Ag Expo celebrates UCCE’s 100th year

To mark its 100th anniversary, UC Cooperative Extension (UCCE) will host a free educational speakers’ series and hands-on family-friendly activities at the World Ag Expo, Feb. 11-13, in Tulare.

Nineteen UC academics – including UC Cooperative Extension county advisors, UC Cooperative Extension specialists, and leaders from University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) – will make half-hour presentations on the hour from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. over the course of the three-day show. All presentations will be inside a heated tent at space K50, just east of Pavilion B.

UC Cooperative Extension was established by an act of Congress in 1914 to help farmers, homemakers, and youth incorporate the latest university research into their lives. At first geared towards strengthening rural areas, UC Cooperative Extension has become integral to urban and suburban communities as well. A century later, UC Cooperative Extension advisors and researchers live and work in every California county and partner with local communities to solve economic, agricultural, natural resource, youth development and nutrition issues. Throughout 2014, UC Cooperative Extension will host special events to celebrate the organization’s 100 years of science and service. The centennial kicks off with the speakers’ series at the World Ag Expo, the world’s largest agricultural exposition.

“Conducting research and providing practical information to farmers and the general public are the hallmarks of UC Cooperative Extension,” said Marissa Stein, UCCE centennial coordinator. “We will be celebrating our centennial by doing what we do best – extending information that benefits communities and local economies in California.”

The theme for UCCE centennial presentations on opening day, Feb. 11, is “The good, the bad and the ugly: Species in California,” which focuses on species that benefit and imperil agriculture and urban landscapes. Speakers will discuss the use of natural enemies to control pests, insect problems that have been introduced into California from other countries, and the imminent threat of Asian citrus psyllid to the state’s commercial citrus-producing areas. The mystery of honeybee colony collapse disorder and the perennial menace of pocket gophers and squirrels will also be addressed. Bill Frost, associate vice president of UC Agriculture and Natural Resources and a rangeland management expert, will speak about introduced species that threaten California’s prized wildlands.

Presentations on the second day of the show, Feb. 12, focus on “Wholesome food for a hungry planet.” Featured speaker Barbara Allen-Diaz, UC vice president for Agriculture and Natural Resources will speak at 11 a.m. about “Building on UC ANR research to help feed the world.” Other topics that day will be emerging diseases affecting landscapes and orchards, tracking pathogens in the fresh produce industry, using World War I gardens as a model for modern food systems, and incorporating a healthy local food into the diet.

The final day of the show, seven UC presenters will address the theme “Sustainable is attainable.” The experts will discuss such critical current topics as nitrate and groundwater management, the potential for producing biofuel from California crops, and the adoption of new conservation systems that will revolutionize row crop production in the San Joaquin Valley. Current research findings on cotton production, weed management and air pollution sources round out the day’s offerings.

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