A major factor in job satisfaction is the extent to which people feel part of a wider supportive community. Such connections have historically been offered in UC ANR through various means, including our structural units (i.e., our 81 workgroups, 21 program teams and 5 strategic initiatives).
Healthy organizations should regularly look at their structure. Important elements of structure include how the pieces fit together and how people may better connect to more effectively implement their work. In the summer of 2018, we began a series of discussions and surveys to revisit aspects of our structure.
Thank you to the 120-plus people who provided input on our structure and suggestions regarding how we may connect.
1. Clarity of purpose:
The seeming fuzziness of the roles and goals of our workgroups (WGs), program teams (PTs) and strategic initiatives (SIs) is not as great as people may think. Many consistent findings arose across the different structural groups. A summary of our findings follows.
Workgroups (our oldest unit of structure) are the most readily understood. They represent active “communities of practice” (that can come and go) and are the primary place where people plan and implement (noting that such groups are both formal and informal).
One point of interest is that people didn't realize they could close or start workgroups as needed.
Program teams bring together people (typically from different workgroups) who are working on related but distinctly different topics to network, share and learn.
One clear observation is that PTs vary considerably in terms of the diversity of WG representation (e.g., 1 PT has 12 WGs and a few PTs have just 1 WG).
SIs are our highest form of aggregation (and currently the one that enjoys the least clarity). They function to unify, communicate and advocate as the umbrellas for the work we do. The recent addition for the SIs is the development of the focal areas and grand challenges, providing the opportunity to see the unifying focus in our efforts.
For more information about how workgroups, program teams and strategic initiatives fit together, see https://ucanr.edu/sites/StrategicInitiatives/files/295191.pdf.
2. Workgroups – Don't fix it if it ain't broken:
Of the 81 workgroups, 21 are considered very active and effective - while another 29 are somewhat active and 3 are new in 2019. The remaining 28 WGs have been inactive, as reflected by personnel or goal changes and will be officially closed (see list below). These can be easily reopened if demand arises.
The goal is for WGs to align with a single PT, which likely means realigning the PTs - see point No. 3 below. Currently some workgroups have no PT, whereas other WGs have aligned with many PTs.
3. Reformulate the topic areas for program teams:
The next step is to collect input and look at reformulating/reaffirming the PT themes. Currently, we have 21 PT themes. Some have no WGs under them. Others have many WGs under them. Some workgroups have aligned under many PTs, which creates uneven structure and at times uneven activity.
As we go forward, we encourage people to identify PT themes to 1) better represent the collective work of UC ANR, 2) create or show clearer paths for people to connect at the WG, PT and SI levels, and 3) help us refine the SI focal areas and grand challenges – providing greater clarity of our efforts and clearer SI alignment with the reformulated PT themes and WG efforts.
Opportunity for more input on PT themes
The PT discussions will include a webinar and county visits over summer.
Thank you all for your efforts and we welcome input.
Mark Bell (Vice Provost Strategic Initiatives and Statewide Programs)
Strategic Initiative Leaders
HFC: Lynn Schmitt-McQuitty
SFS: Deanne Meyer and Neil McRoberts
Water: David Lewis
SNE: David Lile
Pests: Jim Farrar
Workgroups to close. Note: If there is interest and leadership, workgroups can be readily opened by this simple new workgroup request.
1. Air Quality
2. Animals in Educational Settings
4. Body Weight and Health
5. Building Food Security
6. Conservation Biology
7. Dairy Goats
8. Ecological Restoration
9. Economics and Management in Food, Agriculture, Natural Resources and the Environment
10. Environmental Observation Network
11. European Pear
12. Exotic Fruit Fly
13. Garden-based Learning
14. Health Promotion & Disease Prevention
15. Mosquito Research and Extension
16. Pest Management in ANR
17. Postharvest Integrated Pest Management
18. Rangeland Watershed Program
20. Urban Horticulture
21. Water Quality
22. Woody Biomass Utilization
23. Families with Young Children
24. Food Safety Horticultural Crops
25. Land Use
26. Linking Research & Education in Agricultural & Environmental Biotechnology
28. Spray Application Technology
- Author: Jeannette Warnert
- Author: Pamela Kan-Rice
People from across California and around the world got to taste new crops, see research demonstrations and learn about several UC ANR activities at the World Ag Expo Feb. 12-14. Despite the cold rainy weather, the world's largest agricultural exposition attracted 102,878 people representing 48 states, the District of Columbia and 65 countries to Tulare.
At an outdoor tent, Beth Grafton-Cardwell, UC Cooperative Extension specialist, Greg Douhan, UCCE citrus advisor, and other researchers, handed visitors fresh Tango citrus grown at the Lindcove Research and Extension Center and told them about their citrus variety research.
Ruth Dahlquist-Willard, UCCE small farms advisor, and Michael Yang, small farms and specialty crops agricultural assistant, encouraged visitors to taste moringa tea. Surendra Dara, UCCE entomology and biologicals advisor, described how Bagrada bugs and other pests under the microscopes can be controlled by microbes. Roger Baldwin, UCCE wildlife specialist, and Niamh Quinn, UCCE urban wildlife conflict advisor, took turns showing taxidermy vertebrate pests and describing their management research.
Jeff Mitchell, UCCE specialist, and Jeff Dahlberg, Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center director, gave demonstrations to show the superior health of soils managed with conservation techniques.
Demonstrating the use of high-tech in agriculture, Sean Hogan, Informatics and Geographic Information System academic coordinator, Andy Lyons, IGIS program coordinator, and Jacob Flanagan, IGIS programmer, showed how they use drones and cameras in agricultural research.
Inside Pavilion A, Teresa Rios-Spicer, UCCE nutrition program manager, andYeseniaMedrano, UCCE community education specialist, both from Tulare County, challenged visitors to test their nutrition knowledge by playing Jeopardy! Visitors could spin the UC Master Gardeners prize wheel to answer gardening questions and win seeds. 4-H members invited youth to peer into virtual reality goggles to give them an idea about the fun activities that can be part of joining 4-H.
Frank Mitloehner, UC Cooperative Extension specialist, gave a seminar explaining confusion in the media about the amount of greenhouse gas livestock emit in California and globally. He reviewed the innovations in livestock production that are leading the way to a "greener future" for California and U.S. agriculture.
Beth Grafton-Cardwell, UC Cooperative Extension citrus entomology specialist, and Victoria Hornbaker of the California Department of Food and Agriculture, gave an update on regulatory protocols relating to Asian citrus psyllid and HLB quarantines and the proper transportation of bulk citrus to prevent the spread of the pest and disease.
The California and Dutch AgFoodTech innovation partners reunited in Tulare for a networking luncheon to share their action plan with invited guests and scope the projects.
Open Positions. Two SI leader positions are scheduled to rotate off at the end of 2018. This change offers opportunities for others to take the lead for
Who is eligible to apply? The positions are open to all UC ANR academics, including Agricultural Experiment Station faculty and Cooperative Extension advisors and specialists. Strategic Initiative leaders are appointed by the Associate Vice President on a rotating basis for three years, with a possibility of extension.
Current SI leaders
- Endemic and Invasive Pests and Diseases Jim Farrar
- Sustainable Food Systems Deanne Meyer and Neil McRoberts
- Sustainable Natural Resources David Lile
- Water Quality, Quantity and Security Doug Parker
- Healthy Families and Communities Keith Nathaniel
The SIs help unify, communicate and advocate for what UC ANR does. See the UCANR Strategic Initiatives website for more information.
To apply for one of the SI leader positions, complete the simple form at http://ucanr.edu/survey/survey.cfm?surveynumber=25782. Applications will be accepted until Nov. 9.
Applicants will be contacted for interviews in late November or early December. The new leaders are anticipated to start on Jan. 2, 2019.
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.
To get acquainted with the people at each ANR location, Mark Lagrimini, vice provost of research and extension, has been visiting research and extension centers and UCCE county offices and touring the facilities.
“I'm impressed with how passionate and dedicated you are to helping people,” said Lagrimini to UCCE Contra Costa staff after listening to their project updates. He has been impressed with the work he has seen at all of his ANR visits.
On Sept. 6, Lagrimini visited Hopland Research and Extension Center, three weeks after the River Fire consumed about two-thirds of its property.
“While the River Fire damaged parts of the center, none of the main buildings, residences, livestock nor staff were hurt by the fire,” said John Bailey, Hopland REC interim director.
Scientists are invited to a site tour on Oct. 19 to learn more about research opportunities at Hopland REC.
“With Hopland REC's extensive pre-fire historical data, plus immediate post-fire, pre-rain observations that we are collecting, we have the foundation to support relevant and timely research on the effects of fire and mechanisms of recovery,” Bailey said.
AVP Wendy Powers and Mark Bell, vice provost of Strategic Initiatives and Statewide Programs, are joining Lagrimini for many of the visits to learn the latest about UCCE research and outreach and to answer questions from staff.
On Sept. 11, Rob Bennaton, UCCE director in Alameda and Contra Costa counties, introduced Powers, Lagrimini and Bell to UCCE staff in their Hayward offices, then took them to West Oakland to tour City Slicker Farms. UCCE Master Gardeners and 4-H members partner with City Slicker Farms, teaching people how to grow food at the site.
“Success to us is putting food where people need it and giving them the skills to grow food,” said Rodney Spencer, executive director of City Slicker Farms.
In Concord, Marisa Neelon, UCCE nutrition, family and consumer sciences advisor in Contra Costa County, gave Powers, Lagrimini and Bell a tour of the new office space, which includes space for Master Garden volunteers, a kitchen for nutrition educators to prepare food and a lab for farm and IPM advisors to store and analyze samples.
Staff from each unit delivered a presentation about their current projects for the ANR leaders, who were joined by Humberto Izquierdo, agricultural commissioner for Contra Costa County and Matthew Slattengren, assistant agricultural commissioner.
Charles Go, 4-H youth advisor, and Adan Osoria, EFNEP community nutrition educator, described how 4-H and EFNEP teamed up for 4-H2O, an after school project aimed at reducing consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages and increasing water consumption to improve community health and wellness. They launched 4-H2O at John Swett High School in Crockett. At the request of 4-H members, the local school board approved hydration stations and instructed the schools to provide water at meal times, Go said.
Andrew Sutherland, Bay Area urban IPM advisor, described his research on baiting for cockroaches, subterranean termites and yellowjackets and outreach to educate pest control professionals to practice IPM in schools and multi-unit housing.
“I appreciate the work Andrew does,” said Izquierdo, noting that there is a need for pest management education, especially among the county's urban and immigrant populations.
After seeing all of the presentations, Bell said, “The enthusiasm you bring to your job is inspiring.”
After the visit, Powers wrote in her ANR Adventures blog on Sept. 14: “The programs we've seen in Contra Costa and Alameda Counties this week as well as Santa Clara County a couple weeks back are good reminders of the benefits to all of UC ANR when we have strong, relevant programs in urban areas. These programs not only help the clientele, directly, but help increase the visibility of UC ANR and all of its programs across both urban and ag areas.”
On Sept. 26, Powers, Lagrimini and Bell visited UCCE Riverside, then UCCE San Bernardino the following day.
“We spent yesterday in Riverside meeting with the teams from both UCCE Riverside and UCCE San Bernardino,” Powers wrote in ANR Adventures on Sept. 27. “It was very informative, particularly seeing the fresh ideas that are coming from some of the new staff. We were able to hear about the tremendous success that both counties are having truly working as a team across program areas and layering their efforts for increased program success and support.”
Pledging to work together to solve water scarcity issues, Israel's Agricultural Research Organization signed a memorandum of understanding with the University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources and UC Davis on July 16. The signing ceremony kicked off the 2018 Future of Water for Irrigation in California and Israel Workshop at the UC ANR building in Davis.
“Israel and California agriculture face similar challenges, including drought and climate change,” said Doug Parker, director of UC ANR's California Institute for Water Resources. “In the memorandum of understanding, Israel's Agricultural Research Organization, UC Davis and UC ANRpledge to work together more on research involving water, irrigation, technology and related topics that are important to both water-deficit countries.”
The agreement will enhance collaboration on research and extension for natural resources management in agriculture, with an emphasis on soil, irrigation and water resources, horticulture, food security and food safety.
“It's a huge pleasure for us to sign an MOU with the world leaders in agricultural research like UC Davis and UC ANR,” said Eli Feinerman, director of Agricultural Research Organization of Israel. “When good people, smart people collaborate the sky is the limit.”
Feinerman, Mark Bell, UC ANR vice provost, and Ermias Kebreab, UC Davis professor and associate vice provost of academic programs and global affairs, represented their respective institutions for the signing. Karen Ross, California Department of Food and Agriculture secretary, and Shlomi Kofman, Israel's consul general to the Pacific Northwest, joined in celebrating the partnership.
“The important thing is to keep working together and develop additional frameworks that can bring the people of California and Israel together as researchers,” Kofman said. “But also to work together to make the world a better place.”
Ross said, “It's so important for us to find ways and create forums to work together because water is the issue in this century and will continue to be.”
She noted that earlier this year the World Bank and United Nations reported that 40 percent of the world population is living with water scarcity. “Over 700,000 people are at risk of relocation due to water scarcity,” Ross said. “We're already seeing the refugee issues that are starting to happen because of drought, food insecurity and the lack of water.”
Ross touted the progress stemming from CDFA's Healthy Soils Program to promote healthy soils on California's farmlands and ranchlands and SWEEP, the State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program, which has provided California farmers $62.7 million in grants for irrigation systems that reduce greenhouse gases and save water on agricultural operations.
“We need the answers of best practices that come from academia, through demonstration projects so that our farmers know what will really work,” Ross said.
As Parker opened the water workshop, sponsored by the U.S./Israel Binational Agricultural Research and Development (BARD) Program, Israel Agricultural Research Organization and UC ANR, he told the scientists, “The goal of this workshop is really to be creating new partnerships, meeting new people, networking and finding ways to work together in California with Israel, in Israel, with other parts of the world as well.”
Drawing on current events, Bell told the attendees, “If you look at the World Cup, it's about effort, it's about teamwork, it's about diversity of skills, and I think that's what this event does. It brings together those things.”