- Author: Brent Hales
Saturday was truly a great night at the Orange County Farm Bureau Steak Fry. The Steak Fry was held on Nov. 4 at Tanaka Farms in Irvine to raise funds for 4-H, FFA and various local colleges' ag education programs. That includes South Coast REC's GROW program, which is designed to make agricultural experiences accessible to more young people across the region and introduce them to careers opportunities in agriculture. Orange County Farm Bureau also provided a small donation to the UCCE Master Food Preserver program in Orange County.
It was great to spend an evening with my UC ANR colleagues. I saw Research & Extension Center director Darren Haver, Rita Jakel, 4-H community education specialist; Colleen Clemens, UC Master Food Preserver Program coordinator; and Araceli Hernandez, 4-H region 11 program supervisor.
I felt so proud sitting with the other people attending the Orange County Farm Bureau Steak Fry listening to the four young women from Orange County share examples of how they improved their lives by participating in 4-H club activities, public speaking, leadership events, etc. They were amazing.
The following day, I had the pleasure of attending the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new USDA Research Center in Salinas.
It was an honor to participate in the ribbon cutting for the Sam Farr United States Crop Improvement and Protection Research Center. The research center is dedicated to retired Congressman Sam Farr, who represented California's Central Coast in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1993 to 2017.
USDA Chief Scientist and Under Secretary for Research, Education and Economics Chavonda Jacobs-Young, former U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta as well as Farr spoke.
"This new center is going to ensure that our farmers, our ag workers, our ag leaders, that they benefit from the latest knowledge in cutting edge technology in agriculture," said Robert Rivas, California Assembly speaker.
The new research center features state-of-the-art laboratories, greenhouses and the capacity to accommodate additional scientists. It expands on the current ARS Crop Improvement and Protection Research Laboratory, which houses many of our USDA-Agricultural Research Station partners such as Daniel Hasegawa, who has worked closely with Richard Smith, emeritus UCCE vegetable crops advisor, on impatiens necrotic spot virus, a disease that infects lettuce. Our own UC Cooperative Extension weed specialist Steve Fennimore, who is affiliated with UC Davis Department of Plant Sciences, has an office in the ARS building.
As a congressman, Farr served on the U.S. House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies and has been an advocate for agriculture. He is also a longtime supporter of UC Cooperative Extension.
- Author: Brent Hales
Recently I had the pleasure of visiting San Diego with Lynn Schmitt-McQuitty. While in town, I met with members of San Diego County Farm Bureau, San Diego County supervisors and county administrators to learn about their concerns and to find out how UC ANR can be a better partner. I had the pleasure of hanging out with our colleagues in the UC Cooperative Extension office in San Diego on Friday, Oct. 20. It's exciting and inspiring to hear what they are working on.
My plan is to visit each of the 58 counties and meet with their county supervisors, county administrators and local Farm Bureau members to better understand their needs. I want to hear and learn from our local partners.
- Author: Brent Hales
Recently I visited with our colleagues at UC Merced and UC Santa Cruz – UC's newest Agricultural Experiment Station campuses.
At UC Merced, we met with administrators, faculty and staff for a tour of campus. There, we were shown some of the vast rangelands that encompass the UC Natural Reserve System sites managed by UC Merced and the site for the new agricultural research park. The plans feature teaching spaces, research plots, public engagement opportunities, and sites for collaboration with industry leaders.
The visit to the UC Santa Cruz campus and community gardens were very different from our visit to Merced. UC Santa Cruz features a fully functional farm that provides high-quality produce to students and community members at little or no cost. We also toured their aquaculture facility wherein rainbow trout are grown for both research and consumption.
You can read more about our visit to UCSC at https://news.ucsc.edu/2023/10/aes-designation-planning-campus-visit.html.
We are excited to engage with both campuses as they become fully integrated into our Agricultural Experiment Station network.
- Author: Brent Hales
Happy Monday all,
I have had the pleasure of visiting numerous Research Extension Centers (South Coast, Hopland, Sierra Foothills, Intermountain, West Side, Lindcove, and Kearney). I have also visited UC Irvine, UC Davis, and UC Berkeley. I soon will visit UC Merced and UC Santa Cruz. I have engaged with hundreds of ANR employees, campus-based faculty, specialists, and administration, and many stakeholders. My main takeaway throughout these visits is that UC ANR is truly an amazing organization!
As I have had the pleasure of getting to know everyone, I have consistently been amazed with the people, the organizations, and the programs that are all things UC ANR. I have had the pleasure of meeting many of you and I look forward to meeting you and learning from you.
My goal has been and continues to be to improve what we do and how we do it. That only comes as we work together to improve our organization and the communities that we serve. If there is an opportunity to engage with you in your programming or if there is an event that you think it would be good for me to attend, please invite me. I won't likely be able to get to everything this year but my engagement with everyone does not have an expiration date. I genuinely want to hear from you and learn from you.
I promise to take more pictures and use less text in the future. I just had to say this. I am eager to meet you and meet with you. I hope that you know that I am so grateful for what you do to improve the lives of Californians throughout our amazing state. I wish you truly the best!
- Author: Brent Hales
Happy Thursday All,
I am excited beyond words to have joined UCANR. The opportunity to serve along with so many talented and committed people is far beyond what I thought what I would ever have the chance to do. I am honored to be included with you as we serve the people of California.
There are a few items that I would like to bring up. First of all, I would like to gratefully acknowledge the contributions of Deanne Meyer. Her exemplary service over her storied career and her most recent service as Interim Associate Vice President is aspirational. She has and continues to serve with incredible insight and unwavering grace. I am grateful for her and for her innumerable contributions to UCANR and to the people of California. I also want to express my sincere gratitude for her guidance as I have taken on this role.
Next, I would like to share my thoughts on the future of the blog. It has taken me a while to get my entries started but I am certainly committed to keeping it going. I believe that consistent, clear communication is key to providing timely and relevant information to the Division. I would also like us to consider some ways that we can improve the future directions of the blog. I invite anyone and everyone to share with me insights, opportunities to recognize colleagues, and other information that you feel that it would be good to share with colleagues. I can't promise to use everything that I receive but I would like to ensure that we provide opportunities for us to hear about the various parts of the organization, to learn what is going on across the state, and within the organizational units.
I will also be inviting leaders from across the organization to share their insights on future blog posts. The reality is that when we put on the proverbial UCANR name badge, it is helpful to know what each program does and the intersections of service that are available in our communities and across the state. Be on the lookout for posts in the coming months that reflect the broad diversity of programs and people in the organization.
Finally, I want to thank everyone. I have been extremely pleased with the open and inviting reception that I have received to date. I look forward to engaging with everyone across the system in the coming months. We are planning numerous opportunities for us to engage with one another and to get to know one another. That won't be just here in Davis. These events will happen across California. I also want to thank you for your service and commitment to the people and the communities of California. You are the reason that UCANR exists. I look forward to meeting and thanking everyone personally.
I hope that everyone is enjoying the summer and that you will take time to take care of yourself.