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.
Whether you observed Easter or Passover, were preparing for Ramadan to start in 10 days or celebrated the time off, I hope everyone had a pleasant weekend. For those in Modoc County, I hope you enjoyed the Easter Bunny Wave. The weather was perfect for it. I love the creativity by the 4-H members to take the bunny parade to the homes of the residents! So much easier than having to go to the parade. The 4-Hers in San Benito County did something special to reach out to emergency workers and people who may be feeling sick or lonely. How thoughtful!
Last week, President Napolitano joined the President's Advisory Commission (PAC) meeting from her dining room table, clearly not her usual mode of work. During the meeting, Secretary Karen Ross shared current challenges related to food distribution, including travel restrictions for seasonal labor necessary for harvest. The more significant issue may be the impact on farmers of closed restaurants and schools, resulting in food produced with no place to go. Every day I look to make sure the milk truck comes to the dairy across the street. So far, so good.
During the PAC meeting, we had some discussion about COVID-19, itself, including the positive test in Nadia, a 4-year-old female Malayan tiger at the Bronx Zoo. According to the Wildlife Conservation Society's Bronx Zoo, Nadia, her sister Azul, two Amur tigers, and three African lions developed a dry cough. It seems only Nadia tested positive. Did you know that at one point, my dream job was to be the Chief Veterinarian at the Bronx Zoo? At the time, I was in 4th grade and had read about Emil Dolensek, who was at the time the Chief Veterinarian at the Bronx Zoo and the subject of the book, Doctor in the Zoo. The Bronx Zoo was my favorite place to visit. While I didn't pursue that career choice, it was a promising deterrent from my earlier plans. On the first day of kindergarten, when we each introduced ourselves and indicated our intended career path, I proclaimed my intentions of becoming a professional pickpocket. Alas, plans change.
On Friday, I had a chance to listen to Thursday's eXtension Social Café, featuring Brook and Sarah from the UC California Naturalist program and hosted by Rose Hayden-Smith. Rose will feature the UC California Naturalist program in the eFieldbook she is creating for eXtension as an outstanding example of social media use in #scicomm. I was really pleased to learn how Sarah ties in academic content from other UC ANR programs in her story posts. While not so fond of the idea of taking quizzes, I like the inclusion of the interaction and the fact that I can opt out of that part. Excellent work, Brook and Sarah!
Earlier in the week, I received an email from a colleague in North Carolina sharing that she had just read a Fast Company article that called out the UC Master Gardener program. Congratulations to Missy and the team! What an excellent recognition for their work and the program.
Speaking of gardening, it sounds like the last-minute change to the Contra Costa County plant sale is having some success. Lorna has shared some positive feedback from some of the donors who have purchased starter plants. Hopefully, many of the UC ANR staff can take advantage of the Staff Assembly's GROWS program. What a great idea!
I hope to see everyone at the Town Hall later this week!
Congratulations to the team of California 4-H camp volunteers, program staff, and youth who plan and run our camping programs! The American Camp Association's Committee for the Advancement of Research and Evaluation (CARE), has recognized the California 4-H Camping Advisory Committee as a 2020 recipient of the Eleanor P. Eells Award for Research in Practice. The team is recognized for their extraordinary efforts in generating and using innovative and quality research and evaluation to improve program practice and in sharing findings with others. Of particular note is that the team's work has resulted in an increase in the number of participating 4-H Camps from 8 to 22! Marianne Bird, a team member, said of the team “Never have I witnessed such interest and investment in wanting to learn about and improve youth's experiences in their camp programs”. Nicely done all!
This week is full of meetings. I suspect many of us are scurrying to get things done before a 2-week break in activity. The Dean's Council meets tomorrow (Tuesday), in Oakland. This group includes the Deans from UCB, UCD, and UCR, including the Vet School. On Wednesday, the President's Advisory Council (PAC) meets in Oakland. We have new members on the PAC, who will be meeting with us for the first time. I will miss the latter portion of that meeting and the reception at the President's house because of another meeting commitment. Thursday the strategic plan goal owners meet and there is a year-end mixer at the Davis building. Friday is booked with Zoom calls and meetings until 5 PM, representing one last push to get things done for those not working next Monday. In the absence of any meetings on the 23rd, I plan to check off several things on the ‘to-do' list.
Several of our CARET representatives are members of the PAC. I was thinking about our CARETs last week during a presentation I heard while in DC. The presenter spoke about the need for an advocacy strategy to include grassroots, grass shoots, and strong stalks. This was all new information to me. He indicated that CARETs are strong stalks; those individuals who are the stalwart champions engaged in regular communications and activities. Then there are the grass shoots who are your ‘ringers', called in for key conversations with influencers. Amidst the meetings this week I need to give these concepts more thought. In the meantime, I am looking forward to meeting our new PAC members, who are also loyal, strong supporters of UC ANR.
I hope everyone has a restful and fun break!
The meeting over the long weekend in San Diego is rarely my favorite meeting, but I managed to leave with some reading. I need to become more of a reader if I am to keep up with it.
A manuscript I hope to read talks about the changing role of higher education dealing with wicked problems. I have no excuse not to read it because it is available for download via Digital Commons. Our opening speaker, Richard Meyers, took us on a brief journey of his experiences both as the15th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for the U.S. Air Force and now as the 14th president of Kansas State University. He talked about the role of public universities and the similarities he has observed within his very distinct careers. One of the speakers later in the conference spoke about the need for public institutions to serve the critical role as an anchor and catalyst for community improvement. I suspect Justin Morrill had the same idea.
Throughout much of the conference, we talked about community engagement as a key to successfully effecting change to improve community challenges. We received an update on the efforts by Cooperative Extension to partner with the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation (RWJF) in policy, systems, and environmental change in communities across the country. I highly recommend a visit to the webpage to read the report. During the first phase of the project, three locations in Utah serve as pilot projects. We learned about the work taking place in Emery County, UT, led by youth, to drive suicide and addiction prevention programs. The activities are impressive. I can't wait to learn about outcomes. The conversation was about more than this project addressing community-scale condition change and the value of measuring change at both the individual level but also the community level. One example made use of zip code-driven data on community life expectancy. However, even at this scale, there are differences. For instance, in a 10-block area in one Northeastern city, the average life expectancy is 16 years less than the national average of 75 years. The conversation, as a whole, was worthy of thinking.
The RWJF announced the 2019 Culture of Health Prize winners. Among the five is the community of Gonzales, CA (Monterey County)! The community story demonstrates a commitment to continuous improvement to make tomorrow better than today.
One of our final speakers was not only dynamic but had a great message. His comments reflected that of an earlier speaker who repeated C.S. Lewis' words that "You can't go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.” He, too, talked about the importance of higher education and public institutions and the need to make that experience accessible to all so that we really can make tomorrow better than today. To do so, requires each of us stepping beyond our comfort zone to be the change we seek. I appreciated his example that this means changing the paradigm from having 'weed out courses' in the first-year curriculum to 'opt-in' courses. Finally, he reminded us that our habits become our character. Our character becomes our destiny. I left with more reading, The Empowered University.
There will be no time for reading tomorrow. However, I have a chance to see some of our newer UC ANR members during the Administrative Orientation, so it will be a great day. Beyond that, I haven't looked at my calendar but, we will keep working to make each day a bit better.
Some days I am easily sidetracked. I started out reading an article about an upcoming meeting in Sacramento, focused on the state's agricultural future. Dan Sumner is one of the speakers at the conference, as is Erin Fitzgerald, who is someone I worked with in my previous position. The topic seems a natural segue to a fascinating article that Doug Parker shared earlier in the week.
I quickly found myself going to the Dairy Voice website to listen to Pete Kappelman's podcast on the dairy industry's need for change. The new Senior Vice President of Member and Government Relations at Land O'Lakes talks about the need to do things differently to avoid continuing the same outcome. Pete was asked his thoughts on the competition with non-milk beverages for market share and what he thinks about the growing interest in plant-based proteins. He talked about some of the new dairy-based products under development. I see the challenge not just on the marketing side but also at the farm level.
Back in the spring, Betsy and Dana took us to a dairy farm. Speaking with the farmer, I found myself in awe of how one makes a go of it when the milk price is $18/cwt. That's the same price we received back when I was managing a herd in Florida. Florida's milk price was always a bit higher than more prominent dairy states, but how, decades later, can a farmer stay in business when costs have climbed at a much faster rate. Economies of scale, alone, can't possibly make up the difference. I have no answer. The dilemma likely contributes to the commitment people in UC ANR has to the industry.
Please take a minute to reach out to Giulia Marino. Giulia started on November 1, 2019, as an Orchard CE Specialist in the Department of Plant Sciences at UC Davis, based at the Kearney REC.
If you have a few minutes to read about a colleague, take a look at this interview by UnidosUS. Fe Moncloa talks about our 4-H programs that engage youth in computer programming, even when a computer is not available. The different tracks of programming make for an excellent example of taking a different approach to achieve an intended outcome by meeting people where they are.
Interesting reading opportunities filled last week. That extra hour went by quickly.