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UCCE Director Terry Salmon retires

Terry Salmon, director of UC Cooperative Extension in San Diego County and a tireless researcher of vertebrate pests of agriculture, retires June 30.

Salmon earned a bachelor's degree in renewable natural resources at UC Davis in 1972 and, after three years in the Coast Guard, completed a master's degree in animal ecology at UC Davis in 1976 and a doctorate in ecology in 1979.

He was immediately hired as a Cooperative Extension wildlife specialist on the Davis campus. His research and Extension program focused on managing vertebrate pests that eat plants, chew holes in irrigation tubing and otherwise reduce crop yield or increase expenses on farms and ornamental nurseries.

Salmon's first research effort looked at ground squirrel control using the fumigant aluminum phosphide, which was ultimately registered for commercial use and remains a squirrel control tool that farmers use today.

In the early 1980s, the concept of integrated pest management (IPM) was finding favor with many farmers. Researchers were learning that, at times, chemical efforts to control insects and weeds disrupted the balance of natural systems, causing more problems in the long run. With careful monitoring and the use of an array of pest control methods, farmers and researchers found pest management to be more effective, safer for farmworkers and kinder to the environment. Salmon believed that such concepts could also apply to the management of damage by birds, rodents, rabbits and deer.

"I joined the IPM workgroups for many different crops — alfalfa, almonds, rice and many others," Salmon said. "I went to meetings and started conversations about vertebrate pest problems. Eventually, vertebrate pest management received funding from IPM and we've been working closely together ever since."

In 1989, Salmon cut back on his research to serve as the director of the UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources Northern Region, which encompassed UC Cooperative Extension programs in 21 counties.

"I believe in the concept of Extension and I like what we do," Salmon said. "I wanted to bring the campus and the counties closer together."

While in this position, Salmon was appointed by then-ANR Vice President Ken Farrell to chair a committee reviewing the division’s communications programs.

"We didn't have Internet access in county offices. Many advisors believed development of publications was taking too long," Salmon said. "There was sentiment among administrators to outsource our communications needs."

The committee carefully studied projections about the future of communications and developed a reorganization plan. That led to the creation of ANR Communication Services and Information Technology, a coordinated unit of professionals in publication production, photo and video production, Web site development and computer network integration.

"It has been a great unit for us," Salmon said. "This effort has had an impact."

When the UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources was reorganized in 1999 from four regions into three, Salmon decided to return full time to agricultural research, focusing his studies on reduction of hazards associated with using rodenticides for ground squirrel control. Four years later, his career took another turn.

"Being a specialist on campus is a fantastic job, but I still had the desire to contribute to Cooperative Extension," Salmon said.

When the county director position in San Diego opened in 2003, Salmon applied and was appointed to the role.

The county director position, he said, involves a significant amount of community relations to keep UC Cooperative Extension’s partners in government and industry appraised of UC's local activities. In addition, with 50 to 70 staff members at any one time, there are many personnel management tasks involved.

Following San Diego County's 2003 firestorms, new building codes, brush management ordinances and educational programs were adopted and developed by many fire authorities, cities and county departments. To provide residents with clear information, Salmon and his staff coordinated a wildfire education and outreach program. A major component was the Web site,, which describes wildfire risks and what to do before, during and after a fire.

Even though Salmon split his career between academics and administration, he completed a notable body of research on vertebrate pest management, authoring 167 articles and publications.

During retirement, Salmon plans on continuing his research as an emeritus specialist and doing private consulting work. He also looks forward to spending more time with his family, especially at a vacation home in Ensenada, Mexico, he said.

TAGS: Legislative
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