Two University of California Cooperative Extension programs recently received national honors from USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities.

Alison Van Eenennaam, UC Davis animal genomics and biotechnology specialist, received the 2010 "National Award for Excellence in Extension" and UC Cooperative Extension's small farm program received the 2010 "National Award for Diversity."

Van Eenennaam was lauded for using a variety of media, including YouTube, to inform the general public about science and technology.

She produced an educational documentary titled "Animal Biotechnology," which describes the broad range of technologies encompassed by the term "animal biotechnology." In the video, both biomedical and agricultural applications of animal biotechnology are discussed, in addition to some of the science-based and ethical concerns associated with certain applications. The 30-minute documentary can be viewed at

The website also features fact sheets on genetic engineering of animals, animal cloning, biomedical uses of genetically engineered animals and livestock breeding.

In its acknowledgement of Van Eenennaam, the APLU said, "She has developed a well-funded research program targeting mission-oriented animal biotechnology research and an internationally recognized outreach program."

The National Extension award winner is selected from the pool of five regional award recipients on the basis of having exhibited sustained, meritorious and exceptional extension programming as deemed by NIFA and the USDA Extension Committee on Organization and Policy review panel.

The National Award for Diversity is shared by the 2009-10 Small Farm Program team: Shermain Hardesty, director; Linda Vieira, office manager; Penny Leff, agritourism coordinator; Courtney Riggle, program representative; Brenda Dawson, communications coordinator; Aziz Baameur, advisor for San Benito, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties; Mark Gaskell, advisor for Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties; Manuel Jimenez, advisor for Tulare County; Ramiro Lobo, advisor for San Diego County; Richard Molinar, advisor for Fresno County; and Michael Yang, Hmong agricultural assistant for Fresno County.

The award describes the program as exemplary, "notable for its proven commitment to serving diverse farming communities in California and innovative approaches to helping small farmers succeed."

Farm advisors with the program focus their efforts on challenges facing small-scale farmers, including ethnic minority farmers and farmers with limited resources. They frequently work with Hmong and Lao farming communities in the Central Valley, ethnic Chinese farming communities in the Bay Area and coastal regions, and Hispanic farming communities in the Central Valley and along the coast.

Small-scale and moderate-scale farming operations have different needs than large farms. The program conducts research on specialty crops, marketing, food safety, farm management and agricultural tourism aimed at the needs of small-scale farmers. For more information, visit

Roger Beachy, director of USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, presented the awards on Nov. 14 at the annual APLU meeting in Dallas.