I hope everyone had an enjoyable long weekend. Summer seems to have kicked off with nice temps throughout CA – not too hot; not too cold. This week is a bit of a slow week for me. Tuesday is pretty full with meetings, including a meeting with Specialists at UC Davis. I don't think I've met with the Specialists there since the fall so I am long overdue. I am hoping to spend more time on the campuses now that Mark Bell is on board but with the information sessions throughout the summer and a host of other things already on the calendar, it looks like it will be fall before I can act on that goal. But I suspect most Specialists will be in the field or trying to take some much deserved R&R before students head back and campuses are in full swing again in the fall. The rest of the week will be used for preparing for next week's Program Council meeting and a few other things that will be occurring throughout June. Not to mention I need to put aside a fair bit of time to read through merit and promotion packages. I plan to get started on that yet this week.
The June Program Council meeting has a full agenda. One item is to talk about the Position Call process that will begin in early 2018. Though I haven't been through a complete process yet, it sounds like each round has been considered by many as an improvement over previous calls. That's certainly the goal for the upcoming round – identify where we can make improvements to the process to thereby improving the outcome. I am l to looking forward to the Program Council discussion to hear how those who have been involved for a few cycles perceive the present process and hear their thoughts on moving forward. The Strategic Initiative Leaders will be meeting before Program Council meets and I believe one item of discussion will be rotation of SI Leaders. The two topics certainly aren't independent of each other given the time commitment the SI Leaders provide to Program Council and associated activities such as the review process for the various grant programs with their panels. My understanding is that the position call process and the grants program shifted to alternate years in order to make the time commitment for the two activities more manageable. It's not unusual to run into a new challenge as a result of removing a different barrier. One challenge I see with an every other year position call process is that laying out 2 years of positions to be filled presents little flexibility in addressing those unexpected vacancies. Perhaps we will find a way to address this.
Later this month UC ANR has its annual review meeting with the President. This gives us the opportunity to provide an update on strategic plan progress. Once those materials are prepared, they will be shared on the website for all to see. The meeting with President Napolitano is late June so be sure to check the website at the end of the month. Updates on Goal 5 should appear before then, now that there are Public Value Statements available as a first cut. These will continue to evolve, another example of improving as we go through the process.
We are starting to see some progress on implementation of the strategic plan. This weekend I need to spend some time updating status of the 3 goals that I ‘own'. The ownership is really a misnomer for each of these goals (#1, 2, and 5) because they each are so heavily dependent on everyone in UC ANR if we are to achieve them. The exciting part about it is that if we do accomplish what has been laid out in the plan, we will be able to look back and say “Wow!” What's more, and what's even more exciting – our clientele will say the same!
Did you know that there's a website now where you can check in for updates on the strategic plan progress? It's new, and an outcome of recommendations from the VP Council (great idea Council members!). I will be loading some recent happenings in the next couple of weeks; I need to get caught up on some things in the Inbox first.
The highlight of updates related to Goal 5 is that I spent the last 2 days in a workshop with the Statewide Program and Institute Directors and Strategic Initiative Leaders to develop a set of Public Value Statements. We were led by two facilitators, Nancy Franz who has worked in this area with Extension for over 15 years and Raj Kapur who worked with UC ANR when the division first moved into the Davis building. Raj will be with us through the next few months of Goal 5 so if you haven't met him, you will have a chance at the Goal 5 information sessions throughout the summer. The workshop was tiring and inspiring at the same time. I can't tell you how impressed I am at how well the group worked together towards a common goal despite the skepticism, in trepidation, and curiosity that came with the participants. If you've ever pulled together a group of people that came from different perspectives and had never worked together to achieve a defined outcome in a short period of time, you know how difficult it can be. But while personalities and perspectives were evident, overall the group seemed comfortable with the outcome. Nancy did tell us that the group was perhaps the most critical thinkers she had encountered. We took her a bit out of her experience by doing this at a division level rather than a program level, adding to the complexity of the process. But I knew that if any land grant institution could do this, it's UC ANR. Similarly, I firmly believe that if any Cooperative Extension system can impact the lives of every person in the state, it's UCCE.
The public value statements, in their current state, will be posted on the strategic plan website by Memorial Day – I will likely be the hold up in getting them posted. Be sure to check back on the website but also talk with any of the participants and your colleagues to determine if we've missed anything that is critical to achieving the 2025 Vision.
In late August we will be inviting in the same participants plus a leader from each of the Program Teams to develop condition changes associated with the public value statements – now would be a good time to refresh ourselves on the logic model with learning (short) , behavior (medium) and condition (long term) changes? I need to get that invitation out as well - a weekend task.
The peer review committee met this week. I didn't get in to say hello but I ran into Mark, Jim and Ben in the parking lot. It sounds like the meeting (2 ½ days) went well and Chris and Kim kept things moving along such that all 70+ portfolios were reviewed and recommendations developed on schedule. Thanks to everyone who reviewed merit and promotion packages, wrote letters for packages, or helped colleagues pull their materials together. It's a ton of work but the process contributes to the caliber of the people and the division.
I have more meetings today. I realize now that I need to do a few things that generate some nice photos to break up all the text in these posts. Perhaps there will be more bees in Davis to result in a photo.
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.
This week Program Council met. On the agenda was 1) plans to engage the Strategic Initiative leaders (with Statewide Program and Institute Directors) in the early stages of Goal 5, to set the stage, so to speak and 2) preparation and finalizing plans for reviewing submissions to the ANR Competitive Grants Program. The goal of this conversation was to identify ways to simultaneously improve the outcome for the PI and streamline the time commitment required by the review panel. We also finalized plans to release a matching grants program so look for an announcement about that soon!
Have you met Mack? He arrived on February 7th, weighing in at 8 lb, 8 oz. Congratulations to Katie Panarella and family! Michael Anthony is a cutie! I hope that everyone is getting some sleep.
This week plans were released for recruiting a Program Integration Coordinator for the youth, families and communities program followed by hiring of additional support for the Master Food Preserver (MFP) and 4-H programs. Missy, Shannon and Katie did a great job looking forward and thinking how best to position the programs while at the same time developing a strategy to relieve some of the administrative work. The plan they presented to leadership was impressive and shaped by the survey of needs they conducted back in the fall. They are currently working on a position description for the Program Integration Coordinator position that will outline the major duties. The overarching intent of this position is to provide greater capacity to coordinate integrated programming and be responsible for identifying and pursuing grant opportunities that support projects at the county and state level. The 4-H Data Systems Analyst position was envisioned as a way to streamline and centralize administrative functions related to the 4hOnline enrollment system thus providing some relief at the county level. The MFP & Food Entrepreneurship Coordinator position is intended to align the MFP more with Nutrition, Families and Consumer Sciences program (NFCS) while bringing the connection with cottage foods, ag innovation and food security into focus. Responsibilities for the remaining two positions (each less than full-time at this point) have been outlined as part of their proposal to leadership and will be finalized this spring while we recruit for the Program Integration Coordinator position. Keep your eyes out for more information on those positions.
Well, all of the Annual Evaluation and Merit Review documents are completed and uploaded. I hope this makes for a more relaxing weekend for everyone!
Have you ever had one of those weeks when you are exhausted and then suddenly realize that it is only Thursday? Last week started with a 2-day retreat to determine how to start moving forward with our strategic plan and get to a place that positions us to accomplish our goals. While I think we all left tired and a bit brain-dead because of the intense focus, it was a good use of time and we made some really good progress on goals 1, 4, 5, 6, 10 and 15. I especially want to thank those who participated that were not members of the development group. Despite not being part of the original group that assembled the plan, these people (County Directors, REC directors, Strategic Initiatives, Statewide Programs, Staff Assembly, Specialists, AES faculty and campus leadership) jumped right in with thoughtful contemplation and great ideas.
It was particularly helpful to talk about goal 5 and what the purpose of the goal is and isn't. Goal 5 started as a key strategy embedded within a different goal and became a key strategy, in part, because UC ANR personnel have expressed feelings of having too much on their plate but also because we (UC ANR) recognize that new areas of research and stakeholder challenges are emerging all the time. So, given the changing needs of the people of California, it makes sense to take a step back every now and then to make sure we are directing efforts appropriately to reach the vision that has been laid out. For UC ANR, that is likely the 2025 Vision. Goal 5 isn't about reducing the effort of the division or making the pie smaller but rather ensuring that program goals are aligned with the vision and we have the appropriate amount of effort directed towards different programs in order to attain the vision.
While the work needed to get through goal 5 is daunting, it is an opportunity to focus what we as individuals do and have a greater collective effort towards reaching our goal. In spite of the work ahead of us, I see this as exciting because it's not about cutting things but rather about improving what we do, how we do it, the impact it has, and the toll it takes on each of us. Having been places and observed other places where this ‘step back' didn't occur until after there were threats to the budget, UC ANR is in an enviable position because we can review our efforts as a means of positioning us for growth and greater impact in improving the lives of 40 million Californians who are our clientele.
The drive back from the retreat certainly helped me think through everything I heard. What helped a bit more was a bit of a diversion I took to spend a few minutes at Pt. Reyes. Nothing like water and elephant seals to clear the mind.
The week finished with pretty much the same topic as it started. The Statewide Program and Institute Directors met to talk about the approach for working through goal 5. No doubt the workload is large and the timeline short but that ‘push' to get things underway means we are better positioned, sooner, to reach those goals and hopefully address that sense of a never-ending ‘to-do list' coupled with being pulled in far too many directions that we all experience.
Here's hoping that this week brings as many useful insights as last week did.