USDA NRCS Works To Increase Diversity

NRCS Conducts Outreach for Diversity

 

By Emily McKay Johnson, Associate Editor

 

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) works with local growers across America to conserve the nation’s soil, water, air and other natural resources. Elisabeth “Elise” Miller, is an area engineer for the entire Southern California region. “I also serve my agency as the NRCS-California LGBT Special Emphasis Program Manager, a collateral duty that I perform on several levels to increase diversity,” said Miller.

 

“First, I work to educate employees within my agency, to make them better informed and more in tune to language,” Miller explained. “Then, I work to get a more diversified workforce within the USDA,” she added, to make the organization stronger and better.

 

Unlock the secrets in the soil diversity

“My efforts might include going to a university,” she elaborated, “trying to tie in with their resource center and encouraging more people who identify as LGBT to apply for federal jobs. Our colleges, the University of California (UC) and the California State (Cal State) University system, have a lot of really good, positive and powerful resource centers that I’m hoping will continue to help us with our outreach and pull more people in who want to work for us.”

 

“Certainly we do have human resources,” commented Miller. “And we do a lot of outreach. With California being so large and so diverse,” Miller said, “it is hard to reach out to everybody. We have to start with the big UC schools first. We also try to reach out to universities such as Fresno State, Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo or Pomona or UC Davis, or Humboldt State. Those would be schools that certainly we want to outreach to and try to bring more of those graduating students in under our fold.”

 

“My agency is a very technical agency,” said Miller. “We work on conservation-type issues—resource issues that farmers, ranchers or private landowners might deal with—requiring an agronomist, biologist or soil scientist. I often go out with a multi-disciplinary team and meet with a farmer, rancher, or just a landowner.”

 

“Every farmer I meet has some kind of issue,” Miller commented, “whether it’s pest management, whether it’s dealing with manure management or an erosion issue that’s going on. If they have a hillside orchard, they have to deal with that.”

 

“And obviously they focus a lot on drought management and water conservation,” Miller explained, “A lot of these farmers of course are forced to use groundwater, which is depleting the groundwater sources and may be causing irreparable damage.

 

We work cooperatively to try to help them resolve their land issues. That’s what I like about my agency—that we’re invited there. We’re not there to push a regulation. We’re there to help them to better manage. They always maintain control of their decision making. We try to give them options available and we have cost share programs to assist them, if something is identified. We work towards developing conservation plans on the property.”

 

The agency is also responsible for the soil survey work. “We map the soils five feet deep,” said Miller, “to gather information, resource information, which has worked fantastically well for a farmer to know what kind of soil he’s dealing with. It may make a difference on how a farmer irrigates. It may be why he’s having a problem with a crop or many other areas that could be helpful to them.”

 

“We are in the community. We’re very much aware; we know who the farmers are, we know what the issues are and we work with farmers to try to address their land problems. We don’t just pop in and then pop out,” Miller said.


The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRSC) works with local growers across America to conserve the nation’s soil, water, air and other natural resources with voluntary programs and science-based solutions that benefit both the landowner and the environment. 

Allen-Diaz honored by range management professionals

The Society for Range Management bestowed its highest honor, the Frederick G. Renner Award, on Barbara Allen-Diaz, UC vice president for the Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the society’s annual meeting today (Feb. 2) in Sacramento. A tremendous milestone, Allen-Diaz is the first female SRM member to receive the award in the society’s 68-year history.

The premier award is given annually to SRM members who have sustained accomplishments or contributions to rangeland management during the last ten years.

“Barbara has a record of outstanding research productivity that has affected the understanding and management of California rangelands and has had global impacts,” said Amy Ganguli, assistant professor of range science at New Mexico State University.

“Barbara is also a well-regarded educator who has mentored several graduate students and young professionals who are making significant contributions to rangeland and natural resource management,” said Ganguli, who, along with Fee Busby, Utah State University wildland resources professor, nominated her for the award.

This is not the first time Allen-Diaz has been recognized by her peers for her research on the effects of livestock grazing on natural resources, oak woodlands and ecosystems of the Sierra Nevada. The national society honored her with its Outstanding Achievement Award in 2001, and the following year the California chapter named her Range Manager of the Year.

In 2007, Allen-Diaz was among 2,000 scientists recognized for their work on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change when the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded jointly to the IPCC and Vice President Al Gore. Allen-Diaz’s contributions focused on the effects of climate change on rangeland species and landscapes. She has authored more than 170 research articles and presentations. She has been an active member of the Society for Range Management, serving on its board of directors and on various government panels.

Allen-Diaz, who has served as UC ANR’s vice president since 2011, is also a tenured UC Berkeley faculty member in the College of Natural Resources and currently holds the prestigious Russell Rustici Chair in Rangeland Management. She has been with the University of California since 1986.  She earned her bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees at UC Berkeley.

New Jordan Research Center Breaks Ground At Fresno State

by Patrick Cavanaugh

 

Under clear blue skies, with hundreds of agricultural industry members in attendance, the Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology at Fresno State broke ground yesterday on a new 30,000 sq. ft. Jordan Research Center, at the corner of Barstow and Woodrow Avenues, designed to foster collaboration among students and faculty in agricultural sciences and technology engineering and science and mathematics. The new research center of Fresno State is scheduled to open in the fall of 2015.

Ground BreakingFresno State President Joseph I. Castro said the world-class Jordan Research Center would provide many opportunities for students. “We are very excited about the Jordan Research Center. It’s going to provide many new opportunities for the next generations of leaders in agriculture, advance the research throughout our region and play a key role in strengthening our economy here in the Valley,” Castro said.

Castro said that the ag industry in California would be there to support that center well. “We are blessed with so many partnerships now with agriculture, and one of my highest priorities is to expand the number of partners, and this Center will help us do that.”

A $29.4 million dollar gift from the Jordan family to the College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology in 2009 made this facility possible. “We are so fortunate to have the Jordon’s as friends. They love agriculture, and they love Fresno State. And we are grateful for their gift.”

The monetary gift is the largest cash gift in Fresno State’s history and among the largest ever in the CSU system.

“My late husband Bud, as well as brother-in-law Lowell, would be so very pleased to see not only the family legacy tied to Fresno State agriculture, but to know that the future of agriculture will be well served by the work to be done in the research center,” said Dee Jordan.

Dee Jordan
Dee Jordan

During the groundbreaking ceremony, Castro also announced three gifts to establish endowments to enhance laboratory spaces inside the building:

Retired Fresno Dentist Harry Moodigian, who walked onto the Fresno State campus in 1956, has given $200,000 in support of a microbiology lab at the center. “I want to see my University in the forefront of research in the field of microbiology. This is a wonderful way of supporting the research program.

And, Dave Watkins, senior vice president of agricultural operations for Loam Spices and Vegetable Ingredients has established a $200,000 endowment to support the interdisciplinary research lab.

“We moved our headquarters to Fresno three years ago, and we immediately began reaching out to the University to build our relationship, established an intern recruiting program, and when this opportunity came along, it was a perfect fit for us,” said Watkins.

Alumni Earl and Beverly Knobloch gave in support of the instrument/robotics laboratory space.

The drought has a tremendous impact on nutrient cycles leading to top management decisions this year beyond agricultural liquid fertilizer recommends of balanced nutrient program to strengthen plants in times of stress which speeds recovery this year’s soil and plant analysis extra importance close attention to residual nitrate levels is critical remember practice responsible nutrient management during this drought here yes you can with agriculture liquid fertilizers@worldliquid.com

This $24 million project will feature open, flexible space designed for collaborative research. Faculty and students from the Jordan College will work alongside colleagues in the Lyles College of Engineering and the College of Science and Mathematics.

“At Fresno State, we want to support advances in the agriculture industry, and we have the opportunity to do that with the Jordan Research Center,” said Castro. “This facility is going to make a tremendous impact in the Valley and around the world. We’ll be able to perform research that will advance knowledge throughout the industry.”

“This is the first-of-its-kind on a CSU campus. Fresno State agriculture will be on the leading edge as we continue to make significant contributions to enhancing production agriculture, food systems and natural resources,” said Dr. Charles Boyer, dean of the Jordan College.

The state-of-the-art center will include wet and dry laboratories and laboratory support space. “For our students, the Jordan Research Center will create an environment where research becomes totally integrated into university life. This will be a place where the region’s greatest minds will enrich our environment and unlock the solution for our greatest challenges,” Boyer said.

“Fresno State specializes in applied research, aligning its resources with the needs of the Central Valley,” Castro said. “The Jordan Research Center is a perfect example of the vision and creativity that will drive Fresno State’s growth.”

 

For more information, contact Shannon Fast, associate director of development for the Jordan College, at 559.278.4266 or sfast@csufresno.edu. To discuss potential partnership opportunities in the Jordan Research Center, contact Alcidia Freitas Gomes at 559.278.4266 or alcidia@csufresno.edu.