Seven Central Valley Cooperative Extension Academics to Retire in June

Seven Central Valley Cooperative Extension Academics to Retire in June

June 19, 2014

Seven Valley UC Cooperative Extension Academics Retire at the end of June

Seven University of California academics will retire June 30 after decades of service to UC Cooperative Extension in the San Joaquin and Sacramento valleys.

The 2014 valley retirees are:

Gregorio Billikopf, labor management farm advisor, UC Cooperative Extension in San Joaquin, Stanislaus and Merced counties 33 years
Billikopf's extension and teaching efforts focused on employee selection, wage structures, interpersonal negotiation skills, conflict resolution and mediation. He received the "best publication" award from the National Association for County Agricultural Agents for his book Labor Management in Agriculture: Cultivating Personnel Productivity, as well as awards from other professional organizations.

Billikopf said he cherishes his years as a farm advisor and now will return to his native Chile to provide community mediation and labor productivity training.

Alejandro Castillo, dairy farm advisor, UC Cooperative Extension in Merced County
12 years

Castillo served as dairy advisor for 12 years, having joined UC Cooperative Extension from a research and extension job in Santa Fe, Argentina. His work in California was focused on dairy cow nutrition and environmental concerns, nutrient balance and nutrient excretion, with special attention to nitrogen and minerals. During his tenure he published more than 100 articles (18 peer-reviewed papers, 30 scientific abstracts and technical articles, and more than 50 newsletter, newspaper and magazine articles).

"I do want to thank the many dairy producers in Merced County and my UC colleagues who have helped me with my extension and research program," Castillo said. "Their help was critical to doing my part for the future of our dairy industry."

Carol Frate, field crops farm advisor, UC Cooperative Extension in Tulare County
36 years

Frate has conducted extensive research on the production of alfalfa, dry beans, sugarbeets and corn. Among the highlights of her career were trials to identify blackeye bean varieties resistant to Fusarium wilt, early research on deficit irrigation of alfalfa and work on corn stunt disease.

"It has been a great gift to work with my UC colleagues and people in allied industries," Frate said. "And I could not have done the work I did without the assistance and patience of farmers, farmworkers, custom applicators, custom harvesters and truckers who made on-farm research projects successful."

Michelle Le Strange, vegetable crops and environmental horticulture advisor, UC Cooperative Extension in Tulare County
31 years

Le Strange is an accomplished advisor in vegetable crop production, turfgrass and ornamentals, and weed management. She also founded and organized the Tulare/Kings Master Gardener program, guiding volunteers as they reach out to home gardeners to encourage sustainable landscaping by "Gardening Central Valley Style."

"In this career the more you get your hands dirty, the more you learn, and the more knowledge you have to share with others," Le Strange said. "I was thrilled working with some of the largest vegetable producers in the state and simultaneously helping the home gardener. It was always a stimulating challenge."

Yvonne Nicholson, nutrition, family and consumer sciences advisor, UC Cooperative Extension in Sacramento County
22 years

Throughout her career, Nicholson has been involved with UC faculty in conducting nutrition and health applied research focusing on the African-American, Latino, Russian and Vietnamese cultures.

Larry Schwankl, UC Cooperative Extension irrigation specialist in the Department of Land, Air and Water Resources at UC Davis, based at the UC Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Parlier
28 years

Schwankl's research emphasis has been in drip, sprinkler, and flood irrigation. He has worked on irrigation system maintenance and chemigation, irrigation scheduling using soil moisture monitoring and evapotranspiration techniques.

Dorothy Smith, nutrition, family and consumer sciences advisor, UC Cooperative Extension in El Dorado, Amador, Calaveras and Tuolumne counties
12 years

Smith's areas of expertise include human nutrition, food safety and human health and well-being. During the latter half of her tenure, Smith has focused on building a school garden program in the Central Sierra region because, she said, "growing something is a great way to make sure you are eating healthy."

"I have really enjoyed the opportunity to work in the foothills with small, rural counties," Smith said. "We have been able to make some significant changes that affect the whole community."


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