Did you get up early to see the Super Blue Moon? I didn't have to get up any earlier than usual but I made a point to go outside and look up to see it. After all, it was one of those ‘once in a lifetime' things that seems to come around every couple of years. My first thought was that it was very foggy out and my drive was going to be miserably slow, wrought with accidents. So after staring at the moon for a few minutes, it was time to tackle Highway 99.
The drive wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. In fact, it was easier than I had expected. This reminded me that 1) I am behind on TED talks but I have a few lined up to view so perhaps I will get to them over the weekend, though I already have strategic plan homework in the queue, and 2) one particular TED talk, that I need to watch again, focused on the idea that often things are easier than you think and life begins at the end of your comfort zone. At the time that I first watched this one, I didn't think much about it; it didn't strike me as particularly impactful, much like the moon, but I find myself thinking about the speaker's story and her deliver style, over and over again. I need to go back and see what I missed then determine what it is that has that particular talk stuck in my head.
If I recall, the author of that particular TED talk shared her fear of public speaking. Clearly she has risen above that fear and conquered it. This reminded me of Malena and that congratulations are in order for Yolva Gil, Claudia Carrasco, and, of course, Malena for the amazing work they are doing down in Riverside County with the 4-H program. Malena is the Vice President of one of the clubs that Chris Greer and I visited last year. It was a year ago this week when Chris and I were in Riverside and we met Malena and her club. Recently, Malena talked about her 4-H experience with the UC Regents. One of the things Malena mentioned was that 4-H had helped her address her fear of public speaking. Based on her presentation to the UC Regents, I'd say that Malena is a TED presenter in the making! Congratulations to Malena and her mentors, Yolva and Claudia!
Yesterday I was down at the Lindcove REC. The Lindcove REC is a beautiful place though I was disappointed that there was not as much snow on the mountains as there was when I visited in February 2017. However, there is still time for a few more ‘snowmakers' though I don't see a need to name snow storms. We've completed the ‘deep dives' at 8 of the RECs with plans to hold off on Hansen until after a new director is in place. The visits have been enlightening, for all, I think, and we need to pull together our thoughts to move towards budget targets. We will debrief a bit on Friday.
Also on Friday is the monthly County Director call where we will review the list of Advisor positions that County and REC Directors have developed. They've been hard at work already, despite the 2018 Position Call not released (yet) and while it's evident there's been lots of discussion, some of which I'm sure was difficult, I hope the group has concluded that the process hasn't been as hard as they might have first thought. There are many, many conversations yet to be had amongst the group and with others across UC ANR and external to UC ANR but I think this group of leaders has made an impressive start.
Gabriel Torres starts tomorrow as the Viticulture Advisor based out of Tulare County. This position represents a partnership between UC ANR and the California Table Grape Commission. Welcome Gabriel! And ‘thanks!' to the Commission for this valued partnership!
Largely this post has been a series of rambling comments without much purpose or direction. But perhaps 2 readers will contact Gabriel and welcome him to UC ANR, thus giving the post purpose!
While it was nice to see rain Tuesday night, now I can't help but wonder if it's rain that is delaying my flight home.
This week I seem to have been involved in a number of conversations around service and leadership. In part, it is because we are getting feedback on a proposed reorganization of the leadership structure to better meet needs of academics. At the same time we want to offer greater opportunity for people to give a leadership role a try, without needing to quit their current role cold turkey. As someone who found myself in a leadership position as a result of my distrust that the current leaders would make good decisions, I can honestly say that even I am surprised by what I currently do on a day-to-day basis. Who knew I would ever completely walk away from the real manure! But I remember once asking a mentor who was a faculty member, moved into administration, was at the time back in a faculty position, and then eventually retired as a university president why he liked administration and he responded that as a faculty member his research made a difference but it was on a much smaller scale than the change he could affect as an administrator. And more importantly, he continued, the administrative positions provided the platform for him to cultivate the next generation of scientists on a scale much larger than his own program could ever achieve. This conversation has come back to me this week as the County Directors talked about developing new County Directors through a CD Institute and discussed a proposed leadership position focused on academic personnel policies, recruitment, promotion and professional development. Those subjects are important to so many of us and offer service opportunities that may be some of the most impactful one could undertake.
Other conversations included the need to help others identify where service opportunities exist as well as leadership opportunities. There are no doubt many throughout UC ANR but I suspect it is not obvious where and when they are available. And perhaps too often we approach individuals who we think would serve in the service or leadership capacity well, at the exclusion of others who might be just as suitable but may not be on the radar. I've been pleasantly surprised at the number of County Directors who have raised their hand to take on more work – both as service and as leaders – when we all know that their plates are already quite full. Their commitment is truly remarkable. This leaves me very optimistic about our path forward and I find myself, again, reflecting how impressive the people of UC ANR are. It also leaves me committed to put more effort into increasing awareness of opportunities for service and leadership across UC ANR.
I am, however, less optimistic about the flight as the gate agent continues to apologize that the plane still hasn't left its current location to head in this direction. It promises to be a late night so I had better find a place to charge my phone and laptop.
This year I spent Valentine's Day with the UCCE County Directors. Not that there is any day I wouldn't want to spend with the County Directors, but it definitely surpassed the year I was dragged around for 4 hours looking for the perfect rototiller that turned out to be my Valentine gift. The day-long meeting meant a tremendous amount of information sharing and I am still wrapping my brain around most of it. One thing that has gelled though is a deep respect for those that champion UCCE in so many ways across the state and work with county partners to bring UCCE programs and services to their local communities. We spent quite a bit of time talking about balancing programmatic and academic scholarship with administrative responsibilities, a juggling act that is familiar to others beyond county leadership. As a division that values continuous improvement, there's opportunity to take a look at how we evaluate administrative contributions in concert with academic achievement. I also think there are opportunities to better convey administrative accomplishments. A few County Directors spoke about their role in helping others achieve more; precisely the reason some accept leadership responsibilities but often overlooked when one thinks about what they have accomplished as a leader or overlooked by others when considering the benefits of being a leader or even of having a leader. And the support, encouragement and development of others that our county leaders provide is in addition to the accomplishment of securing a county budget! I suspect a few more thoughts will crystallize after my head cold clears.
Speaking of leaders, tomorrow and Friday are interviews for the Vice Provost- Statewide Programs/Strategic Initiatives position. Sometime next week the links will be out so be sure to look for that email if you are unable to attend in person. Your feedback on the candidates is highly valued so please, take the time to weigh in.
If you happen to see Amanda Crump, be sure to congratulate her for her invitation to serve on the Western Governors' Association Invasive Species Advisory Committee. An outstanding recognition of her work!