- Author: Deanne Meyer
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!