Congratulations to Fresno County where the eleventh Forever 4-H Endowment will be established! Please reach out to the team and congratulate them on this accomplishment.
Congratulations, also, to Dean Helene Dillard, UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Dean Kathryn Uhrich dean of the UC Riverside, College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, and Linda Harris, UC Cooperative Extension specialist, who are among 564 newly elected Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. AAAS fellows are scientists, engineers and innovators who have been recognized for their achievements across disciplines ranging from research, teaching and technology, to administration in academia, industry and government, to excellence in communicating and interpreting science to the public. What a great statement about women in science and leadership! UC is fortunate to have both Helene, Kathryn, and Linda!
I have had interesting conversations this week. Earlier in the week, Katherine and I discussed the new NIFA reporting system. While change can always cause some anxiety and reporting systems don't make anyone's ‘favorite' list, I am pleased to see that the focus is on the ‘why?' of research and extension efforts. I think the new system is more streamlined and particularly for those AES researchers who work closely with CE academics, the reporting will be welcomed, especially for those who focus on team accomplishments (i.e. the impact of the continuum). This morning I and the ECOP chair-elect met with NIFA Director Castille. Our conversation was about aligning messages as we work to advance the message about the NIFA partnership with land grant universities.
Of particular interest was the message from NIFA that impact is important, and so, too, is relevance. We are encouraged to emphasize Cooperative Extension's relevance to communities. Relevance requires strong engagement with our partners and clientele to build the relationship and build trust. No doubt this continues to be difficult as new subvariants are identified. I empathize with all who have had to pivot, repeatedly, to meet program objectives and applaud all who have navigated safety measures to continue in-person interactions to the extent safety measure allow. When thinking about Project Board entries, please keep ‘relevance' in mind, especially when talking about efforts related to DEI, workforce preparedness, emergency response and preparedness, and community development. I left the conversation excited about NIFA's enthusiasm and commitment to Cooperative Extension and AES research. I can't wait to begin reading this year's impact and relevance stories!
Congratulations to Katherine Uhde! Katherine has been accepted into the Bloomberg American Health Initiative Fellowship Program at Johns Hopkins University. The Program is unique and a partnership between UC ANR and JHU. What a great opportunity for Katherine and UC ANR! Now, more than perhaps ever before, such partnerships are important. Cooperative Extension can play an important role to improve health outcomes and reduce health disparities in our communities.
We were fortunate to hear from Fabian Rivera from UC San Diego during our May Town Hall. Since that time, Marcel and Ricardo have partnered with Fabian to work on a project designed to address vaccine hesitancy by indigenous farmworkers in California and their families, such as Mixtecos and Zapotecos of Oaxaca, the Totonacas of Veracruz, the Nahuas of Guerrero, and Purépechas in Michoacán.
The week has flown by. It helps that I was able to leave the garage and visit the Hansen REC on Monday. It was great to see people and have in-person discussions! I valued the time we had to discuss important issues. I missed most of the tour. I had toured the facility previously, but was surprised to see how big the Trees for Tomorrow plantings have gotten! It helps to not get snow.
During the tour, I participated in a meeting with 3 members of the White House Office of Public Engagement and Domestic Policy Council to keep the White House apprised of the value of investing in Extension to address Climate Mitigation, Resiliency, and Adaption; Economic and Workforce Development; and Health, Equity and Well-Being. The Project Board impact statements come in handy for such meetings! The first question from the White House staff was about how we are engaged, or could be more engaged, with Climate Hubs. The question was a fantastic opportunity to talk about the work of the Climate Smart Ag team and the opportunity that capacity funds provide for building long-term relationships between our academics/community educators and networks such as the Climate Hub. That same message about capacity funding is key to comments submitted in response to NIFA's request for feedback on priority needs. Those comments were submitted late this afternoon. Now I am ready to focus on tomorrow's meetings.
I am looking forward to a day off on Friday and the holiday on Monday. I hope everyone enjoys some time away from Zoom. Stay safe!
It is federal reporting time. Katherine and her team are hard at work assembling the reports based on stories a group of academics gleaned from Project Board. I had a chance to take a quick peak. Here's a sample of the great stories you will find on the Condition Changes webpage:
Change in condition: Participants saved money.
Program evaluation findings from 2020 indicate that EFNEP adult graduates reported an average monthly food cost savings of $58.10, which collectively saved California EFNEP families $1,532,445.
- Families in Los Angeles and Orange County saved an average of $80 and $95.40 a month on groceries, respectively, after participating in EFNEP's ESBA workshop series.
- Families in Tulare County saved an average of $44.50 on groceries per month after participating in Eating Smart Being Active.
Change in condition: Jobs created.
The French Meadows watershed restoration project partners have appeared on various forums highlighting the role of UCCE research in changing the pace and scale of forest restoration in California. UCCE's continued engagement with research, education, advocacy, and fundraising resulted in 3,100 acres of forest restoration within the 28,000 acres of federal and private land. In the year 2020 alone, the project generated jobs for over 100 contractors. In addition, it removed 1.4 million board feet of timber to a local mill and more than 1,200 tons of biomass to local renewable energy facilities to help offset restoration costs, and contributing to the local economy.
Change in condition: Improved productivity.
Through conversations and on-farm observations, it has been noted that those who attended the UCCE Watermelon Grafting Field days in 2019, have either increased their acreage of grafted watermelon in 2020 or plan to increase in subsequent seasons. Currently, the estimated total acreage of grafted watermelon in the northern San Joaquin Valley, the biggest watermelon region of California, has at least tripled from less than 200 in 2019 to over 600 in 2021. Growers mentioned that successful grafted fields can produce 15-25% more watermelon fruit than the non-grafted fields per acre on average, and the average plant population per acre in grafted fields is about two-thirds that in non-grafted fields.
Thanks to everyone for their great effort and contributions to Project Board. I will share more stories in the coming weeks. And, as we head into our long weekend, let's thank farm workers and their families for all that they do to ensure a safe, abundant food supply. The public value of their efforts is unrivaled.
During our meeting this week, NIFA Director Scott Angle met with the group and shared a number of updates. Things are moving quickly to relocate NIFA to Kansas City. About a dozen staffers and 8 program people will remain in DC. Program staff have until the end of this week to apply to remain in DC. While it's disheartening to think about UC ANR's budget this coming year, I can't even imagine how those within NIFA feel about things. Director Angle talked about NIFA priorities, citing that efforts will focus on 5 areas: climate change, nutrition and health, policy, artificial intelligence, and sustainable intensification. This isn't new information though he emphasized that NIFA is committed to addressing climate change which is a bit of a different direction than previous messages that have come out of USDA. We also heard about plans to take a look at the capacity fund allocation method. It's unclear what this means but good to know it is coming. Hopefully it means good things for California.
We heard quite a bit about the matching requirement for NIFA funds. Efforts are underway to have a fix in place for next year's call for proposals. Unfortunately, there isn't a fix for the current RFA. Rumor has it Glenda played a big role in conversations to make headway.
We received an update from National 4-H Council. Good things are happening there. Mary Ciricillo's success in receiving $60,000 as a result of Foundation efforts was called out. And Fe Moncloa's co-leadership of the Access, Equity, and Belonging Committee was recognized for the resources under development. Of particular interest was a True Leaders in Equity Institute that was held in DC in April. Take a look at what some of the participants shared about what equity means to them.
It has been fun to hear what's going on in other states. Ten schools in Albuquerque, previously rated as ‘failing' now have 4-H Fridays where the last hour of the day is a 4-H meeting. Every student goes to a ‘club classroom' and works on projects. Attendance during the week and completed homework assignments are required in order to participate in the club that week. The result – better attendance, better grades, excitement over school! In Oregon, OSU Extension has partnered with REI to launch an outdoor economy initiative. Non-profits, for-profits, and agencies will be engaged as partners as the initiative develops.
I'm ready to head back to CA and put my new knowledge to use. If the ambient temp is going to be in the high 90's I would rather have that at home.
Last week it rained in southern California. And no one warned me. Despite that, it was a productive trip to the South Coast REC to talk about a different model for calculating recharge rates. No surprise that Chris, Darren, Kat, Deb and Lisa were way ahead of the topic and had an approach ready to propose. It made for easy work that will meet the goals of providing a better experience for the researcher by being able to provide multi-year rates at time of proposal submission. The researcher costs would be guaranteed for specified services and space, thus eliminating the uncertainty of budgeting costs. Mid-October we will have the conversation at Kearney and then work with the remaining RECs to meet the same goals.
October is a busy month. My entire career, it seems that October, March and July have been heavy travel months. This position promises to maintain the trend. If I had more time, I'd like to hear the conversation next week at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine Science Breakthroughs 2030: A Strategy for Food and Agricultural Research meeting to be held in Irvine, October 2 – 4. NAS conducted a study “to identify ambitious scientific opportunities in food and agriculture” and identified five focal areas for the Breakthroughs 2030 Study including Greener Plants, Greener Animals, Reducing Food Waste, Safer Food Supply, and Pathways for Resilience. These areas will be explored in greater depth by experts at the approaching "Jamboree Meeting" on October 2-4 in Irvine, CA. Anyone planning to attend?
Had the study identified ‘developing new foods' as a focal area, the study group might be interested in a news piece Ruth Dahlquist-Willard sent along about the moringa (http://abc30.com/2433622/). I had never heard of the moringa before. I suspect it might still be a while before I actually come across the ingredient on a menu, but it is good to know how it ties to CA and UC ANR.
This week I am in Philadelphia attending the annual Ag Experiment Station Directors meeting. NIFA presented a session on Big Data and talked about their upcoming listening sessions to seek stakeholder input on science opportunities. There is one in Sacramento on Nov 2 that I hope will be well attended by UC, including UC ANR. The Big Data session was interesting, particularly comments that Amazon and social media are the biggest contributors to big data – I typically think of remote sensing and automated data acquisition as sources of big data and don't give much thought to these other sources. I learned a lot in this session, including what the term georectification means and how it ties to deep learning used by Siri and Watson. I also learned about DRYAD – an open platform for sharing data. This might be of use to a MultiState Research Project that I have been involved with and now work with as the administrative advisor.
Next week, instead of heading south to Irvine, I head back east (Vermont) to the annual Extension Directors meeting. I preferred the arrangement last year when the Ag Experiment Station Directors and the Extension Directors met jointly, and in the west. I haven't looked at the agenda yet but hope to learn a few things there. I need to stay focused on the fact that I am the secretary and have to take minutes – not my strong suit and perhaps explains my calculus grade (the first time through).
In the meantime, more learning tomorrow, another manuscript to read, some position descriptions to wrap up before next week and what looks to be a full day in Davis on Friday. I will keep you posted how these progress.