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!
Between a group of us, we visited 32+ California Congresspeople and Senators. I found many supporters during my visits. The staffers asked great questions about our programs and the local impacts of our programs. While I didn't have all of the answers at hand, I will be doing follow-ups this week. Glenda and I were accompanied by some of our superstars, including Bill Frost, Lenya Quinn-Davidson, Monique Rivera, Darren Haver, Mark Lagrimini, and Teal Cody as well as David Ackerly and Government Affairs staff from UCD, UCB, and UCR. They all did a fantastic job talking about the details of their programs as well as the value of those efforts for the greater CA. The March trip to DC isn't particularly something I look forward to each year, but I think we all had good visits and I would say it has been the best of my three years thus far. Sometimes it is difficult to hold the attention of the staffers. You can't blame them; they pretty much spend the entire month of March visiting with teams of constituents armed with details about their cause. Even the meeting that precedes the Hill visits was better than it has been. Perhaps I am acclimating.
While in DC, we ran into Susie Kocher who was making visits of her own with forestry colleagues and program leaders. Doug Parker was in DC the week before us to talk about the water programs; another vital topic to CA and the US, as a whole.
I heard on 60 Minutes this evening that a record number of Americans have fallen behind on car payments; 7 million. My take away from that is that while our own ‘central funding' competes with many other important causes, the need for our work has never been stronger. That's why our elected officials welcome our visits and ask for invitations to see our work firsthand.
I am not making progress on my review of merit and promotion packages that I had hoped at this point. My goal is to be through all of the packets by June 1 so that I can then go through and review the Peer Review Committee and ad hoc reviewer comments before making decisions by June 15. I can't attribute my lack of progress to Daylight Saving Time. What I can say is that for the packets I have reviewed, I continue to be impressed by the work of the UC ANR team. All should proudly take the opportunity to show off their efforts and impacts with our elected officials.
I spent Friday with the Vice Chancellors of Research. We met on the UC Irvine campus, my first visit to that campus. We talked a bit about an effort to aggregate all of the patents across UC and, using artificial intelligence, identify expired or abandoned patents with potential for revival. What I learned is that UC holds more patents than any other public institution. Given that UC is comprised of 10 campuses, 3 National labs, and UC ANR it makes perfect sense.
Eric Rignot, a professor at UC Irvine and ‘glaciologist,' talked to us about ice sheet melt and what it means. His presentation was fascinating. We learned that while the current rate of sea level rise is 1 meter/century, it could go as high as 4 meters/century due to the impact of ice sheets. Note that if sea level were to rise 4 meters, most of the airports on both U.S. coasts would be under water. I had heard some years ago that much of Greenland is now cultivated due to glacial loss. Dr. Rignot shared data indicating that the melt rate of Antarctica and mountain glaciers are only a bit less than that of Greenland and all rates are increasing. As the only continent I have not visited, I was unaware of how different western Antarctica is from the eastern side of Antarctica. The western side has extensive glacial loss. The eastern side, not long ago inaccessible, now shows signs of ‘warming.' The Totten Glacier, in eastern Antarctica, alone would cause a 3.9-meter increase in sea level should it melt. As a result, there is close attention paid to eastern Antarctica to monitor where the melt rate is relative to a ‘tipping point.' Dr. Rignot's comment that "every day that passes by with inaction will penalize us down the road" has stuck with me and seems to apply in many situations.
Now I am in Washington, D.C. again, attending the CARET/APLU meeting. Barry Dunn, President at South Dakota State University, quoted C.S. Lewis during his comments. The quote was “You can't go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.” That sentiment certainly applies to climate change. Dunn, a former Extension Specialist who happened to start as a professor in Animal Science at SDSU the same year I started as a professor and Extension Specialist at Iowa State, also in Animal Science, also talked about his fascination with kaleidoscopes because you can change the lens slightly and the view changes tremendously. I found that an interesting thought.
Following the meeting sessions, we headed to our UC-DC office to plan for the rest of the week. Afterward, Dean David Ackerly, from UC Berkeley, met with alum and gave a talk about his work, also related to climate change. It is shaping up to be both a busy and interesting week.
A couple of weeks ago I spent a few days in Washington, D.C. attending the APLU meeting with several people for UC ANR and the UC campuses as well as the UC ANR CARET representatives. I have to say, photo ops with politicians is not my thing but it was really fun to spend some time with UC ANR's impressive CARET representatives and hear what our work means to them. Equally exciting was to see Clare Gupta, Lorrene Ritchie and Gabe Youtsey talk about their work. Lorrene and I were paired together a fair bit throughout the day and a half of hill visits so I was able to see firsthand her exceptional ability to connect with staffers; she was amazing! I've already nominated her to participate again next year! Not only did I learn a lot just observing her in action, but I was able to hear Lorrene talk about NPI's work around the state and the impact it has for communities and families. This week I met Dani Lee for the first time, one of the newest members of NPI. Hopefully I will get over to meet the rest of the team soon.
You can imagine that after spending that time in D.C. talking about UC ANR efforts, how disappointing it was to return only to learn of the proposed ‘skinny budget' which proposes a 21% reduction to USDA funding. This certainly illustrates the importance of highlighting the impact of our work on food security, community vitality, natural resource protection and youth development every day, not just for 1+ day in early March. That's the purpose of Goal 15 in the strategic plan – help people understand the positive impacts we have and not be the best kept secret. Now more than ever we need to constantly communicate our impacts in a way that people can relate to even if they aren't directly tied to our programs. And, I believe, the more we can aggregate our impacts across programs to some common indicator that many, many people can relate to the better off we will be. This will be part of the conversation when we hold regional information sessions this summer to share plans for executing the strategic plan, particularly goal 5. Dates and locations are still in planning phase but I will keep you posted and I am sure something will come out in the ANR Update. In addition, there's some work planned with statewide program and institute directors plus the strategic initiative leaders for mid-May to get that conversation started. Just like I learned a ton of new things during my travels the past couple of weeks, I look forward to learning from this group of directors/leaders.
For now though, I need to get back to catching up on some things, including a couple of manuscript reviews I forgot I had promised to complete last week. Not to mention my Crucial Conversations training reading assignment that I had planned to complete by now….