Last month when I was focused on tidal flows, I was only thinking of it in terms of how it would benefit me. But Mark Bell reminded us the other day that “a rising tide lifts all boats”. I've been reminded often lately that there is a real benefit to keeping this in mind.
Lorna, from the fund development team, spoke with new County Directors on Wednesday and then County Directors on Thursday about strategies to identify and approach prospective donors. This area of gifts and donations is a great example of the benefit to all boats when waters rise. Any growth in the pot of funds to conduct our work benefits the whole in some way. The benefits could be direct, the result of donations targeted to one's own program, or indirect in that donations to a program area can stabilize a program while relieving pressure on central funds. I'm an optimist that what goes around, comes around and that while you're looking out for other programs, someone else is looking out for yours. It may not be immediate but it's important to think about the long game. So if you have ideas or relationships with those who are particularly fond of a program outside of your own, be sure to let Lorna or her team know.
When we were in Contra Costa earlier this week there was interest in the general topic of funds development and I suspect that is true all around the state. I know I can certainly learn much from the fund development team. Be sure to tune into the upcoming WebANR (September 20) to learn more from Scott and Rob how the fund development team can help you.
The programs we've seen in Contra Costa and Alameda Counties this week as well as Santa Clara County a couple weeks back are good reminders of the benefits to all of UC ANR when we have strong, relevant programs in urban areas. These programs not only help the clientele, directly, but help increase the visibility of UC ANR and all of its programs across both urban and ag areas. Investments in positions that target the urban audience create a win-win scenario for everyone.
Our trip to Alameda and Contra Costa UCCE reminded me that it really is a small world, especially when you are part of Cooperative Extension. Katherine, a fairly new Community Educator who works with seniors through the UC CalFresh program in Alameda County and Laura, County Director and CE Advisor in Modoc County, both grew up in Ames, IA where I spent 10 years at Iowa State University.
Another example that it's a small world is Annemiek who I saw at the County Director's meeting; she and I were at Michigan State at the same time. Next week I will see her at the Hansen REC when I meet with the advisory committee. We'll be talking about goals for the REC and the path to success. Success at one REC benefits the REC system and the division.
Time to return some calls. It seems I'm not the only one who does a lot of thinking while driving back and forth to Davis.
If you looked at the photo first, you might think I was back in Guam or Oahu. Not so. I was able to attend the Intermountain REC field day today. And that's Dan Putnam updating the participants on the alfalfa variety research he has been conducting there. The event was full of excitement and all kinds of good information, from hearing for the first time about onion smut to watching David Lile leap off the people mover so that he could make an unscheduled stop to check out some of Dan's plots. Then there was Rachel Long teaching us about the clover root curculio, an alfalfa pest, and demonstrating the proper way to sweep an alfalfa field for weevils. This was all new to me.
Some of the projects discussed had been the work of Larry Godfrey or Steve Orloff, two of our strong researchers that we lost in the last year. Not surprising, others, such as Rob Wilson, Rachel Long, Dan Putnam, stepped up to continue projects. There's clearly tremendous teamwork amongst all who work at the Intermountain REC, including the staff, campus and county-based researchers, and the many local partners.
Also new, was the multipurpose building with a conference room dedicated to John Staunton, an important community figure and partner to IREC (@UCANRpam). I remember my first trip with Lisa to Intermountain REC and looking at the building plans. Now it's real! But not without teamwork, which apparently extended to even the paint color selection. Well done! Again, 2 years can make a huge difference.
The Intermountain REC isn't the only one making headlines this week. John Bailey has agreed to serve as the Interim Director at the Hopland REC. He brings much experience already as the Superintendent at Hopland. Be sure to thank John for his support of Hopland and his efforts.
And Kearney REC made the NIFA Update when a UCAN piece was picked up by NIFA. Take a look. Congratulations on the callout! Be sure to read through the entire NIFA Update. There are several topics that might get the ideation wheels turning, particularly around the idea of funding to support undergraduate experiences in Extension.
The trip up to Intermountain REC was a bit long, particularly after a long, yet productive Program Council meeting (more on that later) but it was well worth it. While I'm here, Glenda, Tu and Jan are meeting with the ANR Advisory committee – so that's on my mind a bit. But tonight we are meeting with partners in Alturas and will see some of our friends and colleagues from the field day. It may be a bit smoky but it's a good time today and tomorrow in California's northeast corner./span>
I was caught in the rain yesterday. That's not something I can say too often in California! And despite the fact that I don't much care for rain (snow is much preferred!) I don't dare complain. It sounds like we have quite a ways to go to achieve the desired state for moisture and snowpack, though we are making progress (70% in the Sierra).
For some reason a number of things are ending up in my junk mail these days. My understanding is that this is the result of stricter security measures with the host server. Three quarters or more of the travel reimbursement submissions I approve are landing in the Junk folder. Fortunately I check that folder when I am working on a laptop or desktop. However, I don't have that folder in the mobile version of my email and I tend to approve both timesheets and travel via my phone. My apologies to those who find their travel reimbursements held up by me. I don't think it is happening often, but my apologies, nonetheless.
I hear the email that went to academics about completing the ‘condition change' survey went to the Junk or spam folder for many as well. If you haven't completed it, take a look in those folders and see if it might be there. The purpose of the survey is to see how current effort is directed towards the 24 condition changes identified as key to achieving our UC ANR desired state (the 2025 Strategic Vision). The goal isn't to check every box but rather, for individuals to think about what condition changes they will measure from their work, over time. Additional condition changes may result from their work, but, if no one is measuring the change we won't have the data to support that our work makes a difference. Rather, we can focus on what we are measuring and convey that message. I have no idea what to expect from the survey but we plan to share the results in a poster at the upcoming Statewide Conference so that everyone can see the distribution of effort across the academics who participated in the survey.
The survey will get us thinking about how we, as individuals, are using our time and collecting impact data and then allow each of us to make adjustments to our efforts. I've heard concerns about how the time needed to realize change in conditions; the intent is to focus on change at the programmatic level and not at the project level. For example, I wouldn't expect a change in water quality to be the result of a publication or a workshop I delivered but rather as a result of the sum of things I do in my program (multiple research projects, several publications, regular meetings, perhaps implementation of a tool I co-developed) that has a targeted intended outcome (water quality).
The other message I hear went to the Junk folder was an update on the RECs and recharge rates. There's been much effort to position the RECs on a course of meeting research needs, long-term. We're looking at costs differently and looking at opportunities differently. It's not easy and the answers aren't obvious. But the conversations have been thoughtful and thought-provoking. Rates for the upcoming fiscal year should be available soon and while the approach may be tweaked in subsequent years, the time-consuming work undertaken over the last 6+ months will remain the basis for years to come. There's more work to do and things to consider, then reconsider. The effort is far from junk and allows the REC system to move towards its desired state.
Many more conversations with County Directors yet to be had during the annual evaluation process. Once I wrap those up, I hope to take some time to reflect on what I have heard; common themes and recommendations. In between, I need to work on my own annual review documentation. Tips and suggestions welcome!
I feel like I'm not quite to the halfway point of a 20-day week. I'm attending a conference today and tomorrow. This morning's session focused on hunger as a health issue. That's not new information to me. My mother was a dietician and I remember reading her monthly subscription to the American Dietetic Association publication. I was pleased to learn that AARP has partnered with Feeding America and Food Research & Action Center (FRAC) to address food insecurity among older adults (over 50 years of age). This isn't an area that our nutrition programs address but I wonder if, assuming capacity were available and given the changing age demographics of the U.S., it wouldn't be a high priority for UC ANR efforts. The speakers talked about efforts to work with the medical community to equip medical professionals with information about health consequences, screening tools to identify at risk individuals and intervention options in addition to training for the health care professionals how to talk to their patients and overcome barriers such as embarrassment and guilt about taking advantage of nutrition assistance.
We discussed that living alone often reduces one's desire to prepare healthy food. I'm very guilty of that! What we didn't talk about but that I believe is as much a ‘risk' to the elderly is food safety. As the sense of smell weakens with age, the ability to distinguish fresh from rotten food is diminished thereby raising potential food safety concerns. The senses of taste and smell are tightly connected. Thus, the sense of taste dulls as people age, too. As a result, it can be difficult to get sufficient nutrient intake in some older adults. Nutrient dense supplements and food flavor enhancements are two strategies used to improve food consumption. Food intake, food access and food safety are all topics that are relevant to an aging population. There's no shortage of topics.
Similarly, there's no shortage of needs in any of the program areas. So it's key to focus on those areas where the greatest impact can be had that move us towards our 2025 Strategic Vision. At present, the survey is open to capture how the work of UC ANR academics align with the identified condition changes. The survey closes in about a week so be sure to search through your email and find one that was sent out last week requesting your assistance to complete the survey.
The 2018 position call process is open; there's no shortage of position needs but, of course, there is finite capacity to increase the footprint. Last week the REC and County Directors met to talk about their first draft of priority positions. At the end of this week, they will share their conversations with Program Team Leaders and Statewide Program and Institute Directors and talk through the process, to date, in addition to seek feedback from these other leaders within the division. Last week the REC directors met all day to continue efforts to identify how to balance available funds with supporting researchers and investing to keep facilities functional and attract more research and extension projects and programs. Again, no shortage of needs. And, no shortage of great ideas about what's possible.
Later this week I am headed to the south end of the state. It should be a great chance to connect with a number of staff and academics as well as, hopefully, partners and clientele. No shortage of exciting things going on across the state!
Did you get up early to see the Super Blue Moon? I didn't have to get up any earlier than usual but I made a point to go outside and look up to see it. After all, it was one of those ‘once in a lifetime' things that seems to come around every couple of years. My first thought was that it was very foggy out and my drive was going to be miserably slow, wrought with accidents. So after staring at the moon for a few minutes, it was time to tackle Highway 99.
The drive wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. In fact, it was easier than I had expected. This reminded me that 1) I am behind on TED talks but I have a few lined up to view so perhaps I will get to them over the weekend, though I already have strategic plan homework in the queue, and 2) one particular TED talk, that I need to watch again, focused on the idea that often things are easier than you think and life begins at the end of your comfort zone. At the time that I first watched this one, I didn't think much about it; it didn't strike me as particularly impactful, much like the moon, but I find myself thinking about the speaker's story and her deliver style, over and over again. I need to go back and see what I missed then determine what it is that has that particular talk stuck in my head.
If I recall, the author of that particular TED talk shared her fear of public speaking. Clearly she has risen above that fear and conquered it. This reminded me of Malena and that congratulations are in order for Yolva Gil, Claudia Carrasco, and, of course, Malena for the amazing work they are doing down in Riverside County with the 4-H program. Malena is the Vice President of one of the clubs that Chris Greer and I visited last year. It was a year ago this week when Chris and I were in Riverside and we met Malena and her club. Recently, Malena talked about her 4-H experience with the UC Regents. One of the things Malena mentioned was that 4-H had helped her address her fear of public speaking. Based on her presentation to the UC Regents, I'd say that Malena is a TED presenter in the making! Congratulations to Malena and her mentors, Yolva and Claudia!
Yesterday I was down at the Lindcove REC. The Lindcove REC is a beautiful place though I was disappointed that there was not as much snow on the mountains as there was when I visited in February 2017. However, there is still time for a few more ‘snowmakers' though I don't see a need to name snow storms. We've completed the ‘deep dives' at 8 of the RECs with plans to hold off on Hansen until after a new director is in place. The visits have been enlightening, for all, I think, and we need to pull together our thoughts to move towards budget targets. We will debrief a bit on Friday.
Also on Friday is the monthly County Director call where we will review the list of Advisor positions that County and REC Directors have developed. They've been hard at work already, despite the 2018 Position Call not released (yet) and while it's evident there's been lots of discussion, some of which I'm sure was difficult, I hope the group has concluded that the process hasn't been as hard as they might have first thought. There are many, many conversations yet to be had amongst the group and with others across UC ANR and external to UC ANR but I think this group of leaders has made an impressive start.
Gabriel Torres starts tomorrow as the Viticulture Advisor based out of Tulare County. This position represents a partnership between UC ANR and the California Table Grape Commission. Welcome Gabriel! And ‘thanks!' to the Commission for this valued partnership!
Largely this post has been a series of rambling comments without much purpose or direction. But perhaps 2 readers will contact Gabriel and welcome him to UC ANR, thus giving the post purpose!