October 22, 2013

UC Farm Advisor Julie Newman

Retires after 28 years

By Pamela Kan-Rice, UC ANR
She helped growers and nurseries in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties solve pest and water problems

Julie Newman's first exposure to Cooperative Extension occurred while pursuing her undergraduate degree in Seattle and working for Vista. "My position as community garden project coordinator for Vista's University Year for Action Program gave me the opportunity to work with Cooperative Extension during the establishment of our nation's first Master Gardener program," Newman explained. "The work was exciting and it inspired me to pursue an extension career."

UC Farm Advisor Julie Newman Retires
Newman, University of California Cooperative Extension advisor in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties, retired in July after 28 years of providing research and educational programs in environmental horticulture.

Newman completed her B.S. in botany at the University of Washington and then earned her M.S. in horticulture from Washington State University. After graduation, she taught ornamental horticulture classes at California State University, Chico and volunteered on UC Cooperative Extension projects in Glenn, Alameda and San Mateo counties. In 1985, Newman began her career as a UCCE advisor.

Early on, a focus of Newman's research and extension program focused on integrated pest management, or IPM, for ornamental crops. She collaborated with other UC researchers to evaluate sampling strategies, monitoring methods, biological control and reduced-risk pesticides.

"We developed IPM demonstration sites in commercial nurseries and bilingual scouting training programs throughout the state," Newman said. "We documented reductions in pesticide use in nurseries where IPM programs were implemented." Scouting and the use of nonchemical approaches are now standard practices in the industry.

Later, Newman turned her attention to water quality issues and brought in over $4 million in grant funding. She worked with other UC Cooperative Extension advisors and specialists to develop water quality projects that assisted more than 200 growers, representing more than 21,000 farm acres draining into Ventura County watersheds. These research and extension activities resulted in substantial improvements in water use, irrigation efficiency, infiltration rates and reduced runoff from nurseries, farms and orchards.

"Water is a major issue for California growers," said Fred Van Wingerden, president and CEO of Pyramid Flowers in Oxnard and advisory board member of the UC Hansen Agricultural Research and Extension Center. "Julie helped nursery growers in Ventura and Los Angeles counties to be proactive by establishing a cost-share program for improvements and providing on-farm assistance in implementing BMPs."

One nursery that participated in Julie's cost-share program was Plants Plus Growers Nursery in Somis.  "Julie helped me update the irrigation system and showed me how to do it right," said José Acevo, owner and president of the nursery.  The grant funding enabled Acevo to install a system for capturing and recycling irrigation water.  Plants Plus states on its website that it now operates with zero runoff from irrigation and catches 100 percent of storm runoff for reuse.  

Newman expanded her understanding of water quality issues through a sabbatical study in Australia and New Zealand, which led her to work with researchers in other states on national water quality programs. She was the technical editor and an author of UC ANR's "Greenhouse and Nursery Management Practices to Protect Water Quality," which has been consulted by growers and researchers all over the world.

Newman was a leader in efforts to establish the UC Nursery and Floriculture Alliance (UCNFA). This program, associated with the UC ANR Floriculture and Nursery Workgroup, delivers workshops, hands-on demonstrations, field days and tours that benefit flower and nursery growers statewide. Many of the programs are presented in both English and Spanish. Newman has served as chair of the educational committee and co-editor of the newsletter.

"Julie's coordinated efforts with UCNFA and our nursery association have been extremely valuable in providing programs and expert speakers that address key issues facing our industry," said June Van Wingerden, president of the Santa Barbara County Flower and Nursery Growers Association and vice chair of the California Cut Flower Commission.

Over her career, Newman won numerous accolades. This included the Western Extension Directors' Award of Excellence for team farm water quality project in 2008, California Association of Farm Advisors and Specialists Distinguished Service Award in 1994, Outstanding and Creative Academic Teamwork Award from ANR four times, and the prestigious Alex Laurie Award in 2007 for most outstanding team floriculture research paper. She also received two awards from the interior landscape industry for her pioneering work in the development of statewide educa­tional programs for interior landscapers and for establishing the California Interior Plantscape Association (now known as the Plantscape Industry Alliance). Most recently, she received the California Association of Nurseries and Garden Centers 2013 Research Award for her work benefitting the nursery industry. The award was presented at the California Nursery Conference in Etiwanda on Oct. 9.

"One of the most rewarding aspects of my career has been the opportunity to work as a team with other UC CE advisors and campus researchers to solve real industry problems and develop cutting-edge technologies," Newman stated.

Barbara Allen-Diaz, UC vice president for Agriculture and Natural Resources, has granted Newman emeritus status. "I hope to continue to have positive impacts through my work as a Cooperative Extension advisor emeritus," Newman said. She is currently working on the "Container Nursery Production and Business Management" manual as technical editor and an author. UC ANR plans to publish the manual next spring.

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