There is more good news for our nutrition programs. During the National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (NEAFCS) Virtual Annual Session team members were recognized for their outstanding contributions. Deepa Srivastava, and UCCE Tulare-Kings Nutrition Education Team placed second in the Western Region SNAP-ED/EFNEP award. This on the heels of a win last year! Mary and her CalFresh Healthy Living, UC Team in Alameda County are the 3rd Place Regional winner of the Community Partnership award. And, Mary Blackburn received the NEAFCS Hall of Fame Award! I've had to keep that one quiet for about a month now, but am so pleased to share the news! Congratulations to all! And, thanks to Katie for sharing the news!
Speaking of the UCCE Tulare office, they have quite the sense of humor. Take a look at their door sign. No doubt some are better able to estimate the length of a Holstein cow. Perhaps social distancing won't last long enough for all to learn that measure. It's hard to tell. Who would have guessed back in March that seasonal face coverings would be a fashion trend? Just to stay in practice for pre-COVID behaviors, I put on grown up clothes and sat in my real office today, downloading computer updates and grabbing some items to make life a bit easier in the garage. It was nice to be in the office for a brief visit before putting my face covering back on and moving into the rest of the day.
Glenda shared that she's been hearing great things about one of our 4-H projects focused on getting rural communities to fill out the census (https://ucanr.edu/sites/census/). “They've received kudos from county supervisors, farm bureau leaders and many others who saw the materials and really appreciated the help to make sure their communities were counted. This is a great 4-H civic engagement project”!! Let's hope everyone turns out to vote in November, too!
Strategic planning work is winding down, both for UC ANR as a whole and for the RECs. Last week the ANR planning team met to review and incorporate feedback from the August webinars. I have already finished my homework! Later this week the REC planning team meets and I am hoping to pass any homework assignments on to others. I will miss the Town Hall this week, but hope there is strong attendance to hear about all the great things Ricardo and his team are doing to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month.
I have almost completed my assignments for a national conference to be held next week so perhaps the weekend can focus on yard work. I think weed growth may be slowing a bit.
The widespread evacuations and associated air quality have certainly added to already challenging times. I know many across the state have ‘go bags' ready and are anxious about what every hour brings. Others have had to evacuate. And some of our UC ANR family have suffered significant losses. Fortunately, some had a brief, but welcomed, rain Sunday night/early Monday morning. In my part of the state, the rain arrived Monday night. This unusual August event brings me great hope!
Members of UC ANR have actively engaged in assisting those negatively impacted by the fires. JoLynn Miller (@JoLynn_Miller) has been busy volunteering with a non-profit in response to the fires. She's been picking up donkeys, chickens, pigs, and alpacas and finding temporary homes for them. Thanks, JoLynn! Scott Stephens was on KQED talking about the need for a fire extension program statewide. Yana, Scott, and Lenya have been working hard to secure new resources to do exactly that - expand the network of UC ANR fire resources that are desperately needed. Let's all send good thoughts to them for their success.
In the good news department, it sounds like Kamal has secured an increase in CalFresh support for programming in Los Angeles and Sacramento Counties! Kamal's near $1M success will make a huge difference for families in those counties. Congratulations to Kamal and the entire nutrition program!
The Department of Pesticide Regulation has made research awards to three UC researchers, including Mark Hoddle and David Haviland, whose research teams were each awarded $500,000 to study chlorpyrifos alternatives. Excellent work, and good luck carrying out the research objectives. Let's hope the researchers identify sound chlorpyrifos alternatives!
Mark Bell found and shared this article that outlines the history of the Cooperative Extension System (CES) and the modern-day relevance of CES in meeting community needs, noting the method of distribution for federal funds among states. An interesting read if you aren't familiar with the CES background.
I read an interesting article in Nature that has me thinking about what we can do to ensure that those across UC ANR who conduct our essential work, feel safe doing so. We want to do all that we can to encourage science and Extension as career options for youth. I suspect the article triggered, in part, other thoughts.
As I watched the ash floating in my pool, just shortly after the filter had ceased its morning cycle, I realized that I am angry. My anger stems from the COVID environment that has me homebound for months, unable to travel and see our programs in action, watching the impact of limited socialization on others, all while some have no concern about the risks they impose. Compounding the quarantine is the election circus, coupled with law enforcement behavior that ceases to learn any lessons, the long-run economic impact of the pandemic and the toll that will take on getting our important work out to those who need it most, and now the fires. I don't know anyone who has tested positive for COVID, lost their job due to the pandemic, or lost their home due to the recent fires. I can go for a walk without worry that my skin color puts me in danger. Yet, I want to scream, "Give us a break!" When I boil it down, the anger is due to helplessness, that I cannot 'fix it' for those who check any of the boxes for the conditions I outlined above. I can't even imagine how difficult life is right now for so many, many people and I feel for all. The situation weighs heavily, even on those who are not directly impacted.
I won't scream, because it won't get the work done. Work that continues, by all of us, to the benefit of all California. A thick haze won't stop us.
4-H week ended on a high note. I received the photo, below, from Steven Worker. Notice the enrollment statistics for the program with overall growth by 141% and a 290% increase in Latino youth enrollment over the previous year! Congratulations, Sonoma County UCCE! Steven is noticeably absent from the photo; he must have been running the camera. Seeing Diego in the picture reminded me of my visit to the 4-H program in Sonoma County, where the youth were learning about the four forces of flight. It's no wonder the program is growing when you learn things like that.
I received an article last week claiming victory for Fresno County as the top ag producing county in the U.S. Congratulations, Fresno County! Kern closely followed Fresno County, then Tulare Counties, so a shout out to them as well. The article quoted the Fresno County Farm Bureau CEO as pointing out that almost all of the top 10 agricultural counties are in California. The rankings may be no surprise to us, but it is nice to know others across the country hear the news.
Last week the VP Council (Vice President's Council) met. This Council is made up of the statewide program and institute directors, business unit directors, vice provosts, and the associate vice presidents. The group meets quarterly to talk about issues of importance to the division. Last week, much of the meeting was about the results from the recent Staff Engagement Survey and moving forward to address some of the findings. The report is long, and in addition to positive outcomes, there is always room for improvement.
Kamal Khaira attended the VP Council meeting, just back from a trip to Bora Bora. I have to admit that I am a bit jealous. I lose track of time, but it's hard to believe that Kamal has been leading the UC CalFresh program for just over a year now. If you haven't had a chance to meet Kamal, take a look at the new UC Davis alumni feature and learn more about her background and what drives her. Then, be sure to find the time to connect with Kamal. Be sure to read the ‘Making A Difference' story on page 18, too. It is truly inspiring.
Later today, I head down to San Diego for the Western Region Administrative Officers Meeting. I don't usually attend this meeting. However, California is hosting the conference this year. I have a chance to welcome the group and thank them. The administrative officers and their teams provide tremendous support to the programs of UC ANR and its equivalents around the region.
It is a short week for me. I am taking Friday off as part of a long weekend to celebrate a milestone wedding anniversary. It will be far from a trip to Bora Bora but still better than the honeymoon, where we spent the night at a hotel near campus. The next morning we fed my anaerobic digesters before heading back to say farewell to out-of-town family and friends. Yep, we've come a long way.
As last week wrapped up it was easy to see elements of the UC ANR Promise everywhere. On Thursday afternoon the REC Directors shared their thoughts about how best to position the REC system to meet research needs in the future. Clearly the group has been thinking long and hard on that question with a focus on staying true to our promise to provide practical, non-biased research that people trust. Earlier in the week I had spoken with a researcher about conducting controversial research and the challenges of sharing controversial findings. That's where trust, and a long history of it, becomes so important, not to mention the courage to be non-biased even when confronted with unpopular findings. Those elements, trust and non-bias, are inseparable and the foundation of UC ANR research at the RECs and across the state.
Another component of that foundation is addressing emerging challenges through cutting edge research and technology. I read a great interview of Maggi Kelly over the weekend that highlighted how she and her lab are at the cutting edge of mapping technology to the benefit of the UC ANR network. Maggi @nmaggikelly refers to her work as special data science. Be sure to take a look at the Women in GIS interview to learn about some of Maggi's favorite projects!
Other stops for the day included meeting with the nutrition group in the San Bruno office to hear more about their programs, including EFNEP, CalFresh and the Healthy Living Ambassadors program. I had a chance to see the HLA program in action in Redwood City where trained teens educated the elementary school participants on MyPlate and helped the kids maintain a school garden.
We also met with some of the Master Gardener Volunteers (MGV) at the Veterans Memorial Senior Center in Redwood City to see the location of the satellite helpline right in the community and the demonstration garden constructed with the seniors in mind. The partnership is broader than just UC; including Girl Scouts and others throughout the community. These volunteers are certainly current on technology, using QR codes to link to information about plants sold at their plant sale! A fabulous day and another example of outstanding programs in people in UC ANR.
Crucial Conversations training is on the calendar for the next two days; as much as it pained me to do homework, I have completed the assigned reading and thought about a couple of scenario conversations. I hope there isn't too much role playing. In spite of having gone through this type of training in the past, I don't think the road to continuous improvement is comprised of ‘one and done' development opportunities so I have no doubt I will learn a few things. Hopefully the sun will be back in Oakland when I return!