Despite taking a vacation, I'm tied to the clock this week; a tidal clock. Activities revolve around the water level. While a bit frustrating to have to plan so carefully even on vacation, without attention to the clock, we would have missed the fowl fly ins and boating with the dolphins. We'd also find ourselves stuck in the mud with the gators, or waiting out in the river for the marsh to fill. I find it normally helps to know what the desired outcome is in order to adequately plan the strategy to achieve the outcome. That's not to say there weren't surprises along the way. We went looking for the brown pelican, and unexpectedly encountered the roseate spoonbill in addition to the pelicans. En route, we went off the beaten path, on an unplanned path, and came upon what claims to be the smallest church in the U.S. (non-denominational). It only seats 12 and there's no A/C, but cute nonetheless, and a nice stop along the way. We're out of season for the manatees in the rivers, but otherwise this is a great place for a Master Naturalist.
The Cal Naturalist program was recently reviewed. Thanks to Cheryl Wilen for leading the review committee and Jennifer Caron-Sale for her work organizing and facilitating the committee's work. Cheryl presented the committee's findings to Program Council during the July meeting. Program Council's recommendations to VP Humiston are almost ready to share with her.
Tomorrow's activities will be brief and perhaps limited to gator watching in our back yard/marsh. I'm hoping the internet connection is strong enough that I can participate in the WebANR about condition changes and using targeted outcomes to focus one's efforts. The ANR condition changes serve the purpose of providing a sense of structure to allocation of effort to the public value of ANR work. Of course, there's flexibility in the path to reach the goal. One just wants to be aware of the tides.
This week I am on vacation. For me, if it doesn't involve water, it's not vacation. But that doesn't mean I'm not thinking about what's going on in California and UC ANR. Several times I have been reminded of UC ANR when I have passed signs that reference the local Cooperative Extension or applied research mission of the University of Georgia. Now that I've been to my first 4-H camp, I've been sizing up other camps and I must say that the one in southern Georgia looks good to me. It has a strong marine environment component complete with kayaks excursions in the backyard tidal marsh. Just a couple miles away, on the same island, is a turtle rescue center that is both a 4-H project and a research project for the University.
At the last Program Council meeting, we received an update on the 4-H Strategic Plan that is nearly complete. While marine science won't be a strong focus in the statewide plan, STEM will remain one of the initiatives, giving flexibility for local programs to highlight water resources where appropriate. During that same meeting Program Council also reviewed the progress on the strategic plan for the California Institute for Water Resources
In between wildlife viewing, I do need to work on a document this week that is for distribution to new UC ANR academics. Mark Bell worked with a group of CE Specialists and Advisors to develop the document that provides an overview of UC ANR and the campuses with the intent of sharing this document with new UC ANR academics. That document was recently reviewed by Program Council with feedback due last week. Given the number of recent hires, I'm eager to get the document readied for sending.
Peter Larbi started today (August 13th) as a CE Specialist in agricultural application engineering. Peter is based at the Kearney Research Extension Center. Please welcome Peter to UC ANR. I didn't get a chance to meet Peter in person during the recent engineering society meeting in Detroit so I am looking forward to that opportunity.
Back to vacation. We are on the lookout for wild horses, dolphin, and brown pelicans tomorrow. Who knows what we will find during our adventure.
A friend sent me this article by the founder of Squarespace from the current issue of Southwest's magazine. I'm not sure if it was sent to me because I often read the magazine or because it is so fitting. I am guilty of always wanting to define the performance criteria and then establish design criteria. But, what other way is there? Just do what one has always done? Design something without any consideration of the performance needs? Clearly I need to think about this a bit more.
The big lesson in the article is that “what made you successful in the past isn't necessarily going to make you successful in the future”. Often that can be difficult to accept, particularly when one enjoys the way things have been. But it's difficult to ignore the wisdom in that statement. Thus, like any organization or business, we need to continue to evolve to meet current needs and wants. That means different programming, in different ways, and to different audiences. While this isn't a bad thing, it is uncomfortable at times. I often think about the TED talk that proposes “life begins at the edge of your comfort zone”. I have a long list of TED talks to watch but that's one I like to go back to every now and then.
Because I happened to be on a Southwest flight last week, I flipped through the magazine. In addition to that article by the CEO of Squarespace, a few other things stood out. First, was a piece about Southwest's commitment to and support of STEM education for youth. Once again, I found myself wondering if the company has a grant or scholarship program available and how the 4-H program might partner with Southwest. The other thing that stood out was a quote that I don't remember exactly but it was to the effect of the following.
An early or big win builds complacency. Repeatedly hearing ‘no' leads one to just stop trying. As a result, failure is the only clear path to success.
That was true in grad school; I learned a whole lot more through failure than I ever did from getting it right the first time. But I hope the statement doesn't always apply.
We are still wrestling with the budget. As a result funds for Program Teams, CE Specialist and AES funds to work with CE Advisors, and program support dollars have not yet been released. It's a challenge to find the funds to cover the shortfall and minimize the impact it has on people while leaving the division in a position to better weather the future. We can't do it without causing pain and discomfort but in this case, failure is not the path to success.
Reality has set in that I need to spend more days at a desk in front of a screen or on the phone. Ughhh. As a result, I spent the weekend trying to catch up; I've long since decided there's no point in thinking I can get ahead. I worked on an MOU to address feedback received, drafted several communications that will still need some more detailed follow up, cleaned out the Inbox a bit by responding to emails, gave some thought to next week's WebANR, and wrapped up some notes from the 2-day meeting last week that addressed some outstanding items on the REC 6-year financial plan. Ahhh, to be new again and have a short ‘to-do' list.
Speaking of new, we had some new academics start last week. Annemiek Schilder started on August 1 as the UCCE Ventura County and Hanson REC Director, headquartered in Ventura County. Also on August 1, Nathan Caeton began as the new CE 4-H Youth Development Advisor, based in Redding, with programmatic responsibilities in Shasta, Tehama and Trinity Counties. Previously, Nate was the 4-H program specialist in those counties. Tomorrow, Maggie La Rochelle starts as the Area 4-H Youth Development Advisor, based in Half Moon Bay, with programmatic responsibilities in San Mateo and San Francisco Counties. Please welcome Annemiek and Maggie to UC ANR and congratulate Nate on his new position!
There are 43 more prospective ‘new UC students' now, as a result of the UC ANR 4-H Latino Initiative 3-day Juntos Summer Academy that was held at UC Merced. High School students from Riverside, Orange, Kern, Santa Clara, Merced and Sonoma counties had the opportunity to experience college life. They lived in the dorms, ate in the college cafeteria and attended workshops on scholarships, financial aid, admissions, essays and a students' panel. The students heard from two very motivational Latino keynote speakers, who spoke about their experiences as Latino youth attending college and how they overcame obstacles to graduation. With the economic support of National 4-H and New York Life, the Juntos program includes: (1) family workshops and monthly check-ins, (2) afterschool 4-H club meetings, (3) one-on-one success coaching and access to college and community mentors, and (4) summer programming through 4-H camps, college-campus visits, and other educational conferences.
Many were busy this weekend dealing with fires. Several affected by the Mendocino complex fire are still out of their homes. Now that it is in Colusa County, I'm wondering how that will impact our visit to Colusa UCCE tomorrow. The trip to Lake County UCCE, scheduled for Tuesday, will be rescheduled. While I've visited with some of the Lake UCCE group before, this will be my first visit to the Colusa UCCE office.
To give us a better sense of how the fire in Mendocino County affected the Hopland REC, Shane Feirer of IGIS @HoplandREC put together this map. The red area shows existing vegetation; many of the oaks didn't burn. Brighter red indicates untouched green foliage, fainter red indicates some damage. The two separate black areas are where prescribed burn were conducted back in June. The white spots are ash indicating where a tree did burn. Thanks to Shane for sharing a visual story with us!
I left the ASABE meeting today to head back west. I decided to test my luck along the way by assuming I could jump on an earlier flight back to SMF in time to make a Southwest connection to SoCal. No such luck. Ultimately, I had to pay a change fee and my arrival airport in order to make an early morning meeting tomorrow. Fortunately, I was able to cancel a Southwest flight and get a refund so it's almost a wash. So was this bad luck? Maybe not – my original flights were delayed to the extent that, at best, I was only going to make it to SFO tonight. Either way, I need to take a different approach to travel planning, perhaps planning ahead a bit more.
While at the meeting, I decided to sit in on a food engineering session and discover what that sector of expertise is discussing these days. I heard some numbers that caught me by surprise. I need to fact check them but here they are:
- In North America, 21% of income is spent on food. Last I heard, that figure was 11% in the U.S. Perhaps the difference is due to inclusion of Mexico and Canada, or has it increased in the U.S. as well?
- 50% of food grown is wasted, with as much loss in the field as post-sale. Processing and distribution losses are much less than either field or consumer losses. I would have expected consumer waste to exceed field losses.
- Approximately 20 to 22% of meat and milk produced is wasted, while produce and seafood losses exceed 50%. Much of this is attributable to confusing food labels
- Real time shelf life surface indicators that change colors as function of time and temp are a developing tool that will someday replace those confusing labels.
- I learned about forced air precooling, vacuum precooling, hydrocooling, and icing technologies. Not surprising, CA leads precooling implementation from field to shipping.
What I really enjoyed about the session was that the speakers were challenging the status quo, despite processing not being a primary driver in water or energy use nor food waste. The conversations focused on the fact that science hasn't challenged the long-standing practice of storing frozen food at -18C through out the cold supply chain, despite the fact that a tremendous amount of energy could be saved if key points in the chain could deploy -15C. The science behind current used best info available at the time, but that science is now outdated. Another discussion centered around energy use to prepare food in the home. Home prep the is biggest user of energy in life cycle for food, begging the question of whether or not we should prepare food at home? That's some creative thinking I could really get behind! And one speaker proposed the food processing water use could be drastically reduced, by as much as 75% for clean in place (CIP) processes. Who knows, we may have new recommendations forthcoming in our nutrition and food preservation programs.
Dr. Ali Pourreza, a relatively new CE Specialist at UC Davis, @alipourreza received the 2018 Sunkist Young Designer Award at today's luncheon awards banquet. pic.twitter.com/2K7ixbXpMR. Previously, Ali was a CE Advisor located at the Kearney REC. Congratulations Ali!
Overall, an interesting week that gave me a few things to think about. Hopefully all of the other UC attendees found it to be time well spent.