Thirty Eight Years in the UC System
Home from the World War II battlefields, he enrolled in Compton Community College and then the University of California, Berkeley.
A family friend promised him a job in his termite control business once he finished his studies.
His college associates, however, couldn’t envision “Vern and termites” in the same sentence.
Neither could he.
“There were better things to do in life than crawling under a house looking for termites,” quipped Burton, who is known for his wry sense of humor. (Photo at right was taken circa 1980)
So began a 38-year career that would encompass 10 years as a Kern County Farm Advisor and 28 years as an Extension entomologist affiliated with the UC Davis Department of Entomology.
During his career, Burton, now 85, worked with crops such as alfalfa, beans, cotton, potatoes, small grains and sugar beets and helped resolve pest problems through integrated pest management (IPM) strategies and close associations with university researchers. “I always enjoyed helping people in ag and urban settings with their insect problems,” Burton said, “or their perceived problems.”
Tuber worms in potatoes? Check. Lygus bugs in seed alfalfa? Check. Spider mites on dry beans? Check. Nematodes in cotton? Check. Green peach aphids in sugar beets? Check. Burton helped recommend the guidelines in several of the Statewide IPM Program’s commodity manuals. His collaborative research also appears in California Agriculture and other publications.
“Vern was dedicated to California growers, and worked tirelessly to provide new and useful information to them,” said IPM specialist Frank Zalom, professor and former vice chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and a Fellow of the Entomological Society of America. “He understood the research-extension continuum better than most people ever could, having served the university as an extension entomologist in the county and also here on campus.”
Read more about Vern Burton and what he's doing today.
Yes, he's in the computer age!
UC Davis Entomology in 1970