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The Great Valley Center: Connect. Inspire. Act.

Updates & Highlights

December 2011

The holiday season is in full swing. If you are like me, your social calendar and “to do” list can be both exhilarating and exhausting; full of shopping, decorating, baking, mailing cards and attending holiday gatherings and events.
Amidst all the hustle and bustle of the season, the Great Valley Center is hard at work on programs and initiatives to improve the quality life for all those who call the Central Valley home.  We want to close 2011 with some brief updates on GVC projects and programs, along with highlights from around the valley.
Whatever your traditions, I wish you a joyful season filled with family and fun, laughter and love. I hope you create time to relax and enjoy special moments with loved ones, and that you enter 2012 ready to tackle the challenges and prepared to make the most of our opportunities.

The GVC staff wishes you a prosperous and productive New Year!
-- Dejeune Shelton, Executive Director
Photo of intern orientation for Green Communities program

GVC Program Updates

Green Communities recruits interns and prepares for greenhouse gas inventory training series:
The Great Valley Center has already enrolled six local governments in San Joaquin, Merced and Stanislaus Counties, and 12 college students, graduate students and recent graduates in a training program designed to teach participants how to perform inventories of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. More governments are being recruited in these three counties, as well as local governments and interns for up to six Green Communities projects in west Kern County. Beginning in December, participants will be trained to collect, organize and analyze the data they will begin collecting in January.  Interns will use state-of-the-art software provided by ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability USA to assist local governments in processing the data and formulating the inventory reports.  Each participating government will be provided their final report, giving them a baseline “carbon footprint” and starting-point for reducing GHG emissions in future operations. To learn more about the Green Communities program contact Bryce Dias, Program Associate, at or (209) 522-5103 x112.
California Connects hires additional community trainers:
The recent recruitment by Great Valley Center for bilingual community trainers has proven successful in several counties. When community trainers meet for their quarterly check-in on December 16, five new faces are expected to be in attendance. Once this second wave of recruitment is complete, there will be 18 trainers on the ground, serving 18 counties and covering nearly the entire Valley.  A list of current trainers is available on the GVC website. At publication time, trainers were still being sought in Amador, Colusa, El Dorado, Mariposa and San Joaquin counties. California Connects is a program providing free training on the Internet and email, particularly targeting Spanish speaking and low income adult residents. Community agencies interested in partnering on the project are encouraged to contact GVC. Partnership may consist of providing a location with computers for holding trainings or helping reach targeted audiences. For more information on CA Connects or community partnerships, email Program Manager Desiree Holden at or call (209) 522-5103 x136.
San Joaquin Valley Regional Broadband Consortium receives funding:
The San Joaquin Valley Regional Broadband Consortium (SJVRBC) has received funding from the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) for $150,000 in Year 1 with an intention to renew for the same amount in Years 2 and 3. The SJVRBC is an initiative of the California Partnership for the San Joaquin Valley and is being administered by the Office of Community and Economic Development at Fresno State, with assistance from the Great Valley Center.  The consortium will use the funding over the next three years to focus on accelerating the deployment, accessibility, and adoption of broadband within Fresno, Kern, Kings, Madera, Merced, San Joaquin, Stanislaus and Tulare Counties.  For additional information contact Christine Nutting, Associate Director, Office of Community and Economic Development, California State University, Fresno, at (559) 294-2230 or
Child abuse prevention video production underway:
GVC is working with Merced County Office of Education (MCOE) to produce a video for the Child Abuse Protection Act (CAPTA) program, a federally funded project to help prevent child sexual abuse in Merced County. All materials will be developed in Spanish as well as English. The video is targeted for completion in early 2012 and will be an important tool in educating parents about child abuse prevention. Outreach to the community begins in the spring. For more information email Senior Program Manager Jami Westervelt at or (209) 522-5103 x122.
Thirty park administrators accepted into 2012 National Parks Institute:
Thirty individuals representing national parks from across the globe have been accepted into the National Parks Institute taking place April 17-28, 2012. The intensive12-day management seminar focuses on leadership, innovation and organizational renewal for park and protected-area leaders. Courses are held at Golden Gate National Recreation Area, UC Merced and Yosemite National Park. Participants share park business challenges and develop action plans for implementation upon their return home. The Institute is being planned by University of California, Merced, National Park Service and Great Valley Center.  More information on the National Parks Institute is available by contacting Jami Westervelt, Senior Program Manager, at or (209) 522-5103 x122.
American Leadership Forum – Great Valley Chapter:
To date, 18 decision makers in businesses, education, healthcare, elected office and heads of community organizations have accepted the invitation to participate as Fellows in the 2012–2013 class of the American Leadership Forum – Great Valley Chapter. GVC is seeking additional community leaders and has room for a maximum of 7 more members in Class III. Through its year-long Fellows Program, the American Leadership Forum brings together demonstrated leaders to learn new processes of collaborative leadership with a regional approach.  The program provides a unique opportunity for cooperation across sectors by bringing members of diverse groups together to address public issues. The program is centered on the premise that good leadership depends upon cultivating a sense of civic responsibility, a climate of trust and open dialogue among divergent sectors, and a positive vision, along with collaborative problem solving skills.  For more information on ALF, contact Kathy Halsey, or (209) 522-5103 x109.
Join the President’s Circle in support of GVC:
GVC donors contributing an annual gift of $5,000 or more are recognized as members of the President’s Circle, and those giving $1,000 are recognized as members of the Oak Circle. When you join a GVC circle you leverage your power to make a positive difference in our valley. Remember GVC in your year-end giving and help make an impact in this great valley we all call home!  For more information, contact Dejeune Shelton, GVC Executive Director, or (209) 522-5103 x120.

Share your news

The purpose of the Great Valley Center’s e-newsletter is to provide you with updates on current GVC programs, as well as bring you news and highlights from around the Central Valley.  We want to know what is going on in your area that will impact the region.  Please share activities that are addressing the economic, environmental, educational and social challenges in your community, as well as noteworthy accomplishments.  News and links can be sent to
Photo of Great Valley Center building


Meet the GVC Staff

Program funding extensions have allowed the Great Valley Center to welcome some new employees over the past four months. Jaime Cortez, program coordinator, Linda Hoile, program manager, Erik Jaszewski, program coordinator and Kathy Halsey have all joined the GVC staff. Jaime, Linda and Erik have begun fulltime positions while Kathy is working part time, primarily focusing on the American Leadership Forum, Great Valley Chapter, and special initiatives at GVC. Take a moment to become acquainted with the GVC staff and the work they perform for the organization by visiting the staff webpage.

Valley Highlights

San Joaquin County Resource Conservation District honored as an Outstanding District of the Year:
The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service honored San Joaquin County Resource Conservation District (SJRCD) as an Outstanding District of the Year during the California Association of Resource Conservation Districts’ 66th annual conference held on November 9 in Stockton. The SJRCD was recognized for the leadership role their many projects and programs have played in the San Joaquin County and Delta Water Quality Coalition. The Coalition strives to help regulatory agencies understand the unique, variable and complex processes used by farmers when considering necessary crop and land treatments and management practices. The SJRCD was one of four such awards presented by NRCS. 
Visitor center opens at San Luis National Wildlife Refuge:
The 26,350 acre San Luis Wildlife Refuge opened a new visitor center in November, featuring interactive exhibits on native and endangered animals and plants. The 1,500 square foot facility provides visitors and students an opportunity to learn about the many species that live in the grasslands, wetlands and riparian habitats within the refuge. The center was funded with $7.2 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Displays featured during the opening included information from almost 20 years of research by scientists at CSU Stanislaus and the San Joaquin Valley Endangered Species Recovery Program. The San Luis Wildlife Refuge is part of over 130,000 acres of preserved wetlands in western Merced County, and is within the Pacific flyway for migrating birds. The visitor center is open daily from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and is located at 7376 S. Wolfsen Road in Los Banos.
Fresno State student honored at White House as Young Entrepreneur:
Mike Pronovost, CEO and owner of Pronovost Technologies and a business major at California State University, Fresno, was named to the Empact100 List and honored as a young entrepreneur in a ceremony at the White House on November 17. Pronovost grew up in Fresno and launched his career while still in high school. At 18 years old he developed Powerband Internet - a program that accelerates Internet access speed. He was one of 100 entrepreneurs aged 30 and under from across the United States who were recognized at the ceremony and given the opportunity to meet President Obama.
Bay Area power plant presents San Joaquin Valley with mitigation funds
Mariposa Energy, owner of the new Mariposa Power Plant located in Alameda County, fulfilled a commitment made to the San Joaquin Valley Air District by presenting a check for $644,000 to be used for pollution-reduction projects in the north Valley. The power plant is located seven miles northeast of Tracy, just outside the San Joaquin County line, in the Bay Area Air Quality Management District. However, expected emissions from the plant may produce local impacts on the Valley air basin’s northwest area. The funds will be used to support clean-air projects in this area such as replacement and retrofitting of heavy duty diesel engines and electrification of agricultural pump engines. The plant, which will begin operations in summer 2012, will produce power on an “on call” basis during peak electricity consumption. Potential emissions from the plant include nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds and particulate matter, which are all air pollutants of concern in the Valley.

Save The Date

CA Higher Education Sustainability Conference
June 18-22, 2012, University of California, Davis  -  The California Higher Education Sustainability Conference (CHESC) highlights cutting-edge case studies as well as research, curriculum development, and community partnerships in a cross section of topic areas including climate action planning, energy, food systems, green building, healthcare, institutional sustainability, business services, and social equity. The event is jointly organized by private colleges, California Community Colleges, California State Universities and the University of California. Also included is a Student Convergence – a free, half-day workshop on Thursday, June 21, and students can participate without attending the main conference. For more information visit
their website or contact Katie Maynard, CHESC Event Manager and Sustainability Coordinator for UC Santa Barbara, (805) 448-5111,

Links of Interest

Advances in agriculture change nature of work in Central Valley

Study:  Online tech job-growth outlook great for 2012

What will climate change mean for California? Delta analysis tries to put future into perspective

California olive oil industry a vat of market potential

Feds make nearly $1 Billion grant for Central Valley high-speed rail

Study identifies Los Banos and other risk areas in valley

Major ‘hang time’ implications for SJV wine grapes

San Joaquin Valley residents face high environmental and social hazards, UC Davis study says

Key Energy Policy Draft Report available for comment

Scientists propose thinning Sierra forests to enhance water runoff