Last week flew by. Tu, David, and I spent a day at the South Coast REC talking about a new building project and envisioning a new educational center that could draw in the local community and serve as a central spot at the REC for researchers to convene and brainstorm. Then we spent the next day at Desert REC doing the same. The excitement of constructing a new facility was evident in both Jairo and Stacy. Let's all help them harness that enthusiasm to push through the hassles that come with construction. Both RECs are in need of the facilities and their programs will grow as a result.
The Orange County Farm Bureau (OCFB) has agreed to support a 5-year gift proposal at SCREC and UCCE Orange County in the amount of $690,000 paid out over a period of five-years (pledge), commencing in April 2023 and concluding in April 2027. A large portion of the funds are current-use funds to support the GROW program at SCREC. The balance of funds supports the Forever 4-H endowment in Orange County and the local 4-H program. Congratulations to Darren and team, Scott Brayton, and Mary Ciricillo for the work on securing this gift!
Anne Iaccopucci and Katherine Soule are busy these days preparing for a 4-H Academy on Youth Mental Health coming up May 10 - 12. Their colleagues from around the country have made special note of their contributions. Congratulations also go out to JoLynn for her garden project work with a local juvenile detention facility that became a feature story for My Motherlode. Way to go JoLynn!
I returned to the Oakland office last week, for the first time since February 2020. We moved up a floor – part of the fire drill fitness plan, I suspect. It was a great feeling to be back in that building. I was a bit surprised to see how many people on the street were still wearing masks. Better safe than sorry. I elected to avoid the BART and bear the traffic instead. It was a long drive home. It seems the roads are full again. I believe my trip to Davis on Friday was perhaps the heaviest traffic I have ever seen at 5 AM and then again at 5 PM. I don't know what to make of this.
Merit and promotion packages are almost complete with first review. Following, I go back and read supervisor comments, external reviewer comments, and internal reviewer comments from ad hoc reviewers and the Peer Review Committee. I always learn more about the work and impact of UC ANR as I read through the packages. The number of packages with strong impact statements continues to grow; particularly from some of our recent hires!
Word is out of my pending departure. A tremendously difficult decision to make as I don't feel that my work here is done. The change is a growth opportunity, one I couldn't pass by. In the meantime, there are many more ANR Adventures to be had.
I spent the day at the Ideation Workshop. The workshop is designed to get us to think differently. While that's not easy, illustrations of success certainly help. UC ANR definitely has that example. UC ANR raised over $110,000 this year on Giving Tuesday compared to last year's record-breaking total of $76,000. A huge congratulations is in order for the Development Services team, all of the Statewide Program Leaders, County Directors, the many, many donors and everyone else involved in making the day a success!
Last night after I heard that the group had exceeded their ‘stretch goal' of $100,000 I started to wonder what made the day so successful. I'm sure the Development Services team has far more, and better, information than I but here's what I have identified:
- Over the course of the year, the entire Development Services (DS) group have worked as a unified team focused a common goal, regardless of what their individual roles and responsibilities are;
- The DS group engaged others (unit and program directors) into the planning process to identify strategies that would resonate with prospective donors;
- The DS group created excitement throughout the building and division with gimmicks, costumes and other novel ideas; and
- The division was kept informed about the plans and progress as it all unfolded
We still have a day of ideating to go. My hope is that the process permeates throughout the division and great ideas emerge that the collective ‘we' can tackle. Imagine what we could accomplish as a focused group that is develops and gets behind a new approaches/strategies to a common activity or challenge!
One doesn't have to be in attendance to learn what we are learning, though the process would be different if you were working alone. During the workshop we have been exposed to the Doblin 10 types of innovation. Take a look. Plus each attendee will leave the event with the tools and know-how to use the process with their colleagues.
During the event I received a Creative Whack Pack. It's a deck of cards intended to stimulate creative thinking. I need to read through the cards and will share any I come across that are particularly interesting. If interested, I'm sure you can look this product up and learn more about it.
Stay tuned to see what I learn tomorrow!
Last month when I was focused on tidal flows, I was only thinking of it in terms of how it would benefit me. But Mark Bell reminded us the other day that “a rising tide lifts all boats”. I've been reminded often lately that there is a real benefit to keeping this in mind.
Lorna, from the fund development team, spoke with new County Directors on Wednesday and then County Directors on Thursday about strategies to identify and approach prospective donors. This area of gifts and donations is a great example of the benefit to all boats when waters rise. Any growth in the pot of funds to conduct our work benefits the whole in some way. The benefits could be direct, the result of donations targeted to one's own program, or indirect in that donations to a program area can stabilize a program while relieving pressure on central funds. I'm an optimist that what goes around, comes around and that while you're looking out for other programs, someone else is looking out for yours. It may not be immediate but it's important to think about the long game. So if you have ideas or relationships with those who are particularly fond of a program outside of your own, be sure to let Lorna or her team know.
When we were in Contra Costa earlier this week there was interest in the general topic of funds development and I suspect that is true all around the state. I know I can certainly learn much from the fund development team. Be sure to tune into the upcoming WebANR (September 20) to learn more from Scott and Rob how the fund development team can help you.
The programs we've seen in Contra Costa and Alameda Counties this week as well as Santa Clara County a couple weeks back are good reminders of the benefits to all of UC ANR when we have strong, relevant programs in urban areas. These programs not only help the clientele, directly, but help increase the visibility of UC ANR and all of its programs across both urban and ag areas. Investments in positions that target the urban audience create a win-win scenario for everyone.
Our trip to Alameda and Contra Costa UCCE reminded me that it really is a small world, especially when you are part of Cooperative Extension. Katherine, a fairly new Community Educator who works with seniors through the UC CalFresh program in Alameda County and Laura, County Director and CE Advisor in Modoc County, both grew up in Ames, IA where I spent 10 years at Iowa State University.
Another example that it's a small world is Annemiek who I saw at the County Director's meeting; she and I were at Michigan State at the same time. Next week I will see her at the Hansen REC when I meet with the advisory committee. We'll be talking about goals for the REC and the path to success. Success at one REC benefits the REC system and the division.
Time to return some calls. It seems I'm not the only one who does a lot of thinking while driving back and forth to Davis.
Hopefully everyone in UC ANR is staying far out of the fire zone though it may be increasingly difficult to do. It sounds like SLO and Mariposa Counties are two of the worst areas at this point.
This week has been a week full of meetings. Program Council met to talk about the position call process. The process isn't finalized yet but we made good progress. The goal is to retain ample opportunity for input into high priority positions. We need to be realistic in how many positions can be moved forward and submit those representing the greatest needs making it easier for Program Council to make good decisions. There is an important role in the process for those submitting positions; that is to work in groups, perhaps across program teams to refine how many positions are submitted.
Plans for the April 2018 Statewide conference are coming along. The theme for the event is Innovation in Action with plans to showcase efforts across UC ANR through a lens that focuses on the creativity that happens every day. Be sure to start looking at the UC ANR website for program and agenda updates. In addition to a phenomenal learning opportunity, it will be motivating to see everyone in one place and meet some of the new faces. This includes the suite of gift officers who, while new to UC ANR, are already off and running to share the word about the great things happening across the division.
It feels like summer is starting to come to a close quickly. I didn't make it to any of my professional society meetings this year; a bit disappointing but too many conflicts during those weeks. I turned down 2 opportunities to manage peer review panels; one for NIFA and a second for an ARS program review but in both cases they really didn't give sufficient lead time so I'm not sure how successful the program managers were in recruiting a panel manager for their desired timeline. I also have two promotion packages in my Inbox for faculty seeking promotion to Full Professor at other institutions. And I am working on a couple of manuscripts so that keeps me tied a bit to the science. A new manuscript recently surfaced that will be interesting to co-author – it's addressing a general topic of sustainability metrics for food production.
Similar to other years, my ‘summer to-do list' doesn't have an appropriate number of items crossed off. I'll bet I'm not alone in feeling that way. Time to light a fire under my feet and get going on some of those items. Don't tell anyone but I seem to have a couple hours open tomorrow morning so now excuse to not being highly productive.