Franz Niederholzer, Director

About the Cooperative Extension Department

The purpose of the Cooperative Extension Department, which operates under an agreement between the University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) and the County, is to help people access appropriate research based information to help them reach their life goals. This is accomplished through conducting applied research, educational programs, and outreach activities.

During the 2020-2021 fiscal year, three UCCE advisors (Tree crops, vegetable crops and 4H/Youth Development) and two program representatives (4H and Nutrition Education) were based in the Colusa office supported by three Colusa County employees. Additionally, UCCE advisors based in neighboring counties worked in Colusa County in the areas of livestock, range, and natural resources; rice production, irrigation and water resources and agronomic crops.

Research projects in vegetable crops, rice, and orchards (almond, walnuts and prune) were conducted to support the local economy and protect air and water resources. Extension programs were delivered locally (as much as was permitted under pandemic regulations) to support the same objectives.

Significant Accomplishments for Fiscal Year 2022-23:

  • Our office welcomes Dr. Anthony Fulford, our new Rice Farming Systems Advisor, to the job on May 10, 2023. He will be based in Colusa County and cover both Colusa and Yolo Counties. Anthony has a new pickup to use thanks to Colusa County.
  • We maintained nut production and research activity at the Nickels Soil Lab in Arbuckle in a drought/freeze year. The well on Marine Ave. was repaired and the entire facility has a better water situation through the summer than in the past several years.

Goals & Objectives for Fiscal Year 2023-24:

  • Continue to extend research-based information to County clientele through face-to-face meetings, industry publications, newsletters, and social media posts in the areas of agriculture, youth development, landscaping/gardening and human nutrition.
  • Conduct field research in Colusa County to help growers address changes in local and world markets and so support their continued success and the local economy.
  • Continue to serve as local access point for Colusa County citizens to the expertise and resources of the University of California, particularly in the areas of agriculture, natural resources, youth development, and nutrition.
  • Stabilizing the financial situation at the Nickels Soil Lab: Our office will continue to work with the Nickels trustees, local growers, ag industries, commodity boards, and local and state government to get the funds to sustain operation and research at the Nickels Soil Lab in Arbuckle. This will mean adjusting acreage, plantings, and operating model and conditions for the current economic situation (low nut prices, high operating costs). In 2022-23, over $150,000 were raised from growers, distributors, and commodity boards with critical support from JCS Marketing (fundraising support/partnership). We will need to raise that amount and more to finish out the 23-24 fiscal year just out of the red.
  • Work to hire new Veg Crops Advisor: In April, 2023, our veg crops advisor, Amber Vinchesi-Vahl, took a position on the east coast, close to family. A replacement position will be requested as soon as UC makes new positions available, rumored to be this summer. (Empty positions are not automatically refilled in UC but must be requested.) I have been in contact with the California Tomato Research Institute to plan for future request for a veg crops position in Colusa with additional acreage in Sutter/Yuba Counties (per Amber’s job description).
  • Work to hire a new 4-H staff member: Our staff will continue to work to fill the half-time 4-H position (UC employee) in our office. Our Colusa office staff (Leslie C. Pingrey and Jenny Perry) and UC 4-H Advisor (Nicole Marshall-Wheeler) are doing a great job, but a full complement in the program would help.
  • Department visibility: Our office will continue the press release program alerting the community to programs and/or newsletters put on and out by the Cooperative Extension Department. We will continue to increase the visibility of the Cooperative Extension Department among other County Departments, organizations, and agencies by improving relationships and participating in events relating to the Department’s mission. In addition, we will offer development opportunities to staff to ensure proper support of academic programs that address the needs of the local community.

Summary of Major Budget Changes:

No major changes, but total requested budget is up 3% due to "regular" increases such as retirement costs (+13%), utilities (+20%), etc. despite additional funds from reimbursed projects ($25K HHS)

Executive Summary

Permanent Allocated Positions

Revenues By Department - No Revenues Budgeted for this Department

Expenditures By Department

Revenues By Source & Expenditures by Function