Today was full of meetings. Strategic plan goal owners met to talk about progress on the plan, identify successes and obstacles, remind each other that we have a Wednesday deadline to provide updates into the Smartsheet project tracker. I hope to complete my updates early tomorrow morning.
Following the goal owner meeting, a number of us moved to the other end of the building to meet with the Development Services team and catch up on achievements around the state as well as prioritize the team efforts. There are many recent successes out in the counties. Congratulations to everyone who has been working with donors and partners! Even if you haven't realized a success, yet, the effort deserves a celebration.
The next meeting was to start to process of improving the UC ANR website, beyond the recent refresh that only addressed the first layer of the framework. Like Project Board, this entails a long process and sizable investment. We have to start somewhere. During the meeting, Hans Gude talked about risks in the process – outcome, process, and project risks.
After I complete my goal updates tomorrow, I head to the President's Advisory Committee meeting in Oakland. While the President is unable to attend, her office will be represented. Among other topics, Doug Parker and Secretary Karen Ross will provide an overview of our recent agreement with CDFA to increase implementation of climate-smart farm practices. The presentation will give Doug a chance to brag about the fantastic Community Education Specialists we've been fortunate enough to hire as a result of the partnership with CDFA. Though he might be jet-lagged a bit, I'm sure Doug is looking forward to the meeting. Doug, Glenda, and Sherry Cooper just returned from Spain over the weekend. They attended the Rosenberg Forum while in Spain.
Amidst meetings, jet-lag or whatever happens to be on your calendar, please don't forget a few key dates and items:
Wednesday, May 1, is UC Walks. Try to get out and enjoy the great weather and don't forget your antihistamines. Last year, I had the great pleasure of walking with the Fresno County team through the Garden of the Sun – what a fun walk!
May 15 is the last day to Raise Your Hand in support of 4-H. I noticed that Ohio is boasting over 17,000 hands raised. Surely we can beat out Ohio!
I hope everyone's meetings go well this week!
There is still time to raise your hand in support of California's 4-H program! It's easy. It's free. And if can result in a $20,000 award to the state program to support youth development in California.
I'm in San Diego at the spring meeting of Extension program leaders, Extension directors, and Ag Experiment Station Directors. The views are great and the water really close. Yesterday we spent the afternoon talking about increasing cultural competency in our states. The discussion had quite a bit of focus around increasing partnerships with the 1994 institutions and increasing capacity funding through the Federally Recognized Tribal Extension Program (FRTEP). The whole conversation had me thinking about our one of our public value statements: Developing an inclusive and equitable society. When that statement was first developed there was considerable discussion about the principles as a component of everything we do; the act of inclusion without giving it any thought because it is second nature is the indicator that one is culturally competent. Admittedly, I questioned why, as a core value, we would have a stand-alone public value statement around inclusion. However, as I listened to the conversations yesterday and this morning, it became clear to me that by calling this out as a one of our UC ANR statements, we make the commitment to move the needle.
A portion of the conversation centered on the need for the academic review system to reward for impact and teamwork. I honestly don't remember how we moved to such acknowledgment when the topic was cultural competence, but that's how meetings go. I do know that at UC ANR we are doing exactly this; questioning the ‘so what' of our work and the change in conditions that resulted as opposed to focusing on evidence of scholarship (i.e. the number of publications and grant dollars secured). We've seen the value of our impact stories when we've made visits to offices of our state and federal elected officials. The impacts, not the activities, cause people sit up and take notice. Fortunately, we have many stories to tell, ranging from work with the Fresno Street Saints to efforts to improving water use efficiency.
Some of the conversation addressed the problems of using an ‘expert model' in community work. I think framing about our work, even if only in our internal conversations, under knowledge areas serves to perpetuate the expert model. Framing our work around condition changes and/or public value statements avoids said problems.
If put to a vote today whether to leave ‘Developing an inclusive and equitable society' as its own public value statement or to consider it inherent within the others, I believe I would raise my hand to leave it as is.
Have you raised your hand? National 4-H Council has launched the “Raise Your Hand” campaign and will give cash prizes of $20K, $10K and $5K to the top three states with the most hands raised! Show your support of California 4-H by helping us get as many votes or “hands raised” for California as possible. Simply visit 4-H.org/raiseyourhand by May 15th, and join the California 4-H Alumni & Friends network by providing your email address. That's it! So go ahead and raise your hand!
Tomorrow is the IPM retreat, held on the Davis campus. Mark Bell and I will be providing an update to the group on what's new in ANR. Before heading over to campus, Mark and I will welcome a group of relatively new County Directors to the first County Director Institute (a.k.a. CD boot camp). Our topic there is what it means to be part of ANR leadership and the connection between county-based UCCE and statewide programs and strategic initiatives.
It is a busy week for many. And while I might think it's hectic, I have it easy compared to Rachel Palmer and the PSU team who are supporting all of the events. When the CD Institute ends, the R&E Council meets on Wednesday evening, followed by a County Director/REC Director meeting on Thursday. The REC business officers and the REC superintendents are meeting on Thursday as well. The week ends with the entire REC group meeting on Friday.
Two of our new colleagues are heading west this week to join in on the fun. Mark Lagrimini is packed and moving with plans to arrive by Wednesday evening. Annemiek Schilder will be in town as well. She won't begin as the new CD in Ventura County and REC director at the Hansen REC until August 1, but we are fortunate to steal her away from her current position for the week to join us in these meetings.
I honestly can't say enough about the thoughtfulness and selflessness. Just one recent example our recent Distinguished Service Awardee, Cheryl Wilen donated the monetary portion of her award to ANR for use in programming. That's just like Cheryl to be thinking of others!
Have you visited NIFA's data gateway yet? Take a look. It's a follow up to one of Dr. Wotecki's commitment to big data.
I have made virtually no progress on reviewing merit and promotion packages. No point in crying over that; after all, it's within my control to manage my time and get those done. In fact, none of the above are things to shed a tear over, yet my allergies have my eyes running constantly these days. So in addition to raising my hand in support of 4-H, I'm raising it to volunteer as a test subject for any new, revolutionary antihistamines out there.
Early Saturday morning I drove from Eureka to Davis. During that time period it felt like I was passing through universes complete with changing weather (rain, sleet, snow and then sunshine) and the transformation from dark to daylight. The scenery was stunning and the time I spent with the teams in Shasta, Trinity and Humboldt Counties was enlightening. I can't thank everyone enough for their time and hospitality. My brain is very full from all that I saw and learned. I also have to thank Joan for the sage advice she provided before I departed – “you'll need socks”.
We did look at heifers; they looked back and all was right in the world so we moved on. Then I saw an EFNEP training in Shasta County where the elementary school kids were learning about alternatives to sugary soft drinks. Ruby demonstrated a tremendous amount of patience with the group and Janessa was clearly in her element helping the kids with their paper exercise before they sampled a flavored water. On Friday, Jessica delivered the same lesson in Humboldt County to a slightly older group who clearly appreciated the fact that the training was in both English and Spanish. Jessica's enthusiasm for the training was contagious and the class couldn't wait to sample the agua fresca.
During my visit up north I had a chance to see one of Nate's passions – the Burney High School 4-H Club. Did you know that the STEM program has participants design and build aquaponics systems and egg incubators? Talk about getting youth excited about science! Not to mention they have access to 3 3-D printers! It's only a matter of time before this group trades in making planters to start cranking out prosthetics.
Thomas and Cody gave me an opportunity to see an organic grass-based dairy in Ferndale and we talked about water quality and air quality issues as well as their challenges and plans for the operation that has been passed down through Cody's family. Yana and Dorina were real troopers for humoring me so that I could visit a dairy; they both seemed knowledgeable about the regional industry which is likely a reflection of the close knit nature of the office. The collegiality was apparent the day before when Jeff, Dan and Deborah were also around in addition to some folks from some of the other offices co-located in the multi-service center building.
I learned so much about the redwood business from Pete Bussman. As much as I appreciate a redwood forest, I had never had the opportunity to meet with someone in the business so it was fascinating to hear about his multi-generation business and how the productivity has increased over time to the extent that there is 50% more redwood standing now than there was 30+ years ago on the same piece of land. It is unlikely that is the perception of most non-foresters, such as myself. Despite the rain, Pete was willing to walk us through his forest and share his thought process for making harvest decisions.
I met some fascinating people who all shared the importance of Cooperative Extension, from Bill (attorney) to Henry and Pam (grass fed beef), Dina and Mark (cattle and timber), Pete (cattle and forestry), Lee (cattle and auction yard), and Chris (cattle and agribusiness). It was evident that Cooperative Extension provides a needed and valued service in this part of the state. The prioritization of needs appears different which makes complete sense given the economic drivers and the population of the region. I didn't have near enough time to visit with Lenya while we celebrated the completion of Jeff's certification exam but her work with fire is a great example of a need and a position that was new to UCCE in response to that need. Emerging needs such as fire, water, disease prevention, and more underscore why it is so important that we periodically take a look at what the needs are, assess what capacity we have to meet those needs, and align/re-align our efforts to provide capacity to meet those needs. That's the purpose of Goal #5; that and determining how to help each person make their workload and expectations list manageable. The focus is about how we individually direct our own efforts to be most impactful but not overwhelmed. The conversation with Carol in Trinity County really helped frame how different the needs may be throughout the state and why a one-size-fits-all is not appropriate in a state as large and as diverse as California.
And did you know that Yana hosts a radio show on KHSU every 5th Thursday? She recently hosted the top post for the station, discussing the topic of ocean chemistry, global climate and local effects. I haven't downloaded the show yet, but plan to.
A great week with a bit of an annoying end to it. I set off the alarm in the UC ANR Davis building when I went in to return the keys and put my new plant in the office. I've dreaded the day I did that. On the upside, I survived it and didn't end up being dragged off in handcuffs while I waited for the security company to take me off ‘hold' and help me reset the alarm. So that leaves one of my ‘fears' over and done with; 1 left to go. Somehow I still managed to leave the building without returning the keys – after all I did say my brain was full.
One of the best things about getting out of the office is putting faces with names. Take last week, for example, when I met Claudia Diaz Carrasco in person. Previously we had only communicated via email. And for the same reason you wouldn't want to use email as a means of communication for difficult conversations, email provided little insight into how enthusiastic and passionate Claudia is about the work she does. After meeting with the Riverside office I can see that enthusiasm permeates throughout the group. Based on the program overview that Rosa Olaiz, Janet Hartin, and Chutima Ganthavorn gave it is clear the group works together well. The result is a strong, integrated program in partnership with the Community Settlement Association (CSA) that brings together the efforts of Master Gardener volunteers with nutrition education and youth development. With Claudia and Emma Sandoval as our guides, Chris Greer and I toured the CSA community garden that includes adult and youth plots. Then Yolva Gil invited us in to visit with UC ANR's first bilingual 4-H group that was meeting after school. I have to admit that I don't know the 4-H pledge in English, much less Spanish and English as this group does! But what really impressed me about this group of future leaders was what they shared with Chris and I about what the program had done for them. The kids were so articulate and forward-thinking! One participant, probably 8 or 9 years of age, greeted us at the door with a handshake and an introduction, and then later told us he planned to be a paleontologist. And he wasn't even the group's president! I'm pretty sure that at that age I had no idea what paleontology was and likely couldn't pronounce the word. This group will be going places and it will be interesting to see where they are in 10 years.
Speaking of difficult conversations, Jan Corlett and Linda Manton are teaching Crucial Conversations later this week. A good friend and colleague, Deanne Meyer (UCD Specialist, couldn't say enough good things about her experience when she took the training so I have enrolled in the April training down in Irvine. If any of you taking it this week learn any tips I should know in advance, please send them along. I had really hoped to get to the homework reading well in advance of the class but homework has never really been my thing. Deanne's probably much better about homework than I am so it's no surprise she was just accepted into LEAD21. It's a competitive program but she's always been a strong leader – way to go Deanne! And congratulations to Tapan Pathak and Karina Diaz Rios, who are participating in the Western Extension Leadership Development (WELD) program this year. If you have someone in mind you would like to nominate for next year's WELD class, please let me know as it's never too early to assemble a list of names. It seems everyone in UC ANR is a leader in some form or another so we are really fortunate to have leadership development opportunities available to us whether it is a year-long program or a 2-day training.