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.
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!
Early Saturday morning I drove from Eureka to Davis. During that time period it felt like I was passing through universes complete with changing weather (rain, sleet, snow and then sunshine) and the transformation from dark to daylight. The scenery was stunning and the time I spent with the teams in Shasta, Trinity and Humboldt Counties was enlightening. I can't thank everyone enough for their time and hospitality. My brain is very full from all that I saw and learned. I also have to thank Joan for the sage advice she provided before I departed – “you'll need socks”.
We did look at heifers; they looked back and all was right in the world so we moved on. Then I saw an EFNEP training in Shasta County where the elementary school kids were learning about alternatives to sugary soft drinks. Ruby demonstrated a tremendous amount of patience with the group and Janessa was clearly in her element helping the kids with their paper exercise before they sampled a flavored water. On Friday, Jessica delivered the same lesson in Humboldt County to a slightly older group who clearly appreciated the fact that the training was in both English and Spanish. Jessica's enthusiasm for the training was contagious and the class couldn't wait to sample the agua fresca.
During my visit up north I had a chance to see one of Nate's passions – the Burney High School 4-H Club. Did you know that the STEM program has participants design and build aquaponics systems and egg incubators? Talk about getting youth excited about science! Not to mention they have access to 3 3-D printers! It's only a matter of time before this group trades in making planters to start cranking out prosthetics.
Thomas and Cody gave me an opportunity to see an organic grass-based dairy in Ferndale and we talked about water quality and air quality issues as well as their challenges and plans for the operation that has been passed down through Cody's family. Yana and Dorina were real troopers for humoring me so that I could visit a dairy; they both seemed knowledgeable about the regional industry which is likely a reflection of the close knit nature of the office. The collegiality was apparent the day before when Jeff, Dan and Deborah were also around in addition to some folks from some of the other offices co-located in the multi-service center building.
I learned so much about the redwood business from Pete Bussman. As much as I appreciate a redwood forest, I had never had the opportunity to meet with someone in the business so it was fascinating to hear about his multi-generation business and how the productivity has increased over time to the extent that there is 50% more redwood standing now than there was 30+ years ago on the same piece of land. It is unlikely that is the perception of most non-foresters, such as myself. Despite the rain, Pete was willing to walk us through his forest and share his thought process for making harvest decisions.
I met some fascinating people who all shared the importance of Cooperative Extension, from Bill (attorney) to Henry and Pam (grass fed beef), Dina and Mark (cattle and timber), Pete (cattle and forestry), Lee (cattle and auction yard), and Chris (cattle and agribusiness). It was evident that Cooperative Extension provides a needed and valued service in this part of the state. The prioritization of needs appears different which makes complete sense given the economic drivers and the population of the region. I didn't have near enough time to visit with Lenya while we celebrated the completion of Jeff's certification exam but her work with fire is a great example of a need and a position that was new to UCCE in response to that need. Emerging needs such as fire, water, disease prevention, and more underscore why it is so important that we periodically take a look at what the needs are, assess what capacity we have to meet those needs, and align/re-align our efforts to provide capacity to meet those needs. That's the purpose of Goal #5; that and determining how to help each person make their workload and expectations list manageable. The focus is about how we individually direct our own efforts to be most impactful but not overwhelmed. The conversation with Carol in Trinity County really helped frame how different the needs may be throughout the state and why a one-size-fits-all is not appropriate in a state as large and as diverse as California.
And did you know that Yana hosts a radio show on KHSU every 5th Thursday? She recently hosted the top post for the station, discussing the topic of ocean chemistry, global climate and local effects. I haven't downloaded the show yet, but plan to.
A great week with a bit of an annoying end to it. I set off the alarm in the UC ANR Davis building when I went in to return the keys and put my new plant in the office. I've dreaded the day I did that. On the upside, I survived it and didn't end up being dragged off in handcuffs while I waited for the security company to take me off ‘hold' and help me reset the alarm. So that leaves one of my ‘fears' over and done with; 1 left to go. Somehow I still managed to leave the building without returning the keys – after all I did say my brain was full.