College of Agriculture


Melvin George

In 30 years as rangeland management specialist for the UC Davis Cooperative Extension, the College of Agriculture’s 2008 Distinguished Alumnus has earned countless awards and certificates; consulted in Morocco, Tunisia, China, and Albania; published more than 80 refereed research publications or journal articles; and led efforts throughout the country in grazing and watershed management. And the road to his laudable career began with a range management course at CSU, Chico.

Mel George grew up in nearby Gridley and became the first in his family to attend college, pursuing a degree in agriculture. It wasn't until the beginning of his senior year when George took the principles of range management course that would determine his future career. The instructor, Roy Miller encouraged him to look into graduate school and helped George to obtain an assistantship in the graduate program at Texas Tech. After receiving his master’s degree, then serving two years in the Army, George went on to earn a PhD at Utah State University. In 1978 he accepted the position of cooperative extension rangeland management specialist at UC Davis, and he’s been there ever since.

During his 30-year career with UC Davis, George has transformed the range extension program from one focused on agronomic improvements on rangelands to a broader focus on issues of ranch management and environmental quality. He has helped ranchers increase profitability through grazing practices, and led efforts statewide that enable landowners to proactively address water quality issues on their property.

Mel George was named Outstanding Alumnus at Utah State University in 2000 and received the prestigious James H. Meyer Distinguished Achievement Award at UC Davis in 2007. Despite all that he has accomplished in his career, it wasn't until he began to receive such awards that he grasped what an impact his work has had. “That’s when I realized that other people thought I’d done a lot of cool things,” George recalled. “Up until then, I’d just been working.”

With friends and family in attendance, Mel George accepted the 2008 College of Agriculture Distinguished Alumni Award at a dinner on April 25 in the Bell Memorial Union.