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Posts Tagged: Strategic Initiatives

Strategic Initiative leaders respond to feedback from the Joint SI Conference

The October 5-7, 2015, Joint Strategic Initiative conference had great participation, with 353 people attending. During the January Strategic Initiative (SI) leaders meeting with Bill Frost, we carefully reviewed the conference feedback. The conference evaluation survey had a good response rate (23%). A summary of responses to the closed-ended questions is at Below are some highlighted themes from the open-ended questions, and how we are planning to address them:

  • 75% of respondents liked the Joint SI Conference format compared to having individual SI conferences.
    • In response to this preference, as well as to better facilitate synergies with Workgroups and Program Teams, we plan to have SI-hosted conferences in 2016 - 17. Multiple SIs will co-sponsor, and the conferences will be co-planned with relevant Program Teams or Workgroup leaders.
  • When asked “What did you learn during the conference that you may use in your work?,” the respondents' most common themes were 1) in-service trainings, 2) networking and 3) better understanding ofANR.
    • These aspects will continue to be emphasized in the future SI co-hosted conferences.
  • When asked “What is working well?” with the SIs, the themes explain that the SIs provide value for outward messaging, as well as focus, direction and coordinated effort.
  • To build on existing strengths, we will develop a more formal external communications strategy for the SIs, to include producing an impact piece to illustrate the value of the SIs to ANR, UC and California. In addition, we will be working with ANR's Communication Services and Information Technology to improve the SI webpages and social media presence, and to develop regular communications tools.
  • When asked “What could make theSIs better?,” the themes found that some people are still unclear aboutSIs, including overall function, respective priorities, cross-disciplinary efforts and impact.
    • To help clarify the role and scope of the SIs, we plan to take a more active role in orienting new academics to the SIs. We are considering participation in the new academic program orientation, county director meetings and program team meetings, and to initiate meetings with small groups of new advisors and specialists.
    • To facilitate improved understanding of the SI priorities, we will encourage all advisors and specialists to apply for the ANR Competitive Grants Program at least once, and provide Letter of Intent writing training. This will help ensure that academics are familiar with the SI strategic plans and priorities, given these are the focus of the Request for Proposals (RFP).
    • To better capture and communicate SI impact, we discussed creating a project recognition program, and will work to develop a coordinated evaluation plan. We will meet with county directors, department chairs and campus-based specialists to share information on SIs and hear about successful ANR network collaborations.

We thank all those who provided this valuable feedback about the 2015 conference. We will continue to seek input as we develop and implement strategies to coordinate ANR's considerable infrastructure and talent, focusing on the most critical issues, seeking new resources and new ways of partnering within and outside UC, and communicating our collective impact finding science-based solutions for California.


ANR's Strategic Initiative Leaders

David Doll, Sustainable Food Systems

John Harper, Sustainable Natural Ecosystems

Keith Nathaniel, Healthy Families and Communities

Doug Parker, Water Quality, Quantity, and Security

Cheryl Wilen, Endemic and Invasive Pests and Diseases

Posted on Wednesday, February 17, 2016 at 2:09 PM

Plan to attend the first Joint Strategic Initiative Conference

The 2015 UC ANR Joint Strategic Initiative Conference will be held October 5-7 at the Sheraton Grand Hotel, 1230 J Street, in Sacramento.

Who should attend: Academics affiliated with ANR – UCCE Advisors, UCCE Specialists, AES Faculty, Program Directors and Academic Coordinators.

Submit a poster abstract to participate in a poster session. To be given priority consideration, please submit poster abstracts by June 1. For details, see

At the conference, you'll have the opportunity to

  • Meet the new Vice President (to be invited) at the Monday evening reception.
  • Participate in planning sessions for the Strategic Initiatives.
  • Learn about successful research projects.
  • Take advantage of free training sessions.
  • Request space for your Program Team or Workgroups to meet.
  • Network at the Stakeholders' Reception on Tuesday evening.

The conference is being coordinated through the five UC ANR Strategic Initiatives:

  • Endemic and Invasive Pests and Diseases (EIPD)
  • Healthy Families and Communities (HFC)
  • Sustainable Food Systems (SFS)
  • Sustainable Natural Ecosystems (SNE)
  • Water Quality, Quantity and Security (Water)

For more information, visit or contact conference co-chairs  Doug Parker, (510) 987-0036, and David Doll, (209) 385-7403. For logistics, contact UC ANR Program Support Unit, Sherry Cooper, (530) 750-1256, or Saundra Wais, (530) 750-1260.


View or leave comments for ANR Leadership at

This announcement is also posted and archived on the ANR Update pages.


VP announces 2015 competitive grants program RFP

Dear Colleagues,

I am pleased to announce that the request for proposals for ANR's 2015 competitive grants program is now released and can be found at

The purpose of this grants program is to address high-priority issues identified by at least one of the strategic initiatives: Endemic and Invasive Pests and Diseases (EIPD), Healthy Families and Communities (HFC), Sustainable Food Systems (SFS), Sustainable Natural Ecosystems (SNE), and Water Quality, Quantity and Security (Water).

2015 competitive grants cycle:

Call released: January 22

Application submission cycle

  • Letter of Intent (LOI) due March 16
  • LOI decisions April 24
  • Full proposals due June 22

Technical peer review: late June – early September 2015

Strategic Initiative review and recommendations: September 2015

Program Council review and recommendations: October/November 2015

Announcement of funded grants:November/December 2015

Through the 2015 grant cycle, ANR will continue to invest in short-term, high-impact research, education and outreach projects that address priority issues consistent with the Strategic Vision; encourage collaboration among academics; strengthen the research-extension network; and demonstrate relevance and likelihood of impact on significant agricultural, economic, environmental, and social issues in California.

During the previous three competitive grant cycles, 52 projects have been approved for funding for a total investment of close to $12 million. These projects have yielded significant deliverables and outcomes. Examples are highlighted in the recent assessment summary at I continue to be excited by the high level of engagement across the ANR network, including many students, and with many of our external partners. The assessment summary also includes specific information about how the program is reaching collaboration goals.

While the funds available for the competitive grants program will depend on a number of factors, we anticipate funding to be roughly the same as in past cycles. We are committed to providing as much support as feasible to address high-priority issues.

Taking into consideration the findings from the 2014 grants program formative assessment, we have made a few small changes to this year's call. Most notably, grant applicants will now be asked to identify the specific priority issue area their proposals address. The priority issue areas are highlighted in the RFP and include links to the Strategic Initiative plans for further information. In this way, we will be better able to track and communicate efforts and impact.


Barbara Allen-Diaz
Vice President

View or leave comments for ANR Leadership at

This announcement is also posted and archived on the ANR Update pages.

Posted on Thursday, January 22, 2015 at 9:36 AM

ANR competitive grants program funds 15 projects

I am pleased to announce that ANR's 2013 competitive grants program will fund 15 projects, for a total of approximately $3.5 million over 5 years. The awards range from $5,500 to nearly $350,000. Last year ANR funded 16 projects with $3.67 million over 5 years.

A full list of the funded projects, collaborators, funding amounts and funding sources are posted at

Taking into consideration several comments from the Partnership to Advance Cooperative Extension (PACE) effort and others, ANR made significant changes to the 2013 competitive grants program RFP. Changes included the following:

  • Principal investigators were able to submit proposals for research and/or extension projects.
  • Early-career academics were strongly encouraged to apply.
  • Cross-initiative proposals were strongly encouraged.
  • Applicants had the option to start their projects in April or August of 2014.
  • ANR encouraged the submission of small to mid-size projects, up to $250,000.
  • Applicants were able to request funding for projects up to $500,000 for a term not to exceed five years.

The purpose of ANR's competitive grants program is to invest in research, education and outreach projects that support high-priority issues that are consistent with the Strategic Vision; encourage collaboration among academics; support short-term, high-impact projects; strengthen the research-extension network; and contribute policy-relevant outcomes that address significant agricultural, economic, environmental and social issues in California. ANR is committed to providing as much support as feasible to address high-priority issues.

Key criteria

Proposals needed to address issues identified by at one least one of the following strategic initiatives: Endemic and Invasive Pests and Diseases (EIPD), Healthy Families and Communities (HFC), Sustainable Food Systems (SFS), Sustainable Natural Ecosystems (SNE), and Water Quality, Quantity and Security (Water). As stated in the RFP, ANR highly encouraged cross-initiative proposals. Furthermore, proposals were evaluated on technical merit, relevance to California and likelihood of impact, feasibility of achieving objectives in the specified time frame, and clear indications that the proposed work aimed to develop and/or enhance meaningful partnerships and collaborations among ANR and with external stakeholders.

Grant review process

The five strategic initiative panels reviewed 195 letters of intent for strong, substantive connections to initiative priorities, and invited authors of 70 letters of intent to submit full proposals. We received 65 full proposals from which 15 projects were selected for funding. 

After each proposal received at least two technical reviews by academics who had no conflict of interest with the proposal, the strategic initiatives leaders ranked the proposals and recommended a consensus slate of highly ranked proposals to Program Council. Program Council discussed each of the recommended proposals in detail, and sent the full set of recommended proposals with comments to ANR leadership for final review and selection.

With ANR's Strategic Vision as our guide, we are focusing our resources where there is an opportunity to demonstrate impact, inform public policymaking and attract new resources to support all elements of ANR. In doing so, we strive to achieve the greatest benefit for Californians with our investment. Please join me in congratulating this year's recipients of ANR competitive grants.


Bill Frost
Associate Vice President

View or leave comments for ANR Leadership at

This announcement is also posted and archived on the ANR Update pages.

Posted on Tuesday, February 4, 2014 at 4:59 PM

Harper to lead Sustainable Natural Ecosystems Strategic Initiative

I am pleased to announce that John Harper has agreed to lead the Sustainable Natural Ecosystems Strategic Initiative for a two–year appointment. As the SNE initiative leader, John will serve on Program Council.

John has been a UC Cooperative Extension advisor specializing in livestock and natural resources for 23 years in Mendocino and Lake counties. His research covers sheep and goat production, range cattle production, rangeland, watershed, water quality and computer applications. As an advisor, he has worked with fellow UCCE advisors, specialists and Agricultural Experiment Station scientists on several research and education projects. He served as UCCE director for Mendocino County for 13 years, and also oversaw UCCE in Lake County for four of those years.

John has been an integral part of local, statewide and regional projects addressing critical natural resources issues. These efforts have provided him with a good understanding of the breadth of ANR. He has demonstrated a good vision for expanding involvement in the initiative as well as revisiting the initiative's strategic plan.

He succeeds James Bartolome, professor in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management at UC Berkeley, who retired.

For more information about the SNE strategic initiative, visit

Bill Frost
Associate Vice President

View or leave comments for ANR Leadership at

This announcement is also posted and archived on the ANR Update pages.


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