- Author: Wendy Powers
It's time, again, to start the weekend yard work routine. I spent a small part of the time this weekend weeding but didn't come close to catching up with all that somehow grew since Thanksgiving. And now, with more rain on the way and next weekend already committed for a trip to DC with our CARET representatives, I imagine the weeds will be far ahead of me by the time I get back to yard work again. That's just how it goes.
I'm reviewing my calendar and weeding out things that just might have to go on hold while I work through the merit and promotion documents (79 total, I hear, with all of them left to review by early June). Also, there are many, many meetings to attend some of which are standing meetings while others are somewhat new to the calendar. I need to decide where things fit in my Focus Funnel. I suspect some of the things I really enjoy (county visits) may slide. I need, also, to determine which activities present themselves as competing commitments and, as a result, deter my efforts to achieve my stated goals for the good of the Division.
If I need some inspiration to stay focused and avoid competing commitments all I need to do is look at this morning's UCOP Daily News Clip. There was a great call out to work in Fresno County. Take a look; the work is inspiring!
I'm looking forward to seeing the County Directors and the REC Directors this week. Both groups are meeting in Davis. The Research and Extension Council meets Tuesday evening, followed by the County Director meeting all day Wednesday. The REC meeting, on Thursday, is an ‘all-hands' meeting so Business Officers and Superintendents will be in attendance. Each of the meeting agendas is quite full. I expect I will learn a lot and later need to weed through all of the information to separate out action items from ideas for future use. It already appears that the weather may make travel challenging for some, but hopefully, travel disruptions are minimal. My week should be hassle-free as far as travels go; just a quick trip to Irvine on Friday. Then I head East again over the weekend, so plenty of opportunities to traverse the airports at that point.
- Author: Wendy Powers
During my trip to Fresno on Wednesday I was reminded once again how much of a difference we can make when we work together. The day was incredibly motivating while at the same time humbling. It started with the UC Walks – I hadn't expected such a large turnout! But when you have the chance to walk around the Garden of the Sun in Fresno, who wouldn't take time to come out and walk. The UC Master Gardeners have done some fantastic work on the grounds; the gardens were just beautiful. Austin did a great job photographing the group.
Following our official walk, Ruth, Michael and Jacob took us to meet a local farmer who has over 50 different crops on his farm. There was quite a bit of taste-testing! The strawberries were super sweet and the lemon grass smelled heavenly. I don't envy the farmer in trying to keep the rotation straight, let alone making the trip weekly to a Bay area farmer's market.
Later we visited Rescue the Children, an 18-month program for women and children designed to enhance skills including that of healthy eating and nutrition. Karina (UC CalFresh program manager) and Sylkie (Master Gardener volunteer) showed us the gardens that the women are maintaining and expanding. Priscilla (center director) spoke about the importance of the partnership with UC ANR in changing the lives of these women. I thought for sure that would be the most moving portion of the day. Not the case.
We wrapped up the morning with a visit to a local vineyard where Nick (vineyard manager at The Wine Group) reinforced to us how much the company depends on people like George for brainstorming ideas and learning about the newest research findings. Hopefully Nick recognizes how important to UC ANR it is to have willing cooperators like him! He and George are thinking forward to what the industry needs are as far as the vineyard of the future – low labor, water-wise, high value farming. This was a great stop to wrap up a fast-paced morning.
The afternoon included what may have been my most moving visit yet. Alena and Tracy introduced us to Brian from Street Saints, a homegrown organization determined to keep the local youth out of reach of gangs. Their story was what we are all about. What's more is that they believe that the 4-H curriculum is what they need to really achieve their goals and give the kids tools for success. This is a group with whom we must partner. How can we not help when we consider what they are doing? I had a chance to briefly visit with 2 high schoolers who had participated in a 6-week summer course last year. They were so articulate, focused and committed to the 4-H program. What an honor to have a connection to this program and the products of it! I know we have a number of famous 4-H alum. These two youth were stars in my book.
A phenomenal day ended with a visit to a U.S. Forest Service research site where we are partnering with the NEON project and CSU Fresno to study ecological changes. Rebecca has a great resource in her backyard and strong partners. I love gadgets and instrumentation – as soon as the NEON project has electricity they will no doubt have some great toys.
Everywhere you look UCCE Fresno is making a difference. Thanks to everyone for a great visit!