Agricultural Sustainability Institute names first Bradford-Rominger Award winner
UC Davis graduate student Kelly Garbach was named the first Eric Bradford and Charlie Rominger Agricultural Sustainability Leadership Award winner this week.
Given by the Agricultural Sustainability Institute at UC Davis, the award is meant to recognize and honor individuals who exhibit the leadership, work ethic and integrity epitomized by the late Eric Bradford, a livestock geneticist who gave 50 years of service to UC Davis, and the late Charlie Rominger, a fifth-generation Yolo County farmer and land preservationist.
“Both Eric and Charlie were big thinkers, and had the ability to realize their aspirations. Kelly possesses the same quiet determination and genuine modesty while leading by example,” said Tom Tomich, director of the institute.
U.S. Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Kathleen Merrigan presented the inaugural award at a public ceremony prior to giving a presentation Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food, about a USDA initiative that focuses on improving health and creating economic opportunity in rural America through local and regional food systems.
“Eric and Charlie created new pathways and excitement around sustainable agriculture. It’s a pleasure to see this energy, this optimism pass on to the next generation,” Dr. Merrigan said.
Garbach is a doctoral candidate in Ecology at UC Davis studying agricultural land preservation. In addition to her graduate studies, Garbach leads the laboratory section for the Agro ecosystem Sustainability field-based course and mentors high school students in farmland restoration as a volunteer for Audubon California’s Land Owner Stewardship Program.
She has served as a natural resource conservation consultant for both the Academy for Educational Development and the U.S. Agency for International Development. She has also worked with non-profit organizations Chile, Argentina, and San Francisco on natural resource management and environmental justice issues.
“I am very grateful that the Bradford and Rominger families and their friends have invited us to come to know Eric and Charlie, and be inspired to continue their legacy,” Garbach said. “At UC Davis, we are surrounded by some of the brightest minds in agricultural research and management, but what makes Davis unique is that these great minds actively create space for new ideas and encourage emerging leadership.”