Closing Comments : UC Hansen Trust Research Symposium

Prepared remarks for the University of California Hansen Trust Research Symposium, December 1, 2009.

So when we first began to plan this event, I thought to myself that we should call it : “University of California Hansen Trust: Beyond the Pumpkin Patch.” Instead we called it a research symposium, which is more accurate and probably more appropriate. But I want to return to that theme for a few minutes as we conclude this morning’s event.

The UC Hansen Trust is based at Faulkner Farm in Santa Paula, which is well known for the historic Victorian home, large red barn and annual pumpkin patch. These are things to treasure, no doubt. The pumpkin patch event brings thousands of people out for a little taste of agriculture every year. For the past two years it has been operated by the Rotary Club of Santa Paula, and they have done a fantastic job. Money raised from the event has helped to fund many worthy projects in Santa Paula and Ventura County, including ag-oriented programs like 4H and FFA. This year, visitors to the farm saw new signage, detailing the University of California’s role in our agricultural state. But perhaps because of the iconic status of the event, the picturesque setting, or the sheer volume of activity, the pumpkin patch tends to overshadow the UC Hansen Trust’s activities for the other 11 months out of the year.

Today’s event is intended to shine a light on the research mission of the UC Hansen Trust. Many of you in attendance today have played a role in that mission and I thank you for that. Our goals for research are simple: More research, more tailored to Ventura County agriculture, more effectively communicated to the target audience. I said the goals were simple… I didn’t say they were easy.

In the next several years were will look to continually raise the bar. In addition to financial support for research, we aim to make the land at the farm more readily available for research as well. Other symposia such as this one will follow. Again, I thank you for your participation and I invite you to continue to grow with us.

This first annual symposium would not have come together without UCHT Director Jose DeSoto, UCCE Director Rose Hayden Smith, and VCFB CEO John Krist. Those titles sure add a lot of syllables, and each of the three has truly earned their respective position. But it isn’t their offices that made this happen, it is the efforts of these three individuals.

Please join me in thanking Jose, Rose, and John.

I’d also like to thank the UCHT staff, not only for their help today, but for the job they do for Ventura County agriculture all year long.

I’d also like to offer a quick, but heartfelt thanks to Ben Faber. In addition to the research he presented today, he also recently served as the UCHT interim Director pending Jose’s arrival. Ben, I can’t thank you enough for the extra hours of toil that you put forward on the Trust’s behalf.

I don’t know if we have taken full advantage of having a UC research center dedicated to Ventura County agriculture in the past. I do know that we must take full advantage now. It won’t be easy. The intersection of the University of California budget and Ventura County Agriculture will be an economically challenging place for the next several years. But thankfully, the generosity and vision of Thelma Hansen has given us an important tool.

This concludes this morning’s program, but it does not conclude our work. Thank you for coming.

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