Cooperative Extension is an engine for problem solving in California
The Cooperative Extension Service was established in 1914 in partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Land Grant colleges. In California, Cooperative Extension is organized through the UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, the division of the University of California system with a public mandate and the public trust to share research-based information with the public about healthy communities, nutrition, agricultural production and environmental stewardship. UC Berkeley was the first Land Grant college in California, and CNR currently has ~20 CE specialists.
My Extension Program: Most of the challenges we face in California natural, agricultural and urban systems require some kind of mapping technology as part of their solution. Sudden Oak Death, forest management, wetland restoration, and public health are areas where my blending of cutting edge mapping technologies and outreach has proven to be innovative, successful and impactful. My outreach program has a research base and an extension focus: I share research-based information from my lab with the public, policy-makers, and land managers about environmental management, plant productivity and health issues within communities. My approach to extension is strategic, practical and nimble: it involves assessing the problem and defining research gaps, assembling the necessary network of expertise to address issues, developing and delivering extension activities, evaluating the program’s effectiveness, and publishing scholarly products. Some examples of my extension work are below.
Cal-Adapt project (http://cal-adapt.org) is a web-based resource for teachers, policy-makers, planners and the public that distills complicated data about a changing climate into understandable visualizations of potential impacts. The site delivers relevant climate-related information, much of which is spatial in nature, to decision makers and the public in a manner that allows them to turn research results and climate projections into effective adaptation decisions and policies.
Geospatial literacy is important for natural resource policy makers and managers, extension professionals, adaptation practitioners, educators, and graduate and undergraduate students. Geospatial tools are increasingly fundamental to local and regional government activities, local and regional planners increasingly use them, they are the ubiquitous toolkit for natural resource managers, and they are increasingly used in CE offices for research and outreach. I have been developing and refining a curriculum in geospatial technology workshops that focus on basic and cutting-edge mapping technologies for a range of practitioners.
Award of Excellence for Extension
I was part of a group of extension professionals and faculty who were awarded the Western Extension Directors Association Award of Excellence for our work to address the outbreak of sudden oak death in California. This group was led by CE Advisor Yana Valachovic, and my efforts in developing the OakMapper.org website were recognized. Our diverse group was appreciated for our ability to understand the issue and situation, work with stakeholders and a larger extension network, develop multidisciplinary and collaborative work, incorporate innovative approaches, achieve impacts, and develop scholarly products.