- Author: Christina Harrington, student assistant
A delegation of 12 UC ANR staff, academics, volunteers and stakeholders visited state legislators in Sacramento on April 19 for UC ANR Advocacy Day to share how UC ANR's work delivers local, place-based education, outreach and programming to serve communities throughout the state.
Anne Megaro, government and community relations director, and Christina Harrington, student assistant, UC Master Gardener and graduate of the UC California Naturalist Program, organized meetings with Assembly Member Rebecca Bauer-Kahan, Senator John Laird, Assembly Member Devon Mathis, and staff members in many legislative offices.
The delegation thanked them for investing in ongoing funding in last year's state budget and shared their stories of serving community members, farmers, ranchers, youth and natural resource managers in their regions.
Vice President Glenda Humiston and Mark Bell, Vice Provost of Strategic Initiatives and Statewide Programs, led two teams, which included Sarah-Mae Nelson, UC Climate Stewards initiative academic coordinator; Kamal Khaira, director of CalFresh Healthy Living, UC; UCCE advisors Igor Lacan, Mae Culumber and Dorina Espinoza; 4-H Youth State Ambassadors Megna Nayar and Sara Tibbets; and Clio Tarazi, UC Master Gardener volunteer.
The teams urged legislators to support several key budget requests as part of Governor Newsom's proposed FY 2022-23 state budget. These budget commitments would support UC's much-needed capital projects at Research and Extension Centers and Elkus Ranch to expand capacity for research and programming, as well as investments for UC climate action and resiliency projects that will advance climate research and workforce development programs for students and community members.
The UC ANR representatives invited the legislators to visit for tours and events to see UC ANR at work in their districts firsthand.
UC Vice President for Agriculture and Natural Resources Glenda Humiston led a delegation from California to meet with congressional members and staff on March 6-11 to discuss specific benefits of UC ANR in their districts and the importance of strong federal funding to support programs, including Cooperative Extension, 4-H youth development, nutrition education, and the research and extension centers.
The California delegation was part of the Association for Public and Land-Grant Universities (APLU) Council for Agricultural Research, Extension, and Teaching (CARET), which held their annual meeting and (virtually) visited Capitol Hill for the 40th year to jointly request agricultural appropriations that support the land-grant mission.
The UC delegation met with staff from 27 congressional offices via Zoom to discuss the many critical agriculture needs facing California and the nation. They explained how UC is at the forefront of conducting research to understand and solve problems facing the agricultural industry and encouraged Congress to provide the highest possible funding levels in FY 2022 and FY 2023.
“This year, our request included something new – $365 million for agricultural research infrastructure,” said Anne Megaro, UC ANR director of government and community relations. “We have been working with Congress to include significant infrastructure funding in President Biden's Build Back Better legislation, and we are continuing to make this request through annual appropriations.”
Bringing UC's facilities up to modern standards with necessities such as high-speed broadband would provide capacity for cutting-edge research such as precision agriculture, remote sensing and growing space for CRISPR-based research. It would also ensure that U.S. research can continue to meet the agricultural and natural resource needs of the nation.
Humiston was joined by emeritus UCCE advisor Bill Frost, rancher Dina Moore, nurseryman Mike Mellano, Ish Herrera of California Forward, and Alejandra Sanchez of Driscoll's who shared how UC ANR research and outreach have improved their businesses, lives and communities.
“Our local UCCE advisors have given so much to our communities up and down the state; this is just one way I like to give back in support of their efforts. Congress needs to know how valuable ag research and education is, and how much we trust and depend on UC,” said Herrera, California Forward director of regional stewardship.
Rounding out the group were several UC ANR leaders, including deans David Ackerly, Helene Dillard and Kathryn Uhrich.
Missy Gable, UC Master Gardener Program director; Ryan Tompkins, UCCE forestry and natural resources advisor for Plumas and Sierra counties; and Jairo Diaz, director of Desert Research and Extension Center shared examples of their work throughout the state to adapt to living with wildfire, climate change and drought, and to improve Californians' health and wellness.
“As an extension forester, wildfire not only drives our applied research, but also affects the communities we live in and serve,” said Tompkins. “CARET provides opportunities to share real-life experiences of how federal funding supports UC forest and wildfire research, outreach, and education that have meaningful benefit for communities throughout California.”
Vice President Glenda Humiston spoke to the California Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Subcommittee No. 1 on Education at a hearing to discuss the University of California's budget on Feb. 9.
The session was chaired by state Sen. John Laird, who championed augmentation of the 2021-22 budget for UC ANR.
Humiston gave a status report for UC ANR via Zoom due to COVID protocols.
“Thanks to the ongoing augmentation of the 2021-22 budget for UC ANR, we have acted quickly to rebuild the UC Cooperative Extension footprint,” Humiston told the committee. “While the positions identified in March 2021 are still the focal point of the hiring plan, we also implemented a separate process to ensure identification of the highest priority academic positions across all discipline areas for today and into the future. This involved communicating with community partners and other stakeholders to identify the most pressing needs and prioritize the next round of hiring.”
She noted that, for the first time, UC ANR opened requests for placement of UC Cooperative Extension specialists to all 10 campuses.
“To date, 11 Cooperative Extension advisors and specialists have been hired and are in the field, while 35 more are currently under recruitment and expected to be hired before June 2022,” Humiston said. “UC ANR will be announcing over 40 additional new advisor positions and up to 20 specialist positions later this spring. We've expanded recruiting capacity and enhanced hiring practices to meet the evolving demands of the job market and ensure success. UC ANR is committed to hiring a diverse and inclusive workforce that reflects the top talent necessary to solve societal problems. We will provide the committee with a budget and impact report later this spring.
Laird mentioned in the hearing that legislators aren't often thanked for their work, but after UC ANR received a budget augmentation, he returned from the summer recess to find a huge stack of thank-you cards on his desk.
Laird also noted that UC campuses get COLAs (cost of living adjustments) and he would like ANR's budget to be adjusted annually as well. The adjustment would apply to the overall state general fund budget, not salaries.
Discussion of UC ANR begins at 1:46:30 of the recording at https://www.senate.ca.gov/media/budget-fiscal-review-subcommittee-1-education-20220209/video.
- Author: Anne Megaro
UC ANR hosted a wildfire virtual tour for state legislators, legislative staff and agency officials Nov. 16. Vice President Glenda Humiston introduced the UC Cooperative Extension advisors, a program coordinator and a Master Gardener volunteer who shared real-world examples of how UC research and tools are helping Californians prepare for and mitigate wildfires in their homes, communities, and wildlands.
Fourteen legislative and agency staff members joined the virtual morning tour across California's landscapes.
Ryan Tompkins, UC Cooperative Extension forest and natural resources advisor, discussed his forest management research and shared photos of live fires – some taken from his own front yard this year. Andy Lyons, Informatics and GIS program coordinator, showed them tools such as drone imagery and mapping that can be used in real time to fight fires.
Clio Tarazi, UC Master Gardener volunteer and retired urban planner who helped UC ANR pioneer defensible space training and Firewise Landscaping in Sonoma County, described how UC Master Gardeners worked one on one with residents, helping them reduce fire risk around their homes and neighborhoods.
Lenya Quinn-Davison, UCCE fire advisor, discussed her work with prescribed fire, training women and people from other underrepresented groups in fire careers (WTREX), and bringing together non-traditional partners to build capacity to improve fire resiliency.
“Inviting legislators and their staff to witness the work we do hand-in-hand with their constituents is critical to making informed policy,” said Humiston. “Wildfire resiliency is of utmost importance, and UC has the tools and expertise to build California's capacity to prevent and reduce the damage from catastrophic wildfires. No matter where you live in California, wildfire affects all of us.”
For guests who expressed interest in seeing a live prescribed burn, Anne Megaro, director of government and community relations, is arranging visits.
UC ANR employees are invited to engage informally with UC ANR senior leadership and to discuss what's on your mind. The first Open Conversation session is 1-2 p.m., Wednesday, June 23, with AVP Wendy Powers and AVP-Business Operations Tu Tran.
To allow for open dialog, we are hoping to limit enrollment to 20 people per session so please register early if you are interested. Participants may submit specific questions and topics of interest when they complete the interest form.
We're also holding the dates below for future sessions. Dates and times may be adjusted as needed.
Sept. 21, 1-2 p.m. with Vice President Glenda Humiston and Powers
Dec. 15, 1-2 p.m. with Humiston and Tran
Open Conversation sessions will be announced about one month prior to each session.
For more information, contact the ANR Program Support Unit at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-750-1361 (messages only).