Richard Mahacek, UC Cooperative Extension 4-H youth development advisor in Merced County from 1976 to 2012, will be inducted into the National 4-H Hall of Fame on Oct. 19 for his lifetime achievements and contributions to 4-H.
Mahacek is one of 15 people to be inducted during the ceremony at the National 4-H Youth Conference Center in Chevy Chase, Md.
The National 4-H Hall of Fame honorees are nominated by their home states, National 4-H Council, the National Association of Extension 4-H Agents or 4-H National Headquarters/National Institute of Food and Agriculture based upon their exceptional leadership at the local, state, national and international levels.
Honorees will receive a National 4-H Hall of Fame medallion, plaque and memory book during the ceremony. The National 4-H Hall of Fame was established in 2002 as part of the Centennial Project of the NAE4-HA in partnership with National 4-H Council and National Institute of Food and Agriculture, USDA. For more information about the National 4-H Hall of Fame event and past recipients, visit http://www.4-H-hof.com/
“We are proud to recognize the 2018 National 4-H Hall of Fame honorees for the passion, dedication, vision and leadership they have shown toward young people during their many years of service to 4-H,” said Jeannette Rea Keywood, National 4-H Hall of Fame Committee chair.
Mahacek joined a 4-H Club in Sonoma County when he was 10. During his 35-year 4-H career, Mahacek placed an emphasis on mechanical sciences and engineering projects. His work included development of curricula and activities in science processes, robotics, computers, GIS/GPS, bio-security and environmental issues, such as watersheds and wildlife habitats.
In 1988, Mahacek was a member of the team that developed the 4-H SERIES (Science Experiences and Resources for Informal Educational Settings) curriculum, which was funded by the National Science Foundation and Kellogg. SERIES was the first comprehensive pragmatic science education curriculum to join 4-H's traditional projects. In 2004, Mahacek served on the national leadership team for 4-H SET (Science, Engineering and Technology), a program that succeeded SERIES. Now known as STEM (Science, Engineering, Technology and Math), the project aims to enhance young people's interest in developing the knowledge and skills needed for the 21st century's technically oriented careers.
The crowning achievement of his career was the development of the 4-H Junk Drawer Robotics curriculum in 2011. The curriculum shows how to engage children in building robotic devices with rubber bands, Popsicle sticks, medicine dispensers and bamboo skewers – the kinds of things people already have around the house. The robotics program develops skills that go beyond science and engineering. The children learn communications, teamwork and critical thinking.
Junk drawer robotics is one part of a three-track robotics curriculum. The other tracks are virtual robotics, in which participants build virtual robots on computers, and robotics platforms, which employs commercial robot building kits for materials. The package of robotics programs was the No. 1 selling 4-H curriculum in the nation in 2011. Mahacek was also a driving force in the community in founding the UC Merced Engineering Service Learning Program Castle Science and Technology Center. This facility utilized a former US Air Force facility to provide hands-on science experiences to the youth of the county.
Mahacek received many honors for his contributions to 4-H and UC Cooperative Extension. In 1988 he received distinguished service awards from the state and national 4-H associations. The Merced County Farm City Ag Business Committee presented him its Agri-Education Award in 1992. Mahacek received the “Hands-On Heroes Award” at the Merced County Children's Summit.
Mahacek said the 4-H program has evolved during his tenure, but it has not changed its core objectives. “We went from being a predominantly ag program to including many other topics. Our members used to live in just rural settings, but now they come from the suburbs and urban neighborhoods,” Mahacek said. “But we're still promoting the concept of working together and gaining confidence by learning practical skills.”
Sutter and Yuba counties' UC Cooperative Extension marked the centennial anniversary of the local offices this year, reported Chris Kaufman in the Appeal Democrat. Led by county director Janine Hasey, the now-merged UCCE office celebrated 100 years of continuous support to farmers, youth, families and communities in the area.
Sutter/Yuba UCCE's historical significance was amplified when Hasey discovered a cache of historical documents in the office. Jessica Hougen of the Sutter County Community Memorial Museum created a display highlighting the information, which debuted at the 100th anniversary event. The exhibit will be on display at the museum through mid-December.
With Hougen's assistance, the UCCE Sutter-Yuba staff wrote articles highlighting UCCE's contributions to the local agriculture industry for the counties' crop reports.
The 2017 Yuba County Crop Report outlines the history of UCCE in the county, starting with the hiring of William Harrison as Yuba County's first UCCE farm advisor on July 1, 1918, then listing a timeline of contributions that resulted in economic benefit to farmers and reduced impacts on the environment.
The 2017 Sutter County Crop and Livestock Report lists major contributions of UCCE to the county over the past 100 years, with a sidebar focusing on rice.
“Our partnership goes back to our first farm advisors, who were housed in the same buildings with the ag commissioners in each county,” Hasey said.
The Appeal Democrat article included a sidebar focusing on the career of David Ramos, who in 1959 took his first job out of college as an extension assistant in the Sutter County UCCE office.
“When I was there, our office was downstairs from the post office in Yuba City and it's incredible to see how it's changed,” said Ramos, 85, of Davis. “What's so incredible is the number one crop when I got there was cling peaches. It tickles me to see the transition because I've seen the prune and walnut industry develop since then and it gave me an incredible perspective on the dynamics of the change that's taken place.”
The reporter also highlighted the 4-H Youth Development program in his article with quotes from Nancy Perkins of Live Oaks, an active 4-H volunteer.
“My father and his siblings were in Franklin 4-H, and it was a way of life for them back in the 1930s,” she said. “My dad was part of 4-H, I was part of 4-H, my children were part of 4-H and my grandchildren are part of it.”
UC Cooperative Extension creates network of researchers, educators
(Marysville Appeal-Democrat) Chris Kaufman, Sept. 30
The University of California, in 1913, created a new division – Agricultural Extension – in preparation for federal funding that would become available in 1914 through the Smith-Lever Act (federal law that established services connected to land-grant universities to inform citizens about current developments in agriculture and home economics and other matters).
Natural disaster is inevitable in California. And it can define a governor's legacy
(Los Angeles Times) Melanie Mason, Sept. 30
…Are there certain places where it's simply too dangerous to build?
It's a simple question, but politically charged. Land use — deciding where to build — has long been the domain of cities and counties. It's a responsibility local governments doggedly guard.
“The argument is that local control is sacrosanct and we can't let go of that,” Max Moritz, a wildfire specialist at UC Santa Barbara, said. “It's almost religious.”
Scientists Set to Save Grape, Garlic, and Onion Crops Under Attack
(Growing Produce) Paul Rusnak, Sept. 27
Two national research teams led by scientists at Washington State University (WSU) are on a mission to protect U.S. grape, onion, and garlic crops from deadly, fast-adapting pests and diseases. And thanks to more than $5 million in Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI) grants from USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture, they are off and running.
…SCRI funding will support four years of research, and three separate research components, spearheaded by WSU, USDA's Agricultural Research Service (ARS), New Mexico State University, Oregon State University, Cornell University, College of Idaho, and University of California's Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources.
What happens when you buy a house in a disaster zone – and no one told you?
(The Guardian) Molly Peterson, Sept. 25
…Last year's disasters reopened questions about local notice requirements. In Houston, some people lived inside a “flood pool”, an area used for emergency inundation, but beyond the boundaries of the floodplain itself. They now argue that the government should have told them about the risk. In August, California's governor, Jerry Brown, signed a bill requiring insurers to give homeowners a replacement cost estimate for loss in case of disaster.
But informing property owners about disaster risk isn't the same thing as reducing the risk itself, says Max Moritz, a UC cooperative extension fire scientist at the University of California, Santa Barbara. “Even perfect information isn't the whole solution. There's got to be some policies in place to help us where we're not always going to make the right decision.”
Why California Almond Growers Can Skip Nitrogen Application This Fall
(Growing Produce) Kathie Zipp, Sept. 25
From almond milk to almond butter to the wasabi-seasoned nut itself, consumers are eating more almonds than ever. California's dry, hot weather and access to quality irrigation water makes the state a top producer of the craved nut.
After a four-year drought, California's almond harvest is back on track reaching record levels. But smart growers continue to look for ways to keep production streamlined and efficient.
Franz Niederholzer, a Farm Advisor with University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) for Colusa and Sutter/Yuba Counties, and Research Coordinator at the Nickels Soil Lab in Arbuckle, has some suggestions when it comes to streamlining nitrogen applications. Located in the heart of almond country, the Nickels Soil Lab works with local growers, UCCE, and the Colusa Water District to improve production, help the economy, and protect natural resources.
The pitfalls of FDA's GMO food labeling
(The Hill) Kent Bradford, Sept. 24
…Regardless of these contrasting consequences for key California products, the proposal is consistent with FDA labeling regulations designed to prevent misleading consumers. For example, it is not legal to label plant products as being “cholesterol free,” because plants don't produce cholesterol. All plant products are cholesterol free, so it is misleading to label some of them that way, as it implies that other plant products not labeled as cholesterol free might contain the compound. At a minimum, advertising a plant product as being cholesterol free implies that some plant products do contain cholesterol, which is false.
County poised to buy old Chico courthouse
(Chico Enterprise Record) Steve Schoonover, Sept. 23
Butte County is about to buy a building in Chico that many people probably think it already owns.
… Then after a remodeling estimated to cost $139,500, the county Agriculture Department and UC Cooperative Extension office will move into the vacated space at the county center.
Bringing Science to the Masses, One Beer at a Time
(Courthouse News) Nicholas Iovino, Sept. 21
The PubScience lecture series grew out of an initiative at UC Berkeley called the Communication, Literacy and Education for Agricultural Research (CLEAR) project. It started three years ago with a $103,000 grant from the University of California Global Food Initiative and has grown to encompass four areas of student outreach: on campus, in the classroom, in government, and in the community.
UC Berkeley researcher and outreach specialist Peggy Lemaux launched the program in 2015. She says it's important for the public to understand why science is important, and having young scientists connect with regular folks in the community advances that goal.
“If we're not telling people about what we're doing and why they should care, then it's going to be really easy to cut funding for science,” Lemaux said.
Growing Coffee on the Frinj
(Stir) Dan Shryock, Sept. 21
… The roots of that cup of coffee started in 2002 when Dr. Mark Gaskell, then a farm advisor with the University of California's Cooperative Extension, came to Ruskey with an unusual suggestion. Try growing coffee.
University plays a crucial role for California ag
(Western Farm Press) Tim Hearden, Sept. 19
…Some commentators point to declining enrollment in many universities' humanities and social sciences programs as evidence that higher education in the future will be dominated by STEM subjects, such as business and economics, as students seek degrees that will lead to better employment.
If this is the case, I can think of no more practical application of science and technology than occurs in the agriculture departments of land grant colleges, including the University of California. In fact, it's not an overstatement to say the vast network of Cooperative Extension offices and research facilities operated by the UC has enabled agriculture in the Golden State to survive amid daunting challenges.
Drought? The UC is developing soil maintenance strategies, conducting groundwater recharge trials, and giving growers updated evapotranspiration information so they can manage water stress in trees. Labor shortages? The UC is working on numerous automation projects.
Is California's firefighting strategy making future fires worse?
(Mercury News) Lisa Krieger, Sept 19
“Unless we change course, we'll never work our way out of this dilemma,” said Scott Stephens, who leads UC Berkeley's Fire Science Laboratory. “Unless we can get ahead of it, it'll never get better.”
Helpful though they may be, avoid assassin bug's bite
(Western Farm Press) Tim Hearden, Sept. 19
So-called assassin bugs are often the heroes of an orchard, preying on other insects and keeping pest pressures under control. But as many a grower will tell you, when they bite, it often stings — a lot.
Ben Faber, University of California Cooperative Extension advisor based at Ventura, tells of the call he got recently from a grower asking about an insect that had bit him when he picked it up. The bite had caused fearsome pain and some swelling.
Farm advisors study Pacific flathead borer infestation in walnuts
(Western Farm Press) Todd Fitchette, Sept. 19
…Dr. Jhalendra Rijal, University of California integrated pest management (IPM) advisor, is looking at various discoveries of PFB in walnuts near the community of Farmington, gathering information for what could become a multi-year study.
Vegetation can give clues about long-term almond yields
(Western Farm Press) Tim Hearden, Sept. 19
Vegetative growth of almond trees has two main components, UC Cooperative Extension advisors Elizabeth Fichtner and Bruce Lampinen explain. They are vegetative shoot growth, which provides the overall architecture of the canopy, and spur production, which generates the tissues that give rise to fruit in subsequent season.
Citrus board relies on UC scientists for critical research
(Western Farm Press) Tim Hearden, Sept. 18
As the California Citrus Research Board celebrates its 50th anniversary, it has had no closer partner than the University of California.
Beth Grafton-Cardwell, director of the UC Lindcove Research and Extension Center in the foothills above Visalia, Calif., has seen lots of changes since arriving at the center in 1990. “When I first started, to estimate the yield of a tree we had to manually count the fruit,” she says. Now, citrus fruit is placed in bins that go through a packing line with a Compac fruit grading system that measures weights, sizes, shape, color, and even sugar content.
Golf Celebrates The Fruits Of Research At UC Riverside Turfgrass Field Day
(Fore Magazine) Craig Kessler, Sept. 17
Necessity may be the mother of invention, but research is its facilitator. And that's what the Turf Program at UC Riverside celebrates at the school's annual Turfgrass and Landscape Research Field Day every September, when golf industry professionals from various quarters gather to review the progress of the “inventions” necessity has dictated, and the game's fortunes have financed.
… That's why the SCGA joins the USGA, the state's various GCSAA and PGA Chapters, and a vast array of commercial entities in making annual contributions to the UCR Turf Program. Whether the subject is water footprint reduction, drought tolerant species, disease resistant strains, insect impervious strains, water restrictive protocols, irrigation efficiency, salinity tolerant grasses, wetting agents or any of the scores of developments that have in the past and can in the future assist the golf industry to remain viable in an increasingly difficult regulatory and cost consumptive environment, there is no better investment in that future than the kind of practical research Dr. Jim Baird and his team at UC Riverside engage in.
Master Gardener program arrives in Stanislaus, and it's looking for people to train
(Modesto Bee) John Holland, Sept. 16
Stanislaus County is joining the Master Gardener program, which trains volunteers to share their knowledge about how to grow stuff.
…The program is part of the University of California Cooperative Extension, which has an office off Crows Landing Road west of Ceres. Almost all of the state's 58 counties have joined Master Gardener since its 1981 launch.
Snapshot: Rice Industry Award
Chico Enterprise Record, Sept. 16
Dr. Randall “Cass” Mutters, second from right, retired UC Cooperative Extension farm advisor and country director, was awarded the California Rice Industry Award at the Rice Field Day on Aug. 29. UC Rice Specialist Dr. Bruce Linquist, second from left, made the presentation on behalf of the California Rice Research Foundation with Chairman Gary Enos, left, and Rice Experiment Director Dr. Kent McKenzie, right.
Arrivederci, cioppino? Climate change takes aim at our signature dish
(Mercury News) Lisa Krieger, Sept. 12
…The fate of recipes will vary, because each ingredient responds differently to the many influences of climate change, according to Tapan B. Pathak of UC Merced's Division of Agricultural and Natural Resources.
“Increases in temperature, higher variability in precipitation trends, increased frequency and intensity of extreme events such as drought, heat waves, and floods are expected to impact agriculture in California,” said Pathak, whose research on the impact of climate on California's $50 million agricultural market recently was published in the journal Agronomy.
New genetic technologies promise to deliver ‘AI on legs'
(Beef Central) Jon Condon, Sept. 11
A new wave of genetic technologies may one day provide ‘artificial insemination on legs' for the beef industry, a visiting US extension specialist told a University of Queensland audience recently.
Extension specialist Professor Alison Van Eenennaam, from the University of California's Department of Animal Science, spoke to a University of Queensland audience last month.
Homes in rural enclaves offer stunning views – and severe fire risk. Should they be built?
Modesto Bee) Ryan Lillis and Ken Carlson, Sept. 8
“How and where we are building is the under-represented, under-emphasized part of the whole problem,” said Max Moritz, a wildfire specialist with the University of California's cooperative extension. “Right now, as the state is burning again, we should be hearing about this accountability issue. But what do we hear right now? Holding utilities accountable. That whole discussion is sort of a distraction from a longer-term conversation about a longer-term solution.”
Can We Ever Bring Native Fish Back to the L.A. River?
(LA Magazine) Zoie Matthew, Sept. 7
Now, as the city prepares to remove parts of the river's concrete “straight jacket” in a nearly $1.5 billion dollar revitalization effort, some environmentalists see an opportunity to bring back the steelhead, along with other native fish like the Arroyo chub and the Santa Ana sucker. But it's not going to be easy, says Sabrina Drill, natural resources advisor for the UC Cooperative Extension. “It's hard to do piece-by-piece restoration projects for things adapted to river and stream systems,” she says. “And it's impossible for steelhead.”
Hundreds of drivers fled Interstate 5 as the fast-moving Delta fire surrounded them
(Los Angeles Times) Alejandra Reyes-Velarde , Jaclyn Cosgrove, Hannah Fry, Sept. 7
…“Maybe it's a coincidence” that the Delta, Hirz and Carr fires have all ignited in a cluster, making for one of the worst fire seasons Shasta County has seen in decades, said Scott Stephens, a fire sciences professor at UC Berkeley.
Or maybe it has to do with the fact that it's a heavily forested rural area, broken in some parts only by highways, which makes it so that vehicle sparks are dangerously close to fuel, he said. Stephens said the fires appear to all be human-caused accidents that just happened to ignite in the same area.
The Carr fire, which burned 229,651 acres and killed at least seven people, was started by a vehicle's flat tire, and Stephens suspects the cause of the Delta fire was also transportation-related.
VIDEO TOUR: Exclusive look at River Fire devastation in Mendocino County
(KRON4) Sara Stinson, Sept. 6
It's been one month since the Mendocino Complex Fire erupted, the largest wildfire in California history.
On Thursday night, KRON4 has an exclusive look at some of the devastation and what's ahead.
A more than six decades old University of California research center was among thousands of acres of land destroyed.
KRON4's Sara Stinson shows that scientists are turning the loss into something positive.
Watch the video to see Sara's full report.
Irrigation may be cause of canopy chlorosis in almonds
(Western Farm Press) Tim Hearden, Sept. 5
As growers have been irrigating their almond orchards in preparation for harvest, some may have been unnerved by the appearance of pale or yellow leaves in their canopies.
This is often the result of chlorosis, a condition in which leaves produce insufficient chlorophyll, which gives them their green color. A trio of University of California Cooperative Extension advisors suggests the cause may have something to do with irrigation decisions made in the orchard.
How Are This Year's Wildfires Impacting Specialty Crops?
(Growing Produce) Carol Miller, Sept. 5
…Yield will probably not be affected, says Margaret Shake Lloyd, Small Farms Advisor, University of California Cooperative Extension. Sunburn is an issue in the area, so smoke problems are balanced out by less sunburn.
But those crops that have sunburn may give growers some headaches.
“We saw a different sunburn appearance on fruit,” Lloyd says. “The appearance was different, lacking the typical sunburn ‘blister' and having a more even yellowing/orange look. It's being confused with ripening. It's not a major issue, but rather a new symptom to identify.”
Fighting Fire with Fire: California Turns to Prescribed Burning
(Yale Environment 360) Jane Braxton Little, Sept. 5
“If we do nothing we're going to have much more severe fires, more smoke, and potential damage,” said Scott Stephens, a fire science professor at the University of California, Berkeley. “There isn't a no-fire option.”
Grower sees potential for groundwater recharge
(Farm Press) Tim Hearden, Sept 4
…So Morris gladly allowed his ranch to be one of two sites that UC-Davis and UC Cooperative Extension scientists used to flood established alfalfa stands with storm water during the winters of 2015 and 2016.
The study's initial results were published earlier this year in the UC's journal California Agriculture, asserting that alfalfa can tolerate very heavy winter flooding for groundwater recharge.
A group of UC graduate students, led by UC Cooperative Extension biotechnology specialist Peggy Lemaux, is making science more accessible to the public by hosting nighttime lectures at Bay Area beer pubs, reported Nicholas Iovino of Courthouse News Service. The monthly talks have tackled topics ranging from microbial bacteria to the search for extraterrestrial life.
The PubScience lecture series grew out of an initiative at UC Berkeley called the Communication, Literacy and Education for Agricultural Research (CLEAR) project. Lemaux launched the project three years ago with a $103,000 grant from the UC Global Food Initiative. CLEAR reaches out to students, members of the community and policymakers.
“If we're not telling people about what we're doing and why they should care, then it's going to be really easy to cut funding for science,” Lemaux said.
The CLEAR group has grown exponentially since its inception. Lemaux believes the election of President Donald Trump and the policies that stem from his administration's denial of climate change helped spark a renewed interest in communicating science to the public.
“The group was much smaller before Trump was elected,” Lemaux said. “Seeing the rise of political extremism driven by misunderstanding of science was a huge factor.”
The Citrus Research Board is celebrating 50 years of careful scientific study to improve the sustainability of the California citrus industry, worth more than $7 billion per year. They have no closer partner than University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources, reported Tim Hearden in Western Farm Press.
A laboratory, screen houses and a research-sized citrus grader have been built at the UC Lindcove Research and Extension Center, largely made possible with the industry-funded Citrus Research Board. Since the 1990s, the board have given more than $2.3 million to Lindcove for facilities and has funded much of the center's research.
“It's fabulous,” said Beth Grafton-Cardwell, UC Cooperative Extension citrus entomologist and director of Lindcove. “There are committees from the CRB that interact with our researchers to maximize and orient the research toward the industry's needs.”
The industry is now facing the serious threat of huanglongbing (HLB) disease of citrus. The disease, which is spread by Asian citrus psyllid, has devastated the citrus industry in Florida. It has been detected in a handfull of backyard trees in Southern California, but so far has not made its way into commercial orchards.
New research programs at Lindcove include developing citrus varieties with tolerance to HLB, and perhaps a project to grow citrus under a screen in what is known as a Citrus Under Protective Structure, or CUPS. If built, the CUPS facility will be housed on a 10-acre section of the Lindcove center.
“We're making slow, steady progress” against HLB, Grafton-Cardwell said. “We don't see a silver bullet. However, that's where the bulk of the CRB budget is going now.”