I went back to the office this week! My plant didn't survive the 16 months without a drink. Other than that, everything was intact. Getting my desktop functioning was a bit of a challenge with updates, recalling passwords, and moving things from my laptop, but I welcome the change in scenery and the air conditioning! My laptop gained back 9 minutes lost since last connecting to the network. Most important, it was nice to see members of the UC ANR team, in person, again!
The NPI has been busy helping facilities reopen safely. Take a look at the factsheet they developed with partners at Purdue University. The USDA has made use of this information in order to assist schools in preparedness plan.
Congratulations to Keith and Fe for their latest accomplishment! A book about social capital and social justice, co-authored with several colleagues from LGUs across the country, has just been published and made available at the 4-H Mall. A timely and important topic, indeed.
While we eagerly await learning that the Governor has signed the state budget restoring the UC budget and augmenting the UC ANR budget line, I am pleased that hiring of new academics continue. In addition to the impressive effort that Ruth is leading to hire 7 Community Educators and 2 CE Advisors to support small-sized farms, Sandipa Gautam starts on July 12th as the Area Citrus Integrated Pest Management Advisor, based at the Lindcove REC, with programmatic responsibilities in Tulare, Fresno, Madera, and Kern Counties. Please make a point to reach out and welcome Sandipa in her new role. Sandipa is not new to UC, but we are extremely pleased to have her join UC ANR.
Scott, Bethanie, Jake and the UC Path transition team have made it past the launch date for bringing the UCR CE Specialists into the UC ANR business unit. I have no doubt they are feeling a wave of relief that the date has passed without disruptions. Likewise, the UCR CE Specialists are no doubt relieved as well. Congratulations to the team at both UC ANR and UCR for their extraordinary care in making the transition a successful reality! Only one unit remains to transition (Oakland)!
After a 3-day weekend of yard work, I am caught up (for now)! I can sense the weeds already recovering, but I am confident I can avoid yard work during the heat promised this weekend. I hope you each find relief from the heat!
Last week, when I was in Berkeley, I met not only with the CE Specialists but spent the better part of the morning with the Nutrition Policy Institute. Of course I knew Lorrene Ritchie and knew of Pat Crawford's work but it was really nice to sit down and put names and faces to the incredible number of projects going on across NPI. This group really has it together and is ahead of the curve in my book. They've had a lawyer on board at NPI for some time now and he helps them translate their research into policy by making sure their message “doesn't put lawmakers to sleep”. It sounds like an obvious member of a team but who else really prioritizes such a position within a group of nutritionists? If you don't know anything about NPI, be sure to take a look at their website or Twitter feed @UCnpi . It's a large group with the vast majority of the group soft funded. The enthusiasm was contagious, but if you know Lorrene this doesn't surprise you. Not even a small earthquake during our visit (3.4, if I recall correctly what Pat reported) could shake this group from the energy they have for their work.
Today UC ANR had its annual meeting with President Napolitano. A good meeting; I was surprised how fast 90 minutes went by. The recommendation of developing a 5-yr strategic plan didn't come up (thank goodness!). Instead we talked about where we are with implementing the recently developed plan and talked about budget projections and expenditures. AVP Tu Tran fielded those questions and, as always, did a fabulous job recounting numbers that I could only begin to remember. UC ANR is quite fortunate to have someone with his business acumen.
Wednesday and Thursday this week I will be down at the Forbes Ag Tech Summit near Salinas. If I have been to Salinas before it was just driving through. More importantly, I haven't been to the Summit before so I am anxious to see what that is about and then see what ideas come out of it for me. I like to spend some time with people outside of my usual crowd; it gets me to think a bit differently and better appreciate how others think. I will be sure to have a post about any ideas the Summit conjures up. Who knows, I might even remember to take a photo. I meant to do that at NPI but good intentions don't guarantee follow through. It will be enough though if I walk away with a clever idea, like having an attorney on staff for a policy institute.
I am hoping to get to at least a few county offices over the summer. My visits to offices thus far have proven very useful and I look forward to getting to every office before June 2018 hits. I already have a fair bit of other travel booked through mid-fall but visits to the counties are a high priority for me. It's the best way to see, firsthand, all of the ‘NPI-like' programs we have in UC ANR.
A couple of weeks ago I spent a few days in Washington, D.C. attending the APLU meeting with several people for UC ANR and the UC campuses as well as the UC ANR CARET representatives. I have to say, photo ops with politicians is not my thing but it was really fun to spend some time with UC ANR's impressive CARET representatives and hear what our work means to them. Equally exciting was to see Clare Gupta, Lorrene Ritchie and Gabe Youtsey talk about their work. Lorrene and I were paired together a fair bit throughout the day and a half of hill visits so I was able to see firsthand her exceptional ability to connect with staffers; she was amazing! I've already nominated her to participate again next year! Not only did I learn a lot just observing her in action, but I was able to hear Lorrene talk about NPI's work around the state and the impact it has for communities and families. This week I met Dani Lee for the first time, one of the newest members of NPI. Hopefully I will get over to meet the rest of the team soon.
You can imagine that after spending that time in D.C. talking about UC ANR efforts, how disappointing it was to return only to learn of the proposed ‘skinny budget' which proposes a 21% reduction to USDA funding. This certainly illustrates the importance of highlighting the impact of our work on food security, community vitality, natural resource protection and youth development every day, not just for 1+ day in early March. That's the purpose of Goal 15 in the strategic plan – help people understand the positive impacts we have and not be the best kept secret. Now more than ever we need to constantly communicate our impacts in a way that people can relate to even if they aren't directly tied to our programs. And, I believe, the more we can aggregate our impacts across programs to some common indicator that many, many people can relate to the better off we will be. This will be part of the conversation when we hold regional information sessions this summer to share plans for executing the strategic plan, particularly goal 5. Dates and locations are still in planning phase but I will keep you posted and I am sure something will come out in the ANR Update. In addition, there's some work planned with statewide program and institute directors plus the strategic initiative leaders for mid-May to get that conversation started. Just like I learned a ton of new things during my travels the past couple of weeks, I look forward to learning from this group of directors/leaders.
For now though, I need to get back to catching up on some things, including a couple of manuscript reviews I forgot I had promised to complete last week. Not to mention my Crucial Conversations training reading assignment that I had planned to complete by now….