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Posts Tagged: Monica Cooper

Farm advisor helps keep Napa County agriculture safe and strong

Napa County UC Cooperative Extension viticulture advisor Monica Cooper is critical to the local agricultural industry, but her role is not well understood by the public, according to a profile in the Napa Valley Register.

Cooper took the post two years ago, following the untimely death of her predecessor Ed Weber.

“Monica could not have arrived at a more important time for Napa’s winegrape industry,” the story quoted Jennifer Putnam, executive director of the Napa Valley Grapegrowers Association. “We were incredibly fortunate to have such an accomplished entomologist in the role just as the European grapevine moth infestation was being discovered. She, along with our ag commissioner and others, quickly developed and acted on a plan to control the spread of this devastating pest. Her sense of urgency and expertise were critical in our ability to get a handle on that outbreak.”

Cooper has a doctorate degree in plant medicine from the University of Florida, where she also studied entomology, plant pathology, weed and soil science, agronomy and horticulture, the article said.

“I think Monica has (been) a tremendous asset for the valley,” Whitmer was quoted. “I feel bad that right out of the gate she had to deal with the European grapevine month, but she’s been a tremendous help in providing the science to help fight it.”

A former Peace Corps volunteer, Cooper got her start at UC in the  Berkeley laboratory of biological control specialist Kent Daane.

Cooper told reporter Paul Franson she is happy with her job in Napa.

"I love working in an agricultural county,” Cooper was quoted. “The variety of work is most interesting, too. You never know what will happen and I could never sit in an office all day. I love working with growers. They’re always thirsty for information.”

Posted on Tuesday, March 29, 2011 at 8:51 AM
Tags: Monica Cooper (14), Peace Corps (2)

Many UC academics heeded Kennedy's call to 'serve the cause of peace'

When President John F. Kennedy created the Peace Corps in 1961, he not only sent thousands of Americans to serve the cause of peace in the developing world, he set them on a course of service that continued when they returned to the U.S. A significant number came to work for UC Cooperative Extension.

One of them is Jim Grieshop, a now-retired UCCE community education development specialist, who was profiled in an article in the February issue of Alaska Airlines Magazine marking the Peace Corps' 50th anniversary.

Acceptance into the Peace Corps helped Grieshop achieve his personal goal of living and working in Latin America, the article said. In May 1964, he arrived in Cayambe, Ecuador, to spend two years as a science teacher. He quickly learned to be flexible.

"The science teacher in the village didn't really want me to teach science," Grieshop was quoted in the story. "So I taught English in primary schools and the high school . . . . We put on a rodeo, we did some summer programs - I was kind of making it up as I went along."

Here are some of the other UCCE academics, past and present, who served in the Peace Corps:

Monica Cooper, viticulture farm advisor in Napa County, volunteered in an agrarian community in Panama.

Jeff Dahlberg, director of the UC Kearney Agriculture Research and Extension Center, served for three years in the Republic of Niger.

Chris Dewees, retired specialist in Cooperative Extension marine fisheries, volunteered in Chile.

Morgan Doran, livestock and natural resources farm advisor in Solano County, volunteered in Ecuador.

Ben Faber, Ventura County farm advisor, served in Togo, Africa.

Mark Gaskell, small farm advisor in San Luis Obispo County, served in Venezuela.

Juan Guerrero, retired farm advisor emeritus for Riverside and Imperial counties, worked with subsistence farmers and large-scale commercial farmers in Paraguay and Peru.

Glenda Humiston, vice president, UC Agriculture and Natural Resources, served in Tunisia, North Africa.

Susan Laughlin, retired regional director, spent three years in Colombia.

David Lewis, watershed management advisor in Marin County, volunteered in Niger.

Mike Marzolla, retired 4-H advisor in Ventura County, coordinated a school and community garden program in Guatemala.

Richard Molinar, retired small-scale farm advisor for Fresno County, served in Honduras.

Jeff Mitchell, cropping systems specialist, UC Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center, served in Botswana, Africa.

Rachel Surls, UCCE sustainable food systems advisor in Los Angeles County, served in Honduras.

Jack Williams, the retired Sutter/Yuba county director, worked alongside farmers in Kenya, Africa.

Ken Wilmarth, former 4-H advisor in Stanislaus County, and his wife, Jenny, spent two years in Chavin, Peru.


Have I missed any UCCE Peace Corps volunteers? Please post a comment letting me know.

President Kennedy greets Peace Corps volunteers in 1961. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons.)
President Kennedy greets Peace Corps volunteers in 1961. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons.)

Posted on Thursday, February 3, 2011 at 9:16 AM

Biodynamic farming moves toward mainstream

Nearly 200 growers, vintners, retailers, sommeliers and other tradespeople attended a workshop on biodynamic winemaking Dec. 2, prompting San Francisco Examiner wine blogger Annette Hanami to suggest the process is becoming mainstream.

"Ultimately, biodynamic wines are becoming mainstream because consumers demand it," the author wrote. "Biodynamic products are becoming less 'kooky' and more attractive than the scarier mass-produced alternatives."

UC Cooperative Extension teamed up with Demeter USA to offer the biodynamic program and UC farm advisors Glenn McGourty and Monica Cooper were presenters.

Biodynamic farming is a method of organic production that the involves the use of fermented herbal and mineral "preparations" as compost additives and field sprays, and the use of an astronomical sowing and planting calendar.

With stores like Walmart now selling organic produce and products made with organic ingredients, being “sustainable” and “green” are no longer enough to distinguish a producer in a competitive global market, Hamini wrote.

Currently, there are 75 California wine producers who are certified biodynamic or in transition; the growth rate is 15 percent per year.

Posted on Monday, December 13, 2010 at 10:53 AM

Newspaper airs differences on biodynamic farming

UC Cooperative Extension involvement in a biodynamic farming workshop Dec. 2 in Napa has been met with criticism from a local vintner who believes the farming system is a hoax, according to a story in the Napa Valley Register.

The article said Stu Smith, the co-owner of Smith-Madrone Vineyards and Winery, is “shocked and outraged” that UC Cooperative Extension is co-sponsoring a “Shortcourse in Biodynamic Winegrowing.”

Smith, who earned a master’s degree in enology and viticulture at UC Davis, said that UCCE should participate only if it’s a balanced and comparative event.

Napa County farm advisor Monica Cooper and Mendocino County farm advisor Glenn McGourty, who are slated to speak at the workshop, disagree.

Cooper said she will discuss scientifically validated IPM techniques, and has no control over what other presenters say.

“It is our responsibility as UC farm advisors to represent the scientific community at a variety of venues, and to ensure that we are presenting information on scientifically validated processes," Cooper was quoted.

McGourty has conducted some research on biodynamic farming practices. Writer Paul Franson reported that, according to McGourty, such farming systems "are well documented to improve soil quality, grow productive crops, reduce the need for petrochemical inputs, recycle farm byproducts in a safe and effective way, and provide a gentler footprint on nature compared to some practices used by conventional growers.”

Franson also quoted assistant director of UC Ag and Natural Resources News and Information Outreach Pam Kan-Rice.

"The University of California doesn’t ‘promote’ any particular way of farming, it supports sustainable farming systems,” Kan-Rice was quoted.

UC supports sustainable farming systems.
UC supports sustainable farming systems.

Posted on Monday, November 29, 2010 at 9:26 AM

UCCE leads the charge against grapevine pest

UC Cooperative Extension farm advisors Monica Cooper and Lucia Varela are taking the lead in helping Napa County growers manage their vineyards infested with European grapevine moth, according to an article in Grower magazine.

The advisors are monitoring the pest's lifecycle, and when it's the optimum time for pesticide treatment, they send e-mail alerts to growers.

Growers then have a 10-day window to treat the vineyard, said the article, written by editor Vicky Boyd. The pesticides Intrepid and Altacor are registered for conventional production; Entrust and Bacillus thuringiensis are available for organic farmers.

A second European grapevine moth control effort in Napa County involves distribution of twist-ties on vines to dispense pheromones that disrupt the pests' mating.

In the San Joaquin Valley, where only a few moths have been trapped, agricultural officials are relying on insecticides alone. UC Integrated Pest Management entomologist Walt Bentley told the reporter that clouds of pheromone would shut down detection traps.

“I’m confident we can eliminate it here in the Central Valley,” Bentley was quoted.

For more information, Boyd directs readers to the UC Integrated Pest Management web page on European grapevine moth.

European grapevine moth.
European grapevine moth.

Posted on Friday, August 13, 2010 at 8:37 AM

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