The weeds continue to grow, despite the heat. I, however, have avoided the gardens for the last 2 weeks, and perhaps this weekend as well. When we first moved in the gardens were overgrown, or ‘lush' as the previous owner described, and hummingbirds were everywhere. Our first summer our record hummingbird spotting was 7 at once. This year, I am up to 5. Perhaps leaving the gardens for a bit will increase numbers. That's what I will use as my excuse for the next couple of weeks anyway.
The weeds aren't the only thing not slowing down. With this new funding, there's so much to do! We are already preparing for next year's merit and promotion cycle and recognizing that the following year or two will produce record number of cases. Tomorrow the Peer Review Committee meets for the day to talk about next year's process. Tina, Mark, Pam, and team are busy planning and preparing for an intense recruitment schedule. We'll need everyone's support and assistance to make this work. Since I arrived in 2016, I've heard regularly the goal to ‘increase the academic footprint'. Box checked.
Once we have the accomplishment implemented, it's time to establish our next mantra and aim to achieve it. Perhaps something that reflects the importance of program development and delivery with community partners. We need to give this some thought. Ideas welcome.
This week, I am attending a national conference. Sessions are pretty well spaced apart, leaving time to conduct UC ANR business as well. One session this morning include comments higher education's fears about an undergraduate ‘enrollment cliff'. The year 2023 is projected to be peak enrollment, following which the long term implications of restrictions currently faced by international students, reduced enrollments of 18 to 20-year olds during COVID, and declining interest in and ability to afford college may combine to create significantly reduced enrollment numbers across the U.S. While 4-year institutions appear to be a bit better off than 2-yr institutions, there are financial concerns for all institutions. More conversation and development of solutions that help institutions cooperate more, to the economic benefit of students and the institutions, are needed. Perhaps if Extension can figure out how to share non-credit curriculum across state lines, we will have something to model for credit-based instruction.
Admittedly, conducting both CA work and participating in the conference is making for a long, packed week, but with COVID cases back on the rise, I am okay staying off planes and out of crowded conferences a bit longer. Vaccinated or not, please be safe out there. We have made it too far to slip backwards.
Budget meetings were held this week. It was nice to be in the Davis building and see more people than I saw last week! Also nice, and timely for our budget discussion, was the Governor's signing of the state budget. We discussed much about the increased support for our work. The intent behind the restoration of the FY19/20 budget was to allow us to resume our efforts underway prior to the pandemic, including operating funds, equity program assessment, and strategic goals. The additional funds from the legislature are clearly aligned with the legislature's desire to restore the academic footprint to that of over a decade ago. These are all good things. After 5 years of a different picture, I am optimistic that a number of goals can be addressed with these funds; not everything, but enough that each and all benefit directly or indirectly.
The funding is the result of everyone taking time to tell our story. Take a look at this one example, where Lynn tells the 4-H story with Farm to Table Talk podcaster, Roger Wasson. We know Lynn's busy; please thank her for taking the time to do this. If you don't have time to listen to the entire podcast, just check out the first 60 seconds!
Have you had a chance to attend the interview seminars of the new Kearney/Westside REC Director candidates? Two of the three webinars are complete. I hope our stakeholders take time to review the recordings and weigh in on the candidates. We have a number of recruitments open now for director positions in counties, statewide programs or at RECs. I hope we are fortunate enough to have a strong pool of candidates for each position. These represent advancement opportunities for staff and academics, alike.
Tomorrow is a bit hectic with Zoom meetings with both state and federal decision makers, COVID meetings (I hope those wind down soon!), and a few odds and ends. Friday is a bit lighter on the agenda and cooler if I end up in the garage for the day. Next week is another virtual national conference. I'm still undecided if I am eager to end those or look forward to continuing abbreviated conferences with fewer sessions and less hallway time. One conference I am looking forward to is the next ANR conference. Five years goes by fast. And, with all of the hiring ahead of us, this next year will be crazy fast.
In the meantime, please welcome Sandipa Gautam who started this week as the Area Citrus Integrated Pest Management Advisor, based at the Lindcove REC, with programmatic responsibilities in Tulare, Fresno, Madera, and Kern Counties. Welcome, Sandipa! You are joining at an exciting time!
See everyone at the Town Hall!
I went back to the office this week! My plant didn't survive the 16 months without a drink. Other than that, everything was intact. Getting my desktop functioning was a bit of a challenge with updates, recalling passwords, and moving things from my laptop, but I welcome the change in scenery and the air conditioning! My laptop gained back 9 minutes lost since last connecting to the network. Most important, it was nice to see members of the UC ANR team, in person, again!
The NPI has been busy helping facilities reopen safely. Take a look at the factsheet they developed with partners at Purdue University. The USDA has made use of this information in order to assist schools in preparedness plan.
Congratulations to Keith and Fe for their latest accomplishment! A book about social capital and social justice, co-authored with several colleagues from LGUs across the country, has just been published and made available at the 4-H Mall. A timely and important topic, indeed.
While we eagerly await learning that the Governor has signed the state budget restoring the UC budget and augmenting the UC ANR budget line, I am pleased that hiring of new academics continue. In addition to the impressive effort that Ruth is leading to hire 7 Community Educators and 2 CE Advisors to support small-sized farms, Sandipa Gautam starts on July 12th as the Area Citrus Integrated Pest Management Advisor, based at the Lindcove REC, with programmatic responsibilities in Tulare, Fresno, Madera, and Kern Counties. Please make a point to reach out and welcome Sandipa in her new role. Sandipa is not new to UC, but we are extremely pleased to have her join UC ANR.
Scott, Bethanie, Jake and the UC Path transition team have made it past the launch date for bringing the UCR CE Specialists into the UC ANR business unit. I have no doubt they are feeling a wave of relief that the date has passed without disruptions. Likewise, the UCR CE Specialists are no doubt relieved as well. Congratulations to the team at both UC ANR and UCR for their extraordinary care in making the transition a successful reality! Only one unit remains to transition (Oakland)!
After a 3-day weekend of yard work, I am caught up (for now)! I can sense the weeds already recovering, but I am confident I can avoid yard work during the heat promised this weekend. I hope you each find relief from the heat!
A little boredom sounds good right now. Merit and promotion package reviews are over, but time still seems to be inadequate for the workload. I think it is due to the short week whereby the number of meetings didn't decrease, but were rather crunched into fewer, longer days. The budget outlook is bright, and with it comes a workload to meet the obligations to the funding. Overall, a good problem to have. I am not complaining. I suspect I overcommitted to requests to serve on committees, provide leadership and feedback. Sound familiar? It happens.
This week I attended a national conference for the Western Region Extension and Experiment Station Directors. On Monday, we had a business meeting, updates from our federal partners, and an awards ceremony. The California Dairy Quality Assurance Program team was honored for their impactful work – congratulations to Deanne, Betsy, Jennifer, Randi, David, Nick, Jeff, and Denise! I hope I didn't forget anyone!
During the conference we talked about the Land Grant University, post-COVID. Extension Directors in the West have been discussing this monthly since January. Today, we received an update from President Barry Dunn on the Wokini Initiative at South Dakota State University that provides scholarships and intentional support to American Indian students (Lakota and Dakota). This year, the inaugural class graduated. The program has strong metrics, with success declared when the student achievement and completion of American Indian students exceeds that of the remaining student population. The update was inspirational, to say the least, focusing on the opportunity and responsibility in front of leaders today. ‘We can begin again, and change the ending' (C.S. Lewis) was the takeaway message. During the Q&A there was reference to some of the work underway with the Karuk tribe by UC ANR, led by Jennifer Sowerwine. It is always nice to hear another state call out the efforts by UC ANR!
Given the holiday this week, and the upcoming holiday, the message was timely. There's no time for boredom. We have important work to do; work that the state legislature clearly recognizes as an opportunity to lift all up and ensure opportunity for all.
Congratulations to Katherine Uhde! Katherine has been accepted into the Bloomberg American Health Initiative Fellowship Program at Johns Hopkins University. The Program is unique and a partnership between UC ANR and JHU. What a great opportunity for Katherine and UC ANR! Now, more than perhaps ever before, such partnerships are important. Cooperative Extension can play an important role to improve health outcomes and reduce health disparities in our communities.
We were fortunate to hear from Fabian Rivera from UC San Diego during our May Town Hall. Since that time, Marcel and Ricardo have partnered with Fabian to work on a project designed to address vaccine hesitancy by indigenous farmworkers in California and their families, such as Mixtecos and Zapotecos of Oaxaca, the Totonacas of Veracruz, the Nahuas of Guerrero, and Purépechas in Michoacán.
The week has flown by. It helps that I was able to leave the garage and visit the Hansen REC on Monday. It was great to see people and have in-person discussions! I valued the time we had to discuss important issues. I missed most of the tour. I had toured the facility previously, but was surprised to see how big the Trees for Tomorrow plantings have gotten! It helps to not get snow.
During the tour, I participated in a meeting with 3 members of the White House Office of Public Engagement and Domestic Policy Council to keep the White House apprised of the value of investing in Extension to address Climate Mitigation, Resiliency, and Adaption; Economic and Workforce Development; and Health, Equity and Well-Being. The Project Board impact statements come in handy for such meetings! The first question from the White House staff was about how we are engaged, or could be more engaged, with Climate Hubs. The question was a fantastic opportunity to talk about the work of the Climate Smart Ag team and the opportunity that capacity funds provide for building long-term relationships between our academics/community educators and networks such as the Climate Hub. That same message about capacity funding is key to comments submitted in response to NIFA's request for feedback on priority needs. Those comments were submitted late this afternoon. Now I am ready to focus on tomorrow's meetings.
I am looking forward to a day off on Friday and the holiday on Monday. I hope everyone enjoys some time away from Zoom. Stay safe!