- Author: Wendy Powers
I am in Pennsylvania the first part of this week for a conference. I under-dressed for the rain and cold that will be in the Mid-Atlantic states all week. I don't miss the humidity of the Eastern U.S.
The conference is interesting but I was most looking forward to the tours. Unfortunately, Zoom calls for UC ANR work got in the way of my participation in the Happy Valley LaunchBox tour which I was really looking forward to attending. A signature program of Invent Penn State, Happy Valley LaunchBox is one of 21 LaunchBoxes and innovation hubs across Pennsylvania. Aside from the slogan “Don't Quit Your Daydream”, LaunchBoxes are designed to be the community “hub” that connects entrepreneurs to the resources and facilities they need to build a scalable business. The LaunchBoxes offer no-cost co-working, accelerator programs, legal and IP advice, and access to industry expertise. The LaunchBox idea resembles one that occurred to me a couple of years ago when, through state funding, President Napolitano provided $2M to each campus and the National Labs to broaden innovation and infrastructure. UC ANR did not receive any of the funds but had it, I could envision UCCE offices around California using funds to capacity and partner with local resources to provide support for innovators and entrepreneurs. What's different between what I imagined and what is popping up around the country driven by local universities, including these LaunchBoxes, is that Cooperative Extension would be central to the effort as an entity that is already engaged in local communities.
During a break, I had a chance to visit briefly with Marshall Stewart from the University of Missouri and hear how Lupita is settling in. ‘Settling' does not adequately describe Lupita or her efforts. She is doing great things and hardly standing still, let alone ‘settling'. While it was a great loss to UC ANR, I can't tell you how much I love hearing that people are doing well in new positions. Sometimes a change in scenery offers the chance for one to grow and unleash their talents.
During the conference we talked about change; the need for academia to change not by throwing out everything we've done but by adapting how we do it, much like basketball has become a 3-point game (so I'm told). The 3-point skills identified were 1) developing ‘intrapreneurs' by building team skills in innovation, 2) instilling an appreciation for lifelong learning, and 3) engaging the university in solving challenges faced by the local community. Sounds like Cooperative Extension, doesn't it? We heard the pitches from 6 universities competing for a national award. One of my favorites was Wayne State University's Harris Literacy Program, primarily because of the difference it makes, not for its students, but for the local community that, without the program, wouldn't even dream of a college education. Another pitch from Michigan (University of Michigan) talked about a return of $133 for every $1 invested by the state and total revenue to Michigan of $573 million to the state. Looks like I may have sold that house too soon.
I've seen rain every day since arriving on Sunday and I haven't had a Diet Coke since United served it on the plane. Sunday seems like it was a long time ago. In the morning I head to Riverside, via Sacramento, so all will be back to normal soon enough.
- Author: Wendy Powers
After reading about the Cornell professor, I decided to hang onto my thesis data just a bit longer, though I think after 20 years I'm suitably safe, particularly given that the sponsor of my Master's research was Jack Daniels and the Florida dairy industry funded my PhD work. Nonetheless, I took some time over the weekend to confirm that all of my paper towels (I wasn't much of a student so it never occurred to me to get a notebook) were safe and secured, each carefully dated and signed, then organized chronologically. On to the next thing on my list.
When we visited the UC ANR News and Outreach in Spanish (NOS) team last week, I learned that we are now halfway through Hispanic Heritage month (September 15 – October 15). That explains National Guacamole Day which, it turns out, I did not celebrate after all. Hopefully, Lupita pointed this out to her audience at the Engaged Scholar Consortium. One of the participants sent me a photo of Lupita talking to the group about her program. Along with the photo, the sender messaged “she's so passionate about her work!” Yep, we knew that!
NOS is located at the same site as the Citrus Clonal Protection Program at UCR which I had a chance to tour in March 2017, hosted by Georgios. I didn't get a chance to see Georgios this trip to UCR and, unfortunately, I will miss him at an upcoming event at the Lindcove REC on October 10. That day is shaping up to be exciting for Beth and the Lindcove team. Be sure to ask them about it.
I need to get going on my homework of reading through the 46 position proposals so that I am ready for the Program Council discussion of them next week. In the meantime, I am in Portland for the National Extension Directors Association's annual meeting. We talked about the Farm Bill (or lack thereof) this morning. We also talked about the value of our programs, across the U.S., in youth development, gardening, and nutrition/wellness and how the integration of those programs can serve to drive funds to Extension. Not to mention that these programs meet the goal of the Morrill Act. That's right, if you haven't read the Morrill Act, it is far more than just cows and corn. The intent was to improve the lives of people in rural communities by providing a public institution that included programs in youth development, home economics, agriculture, and mechanical arts. One of the things I've seen in my travels through our counties is that where these programs are highly integrated, we are able to have greater community engagement and, therefore, the potential for broader impact (i.e. changing lives). Our conversations this week have focused on how we ratchet that up a notch and accomplish even more, by leveraging all of the other resources at our respective land grant institutions. It so happens that UC's Global Food Initiative is looking for a means of greater systemwide connection. Maybe there's an idea forming…
Lots more to share, but this post is already long and already lacking cohesion. So many thoughts, so little time to pull them together.