A world-renowned leader on conservation issues and economic development, Mancos native Glenda Humiston was honored recently for her rural community development efforts.
Humiston, who leads U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Development program in California and has established a notable career advancing sustainability in policy and program development, was honored Friday, Oct. 11, with an "Award of Distinction" from the UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.
Appreciative and honored by the recognition, Humiston said she attributes her success to Montezuma County, specifically the area's 4-H program.
"I think most of my inspiration came from the many wonderful folks in 4-H that I interacted with," Humiston said via email. "4-H is a great program, and it gave me many opportunities to travel and explore."
Former deputy under secretary for natural resources and environment under President Bill Clinton, Humiston also served as program manager at both the 2002 World Summit for Sustainable Development in South Africa and the 2006 World Water Forum in Mexico City.
A graduate of Mancos High School in 1977, Humiston said she loved growing up on the family cattle ranch, which her father, Glen Humiston, still operates. In addition to her parents, she also credited longtime Mancos Valley veterinarian Fred Reddert as a major influence on her life.
"I had some great role models in Mancos," she said.
A 1989 recipient of a UC Davis master's degree in international agricultural development, Humiston was recognized Friday among "Outstanding Alumni" for her leadership in a variety of government agencies and nongovernmental organizations.
"The Award of Distinction recipients have made, and continue to make, remarkable contributions that bring great inspiration, honor and distinction to the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences" said Mary Delany, interim dean.
The annual award is presented to those whose contributions and achievements enhance the college's ability to provide cutting-edge research, top-notch education and innovative outreach.
Humiston earned her bachelor's degree in animal science from Colorado State University in 1983. She then served in the Peace Corps, coordinating an $11.2 million dairy development project in Tunisia. In addition to her master's degree at UC Davis, she also earned a doctoral degree at UC Berkeley.
During her career, Humiston has worked to preserve farmland and enhance local agriculture, as well as lead policy development on agricultural and environmental issues throughout the western U.S.
She was appointed by President Barack Obama in 2009 to lead USDA Rural Development in California. As state director, she developed a "Jobs, Economic Development and Sustainable Communities" policy framework for rural California. She also explored alternatives to traditional sources of capital for rural communities and recently published an acclaimed guidebook, Access to Capital.
"Glenda's ability to make things happen is one of her greatest qualities," said A.G. Kawamura, an Orange County produce grower. "Her focus on aligning business, regulation and government resources toward on-the-ground solutions has created a sense of optimism and momentum in the rural communities of California."