he studied sensory and food safety quality of meat, and a bachelor’s degree in agriculture at Nong Lam University in Vietnam, where he studied postharvest technologies for food and vegetable commodities. He is fluent in English, Japanese and Vietnamese.

Nguyen is based in Holtville and can be reached at (442) 265-7700 and
cgnguyen@ucanr.edu.

Wang named UCCE plant pathology advisor

Yu-Chen Wang joined UC Cooperative Extension Oct. 3 as a plant pathology advisor for Santa Cruz, Monterey and San Benito counties.

“Vegetable and berry are the major crops I work on currently,” said Wang, who will be working with a wide range of crops and different cropping systems on the Central Coast. “So far, I have been contacted by a wide range of growers – including (those who grow) lettuce, broccoli, pepper, celery, bean, apple, strawberry and blackberry – about their disease problems. I am passionate about providing insight to help the community on their disease problems.”

“The lettuce industry here is suffering from impatiens necrotic spot virus (INSV) vectored by Western flower thrip along with soilborne diseases,” she said. Lettuce growers in the Salinas Valley lost an estimated $50 million to $100 million last year and a lettuce supply shortage occurred. Working alongside fellow advisors, UC specialists and industry partners, Wang will be seeking long-term solutions for the industry. 

Prior to becoming a UCCE advisor, Wang worked at AVRDC-World Vegetable Center, for a vegetable seed company, and at UC Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center on research and development.

Wang, a native of Taipei, Taiwan, earned her B.S. and M.S. in horticultural and crop science at National Taiwan University. She earned a second M.S. in plant protection from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo.

“The idea of farmers feeding the world and awareness of crop loss by pests motivated me to pursue a career in agriculture and plant protection,” she said. “During my M.S. at Cal Poly, I worked closely with the California strawberry growers on industry-oriented research. I look forward to extending my study to vegetable and berry crops and serving the farming community.”   

Wang is based in Watsonville and can be reached at yckwang@ucanr.edu and (831) 201-9689.

Hooper named UCCE urban community resiliency advisor

Ashley Hooper joined UC ANR on Sept. 1 as the UC Cooperative Extension urban community resiliency advisor in Los Angeles County, a brand-new position. In her role, Hooper is tasked with working with communities who have historically been disadvantaged due to inequitable systems and/or policies.

In collaboration with the community, Hooper will lead efforts focused on building resilience and adaptive capacity. This could look like increasing the community’s access to capital, green space, transportation, nutritious food or education.

She already has leveraged data, collected by different organizations, to conduct a content analysis of needs assessments across dimensions of community resilience, such as access to parks and healthcare. Then, as next steps, she will prioritize interviews and field observations.

During her master’s program, Hooper worked as a research assistant for the Bureau of Business and Economic Research, where she led interviews with community members facing or trying to counter various inequities like limited access to broadband, housing and health care. For her Ph.D. dissertation, she focused on identifying barriers to and opportunities for resilient food systems in Los Angeles County.

After attending the California Economic Summit in October, Hooper shared her excitement for the prospect of using the arts in building community resilience.

“I went to a creative-economy working group session, and I was reminded of how much the arts and cultural community has to offer in the process of building adaptive capacity in communities,” she said.

Hooper earned a Ph.D. in urban and environmental planning and policy from UC Irvine. She earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s degree in water resources with a concentration in policy and management from the University of New Mexico.

Hooper is based out of the UCCE office in Los Angeles County and can be reached at asmhoope@ucanr.edu.

Solins joins UC ANR as new environmental horticulture advisor

Joanna Solins joined UC ANR on Oct. 3 as a UC Cooperative Extension environmental horticulture advisor for Sacramento, Solano and Yolo counties.

Solins will focus on research and outreach related to urban plants, landscaping and climate change, while building relationships with county and municipal governments, nonprofits, landscape and tree care professionals, nursery growers and utilities, among others. She also will support the UC Master Gardener coordinators in her assigned counties, collaborating to extend knowledge and resources to community members. 

“My core goals are to improve the climate suitability and ecological performance of urban landscaping and promote the equitable distribution of benefits from urban plants,” Solins said.

After attaining a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies at Vassar College, Solins began her career leading outreach education programs for the New England Aquarium and writing for educational publishers. She also worked in communications at the Coral Reef Alliance in San Francisco before starting graduate school at UC Davis, which culminated in a master’s in geography and Ph.D. in ecology.

Solins’ research at UC Davis combined field studies and geographic information system analysis to investigate plant communities, tree canopy and soils along urban creeks in the Sacramento area. She also carried out postdoctoral research on green stormwater infrastructure, urban forest composition, and the water demand of urban vegetation across California, and contributed to projects examining residential landscaping and urban heat in Sacramento.

Solins is based in Sacramento and can be reached at jsolins@ucanr.edu or (916) 875-2409.

Mar named UCCE organic materials management advisor

Stephanie Mar joined UC Cooperative Extension on Oct. 3 as the assistant organic materials management advisor serving Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego counties. Mar is responsible for investigating ways to divert organic wastes from landfills to alternative end markets, such as circular food economies, composting and wastewater reclamation.

“To me, waste doesn’t have an end life, just a next life,” said Mar. “A lot of people don’t know what happens to their waste after the garbage truck comes or they flush a toilet, so a part of my job is to understand what we are wasting and what happens to it.”

Mar attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she earned a master’s degree in public health focused on environmental science and engineering, and a master’s degree in city and regional planning focused on land use and environmental planning. She also has a bachelor’s degree in public health from UC Berkeley. 

Much of Mar’s professional experience, like her time working for the City of Berkeley, is centered on community outreach and policy development, two strengths that she believes will serve her well in this new role. 

Previously, Mar worked as a public health analyst for UC San Francisco and as a social research analyst with the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services too. Both of which strengthened her understanding of policy and program development, implementation, and monitoring and evaluation.

“Research gives us a lot of information, but then there’s a need for translation from what we know to what it actually means,” she said. “There are a lot of people doing different things [to manage their waste], so there’s a need for coordination and dispersal of information.”

Mar’s background in policy development is something she’ll rely on to operationalize the research being done by herself and her colleagues. 

Behavioral change is one of Mar’s anticipated challenges in this role. Even if research and policy efforts yield successful results, encouraging the community to adapt can be an uphill battle.

“Sorting trash, for example, is more of a mental burden than a physical one,” she explained. “We know what the research says and what we need to do, it’s just about developing the market to make it happen.” 

Mar is based out of Irvine at the South Coast Research and Extension Center and can be reached at samar@ucanr.edu

Dobbin named UCCE water justice policy and planning specialist 

Kristin Dobbin has joined UC ANR and the Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management at UC Berkeley as a UC Cooperative Extension specialist focused on water justice policy and planning.

Originally from Utah, Dobbin comes to Rausser College from UC Los Angeles’ Luskin Center for Innovation, where she was a National Science Foundation postdoctoral fellow. Dobbin pairs her love for rural communities, community natural resource management and environmental justice organizing with a strong belief that research can and should play an important role in advancing policy. She hopes to leverage her new position, the first of its kind for UC, to uplift community water managers and impacted residents as leaders and experts in conversations surrounding water management and access. 

“It’s a dream and a responsibility to be assuming a role that so perfectly weds research and impact,” Dobbin tweeted about her new UC Cooperative Extension water justice policy and planning specialist role. 

Dobbin earned her Ph.D. in ecology with an emphasis in environmental policy and human ecology from UC Davis and B.A. in environmental analysis from Pitzer College in Claremont. Prior to graduate school, she worked for the Community Water Center – a grassroots environmental justice organization that advances community-driven solutions for water justice in the Central Valley. 

Dobbin is based at UC Berkeley and can be reached at kbdobbin@berkeley.edu and on Twitter @kbdobbin. 

Shive named UCCE forest and fuels management specialist

Kristen Shive has joined UC ANR and the Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management at UC Berkeley as a UC Cooperative Extension specialist focused on forest and fuels management. 

Bringing more than 20 years of experience in conservation, forest and fire management, and ecology, her work broadly focuses on restoring fire to fire-adapted ecosystems, prioritizing areas for restoration, and understanding shifting fire regimes. Prior to joining UC ANR, Shive led the forest program science team for The Nature Conservancy’s California Chapter and was the director of science for Save the Redwoods League. She also has worked for the National Park Service in Alaska, California, and Wyoming, most recently as the fire ecologist for Yosemite National Park.

She earned her master’s degree in forestry from Northern Arizona University and a Ph.D. in ecosystem science from UC Berkeley. 

Shive is based at UC Berkeley and can be reached at kshive@berkeley.edu and (630) 917-5170 and on Twitter @klshive. 

Rodriguez joins 4-H as advisor in Northern California

Matt Rodriguez joined UC Cooperative Extension on Sept. 5 as a 4-H youth development advisor for Nevada, Placer, Sutter and Yuba counties. As a 4-H advisor, Rodriguez implements extension education and applied research programs grounded in positive youth development theory. He also provides expertise to enhance volunteer engagement in 4-H youth development programs.

Rodriguez earned his Ph.D. from the University of Maryland’s School of Public Health in the Department of Family Science. His dissertation, “Influence of Latinx Fathers’ Behaviors, Cognitions, Affect, and Family Congruence on Youth Energy Balance-Related Health Outcomes,” investigated Latinx father involvement in the context of youth energy balance-related behaviors. During his doctoral training, Rodriguez also supported several USDA-funded research initiatives involving Latinx fathers and youth. His recent publication, “Predictors Associated with Fathers’ Successful Completion of the FOCUS Program,” investigated a sample of fathers in Texas who participated in a child welfare parenting intervention.

Rodriguez currently co-chairs the Men in Families focus group at the National Council on Family Relations. He was also recently elected as Section Counselor for the American Public Health Association’s Health Informatics Information Technology section.

Prior to his doctoral studies, Rodriguez was a professional web developer for several large nonprofits in the Midwest. Growing up in a multicultural family with ancestry deriving from Puerto Rico, Japan, Nigeria and England, he embraces the importance of cultural diversity and competency in his family science research.

Rodriguez is based in Auburn and can be reached at (530) 889-7391 and mrro@ucanr.edu and on social media @MattR_Rodriguez.

2023-02-03T09:11:33-08:00February 3rd, 2023|

CDFA Accepting Grant Applications for Climate Research Program

By Steve Lyle, Director of Public Affairs, CDFA

The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) is now accepting grant applications for the California Livestock Methane Measurement, Mitigation and Thriving Environments Research Program (CLIM3ATE-RP), administered by its Office of Environmental Farming and Innovation (OEFI). Applications to CLIM3ATE- RP will be accepted through 5:00 P.M. PT Tuesday, February 28, 2023.

CLIM3ATE- RP will award competitive grants to California-based eligible entities for research projects aligned with California’s efforts to successfully implement climate-smart agriculture, with a direct focus on nutrient management and methane reduction from dairy and livestock operations.

An appropriation of $5 million to CDFA Budget Act of 2021 (SB 170, Chapter 240) will be directed toward the assessment of the cost-effectiveness of various livestock methane reduction strategies on a per-metric-ton basis, including comparison of projects funded under the Alternative Manure Management Program (AMMP) and the Dairy Digester Research and Development Program (DDRDP) as well as alternative methane reduction strategies such as dietary modifications, and research on manure-based product development.

Eligible entities can submit proposals for up to $2,000,000; $1,600,000; or $500,000 in CLIM3ATE-RP grants, depending on the research area outlined in the RFP.

The following entities are eligible for this program: tribal governments, resource conservation districts (RCDs), non-governmental organizations, private companies, non-profit organizations, and California public higher learning institutions.

The RFP for CLIM3ATE-RP, including detailed information on the application processes and requirements, as well as application assistance workshops conducted by CDFA will be available at https://www.cdfa.ca.gov/oefi/research/

2022-12-21T10:40:42-08:00December 21st, 2022|

New Interactive Web Tools Help Growers Cope With Climate Change

By Pam Kan-Rice, UCANR

UCCE, USDA California Climate Hub launch CalAgroClimate decision-support tool

Climate and weather variability pose increasing risks to farmers. As world leaders gather in Egypt at COP27 to address the climate crisis, University of California Cooperative Extension and the USDA California Climate Hub are launching new web-based tools to provide farmers with locally relevant and crop-specific information to make production decisions that reduce risk.

“Integrating historical weather data and forecast information with meaningful agricultural decision support information holds the potential to reduce a crop’s vulnerability to such risks,” said Tapan Pathak, UC Cooperative Extension climate adaptation specialist at UC Merced.

“To provide easy access to high-resolution data in the form of agroclimate tools and information, and to enhance agricultural resilience to climate and weather-related risks, we are launching CalAgroClimate,” Pathak said.

Pathak is collaborating on building the decision support tool with partners from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, California Climate Hub, UC Cooperative Extension and UC Agriculture and Natural Resources’ Informatics and Geographic Information Systems or IGIS.

“CalAgroClimate has been designed to support climate-enabled decision making for those working in the California specialty crop industry,” said Steven Ostoja, director of USDA California Climate Hub. “The USDA California Climate Hub is a proud collaborator on this important initiative to ensure the state’s agricultural industry can continue to thrive in a future of climate change.”

Shane Feirer and Robert Johnson of UC ANR IGIS designed the interactive tools on the website and Lauren Parker of the USDA California Climate Hub contributed to content organization.An advisory panel composed of colleagues from UCCE and the Natural Resources Conservation Service ensures CalAgroClimate tools are relevant to stakeholder needs.

“CalAgroClimate is an amazing new tool that puts comprehensive past and forecast weather data at any grower’s disposal,” said Mark Battany, UC Cooperative Extension water management and biometeorology advisor for San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties.

“California’s high-value crops are subject to a myriad of weather-related risk factors; this tool will allow growers to better address both near-term and long-term risks, and in the end grow more profitably,” said Battany, who is a member of the CalAgroClimate advisory panel.

Growers and crop consultants can use CalAgroClimate’s crop and location-specific tools and resources to help make on-farm decisions, such as preparing for frost or untimely rain and taking advantage of expected favorable conditions.

CalAgroClimate currently includes heat advisory, frost advisory, crop phenology and pest advisory tools.

Heat advisory tool: Extreme heat poses a danger for people, animals and crops. With this tool, users can select location and temperature threshold (e.g. 90 F, 95 F 100 F) based on their crop-specific heat tolerance level and the tool will provide a customized map of heat risk for the next seven days for that location, including the number of consecutive days with temperature above that threshold. Users also can assess overall heat risks across the state for a selected temperature threshold as well. With an early warning about hot temperatures, growers can take steps to reduce risks associated with extreme heat such as providing shade, changing farmworkers’ schedules and applying additional irrigation.

Frost advisory tool: Frost risk is a serious issue for many specialty crops across California. Similar to the heat advisory tool, this tool provides a customized map of frost advisory for the next seven days for a user’s location, and a forecast of consecutive days with temperature falling below the selected temperature thresholds (e.g. 35 F, 32 F, 28 F). Early warning about cold temperatures can provide growers some time to protect their crops from frost damage.

Crop phenology tool: The scientists have developed a-crop specific and location-specific crop phenology tool to help users keep track of growing degree days accumulations and estimate critical growth stages. CalAgroClimate uses a high-resolution PRISM dataset to provide near real-time crop phenology information to users. This tool will inform growers about how their crop development compares to previous years, which can be helpful in planning activities specific to critical growth stages.

Pest advisory tool: Similar to crop growth, development of certain pests and diseases is controlled by temperature and heat unit accumulations. With the pest advisory tool, growers can keep track of estimated pest generations during the growing season to make pest management decisions.

“We are launching the website with this initial set of tools while working on adding more crop-specific information and several new tools in the near future,” Pathak said. “We look forward to getting feedback from growers who use CalAgroClimate to make it even more useful.”

2022-11-22T09:16:52-08:00November 22nd, 2022|

Farmers Fear Zero-Emission Trucking Proposal Could Strand Farm Products

By Caleb Hampton, California Farm Bureau

The California Air Resources Board is considering a proposed regulation to phase out big rigs and other trucks with internal combustion engines and replace them with zero-emission vehicles.

The proposed Advanced Clean Fleets regulation would include vehicles that transport agricultural commodities.

It would follow a 2020 executive order by Gov. Gavin Newsom banning the sale of new gas-powered cars by 2030, and apply to medium-duty and heavy-duty internal combustion vehicles. The proposal would force some federal agencies and trucking companies to begin converting their fleets to zero-emission vehicles in 2024 and prohibit the sale of all new fossil-fueled trucks by 2040.

Replacing these trucks and large delivery vehicles with zero-emission vehicles would augment California’s push to reduce air pollution and carbon emissions. While diesel-powered trucks represent a small fraction of the 30 million vehicles registered in the state, they produce about 70% of its smog-forming gases and 80% of carcinogenic diesel pollutants, according to the air resources board.

During a public hearing on Oct. 27, environmental advocates and industry groups clashed over the proposed rule. Environmentalists pushed for tighter rules and faster deadlines. Trucking industry leaders raised concerns about costs and the readiness of the electrical grid, vehicle technology and charging infrastructure for a statewide transition to zero-emission trucks within the proposed timeframe.

California farmers who rely on trucking companies for the timely transport of fresh commodities have also voiced concerns.

“Their concept is great, but the application is going to be hard,” said Keith Nilmeier, who farms 220 acres of oranges, peaches, apricots and grapes in Fresno County, and runs a trucking business with a fleet of 18 trucks. “They’re trying to drop it way too fast.”

Farming groups have pointed to a lack of rural charging stations and the limited range of zero-emission trucks, which they fear could slow or disrupt agricultural transport.

“Livestock, fruits and vegetables need to be transported in a timely manner to ensure food and animal safety,” Katie Little, policy advocate for the California Farm Bureau, said at the air resources board hearing. “The time required to charge these vehicles, in addition to the time needed to travel to these charging facilities, could jeopardize food security and availability.”

In typical tomato haul, for instance, a truck might travel over 800 miles in a 24-hour period. If the zero-emission vehicle’s range isn’t far enough, the charging infrastructure is not in place, or the electrical grid can’t handle the amount of big rig truck batteries that need to be charged, that could leave vehicles stranded in hot temperatures with thousands of pounds of fresh tomatoes.

State officials are pledging to invest $10 billion over several years to expand charging infrastructure and transition to zero-emission vehicles. But there currently are fewer than 2,000 zero-emission medium-duty and heavy-duty vehicles on California roads.

Joe Antonini, owner of Stockton-based Antonini Freight Express, which trucks tomatoes, almonds, walnuts and olives, said, “The infrastructure needs to be built prior to putting in place mandates.”

A coalition of commercial, transportation and agricultural organizations, including the California Farm Bureau, raised concerns about the proposed rule.

“We are extremely concerned that the proposed ACF rule will be unworkable in the real world and could result in compromising the delivery of essential goods and services to Californians,” the groups said in a letter to the air resources board.

Even if the basic infrastructure were in place, trucking company owners say the rule would impose significant hurdles.

Due to the weight of an electric truck battery, trucks could have their load capacity reduced by around 8,000 pounds, forcing companies to operate more vehicles in order to move the same tonnage. And with some of those vehicles sidelined while they charge, Antonini said his company, which has 240 trucks, may need as many as 50% more vehicles to move its freight.

With the sector already facing a driver shortage, the need for trucking companies to scale up their fleets could cause disruptions that impact farmers. “There are so many challenges on the ag side,” Antonini said. “This whole legislation will, in my opinion, have a very negative impact on California agriculture.”

Other farmers and trucking company owners raised questions about the cost of zero-emission vehicles, how long it might take to charge them and how many trucks could charge simultaneously at a single charging station.

“It’s terrifying for me to even think about,” said Tom Barcellos, owner of Barcellos Farms, a Tipton-based dairy farm and trucking company.

The upfront cost of an electric truck exceeds that of a conventional one, though the state’s air board staff project the cost of a zero-emission truck will go down as more models enter the market. They estimate that by 2035 it will be cheaper to buy and operate an electric semi-truck than a conventional one.

Nonetheless, farmers and trucking company owners expressed anxiety over the proposed timeline for transitioning the state’s fleets from diesel to electric. With diesel trucks, Barcellos said, “we can turn the key and go whenever we need to.”

The air resources board is set to hold a second hearing and a vote on the proposed rule in the spring. After a regulation is finalized, it would be subject to a public comment period.

2022-11-16T11:11:56-08:00November 16th, 2022|

UCCE Water Management Expert Helps Save Water, Increase Supply in SoCal

By Saoimanu Sope, UCANR

Earlier this year, officials in Southern California declared a water shortage emergency resulting in restrictions such as limiting outdoor water use to one day of the week. While mandatory restrictions vary across the region, Amir Haghverdi, UC Cooperative Extension specialist and associate professor of agricultural and urban water management at UC Riverside, is using research to pinpoint irrigation strategies that will help communities reduce their demand for water and increase supply.

Haghverdi and his team are responding to a hotter and drier California by working to identify changes that can make a substantial difference in water savings.

While behavioral changes such as preventing leaks and turning the faucet off while brushing teeth can help, Haghverdi’s research focuses on methodical changes like stressing green spaces, planting drought-tolerant plant species, using non-traditional water sources, and investing in technology to better control water use.

Testing a lawn’s limits

For six years, Haghverdi and his team have performed stress tests on turfgrass to identify the lowest percent of evapotranspiration rate (ETo) that it can withstand and still survive. To do this, Haghverdi’s team applies different percentages of ETo, obtained from weather stations, and monitors the performance of each landscape species over time.
While both cool-season and warm-season species can be stressed and still maintain their aesthetic value for a few weeks to several months, Haghverdi’s results showed that warm-season turfgrass species require less water and can withstand water stress better.

The actual duration that people can apply less water depends on the type of turfgrass, the weather conditions and the stress level. For example, results showed that hybrid bermudagrass (a warm-season turfgrass) during summer in inland Southern California could keep its aesthetic value above the minimum threshold for 30 to 50 days, depending on the weather conditions, with irrigation application as low as 40% ETo.

In contrast, tall fescue, a cool-season turfgrass, even with 20% more water, showed signs of stress after only a few weeks and could not maintain its minimum acceptable quality.

Plant drought-tolerant species

Haghverdi’s work demonstrates that when water conservation is the goal, alternative groundcover species are clearly superior to all turfgrass species and cultivars that they have tested so far. In fact, his team has identified drought-tolerant species that can maintain their aesthetic values with a third to a quarter less water than cool-season turfgrass (as low as 20% ETo) and can even withstand no-irrigation periods.

Furthermore, extensive field trials showed that new plant species from different regions could be as resilient as native species in withstanding drought and heat stress while maintaining their aesthetic beauty and cool canopy. Occasionally, they have outperformed native species, underscoring the advantages of drought- and heat-tolerant species that are non-native.
Based on Haghverdi’s preliminary results for minimum irrigation requirement in inland Southern California, creeping Australian saltbush, a non-native species originally from Australia, and coyote bush, native to California, were top performers. Considering cooling benefits, drought tolerance and sensitivity to over-irrigation, creeping Australian saltbush performed the best.
Ph.D. students Anish Sapkota and Jean Claude Iradukunda collect plant physiological data to understand how native and non-native irrigated groundcover species respond to periods of water stress and limited irrigation applications in inland Southern California.

Counties are already using recycled water

Although he recommends renewing your landscape with drought-tolerant or low-water use greenery and identifying how long your green spaces can live without water, Haghverdi acknowledges that, while contradictory, the cooling benefits of landscape irrigation are essential in Southern California.

“This is one of the tradeoffs of water conservation,” said Haghverdi. “If the only goal is to conserve water, maybe people will conclude that we don’t have enough water to irrigate landscape.”

Water conservation efforts could influence counties to stop or reduce landscape irrigation. The consequences, however, would result in hotter environments due to the heat island effect. The loss of landscapes means that the sun’s energy will be absorbed into the ground, instead of prompting transpiration in plants, which helps keep environments cool.

Thus, stressing green spaces and investing in drought-tolerant plant species help reduce the demand for water, but increasing water supply is just as vital. Haghverdi urges Southern California counties to prioritize a supplemental water supply such as recycled water – an approach already implemented in Ventura, Orange and San Diego counties.

The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California’s Pure Water Southern California Program, formerly known as the Regional Recycled Water Program, aims to do just that. In partnership with the Los Angeles County Sanitation Districts, the program will further purify wastewater to produce a sustainable source of high-quality water for the region.

According to the program’s website, this would “produce up to 150 million gallons of water daily when completed and provide purified water for up to 15 million people, making it one of the largest water reuse programs in the world.”

Smart controllers save time, money and water

Making the best use of the water you already have relies on efficiency. Sprinklers that are poorly placed, for example, are not as effective as they could be.

“What I see often while walking my dog in the neighborhood is that there’s a lot of runoff, bad irrigation and bad timing like when it’s windy,” Haghverdi observed. “People usually set their irrigation timer and then forget it, but they don’t adjust it based on the season or weather parameters. That’s not going to help us conserve water, a precious resource, in California.”

Thankfully, Haghverdi and his team have done extensive research on smart irrigation controllers, which, simply put, are irrigation timers with a sensor built in. Generally, there are two types of smart irrigation controllers: weather- and soil-based controllers.

Weather-based controllers use evapotranspiration data to automatically adjust their watering schedule according to local weather conditions. Soil-based controllers measure moisture at the root zone and start irrigating whenever the reading falls below a programmed threshold.

Smart controllers that have flowmeters can detect leaks and be activated automatically, whereas rain sensors can stop irrigation during rainfall. Although both additions are ideal for large irrigation landscapes such as parks and publicly maintained green spaces, rain sensors are easy to install and effective for residential areas too.

When asked about cost being a hindrance, Haghverdi responded, “Not a lot of people know that there are grants for smart controllers – some that will pay either all or a majority of the cost.”

To check if grants are available in your area, interested individuals are encouraged to contact their local water provider.

“We need to move towards autonomous and smart irrigation [strategies], and water management in urban areas. That’s the future. If we can build autonomous cars, why can’t we build smart water management systems that apply the right amount of water to each plant species, can detect leaks and prevent water waste?” said Haghverdi.

To learn more about or stay updated on Haghverdi’s research, visit www.ucrwater.com.

2022-11-15T13:09:22-08:00November 15th, 2022|

California Dairy Research Foundation Awarded $85 Million from USDA for Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities Project

By Jennifer Giambroni, California Milk Advisory Board

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture is investing up to $2.8 billion in projects selected under the first pool of the Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities funding opportunity. Applicants submitted more than 450 project proposals; 70 were selected for funding.

The California Dairy Research Foundation, in partnership with more than 20 other dairy organizations, was among the recipients. CDRF’s grant partners include California governmental organizations, corporations and cooperatives, universities, producer organizations, environmental organizations, and others. The USDA has established an estimated funding ceiling of $85 million for this project to advance climate-smart dairy farming; the final award will be granted in the coming months.

“CDRF is extremely pleased to have received this grant on behalf of the entire collaborative team. The project brings together organizations throughout the value chain to the benefit of our hard-working dairy producers and the environment. We look forward to working with the California Department of Food and Agriculture, the California Milk Advisory Board, Dairy Cares, the universities and others to implement this advanced climate-smart ag project in California’s dairy industry,” said CDRF’s Executive Director Denise Mullinax.

Over the next five years, the project, “Partnering to Invest in and Build Markets for California’s Climate-Smart Dairy Producers,” will work to build climate-smart dairy markets and provide financial incentives for California dairy producers to adopt climate-smart manure management practices to reduce both methane emissions and nitrogen surplus and will leverage matching funding from non-federal sources.

“This funding represents the next critical installment and chapter in California’s world-leading dairy methane reduction efforts,” said Michael Boccadoro, Executive Director of Dairy Cares. “On-farm projects will be designed to not only reduce methane but will significantly improve water quality outcomes, ensuring broad benefits for our rural farm communities.

Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities is part of USDA’s broader strategy to position agriculture and forestry as leaders in climate change mitigation through voluntary, incentive-based, market-driven approaches.

“Dairy families in California continue to step up to ensure the agriculture sector contributes to climate change mitigation and adaptation,” said Karen Ross, Secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture. “The partnership between the State and dairy families has resulted in significant methane emission reductions making California a national and international leader in supporting on-farm livestock methane reductions using climate-smart agricultural management approaches and other environmental benefits, including improved water quality from dairy farms”.

Other partners supporting this project are California Department of Food and Agriculture, California Association of Resource Conservation Districts, California Milk Advisory Board, Dairy Cares, California Dairy Campaign, California Dairy Quality Assurance Program, Milk Producers Council, National Milk Producers Federation, Sustainable Conservation, Western United Dairies, California Farm Bureau Federation, University of California, Davis, University of California, Riverside, University of California Cooperative Extension, Truterra, California Dairies, Inc., Challenge Dairy Products, Nestlé.

2022-09-21T10:17:24-07:00September 21st, 2022|

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|

Action Needed to Amend SB1

Urge your Representatives to AMEND SB 1

From California Citrus Mutual

This week the Assembly will consider Senate Bill 1 by Senate Pro Tem Toni Atkins.

SB 1 proposes dangerous changes to how the state implements the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and will have devastating impacts on how water is managed in California.

The bill seeks to preserve environmental regulations against perceived rollbacks by the Trump Administration by empowering state agencies to immediately adopt the “baseline” standard in place before January 19, 2017 (the day before President Trump was inaugurated).

As currently written, SB 1 would lock in the existing biological opinions that determine how much water must flow out of the Delta to protect native fish species. This directly influences how much water is available to ALL water users south of the Delta.

The State and Federal agencies are currently in the process of updating the biological opinions, which will result in lower flows and more water for communities and agriculture. But, by locking in the existing biological opinions, SB 1 prohibits State from using the best available science to manage how water moves through the Delta.

Recent amendments do not go far enough to address the ESA provisions.

California Citrus Mutual and many other agricultural and business-sector groups have proposed constructive amendments to address these concerns.  The Pro Tem’s office, however, did not make substantive changes to the bill before it was passed out of the Assembly Appropriations Committee on Friday despite pressure from the Governor’s Office.

The Legislature will adjourn next Friday and it is imperative that SB 1 be amended THIS WEEK.

We are calling on our Assembly Members and Senators to urge the Senate Pro Tem to accept amendments to the ESA section.

Please click on the link below to send a letter to your representatives asking them to support amendments to the ESA section in SB 1.

California Citrus Mutual Action Center

2021-05-12T11:05:02-07:00September 4th, 2019|

Abnormal Weather, Temperatures, and Pests

A Year of Unusual Weather Affects Vegetable Crops

By Mikenzi Meyers, Associate Editor

A year filled with abnormal weather is starting to show its effects on vegetable crops. Tom Turini of the University of California Cooperative Extension Fresno County, who is a plant commodity specialist, shared some of the early seasonal problems he has witnessed.

“We had unusual weather this year—a very cool, late spring—and with the rains we’ve had, we expected to see some issues that are unusual. We just didn’t see the incidence of those problems that we would have expected,” Turini said.

Turini added that levels of beet curly top are relatively low and tomato spotted wilt is densely populated in some areas. He also noted that the early appearance of the consperse stink bug seems to be having a measurable impact on crops, specifically on the west side of Fresno County.

2021-05-12T11:01:47-07:00July 25th, 2019|

Put Your Public Water Outreach Programs on Steroids

Water Storage Projects are Essential To Counter Inconsistent Wet Weather

By Stephen Baker, Operation Unite

How can the short memory of the public maintain the long-term commitments of water projects and conservation behaviors? On one hand, California’s recent extended drought demonstrated that the public water users could reduce their water use, but can it be maintained permanently?

And then there is water storage.

Water storage projects are essential to counter the inconsistent presence of natural yearly precipitation and sporadic wet winters, but is the public supporting projects that get the job done? Water shortage is imminent without an ability to treat, store and, ultimately, satisfy the demand of the 40 million Californians while, at the same time, maintaining a healthy environment. And without adequate water storage, we rely on groundwater aquifers. Unfortunately, this is also a bit of a sore spot. The public water users either feel that groundwater is theirs for the taking, or they consider groundwater as someone else’s problem. Either way, communities are fragmenting from misunderstanding, misconceptions and the politics of water.

Thanks to Climate change, these issues are each magnified. Climate change is now instigating our communities to adapt. Adaptation means that we have an infrastructure and public behavior that allow easy management when highly variable conditions occur.  What we need is buy-in from the public that is unwavering throughout the life of the project. It’s just not happening fast enough. It’s time to put your public water outreach program on steroids!

I know you can relate to these conditions because water purveyors, County Board of Supervisors, cities, GSAs, and Flood Control Districts face this each day with every project. Ask yourself: Are you building permanent public buy-in, or is it a fragmented and fleeting commitment? Conventional outreach methods have their successes, but it is hard to effectively engage from across the room. We need to get more personal.

It’s about relationship, and relationship is a two-way street. It is one thing to respond to the squeaky wheel and very much another to manage the entire machine in a manner that the machine operates successfully. Having the right relationship leaves your public knowing that you care and confident that you are considering an alternative that generates confidence. It gets even better. When a good relationship is built, we work better together, even when there are disagreements. Working together means you listen to understand. This is a major contributing factor needed in today’s diverse world, where building and maintaining a healthier community is critical. It even leads us to many other benefits that have nothing to do with water (e.g. homeless problem, fire safety, community economics, crime). Building relationships does take time, but if approached innovatively, it can be accomplished effectively and within a shortened period of time.

You currently engage in many public meetings, forums, private meetings, social media, conferences, and workshops on water projects. Each of these gatherings is an opportunity to build a relationship with specific emphasis on the quality of interaction. When done effectively, you will recognize that your public and you are coming together. Enhancing everyone’s ability to hear and be heard each will contribute to building healthy relationships. The vehicle for this to happen can be provided by new relationship-building tools.

So, if the strategy is about building a relationship, how is it actually developed? It’s about communication.

Many times, an opinion on communication strategy success is measured based on the number and type of events that are scheduled. Although this effort may satisfy regulatory or legal requirements, it misses the mark because the numbers of events independent of one another usually stall out in effectiveness, and you miss the opportunity to completely succeed. Let’s not forget the content of the event itself. This is where the steroids come in. Supplementing your current water outreach programs with some enhancement tools will increase public interactions and decrease pushback. Why lollygag reaching your success? Let’s get the job done.

We need communication tools that ramp up positive outcomes of your current efforts. Tools involve a mix of strategy and conduits of communication. When addressing strategy, plan a dynamic set of actions that are pre-assessed with knowledge of your public. Frequently revisit the pulse of your public through a variety of personal encounters and modify the strategy as needed. As we said earlier, we need to get more personal. There are new tools that effectively provide a community level of personal connection with a water project, and this is where the steroids come into view.

Communication is where the magic takes effect. Simultaneously connecting at varying scaled levels brings both the emotions and analytical understanding into focus with the meaning of your water projects. Accomplished effectively, this strategy of communication under the influence of the proverbial steroids develops a public that pushes a water project forward. The public will understand the value of water and the project’s relevance to their lives. At the end of the day, you feel heard, everyone is on the same page, and the project is completed on time and on budget. You even have money left over for the next project. Life doesn’t get better than that!

Stephen J. Baker is a Hydrogeologist and Founder of Operation Unite, a group that has developed communication tools for building mutually beneficial, engaged, and collaborative relations with the public and water projects. He can be contacted at stevebaker@operationunite.co or +1530-263-1007.

2019-07-22T17:16:54-07:00July 22nd, 2019|
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