I had a brief email exchange with Sue Mosbacher the other day. She is not bored. I can see why – she is writing proposals and working on online delivery of Master Food Preserver classes. She has done some amazing work – check it out!
I spent Tuesday meeting with REC directors. They have some fun things going on and most, if not all, are seeing new researchers, in addition to long time users, planning projects at the RECs. John and the Hopland team have partnered with Rosie, one of our newest CE Specialists, to increase outreach efforts to sheep producers with small flocks. In addition, Hopland is developing a carbon farm plan for the REC. Ashraf and his team at Lindcove are working with the local school district to develop a K-6 activity book around citrus production. The team at Hansen are preparing for their relocation and developing a vision to drive the new facility look and function. Jairo has a number of construction projects getting started at Desert, some more complex than others. Dustin sees the end in sight for completion of the climate facilities and has attracted new Research Advisory Committee members. Rob and the Intermountain team are getting ready for their research proposal call and stay very busy. Khaled has a great idea to expand irrigation certification. Bob is feeling the spring rush already and is busy soil sampling and preparing fields for the 2021 research season. What a productive group of directors who work hard for their teams and their researchers! The conversations were upbeat, but I can sense that the team is tired – of COVID, of policy barriers, of worrying about the success of their team members, and of long hours keeping everything moving forward.
I was pleased to hear from Rachel Surls that Dean Dillard is a speaker at an upcoming Los Angeles County Master Gardener program to celebrate Black History month! The program topic is Farming While Black. I look forward to hearing from Helene and other speakers during the event this Saturday. Dean Dillard, a past Extension Director and CE Specialist herself, is such a strong supporter of Cooperative Extension. In the meantime, I have a few more annual conversations with Directors before the week closes out along with a whole host of meetings on various topics. In between, I hope to read a few merit and promotion documents. There are 80 to read this year. So far, I am not far enough along to even keep count. I am definitely not bored.
My clues must have been good; several of you guessed my vacation destination right away. After having returned from a week in Belize, I am now headed to D.C. to make legislative visits. Time to fully engage the ‘work' part of my brain, though it is never completely left behind.
While on vacation, I learned what happens when five Extension specialists/advisors travel together, with significant others, through a rural part of Belize. Despite the time designation as ‘vacation', stopping at the University of Belize's experimental farms for a tour becomes the priority. Fortunately, the director of the farms was very accommodating. The farm superintendent turned out to be a former Extension agent in the panhandle of Florida. No need to explain the Cooperative Extension system to him. While a native of Belize, his graduate education was completed at Earth University, in Costa Rica, where Michigan State University has many partnerships. A current administrator at Earth University started his career as a County Director in Michigan, working with some of my travel companions. It is a small world.
We learned that one of Belize's biggest agricultural threats is water. They are entering the dry season following two sequential years of low rainfall during the wet season. This was evident as we drove past corn, bean and palm fields. A large Mennonite community settled one of the most innovative agricultural regions of the country. The Mennonite community works closely with the University of Belize and the Ministry of Agriculture to conduct research and deliver programming to clientele. I was particularly surprised to learn that Belize has what can be compared to the Master Food Preserver Program. Belize is not an export nation, other than perhaps coconut oil. I'm unclear what their import portfolio contains. Although citrus is an important crop, HLB is not on the radar in Belize. Coronavirus is on the radar in Belize, as evidenced by the additional screening that occurred at the airport. Given how small the world really is, precaution is the best practice.
The D.C. weather predicts unseasonably warm and wet conditions. While the rain may make catching a cab a bit more challenging, I don't expect any travel disruptions due to snow. I have a few more merit and promotion packages to review so delays are unwelcome this week.
We did it! Yesterday, 281 donors gave $100,000 to UC ANR programs. THANK YOU to each and every generous donor! So many good things will come as a result of the support. I really would not have guessed we would have raised so much during Big Dig Day given that it was the first event of its kind for UC ANR. ‘New' can be good!
In other good news, David Haviland has been determined as the recipient of the Western Extension Directors' Award of Excellence for 2019. The award will be presented to David at the 2019 Western Region Joint Summer Meeting at Albuquerque, New Mexico. Awardees are asked to give a 5-7 minute overview of their program during an award lunch. This continues the streak for UC ANR as Jeff Mitchell, Dan Munk, and the team were recipients last year.
This week was the SI Leader meeting on Tuesday. We planned to summer road show a bit and talked about the new story pipeline. I'm excited to see more stories in it so that I have it as a resource to talk with stakeholders about all the great things we are doing! If you have a story to submit, you can find the link here under 'Telling Our Stories' (Knowledge Stream).
On Wednesday we had Program Council. The highlight was a presentation by Katie about the Master Food Preserver Program's new strategic plan. That program is an example of where UC ANR can really make a difference for some who have so little. The program is more than canning; it's about food safety and using preservation methods (drying, freezing) to make use of excess produce and make it available all year long.
Today the Vice President's Council met. Topics included the elements of a strategic plan (funding plan, staffing plan, vision and mission elements). John Bailey and Sabrina Drill provided a close look at the funding plans for Hopland REC and the Cal Naturalist program, respectively. It was a busy day for Sabrina; she also led the presentation on citizen and community science in UC ANR. The UC Davis Center on this topic (Heidi and Ryan) were co-presenters. Other topics included the economics of the ability to accept credit cards at events throughout the state.
Tomorrow is the REC Directors call followed by the County Directors call. Then the Davis building is having their summer BBQ. Another week in the books. Almost 3 years ago, I would never have imagined how fast time would fly!