Taking the University to the People: University of California
Agriculture and Natural Resources Oral History Project

About the Project
Interview Transcripts
Timeline and History
Documents and Reports
Model Interview Guide
Relevant Resources

Interview Transcripts

Dr. Kenneth Farrell completed his Master’s degree and Doctorate in Agricultural Economics from Iowa State University and served as an Economist for the University of California Berkeley’s Giannini Foundation of Agricultural Economics. He also served as the Vice President, Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of California and Director of the University’s Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension. His interview includes reflections on both domestic and international assignments in Agricultural economic policies and founding of the National Center for Food and Agriculture Policy at Resources for the Future. Farrell has authored more than 100 professional articles and papers about his work in agricultural policy, natural resources economics, international trade, and marketing. Interview topics include: agricultural economics research and publications; budget crisis and process reorganization of programs; past and future roles of ANR in California; governmental agricultural policies; global agriculture; role of business in determining programs; addressing the need of farmers and citizens.

Dr. W. R. "Reg" Gomes retired in 2007 from his position as Vice President for Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) at the University of California. His responsibilities included being the chief executive officer responsible for all oversight activities in agriculture, natural resources, environmental sciences, family and consumer sciences, forestry, human and community development, Director of the California Agricultural Experiment Station, California Cooperative Extension, and numerous other related areas.  Gomes other titles include being Professor Emeritus from The Ohio State University Department of Dairy Science and Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, Professor Emeritus from the Department of Animal Sciences, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Dean Emeritus of the College of Agriculture at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Interview topics include: animal science research and publications; budget crisis and process reorganization of program; past and future roles of ANR in California; governmental agricultural policies; global agriculture; role of business in determining programs; addressing the needs of farmers and citizens. Interview Guide

Born in 1917, Walter “Howdy” Howard grew up on the campus of UC Davis, where his father was a Professor of Horticulture.  Howard describes a lifelong love of the outdoors, which propelled him to study zoology at UC Davis, with the intent to focus on wildlife. Howard obtained his PhD from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, where he was the first person to focus on what would later be called animal ecology.  After graduate school, Howard took a job at the Experiment Station, researching pocket gophers.  When joining the faculty as a professor, Howard became the first Professor of Ecology, housed in what is now known as the Department of Wildlife, Fish, Conservation Biology. Over the course of his career, Howard conducted groundbreaking research in the areas of pest management, wildlife conservation and ecology. Howard retired from the university in 1987. Interview topics include: ANR, 1940s-1980s; ecology; pest management; wildlife conservation; experiment station research; UC Davis; public-private research partnerships; applied research. Interview Guide

Raymond G. Lyon was born on a sheep and pear ranch in Lake County in 1933. After being active as a youth in 4-H and Future Farmers of America, Lyon aspired to be a farm advisor or agriculture teacher. Lyon received degrees in animal husbandry and education from California Polytechnic State University. After teaching high school agriculture in Orland, Lyons took a position as 4-H and Farm Advisor with UC extension in 1958, a position he held for thirty-seven years. During those years, Lyon was active in 4-H fundraising and program development, including personally running over a dozen summer-long cross-country trips for 4-H participants to visit other regions of the US.  Interview topics include: ethnicity and changing agricultural communities; 4-H in Glenn and Colusa Counties; gender in 4-H; program fundraising; relationship between growers and extension; the goals of 4-H. Interview Guide

Dr. James Lyons began working with Extension in the mid-1950s as a field assistant in Modesto, “a grunt worker for the farm advisors.” This experience helped him get a job as a technician at the Department of Vegetable Crops at UC Davis; he took advantage of the free coursework afforded to UC employees to get his PhD in Plant Physiology.  Lyons went on to an extensive career as an academic researcher, teacher and administrator, appointed to the chair of the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at UC Davis in 1970, and then becoming the Associate Dean of the Plant Sciences and Pest Management Departments in 1973. Interview topics include: ANR, 1950s-1980s; integrated pest management; food preservation; UC Davis; university budget crisis, 1960s; public-private research partnerships. Interview Guide

George D. Rendell was born in 1932 in Rialto, California and first became involved with Agricultural Extension as a youngster in Riverside County 4-H, with an interest in dairy cattle and Victory Gardens. After participating in the International Farm Youth Exchange Program, Rendell returned to the US and majored in Animal Science at UC Davis. After completing two years with the Army doing food analysis, he immediately signed up with UC Extension and quickly became a 4H Farm Advisor in 1957. After attending American University in public administration on a 4H Fellowship, Rendell returned to San Bernardino County in 1966 as a 4H advisor before becoming a county director, then a regional director in Riverside in 1978, before becoming an agricultural advisor in Los Angeles County in 1985. Interview topics include: changing goals of 4-H 1950s-1990s; Proposition 13; diversity and ANR; private-public partnerships; urban 4-H. Interview Guide

Dr. Alvin J. Sokolow grew up on the West Side of Chicago, immersed in discussions of big city politics. Using his undergraduate journalism training, and the realization that small communities allowed for fuller analysis, Sokolow engaged in extensive fieldwork interviews and became an expert in small community politics at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. University of California, Davis hired Dr. Sokolow in 1965 to teach in both the Institute of Governmental Studies and the Political Science Department, positions he held for twenty-seven years. In 1989, he joined the Agricultural Issues Center in the College of Agriculture to direct an evaluation of the 1965 Williamson Act.  Strongly driven by a desire to get off of campus and engage with research on the ground, Dr. Sokolow made the unusual move from Professor in the Political Science Department to Cooperative Extension Specialist in the College of Agriculture in 1992, where he taught, wrote, conducted field research, and worked in rural communities in the area until his retirement in 2004. Interview topics include: 1965 Williamson Act; UC Davis, 1960s-2000s; small community politics; field research; career mobility; cooperative extension; UC Davis College of Agriculture; Proposition 13; farmland protection policy. Interview Guide

Josephine “Jo” W. Van Schaick worked at the UCCE Santa Barbara County programs in Family and Consumer Sciences and served as a 4-H Youth & Home Advisor from 1947 to her retirement in 1987. Her father worked for the Cooperative Extension in Fresno and Sacramento Counties in 1915 under B.H. Crocheron. Interview topics include: change in clientele and role of home economics in society; changing roles for women, Farm Bureau; work with immigrant groups, 4-H youth programs; changes in program delivery; butrition issues; funding of programs.

Born in 1929, Dr. William Wood was raised on a farm ranch in Yuba County, California. After working with the Almond Grower’s Association and the Federal Marketing Order, Wood pursued graduate work in Agricultural Economics, receiving his PhD in 1965 from UC Berkeley. While there he began his lifelong work on the issues of water and land policy. In 1964, Dr. Wood took a position with Extension at UC Riverside as a Marketing Specialist.  Later, as Program Director, Wood worked extensively in the areas of land policy and water management. In this interview, he discusses the politics of marketing orders, the issues use and taxation in California land policy. Interview topics include: growers associations; farmer-university Relations; 1964 Williamson Act; land policy; Proposition 13; California environmentalists and agriculturists; changes in UC Extension 1964-present. Interview Guide

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