I keep hearing from the weather person that we are heading towards fall weather. Three hours in the front yard last weekend, followed by the resurgence of high temperatures again this weekend, have me unconvinced. The harsh reality is that weed growth has not slowed. At some point, it will, at least for a few months. One good sign over this past weekend was the sound of the Sandhill cranes overhead. They were returning to the Woodbridge Preserve for their winter visit. Odd that we always hear them a few minutes before seeing them as they make their migration to the water. It seems a bit early, but that is just a manifestation of the COVID crisis. In fact, according to the calendar, the Sandhill cranes are right on time. Time flies even during a pandemic.
During the Regents meeting two weeks ago, Carrie Byington from UC Health shared the reality that she expects COVID-19 to cause at least another year of disruption to university systems. In the meantime, the toilet paper supply appears to be in good shape. Furthermore, we are resuming some of our key activities that have been on hold. Other activities have moved forward using new methods. I have learned that occasionally I need a Zoom-free day. I took one this past Friday, after four 10+ hours days of Zooming, to conduct UC ANR work and participate in a national event planned by East Coasters. Even though I had written a blog post, I forgot to upload it, so zoomed out I was by the end of the day. The Zoom reality has translated into more meetings and more work without the airplane downtime. I know you can relate. I highly recommend a monthly Zoom-free day!
With my renewed energy, I am looking forward to this week's activities. Activities include a 2-hour training, a check in with the Oakland team, a PAC meeting on Wednesday that consists of time with President Drake, representing my first live session with him. This week contains a meeting with other Extension Directors from around the country to advance an initiative. The week winds down with 'First Friday' calls that take up the bulk of the workday before heading into a weekend that promises more yard work. Some rain would top off what promises to be a great week.
Whether you observed Easter or Passover, were preparing for Ramadan to start in 10 days or celebrated the time off, I hope everyone had a pleasant weekend. For those in Modoc County, I hope you enjoyed the Easter Bunny Wave. The weather was perfect for it. I love the creativity by the 4-H members to take the bunny parade to the homes of the residents! So much easier than having to go to the parade. The 4-Hers in San Benito County did something special to reach out to emergency workers and people who may be feeling sick or lonely. How thoughtful!
Last week, President Napolitano joined the President's Advisory Commission (PAC) meeting from her dining room table, clearly not her usual mode of work. During the meeting, Secretary Karen Ross shared current challenges related to food distribution, including travel restrictions for seasonal labor necessary for harvest. The more significant issue may be the impact on farmers of closed restaurants and schools, resulting in food produced with no place to go. Every day I look to make sure the milk truck comes to the dairy across the street. So far, so good.
During the PAC meeting, we had some discussion about COVID-19, itself, including the positive test in Nadia, a 4-year-old female Malayan tiger at the Bronx Zoo. According to the Wildlife Conservation Society's Bronx Zoo, Nadia, her sister Azul, two Amur tigers, and three African lions developed a dry cough. It seems only Nadia tested positive. Did you know that at one point, my dream job was to be the Chief Veterinarian at the Bronx Zoo? At the time, I was in 4th grade and had read about Emil Dolensek, who was at the time the Chief Veterinarian at the Bronx Zoo and the subject of the book, Doctor in the Zoo. The Bronx Zoo was my favorite place to visit. While I didn't pursue that career choice, it was a promising deterrent from my earlier plans. On the first day of kindergarten, when we each introduced ourselves and indicated our intended career path, I proclaimed my intentions of becoming a professional pickpocket. Alas, plans change.
On Friday, I had a chance to listen to Thursday's eXtension Social Café, featuring Brook and Sarah from the UC California Naturalist program and hosted by Rose Hayden-Smith. Rose will feature the UC California Naturalist program in the eFieldbook she is creating for eXtension as an outstanding example of social media use in #scicomm. I was really pleased to learn how Sarah ties in academic content from other UC ANR programs in her story posts. While not so fond of the idea of taking quizzes, I like the inclusion of the interaction and the fact that I can opt out of that part. Excellent work, Brook and Sarah!
Earlier in the week, I received an email from a colleague in North Carolina sharing that she had just read a Fast Company article that called out the UC Master Gardener program. Congratulations to Missy and the team! What an excellent recognition for their work and the program.
Speaking of gardening, it sounds like the last-minute change to the Contra Costa County plant sale is having some success. Lorna has shared some positive feedback from some of the donors who have purchased starter plants. Hopefully, many of the UC ANR staff can take advantage of the Staff Assembly's GROWS program. What a great idea!
I hope to see everyone at the Town Hall later this week!
Congratulations to the team of California 4-H camp volunteers, program staff, and youth who plan and run our camping programs! The American Camp Association's Committee for the Advancement of Research and Evaluation (CARE), has recognized the California 4-H Camping Advisory Committee as a 2020 recipient of the Eleanor P. Eells Award for Research in Practice. The team is recognized for their extraordinary efforts in generating and using innovative and quality research and evaluation to improve program practice and in sharing findings with others. Of particular note is that the team's work has resulted in an increase in the number of participating 4-H Camps from 8 to 22! Marianne Bird, a team member, said of the team “Never have I witnessed such interest and investment in wanting to learn about and improve youth's experiences in their camp programs”. Nicely done all!
This week is full of meetings. I suspect many of us are scurrying to get things done before a 2-week break in activity. The Dean's Council meets tomorrow (Tuesday), in Oakland. This group includes the Deans from UCB, UCD, and UCR, including the Vet School. On Wednesday, the President's Advisory Council (PAC) meets in Oakland. We have new members on the PAC, who will be meeting with us for the first time. I will miss the latter portion of that meeting and the reception at the President's house because of another meeting commitment. Thursday the strategic plan goal owners meet and there is a year-end mixer at the Davis building. Friday is booked with Zoom calls and meetings until 5 PM, representing one last push to get things done for those not working next Monday. In the absence of any meetings on the 23rd, I plan to check off several things on the ‘to-do' list.
Several of our CARET representatives are members of the PAC. I was thinking about our CARETs last week during a presentation I heard while in DC. The presenter spoke about the need for an advocacy strategy to include grassroots, grass shoots, and strong stalks. This was all new information to me. He indicated that CARETs are strong stalks; those individuals who are the stalwart champions engaged in regular communications and activities. Then there are the grass shoots who are your ‘ringers', called in for key conversations with influencers. Amidst the meetings this week I need to give these concepts more thought. In the meantime, I am looking forward to meeting our new PAC members, who are also loyal, strong supporters of UC ANR.
I hope everyone has a restful and fun break!
I was expecting to see more snow. Then, as I neared the east border of Place County, I saw it. The mountains above Donner Lake are deep in snow. For whatever reason, snow-covered mountains give me a sense of calm and that all is right in the world.
I'm in Reno for the next couple of days. The CE Advisors and some of the program staff who work in the counties that border Nevada are meeting with their peers from the University of Nevada that work in counties bordering California. The goal of meeting our neighbors is to share what we are doing, independently, and see what opportunities exist to work together. Ivory, the Extension Director for the University of Nevada, and I are merely here to welcome the group, encourage conversation, then get out of the way. Maybe new partnerships will develop, maybe new ideas to bring back to our own programs, or maybe a chance to see colleagues from our own state – we won't know until we give it a try.
I will work on merit and promotion packages during much of the time that the Advisors and Community Educators meet with their Nevada colleagues. Right now, I have 13 packages that still need a first review. The Peer Review Committee met this week to develop their recommendations for each package. They were working so hard, they didn't even break for UC Walks. A few members squeezed in a lap around the Davis ANR building, but then it was back to work.
The President's Advisory Committee met this week. A key part of the meeting was reviewing the purpose of the Committee and starting a discussion about the future role and function of the Committee. Committee members are busy people but very strong advocates for UC ANR so we want to be efficient in asking anything of any member. Conversation will continue between now and the fall meeting.
Looking forward to a trip back through Truckee though it will be a test of my phone reception as I have some calls to take during the trek. Might just have to pull over and enjoy the view for a bit.
I suspect that many look forward with great alacrity to the winter break that is almost here. I don't know about others but I fully expect to see some winter weather though my destination is far less exciting than that of others (The Netherlands, India, Cancun, New Orleans, etc.).
President Napolitano used 'alacrity' in her remarks the other day at the President's Advisory Council (PAC) meeting. Following she was quizzed on the spelling; she did quite well. The President praised UC ANR for our work in response to fires this year. The majority of her comments focused on her acceptance of the committee recommendations for oversight and funding of UC ANR. Members of the PAC had questions for her but, overall the PAC was pleased with the outcome of the committee's work.
During the PAC meeting we learned more about the CARA project that archives UCCE records. Three counties are complete (Ventura, Merced, and Humboldt). Take a look and read through a 1987 issue of Tomato Topics or see a 1932 photo of the historic home that sits on the Hansen REC.
Speaking of history, many are likely familiar with a historic version of the Extension Worker's Creed. But did you know that the creed was recently updated to reflect 21st-century work and priorities? Below are the original version and the updated version.
I Believe in people and their hopes, their aspirations, and their faith; in their right to make their own plans and arrive at their own decisions; in their ability and power to enlarge their lives and plan for the happiness of those they love.
I Believe that education, of which Extension is an essential part, is basic in stimulating individual initiative, self-determination, and leadership; that these are the keys to democracy and that people when given facts they understand, will act not only in their self-interest but also in the interest of society.
I Believe that education is a lifelong process and the greatest university is the home; that my success as a teacher is proportional to those qualities of mind and spirit that give me welcome entrance to the homes of the families I serve.
I Believe in intellectual freedom to search for and present the truth without bias and with courteous tolerance toward the views of others.
I Believe that Extension is a link between the people and the ever-changing discoveries in the laboratories.
I Believe in the public institutions of which I am a part.
I Believe in my own work and in the opportunity I have to make my life useful to humanity.
Because I Believe these things, I am an Extension professional.
I believe that mutual respect, openness, creativity, and innovation—
the core values of the 21st century—are the hallmarks of Cooperative
I believe that Extension educators are called upon not only to affirm
these values but also to ensure that they comprise an integral part of our work.
I believe that Extension educators constitute the most valuable of all
infrastructure—human infrastructure—and that this deep reservoir built of trust
and collaboration retains an infinite capacity for fostering human achievement.
I believe that we are more than simple purveyors of knowledge—
we are knowledge enablers whose charge is to add value to knowledge by
demonstrating how practical, meaningful, and lasting use can be derived
I believe that our long-standing experience with an affinity for
collaborative learning reflected in the work of Seaman Knapp and Booker T.
Washington, singularly equip us for the immense challenges that await us in the
I believe that the collaborative learning embodied in Extension work is
enhanced by a generous measure of empathy and compassion.
I believe that in an era of frenetic growth punctuated by rampant
scarcity, we are called to be sustainers, securing and enriching the lives and
livelihoods of those we serve without eroding the ability of future generations
to secure and enrich theirs.
I believe that by acknowledging and celebrating our differences, we
enhance opportunities for personal growth and enrichment and secure the
personal freedom of and respect for all.
I believe that the prevailing winds of change are summoning us to do
what we have always done best: to work, to teach, and to inspire through
dialogue and empowerment, demonstrating to our diverse audiences the value
of accepting and embracing change as an inevitable facet of life and as an
opportunity to formulate new ways of thinking, living, and working.
I believe passionately in these ideals and because they embody the
essence of Cooperative Extension work, I proudly proclaim and honor them as my own.
Words may change but what remains the same is the need and value of Cooperative Extension and the greater UC ANR to communities all across California. My New Year's resolution is to remind myself often of my good fortune for being a part of UC ANR.
Happy holidays everyone!