- Author: Wendy Powers
It's time for more fun facts:
- Almonds represent approximately 29% of ag receipts in Stanislaus County and dairy brings in 18%
- Mechanical thinning of stone fruit translates to an estimated $1400/acre profit
- Nutria, a rodent pest, is a force to be reckoned with in California. Its orange teeth distinguish it from other rodent relatives. It reminded me of the capybara that were seen everywhere during a visit to the Pantanal. Capybara have been spotted in California.
- Stanislaus County has recently provided support for both a 1.0 FTE Master Gardener Coordinator and a 1.0 FTE 4-H Community Educator
- A local school district provides the land where almond variety trials are conducted
- The UC ANR team in Stanislaus County is beginning to discuss metrics and indicators of progress, as part of their reporting back to the County
These are all things I learned during a recent visit with this relatively new team, many of whom have been with UC ANR less than 2 years. While this may have some suddenly calculating how old they were when these newcomers were born, the upside is that 1) the offices are almost all occupied, and 2) there are new skills and energy contributing to the team environment. I'm excited for this office team. They have great relations with clientele, the county, and each other – provided Roger remembers to bring cake on his birthday.
Today, a group of us talked about communication needs for the division with the intent of these needs/goals translating into a position vacancy announcement for a Director of Communications (I may have the title incorrect). As Scott Brayton pointed out, we are all communicators, each with different primary audiences. Yet, we all need to be part of the effort to enhance communication to a broader audience – whether that is increasing reach to clientele, improve understanding of who we are to others in UC, or conveying the public value of UC ANR work to influencers and supporters. Crafting the message and getting it out there offers a continuous improvement challenge for us all.
Communication, the message itself and how the message is shared, is especially challenging when the topic is controversial or evokes strong emotions. The need for our messages to be balanced and science-based can't be understated. Fortunately, we have a number of people who do a great job at this! Take a look at the blog that Laura Snell hosts. Her 2 summer interns provide the content, under her mentorship. And if that's not a great example of how Laura's work addresses all sides of a topic, take a look at the new video that she and her team produced, working with the US Forest Service. A great example of the important communication coming from Modoc County!
Speaking of Modoc County, the big topic for a group of us heading back from Alturas a few weeks ago was the price of a drink + hot dog at Costco. I stand corrected; Anne Megaro was correct in telling us that the cost was $1.50. That definitely fits my expense budget for the upcoming long weekend. I hope everyone makes the most of the ‘last weekend of summer'!
- Author: Wendy Powers
This week I've had an opportunity to learn a ton of things about fund development. On Tuesday I spent much of the day in interviews for the Executive Director position for the fund development team. The team is all quite new and part of a goal to increase gifts, endowments, and general funding for UC ANR. Each of the candidates brought much to a conversation and, fortunately, I think we ended in a place of recommending the candidates that best fit the needs to move forward – we weren't in a place where we were trying to identify a candidate to move forward to the next stage; it's a nice problem to have. A couple of things that were reinforced to me over the course of the day: 1) Gifts aren't a means of stabilizing existing fund sources. We all know that grantors are interested in shiny, new ideas and not in supporting what we have done for years. The same is (mostly) true for donors. I say mostly because I think we have a window where some of our prospect (alumni, retirees) may be very interested in funding what they remember as the critical functions of an organization. 2) You must have a plan and be able to clearly convey why you are seeking funding. This, too, is not much different from the granting world but I'm not sure we are at that place yet. Rather, I think we have many needs and ideas but perhaps without that 10,000 ft value proposition tied to a specific ask. That leads me to 3) You have to be ready to make the ask. Again, we may not quite be there yet (or maybe it is just me) but I know there are many conversations going on about needs and I wonder if some of the meetings in the near future aren't a good place to shore up the vision such that we don't share a list of what we've done but rather a compelling vision about where we want to go and what the specific funding needs are (shiny/new and traditional support) to get us there. The other key point that was reinforced is that there is a need for great clarity about who has what roles and responsibilities in the fund development process. Success doesn't lie solely with a team of 5 or 12 but with each and every one of us. A better understanding of this and what and how to go about achieving success is needed.
Mark Bell had a chance to do some 10,000 ft thinking when he was in Chile last week. It was a quick trip but it sounds like there were some interesting discussions about the Extension service in Chile and comparisons with the US Cooperative Extension system. It's easy to take for granted what we have here in the US and CA, in particular. We know we could do so much more if we had more but what Cooperative Extension has done for the US is nothing short of remarkable. And in UCCE, we are especially fortunate to have the RECs, 10 campuses generating new knowledge with active research in every county, tremendous partners and stakeholders, and resources in each county office that exceed what many in other states across the US could only dream of having.
Today I had the good fortune of spending the day in Santa Cruz County with Mark Bolda, Laura Tourte, and Steven Tjosvold. I'm embarrassed to admit that I hadn't met Laura or Steven before – one would think I would know every Advisor by now. We saw the Master Gardener's demonstration garden, some research to use polyacrylamides to floc sediment from the nursery, visited a few berry farms, and toured the UC Santa Cruz Student Organic Farm. A great day! The stop at UC Santa Cruz served to reinforce the messages about fund development and really showcased what can result when you have a strong message and value proposition.
Two UC ANR Competitive Grant proposals to read/review and off to Monterey and San Benito Counties tomorrow!