January 20, 2017 seed 2016 Report

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January 20, 2017

SEED 2016 Report

Mr. Lou Rigali

255 4th Street, #101

Oakland, CA 94607

Dear Mr. Rigali,

Enclosed is the SEED Report for 2016. The day-to-day SEED information is available to the public via the Internet because you nicely maintain the SEED information on our Section website. Furthermore, the names of all (51) 2016 SEED students who started the program (and finished, a 100% completion rate), and their schools, are available for interested persons. This year we saw two more students in our program relative to 2015: our program had 39 Project SEED I students and 12 Project SEED II students. In 2016, SEED I students could earn $2,500 while SEED II students could earn $3,000, equal to 2015.

California Section 2016 SEED Program Report


Students for the 2016 California Section SEED program consisted of 23 females and 28 males. (See Attachments I and II.) Our program started with 39 SEED I students and 12 SEED II students.

This year marked the second year in which males outnumbered females in our program during the time I’ve been coordinator—about 34 years. I am not sure what this means.

Luckily, we recruited two students from Kennedy High School in Richmond, CA. This school has had a sporadic participation in SEED. It is from the West Contra Costa Unified School District (WCCUSD). Chevron, our corporate partner, is very interested in having students from such schools.

Two SEED II students were awarded full four-year scholarships to attend UC Berkeley (Haley Liu) and UC Santa Cruz (Itzel Gonzalez). Both are majoring in a science field, just not chemistry.


One California Section student (Laivong Thung) won a $5,000 SEED scholarship for her first year of college at UC Berkeley, contingent on her taking chemistry in her freshman year. She was a 2016 SEED II student at UC Merced. Laivong is convinced that SEED helped her prepare for college. Tsz Yan (Nancy) Ng, another CA Section student, participated in SEED at Libby Labs in 2013, and at Chevron in 2014, earning the same $5,000 scholarship. This is certainly good news because Nancy went to Kennedy High School in Richmond, CA during the short tenure of a very good chemistry teacher who left the school after two years.

Student Interviews, Scheduling, Symposia

To arrive at our 51 participants, the Project SEED Committee interviewed over 110 students. I personally talked to all the SEED candidates. Stockton students started their Project SEED experience right after school was out in early June, so we had to finish interviewing quite early (first two weeks of May). The other students in our system started in mid-June. Eight symposia capped our SEED program, with five, six, or seven students each. The symposia were held all over Northern and Central California. See Attachment III to see where the students worked. I attended all student presentations.

Before we could interview the students, we needed to encourage them to apply. The Kennedy High School situation is the most problematic. Teachers leave as fast as they can find another job. My current contact is a Teach for America teacher, and he will not be there for much longer. The Acting Associate Area Director of the USDA Albany lab, Dr. Charles Onwulata, contacted me to ask if we could partner to recruit Kennedy students for SEED, since his lab is very close to this school. With this common goal, Charles and I held an information meeting at the school, with chemistry teacher Harrison Blatt as the host. Twenty-two students attended. From that group, I received only two applications; one student could not work at USDA (non-citizen), so Charles got only one SEED student. This is one reason it is hard to grow SEED in disadvantaged school districts. Charles and I hope that at least one of these SEED students will want to do SEED II. Furthermore, the teacher told me that the District is thinking of closing Kennedy High School if it can’t get its student test scores to rise.

This was the first summer where two of the SEED I students from Central California are attending the same high school I graduated from almost 50 years ago.

Mentors and Worksites

Attachment III shows the list of various worksites. Wally Yokoyama is now the USDA Site Coordinator. Wally recruited seven mentors from the Albany site, an increase over 2015. How did he do this? Wally had an idea that I did not think would work: at the USDA, where food is what they do, everyone there can be enticed by a cake-and-coffee event. We thanked last year’s mentors and welcomed new ones. By the way, one of the new SEED helpers to current mentor S. Throne, Doris Feng, is a former SEED student. She is now a permanent employee of the USDA Albany lab. This is clear evidence that SEED works.

The University of the Pacific (UOP) had seven students working under the local coordination of Professor Qinliang Zhao. They maintained their all-time high count of mentors and students. I show evidence of how pleased the Chair of the department, a SEED mentor, was with his student in Attachment IV.

Chevron’s co-coordinator, Ken Nelson, arranged ten student/mentor pairs. Seven of the students working at Chevron attended West Contra Costa Unified School District (WCCUSD) high schools, and these are the students Chevron wanted their financial contribution to support. In fact, Chevron donated $22,000 for 2016, but since there were seven students from WCCUSD (five SEED I and two SEED II), Chevron requested $3,500 be saved for 2017 in the Development Office.

Dr. Gary Banuelos of the USDA Parlier labs continued his mentor recruiting efforts with nearby California State University Fresno (CSUF). Together, CSUF (three mentors) and Parlier USDA (four mentors) hosted seven SEED students. It appears that the CSUF faculty is interested in future SEED summers with our CA Section SEED program, even though they reside in a different section.

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