It seems like short weeks are super packed. Last Monday Darren Haver and I drove to the Desert Research and Extension Center (REC). It was great to visit with Jairo, Stacey and Gilberto on our wagon ride around the REC. It was nice to see Kat as well. There were many creative ideas on how to increase research at the REC. Let's see which ones we can put into motion. We learned first-hand about the Farm Smart program, now more than 20 years young. Farm Smart “promotes a better understanding of agriculture, the source of our food, fiber, and energy, and its impact on our economy and daily lives, as well as protecting natural resources and cultivating healthy people and communities.” Stacey was sorting through seed packets from Lowes. During her recent trip to Lowes for potting soil she was given a huge donation of almost expired seeds. These will be a wonderful addition to the winter tours where kids will be able to plant seeds and take them home to grow. Lowes might not appreciate the expiration date of seed packets in my garage. I'm almost sure I've used up everything from my last trip to the Gurney's store many decades ago.
In addition to meeting many of the staff at the REC, I had a bonus opportunity to visit with those in Imperial County Cooperative Extension office who were not away on holiday. Oli provided a brief summary of Imperial County and discussed the impact of Cooperative Extension. It was exciting to meet so many members of the team including:Chris, Rigo, Nannette, Lupe, Jorge, Arlene, Martha, Jennifer and Andrea. One of the overarching needs is rodent proof, all weather storage for CalFresh. Chris and Rigo shared the need to store their various supplies in a clean area. Thank you all for taking time out of your day to visit with me.
The visit with Desert REC and Imperial County concluded with a mini feast (thank you Lupe for making that happen). Discussions of land preparation, irrigation and accounting were key. It's clear the staff work closely together between the REC and the UCCE office.
After the quick trip to the Desert REC I returned to Davis. Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to express gratitude and appreciation to all who make the magic in ANR happen. From our Human Resources and Business Operations teams to our newest hired staff and academics, we work together to make California better. Thank you for your dedication to UC ANR and improving lives of Californians.
Last week sped by in the blink of an eye. Monday Greg Ira and I attended the 7th Annual Summit for California Climate Action Network (CalCan). ANR was well represented with Betsy Karle, Dan Macon, Toby O'Geen, Devii Rao, Leslie Roche, Lillian Thaoxaochay and Daniele Zaccaria. Additionally, our Climate Smart Educators participated in the sessions. One session discussed the importance of trees to convert carbon dioxide to biomass. Keep in mind, one of the big drivers in the State's Climate Action Plan is urban trees. This dovetails with research done by Janet Hartin on urban trees evaluating varieties and their survivability under different conditions.
Tuesday was a super exciting day for the Master Gardener Program. After much work with Integrated Pest Management Program (IPM) and Informatics and GIS (IGIS) they launched the Spotted Lantern Fly eLearning course on eXtension. More than 5,500 email invitations were sent to volunteers. A phenomenal 65% open occurred. Within minutes 87 volunteers enrolled and began the 45-minute course with certificates and badges being awarded by the minute. This is an outstanding example of a multi-state project (PA was prominent), multi-campus project (within UC), state-agency collaboration (CDFA) and program cooperation/integration with MG, IPM, and IGIS. Lauren Snowden spearheaded the project. Way to go! You too can get in on the excitement by going to the website for the eLearning course . Here's the project weblink should you want additional information. Invasive Spotted Lanternfly (ucanr.edu)
Thursday's townhall featured Shannon Klisch. Shannon shared impactful work where Market Match is used at farmers' markets to augment CalFresh dollars. They saw a 171% increase in CF dollars redeemed at markets. Convening all associated with farmers' markets made a huge impact to reduce barriers associated with the program. Providing greater access to fresh fruits and vegetables is laudable.
Welcome Rachel Lee to UC ANR! Rachel is our new Director of Publication. Rachel has worked with UC for more than 20 years. If you're in the building on Tuesday-Thursday, don't hesitate to pop by her office and introduce yourself.
The week ahead will have many people spending time with family and friends. The Thanksgiving story many of us were taught as children is far from the truth. For a more realistic recounting of history read the blog post by Jennifer Sowerwine.
Be safe as you travel near and far for the holiday. Enjoy family, fellowship, food and festivities. Bon Appetit.
Last week was the American Public and Land Grant Universities (APLU) meeting in Denver. Presidents, Provosts, Vice Chancellors, Directors, Government Relations staff and others attended the meeting with more than 1,200 people present. I participated in two basic tracts. The first focused on hiring and maintaining employees in a market of poachers where other branches of the University are trying to move great employees from your domain to theirs. Similar problems exist throughout the United States. Panelists spoke about a change in culture with existing people still being a team in the remote environment. They identified challenges to onboard new people into a remote team. Retention of new team members was difficult. There are great synergies when staff and academics work in the same space and interact regularly. A positive onboarding experience remains key to retention. We can all play a role to make new employees welcome within ANR.
Mental health was the second tract I attended. Covid meant isolation for many. Some employees realized how silent life can be absent human contact. Individuals suffered from one or multiple deaths in the family. Jobs were lost by relatives or friends. Supply chain issues upset purchasing ability leaving some stranded (no cars available at a reasonable price) or out priced in the marketplace. Those who reenergize by being around other people (extroverts) suffered from the lack of human contact. Those who reenergize by being alone (introverts) found themselves exhausted from zoom calls where they had videos on and were “on” themselves. Good nutrition, quality sleep, regular exercise and interactions with others remain important for mental wellbeing. It was great to know that our staff and academics in Community Nutrition and Health, Nutrition and Consumer Science, 4-H and the Master Gardener Program have continued their programming providing great tools for people. Did you know both plants and animals have therapeutic values? It's great to know that ANR programs have the ability to help people throughout the community, in nearly all communities in California.
Last week we had an in-person County Director meeting. It was great to see so much energy in a room. As you can imagine, mentoring new employees was part of the discussion. New Advisors are hired for three two-year terms. Simplistically, these terms are to become established in the community and assess needs (term 1), evaluate a path to add knowledge where knowledge gaps exist, develop extension programming, and cultivate relationships with stakeholders (term 2), and develop and deploy a research program to address questions identified in the needs assessment, feed information into extension work and continue relationships with stakeholders (term 3). This methodical approach to extension programming sets academics up for a career with great impact for local communities. Thank you to all the participants who provided content and attended the meeting! Please share your feed back with Lynn who did a great job at organizing the meeting.
For a four-day work week much was learned and accomplished. Welcome to all who are new to ANR. Don't hesitate to reach out to anyone in the organization if you have questions!
Spring forward, fall back
Program Council met this last week. We had another installment on the great work being done in the fire space throughout UC. Keep in mind our focus was on fire prevention both in areas with structures and wildlands. I scoured quite a few websites prior to the meeting. There are some incredible programs across UC that can be collaborators with UC ANR. The Fire Foundry is has “amazing partnerships” to “increase access to sustainable wage careers in the fire services for women and people of color currently underrepresented in the sector”. There are opportunities for the individuals in this program to work in Cooperative Extension in their careers. Berkeley also has the Fire Research Laboratory, the Center for Fire Research and Outreach at Berkeley Forests, Forest Research and Outreach, Wildland Fire Research and of course UC ANR fire website. This is just a flash in the impactful work being done across UC in fire research.
Kudos to Jing Yu, Director of Financial Services and Interim Controller, Jennifer Bunge, Executive Director of Resource Planning and Management, Tu Tran, Associate Vice President of Finance and Katherine Webb-Martinez, Program Planning and Evaluation and everyone who worked the last many months on our NIFA Audit. Financial review occurred on four grants from 2014 to 2018 from a variety of federal funding streams including Hatch Research, Smith Lever capacity awards, AFRI and Crop Protection and Pest Management. Non-federal matching funds associated with the Hatch and Smith Lever capacity awards were reviewed. Every academic plays a part in documenting how funds are spent through effort reporting and through annual contributions to Project Board. Your input is used for our USDA and other reporting needs. A total of 31,000 ledger entries were reviewed and 45 samples were selected for further testing. Findings were presented at our Compliance Review Virtual meeting. Among the USDA NIFA team we met with the Deputy Director, Office of Grants and Financial Management, National Program Leaders, and numerous others associated with financial management. The NIFA staff were very impressed with how our programs are organized and aligned with our condition changes and public values statements. It was an exciting interaction. Thank you to everyone who participated with the audit process. It takes a village!
Speaking of Project Board, many ANR academics participated in Project Board training this last week spearheaded by Kit Alviz and Chris Hanson. Project Board is how we collect programmatic information to compile annual impact stories, county and campus reports and ad hoc queries. It's also used to complete UC ANR's contributions to the UC annual accountability report, sustainability report, Office of the President budget reports and other ad hoc requests. This information is used for our USDA Federal reporting needs.
Trees are changing colors and dropping leaves. Flowers are at the end of their season. We just fell back out of daylight savings time. And our cycle continues.
Last week was a world wind tour of three Research and Extension Centers (RECs). Oranges, cotton and sorghum were not yet harvested at our South Valley RECs. Darren Haver, Maru Fernandez and I had great visits at these RECs. It was thrilling to hear about the various research projects and how UC ANR and campus faculty are finding ways to improve California agriculture.
Jasmine Del Toro (Business Officer), Don Cleek(superintendent) and Ashraf El Kereamy (Director) shared activity at Lindcove from research projects to how the processing/packing shed works. We were just a few weeks before harvest begins so we imagined the packing shed in full swing. Citrus of all types, from kumquats to pomelos and Buddha's hand, are grown at Lindcove. There's even a project on reuse of ground trees as mulch. This year's fruit is not yet harvested and already blossoms were on trees continuing the cycle. Maru spent quality time with Jasmin to help through new financial record keeping requirements. Much better than doing it over zoom.
Buddha's hand, Lindcove Pistachio tree, West Side Greenhouse, Kearney
At West Side we met with Karen Motly (Business Officer), Brian Neufeld (superintendent) and Tom Turini (Interim Director). Tom discussed center history and needs. Brian gave us a top-notch tour of the REC. Karen worked with Maru and Darren. It was exciting to see pistachios still on the tree. We were able to pick them and realize how soft the shell is while the nut is on the tree. If you're used to almond hulls, pistachios don't have that amount of external cover.
Wednesday we toured Kearney. There's much activity with detailed alfalfa work, organic plots, trees (fruit, nut, novel), vines, hemp, etc. Also, there is IR-4 work. Scientists from University of California campuses (Davis, Riverside and Berkeley) make Kearney their home. It was great to meet our newest Cooperative Extension Specialist Jackie Atim as well as see exciting work done by others.
All three RECs work to address issues growers face related to nitrogen management, water conservation and integrated pest management. It's fabulous to have land available for controlled experiments, greenhouses, and areas to isolate plants and pests. These facilities provide researchers from all over California with unique opportunities. Thank you to all the staff who keep the RECs running.
An exciting part of the week was a Zoom meet and greet with many Community Nutrition and Health Advisors, Amira Resnick and many new colleagues at UC San Francisco. The combined group spent focused on community-based research and outreach programs to improve health. This is the first of many interactions. The groups had so much in common.
Human Resources and many search committees have been busy! We welcome student assistants Taylor Baisey and Sia'h Jimissa (NPI), Cedric Renaudin (NFCS), Amritpal Kaur (Kern), Yolanda Tabarez (Desert REC); agricultural technician, Jovani Renteria, Lindcove; Lab helper, Tyler Waltrip; Blank Assistants Shayna Blythe (BOC), Katherine Fessler (State 4-H office), Robin Martin (Central Sierra MCP) and Andrea Rayray (SWPR). Rounding out our new hires were Joaquin Vega (Facilities, Planning and Management), Uriel Gonzalez (IT Services) and Benjamin Saltzman (IGIS Programmer). Three more Advisors joined our ranks too: Stephanie Mar, Organic Waste, South Coast REC; Joanna Solins, Environmental Horticulture, Capitol Corridor MCP, Yu-Chen Wang, Plant Pathology, Santa Cruz.
It takes many people to keep UC ANR running! Thank you for your contributions.