Westlands Water District Announces Scholarship Winners

Westlands Water District Announces Recipients of the Six West Side Scholarships

News Release

Westlands Water District awarded scholarships to six high school seniors in recognition of the students’ exceptional academic achievement. Each recipient, all of whom are from west side communities, will receive $1,000 towards their community college or university expenses. Applicants were judged on their academic performance, school activities, and community leadership, and each applicant submitted an essay on an agricultural-related topic.

The District congratulates the following 2019 scholarships winners:

Joe Cardiel III, a senior at Firebaugh High School. Cardiel plans to attend Fresno State, where he will major in Agriculture Education, with plans to pursue a career as an agricultural educator.

Cardiel is a varsity basketball and varsity baseball player and FFA chapter secretary. As a Firebaugh high school student, Cardiel was honored with the Eagle Baseball award, FFA State Degree, and FFA Outstanding senior.

Marvin Cornejo, a senior at Mendota High School. Cornejo is an honors student who plans to attend Fresno State to pursue a degree in Chemistry. Following college, Cornejo aspires to pursue a career as a pharmacist.

Cornejo is a Mendota School Board student representative; a West Side Youth volunteer; an avid athlete involved in track &field, cross country wrestling and soccer; and an FFA Greenhand and Chapter degree holder.

Myriam Castro, a senior at Tranquility High School. Castro will graduate in the top five of her class. Castro plans to attend Fresno State, where she will major in Criminology.

During her time at Tranquility High School, Castro was involved in the Honor Guard and the California Student Opportunity and Access Program (Cal-SOAP) and obtained the ROP Criminal Justice certificate of completion and the State Seal of Biliteracy.

Peter Hawken, a senior at Lemoore High School. Hawken was honored as the Chemistry Student of the Year. Following graduation, Hawken will attend the University of California, Santa Cruz, where he will major in Environmental Science. With his degree, Hawken aims to pursue a career as an environmental and agricultural irrigation specialist.

Hawken is the Varsity Soccer team captain, both the soccer and tennis club president and is involved in Jesus Club and a California Scholarship Federation life member.

Jazmin A. Murillo, a senior at Coalinga High School. Murillo plans to attend West Hills College Coalinga, where she will major in Political Science and film. Following college, Murillo plans to pursue a career as a paralegal and as a film director.

Murillo is the editor-in-chief of the Coalinga High School Magazine, President of the After School Program Leadership Club and VIDA club, and was on the Principal’s Honor Roll from 2015 to 2019. Murillo has also been honored with the Bausch + Lomb Honorary Science Award, first place in the Chevron Robotics Challenge and as a National Hispanic Scholar.

Emma Andrade, a senior at Riverdale High School. Andrade is an honor roll student who plans to attend Fresno State, where she will major in Physics and plans to pursue a career as an experimental physicist.

Andrade plays varsity basketball and tennis and has been involved with Rural Route 4-H since 2010, continually holding leadership positions, such as Corresponding Secretary and Camp Director. Andrade has been honored with the Academic All-League Team and Letter, County Heartbeat Artistry Award and All-League First Team Varsity Tennis.

Westlands is honored to recognize and assist these outstanding students; as reiterated by Tom Birmingham, general manager of Westlands, “these scholarships represent a small gesture of thanks and support to the communities on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley that make our region productive and vibrant. Our hope is that these students will continue to contribute to their communities and make them even better for future generations.”

UC’s Karen Klonsky Retires

Karen Klonsky Retires, Gets Major Credit for CA Agricultural Cost and Return Studies

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Deputy Editor and Laurie Greene, Editor

 

This is an exclusive interview with Karen Klonsky, UC Davis Cooperative Extension specialist emeritus, in the UC Davis Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics. Her expertise has been farm management and production, sustainable agriculture and organic agriculture.

CAT: Congratulations on your recent retirement!UCANR 100 years logo

Klonsky: Thanks Patrick. I retired on July 1, 2015, after 34 years. I started at UC Davis in ’81, straight from graduate school.

CAT: What has been your primary research interest?

Klonsky: My primary research areas are sustainable and organic agriculture. I have approached these subjects from several dimensions, including the economic feasibility of alternative farming practices, the size and growth of organic production in California, and factors influencing the adoption of alternative farming systems.

CAT: Wow, what a great career! I understand your interest in alternative farming systems began with your dissertation work comparing alfalfa systems with integrated pest management.

Klonsky: I studied agricultural economics in graduate school and started working with a professor in my department who had a joint appointment in agricultural economics and entomology. And I just became very interested in that research area.

I worked with entomologists and researchers on a computer model of plants and alfalfa weevils, and their interaction, plus a management component. I studied the plant and bug components, then did the management part and imposed it on top and asked, ‘If you did this, how many bugs would die?’ The plant model showed how much the alfalfa would grow, and at what point you could cut the alfalfa and achieve the desired yield. I never actually did any fieldwork.”

CAT: Since 1983, you not only directed ongoing Cost and Return Studies, but the development of an entire archived library of Cost and Return Studies for the UC Davis Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics. You recently completed studies on pistachios and walnuts, right?

Klonsky: Yes, both “Sample Costs to Establish and Produce English Walnuts In the Sacramento Valley, Micro sprinkler irrigated” and “Sample Costs to Establish and Produce Pistachios In the San Joaquin Valley-South, Low-Volume Irrigation.”

Our library contains studies about field, tree and vine crops and animal commodities. But since I retired, Dan Sumner, director, University of California Agricultural Issues Center and Frank H. Buck, Jr. Distinguished Professor for the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics has taken that over and I continue to be peripherally involved.

CAT: These cost studies have been recognized worldwide.ARE Cost and Return Studies

Klonsky: Yes, and it has been very gratifying work. We decided to put them online routinely, and we have had a million downloads per year. Around 2005, Pete Livingston, my staff research associate, got the idea of scanning in the older studies. All of the newer studies were in electronic file format, so posting was easy. However, most of the older studies were paper copies, so we got a grant to scan and add them to our new online archive.

CAT: What was the most interesting thing about doing those cost studies?

Klonsky: I loved doing those studies. I really learned a lot because all cost studies are done directly with farmers we met through county farm advisors. I really got to know what farmers were thinking about and what their options were.

CAT: So those were real costs, not university costs?

Klonsky: Those were not university costs. The farmers tell us what equipment they will use, and then we calculate the cost of using their equipment—the fuel used to operate the equipment and the repair costs—with an agriculture-engineering program.

CAT: Do you have a math background?

Klonsky: Yes, I got my bachelor’s at the University of Michigan in mathematics. It was very helpful.

CAT: And you also earned your Ph.D. at the University of Michigan?

Klonsky: Yes.

CAT: So did you grow up in Michigan?

Klonsky: No, I grew up in New York.

CAT: And you just had an interest in going to Michigan State University?

Klonsky: Well, I had an interest in agriculture because I had an uncle who farmed corn and vegetables in upstate New York. We would go up there and I thought it was the most wonderful thing in the world.

CAT: What were some of the highlights of your career?

Klonsky: For many, many years, I was involved in the long-term on-campus sustainable agriculture research on land that is now on Russell Ranch, but it started as Sustainable Ag Farming Systems. We looked at four different farming systems, organic, low input, high-input, and we did a lot of analyses with cover crops and rotations. It was great to work on that project.

CAT: And you worked with USDA on the trends of organic farms?

Klonsky: And then I worked quite a bit with Department of Food and Agriculture on using the registration data for their organic farmers to compile statistics about how many farmers they had, what they grew, and the number of acres they planted with each crop. They had this database, which started in 1992 I believe, but they weren’t using it. Now the most recent registration analysis is available for 2012.

CAT: Just to try to get more data on the organic movement and organic growth?

Klonsky: Yes, because there was no data at all about it. Now NASS (National Agriculture Statistics Service) conducts a nationwide Organic Census, in addition to the regular Census of Agriculture.

CAT: I understand you served as an editor of the Journal of American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers (ASFMRA). What did that entail?ASFMRA

Klonsky: Yes. I did that for many years. ASFMRA is a national organization. The Journal of the ASFMRA comes out annually. As editor, I corresponded with the authors, assigned reviewers, and ultimately, accepted or rejected submissions, like any journal.

CAT: Did you travel a lot with your work and presentations?

Klonsky: You know, not so much, I went to Spain one time and France once for work. But I did travel around domestically to symposiums and conferences to speak on the economics of growing a lot of different crops, including many presentations at the EcoFarm Conference.

CAT: You worked and collaborated with some really interesting people.

Klonsky: Most of my important collaborations were conducting trials with people in other disciplines. For instance, at Russell Ranch, I was the only economist involved in the collaboration with plant pathologists and pomologists who ran trials to discover fumigation alternatives in the preplanting of trees.

Then I worked with people at UC Santa Cruz on alternatives for strawberry fumigation. Most of my work has been interdisciplinary.

CAT: California farming in general is huge, diverse industry. We produce 60% of the fruits and vegetables, and nearly 100 percent of the nut crops that people across the country consume. Any comments on that and on how valiant and resilient farmers are to get through year after year, particularly lately with the drought and the lack of water deliveries?

Klonsky: When I first started, there was a land price bubble, and there were a lot of bankruptcies because people had these land payments they just couldn’t pay.

It was kind of like the mortgage crisis that housing saw in 2008, agriculture saw in the early 80s.

CAT: So as you have been editor for the Journal of the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers, you see land values going up and that keeps agriculture strong—the high land values, right?

Klonsky: Well, but it keeps it expensive. So now there is more and more leasing of land. As farmers retire from permanent crops, they have an orchard, but they don’t really want to sell it, so they lease it.

CAT: There you go. Keep it somehow in the family.

Klonsky: Yes, they try to keep ownership in the family. Or what we see also are these development leases where a young farmer can’t afford to buy the land, so they lease the land, but they pay for the trees to be planted.

CAT: So you are still coming to your office at UC Davis?

Klonsky: I am officially retired, but we have what we call a ‘partial recall’ where you can do things if you have funding. I have a project along with Rachel Goodhue, Professor, UC Davis Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, with the California Department of Food and Agriculture, funded through the California Department of Pesticide Regulation. The Department of Pesticide Regulations is required by law to do an economic analysis of all proposed new regulations. So that is what I am working on.

CAT: Give me a couple of examples. VOC regulations?

Klonsky: Yeah, we do VOC.

CAT: Are you looking at sustainable groundwater legislation?

Klonsky: No, just pesticide regulation. It is funded by the Mill tax on pesticides.

CAT: Did you work with a lot of graduate students at UC Davis?UC Davis Graduate Studies

Klonsky: Oh yeah, I worked with a lot of graduate students coming through. One of them was on different ways of pesticide management on eucalyptus trees. I said I went to Spain. On that trip, I spoke about growing eucalyptus for firewood.

CAT: That was an economic study, wasn’t it?

Klonsky: Yes it was. They grow it not for firewood, but for paper. But that never really caught on here.

CAT: Are you bullish on agriculture? Do you think Ag is going to continue thriving in California?

Klonsky: Oh, sure. Oh, sure. But I think that the water situation is definitely real, and I think agriculture already has definitely made tremendous strides in irrigation systems, especially the subsurface irrigation in vegetables, in particular processing tomatoes, which I worked on.

CAT: That was a huge improvement in growing tomatoes. And people didn’t think it was going to work, but it turned out to be fantastic.

Klonsky: Yeah, a really win-win on that one. And orchards are getting more efficient. If you look at the water per pound of crop produced, you see major improvements with water efficiency.

CAT: Absolutely. Of course, most plants transpire most of the water they take up through the roots, up through the leaves and the stomata cells. By the way, do you have any interesting stories regarding your career?

Klonsky: It’s not the highlight, but the weirdest thing of my career is I got an email from somebody in Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries from the United Arab Emirates. They wanted me to give a live presentation about Cooperative Extension in California and how it’s organized.

So I had to go to this office building in downtown Sacramento at 10:00 at night because of the time difference. I went into a conference room that had a special kind of projector so I could see them and they could see me. And on the monitor I see all these men walked in—they were all men—and half of them were in Western dress and half of them were wearing a Sheik-like headdress, with a band that sits on top and holds it on.

That was crazy, just being downtown after everybody is gone and the whole building was dark and quiet, except the one room that I was in.

CAT: How long was the presentation?

Klonsky: Gosh, maybe an hour.

CAT: You needed to do some research for that presentation?

Klonsky: Yeah, I had to do some research, I had to think about Cooperative Extension in a different way—the big picture. 

CAT: Keep up the good work, and I hope you are enjoying retirement.

Klonsky: Yeah, I come in two days a week, so it is nice to see everybody. I still get a lot of emails, which I need to answer.

UC President Janet Napolitano Presents Food Initiative Plan to CDFA

University of California President Janet Napolitano today (July 1) presented the university’s plans for a comprehensive food initiative to the California State Board of Food and Agriculture.

The UC Global Food Initiative is intended to marshal the university’s resources — including curriculum and world-class research, student efforts and operational efforts in place across the university’s 10 campuses — to address global challenges related to food.

“This initiative grows out of a commitment made by all 10 UC campus chancellors and myself,” Napolitano said. “It is a commitment to work collectively to put a greater emphasis on what UC can do as a public research university, in one of the most robust agricultural regions in the world, to take on one of the world’s most pressing issues.”

The food initiative will build on UC’s tradition of innovative agricultural research to support farmers and ranchers. Future efforts will build on work already begun by UC’s 10 campuses and its Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) to address internal and external issues with a variety of approaches.

UC research, for example, taught Californians how to remove salts from the alkali soils in the Central Valley, transforming that barren landscape into one of the world’s most productive farming regions, Napolitano noted in her presentation to the California State Board of Food and Agriculture.

Today, the World Food Center at UC Davis stands with 26 other centers dedicated to food and agriculture on that campus; students and faculty at UC Santa Cruz are transforming the field of agroecology; and the Berkeley Food Institute is studying the relationship between pest control, conservation and food safety on Central Coast farms. The cutting-edge Healthy Campus Initiative at UCLA taps all members of the campus community.

The initiative is not limited to seeking any single solution or set of solutions to the myriad food issues confronting the world, Napolitano said.

“The idea,” she said, “is to provide the intellectual and technical firepower, as well as the operational examples needed for communities in California and around the world to find pathways to a sustainable food future.”

In describing the building blocks for the initiative, Napolitano noted that the university’s agricultural outreach and public service programs — in every California county and more than 100 nations — bring UC resources to individuals and communities to help them access safe, affordable and nutritious food while sustaining scarce natural resources.

The university’s work also will help inform and drive policy discussions from the local to the international levels, and expand partnerships with government agencies such as the California Department of Food and Agriculture.

“This initiative shows great vision and leadership from President Napolitano and the University of California,” said CDFA Secretary Karen Ross, “Climate change and population growth will greatly strain our ability to provide healthy food to people here and around the world.

“President Napolitano’s proposal to leverage the strategic assets of the entire UC organization makes it a valuable partner in addressing the significant challenges and opportunities for our production agriculture and food system.”

Emphasizing that student engagement is key, Napolitano announced, as one of her first actions, the funding of three $2,500 President’s Global Food Initiative Student Fellowships to be awarded on each campus to undergraduate or graduate students. The fellowships will fund student research projects or internships.

Among other early efforts to be undertaken as part of the initiative are the following:

  • Internally, campuses will heighten their collective purchasing power and dining practices to encourage sustainable farming practices, and model healthy eating and zero food waste; food pantries and farmers markets that exist on some campuses will be spread to all 10. Partnerships with K-12 school districts to enhance leveraging procurement for these purposes also will be explored.
  • Food issues will be integrated into more undergraduate and graduate courses, catalogues of food-related courses will be developed, and demonstration gardens will be made available on each campus to increase opportunities for students to participate in experiential learning.
  • Data mining of existing information will be deployed to help develop insights and action plans for California agriculture and responses to climate change.

New policies will be enacted to allow small growers to serve as suppliers for UC campuses.