In preparation for the Aug 29-30 workshop with Program Team Leaders, SI Leaders, Statewide Program Directors and Institute Directors, I've been working on a couple of logic model examples that illustrate the progression from activities to public value statement. I've used my own past work as an example, because it's what I know best. Take a look at what I've put together:
In the process of this exercise, I've used a fillable logic model template that many of you may recognize; it's from Ellen Taylor-Powell (Emeritus, the University of Wisconsin) and one provided as an example by USDA-NIFA when they have offered grant programs that require submission of a logic model (integrated projects). The concept of a logic model makes perfect sense to me. But I struggle with 3 elements of it:
It seems backwards to me causing one to work from right to left. Logically, I would want to know what I wish to accomplish in my work (the ‘so what') and from there determine the path to get there, working from 30,000 ft down to ground level that represents the activities I undertake. After all, I don't use my GPS to tell me where I am; that's not useful when I already know I am lost. Rather, I use my GPS to guide me where I want to go and provide me an ETA. But first I need to know where I want to go.
Where does one put the metrics and indicators to be used to measure extent of change? It seems to me this is a critical part of the planning process if one is to be successful. I wrote them in the text associated with the condition change but there they seem buried a bit.
Do we actually measure Learning Change in our work? If we are using standardized tests in 3rd grade then perhaps we do have an indicator of knowledge. An certainly when we test someone (history exam, pesticide applicator's exam, etc.) we are measuring learning change that is the result of exposure to information over some period of time. But in my work, I really didn't measure learning. The exception would be to compare pass rates of manure applicators who took our training versus those who took the test without first taking the training. Otherwise, we spent considerable effort asking participants if they felt like they learned something as a result of their attendance. Self-reporting data just isn't a strong metric, in my opinion. Had you asked me if I felt like I learned a lot the first time I took calculus, I would have said ‘absolutely'. But the sad truth is my test scores did not reflect much knowledge in the subject. So I have opted to leave blank the learning change portion of my logic model example.
I still don't fully understand the portions of the logic model about Assumptions and External Factors. Sometimes one just has to sit through a learning exercise multiple times to get it. I eventually aced calculus, not because the instructor or content changed. I suspect attention and attendance had something to do with the improvement (external factors?)
This week, like many, has been full of meetings, though they have been by Zoom or phone. We are preparing for the workshop to identify condition changes that reflect the draft public value statements. The workshop will be a good opportunity to think about what we do and why. I suspect the work will be more of a challenge than framing our impact, at a 30,000 ft level, because it forces us to have data to support the condition changes and moves us past the behavior changes many already measure. But we are up to the challenge. It will be a good workshop.
There's a lot of activity going on with hiring academics; very exciting! It seems every time I look at my calendar there is a new note on it about a start date for a new Advisor or Specialist. There are some departures, too, including some big gaps that need to be worked through. But it is particularly nice to talk with the campuses about 2 searches will be soon underway for economists – something in short supply and much needed. One is a hire from the 2014 position call and the other is a yet-to-be-released position from the 2016 positions.
This week I've been working from home quite a bit so I feel like I am missing out on all of the adventures going on in UC ANR. It turns out I don't really care to stay home and work and actually miss the commute (crazy, I know!). Next week I head to Long Beach for the triennial Master Gardener Conference. I'm not sure how many of the 6,000 California Master Gardener Volunteers plan to attend but I look forward to interacting with the group. Thinking about the meeting had me realize how many of the photos I have posted on this blog are the result of the efforts of Master Gardeners. I'm better suited for taking the photos than I am for caring for the plants, I'm afraid. I'm even slowly killing my favorite succulent! Okay all you Green Thumbs - let me know if you think if the photo suggests too much water. It sits right next to a peony so I can't decide how much water to give it. I'm hoping to hear back that these just go dormant this time of year - wishful thinking? I'm definitely better with livestock but hope to learn a few things at the meeting next week.
I'm still working on completing promotion assessments for faculty other universities. I need to get this off my to-do list this weekend. Then there are the manuscripts from my graduate students at Michigan State, that are piling up awaiting my read through. Without the cold winter nights it's tough to just stay in and read.
Last week I had a chance to visit the San Bernardino UCCE office. We met in an amazing place; the Chino Basin Water Conservation District (CBWCD) office. If you ever get a chance to get down there, be sure to check out the exhibits both inside and out, not to mention the ‘court room'. The indoor exhibits housed information about the area and impressive artwork from a local school. Outside were beautiful gardens. The reason for meeting at this location was because of the partnership UCCE has with the CBWCD. The CBWCD is not only a partner but a financial supporter of UCCE programs where there is mutual goals so that these programs thrive in the county. Becky Rittenburg, Community Programs Manager, gave us a tour of the gardens and talked about the work CBWCD is doing and the importance of the collaboration with UCCE. The UCCE Advisors and CES gave us updates on their programs in the communities and we talked about some of the unique challenges presented in trying to serve communities in the largest county in the U.S. (>20,000 square miles).
The next stop after Montclair was Bishop, CA. An interesting drive, to say the least. It took about 4 hours, maybe a bit more, with very little in between other than Ridgecrest which boast all the amenities of a small city due to the presence of a naval base and serving as the gateway to Death Valley. Talk about a small but mighty UCCE office. Dustin, Callie and Amy spent the day with Mark Bell and I and we had a chance to learn about the integration of the EFNEP, MFP and MG programs as well as the 4-H programs. We talked about the challenge of having impact in an area where the land is owned by LA County so there's little incentive for economic development coupled with the fact that most people move to the area for the recreation and not to be tied down to work. A conundrum a bit different than perhaps most of our communities. But this group is figuring it out. And our visit to the MG community garden is a great example of assessing needs and providing leadership to the community to meet those needs. The MG volunteers are clearly a dedicated group and their efforts are beautiful. I left with some great inspiration photos of what I might consider around my house.
I can't wait to get back to these two counties. I have others I need to visit first and it looks like Kathryn is working with the county directors to get more of these visits on my calendar this fall. Unfortunately the calendar fills very quickly but these visits are so important to me – a chance to see where the work happens and see first-hand how UC ANR is making a difference. Plus, I don't want visits to be so infrequent that the counties assume there is a problem when I try to schedule some time in the county.
It's been a while since I have posted (a week!). This isn't due to not having much to report on; quite the opposite. Again it has me wondering how I could better provide a means for everyone to have the opportunity to see all of the amazing things I get to see from UC ANR. This blog is a small attempt to do so.
Last week we finished the last two of the information sessions; Redding and Davis. Like the other sessions, they were both really fun and a nice chance to meet new faces, including some of our newest Advisors, and a chance to see people I had not seen in a while. Of the 5 sessions, Redding was the smallest attendance (about 26 or so) and Davis was the largest (100?). However, in each case the topic was the same so the conversation was familiar. What did surprise me was how different the UC ANR receptiveness to the concept of conveying public value and capturing condition change data was compared to my previous experience. Upon reflection, I think the difference can be attributed to the fact that impact reporting has been part of the expectation and culture in UC ANR for some time so the need to document impact (condition change) is familiar. That move from private to public value is a step rather than a leap. Kudos to Katherine Webb-Martinez and the Program Planning and Evaluation group for keeping UC ANR ahead of the Cooperative Extension curve! For those interested in the slide deck used during the meetings, it should be posted to the website in the next couple of days, if not today. I've been a bit of a laggard in getting that done.
I am eager to see what the cost of the information sessions totals. I see great value in holding such meetings once a year, even if there isn't a specific topic like there was this year. We'll have to see if it looks like the budget would allow. I would love to hear from some of you if you think it was time and money well spent and worth doing in the future. Summer may not be the ideal time either. Though given everyone's schedules, I'm not sure there is such a thing as a slow time.
Congratulations to Nancy Erbstein (PI), Charles Go, Russell Hill, Anna Martin, Fe Moncloa, Terri Spezzano, Connie Schneider, Steven Worker, Dennis Carrasquilla and David Ginsburg as well as a host of faculty and students at UC Davis for recognition of the Putting Youth on the Map project! UCOP recognized the group's efforts as the recipients of the Larry L. Sautter Award for Innovation in Information Technology. Another great example of innovation in action across UC ANR!
Somehow this week seems to be progressing slowly which is an odd occurrence. But perhaps it will translate to getting more accomplished. ‘Slow' is not to be confused with not having enough to do though at one point I did recall something my grandmother used to say “Idle hands are the devil's workshop”.
What's not moving as slow as one would like is huanglongbing. Confirmation of the citrus tree disease in Riverside County happened much sooner than anyone would hope to see and resulted in a flurry of activity within UC ANR and among our many partners with a stake in protecting the citrus industry. While many of the UC and UC ANR researchers have been focused on this disease and the associated Asian citrus psyllid and Master Gardener volunteers have been busy educating homeowners for quite some time, confirmation of the disease comes as quite a blow despite knowing it was a matter of time. Fortunately there has been considerable planning underway so folks were as prepared as anyone could be to move into action.
Yesterday, VP Council met in Oakland and had about 30 minutes with President Napolitano. She openly answered questions posed to her by the group and provided us some brief updates on what's new in the Office of the President. As important as our time with the President was an opportunity to hear what's going on with the unit leaders that sit on VP Council. We never seem to allocate enough time to have a good discussion about topics in common so perhaps we will do better in the future with the scheduling. But it was fun to hear about the programming going on around the state, the policy work underway, and plans in the works for the group. I foresee the new UC ANR Newsletter, Connected, as a great way to share our work not only with external partners and stakeholders but to better acquaint all of us internally with what goes on around us every day.
Today I spent time with a group that is working to formalize a partnership aimed at enhancing the on-the-ground work they have been engaged in for some time. The California On-Farm Demonstration Network has, through strong partnerships, been successful in demonstrating the benefits of soil health practices as a means of encouraging adoption of those practices across the state. By formalizing the partnership, the group seeks to take the next step in increasing its effectiveness and adoption. Having been part of groups that have initiated such partnerships, I think it is easy to underestimate the time and effort it takes to bring groups together and move in the same direction with a common understanding of roles and responsibilities. While perhaps painful at times, laying the groundwork now will payoff later. I see great opportunities with this group to secure increasing support to expand their efforts so a solid plan and agreement now will have tremendous payoff later.
Tomorrow it's off to Redding for the 4th of 5 information sessions. I haven't chartered a bus for this trip but still thinking about it for other excursions.