- Author: Deanne Meyer
It's only been a week since our CARET group met in DC. THANK YOU to our CARET representatives Ismael Herrera and Mike Mellano for making time to travel to DC, walk up and down the halls of the House of Representatives as well as the Senate to meet with staff of our representatives and senators. Also joining our group were select UC employees. We visited 24 offices including the Senate and House Ag Committees. We shared our priorities for this year's appropriations as well as Farm Bill items. The conversations were filled with how valuable ANR is to communities. We discussed impacts from trained citizen scientists to identify spotted lanternfly and the importance of prescribed burn associations. It was easy to share examples of Advisors, Specialists and Community Educators helping to assess damage from fire, floods or other disasters. Impacts from statewide programs to improve lives of Californians (Master Gardener, 4-H, Community Nutrition and Health, Integrated Pest Management, etc.) were shared. After visiting two offices I sent links to the great Small Farms website with a map of California and staffing delivery footprint as well as languages served. We do incredible work that truly impacts the lives of Californians!
CARET is the Council for Agricultural Research, Extension, and Teaching. Some 300 people from US Universities participated. Sunday afternoon was a heart-warming tribute to Jean-Mari Peltier (may we all remember her with fondness) who received the lifetime CARET achievement award. Jean-Mari set the gold standard as an advocate for research, collaboration, joint funding of projects, use of science to answer questions, engagement, UC ANR and so much more. The Jean-Mari Peltier Endowment in support of UC ANR Strategic Priorities was established to carry-on Jean-Mari's commitment to UC ANR, science and solving problems.
Other members not included in this office visit included Divisional Dean Isgouhi Kaloshian, UCR; Government Relations, UCR Kathy Eiler; Government Relations, UCSC Loressa Uson; and Ryan Tompkins Forester and Natural Resources Advisor for Plumas, Sierra, and Lassen counties.
Thursday, Missy Gable shared with the UC Regents the impact of capacity funds (Federal dollars) in delivery of the Master Gardener Program. She zoomed into the meeting from UC DC. It was thrilling to watch Missy present right after we had visited with our representatives about the importance of capacity funds (Hatch, Smith-Lever, and McIntire Stennis).
Meanwhile, back home Anne Megaro prepared for our Ag Day at the Capitol (coming up this Tuesday).
Switching gears, let's give a warm welcome to our some of our February hires-- David Gonzalves, Area Director (Monterey, Santa Cruz, San Benito), Advisors Patricia Laxicki (Capitol Corridor) and Manpreet Singh (Kearney REC), Junior Specialist Alexander Mendenhall, and SRAs Margaret Gallagher, Elle Overs, and Cristian Burgos (all Orange County), Rito Medina Fresno Madera MCP, and Andrea Northup-Warner Sierra Foothill REC. We look forward to seeing your great impacts for Californians.
- Author: Deanne Meyer
Last week was the American Public and Land Grant Universities (APLU) meeting in Denver. Presidents, Provosts, Vice Chancellors, Directors, Government Relations staff and others attended the meeting with more than 1,200 people present. I participated in two basic tracts. The first focused on hiring and maintaining employees in a market of poachers where other branches of the University are trying to move great employees from your domain to theirs. Similar problems exist throughout the United States. Panelists spoke about a change in culture with existing people still being a team in the remote environment. They identified challenges to onboard new people into a remote team. Retention of new team members was difficult. There are great synergies when staff and academics work in the same space and interact regularly. A positive onboarding experience remains key to retention. We can all play a role to make new employees welcome within ANR.
Mental health was the second tract I attended. Covid meant isolation for many. Some employees realized how silent life can be absent human contact. Individuals suffered from one or multiple deaths in the family. Jobs were lost by relatives or friends. Supply chain issues upset purchasing ability leaving some stranded (no cars available at a reasonable price) or out priced in the marketplace. Those who reenergize by being around other people (extroverts) suffered from the lack of human contact. Those who reenergize by being alone (introverts) found themselves exhausted from zoom calls where they had videos on and were “on” themselves. Good nutrition, quality sleep, regular exercise and interactions with others remain important for mental wellbeing. It was great to know that our staff and academics in Community Nutrition and Health, Nutrition and Consumer Science, 4-H and the Master Gardener Program have continued their programming providing great tools for people. Did you know both plants and animals have therapeutic values? It's great to know that ANR programs have the ability to help people throughout the community, in nearly all communities in California.
Last week we had an in-person County Director meeting. It was great to see so much energy in a room. As you can imagine, mentoring new employees was part of the discussion. New Advisors are hired for three two-year terms. Simplistically, these terms are to become established in the community and assess needs (term 1), evaluate a path to add knowledge where knowledge gaps exist, develop extension programming, and cultivate relationships with stakeholders (term 2), and develop and deploy a research program to address questions identified in the needs assessment, feed information into extension work and continue relationships with stakeholders (term 3). This methodical approach to extension programming sets academics up for a career with great impact for local communities. Thank you to all the participants who provided content and attended the meeting! Please share your feed back with Lynn who did a great job at organizing the meeting.
For a four-day work week much was learned and accomplished. Welcome to all who are new to ANR. Don't hesitate to reach out to anyone in the organization if you have questions!
This week I am attending the virtual APLU (Association of Public and Land Grant Universities) meeting. This is one of those meetings that should always be virtual. For some reason, they spread the meeting over a 2-week period this year. Let's just say that didn't improve my opinion of the meeting. And to make things worse, every session has a unique Zoom ID and I don't have them in my calendar. I suspect participation may be down this year. I will miss Wednesday's sessions to attend jury duty. Who knew I would welcome a summons?
Other activities include preparing to repost a Vice Provost position, some prep work for next week's meetings, and planning for the December Program Council meeting. I know many continue to work hard on Advisor and Specialist position descriptions that are due in less than a month. Time sure does fly by! It seems impossible to think that next week is Thanksgiving already. This means that Giving Tuesday is right around the corner. Speaking with Scott today, it sounds like the giving has started early. It is always nice to hear such things.
There's much going on at the RECs this time of year. Ashraf and team are busy preparing for the Citrus Tasting at Lindcove. To add to the planning this year, the President's Advisory Commission (PAC) are holding their winter meeting during the tasting. Karmjot and her team will be sharing some of their efforts with the PAC. It's a busy time for Hopland as well. Take a look at all that John and team have been doing. It's great to see local coverage of the efforts! The projects at Hopland REC continue to grow.
Later this week, I have a chance to meet with some of our newer hires that opt to participate in office hours. And, the monthly Town Hall is Thursday, which is always a chance to hear what's on the minds of people across UC ANR. I have a number of meetings related to national Extension commitments as well. The schedule feels a bit lighter this week because there is no travel to schedule around.
I have procrastinated on the weeds for a couple of months now, but likely must get into the yard this weekend. The rain has been great and while perhaps insufficient for addressing the drought, my weeds flourish. Perhaps if I ever get ahead of the weeds, I will expand my hobbies. Somehow I doubt I will have the same level of artistic talent displayed by others who teach themselves to draw when they can't sleep.
I am traveling! Last week almost seemed normal, with back-to-back trips between Monday and Friday. This week was even more ‘normal' with a flight cancellation. I have more travel scheduled with a few days off with in-state travel over Veteran's Day week. By mid-November, I suspect I will be complaining about travel disruptions. I think it is human nature to complain about things even when we have longed for such circumstances. Traveling has changed a bit since I was last frequenting airports. I like that we no longer show our boarding passes at security; less fumbling around with ID plus my boarding pass. I have even applied for my Real ID, just in case leaving my garage becomes customary.
It is getting difficult to keep up with all of the new hires! What a great situation to be in! Curt Pierce started last week as the Area Irrigation and Water Resources Advisor, based in Orland, with programmatic responsibilities in Glenn, Tehama, Colusa, and Shasta Counties. Welcome, Curt! Please reach out to Curt to send your welcome.
While I try to keep up with new hires, I also try to stay on top of the successes of past colleagues. Take a look at this fantastic article about Lupita and her impressive story. Congratulations to Lupita and the CA 4-H team that will receive an award in a couple of weeks. I get confused with the various meetings, but this may be one of the awards I will virtually present to recipients on November 9. If so, that will be special for me.
Another great story appeared recently in the Morning Ag Clips. Be sure to read Laura's story. Her commitment and passion for her work are evident throughout. And, it was nice to see her faithful companion featured as well.
This week I have followed the rain from California to the East Coast. I am part of a committee interviewing advocacy firms for our national Cooperative Extension and Ag Experiment Station Sections. The firms are all located in D.C. so it is only committee members impacted by the intense rain. Hopefully the storms are past before I head back west on Thursday evening.
I hope everyone is starting to dry out. I wouldn't be surprised to see Sandhill Cranes back in our back yard. It will take some time for all of the water to drain. While the photo is of Mark and his wife paddling the delta, no doubt we could have used the kayaks to navigate our property after the rain we had on Sunday. Let's hope the 2021 fire season has ended as a result.
I am in DC for a few days this week to meet with Extension Directors and partners, including the new NIFA National Science Liaisons. These are the NIFA employees who stayed behind in DC while the rest of NIFA headquarters relocated to Kansas City a few months ago. My understanding is that the Liaisons will work to build stronger connections with other federal agencies, as part of an effort to increase funding opportunities for agriculture, nutrition, natural resources, and youth development programming and research. While I know half of the team, I want to hear directly from the Liaisons what they see as the vision for their newly created roles and how they plan to interact with Extension and the land grant universities as well as other federal agencies.
Because I had to fly in the day before the meeting started, I made good use of my time this morning by meeting early with a group regarding how we make the work of Cooperative Extension known in university circles. All of us, in all academic circles, need to do more to help the public better understand the public impact of research, i.e., how the results of the research will improve the lives of citizens everywhere. Within the academic family, we can work more collaboratively to engage local communities in the identification of research needs and implementation of research findings in ways that enhance adoption at the local level. The conversation was much like the one had at the ANR Governing Council meeting last week, where we discussed the public impact of our work and that of the broader UC system and the missed opportunities to partner more closely and achieve more in a streamlined manner. No surprise in this funding environment that this topic is on the minds of many.
Traveling to the east coast has its upside. The time zone difference is such that if I skip group dinners, I can still participate in Pacific Time business (email, webinars, and phone calls) such that I don't get too far behind. Except for Thursday's email traffic, I expect to be pretty much up to date on things when I land in Sacramento Thursday evening. The weather is similar on both ends of the country this week - rainy and anywhere between 40 and 60 F. While not ideal, regardless of the coast, this, too, shall pass.