20 Under 40: Kristian Salgado

Kristian Salgado can take pride in seeing bountiful backyard gardens and healthy crop yields of farmland in Imperial County. She has a hand in making them flourish.

Salgado has worked for Imperial County Cooperative Extension since 2019, and more recently has been been getting settled into a new post of Master Gardener coordinator for the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources program.

Salgado joined the Cooperative Extension Program as a community education specialist in 2019, having graduated the previous year from Humboldt State University, for which she completed her graduate research in Imperial County.

As a community education specialist, she says, "I assisted in increasing the number of farmers and ranchers who applied for (grants in) the 2019-2020 (California Department of Food and Agriculture's) State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program and the Healthy Soil Program," she explains.

One of the professionals recognized in the 20 Under 40 program sponsored by Imperial Valley Press, she finds her rewards in serving those who make their livelihoods in agriculture in Imperial County, she says.

"I actively engage with ranchers and farmers in my area to discuss and brainstorm possible projects they can apply for. I enjoy having the opportunity to visit feedlots, dairies and farmer’s fields to see first-hand what management practices they are currently using, and how the California Department of Food and Agriculture's Climate Smart Agriculture Grants can assist them in sustaining their operations," she says.

"In my experience farmers and ranchers greatly appreciate knowing that there is someone housed at their local Cooperative Extension dedicated solely to support them and help them access these funds, and who can help demystify the grant application process."

Meanwhile Salgado began transitioning in April of this year to her latest role as University of California Master Gardener coordinator, "where I will be coordinating the training of 50 residents in 2023 to be the first cohort of UC Master Gardener Imperial County."

Those graduates will, in turn, share the gardening expertise they will have gained in the program with other residents of the county.

Salgado's goals as Master Gardener coordinator, she says, include "providing educational opportunities to residents in all parts of Imperial County to enhance backyard gardening education and knowledge."

Further, she hopes to be part of the first Farm to School program to be established in Imperial County. Salgado says her most memorable moments in her career come from teaching others and from visiting gardens.

Apart from working as Master Gardener coordinator, Salgado has served three years as a community member of the Imperial

County Air Resource Board and is a current member of the county's Air District Hearing Board.

Salgado says she loves all aspects of her career. And as for advice to other up-and-coming professionals, she says this:

"Try different things and be open to new experience. You can always build on any knowledge you gain and its can all by applied to what you end of doing in some shape or form."

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