The San Joaquin Valley sits below 6 percent ICU capacity. As a resident of the Valley with my mother in my household, this is worrisome. I have cancelled all of my travel plans for the winter break. I found it much more difficult to cancel my December plans than it was to cancel my plans back in the summer. I am tired of staying home and not getting the break from caregiving that I count on twice a year. I started to plan a pity party, then recognized how easy I have it. Imagine how our healthcare workers are feeling after all these months. I understand the temptation to take a risk, even with precautions in place, or even just continue as I have for the past six months. However, now is not the time to let upon safety measures or let down our guard. As difficult as it may be, we need to be even more careful for the next month or so. I so appreciate Linda and her team putting together a motivational reminder that we all need to stay the course. It does help knowing that we are all in this together.
I have turned my frustration into something productive, aiming to help others even if only in a small way. Thanks to a partnership between 4-H and UC Medical Center, Julie, a former 4-Her who is now a healthcare worker at the UC Davis Medical Center, provided me with all the Steri-Wrap I need to make that difference. Initially, I learned of this face covering material from a sibling, then found information about it from the University of Florida. Other institutions, including UC Irvine, have investigated use of the material for face coverings as well. I am a huge fan of the recycling aspect of this endeavor, not to mention the protective efficiency.
I have exchanged commute time for sewing time these past few months. Thanks to Kathryn sharing a new design with me, my throughput has increased dramatically. If you weren't aware, not only is Kathryn exceptional at her job, but she is incredibly talented and creative! To date, I have serged over 800 face masks in an effort to protect people during this current pandemic surge. And, because of the extensive supply of Steri-Wrap provided by Julie, I expanded beyond face coverings to send a special ‘thank you' items to Julie and her colleagues. I hope these health care heroes make good use of the items.
Perhaps a few special face masks will bring a smile to some who are struggling to remain vigilant and stay the course over these next weeks.
There's another new face around UCCE San Diego! Gerardo Spinelli started Monday, October 12th as the Production Horticulture Advisor, based in San Diego, with programmatic responsibilities in San Diego County. Please welcome Jerry (back) to UC ANR.
A PBS star is born! Mark shared with me a YouTube video featuring our very own Yana, talking about home hardiness in Paradise. Susie and others have similar programs. This video brings us one step closer to Linda's vision of ‘owning YouTube' in certain sectors of content. Congratulations Yana!
In a time when there's hate and violence everywhere we turn, there's good all around us, too. Thanks to Dixieland 4-H in Madera County for making someone's wish come true!
This week is World Food Prize week. While the event is virtual, the activities remain on Central Time. That has made for very early morning meetings most days this week, particularly what are traditionally breakfast meetings. Thursday, in particular, is busy with a 5 am start time to join a World Food Prize event, routine COVID meetings at 7:30 am and 10 am, the World Food Prize Laureate presentation at 11 am, followed by the WebANR, and ANR Town Hall, and then a couple more meetings to round out the day. Hopefully, my internet connection is better than it was this morning.
I mentioned back in a June post that this year's World Food Prize winner is Dr. Rattan Lal from The Ohio State University. His research laid the ground work for regenerative agriculture through cultivation of healthy soils. During a conversation late yesterday afternoon the question was raised about how the World Food Prize has changed his life. Dr. Lal joked that a grandchild asked him if it was like winning the Heisman Trophy. He responded that it was an award 52 years in the making – the length of his career. Despite the time it took for this global recognition, Dr. Lal's work has caught on. During a teleconference last week with the Governor's office regarding the recent Executive Order that has a stated goal of placing government protections on 30-percent of the land and coastal water in California by the year 2030, Secretary Ross spoke about the importance of healthy soils and, specifically, the work of UC Cooperative Extension and UC ANR in working with farmers to implement healthy soil practices that promote climate smart agriculture.
Friday is a short day for me this week. We are spending the weekend trimming our 42 Queen Palm trees. My job is to protect the irrigation risers from damage due to falling tree parts. I suppose that is somewhat better than hanging out in a basket using the chain saw. Nonetheless, it is not what I envision for vacation. But then again, 2020 is not a typical year.
In a year that continues to take unpleasant twists and turns, there continue to be bright spots along the way! Please welcome Douglas Amaral to UC ANR. Douglas started on October 1, 2020 as the CE Pomology and Water/Soils Area Advisor, based in Hanford, California, with programmatic responsibilities in Kings and Tulare Counties. I look forward to meeting Douglas.
This year's recipient of the National Diversity in Extension Award that recognizes significant contributions and accomplishments in achieving and sustaining diversity and pluralism has a UC ANR connection. The University of Missouri's 4-H Center for Youth Development is the recipient in 2020. We knew Lupita Fabergas would do great things in her role at the University of Missouri, here' one piece of evidence! USDA-NIFA and Cooperative Extension have sponsored the awards since 1991. The award will be presented virtually on October 28. If you have remained in touch with Lupita, please send her a note of congratulations!
Thanks to Sara Garcia Figuera and team, there is a new resource available that summarizes HLB research. Working with Beth Grafton-Cardwell, Monique Rivera, and Neil McRoberts, Sara compiled and summarized research data to update an important brochure for citrus growers. Take a look! It is always exciting to see graduate students excited about Cooperative Extension. Hopefully, Sara continues such outreach efforts throughout her promising career.
It is hard to believe that this is Program Council week again already! This month's meeting focused on ways to creatively reduce our reliance on traditional funding sources. The goal is to stay ahead of the COVID-related economic challenges that are upon us and will likely have multi-year impacts. Fortunately, if we are proactive, we can use the value of and need for our programs to move us forward. Listening to the Governor's call late Wednesday where he laid out his plan for the Executive Order related to agriculture, I see many, many opportunities for us.
The Vice President's Council meets on Thursday. The business unit directors and statewide program/institute directors will hear about the tools and guidance developed to help all of us identify and implement opportunities for cost recovery and income generation. We will talk about efforts in specific programs to advance diversity, inclusion, and equity within the program. During the VP Council we will have a brief update on the strategic planning efforts. The drafts for both the division and the RECs are out for review. If you can make the time for review, we would appreciate your feedback!
There is more good news for our nutrition programs. During the National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (NEAFCS) Virtual Annual Session team members were recognized for their outstanding contributions. Deepa Srivastava, and UCCE Tulare-Kings Nutrition Education Team placed second in the Western Region SNAP-ED/EFNEP award. This on the heels of a win last year! Mary and her CalFresh Healthy Living, UC Team in Alameda County are the 3rd Place Regional winner of the Community Partnership award. And, Mary Blackburn received the NEAFCS Hall of Fame Award! I've had to keep that one quiet for about a month now, but am so pleased to share the news! Congratulations to all! And, thanks to Katie for sharing the news!
Speaking of the UCCE Tulare office, they have quite the sense of humor. Take a look at their door sign. No doubt some are better able to estimate the length of a Holstein cow. Perhaps social distancing won't last long enough for all to learn that measure. It's hard to tell. Who would have guessed back in March that seasonal face coverings would be a fashion trend? Just to stay in practice for pre-COVID behaviors, I put on grown up clothes and sat in my real office today, downloading computer updates and grabbing some items to make life a bit easier in the garage. It was nice to be in the office for a brief visit before putting my face covering back on and moving into the rest of the day.
Glenda shared that she's been hearing great things about one of our 4-H projects focused on getting rural communities to fill out the census (https://ucanr.edu/sites/census/). “They've received kudos from county supervisors, farm bureau leaders and many others who saw the materials and really appreciated the help to make sure their communities were counted. This is a great 4-H civic engagement project”!! Let's hope everyone turns out to vote in November, too!
Strategic planning work is winding down, both for UC ANR as a whole and for the RECs. Last week the ANR planning team met to review and incorporate feedback from the August webinars. I have already finished my homework! Later this week the REC planning team meets and I am hoping to pass any homework assignments on to others. I will miss the Town Hall this week, but hope there is strong attendance to hear about all the great things Ricardo and his team are doing to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month.
I have almost completed my assignments for a national conference to be held next week so perhaps the weekend can focus on yard work. I think weed growth may be slowing a bit.
I couldn't wait until next week to share some more of the great stories we are hearing.
Overall, our day of meetings with our state elected representatives went very well yesterday. Most of our visits included key volunteers, coordinators, or program participants. Having these individuals as part of the conversations helped showcase our work during the visits. I learned a number of things during our conversations. From Lorrene's comments I learned that more youth consume a sugar-sweetened beverage daily than consume a vegetable. Maggie shared that in San Bernardino, the Master Gardeners have partnered with local churches to leave seeds for residents to plant at home. Keith talked a bit about the Seeds to Plate program with Venice Middle School. We were fortunate to be joined by Mathew who was able to break away from his spring sampling to talk about the research he is conducting after the Thomas Fire. Yana talked broadly about the prescribed fire efforts across the state.
Yana had a particularly busy day with advocacy visits and hosting portions of a remote conference. Initially Yana had planned an in-person conference, expecting approximately 60 registrants. As a result of having to suspend in-person meetings, like others across UC ANR, Yana move the conference to Zoom and spread the sessions over several days. To everyone's surprise, the event attracted 300 participants! I'm curious how many others have had the same experience. I know we have finite capacity to deliver meetings. I have considered our capacity as the barrier to reaching more people. To a large extent that is likely the case. What I hadn't thought much about was our client's finite ability to travel and attend our in-person events. Perhaps we can attract larger audiences by delivering more program virtually. Assessment of how best to provide adequate engagement to foster behavioral change remains a gap. However, drawing on the Federal impact report that is in development by Katherine Webb-Martinez we can make a safe inference that online learning can be as effective as in-person meetings:
- Research conducted by one UCCE academic found that both the online and in-person food safety extension of the Make it Safe, Keep it Safe program resulted in positive and statistically significant change among clientele. These findings confirm that this existing, cost-effective practice of delivering federally-funded programs online is just as effective as in-person extension in reaching its goals. (Christine Bruhn and Katherine Soule)
One of our 4-H youth that joined us on a call yesterday shared that she is one of the many making masks to supply local health care professional. If you haven't seen this 1-minute video about our 4-H youth involvement in the mask challenge, take a look. It is fantastic! Nice job Ricardo and team! The recently released 4-H annual report is worth a read as well. The numbers for program participation are impressive and the work, outstanding.
While you are surfing, Frank sent us the link to a KCBS radio story about the Oakland plant sale and the impact this year's program is having in the local community. All around the state, the people of California are grateful to the Master Gardeners for their efforts to ensure a healthy food supply. One generous donor to Sonoma County included a comment with their donation: To honor the heroic efforts of the Food Gardening Specialists in pulling off the Harvest for the Hungry plant sale.
Keep the good news flowing and enjoy your May Day weekend. Before we know it, it will be Cinco de Mayo.