During our meeting this week, NIFA Director Scott Angle met with the group and shared a number of updates. Things are moving quickly to relocate NIFA to Kansas City. About a dozen staffers and 8 program people will remain in DC. Program staff have until the end of this week to apply to remain in DC. While it's disheartening to think about UC ANR's budget this coming year, I can't even imagine how those within NIFA feel about things. Director Angle talked about NIFA priorities, citing that efforts will focus on 5 areas: climate change, nutrition and health, policy, artificial intelligence, and sustainable intensification. This isn't new information though he emphasized that NIFA is committed to addressing climate change which is a bit of a different direction than previous messages that have come out of USDA. We also heard about plans to take a look at the capacity fund allocation method. It's unclear what this means but good to know it is coming. Hopefully it means good things for California.
We heard quite a bit about the matching requirement for NIFA funds. Efforts are underway to have a fix in place for next year's call for proposals. Unfortunately, there isn't a fix for the current RFA. Rumor has it Glenda played a big role in conversations to make headway.
We received an update from National 4-H Council. Good things are happening there. Mary Ciricillo's success in receiving $60,000 as a result of Foundation efforts was called out. And Fe Moncloa's co-leadership of the Access, Equity, and Belonging Committee was recognized for the resources under development. Of particular interest was a True Leaders in Equity Institute that was held in DC in April. Take a look at what some of the participants shared about what equity means to them.
It has been fun to hear what's going on in other states. Ten schools in Albuquerque, previously rated as ‘failing' now have 4-H Fridays where the last hour of the day is a 4-H meeting. Every student goes to a ‘club classroom' and works on projects. Attendance during the week and completed homework assignments are required in order to participate in the club that week. The result – better attendance, better grades, excitement over school! In Oregon, OSU Extension has partnered with REI to launch an outdoor economy initiative. Non-profits, for-profits, and agencies will be engaged as partners as the initiative develops.
I'm ready to head back to CA and put my new knowledge to use. If the ambient temp is going to be in the high 90's I would rather have that at home.
Odd that people from the Oakland office came to Davis Monday to cool off, citing that their homes in the Bay area don't have air conditioners and that it was actually cooler in Davis. That didn't last long. I am extra fortunate in that my house has A/C, but we didn't need to run it over the weekend or last night; that didn't last long either, and now it is running.
I spent Monday night in Riverside having attended the County Board of Supervisors Budget Hearing that evening. Despite the heat, well over a hundred people turned out for the meeting in support of maintaining the UCCE budget. Many, many thanks to all who helped turn the proposed '0 budget' into a '0 cut'! The supporters really put the heat on the Supervisors to reconsider the original funding (de-funding) proposal. Those who offered public comment provided heartfelt testimony about the impact of our programs and how they, personally, have benefited and how the County has benefited. Tuesday I returned to listen to the rest of the Budget Hearing. I thought about all of the untapped opportunities we have to partner more with other departments and achieve shared goals. Have we considered working with Corrections to leverage their funding with our Master Gardener Program as a means of increasing skills and citizenry of facility residents before their release? What are the possibilities to work with Riverside University Health System's Behavior division to provide programming that enhances wellness among youth, adult, underserved, or all populations? We have substantial, documented successes working with school systems, so why not assume our impact would be as meaningful if we partnered with other County units?
The work's not over. We need to continue to engage those who don't know us but make decisions that impact us. We need to continue to engage those who do know us, and brainstorm how to do better – reach more people, have a greater impact. The work is exhausting and exhilarating at the same time. Out of the meeting on Monday, I met many of our long-time supporters. I met new supporters who were learning about UC Cooperative Extension for the first time. I was genuinely moved by the show of support by a group from CalFire who were there to fight for their own funding. I wonder, were they familiar with the UC ANR efforts around firewise landscaping, prescribed fire, or our response efforts following recent wildfires throughout the state? Or were they moved by the stories from the 4-Hers, the Master Gardeners, or the families that have benefited, directly, from UC ANR programs?
Now Wednesday is almost over, my 'Thank You' notes to the Board of Supervisors are ready for mailing, I'm behind on deadlines for the week, and it is only Wednesday. The good news – I think I've helped someone each day, been challenged by something each day, and learned something each day this week. And it's only Wednesday! Three years ago yesterday, I wrote a letter to my immediate supervisor indicating I was leaving my faculty/director position. While the message didn't say so, the reason was, in part, due to extreme boredom. Not bored yet. But I am still looking for a strategy to beat the heat.
Today was full of meetings. Strategic plan goal owners met to talk about progress on the plan, identify successes and obstacles, remind each other that we have a Wednesday deadline to provide updates into the Smartsheet project tracker. I hope to complete my updates early tomorrow morning.
Following the goal owner meeting, a number of us moved to the other end of the building to meet with the Development Services team and catch up on achievements around the state as well as prioritize the team efforts. There are many recent successes out in the counties. Congratulations to everyone who has been working with donors and partners! Even if you haven't realized a success, yet, the effort deserves a celebration.
The next meeting was to start to process of improving the UC ANR website, beyond the recent refresh that only addressed the first layer of the framework. Like Project Board, this entails a long process and sizable investment. We have to start somewhere. During the meeting, Hans Gude talked about risks in the process – outcome, process, and project risks.
After I complete my goal updates tomorrow, I head to the President's Advisory Committee meeting in Oakland. While the President is unable to attend, her office will be represented. Among other topics, Doug Parker and Secretary Karen Ross will provide an overview of our recent agreement with CDFA to increase implementation of climate-smart farm practices. The presentation will give Doug a chance to brag about the fantastic Community Education Specialists we've been fortunate enough to hire as a result of the partnership with CDFA. Though he might be jet-lagged a bit, I'm sure Doug is looking forward to the meeting. Doug, Glenda, and Sherry Cooper just returned from Spain over the weekend. They attended the Rosenberg Forum while in Spain.
Amidst meetings, jet-lag or whatever happens to be on your calendar, please don't forget a few key dates and items:
Wednesday, May 1, is UC Walks. Try to get out and enjoy the great weather and don't forget your antihistamines. Last year, I had the great pleasure of walking with the Fresno County team through the Garden of the Sun – what a fun walk!
May 15 is the last day to Raise Your Hand in support of 4-H. I noticed that Ohio is boasting over 17,000 hands raised. Surely we can beat out Ohio!
I hope everyone's meetings go well this week!
There is still time to raise your hand in support of California's 4-H program! It's easy. It's free. And if can result in a $20,000 award to the state program to support youth development in California.
I'm in San Diego at the spring meeting of Extension program leaders, Extension directors, and Ag Experiment Station Directors. The views are great and the water really close. Yesterday we spent the afternoon talking about increasing cultural competency in our states. The discussion had quite a bit of focus around increasing partnerships with the 1994 institutions and increasing capacity funding through the Federally Recognized Tribal Extension Program (FRTEP). The whole conversation had me thinking about our one of our public value statements: Developing an inclusive and equitable society. When that statement was first developed there was considerable discussion about the principles as a component of everything we do; the act of inclusion without giving it any thought because it is second nature is the indicator that one is culturally competent. Admittedly, I questioned why, as a core value, we would have a stand-alone public value statement around inclusion. However, as I listened to the conversations yesterday and this morning, it became clear to me that by calling this out as a one of our UC ANR statements, we make the commitment to move the needle.
A portion of the conversation centered on the need for the academic review system to reward for impact and teamwork. I honestly don't remember how we moved to such acknowledgment when the topic was cultural competence, but that's how meetings go. I do know that at UC ANR we are doing exactly this; questioning the ‘so what' of our work and the change in conditions that resulted as opposed to focusing on evidence of scholarship (i.e. the number of publications and grant dollars secured). We've seen the value of our impact stories when we've made visits to offices of our state and federal elected officials. The impacts, not the activities, cause people sit up and take notice. Fortunately, we have many stories to tell, ranging from work with the Fresno Street Saints to efforts to improving water use efficiency.
Some of the conversation addressed the problems of using an ‘expert model' in community work. I think framing about our work, even if only in our internal conversations, under knowledge areas serves to perpetuate the expert model. Framing our work around condition changes and/or public value statements avoids said problems.
If put to a vote today whether to leave ‘Developing an inclusive and equitable society' as its own public value statement or to consider it inherent within the others, I believe I would raise my hand to leave it as is.
Have you raised your hand? National 4-H Council has launched the “Raise Your Hand” campaign and will give cash prizes of $20K, $10K and $5K to the top three states with the most hands raised! Show your support of California 4-H by helping us get as many votes or “hands raised” for California as possible. Simply visit 4-H.org/raiseyourhand by May 15th, and join the California 4-H Alumni & Friends network by providing your email address. That's it! So go ahead and raise your hand!
Tomorrow is the IPM retreat, held on the Davis campus. Mark Bell and I will be providing an update to the group on what's new in ANR. Before heading over to campus, Mark and I will welcome a group of relatively new County Directors to the first County Director Institute (a.k.a. CD boot camp). Our topic there is what it means to be part of ANR leadership and the connection between county-based UCCE and statewide programs and strategic initiatives.
It is a busy week for many. And while I might think it's hectic, I have it easy compared to Rachel Palmer and the PSU team who are supporting all of the events. When the CD Institute ends, the R&E Council meets on Wednesday evening, followed by a County Director/REC Director meeting on Thursday. The REC business officers and the REC superintendents are meeting on Thursday as well. The week ends with the entire REC group meeting on Friday.
Two of our new colleagues are heading west this week to join in on the fun. Mark Lagrimini is packed and moving with plans to arrive by Wednesday evening. Annemiek Schilder will be in town as well. She won't begin as the new CD in Ventura County and REC director at the Hansen REC until August 1, but we are fortunate to steal her away from her current position for the week to join us in these meetings.
I honestly can't say enough about the thoughtfulness and selflessness. Just one recent example our recent Distinguished Service Awardee, Cheryl Wilen donated the monetary portion of her award to ANR for use in programming. That's just like Cheryl to be thinking of others!
Have you visited NIFA's data gateway yet? Take a look. It's a follow up to one of Dr. Wotecki's commitment to big data.
I have made virtually no progress on reviewing merit and promotion packages. No point in crying over that; after all, it's within my control to manage my time and get those done. In fact, none of the above are things to shed a tear over, yet my allergies have my eyes running constantly these days. So in addition to raising my hand in support of 4-H, I'm raising it to volunteer as a test subject for any new, revolutionary antihistamines out there.