- Author: Brent Hales
Saturday was truly a great night at the Orange County Farm Bureau Steak Fry. The Steak Fry was held on Nov. 4 at Tanaka Farms in Irvine to raise funds for 4-H, FFA and various local colleges' ag education programs. That includes South Coast REC's GROW program, which is designed to make agricultural experiences accessible to more young people across the region and introduce them to careers opportunities in agriculture. Orange County Farm Bureau also provided a small donation to the UCCE Master Food Preserver program in Orange County.
It was great to spend an evening with my UC ANR colleagues. I saw Research & Extension Center director Darren Haver, Rita Jakel, 4-H community education specialist; Colleen Clemens, UC Master Food Preserver Program coordinator; and Araceli Hernandez, 4-H region 11 program supervisor.
I felt so proud sitting with the other people attending the Orange County Farm Bureau Steak Fry listening to the four young women from Orange County share examples of how they improved their lives by participating in 4-H club activities, public speaking, leadership events, etc. They were amazing.
The following day, I had the pleasure of attending the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new USDA Research Center in Salinas.
It was an honor to participate in the ribbon cutting for the Sam Farr United States Crop Improvement and Protection Research Center. The research center is dedicated to retired Congressman Sam Farr, who represented California's Central Coast in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1993 to 2017.
USDA Chief Scientist and Under Secretary for Research, Education and Economics Chavonda Jacobs-Young, former U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta as well as Farr spoke.
"This new center is going to ensure that our farmers, our ag workers, our ag leaders, that they benefit from the latest knowledge in cutting edge technology in agriculture," said Robert Rivas, California Assembly speaker.
The new research center features state-of-the-art laboratories, greenhouses and the capacity to accommodate additional scientists. It expands on the current ARS Crop Improvement and Protection Research Laboratory, which houses many of our USDA-Agricultural Research Station partners such as Daniel Hasegawa, who has worked closely with Richard Smith, emeritus UCCE vegetable crops advisor, on impatiens necrotic spot virus, a disease that infects lettuce. Our own UC Cooperative Extension weed specialist Steve Fennimore, who is affiliated with UC Davis Department of Plant Sciences, has an office in the ARS building.
As a congressman, Farr served on the U.S. House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies and has been an advocate for agriculture. He is also a longtime supporter of UC Cooperative Extension.
- Author: Deanne Meyer
By now academics and their supervisors are aware the deadline for Project Board and merit and promotion dossier is December 8. We've moved the date for two reasons. First, the Federal Report is due earlier, so we had to move the Project Board deadline. December 8 is now the deadline for everyone (campus and ANR). Program Planning and Evaluation needs sufficient time to harvest information out of Project Board for our Federal Report. Second, the compressed time frame for merit and promotion dossier reviews is unreasonable. Ask anyone who is on the Peer Review Committee, and they'll let you know. My suggestion was November 1. In a compromise we went with December 8. This due date can be tried for a year or more. In a few years, this date may need to move to November 1 with all our extra academics. You can expect trainings to come earlier. Stay tuned for additional information.
Last week Vice Provost Daniel Obrist and I spent a few hours with Anna Lee and Steven Worker to run through discussions related to PRC activities. Before we know it, it'll be time for our debrief in August.
I am so impressed with the scholarship, scholarly activities, ideation, and general superb work that is done throughout ANR. We have great work that makes a difference to Californians daily.
Saturday was the State 4-H Field Day and Fashion Review at Wellman Hall on the UC Davis campus. I took a break from writing merit and promotion decisions and comments to drop over. The 4-H members, leaders and support teams were in full force. Club members were in their uniforms doing presentations. Although I missed some of the events, I was able to see the great skills members gain. Presentations take organization and courage. For some, presenting to a group of people requires bravery. Everyone was happy to be back to in-person events. And it was a beautiful day! Ryan Cleland, Gemma Miner, and Carolyn Warne were busy answering questions and helping people at the ANR table. Countless others were engaged in making the event happen. Kate Lynn Sutherland (Program Support Unit) was a volunteer wrangling sound equipment proving that 4-H youth give back to their community. Way to go Kate Lynn! The day was complete when I ran into a friend who is a volunteer leader in Hilmar. It's a small world!
Congratulations to Fresno County where the eleventh Forever 4-H Endowment will be established! Please reach out to the team and congratulate them on this accomplishment.
Congratulations, also, to Dean Helene Dillard, UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Dean Kathryn Uhrich dean of the UC Riverside, College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, and Linda Harris, UC Cooperative Extension specialist, who are among 564 newly elected Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. AAAS fellows are scientists, engineers and innovators who have been recognized for their achievements across disciplines ranging from research, teaching and technology, to administration in academia, industry and government, to excellence in communicating and interpreting science to the public. What a great statement about women in science and leadership! UC is fortunate to have both Helene, Kathryn, and Linda!
I have had interesting conversations this week. Earlier in the week, Katherine and I discussed the new NIFA reporting system. While change can always cause some anxiety and reporting systems don't make anyone's ‘favorite' list, I am pleased to see that the focus is on the ‘why?' of research and extension efforts. I think the new system is more streamlined and particularly for those AES researchers who work closely with CE academics, the reporting will be welcomed, especially for those who focus on team accomplishments (i.e. the impact of the continuum). This morning I and the ECOP chair-elect met with NIFA Director Castille. Our conversation was about aligning messages as we work to advance the message about the NIFA partnership with land grant universities.
Of particular interest was the message from NIFA that impact is important, and so, too, is relevance. We are encouraged to emphasize Cooperative Extension's relevance to communities. Relevance requires strong engagement with our partners and clientele to build the relationship and build trust. No doubt this continues to be difficult as new subvariants are identified. I empathize with all who have had to pivot, repeatedly, to meet program objectives and applaud all who have navigated safety measures to continue in-person interactions to the extent safety measure allow. When thinking about Project Board entries, please keep ‘relevance' in mind, especially when talking about efforts related to DEI, workforce preparedness, emergency response and preparedness, and community development. I left the conversation excited about NIFA's enthusiasm and commitment to Cooperative Extension and AES research. I can't wait to begin reading this year's impact and relevance stories!
After a somber weekend recalling the tragic events of 20 years ago, the week has gone by quickly through meetings that spanned national committee budget approval, to discussion about allocation of ANR funding, to seeking new resources through grant brainstorming. The ambient temperature is improving as the week progresses, which is welcomed given that I will spend the weekend trimming 48 Queen Palm trees that are growing far too fast for my liking.
On Monday, I attended my second offsite meeting since the pandemic shut down. Glenda and I met in Modesto with several of the executive directors from commodity group partners. Of course, we talked about the position call process and recently released positions. The partners are eager to engage with Program Teams to develop positions that meet emerging needs.
Earlier on Monday, I had a meeting with a firm that is interested in partnering with UC ANR to develop metrics and a performance dashboard for a California city housing department. I think there is potential to strengthen efforts in that community. On Tuesday, a few of us met to discuss an interesting ecosystem project that seeks a long-term partnership with UC ANR. The project, while a bit out of our current program area, fits squarely into our mission and offers a novel approach to partnering with one or more of the campuses. I am interested to see how this advances.
Today, Wednesday, included a brief stint with the county directors. However, much of the day was spent working in ECOP committees to approve the fiscal year budget and further the work of the Program Action Teams. A day full of meetings tomorrow, directed primarily as touch-base standing meetings, leads into tree-trimming Friday.
A fun fact I learned this week: 4-H has its own American Idol tryouts coming up on September 24th! Tryouts will take place via Zoom. There are age restrictions, so this is not a career change opportunity for many, or most, of us. Regardless, I hope the weekend finds you singing!
Budget meetings were held this week. It was nice to be in the Davis building and see more people than I saw last week! Also nice, and timely for our budget discussion, was the Governor's signing of the state budget. We discussed much about the increased support for our work. The intent behind the restoration of the FY19/20 budget was to allow us to resume our efforts underway prior to the pandemic, including operating funds, equity program assessment, and strategic goals. The additional funds from the legislature are clearly aligned with the legislature's desire to restore the academic footprint to that of over a decade ago. These are all good things. After 5 years of a different picture, I am optimistic that a number of goals can be addressed with these funds; not everything, but enough that each and all benefit directly or indirectly.
The funding is the result of everyone taking time to tell our story. Take a look at this one example, where Lynn tells the 4-H story with Farm to Table Talk podcaster, Roger Wasson. We know Lynn's busy; please thank her for taking the time to do this. If you don't have time to listen to the entire podcast, just check out the first 60 seconds!
Have you had a chance to attend the interview seminars of the new Kearney/Westside REC Director candidates? Two of the three webinars are complete. I hope our stakeholders take time to review the recordings and weigh in on the candidates. We have a number of recruitments open now for director positions in counties, statewide programs or at RECs. I hope we are fortunate enough to have a strong pool of candidates for each position. These represent advancement opportunities for staff and academics, alike.
Tomorrow is a bit hectic with Zoom meetings with both state and federal decision makers, COVID meetings (I hope those wind down soon!), and a few odds and ends. Friday is a bit lighter on the agenda and cooler if I end up in the garage for the day. Next week is another virtual national conference. I'm still undecided if I am eager to end those or look forward to continuing abbreviated conferences with fewer sessions and less hallway time. One conference I am looking forward to is the next ANR conference. Five years goes by fast. And, with all of the hiring ahead of us, this next year will be crazy fast.
In the meantime, please welcome Sandipa Gautam who started this week as the Area Citrus Integrated Pest Management Advisor, based at the Lindcove REC, with programmatic responsibilities in Tulare, Fresno, Madera, and Kern Counties. Welcome, Sandipa! You are joining at an exciting time!
See everyone at the Town Hall!