- Author: Pamela Kan-Rice
“We visited offices of 26 of California's 55-member congressional delegation in two days!” said Lucas Frerichs, government and community relations manager.
On March 6-9, a UC ANR delegation attended the 35th Annual Council on Agriculture Research, Extension and Teaching (CARET) meetings in Washington D.C. CARET is part of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU). They also made congressional visits to explain the importance of science and research to California.
Vice President Glenda Humiston was joined by AVP Wendy Powers, UCB College of Natural Resources Dean Keith Gilless, UCR College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences Dean Kathryn Uhrich, Nutrition Policy Institute Director Lorrene Ritchie, UC Cooperative Extension Specialist Clare Gupta, Chief Innovation Officer Gabe Youtsey, and Frerichs. Industry partners Bill Frost, former UC ANR AVP; Cher Watte, executive director of the California Asparagus Commission; Mike Mellano, fresh cut flower grower; Dina Moore, Humboldt County rancher; and Jean-Mari Peltier, managing partner of Environmental Solutions Group, served as CARET delegates from California.
The group split up into teams to visit the offices of Senators Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris, agriculture committee members, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Minority Leader of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi and other California representatives.
Although no U.S. secretary of agriculture had been confirmed at the time of their visit, members expressed their support for agriculture.
“One thing that members of Congress – Republicans and Democrats – can certainly agree on is that the support for agriculture and the University of California is strong,” Frerichs said.
Read more about the CARET visits in Powers' ANR Adventures blog.
- Author: Tracy Schohr
“We focused on fostering a good dialogue and facilitating co-learning among attendees,” said event co-chair Leslie Roche, assistant UC Cooperative Extension specialist in rangeland management. “We hosted university faculty, statewide CE specialists and academics, and county-based CE advisors—as well as local policymakers and leaders from non-governmental organizations and statewide programs.”
UC researchers who have successfully engaged in the public policy arena provided numerous models of linking research and policy. There were five key take-aways for scientists:
- Honest broker role – Present policymakers with various policy options, based on sound research. Have a clear understanding of the science behind your messaging. Use qualitative data to tell the story of the hard quantitative data.
- Active engagement – Be part of informational and oversight hearings. Empower communities to take action and foster community engagement.
- Build coalitions – Collaboration is imperative. Develop unexpected allies and foster long-term relationships, realizing it may take some time to bear fruit.
- Disseminate information – Share your data in user-friendly formats. Target local community, Legislature and state agencies to inform policies. Get your science into trainings and continuing education programs. Leverage your coalition to expand the circulation of your research results.
- Target messages – Develop a strong, concise message to deliver your research. Use an emotional connection – “Old-growth oak woodlands” versus “oak woodland.”
Throughout the conference, speakers highlighted the multiple levels of engagement for researchers in the policy arena, with different roles matching different needs – some take a center stage, while others play imperative behind-the-scenes roles.
Keynote speaker Jason Delborne, associate professor of science, policy and society at North Carolina State University, encouraged engaging the public. “Science is a social process,” he said, noting that community and public engagement is often key to successfully applying research to policy. Delborne also touched on the tension between expertise and democracy, commenting that we can't always resolve it and often we have to learn to live with this tension.
A diverse set of researchers shared their perspectives from experiences in engaging in policy. The panel included Thomas Harter, Robert M. Hagan Endowed Chair in Water Management and Policy and UCCE specialist in the Department of Land, Air, and Water Resources at UC Davis; Lorrene Ritchie, director of the UC ANR Nutrition Policy Institute; Mindy Romero, founder and director of California Civic Engagement Project at UC Davis Center for Regional Change; and Yana Valachovic, UCCE forest advisor and county director in Humboldt and Del Norte counties. They discussed the importance of building strong science-based programs, actively engaging local communities and building coalitions of support.
Guests from both government and non-government organizations who use research to shape policy shared their perspectives on translating science to decision-making.
“Science is the foundation for developing programs,” said Amrith Gunasekara, science advisor for the California Department of Food and Agriculture.
Tina Cannon Leahy, attorney with the State Water Resources Control Board, noted that policymakers and decision-makers are often looking for a clear, “black-and-white” answer, while for scientists, there is “no answer,” but rather information.
Anne Megaro, consultant to the California Senate Committee on Agriculture, and Rebecca Newhouse, consultant to the California Senate Environmental Quality Committee, both emphasized the importance of making sure science is accessible and digestible.
Juliet Sims of the Prevention Institute explained how her organization uses both published scholarly literature and community stories to effectively inform its advocacy platform.
Keynote speaker Rachel Morello-Frosch, associate professor in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management at UC Berkeley, introduced the concept of moving from “translational research” to “transformational research,” a shift that requires deep community engagement in meaningful ways to effect policy change.
In the afternoon, four breakout sessions were offered: “Policy structures and opportunities for engagement” with Robert Waste, “Relational approaches to science communication and engagement” with Faith Kearns, “Putting it into practice–UC ANR case studies” with Dave Campbell, Clare Gupta and Lucas Frerichs, and “Navigating policy engagement: Education vs advocacy,” with Adrian Lopez and Kit Batten. These training modules helped participants build technical skills and analytical frameworks for successful policy engagement.
The Research to Policy Conference was a forum to exchange ideas and share perspectives, continuing to bridge the gap between science and policy communities. It challenged attendees to be open to new ways of thinking, shared innovative outreach methods and showcased how research can have an impact in the policy arena.
“The event brought cross-fertilization and co-learning between disciplines – nutrition, forest management, water quality – and there were common themes that resonated for all participants,” said event co-chair Gupta, assistant UCCE specialist in public policy and translational research.
VP Glenda Humiston wrapped up the policy conference by saying, "Good science is vital for good policy. It's great to see UC folks enhancing these skills to bring science together with policy."
For more information on applying research to policy, contact Frerichs, UC ANR government and community relations manager, at (530) 750-1218 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or Research to Policy Program Team contacts Gupta at email@example.com and Roche at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Author: Pamela Kan-Rice
DiMatteo, a UC Berkeley graduate student in the School of Public Health, is working closely with Lorrene Ritchie, Nutrition Policy Institute director. DiMatteo will help analyze data on the foods provided to young children in early care and education settings to help inform policies related to healthful eating in this age group. She will also work on the evaluation of newly developed nutrition standards being piloted in family child care homes.
For more information about the UC Global Food Initiative student fellows, read the article at http://universityofcalifornia.edu/news/student-fellows-help-shape-future-food.
UC World Food Day Video Challenge
To raise awareness of the depth and breadth of food-related research and outreach being performed across the UC system, the Nutrition Policy Institute partnered with the World Food Institute at UC Davis to sponsor the UC World Food Day Video Challenge. Students from all UC campuses were invited to submit videos up to three minutes long that featured UC research. UC Davis students Carlos Orozco-Gonzalez and Umayr Sufi won with a video about advancing the science behind drying and storing food to improve food safety in developing countries.
“We are wasting a lot of food, regardless of where we are in the world,” said Irwin Donis-Gonzalez, a UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Biological & Agricultural Engineering at UC Davis, who is featured in the video. “With Carlos and Umayr, we are combining biological and engineering sensing concepts that can be applied to solving world issues.”
The winning team received $1,000 and a trip to attend the Borlaug Dialogue International Symposium in Des Moines.
To view the top five videos, visit http://worldfoodcenter.ucdavis.edu/nutrition/uc-davis-teams-awarded-top-prizes.html.
Higher education collaborates to fight student food insecurity
Representatives of the University of California, California State University and California Community College systems met in Fresno on Sept. 6 to discuss food access and basic needs security for students.
As part of UC's Global Food Initiative, the Nutrition Policy Institute recently published a report based on a survey of food security among UC students at all 10 campuses. The “Student Food Access and Security Study” includes the survey results and UC's plans for addressing food security issues. CSU is currently conducting a systemwide survey of its student population and CCC is planning to conduct a survey of its students. UC was represented by Ruben Canedo of UC Berkeley, Tim Galarneu of UC Santa Cruz, and NPI's Ritchie and Suzanna Martinez.
After CSU and CCC complete their surveys, the group will meet again in December to discuss best practices to ensure food security in California public higher education.
In recognition of World Food Day, National Food Dayand the UC Global Food Initiative, ANR, UCOP Staff Assembly and UCOP Professional Community have partnered with the Alameda County Community Food Bank to help feed the hungry. From Oct. 17 to 31, we are collecting food items in bins located near the elevators on each floor of UCOP's Franklin building, and on UCOP floors at the Kaiser, Broadway and 20th St. buildings in Oakland.
There are two ways you can participate:
- Donate non-perishable food items to the bin located near the elevators on the 10th floor of the Franklin building
- Donate online via the ACCFB Virtual Food Drive website set up for UCOP at
www.vfd-accfb.org. Select “UCOP” in the dropdown menu on the right side of the page and choose "10th floor Franklin building.
Donations will be collected and counted at 5 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 31. The floor that collects the most donations will win a $100 gift basket from the Oakland Farmers Market.
For more information, contact Suzanna Martinez, Nutrition Policy Institute, at email@example.com
Three University of California students will be working with scientists in the UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources to study food security, nutrition education and agricultural research and extension.
UC Berkeley graduate students Erika Brown and Matthew Shapero and UC Davis senior Jay Gelvezon will each receive a $4,000 fellowship through the university's Global Food Initiative.
“It is imperative to get students involved in UC ANR's activities to move the world toward food security for all and a more sustainable future,” said Glenda Humiston, UC vice president for Agriculture and Natural Resources. “The fresh ideas that the UC Global Food Initiative fellows contribute will help us extend what we learn through research to improve the health of Californians.”
Brown, a native of San Diego, will work closely with Lorrene Ritchie, director of the UC ANR Nutrition Policy Institute, on a student food-security research project. In the spring of 2015, nearly 9,000 students from all 10 UC campuses participated in a survey, which was designed to document the prevalence of food insecurity among students and to identify characteristics of students who experience food insecurity. Brown, a public health graduate student at UC Berkeley, will help analyze the survey results to better understand factors contributing to food insecurity and the consequences on students. Since arriving at UC Berkeley, she has worked with several organizations in the Bay Area, including the San Francisco Food Security Taskforce, to identify and eliminate barriers to achieving food security.
Shapero, a native of Santa Barbara, will lead a group of graduate students to organize seminars and workshops for students who are interested in pursuing careers in research and extension in nutrition, youth development, agriculture and natural resources with Cooperative Extension. Shapero's fellowship will also support the UC Berkeley graduate student-led Cooperative Extension Showcase, which brings UC Cooperative Extension advisors and specialists to the Berkeley campus to discuss their work and to network with graduate students. At the showcase this fall, students will have an opportunity to meet potential academic mentors and discuss future collaborative research. Shapero, a range management graduate student, has worked on farms in the Sierra foothills and served two years on the Nevada County Agricultural Advisory Commission and two years on the board of directors for Nevada County Grown.
Gelvezon, a native of Torrance, will work with UC ANR's Strategic Communications team on projects that convey the benefits of UC ANR's food-related research and outreach in communities throughout California. Gelvezon, who is pursuing degrees in both nutrition science and communication, will engage in social media research, photography, video and media outreach projects. The UC Davis senior has served for the past year as a photographer and photo editor for the school's newspaper the California Aggie. He has also worked as a sports nutrition social media intern, creating daily Twitter content, flyers and Instagram posts, and working with UC Davis Athletics to film and edit videos that provide nutrition information for UC Davis athletes.
The University of California aims to put the world on a path to sustainably and nutritiously feed itself. Through its Global Food Initiative, UC is building on existing efforts and creating new collaborations among its 10 campuses, affiliated national laboratories and UC ANR to improve food security, health and sustainability.
To get UC students involved in the Global Food Initiative effort, the UC Office of the President is providing fellowship funds to each UC campus, the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and UC ANR. All of the UC Global Food Initiative fellows systemwide are listed at http://universityofcalifornia.edu/news/uc-students-awarded-global-food-initiative-fellowships.
The conference was hosted by UC ANR's Nutrition Policy Institute (NPI), California Department of Public Health, California Department of Education, the California Endowment and Kaiser Permanente.
NPI hosted a preconference workshop on June 29 to bridge the gap between research and policy regarding the federal nutrition assistance programs and the Dietary Guidelines, which reach more Americans than any other nutrition policy.
At the opening plenary, Chelsea Clinton, vice president of The Clinton Foundation, talked about projects her family's foundation is involved in to improve children's health and literacy.
Hecht moderated a conversation on policy between former Iowa Senator Tom Harkin and USDA Under Secretary Kevin Concannon. The two influential figures discussed the growth of the federal nutrition assistance programs over 40 years and reflected on obstacles overcome and successes achieved.
Hecht also moderated a panel discussion on local and national initiatives that are linking farm-fresh produce to food bank recipients. NPI researcher Elizabeth Campbell, who participated in the discussion with a local farmer, a food bank employee and a public health anti-hunger advocate, said food banks should have policies to guide the nutritional quality of their inventory.
During the closing plenary, First Lady Michelle Obama sent video greetings to the Childhood Obesity Conference attendees to praise them for their work and encourage them to continue to fight to protect and improve child health.
“It is public research universities like the University of California that can and will help lead the way as our nation grapples with this complex challenge of pediatric obesity,” Napolitano said. She then gave a few examples of UC projects that target social and environmental factors that contribute to overweight and obesity.
“Janet Napolitano is the first UC president to speak at the Childhood Obesity Conference,” said Ritchie. “I think it demonstrates her commitment to the Global Food Initiative and the work we do at UC ANR.”
Since the biennial conference's inception, Crawford and members of the Atkins Center for Weight and Health at UC Berkeley, and more recently members of NPI, have been involved in its planning. Crawford announced she is “passing the baton” to Ritchie to guide the conference moving forward.
PowerPoint presentations from the conference are online at http://www.childhoodobesity2015.com/bios.cfm?pid=902. Photos and postconference information can be seen on Facebook and Twitter with the hashtag #COC15.