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    • Donald Sanders

    • July 13, 2015 in Columnists

    Rominger and McNamara — names that mean lifetimes of service to this earth

    Governor Jerry Brown and his wife Ann were in rural Winters visiting friends on my birthday, June 28. I can’t believe he didn’t take the time to come to my house and wish me a happy birthday. The next time I see him, I’m going to bring that up to see what he has to say about it. After all he’s probably feeling bad about missing all of my other birthdays.

    There was a picture in the July 9 edition of the Winters Express in which Governor Brown (looking quite comfortable) poses with Rich Rominger and his lovely wife Evelyne, along with Craig McNamara at the Rominger Ranch. I have to admit it was a great picture because it’s glossed with friendship and happiness. It must be nice to have the Governor of California feel at ease in your home.

    I guess it’s true that birds of a feather flock together. I don’t know much about these guys, but I do know that between the three of them there’s probably a good century of public service. We all know about Governor Brown, so I’ll concentrate on Rominger and McNamara. I had the honor to meet each of them only once, but I was left with the true feeling of warmth for the experience.

    I think it’s time that I looked at these guys a little closer to give them the credit they’re due. I know they’re both deeply involved in family life and their community. The Rominger and McNamara names are recognized for good works around the entire Earth. Let’s take a look at these guys and see what we can find.

    Craig McNamara comes from a long line of successful, top notch public servants. His young days were spent traveling the world while developing his mind. This eventually led him back home to concentrate on agriculture and world health. Craig and Julie McNamara are the founders of the FARMS Program, a partnership that started in 1993, joining Sierra Orchards (the operational farming entity of McNamara’s family), UC Davis, and the California Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom and the Yolo County Resource Conservation District. F.A.R.M.S. is now integrated as a curriculum of the Center for Land-Based Learning.

    McNamara’s SLEWS Program was formed in 2001, after partnering with Audubon California’s Landowner Stewardship Program. This effectively doubled the number of students served annually. As a result of this dramatic growth and increased demand, in February, 2001, FARMS Leadership, Inc., a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, was formed and moved to new headquarters at The Farm on Putah Creek in Winters, California. In 2004, FARMS Leadership, Inc. was renamed as the Center for Land-Based Learning. The program now reaches nearly 2,000 students annually.

    McNamara is the recipient of several awards, including the Leopold Conservation Award, the California Governor’s Environmental and Economic Leadership Award, the UC Davis Award of Distinction and Outstanding Alumnus Award. I could go on and on about this guy but it makes my third place bowling trophy look insignificant because it’s the only award I ever won.

    Richard Rominger is a fourth generation Yolo County, California farmer and is active in farm organizations and cooperatives. He served six years as Director (Secretary) of the California Department of Food and Agriculture and was the Deputy Secretary at the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Washington, DC for eight years. Improving farm policy, including conservation programs, and establishing the National Organic Standards, were among his responsibilities. He served as a production agriculture advisor at UC Davis, UC Riverside, California State University Fresno, and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, and continues to serve as a special advisor to the Chancellor at UC Davis. He is chairman of Marrone Organic Innovations, a biopesticide company, is a member of the UC President’s Advisory Commission on Agriculture and natural Resources, and the California Roundtable on Agriculture and the environment, and serves on the board of directors of the American Farmland Trust and Roots of Change Council. He completed a term on the UC Board of Regents.

    Rominger and his wife Evelyne raised a daughter and three sons on the same family farm where he grew up. Their sons now operate the farm with participation from their daughter, growing alfalfa, barley, beans, corn, native grass seed, oats, rice, safflower, sunflowers, tomatoes, wheat and wine grapes. Some of the crops are grown organically. The farm participates in the Conservation Reserve Program, Environmental Quality Incentives Program and the Conservation Security Program.

    I can only say that, as a community, we are blessed to have men like this among us. I mean, how lucky can we be? I absolutely love these guys! I think Governor Brown does too.

    Information gathered at:

      • Ellie Delbar Case

      • July 15, 2015 at 6:26 pm
      • Reply

      Enjoyed reading this very informative narrative about Richard Rominger and Craig McNamara. Must say I am familiar with Richard’s family history and remember when Craig moved to Winters many years ago. Winters had and has a strong agricultural environment; this environment has changed over the years from when I first moved to the area. I sincerely hope the program developed and supported by these two gentlemen continue to grow and secure Winters future in this area.

      • Ms. Case, I would love to hear how things have changed through the years if you ever feel inclined to talk about it. Maybe over coffee at Steady Eddies – my treat? Maybe we could get my editor, Debra DeAngelo to join us?

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