Local group honors Sacramento biologist with Beeler Prize
November 27 â Each year, the Lower Mokelumne River Watershed Stewardship Steering Committee presents the Frank R. Beeler Stewardship Award to someone who works hard to protect the local watershed.
While the award is typically announced at the East Bay Utilities District’s annual Pardee Barbecue in October, this year’s event has been canceled due to concerns over COVID-19.
Instead, this week the steering committee, along with EBMUD, the Lower Mokelumne River Partnership, and the US Fish and Wildlife Service, named Jessa Kay Cruz to receive the 2021 award.
Cruz is the senior pollinator conservation specialist for the Xerces Society in California, an international nonprofit organization that protects the natural world through the conservation of invertebrates and their habitats. It is a science-based organization, which conducts research and uses the latest information to guide its conservation work.
Cruz is also a partner biologist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service.
While living and working in Sacramento, Cruz said her work with the Xerces Society takes her all over California.
Cruz has been with the Xerces Society for over 13 years and said she enjoys working everything there, as well as her science-based approach to conservation.
âWhen I started working with Xerces, my main focus was on protecting and creating biodiversity and conserving pollinators on working lands, such as farms and ranches,â she said. âSince then, I have broadened my work to include even more diverse landscapes such as natural areas, forests, urban farms and urban parks. I love the way my work connects me to the whole of the world. ecosystem I work in – from pollinators to plants to people. “
Cruz holds a Master of Science in Environmental Entomology and Integrated Pest Management from California State University, Chico, and a BS in Sustainable Agriculture from Hampshire College in Amherst, Mass.
Since joining Xerces in 2008, Cruz has worked on agricultural and natural lands to create habitat for pollinators and other beneficial insects, and to promote practices that support them.
It provides training and technical support to a range of people and agencies, including farmers and ranchers, agricultural professionals and land managers.
A collaboration between Cruz and the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Lockeford Plant Materials Center (CAPMC) on the Lower Mokelumne River provides information on the establishment and management of pollinators.
Kathy Grant, City of Lodi Watershed Program Coordinator, said Cruz is a frequent speaker at outreach events and training sessions that take place in the area, including field days and open houses. CAPMC, CAPMC training events and Lodi Winegrape Commission producer meetings.
Cruz has also created awareness material for Lodi winegrowers, including an article on beneficial insects in the recent publication “What Every Winegrower Should Know: Viruses”.
Grant said miles of new hedges have been planted over the past two years thanks to Cruz’s awareness and skills connecting local growers with the resources they need to breed native plants, obtain financial assistance through grants and access to technical information for hedge management.
âJessa embodies the spirit of the Beeler Prize by enthusiastically supporting stewardship practices based on solid science, helping others in their conservation efforts to improve the Mokelumne River watershed to encourage them to make the best use of natural resources and engaging with the community through education, âsays Grant.
The Frank R. Beeler Watershed Stewardship Award is presented annually to recognize and recognize an individual or organization in the Lower Mokelumne River watershed who has demonstrated outstanding leadership, responsibility or activism in promoting healthy and innovative natural resource stewardship practices that help sustain the environment and improve productivity and profitability in the Mokelumne River watershed.
“Despite a busy schedule filled with various responsibilities, Jessa always takes the time to provide help that really makes an impact, and even saves growers money in the long run by reducing the need for irrigation and pesticides. “Grant said.
The watershed of the Lower Mokelumne river extends from the base of the Camanche reservoir to the confluence with the Cosumnes river.