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Heather Lohr: Growing the Job

Heather Lohr, Center for Agriculture, Food and the Environment Heather Lohr began work with UMass Extension in 2013 at the Extension Bookstore and then became part of the administration team for the Center for Agriculture, Food and the Environment (CAFE) in 2014. She now assists CAFE assistant director William Miller in managing Experiment Station and Extension planning and reporting, along with other responsibilities.  She reports that she finds herself interested in learning about the internal workings of CAFE, how all the pieces fit together, and how she can contribute to the success of the Center and everyone it serves. 

Lohr said she feels lucky because she is constantly learning something new. She finds herself enjoying reading reports on CAFE activities: about the research that is underway, about education and the work of outreach, all efforts that make a difference to people living right here, and right now. (So, if you are one of those faculty or staff members writing those reports, please know that yes, someone is reading—and enjoying—them!)

Ms. Lohr comes by her interests in agriculture and science honestly. She grew up in a family business, a biological supply company where she worked every summer from the age of 13 through 20.  She devoted one summer to cleaning disarticulated skeletons and two others were occupied by collecting live specimens: “there was a lot going on to hold my interest.”

During her youth, she raised livestock and produce, and now she maintains several large productive gardens.  When Lohr first started growing vegetables and fruit again as an adult, her father, who was her first teacher, was there to help, and so was UMass Extension.  She pored over extension fact sheets and newsletters absorbing advice well before she joined CAFE. 

She is pleased to find that her appreciation for science and agriculture has passed on to her daughter Sydney, who attended UMass and graduated in 2018 with a B.S. in Plant and Soil Sciences.  Sydney currently manages greenhouses and plants in Boston for the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. What’s that saying about the apple and where it falls? 

Lohr is helping CAFE develop and address diversity and inclusion goals of our organization and our college. Her efforts have already served to raise awareness and identify skills necessary for creating a more positive and inclusive work environment for our employees. In 2018, she agreed to serve as a founding member of CAFE’s Workplace Climate Advisory Committee to address issues related to diversity, equity and inclusivity.  Since early 2019, she has served as chair of this committee. 

Over the past several years, Lohr has assumed increasing responsibility in her work, and now serves in a leadership role. She interacts on an almost daily basis with 50 tenure-track faculty and 18 Extension faculty from 11 academic departments and three UMass Amherst colleges, as well as with UMass Extension professional staff. Her tasks help to support and manage the submission of annual plans and reports, ensuring accountability and compliance with federal guidelines, and accountability for programmatic and operational costs. 

In recognition of her outstanding work, Lohr is one of four College of Natural Sciences staff to receive the 2021 CNS Dean’s Staff Award.