How did it get to be Wednesday already? Yet at the same time, Monday and Tuesday are already a blur. I suspect we all feel this way to some extent. I know many of us feel that are time has been swallowed up by adjustments we've had to make due to disasters, leaving us little time for our customary work. The result is longer days and a sense that less has been accomplished. While I wish we weren't all in this situation, I take some comfort in knowing I am not alone. When I talk with my peers, we all wonder about the long term impact of being redirected from the work we would otherwise be doing. However, for the time being, what we are doing is what we need to be doing despite being different from what we signed up for and not identified in our position descriptions. It is a different kind of ‘productive' and important, for now. Fortunately, there remain some elements of my day that are familiar and customary.
Last week, I attended the 2020 W.K. Kellogg Foundation Community Engagement Scholarship Award program. The program celebrates programs that have enhanced their learning, discovery, and engagement missions by becoming more integrated with their communities. I was pleased to see that one awardee, the LIFESports program from Ohio State University, has a strong connection to Cooperative Extension (4-H). If you are interested in learning more about any of these projects, have a look at the event program.
We have our own awardees within UC ANR! Three California state winning entries received national recognition at the recent annual meeting and professional improvement conferences of the National Association of County Agricultural Agents (NACAA) that were held virtually the latter part of September and early October. Michael Rethwisch and student assistant Kassandra Allan had the national winning applied research poster, entitled ‘Dingy cutworm pheromone lures are not highly attractive to the closely related granulate cutworm'. Michael was also selected make a presentation on comparative insecticide efficacy for lygus bugs. The UC Dairy Newsletter was a national finalist entry and western regional winner in Team Newsletter competition. This newsletter is the work of UCCE advisors Jennifer Heguy, Daniela Bruno, Joy Hollingsworth, and Betsy Karle. The University of California Cooperative Extension Subtropical Horticulture News by Sonia Rios was the western regional winner for individual newsletter. Congratulations to the awardees!
Time to get ready for COVID day. I now call Thursdays ‘COVID day'. The morning begins with a standing call at 7:30 AM. Throughout the day are various other calls to discuss some aspect of the pandemic (closing, opening, impacts, post-COVID normalcy, etc.) with various groups within UC ANR, the broader UC, or the region.
On Friday, I am taking the afternoon off. We still have to pick up and move all of the tree trimmings from last weekend. The cooler temperatures will be a big help. However, before I get to that, I need to enter my annual goals into the new UCOP performance system. That will be interesting.
There's another new face around UCCE San Diego! Gerardo Spinelli started Monday, October 12th as the Production Horticulture Advisor, based in San Diego, with programmatic responsibilities in San Diego County. Please welcome Jerry (back) to UC ANR.
A PBS star is born! Mark shared with me a YouTube video featuring our very own Yana, talking about home hardiness in Paradise. Susie and others have similar programs. This video brings us one step closer to Linda's vision of ‘owning YouTube' in certain sectors of content. Congratulations Yana!
In a time when there's hate and violence everywhere we turn, there's good all around us, too. Thanks to Dixieland 4-H in Madera County for making someone's wish come true!
This week is World Food Prize week. While the event is virtual, the activities remain on Central Time. That has made for very early morning meetings most days this week, particularly what are traditionally breakfast meetings. Thursday, in particular, is busy with a 5 am start time to join a World Food Prize event, routine COVID meetings at 7:30 am and 10 am, the World Food Prize Laureate presentation at 11 am, followed by the WebANR, and ANR Town Hall, and then a couple more meetings to round out the day. Hopefully, my internet connection is better than it was this morning.
I mentioned back in a June post that this year's World Food Prize winner is Dr. Rattan Lal from The Ohio State University. His research laid the ground work for regenerative agriculture through cultivation of healthy soils. During a conversation late yesterday afternoon the question was raised about how the World Food Prize has changed his life. Dr. Lal joked that a grandchild asked him if it was like winning the Heisman Trophy. He responded that it was an award 52 years in the making – the length of his career. Despite the time it took for this global recognition, Dr. Lal's work has caught on. During a teleconference last week with the Governor's office regarding the recent Executive Order that has a stated goal of placing government protections on 30-percent of the land and coastal water in California by the year 2030, Secretary Ross spoke about the importance of healthy soils and, specifically, the work of UC Cooperative Extension and UC ANR in working with farmers to implement healthy soil practices that promote climate smart agriculture.
Friday is a short day for me this week. We are spending the weekend trimming our 42 Queen Palm trees. My job is to protect the irrigation risers from damage due to falling tree parts. I suppose that is somewhat better than hanging out in a basket using the chain saw. Nonetheless, it is not what I envision for vacation. But then again, 2020 is not a typical year.
In a year that continues to take unpleasant twists and turns, there continue to be bright spots along the way! Please welcome Douglas Amaral to UC ANR. Douglas started on October 1, 2020 as the CE Pomology and Water/Soils Area Advisor, based in Hanford, California, with programmatic responsibilities in Kings and Tulare Counties. I look forward to meeting Douglas.
This year's recipient of the National Diversity in Extension Award that recognizes significant contributions and accomplishments in achieving and sustaining diversity and pluralism has a UC ANR connection. The University of Missouri's 4-H Center for Youth Development is the recipient in 2020. We knew Lupita Fabergas would do great things in her role at the University of Missouri, here' one piece of evidence! USDA-NIFA and Cooperative Extension have sponsored the awards since 1991. The award will be presented virtually on October 28. If you have remained in touch with Lupita, please send her a note of congratulations!
Thanks to Sara Garcia Figuera and team, there is a new resource available that summarizes HLB research. Working with Beth Grafton-Cardwell, Monique Rivera, and Neil McRoberts, Sara compiled and summarized research data to update an important brochure for citrus growers. Take a look! It is always exciting to see graduate students excited about Cooperative Extension. Hopefully, Sara continues such outreach efforts throughout her promising career.
It is hard to believe that this is Program Council week again already! This month's meeting focused on ways to creatively reduce our reliance on traditional funding sources. The goal is to stay ahead of the COVID-related economic challenges that are upon us and will likely have multi-year impacts. Fortunately, if we are proactive, we can use the value of and need for our programs to move us forward. Listening to the Governor's call late Wednesday where he laid out his plan for the Executive Order related to agriculture, I see many, many opportunities for us.
The Vice President's Council meets on Thursday. The business unit directors and statewide program/institute directors will hear about the tools and guidance developed to help all of us identify and implement opportunities for cost recovery and income generation. We will talk about efforts in specific programs to advance diversity, inclusion, and equity within the program. During the VP Council we will have a brief update on the strategic planning efforts. The drafts for both the division and the RECs are out for review. If you can make the time for review, we would appreciate your feedback!
I keep hearing from the weather person that we are heading towards fall weather. Three hours in the front yard last weekend, followed by the resurgence of high temperatures again this weekend, have me unconvinced. The harsh reality is that weed growth has not slowed. At some point, it will, at least for a few months. One good sign over this past weekend was the sound of the Sandhill cranes overhead. They were returning to the Woodbridge Preserve for their winter visit. Odd that we always hear them a few minutes before seeing them as they make their migration to the water. It seems a bit early, but that is just a manifestation of the COVID crisis. In fact, according to the calendar, the Sandhill cranes are right on time. Time flies even during a pandemic.
During the Regents meeting two weeks ago, Carrie Byington from UC Health shared the reality that she expects COVID-19 to cause at least another year of disruption to university systems. In the meantime, the toilet paper supply appears to be in good shape. Furthermore, we are resuming some of our key activities that have been on hold. Other activities have moved forward using new methods. I have learned that occasionally I need a Zoom-free day. I took one this past Friday, after four 10+ hours days of Zooming, to conduct UC ANR work and participate in a national event planned by East Coasters. Even though I had written a blog post, I forgot to upload it, so zoomed out I was by the end of the day. The Zoom reality has translated into more meetings and more work without the airplane downtime. I know you can relate. I highly recommend a monthly Zoom-free day!
With my renewed energy, I am looking forward to this week's activities. Activities include a 2-hour training, a check in with the Oakland team, a PAC meeting on Wednesday that consists of time with President Drake, representing my first live session with him. This week contains a meeting with other Extension Directors from around the country to advance an initiative. The week winds down with 'First Friday' calls that take up the bulk of the workday before heading into a weekend that promises more yard work. Some rain would top off what promises to be a great week.
There is more good news for our nutrition programs. During the National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (NEAFCS) Virtual Annual Session team members were recognized for their outstanding contributions. Deepa Srivastava, and UCCE Tulare-Kings Nutrition Education Team placed second in the Western Region SNAP-ED/EFNEP award. This on the heels of a win last year! Mary and her CalFresh Healthy Living, UC Team in Alameda County are the 3rd Place Regional winner of the Community Partnership award. And, Mary Blackburn received the NEAFCS Hall of Fame Award! I've had to keep that one quiet for about a month now, but am so pleased to share the news! Congratulations to all! And, thanks to Katie for sharing the news!
Speaking of the UCCE Tulare office, they have quite the sense of humor. Take a look at their door sign. No doubt some are better able to estimate the length of a Holstein cow. Perhaps social distancing won't last long enough for all to learn that measure. It's hard to tell. Who would have guessed back in March that seasonal face coverings would be a fashion trend? Just to stay in practice for pre-COVID behaviors, I put on grown up clothes and sat in my real office today, downloading computer updates and grabbing some items to make life a bit easier in the garage. It was nice to be in the office for a brief visit before putting my face covering back on and moving into the rest of the day.
Glenda shared that she's been hearing great things about one of our 4-H projects focused on getting rural communities to fill out the census (https://ucanr.edu/sites/census/). “They've received kudos from county supervisors, farm bureau leaders and many others who saw the materials and really appreciated the help to make sure their communities were counted. This is a great 4-H civic engagement project”!! Let's hope everyone turns out to vote in November, too!
Strategic planning work is winding down, both for UC ANR as a whole and for the RECs. Last week the ANR planning team met to review and incorporate feedback from the August webinars. I have already finished my homework! Later this week the REC planning team meets and I am hoping to pass any homework assignments on to others. I will miss the Town Hall this week, but hope there is strong attendance to hear about all the great things Ricardo and his team are doing to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month.
I have almost completed my assignments for a national conference to be held next week so perhaps the weekend can focus on yard work. I think weed growth may be slowing a bit.