- Author: Pamela Kan-Rice
ANR Staff Assembly's ANR GROWS program was so successful in 2020, they plan to offer it again this year, according to Marvin Flores, Staff Assembly chair for 2020-21.
“The ANR Grows program was birthed out of an NPR radio program discussing Victory Gardens during WWII and food insecurity in California,” Flores said. “During the time of Covid-19, many folks were working from home and needed projects to invest their energy into.”
Staff Assembly members curtailed travel due to COVID-19 restrictions and decided to allocate a portion of their unused travel funds to the UCANR Grows Program.
ANR employees can get reimbursed up to $50 for soil, seeds, transplants, compost and gardening supplies. To participate, fill out the form at ucanr.edu/sites/anrstaff/files/346146.pdf. ANR Staff Assembly is accepting receipts from Jan. 15 to May 15.
Jessica Conde-Rebholtz, Sue Lake,Jasmin DeToro and Kathryn Stein collaborated with Flores to structure and implement the program.
“I am overjoyed that the 2020 ANR Grows program was able to reach 114 recipients; astonishingly, such a small investment helped so many during this difficult time,” Flores said.
A few ANR staff members who got growing with the seed money from ANR Staff Assembly shared some of their thoughts and photos of their gardens with Flores.
“I was so inspired by reading the testimonials from the ANR Grows program. Especially those that discussed getting their whole family involved in the garden, how their garden provided clean, great-tasting veggies, a quiet space to think, and some therapeutic healing.
"I was also impressed by how many first-time gardeners were inspired by the ANR Grows Program to get out and try out their green thumbs.”
Some of the comments and photos sent to Flores are shared below.
Jenel Vincze, program administrative assistant in Santa Clara County: “I received a reimbursement this past year for some veggies to plant in a garden, but had a heck of a time with something that kept eating the leaves off of all of the plants. I really appreciate UC ANR for giving me the opportunity to try my hand at gardening during this strange year.”
Shulamit Shroder, UCCE community education specialist 2 in Kern County: My partner and I planted tomatoes, peppers, beans and zucchini. This was his first time having a backyard garden and he was blown away by the taste of freshly picked, homegrown tomatoes.”
Michael Zwahlen, safety and facilities assistant: “My kids and I really got busy last spring and planted lots of vegetables in both our front yard and backyard. The pumpkins were the most successful as well as string beans and sunflowers. I got my kids out there weekly with me preparing the soil, planting the seeds, pulling weeds and watering frequently. We also grew tomatoes, squash and corn.”
Ryan Keiffer, agricultural technician for UCCE Mendocino County: “I was a recipient of ANR Grows and had great success in my shishito peppers this year. Sun Gold tomatoes graced many salads, pastas, and on top of cottage cheese all summer.”
Katie Churchill, administrative officer and financial manager for UCCE Capitol Corridor: “I really appreciate the ANR Grows project! It allowed me to begin a project I probably would not have started on my own, and I enjoyed having something ‘new' to do at home while getting rewarded with lots of fresh fruit and vegetables. Additionally, my favorite was working with the UC Master Food Preservers of Solano and Yolo Counties for advice on how to safely pickle okra. With their instruction, I made four jars of pickled okra, which my family loves and we've already devoured three of the jars!”
Minerva Gonzalez, lab assistant III in Kern County: “Our garden this year provided us with plenty of vegetables and fruits. For the first time, we added a butterfly and hummingbird habitat.”
Emily Dimond, community education specialist II for the CalFresh Healthy Living Program in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties: “Thanks to the ANR Grows award, I was able to purchase tomato and basil seedlings and a bit of fertilizer to work on my garden. I made a tasty, fresh caprese salad with our harvest to share with my family. Thank you for helping me jump-start my garden and share delicious meals!”
Elaine Silver, CalFresh Healthy Living, UC nutrition educator for San Mateo-San Francisco counties: Because of the funds I received from UCANR, I was able to grow beautiful heads of cabbage! These pictures show how big they got! My dog loved being in the garden with me too!
Stephanie Rill, UCCE entomology research associate in Kern County: “My daughter and I spent many hours in the garden planting, tending and harvesting. We have continued now with a fall garden and are still harvesting bell peppers from the spring. The funds helped us develop a drip system for the garden that helped so much this year.”
Dana Brady, climate-smart agriculture community education specialist in Glenn County: “I received a GROWS reimbursement this past spring and it helped kick start our garden – we went to the local Ace and bought some starter plants, tomato cages and some compost. From there we caught the gardening bug and kept expanding our garden into two raised troughs and 4 beds on the ground!”
Nicole Vital of the Nutrition Policy Institute: “I can't express how thankful I was this year to have the luxury of being able to supplement my meals with homegrown veggies. The ANR GROWS program encouraged me to broaden my garden to include much more than herbs. My family enjoyed a bountiful harvest of eggplants, beans, daikon, celery, tomatoes, tomatillos, cucumber, squash, and bell peppers. Working in the garden provided me with an outlet for stress from being pregnant during a pandemic in addition to moderate exercise, helping keep both my mind and body healthy during a difficult time. “
Gwen Conville, illustrator at Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center: “Very gratifying to get food from essentially nothing and know exactly where it came from and watch veggies mature. It wasn't all success, but gave me such an increased appreciation of farmers, especially small organic farmers. Anyone who eats should experience the same; there'd be less food waste if we realized how difficult it is to make food. Vegetables are a bargain. I don't know how growers make a profit on their products.
Tammy Majcherek, community education specialist II for Orange County at South Coast Research & Extension Center: “Being able to create this small garden was a really nice diversion during this unusual time period with the added benefit of some fresh food.”
Staff Assembly Council is recruiting for two UC ANR staff members to complete the remainder of the term for two positions on the Staff Assembly Council - communications chair/coordinator and program chair. The terms run through June 30, 2021.
All UC ANR staff employees are members of the UC ANR Staff Assembly, including county-paid, part-time and limited-appointment staff. The elected leaders of the group make up the council, which meets monthly via Zoom to plan activities and address staff issues. The council regularly seeks input from staff on policies, processes and programs and serves in an advisory capacity to UC ANR leadership, giving staff a collective voice on issues of concern. The council also provides support for career training and professional development to aid career advancement.
To learn more about UC ANR Staff Assembly, visit its website at http://staffassembly.ucanr.edu.
Following are excerpts from the Staff Assembly Bylaws that detail the role of the two vacant positions:
- Serves as a liaison between Staff Assembly Council and all UC ANR staff to promote and advocate improved communication and interaction.
- Maintains and updates website as needed to reflect current and accurate information.
- Promotes UC ANR Staff Assembly events and programs as needed and works in conjunction with appropriate workgroup or committees to disseminate appropriate promotions.
- Assumes other responsibilities as specified elsewhere in the bylaws or as needed.
- Develops and submits to the SA Council for approval a list of possible topics for programs.
- Schedules programs, meetings and guest speakers and coordinates other details.
- Works with the chair and scribe to send “thank you” letters to guest speakers.
- Coordinates the SA Ambassador Program.
- Oversees the Educational Reimbursement Scholarship Program committee member(s).
- Author: Pamela Kan-Rice
During the ANR town hall Thursday, Nov. 21, VP Glenda Humiston shared encouraging news, including new sources of funding, response to the UC regents tours and the new report “California's Working Landscape: A Key Contributor to the State's Economic Vitality,” which shows working landscape accounts for 6.4% of the state's economy. She also answered questions from town hall participants about the budget and other issues.
John Fox, Human Resources executive director, and Nikolai Schweitzer, Staff Assembly chair, announced ANR's results of the recent UC Staff Engagement Survey of non-represented staff. Of the 222 ANR employees responding, Schweitzer said most thought we made progress in wellness, performance management and supervision. Satisfaction declined for image/brand, career development and sustainable engagement. He said Staff Assembly plans to discuss opportunities for improvement in those areas, then meet with ANR senior leadership to suggest solutions.
The results and executive summary of the survey are posted at http://staffassembly.ucanr.edu/Council_of_University_of_California_Staff_Assemblies/2019_Staff_Engagement_Survey.
Fox announced that in the spring ANR will conduct a survey to gather similar information from all ANR employees, including academics.
To view the town hall recording, visit https://youtu.be/5IAjzIylhw0.
To create a culture of health and wellness at UC ANR, the Staff Assembly Wellness Committee crafted an infographic to make it easy for staff and academics to adopt healthful practices at meetings. A pdf version of the "Healthy Meeting Best Practices" may be downloaded from the Staff Assembly website and printed on demand.
The best practices, reviewed and approved by Lorrene Ritchie, director of UCANR's Nutrition Policy Institute, are based on the comprehensive UC Living Well Healthy Meeting and Event Guide, which is also available for download on the Staff Assembly website.
In short, the wellness committee is encouraging all meeting planners to
o incorporate movement in the meeting agenda
o serve water – preferably from the tap in reusable pitchers
o focus on fruits, veggies and whole grains if meals or refreshments are provided
o cut back on the use of disposable items (like plastic cups and cutlery)
To get the guidelines into everybody's hands, the committee has printed the best practices on cleaning cloths – the kind you can use for eyeglasses, your cell phone or computer monitor. Your staff assembly ambassador distributed the cloths at each UC ANR location. If you don't know who your ambassador is, check the list on the Staff Assembly website.
The Wellness Committee promoted the implementation of Healthy Meeting Best Practices with a competition April 1 - 18. Pictures of healthy meeting best practices were shared on social media with the hashtag #UCANRhealthymeeting. The San Bernardino County Master Gardener program tweeted the winning picture, a mini video which showed six staff members exercising with hula hoops and tension bands. The office won a pitcher for serving infused water.
If you have questions or comments about the Healthy Meeting Best Practices or the April competition, please fill out the form on the SA Council Healthy Meeting Best Practices page.
Are you looking for leadership development opportunities within UC ANR? Would you like to add new skills and meet new people? Are you interested in promoting the welfare of staff? The UC ANR Staff Assembly Council is for you.
The UC ANR Staff Assembly works to cultivate satisfied, dedicated and professional staff and promotes the interests of all staff employees. While providing a valuable service in this capacity, many members of the Council have used the exposure and experiences they gained from participation in Staff Assembly Council to advance their own careers.
Each spring, the UC ANR Staff Assembly holds elections to fill positions on the Council. Nominations are now being sought for the following positions (self nominations are accepted and encouraged):
- Vice chair/treasurer (two-year position)
- Program chair
- Vice program chair
- Jr. CUCSA Delegate
Read more about these positions and their roles in the UC ANR Staff Assembly bylaws.
The Council meets monthly via Zoom during lunchtime. There are also annual in-person meetings for the Council and with the Staff Assembly Ambassadors. (Travel costs are covered by the SA budget.)
If you're not ready to commit to a Council post, positions are also available on three ad-hoc committees:
- Scholarship review committee
- Wellness committee
- Learning and development committee
Committees meet monthly via Zoom.
The nomination deadline is April 26.