UC ANR academics are invited to apply for the Sustainable Natural Ecosystems Strategic Initiative leader position. The position plays a key role in helping us connect by unifying, communicating and advocating to strengthen UC ANR's research and outreach agenda and as a participant in Program Council.
Given the evolving role of the UC ANR Strategic Initiatives (SI), we will again conduct an open search from across the breadth of expertise of the division.
“The SI leader position for Sustainable Natural Ecosystems is becoming available as our current leader David Lile is scheduled to rotate off at the end of 2020,” said Mark Bell, vice provost of Strategic Initiatives and Statewide Programs. “David has been a valued team member and contributor and has helped the SIs significantly evolve in their role.”
Who can apply? The positions are open to all UC ANR academics, including Agricultural Experiment Station faculty and Cooperative Extension advisors and specialists as well as academic coordinators and administrators. Strategic Initiative leaders are appointed by the Associate Vice President on a rotating basis for three years, with the possibility of extension.
Current SI leaders
- Endemic and Invasive Pests and Diseases Jim Farrar,
- Sustainable Food Systems Deanne Meyer
- Sustainable Natural Ecosystems David Lile (about to rotate off).
- Water Quality, Quantity and Security, David Lewis
- Healthy Families and Communities Lynn Schmitt-McQuitty
Role of the SIs. The SIs help us make connections. They lead efforts to Unify, Communicate and Advocate for what we do. See UC ANR Strategic Initiatives for more information. SI leaders are increasingly leading discussions on critical topics important to the future of UC ANR – both the focus of our work and how we implement our work. They are also decision-making members of Program Council.
How to apply. To apply for the SI leader position, complete the form at
https://ucanr.edu/survey/survey.cfm?surveynumber=32332. Applications will be accepted until Nov. 20.
Applicants will be contacted for interviews in late November or early December. The new leader is anticipated to start Jan. 4, 2021.
For information regarding the roles and responsibilities of the Strategic Initiative leader position, see the Terms of Reference for Strategic Initiative Leaders. If you have questions, contact Mark Bell, vice provost of Strategic Initiatives and Statewide Programs, or one of the SI leaders.
Interview schedule note: The target date for zoom interviews is Monday, Dec. 14 (morning).
- Author: Linda Forbes
UC President Michael Drake attended his first meeting with the President's Advisory Commission on Agriculture and Natural Resources (PAC) on Sept. 30. Vice President Humiston, PAC Chair Jean-Mari Peltier and PAC members welcomed the ophthalmologist and former UC Irvine chancellor Drake home to UC and shared their excitement about the future of UC under his leadership.
After a series of presentations to provide Drake with perspectives on California agricultural and environmental issues and the role of UC ANR, he graciously stayed overtime to address members' questions and comments. Participants learned more about his background and his commitment to the university's role in addressing key agricultural, environmental, health and safety, and social justice issues. From his love of farm visits to his interest in carbon sequestration, it was clear that his leadership will bring exciting things to UC ANR.
California Department of Food and Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross gave a presentation on California agriculture and CDFA's critical and valued partnership with UC ANR.
Six PAC members shared their experiences with UC ANR engagement in issues they face in the field:
- Mike Mellano, chairman of the Board and VP of Farming, Mellano & Company, discussed his third-generation family farm's reliance on UC Cooperative Extension partnership and agricultural research.
- Ashley Boren, chief executive officer of Sustainable Conservation, shared insights about the importance of UC ANR's work in natural resource conservation.
- Rancher Dina Moore of Lone Star Ranch focused on UC ANR's vital role in working with ranchers on livestock and timber management.
- Lon Hatamiya, president and CEO of The Hatamiya Group, shared insights on UC ANR's role in agricultural technology innovation.
- Celeste Cantu, vice chair of the San Diego Water Quality Control Board, discussed the important role of UC ANR and UC Master Gardener volunteers in addressing urban issues.
- Grant Davis, general manager of the Sonoma County Water Agency, covered UC ANR's contributions to and valued partnership in water resources management.
UC Riverside Chancellor Kim Wilcox provided an overview of the UC ANR Governing Council and the division's partnerships with campuses.
Deans David Ackerly (UC Berkeley College of Natural Resources), Helene Dillard (UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences) and Michael Lairmore (UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine) shared updates on current news, issues and challenges on their campuses.
To watch the recording of the PAC meeting, visit https://youtu.be/ED5lbF61F_g.
10:10-10:30: California Agriculture and CDFA's Partnership with UC ANR – Karen Ross
10:30-11:00: UC ANR Engagement with Issues in the Field
-Farming and Ag Research – Mike Mellano
-Natural Resource Conservation – Ashley Boren
-Livestock and Timber – Dina Moore
-Innovation and Ag Tech – Lon Hatamiya
-Urban Issues and Volunteers – Celeste Cantu
-Water and Local Agencies – Grant Davis
11:00-11:05: UC ANR Governing Council and Partnering with Local Campuses – Kim Wilcox
11:45-12:00: Campus Updates from AES Deans
Laura Vollmer joined UC Cooperative Extension in San Mateo, San Francisco and Santa Clara counties on Sept. 8, 2020, as a nutrition, family and consumer sciences advisor.
For four years prior to becoming a UCCE advisor, Vollmer served as a policy analyst with the Nutrition Policy Institute. At NPI, she helped to provide strategic direction to the National Drinking Water Alliance, managed research, evaluation and policy advocacy efforts related to the charitable food assistance system and wrote policy briefs aimed at improving federal and state nutrition policy. She was a grant writer and institutional giving associate for City Harvest, an antihunger nonprofit in New York City, for two years.
She currently serves as a board member of Oakland-based Youth Outside, which works to ensure equitable access to the outdoors.
Vollmer is a registered dietitian and earned her Master of Public Health at UC Berkeley and Bachelor of Arts at Wesleyan University.
Vollmer is based in Half Moon Bay and can be reached at (650) 276-7429 and
Mary Blackburn, UCCE nutrition, family and consumer sciences advisor for Alameda County, received the National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences Hall of Fame Award on Sept. 14.
“Your dedication to NEAFCS has been exhibited through the educational resources and leadership you have provided to your community, state and across the nation throughout the years to help families improve their living conditions,” Roxie Price, NEAFCS president, wrote to Blackburn.
Blackburn, who has served with UC Cooperative Extension since 1990, is nationally renowned for her pioneering work delivering research-based nutrition and quality of life education to senior citizens, pregnant teens and other vulnerable groups. Collaborating with the UC CalFresh Healthy Living, UC program staff and UC Master Gardener volunteers, she recently launched a gardening project designed to improve the nutrition, physical activity and overall well-being of senior citizens living in affordable housing in Oakland, with special consideration for seniors with physical limitations.
“Mary Blackburn has really made a difference in the lives of Bay Area residents. Her work with local communities makes it easier for people to stay active and eat healthy food,” said Glenda Humiston, University of California vice president for agriculture and natural resources. “It's wonderful to see her receive national recognition from her peers.”
Read more about Blackburn's career at https://bit.ly/2ShbLUj.
Tulare, Kings and Alameda nutrition teams win NEAFCS awards
UC ANR was well-represented at the National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences Virtual Annual Session awards Sept. 14.
Deepa Srivastava, UCCE nutrition family and consumer sciences advisor in Tulare and Kings counties, and her CalFresh Healthy Living, UC & EFNEP Team was the second-place Western Region winner of the SNAP-ED/EFNEP award. Program supervisor Teresa Rios-Spicer and nutrition educators Marina Aguilera, Alice Escalante, Grilda G. Gomez, Maria Gutierrez, Mariana Lopez, Eldon Bueno and Susan L Lafferty share in the SNAP-ED/EFNEP award.
The third-place Western Region winner of the Community Partnership award was the Alameda County Nutrition Action Partnership (CNAP). The partnership coordinates and cross-promote SNAP-Ed and other public, private, and community programs, to benefits low income and vulnerable populations. Mary Blackburn, UCCE nutrition family and consumer sciences advisor for Alameda County, has represented UCCE in CNAP since the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed) providers organized in 2006.
UC CalFresh program supervisor Tuline Baykal, Marisa Neelon, UCCE nutrition family and consumer sciences advisor and Leah Sourbeer, nutrition program supervisor, share in the Community Partnership award.
Partners include Alameda County Area Agency on Aging, Alameda County Community Food Bank, Alameda County Nutrition Services, City Slicker Farmers, Project EAT Alameda County Office of Education, Oakland Unified School District Health Wellness and Nutrition, Alameda County Social Services Agency, All In To End Hunger, Fresh Approach, Inc., Healthy Oakland People and Environments, Mandela Marketplace, Oakland Food Policy Council, and Alameda County Women, Infant and Children.
UCCE Sonoma County is excited to announce a new tool to match grazers with landowners: Match.Graze. The free online service that allows users to find their perfect grazing match, is now live.
“It's like Tinder for livestock,” said Stephanie Larson, UCCE livestock and range management advisor and director for Sonoma County, who developed Match.Graze.
Match.Graze is an interactive database of California contract grazers and landowners. Property owners create profiles with information about land they have available for grazing while livestock owners enter specifics about their herds for hire. That information will be associated with a marker pinned on a map of California. Users will be able to search the markers to find a contract grazer or available acreage to suit their vegetation management needs.
“Every property is different and requires thoughtful consideration of how it should best be grazed,” Larson said. “Put Match.Graze to work and let's prevent catastrophic fire while helping landowners and livestock owners.”
Larson would like your help getting the word out to livestock owners and landowners across the state who may want to participate.
To get started, they should go to https://matchgraze.com and create a pin.
“We recommend doing this on a computer rather than a phone,” said Karen Giovannini, UCCE agriculture ombudsman for Sonoma County.
To make it easy for you to share Match.Graze with your landowners and grazers, Giovannini has assembled a sample email message, videos that explain the program, sample social media posts, photos of grazing animals and more at http://ucanr.edu/MGpromo.
- Author: Mark Bell
The Strategic Initiatives offer a home for strategic thought - drawing on members of the wider UC ANR community and beyond to identify and address issues of current and emerging importance.
Strategic issues Spotlight webinar series going strong
Building Resilient Food Systems
The food systems series being coordinated by the Healthy Families and Communities and Sustainable Food Systems Strategic Initiatives continues to explore how to re-imagine our food systems. Sign up below and join us for the remaining webinars on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month through at least November to continue the discussion. Please let us know if you're interested in providing leadership or participating in a webinar for this series.
Contacts: Deanne Meyer (SFS SI leader) and Lynn Schmitt McQuitty (HFC SI leader)
July | Webinar #2 - California Food Systems: Partnerships and Resources (video) Slides (PDF) Resource Kit (PDF)
September | Webinar #5 - Thinking Inside the Box: Farm Boxes and Local Supply Chain Resilience During the Pandemic(video) Slides (PDF) Resource Kit (PDF)
September | Webinar #6 - Victory Gardens Then and Now (video) Slides (PDF)
Oct. 13, 2020 | Webinar #7 - Increasing Resiliency of Farmers' Markets and Equitable Access to Fresh, Local Produce Register here
Oct. 27, 2020 | Webinar #8 - Re-imagining Food Systems: Emerging Strategies for Regional Food Systems Resulting from COVID-19 Register here
Nov. 10, 2020 | Webinar #9 - Farm Labor During the Pandemic: Critical links between Essential Work, Farmworker Health and Food System Resiliency Register here
Nov. 24, 2020 | Webinar #10 Register here
Visit the Spotlight webinars page to see recordings.
Managing Invasive Pests (in the pipeline)
Invasive pests can affect almost all aspects of our lives - our gardens, our communities, our food systems, our natural ecosystems. The Endemic and Invasive Pest & Diseases SI (EIPD) is in the process of designing a multi-part webinar series to help us understand pest quarantine regulations and reporting processes, permit requirements for moving pests, and extension's role in working with regulators and clientele. Stay tuned to hear more.
Contact: Jim Farrar
Our virtual reach continues to grow
SI partial funding support for webinars: The SIs are offering partial webinar support (up to $200) for webinars on topics consistent with the major SI strategic themes. Learn more here: Funding opportunities
Ever wondered about Adult learning principles and how they can help you in your job? Learn more here: Adult learning principles
Online courses: Check out the recently developed Checklist: online course minimum standards
Video: Develop your "How-to" video making skills
Virtual Consultations: Get some Virtual consultation tips
Online on-demand programmatic Online Orientation materials. Comments/feedback welcome.
All these materials have been developed with input from many, many colleagues. Please let us know what skills or tips you found useful and what more you'd like to learn.
In the pipeline
In the discussion pipeline, we have:
Remaining Relevant - Extension of the future: How do we meet the needs of all Californians? How do we address urban and DEI needs? What could post-COVID tertiary education look like, and what could be the role of UC ANR (re: working with community colleges, CSUs, UCs, internships…)? What other Funding & Incomes models are there?
Disaster response: How to contribute and position ourselves for broader impact - recognizing the tremendous progress made by the Fire group.
Engaging Program Teams and the wider body of UC ANR
COVID-19 is having us explore our virtual delivery options.
For more on the SIs and their activities, contact
Jim Farrar (EIPD)
David Lewis (Water)
David Lile (SNE)
Deanne Meyer (SFS)
Lynn Schmitt-McQuitty (HFC)