Spring 2012 Newsletter

Notable events, news and highlights.
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Welcome from the Director


Welcome to the inaugural issue of the UC Davis Humphrey Fellowship Program’s E-newsletter. This semi-annual publication is intended to highlight program activities and upcoming events. We hope you enjoy it.

We are wrapping up our 20th year administering this State Department funded program and soon will bid farewell to the class of 2012. The current cohort is a dynamic and engaging group of individuals. The ten Fellows from nine different countries arrived last fall eager to hone professional skills and deepen expertise in agricultural development, natural resources management and climate change. During their ten months here at UC Davis, Fellows have attended UC Davis and Extension classes and participated in workshops, seminars and conferences on campus and around the country. They have also participated in field trips led by innovative leaders pioneering sustainable approaches to agricultural production and renewable energy (see: Learning from Experience). Host families integrate the UC Davis Humphrey Fellows into the wider Davis community by sharing with them their homes and traditions (see: Friendship Families). Fellows also forge professional connections and complete a six week affiliation with a variety of professional organizations in Davis, northern California and beyond (see: Gaining Professional Experience). UC Davis Fellows serve as both disciplinary experts and cultural ambassadors, ultimately benefiting not just their home countries but the UC Davis campus and Davis community at large. Fellows who return home are making significant strides tackling the complexity of issues in their countries with a greater knowledge and sense of purpose (see: Alumni News). 

It has been a year of changes for the UC Davis Humphrey Program. We said goodbye to former Program Co-Director, Paul Marcotte in January 2011, as he moved on to pursue other interests, leaving the program after nearly 10 years of service. 

BennerGwynn Benner joined the Humphrey team in early 2011. As Assistant Director she has primary responsibility for supporting Fellows’ professional development activities, assisting with placements for Professional Affiliations and helping Fellows develop and implement their individual program plans. She also plays an integral role in facilitating the Humphrey Seminar sessions. Brush

Professor Emeritus and international agricultural development expert Steve Brush joined the Humphrey team as a Faculty Advisor. His primary role is to assist Fellows in identifying both on and off campus opportunities, including faculty and department resources, and helping to link them where appropriate.

GuzmanAfter informally helping Humphrey Fellows for several years, Pablo Guzmán-Vargas now serves as a Technical Field Advisor. In this role he uses his expertise in the area of Plant Science/Agriculture to aid with placements, networking opportunities and advising on professional development activities in the area. He is a resource to assist with planning for field/site visits related to agriculture that are of interest to Fellows.

As we finish up the year, we look forward to your participation in the upcoming graduation ceremony (see: Upcoming Events) and continued engagement and support of our program. We are already in the midst of planning for our 21st cohort who will be arriving at the end of August!

Mark Bell

Upcoming Events

May 5th-9th the Fellows have just returned from a trip back east to attend the annual Year-End Retreat, hosted by IIE (Institute of International Education). In the foothills of picturesque Rocky Gap State Park in Maryland, they met up with the other 194 Humphrey Fellows from 17 other universities. It is a special time to say goodbye and discuss the re-entry process of returning home. There is also a ceremony where they are presented with their official Humphrey Program certificates (which are signed by President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton).

Sunday, May 20th at 1:00pm – Humphrey Graduation Celebration – at International House, Davis
The Fellows will be honored at a commencement ceremony, followed by light refreshments. This is a nice opportunity to say farewell to the class of 2012 Humphrey Fellows.
Please let Sasha know if you are planning to attend: sjohn@ucdavis.edu

Returning home…
Two from the group have already left Davis to pursue professional affiliations in other areas – Johnjoe Cantos (Philippines) left at the end of February and moved to Washington, DC and Oris Chansa (Zambia) moved to Michigan in April. Most of the others will be leaving to return home at the end of May, while several plan to stay in town until mid-June. It’s hard to believe the program is already nearing the end.

Gaining Professional Experience Firsthand

Description: UCDavisHumphreyFellows-Oct2011.jpgOne of the highlights of our program is the professional affiliation (PA) that every Humphrey Fellow is required to complete. This six week PA can be done at a non-profit organization (NGO), private company, the university or with a government agency. This experience is a pivotal opportunity for the diverse group. Every year, we find a placement that will expand their horizons, open doors of collaboration, and allow them to share their own expertise with a U.S. host organization.

This year, Fellows completed multiple affiliations and internships across sectors within various fields of interest.

Johnjoe Cantos (Philippines) is currently in Washington, DC where he will finish an extended PA with Dr. Robert Dixon at the World Bank Global Environmental Facility (GEF). GEF is an independently operating financial organization providing grants for projects related to biodiversity, climate change, international waters, land degradation, the ozone layer, and persistent organic pollutants.  Johnjoe is playing a role reviewing proposals and providing analysis on climate change and risk-related policies and procedures.  He is completing this PA after working for several months at the California Energy Commission’s Renewable Energy Office. Working with Dr. Pamela Doughman and her staff, Johnjoe participated in stakeholder review and analysis for implementation of California’s aggressive Renewables Portfolio Standard.

After completing complex graduate level engineering courses in the fall and winter quarters, Oris Chansa (Zambia), wanted to enhance his knowledge about the practical aspects of industrial management within a large U.S. corporation. “These skills will be necessary to implement in my local organisation and will immediately benefit my company and the community at large”, he noted. Working with David Dziubinski, plant manager at Lafarge North America in Michigan, Oris is attending training in a number of displines such as quality control, technical capacity building, management and leadership.  Lafarge is the largest diversified supplier of construction materials in the United States and Canada. They produce and sell cement, ready-mixed concrete, gypsum wallboard, aggregates, asphalt, paving and construction, etc. Oris actually works for Lafarge at their cement plant in Zambia, so the benefits of understanding the U.S. side of this large corporation will be invaluable when he returns home.

Danilo Ga-as (Philippines) is completing two PAs, one finished in March with the California Crop Improvement Association (Parsons Seed Certification) under the direction of Dr. Pablo Guzman and the second is currently underway with the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) under the direction of Dr. Valentino Tiangco. Affiliated with UC Davis and the California Crop Improvement Association, Parsons Seeds allowed Danilo to master the application of different protocols, policies, rules and guidelines for meeting seed certification standards in California. As part of his affiliation with SMUD, Danilo is participating in discussion about biomass projects, climate change and energy efficiency. He and Thang Za Lian (see below) have also participated in field trips to various innovative renewable energy operations in the Central Valley, including the dairy digestion projects in Elk Grove and Galt, the small modular gas fired generator at Dixon Ridge Farms and the biomass plant in Woodland.

Thang Za Lian
(Myanmar) gained an appreciation for the complexity of microfinance and the importance of combining education with lending programs during a wonderful PA with internationally renowned NGO, Freedom from Hunger. The timing of his affiliation couldn’t have been more perfect as staff from all around the world descended on Davis for a week of training, sharing and strategic planning… all of which Thang was allowed to participate in. He’s enthusiastic about taking these lessons home and expects to launch similar programs when returning to his community development work in Myanmar. Thang is completing his second affiliation with SMUD.

With a focus on building his technical capacity and skills related to watershed modeling and water resources management, Hugues Louis-Jacques  (Haiti) expects to be better prepared to deal with the devastating and increasing flooding events in his home country of Haiti. Hugues is completing an extended PA with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Hydrologic Engineering Center, which happens to be headquartered in Davis. With the guidance of Dr. Matthew McPherson, Chief of the Water Resources Division and his staff, Hugues is completing technical training in GIS and learning about projects currently underway in the U.S.

Huguette Ngilambi Nzebi Igebe (D.R. Congo) is completing her PA working with managing director, Dr. Karen Beardsley, and faculty James Quinn, at the UC Davis Information Center for the Environment (ICE). ICE is an “environmental information brokerage and research laboratory” in the Department of Environmental Science & Policy that specializes in the development and dissemination of geospatial data and technologies, the development of robust data architectures dedicated to the cataloging of global environmental information and the creation of decision support systems geared at improving the capabilities of resource managers in a variety of sectors. Huguette is participating and leading a training in GIS at the third annual, three week seminar funded by the U.S. Forest Service on climate change and natural resources management. This seminar brings practitioners from all over the world who learn and share their own experiences about watershed management best practices, forest and fire management, institutional capacity development, educational programs to engage public interest, weather and other monitoring efforts as well as learning about emerging issues around carbon markets.

Marina Piatto (Brazil) began two PAs simultaneously in January. She is working with Dr. Tom Tomich, director of the UC Davis Agricultural Sustainability Institute and his team on a project with support from Mars, Inc. (think chocolate bars not planets). This new initiative seeks to enhance sustainability of global agricultural raw materials sourcing, with particular emphasis on key agricultural commodities. The project is intended to critically review current best practices and prototype indicators of key dimensions of food system sustainability at various scales (from global concerns to sustainable intensification at the field level) and to assess and test indicators for a comprehensive range of sustainability issues. Marina’s second PA is with Winrock International, a nonprofit organization with projects in over 60 countries, focusing on natural resources, clean energy, climate change mitigation, and poverty alleviation. Marina is working with faculty and researchers at UC Davis as well as staff at the American Carbon Registry to evaluate and make recommendations on the optimization of fertilization. Nitrogen fertilizers and the livestock sector represent one of the largest sources of GHG emissions from global agricultural production. In Marina’s home country of Brazil, annual GHG emissions from agricultural soil management and cattle production are the second largest carbon emitting activities after  deforestation.

lakeAs a district resource officer for Lake Victoria in her home country of Uganda, Harriet Saawo (Uganda) is gaining practical experience working with Dr. Eliška Rejmánková, a Professor at UC Davis in the Department of Environmental Sciences and Policy. Dr. Rejmánková’s expertise is in wetlands ecology and restoration. Her research lab focuses on carbon transformations, nutrient uptake, and tolerance of selected species to increased levels of salinity. She is also part of a multidisciplinary team studying malaria vectors in Central America. Dr. Rejmánková is working with Harriet on a project utilizing halophytes to reduce lake pollution. At the end of March, Harriet accompanied Dr. Rejmánková, and UC Davis graduate students and faculty on a two week class and field training program on site in Lake Atitlan, Guatemala (right).

Severine Assenga (Tanzania) landed the perfect PA with Mitch Sears, Sustainability Programs Manager for the City of Davis. Assenga’s interests are varied with a keen interest in honing his own veterinary knowledge as well as learning more about urban gardening/agriculture. The City of Davis recently launched a number of innovative programs, including the Cool Davis Initiative, geared at reducing greenhouse gas emissions city-wide, as well as approving legislation allowing backyard chicken coops and development of community gardens.  Learning about these programs will provide Assenga with important ideas for increasing food security when he returns to his work with the Ilala Municipal Council in Tanzania.

Description: Adby-Feedlot with cow.jpgSoukvilay (“Adby”) Vilavong (Laos) learned about pasture/paddock and cow/calf management, and how to monitor nutrition, project herd size and calf number and muck out stalls of manure. Under the direction of Jerry Johnson and James Moller at the UC Davis feedlot and cattle barn, Soukvilay learned every aspect of feedlot and pasture fed cattle management. He even attended a class on artificial insemination. Here he is seen with the calf born on his birthday which they appropriately named “Adby” (left).

Cross-campus collaborations

teleconference“Is global warming real?” inquired UC Davis Humphrey Fellowship Program director, Mark Bell, of the group. The majority of Humphrey Fellows from UC Davis and Cornell University believed it is. “What is your country doing to prepare for and/or reduce the impacts of GCC?” and “What could you do to reduce your carbon foot print and your impact on GCC?” were questions which quickly followed. Via, frankly stunning, advanced cyber technology, we shared our work, thoughts and perspectives on global climate change LIVE, in real time with our sister campus and colleagues at Cornell University (below) is Peter Hobbs, Cornell Humphrey Program Director, and the Cornell Fellows). Like UC Davis, Cornell’s Humphrey Program emphasizes agricultural development, natural resources management and climate change.

Two cross-campus collaborations are new initiatives we have launched this year. The teleconference with Cornell and a rapidly developing new program with local Woodland Community College’s agriculture department are both exciting additions to the program. Both are geared at enriching and expanding opportunities for sharing expertise and knowledge in the areas of agricultural development, natural resources management and climate change.

teleconference2Cornell University Humphrey Fellows Pamela Manyo (Cameroon), Eddy Bongwele (DR Congo) and Mustafa Amzough (Morocco, see photo left) spoke about the general impacts anticipated from anthropocentric global climate change, the importance of the Congo rainforest and river basin ecosystems and climate change effects on seas. UC Davis Humphrey Fellows Danilo Ga-as (Philippines) and Oris Chansa (Zambia) described current and projected impacts of climate change on Asia as well as the costs and benefits of carbon sequestration. The group then discussed their own experiences, the responses their countries have taken or will be taking and their expectations of the importance of this issue for their own work. There was general consensus the programs are now emphasizing adaptation over mitigation and, if predictions are realized, then the anticipated impacts will likely be serious and severe in their countries.

Woodland Community College
Prof. Brandi Asmus is a dynamic, entrepreneurial faculty member in the agriculture department at local Woodland Community College (WCC) and a UC Davis alumnus too! With a Master of Science degree in Animal Sciences from UC Davis, she spent 2 years in the private sector working on research and development in the food industry before starting her career at WCC. Assistant Director, Gwynn Benner, approached Brandi in the fall of 2011 to explore the potential for developing a collaboration emphasizing sustainable practices in agricultural development and renewable energy. 

WCCOur first goal was to introduce the Humphrey Fellows to the WCC students. In March, Marina Piatto (Brazil), Danilo Ga-as (Philippines) and Assenga Severine (Tanzania) presented to a class of over 60 students, providing them with a brief overview of their respective countries and describing their work as well as some challenges and opportunities in development (photo left).
In late March, the Humphrey Fellows and WCC students, accompanied by a member of the Yolo County Farm Bureau, participated in a joint field trip to the Sierra Nevada Brewing Company and Lundberg Family Farm.

Sierra NevadaSierra Nevada Brewing Company was established 30 years ago by owner/founder, Ken Grossman. His commitment to pursuing a business that is aggressively working towards sustainability has been a key driving force since the company’s inception. In his own words, “Although Sierra Nevada has been recognized on a number of occasions for our progressive sustainability program, I am the first to acknowledge that we are not perfect. There will always be more we can do to reduce our environmental footprint. I am committed to the traditions I started thirty years ago and will continue to make the highest quality beer while minimizing our negative impacts” (Sustainability Report, 2010). On-site electricity generation through PV/solar and hydrogen fuel cells that consist of four 300 kW Fuel Cell Energy units, together capable of generating 1.2 Megawatts of DC electricity as well as composting, reduced packaging, an anaerobic biogas digester, and water treatment/reuse facility are all features described on our field trip (for more, see: http://www.sierranevada.com/environment/solar.html).

lundbergLundberg Family Farms is a family-owned rice product development and agricultural business in operation since 1937 with a similar mission. The farm, dry grain storage and production facilities are located in Richvale, CA. Their mission is “To honor our family farming legacy by nourishing, conserving, and innovating for a healthier world”. Lundberg Family Farm’s non-GMO and organic farming practices include rotating in cover crops, periodically leaving fields fallow, and encouraging waterfowl to rest on fields in the winter to help break down the rice stubble and provide needed fertility to fields. In 2006, they installed a 197kW solar field next to their rice dryer, one of the largest of its kind. The following year they installed an additional 185kW on the roof of one of the rice storage warehouses, followed by a 377kW solar field on their new warehouse roof, aimed at generating 100% of the warehouse's energy usage. They now generate around 20% of their total energy needs through on-site renewable energy systems, and have set a goal of generating 30% by 2015 using clean, renewable technologies. Grant Lundberg described the history and commitment of the company, the staff led tours of the processing plant and Bryce Lundberg (above) explained how the dry storage facility worked as well as the agricultural practices in their nearby rice field.

UC Davis and WCC are looking at furthering this collaboration in the fall with our new cohort of Humphrey Fellows and discussing the potential for implementing various projects, field trips and technical exchanges. So, more to follow!

Learning from Experience

yocha“That was the best field trip of the whole year,” remarked Marina Piatto, a Humphrey Fellow from Brazil. The group was returning from a technical and cultural exchange with the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation which is located in the beautiful Capay Valley. Joined by Judy Gibson, the Humphrey Program national director who was visiting our campus, the Fellows spent the day with Nation staff and leadership, learning about their efforts to preserve their cultural heritage, language and sacred sites as well as the innovative sustainable agricultural practices and renewable energy projects they have underway.

During a plenary session, the Humphrey Fellows also shared their own work and concerns about indigenous peoples in their own countries. We were all touched by the warm reception and honored by the visit.

This field trip was one of twelve held this year as part of an effort to explore innovative sustainable practices in manufacturing and on local farms in the Central Valley. We are blessed by the wealth of knowledge and experience in our region.

Thank you for sharing your knowledge and time:

  • Mark Van Horn, UC Davis Student Farm
  • Kate Scow & Emma Torbert, UC Davis Russell Ranch
  • Diana Benner, Codornices Creek Watershed Council
  • Mike and Diane Madison, Yolo Bulb Farm
  • Zuckerman Family Farm
  • Mark Leffler, Leffler Cattle Ranch
  • Jack De Wit, Conaway Ranch
  • Jeanne McCormack & Al Medvitz, McCormack Ranch
  • Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation
  • Grant and Bryce Lundberg, Lundberg Family Farms
  • Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
  • PhD Ramin Yazdani, Yolo County Landfill
  • Starla Moller, Chuck’s Custom Slaughter House

Other field trip highlights included learning about composting and nitrogen fixing with grasses at the UC Davis Student Farm as well as carbon soil testing from various farming practices taking place at UC Davis Russell Ranch. We also spent a Saturday helping clean Putah Creek of trash with Winters and Davis community members and the Putah Creek Council. We planted native grasses and trees in the lower section of Codornices Creek with Berkeley High School and UC Berkeley students as well as members of the Codornices Creek Watershed Council. Diana Benner, founder of The Watershed Nursery, organized teams who laid down cardboard mulch and cleared areas for the plantings.

Mike and Diane Madison spent the day showing us innovative techniques for sustainably, reducing pests and increasing year-round production for a variety of crops, including olives, at their beautiful Yolo Bulb Farm. You can find them at the Davis Farmer’s Market downtown on Saturdays.

leflerMark Leffler, cattle rancher and co-owner of Rocknasium, spent a day with us explaining his technique for intensive management of his cattle, resulting in fatter, happier cows and fewer weeds! He also gave the Fellows samples of his organic beef. Jack De Wit described the intricacy of managing active rice production adjacent to a protected area. Conaway Ranch’s rice paddies sit right beside the Yolo Bypass, a CA Fish & Game preserve. Hundreds of species of birds and some mammals inhabit this area which is a major wintering habitat for waterfowl in the Pacific Flyway of the Delta (left).

mccormackWe also had a unique opportunity to spend a delightful day with Al Medvitz and Jeanne McCormack at their historic, family-owned McCormack Natural Lamb and Goat Ranch. The ranch is located in a picturesque area along the lower Delta with rolling hills and flopping windmills (owned by SMUD) in the background. The ranch produces dry land wheat and barley in rotation with grass-fed sheep and grass-fed Boer goats as well as wine grapes (their most recent investment). Jeanne and Al are dedicated to educating people about local food production, conservation and sustainability, and spent time showing the Humphrey Fellows a variety of techniques they are using to ensure the health of their products as well as the land.

In April, Grant and Bryce Lundberg welcomed our group to the Lundberg Family Farm. The Lundberg Family was an early leader in organic and non-GMO farming. They also have made strides in energy conservation and utilization of renewable energy for their production and rice storage facilities. Established in 1937, they incorporate environmentally sustainable and socially responsible practices.

landfillOur last two field trips have been very interesting. We visited a bioreactor at the Yolo County Landfill which is the only operating bioreactor in the US. We also visited a local slaughter house in Dixon, CA learning about processing and butchering lambs and cattle.

Overall we have had a very interesting year of field trips and have spent time with exceptional leaders who pioneer innovative sustainable practices in the area. We are grateful for the time they have spent sharing their knowledge and experiences with the Humphrey Fellows!

Friendship Families

A special thanks to all those who signed up as Friendship Families this year:
Nancy and Chuck Fosterhost families
Mona and Stephen McCord
Linda and Aaron Needles
Anna and Melvin Neville
Lorilyn Parmer and Allen Folks
Turid Reid and Dave Martin
Nory Sargeant
Akemi and Guy Turner
Becky and Simon Zeigler

We appreciate the role you play in helping the Fellows adjust to life in Davis. We could not do this without you.

Also, thank you to International House Friendship Family Coordinator, Jenny Li, for making the connections between Fellows and their Friendship Families.

yosemiteA special thanks to David Vidmar who helps the Humphrey Program each year by connecting the Fellows to the community and also organizes a wonderful trip to Yosemite. The Fellows stay overnight with hosts like Kathy & Glenn Kangiser and others who are a part of the gracious community in Mariposa County and help make this a memorable experience for the Fellows. 

Many thanks as well to those of you who may not be friendship family hosts, but have included the Fellows in many of your family events – Karen & Dan Vraa, Emma & Valentino Tiango, and the many others in our great Davis community. 

Thanks to you all!

If you are interested in signing up as a Friendship Family to connect with the incoming 2012-13 Humphrey Fellows, please contact Gwynn Benner.

Alumni News

Carol Murekezi (2010-11) from Uganda writes: “I was offered a job in Rwanda to assist with their Phytosanitary System on a project funded by the Tony Blair Foundation and I am ecstatic! In Uganda apart from my work at the Ministry of Agriculture I have been in charge of quality control of fruits in a fruit importing organization. They mainly import fruits we do not have but love like apples, grapes, kiwi fruit and the like. This has kept me quite busy with all the reports I need to write. My Humphrey year changed my life around. If it were not for those seminars in post-harvest with Dr. Beth Mitcham, I would not have been able to access information that is very useful to my job at the fruit company. Additionally, if it were not for the different skills in public speaking and general organization I learned throughout the year, I would not have gotten the great job in Rwanda! I can only say that I am extremely grateful to everyone who touched our lives in a special way in Davis. I know you will continue making a difference in peoples' lives, so please continue to do those things that you do best!”

Tehut Tesfaye Sidelil (2010-11) from Ethiopia was a recipient of the 2011 Alumni Impact Award, awarded to deserving Fellows annually by IIE. She writes: “My time in Davis remains a special memory. I am sharing happy news that my project won the Humphrey Alumni Impact Award. Thank you so much for your prompt assistance in providing a recommendation. I am so excited that the lives of 40 Ethiopian unemployed youth are about to be transformed. These young people will be social change agents who will create income-generating entrepreneurial organizations, focusing on providing solutions to poverty related problems. Not only will the youth gainfully employ themselves, they will also be providing solutions far reaching to alleviate poverty in Ethiopian communities.”

alamMohammad Khurshid Alam (2008-09) from Bangladesh reports that he is using his skills in organic farming that he learned here at UC Davis to grow organic tomatoes in his home country of Bangladesh. He presented organic tomatoes from his farm to Mr. Garrett Wilkerson, Cultural Affairs Officer at the American Center, U.S. Embassy-Dhaka. He is currently investigating organic practices (chemical-free) for high valued tomato production in Bangladesh for his PhD research. He has been working as a researcher at Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute since 1995. Mr. Alam is now the pioneer in generating Organic Farming activities at the government level in Bangladesh.

Arturo Cerezo (2008-09) from Panama was honored by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), for having the best written work during HELP Basin Symposium 2011, held in Panama in November 2011. The scientific paper was described by UNESCO as a model for the region and the world, combining science and community experiences to manage integrated natural resources. Cerezo’s paper was selected from 200 submissions by scientists from 64 countries, in which he analyzed the process of reforestation with native species in Panama Canal Basin and proposed an innovative framework for the preservation of Biodiversity, erosion reduction and control of native species.

Alumni, please send us your stories to include in future newsletters.

For more alumni stories, please visit our Highlights page.