Centennial Staff Profiles
UCCE Marin County
Forest Health Educator
Time with ANR
I provide outreach, education, and coordination activities around various forestry issues in California. My primary work began with the tree disease sudden oak death (caused by the non-native pathogen Phytophthora ramorum) and has expanded over the years to include other forest pests (the goldspotted oak borer) and issues (firewood as a pest vector), as well as stints with the 4-H program and other environmental education programs for youth. On a typical day, I will respond to a concerned member of the public, edit documents for use in one of the task forces or work groups whose work it is to deal with forest pests, upload a photo and caption to a Facebook page or website, and plan an activity for an outreach event. Other activities may include presenting a talk or leading a field trip, creating a short educational video, or coordinating with other professionals—but not all in the same day!
Most Memorable Moment
There are a lot of memories to choose from, but one that I think shows the value of our work is from a few years back. It was 2003 and I had only been working with UCCE for a little more than a year. I was helping coordinate a conference on sudden oak death when news broke that the pathogen Phytophthora ramorum had been discovered on nursery stock that had been shipped around the United States. This was a huge development, since it was relatively unexpected and it highlighted the risk to the rest of the country. The conference was abuzz with questions and concern. I realized then how important the educational network I maintained was in providing reliable scientific information to other professionals and the general public.
What I love Most About Working for ANR
I love that UCCE is responsive to people's needs. I'm not just making widgets for a product that no one wants; I am answering questions and providing information on topics that people are concerned about. I also love the variety of activities that this entails—everything from in-person workshops to online social media to private meetings to enormous science festivals—and all of the varied work that those different activities entail.
Shortly after receiving my Masters degree, I saw a job posting that highlighted education and coordination activities around an important new environmental threat, sudden oak death in our coastal forests. At the time, I wasn't aware of Cooperative Extension—even though I had two degrees from UC. I was mostly drawn to the idea of working on an important environmental issue in the Bay Area. As I settled into the work and it expanded into other issues, I realized how much the mission of UCCE appealed to me and what a good fit it was for my professional interests.