Forging New Paths

Apr 13, 2016 Laura Crothers
Davis alumnus receives Agricultural Sustainability Leadership Award
Forging New Paths

Daniel Mountjoy created a simple, fast permit process that lets owners quickly start restoration projects on their land.

Daniel Mountjoy, director of Resource Stewardship at Sustainable Conservation and a UC Davis alumnus, is this year's recipient of Eric Bradford and Charlie Rominger Agricultural Sustainability Leadership Award, presented by the Agricultural Sustainability Institute at UC Davis.

Mountjoy is being honored for his leadership in promoting practices and approaches that enable farmers and ranchers to steward the environment. Mountjoy will receive this prestigious award at a ceremony at 5 p.m. on April 27 at the UC Davis Conference Center. The event will also feature a presentation by local farm-to-fork pioneer Patrick Mulvaney, chef and owner of Mulvaney’s B&L restaurant in Sacramento.

The Bradford Rominger award recognizes 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.

Mountjoy has spent more than 20 years working to protect California’s natural resources for future generations, first at the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, and now as director of resource stewardship at Sustainable Conservation. His success stems from his willingness to forge new paths to solve complex challenges, said Mary Bianchi, UC Cooperative Extension county director and horticulture advisor for San Luis and Santa Barbara Counties.

“He displays the courage to step outside of conventional thinking,” Bianchi explained.

At the Natural Resources Conservation Service, Mountjoy led an award-winning conservation outreach program for the farmers who work the marginal land surrounding Elkhorn Slough. Mountjoy found that despite interest from farmers in starting restoration projects on their land, the lengthy permit application process to get their projects off the ground presented a major stumbling block.  

“All of the environmental laws were written to protect the environment, and yet the unintended consequence of many of them has been that they actually slow decision making to the point that farmers don’t want to participate,” Mountjoy said.

By collaborating with seven different government agencies, Mountjoy worked with the Natural Resources Conservation Service and Sustainable Conservation to create a first-of-its-kind, simple and fast permit process that lets owners quickly start restoration projects on their land. As director of Resource Stewardship at Sustainable Conservation, Mountjoy has extended his permit-simplification efforts throughout California.

“Really, it’s changing the culture of the agencies more than changing the culture of farmers,” Mountjoy explained. “It’s recognizing the stewardship ethic of the farmer and getting the agencies not to treat them like they’re bad actors.” 

Mountjoy earned a Ph.D. in human ecology from UC Davis in 1995 for his research on strategies to improve cross-cultural communication for resource management with Hispanic farmers. 

At the ceremony on April 27, Patrick Mulvaney, owner of Mulvaney’s B&L restaurant in Sacramento, will speak on  “Leading from the Back of the House: Reflecting on Mastery for Service.”

This event is free and open to the public. Students are the primary audience, as the next generation of sustainability leaders, and are encouraged to attend. Learn more about the Bradford Rominger award on the Agricultural Sustainability Institute's web site.

Full event details available here http://asi.ucdavis.edu/event-calendar/2016-bradford-rominger-agricultural-sustainability-leadership-award-ceremony

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