- 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.
On Nov. 17, state Sen. John Laird was invited to the UC Regents' Public Engagement and Development Committee to discuss his support for the university. Laird described his instrumental role in what he called the “resuscitation” of UC Cooperative Extension by championing the state's historic increase to UC ANR's budget.
“We basically got an over 50% increase to try to bring it back to where it was at least a decade ago,” said Laird, who is chair of the Senate Budget Subcommittee on Education. He credited the agricultural community in Monterey County for initiating the push to restore UCCE funding.
“I think it's really a feather in the cap for UC because it is something that reaches into every agricultural county of the state and is really appreciated,” Laird, a UC Santa Cruz alumnus, told the regents.
While touring Santa Cruz County, Laird recalled meeting a young farm employee who reduced water consumption 15% in the farm's greenhouses by following the advice of a local UCCE farm advisor. The senator noted that the UCCE advice helped the Watsonville native, a person of color, get off to a successful start in the agricultural field.
Laird said UC needs to publicize more success stories like that. “I think that story really demonstrates the difference that is made … Here is UC Cooperative Ag Extension giving advice to somebody who is starting probably a 35- or 40-year career and saving a bunch of water right off the bat.”
To view the excerpt of his discussion with the regents, visit https://youtu.be/aL524U8z0qM.
- Author: Anne Megaro
As VP Humiston announced in the Feb. 24 ANR Update, Governor Newsom and the state Legislature have agreed to full restoration of UC's budget for the next fiscal year. For UC ANR, that means the 12.7% cut we sustained in FY 2020/21 will be restored, bringing our budget back to pre-COVID levels for FY 2021/22.
This restoration of funding was included in the UC Regent's official FY 21/22 state budget request. We are thrilled to see it moving forward and are working across the UC system to ensure the Regent's budget request is included in the state's final budget package.
Because the state budget hasn't been finalized (and won't be until mid-June), we need help to remind legislators of the benefits of investing in UC ANR.
“There are two upcoming budget subcommittee hearings where state lawmakers will specifically discuss UC's FY2021-22 budget,” VP Humiston said. “This is our chance to set the tone during budget negotiations, and providing public comment is one of the highest impact actions you can take. These hearings are on March 1 and March 9.”
Will you thank the Legislature for their support and ask that they continue to restore critical funding to UC ANR?
Due to the pandemic, the Legislature now allows anyone to dial-in and participate in the hearings – which means even more UC advocates can make their voices heard. If you prefer advocating for UC via social media, Tweets and Facebook and Instagram posts are quick and effective ways to express your support for UC. Emails, letters, and calls to members' personal offices are also highly effective.
Need more information? You can stay informed of important budget hearings and calls to action by signing up to for the UC Advocacy Network. By joining, you'll learn how you can advocate for UC and stay updated on the latest issues impacting higher education. This site also helps you find and contact your representatives.
Tweets or posts
Tell the Legislature why funding for UC is critical. Effective tweets and posts should include:
- Your relationship with UC ANR (legislators might not know that 4-H, Master Gardeners, or even Cooperative Extension are part of UC ANR, so make sure to mention UC ANR along with your programmatic connection!)
- Why you care about UC ANR/ the impact it has on you, your family, your business or your community.
- An ask for “full budget restoration”
4-H has been a bright light for my children and community while sheltering in place. We immediately went to work 1 year ago making masks to protect loved ones and healthcare workers. As a program within UC ANR, we rely on critical state funding. Please fully restore UC ANR's budget! @yourrepresentative
(add a personal photo if you wish).
Please share this message with your community partners and friends who are eager to lend their voice to support UC ANR funding. Your advocacy truly helps!
In November and December, President Drake, UC regents and state legislators were treated to virtual tours of UC ANR for an overview of statewide programs, partnerships and other activities. Now you can take that same tour at https://storymaps.arcgis.com/stories/7d31cde407b84331806d813559f09420 and share the self-guided tour with friends and stakeholders.
Scrolling through the interactive presentation, visitors are introduced to UC ANR beginning with our mission, history and maps of our locations. Viewers can skip to sections of interest using the bookmarks at the top of the story map: Urban Greenspaces, Nutrition & Youth Development, Engaging CA Agriculture, and Wildfire Resiliency.
Urban Greenspaces includes the UC Master Gardener Program and COVID-19 adaptation; UC Cooperative Extension working with community gardens; the UC Master Food Preserver Program; UC Pest Management and imported red fire ants, bed bugs, invasive shot hole borer; and the California Naturalist Program.
Nutrition & Youth Development includes UC Nutrition Policy Institute's research for healthy food, people and places; CalFresh Healthy Living, UC and EFNEP promoting healthy eating & active living in underserved communities; youth participatory action research; 4-H growing tomorrow's leaders today; and 4-H Juntos Program college and career readiness
Engaging CA Agriculture includes supporting California's agricultural diversity; partnerships that support California's agriculture; protecting California's nut crops, protecting California's citrus at the Lindcove Research & Extension Center; developing new California crops - moringa and malting barley; flowers, coffee and agritourism at Mellano Farms; California dairy and manure management; and the CDFA and UC ANR climate smart agriculture partnership.
Kathy Eftekhari, chief of staff to the vice president, and Anne Megaro, director of government and community relations, created the story map working with the 16 presenters to develop the content. Shane Feirer and Robert Johnson of the Informatics and GIS Program introduced them to the ArcGIS StoryMaps framework for the virtual tour and provided technical support. Ricardo Vela, manager of News and Information Outreach in Spanish, edited most of the videos.
The ANR virtual tour will also be posted at https://ucanr.edu/About.
VP Glenda Humiston led California state legislators, their staff members and other policymakers on a virtual tour of UC ANR on Nov. 20.
Humiston welcomed Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan, Assemblymember Robert Rivas, Senator Melissa Melendez and staff of Senator/Pro Tem Toni Atkins, Senators Nancy Skinner and Henry Stern; staff of Assemblymembers Heath Flora and Monique Limon and members of the governor's office and administration.
The tour opened with the We are UC ANR video and a map of UC ANR locations for background. Using short videos and photos, statewide program directors and UC ANR stakeholders showed the policymakers many of the ways UC ANR serves Californians. Other “tour stops” included highlights of UC ANR's impact on urban greenspaces, nutrition and youth development, California agriculture and wildfire resiliency.
Missy Gable, director of the UC Master Gardener Program, kicked off the urban greenspaces presentations by describing the contributions of volunteers. She discussed how the Master Gardener Program has changed during the COVID-19 constraints, noting a surge in the public's interest in gardening and the creation of a virtual classroom for the public in Senator Stern's district.
Jim Farrar, director of the Integrated Pest Management Program, explained that IPM helps all Californians control pests, both agricultural and urban pests. He described the work being done to manage red imported fire ant, bed bugs and invasive shot hole borers.
Greg Ira, director of the California Naturalist Program, said Cal Nat has expanded UC ANR's audience to include a younger, more diverse population in metropolitan areas. He explained how Cal Nat partners with organizations that deliver the course, which opens participants' eyes to the environment and stewardship as paths to green jobs.
Lorene Ritchie, director of the Nutrition Policy Institute, kicked off the nutrition and youth development section of the tour by describing how NPI research has informed policies such as removing chips and soda from schools, the healthy beverages law requiring water be made available to children in all licensed child day-care facilities in California, and the U.S. dietary guidelines.
Kamal Khaira, director of CalFresh Healthy Living, UC, talked about how CalFresh and EFNEP nutrition educators teach people in English and Spanish how to shop for and prepare healthful foods on a limited budget to prevent chronic diseases.
Cecilia Arellano Ibarra, now a UC Davis student, enthusiastically described how she interviewed fellow Calexico High School students to find out why they bought junk food instead of the food served by the school as part of her eco-garden club research project. Based on the student responses, she worked with CalFresh Healthy Living, UC to start a school garden and advocate for a farm-to-school program to provide fresh produce.
Lynn Schmitt-McQuitty, director of the 4-H Youth Development Program, described the 4-H Juntos program, which bridges the gap between high school and higher education with a four-day college and career readiness workshop. UC Merced student Adrian Bracamontes said attending Juntos helped him get scholarships and helped his parents understand the process.
Jhalendra Rijal, area IPM advisor, launched the California agriculture section of the tour by giving guests an overview of the size and scope of California's agricultural commodities. He then talked about the value of the state's nut crops and summarized UC ANR's research to manage navel orangeworm, which attacks almond, walnut and pistachio crops.
Ashraf El-Kereamy, UCCE specialist and director of Lindcove Research and Extension Center, described the citrus breeding and pest management research being done at the REC. For example, the popular Tango mandarin was developed at Lindcove REC with UC Riverside breeders. He also discussed research on Asian citrus psyllid and huanglongbing disease.
Ruth Dahlquist-Willard, small farms advisor, described how UC ANR promotes economic success by developing new crops. Hmong farmers in Fresno County growing the “superfood” moringa consult Dahlquist-Willard about production and regulations while farm advisor Konrad Mathesius is studying malting barley for new flavors of craft beer.
Mike Mellano, third-generation flower grower in San Diego County, UC President's Advisory Commission member and California representative for the Council for Agricultural Research, Extension, and Teaching, told the legislators that his business may not exist as it is today without UC ANR's research to help him compete in the world economy. He has diversified his operations to include agritourism with the Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch and growing coffee.
Betsy Karle, dairy advisor, described her work with the state's number one commodity to meet climate goals for methane emissions. She also discussed UC ANR's partnership with the California Department of Food and Agriculture to educate farmers about adapting to climate change.
Yana Valachovic, forestry advisor and UCCE director in Humboldt and Del Norte counties, explained how elected officials can look to UC research to inform policy on issues such as wildfire.
Stephanie Larson, livestock and range advisor and UCCE director in Sonoma County, highlighted UC Cooperative Extension's ability to pivot quickly to address emerging issues of clientele. For example, when Sonoma County residents called asking if food in their gardens was safe to eat after a wildfire, UCCE harvested food from gardens and tested it. UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine tested eggs from backyard chickens for postfire food safety. They found the eggs and produce were generally safe to eat.
The tour was accompanied by a “learning box” with 11 different items related to the various tour stops for participants to taste, feel and explore. To conclude the virtual tour, Humiston told the legislators, “This is only a fraction of what UC ANR does. We've got hundreds of researchers. When you need information, reach out to us.”
Two similar virtual tours for UC regents and President Drake will be held on Dec. 2 and Dec. 8, respectively. A self-guided version of the virtual tour will be posted online following the last live tour.