University of California, Agriculture & Natural Resources
University of California, Agriculture & Natural Resources
University of California, Agriculture & Natural Resources
University of California
University of California, Agriculture & Natural Resources

Centennial Staff Profiles

Rachel Surls

Location
UCCE Los Angeles County
Title
Sustainable Food Systems Advisor
Time with ANR
25 years
Typical Day

My job is fun, in part, because everyday is different. I work on farm-to-fork food issues, focusing particularly on urban agriculture education, research and policy. My day includes anything from a visit to a farm to a trip to City Hall. My day also involves a lot of writing. A big part of what I do is translating information on agriculture into a format that's easy to read and understand. For example, people who operate urban farms, school gardens or community gardens need to understand, in basic terms, how and why to test their soil, but soil science is very technical and confusing. I help with that translation, from technical to practical.

Most Memorable Moment

Recently, I organized a tour of urban farms for Will Allen (founder of Growing Power based in Madison, Wisconsin). I got to spent time with him and a number of urban farm advocates. That was an amazing and inspiring day!

What I love Most About Working for ANR

I get to be creative and work on issues I care about.

My Story

I was a 25 year old with an agriculture degree fresh out of the Peace Corps (in Honduras from 1985-87), and I was new to Los Angeles. I was lucky to find a job as a school garden coordinator at UC Cooperative Extension. I drove all around Los Angeles helping teachers start school gardens. I loved it. I also loved the organization's mission, and I never left. I worked in various positions, including Urban Horticulture Advisor (1994-1997) and County Director (1997-2011).

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Here's to another 100 years of science and service!

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