I am heading out on vacation tomorrow. That means I spent much of the week trying to check things off the list that aren't due until early August. No doubt, I will still be behind when I return the week after next, but we all need some down time!
I had the chance to participate in a UC Wildfire Symposium this week. Our CE Advisor and Specialists knocked it out of the park with their presentations addressing Strategies for the Wildlands Urban Interface. Congratulations to Lenya, Max, and Van for a job well done! The 600+ participants remained online despite cutting it close with the schedule. Clearly, they were interested in the discussion.
On Monday, we met with the DEI Advisory Council. The Council is eager to get to work advising UC ANR how best to advance the inclusivity of our culture. A few of us continued the conversation about that work the next day while we planned how to undertake the task of efficiently hiring a large number of academics while attracting top candidates. A challenge, but, a welcomed one.
The week has gone by quickly. Before I knew it on Tuesday, it was past 5 PM. The summer feels the same. I can tell the days are getting shorter because I am getting fewer strawberries each day. Three dogs contribute to the reduced yield, but isn't new. I'm not sure how many field days or in person meetings were held this summer. Hopefully we were able to host a few following reopening in mid-June. I haven't made it to any, but it looks like Mark was in attendance at a field day today. If we can keep COVID from getting out of hand, perhaps I can get a couple of outings on the calendar when I return.
I still have a few loose ends to wrap up before I disconnect. Here's hoping the fires and COVID stay far away and the heat dissipates in the next week.
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!