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June seems as popular for retirement as nuptials.

Many people think of June when planning their weddings. This year, for a number of UC Cooperative Extension academics, the early summer month is time to retire from a long and distinguished career.

The four retirement releases I wrote this June represented a combined 111 years of experience with UC Cooperative Extension, and these aren't the only retirements to take place this month. The advisors' stories are being picked up by the media.

The Fresno Bee included Dave Snell's retirement in its Business Briefs.

California Farmer printed Joe Camarillo's release in its entirety.

The Central Valley Business Times covered Mario Viveros' retirement in its "People in the News" column.

Ken Willmarth's retirement news release was distributed today to his hometown newspapers. It is on the ANR news Web site.

Best wishes to all our new retirees.

June 2007 retirees
June 2007 retirees

Posted on Thursday, June 28, 2007 at 10:52 AM

Sheep as farmworkers are media darlings.

When I first heard that UC Cooperative Extension farm advisor Morgan Doran would be training sheep to clean up weeds in vineyards, I knew it would be a great story. I personally enjoyed visiting Doran and his cooperators in the study at the beautiful UC Hopland Research and Extension Center, getting the details of the research and writing a piece for the UC Web site and to share with the media.

I have also enjoyed what the media have done with the story. The Central Valley Business Times led their article, published June 2:

"Who knew? It turns out that sheep can be trained to be vineyard workers, say scientists at the University of California’s Hopland Research and Extension Center, south of Ukiah."

Author Joanne Marshall, writing for the June 24 edition of Farm news for New Zealand farmers, compared Doran's research to the effects of drinking too much:

"Whoever said sheep were stupid should think again. If you've had a big night out, drunk too much alcohol and had a terrible hangover do you decide to never go out drinking again? The answer is usually NO. But if you happen to be a sheep, you'll probably know better than to inflict pain and suffering on yourself a second time."

M. S. Enkoji of the Sacramento Bee opened his story, which was printed in the paper last Saturday, like a classified ad:

"Wanted: Hungry sheep, a year old, with limited dining experience, otherwise healthy. Work in the state's most breathtaking countryside."

Perhaps this experience shows reporters can't resist a story with which they can have some fun.

Sheep at the Hopland Research and Extension Center.
Sheep at the Hopland Research and Extension Center.

Posted on Wednesday, June 27, 2007 at 9:43 AM

Biofuels need feedstock.

The recent rise in gas prices has many folks thinking about biofuels. In fact, in the last week, the Associated Press reported that the push from Congress and the White House for hugh increases in biofuels is prompting the oil industry to scale back it plans for refinery expansions -- which could keep gas prices high for years to come. (AP stories appear in many media outlets and Web sites. Use the seven-day free search with the keyword "biofuel" to find this story.) The article, by H. Josef Hebert, says oil industry executives no longer believe there will be the demand for gasoline over the next decade to warrant billions of dollars in refinery expansions.

As politicians and oil executives debate the issues, and Americans continue paying mightily at the pumps, UC ANR is bringing together experts in Woodland tomorrow to discuss the potential for biofuel feedstock production in California using crops or crop residues. The event involves representatives from biofuel businesses in California, farmers and UC academics.

I'll be attending and taking extensive notes in order to share with the media any conclusions about UC research and outreach projects focused on biofuel feedstock development that the group is ready to share. For that reason, I won't be here to blog about UC ANR in the media, but will bring the blog up to date on Wednesday.

Posted on Monday, June 25, 2007 at 12:53 PM

Adolescent aggravations alleviated.

Just today I learned of an extremely helpful article that ran in the Sacramento Bee a week ago which includes "nagging points" for parents who are dealing with teenagers this summer. As the mother of two adolescents, I feel empowered by the story and can now more comfortably justify my parenting actions.

For the first section of the article, reporter Alison apRoberts (yes, that's the spelling given for her last name), went to Katherine Heck, specialist at the 4-H Center for Youth Development at UC Davis. (apRoberts identified Heck as a "survey researcher.")

Heck told the newspaper that the vast majority of teens in one recent survey of more than 2,000 high school seniors reported driving other kids around, even if they hadn't been licensed long enough for it to be legal.

"It doesn't seem like parents (are) too concerned, but they should be," Heck is quoted.

Other frightening survey results reported in apRoberts' story:

  • 39 percent of the students reported having ridden in a car with a driver who had been drinking alcohol
  • 27 percent said they had ridden in a car with a driver who had been using drugs.
  • 59 percent of the teens reported having been a passenger while another teen was driving dangerously

The article goes on go give tips and information on a variety of parental concerns regarding teenagers, including curfews, communication, impulsive behavior, drinking, sex and drug usage. It is well worth reading, printing and saving to use as "exhibit A" next time your teenager says you are unreasonably strict.

4-H Youth Development
4-H Youth Development

Posted on Friday, June 22, 2007 at 9:43 AM

More water wisdom.

The Orange County Register ran a 1,200-word story this week on a demonstration project at the UC South Coast Research and Extension Center in Irvine. The project was created to show homeowners how they can control urban runoff, which can wash pesticides, fertilizer and other contaminants into coastal waters and cause unwanted algae blooms.

The article, by reporter Pat Brennan, describes three small buildings made to look like homes centered on three different landscapes -- one that is "typical," which shows the problems with many residential landscapes, one that is "retrofitted," which shows how the typical landscape can be improved with a little effort, and one that is "low-impact," which shows how current technologies can reduce or eliminate contaminated water runoff.

"They're designed so people could see what they could implement to improve water quality," the article quotes Darren Haver, a water quality adviser with the UC Cooperative Extension. "'What are a few things I could do around my home?'"

Posted on Thursday, June 21, 2007 at 11:48 AM

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