In a year that continues to take unpleasant twists and turns, there continue to be bright spots along the way! Please welcome Douglas Amaral to UC ANR. Douglas started on October 1, 2020 as the CE Pomology and Water/Soils Area Advisor, based in Hanford, California, with programmatic responsibilities in Kings and Tulare Counties. I look forward to meeting Douglas.
This year's recipient of the National Diversity in Extension Award that recognizes significant contributions and accomplishments in achieving and sustaining diversity and pluralism has a UC ANR connection. The University of Missouri's 4-H Center for Youth Development is the recipient in 2020. We knew Lupita Fabergas would do great things in her role at the University of Missouri, here' one piece of evidence! USDA-NIFA and Cooperative Extension have sponsored the awards since 1991. The award will be presented virtually on October 28. If you have remained in touch with Lupita, please send her a note of congratulations!
Thanks to Sara Garcia Figuera and team, there is a new resource available that summarizes HLB research. Working with Beth Grafton-Cardwell, Monique Rivera, and Neil McRoberts, Sara compiled and summarized research data to update an important brochure for citrus growers. Take a look! It is always exciting to see graduate students excited about Cooperative Extension. Hopefully, Sara continues such outreach efforts throughout her promising career.
It is hard to believe that this is Program Council week again already! This month's meeting focused on ways to creatively reduce our reliance on traditional funding sources. The goal is to stay ahead of the COVID-related economic challenges that are upon us and will likely have multi-year impacts. Fortunately, if we are proactive, we can use the value of and need for our programs to move us forward. Listening to the Governor's call late Wednesday where he laid out his plan for the Executive Order related to agriculture, I see many, many opportunities for us.
The Vice President's Council meets on Thursday. The business unit directors and statewide program/institute directors will hear about the tools and guidance developed to help all of us identify and implement opportunities for cost recovery and income generation. We will talk about efforts in specific programs to advance diversity, inclusion, and equity within the program. During the VP Council we will have a brief update on the strategic planning efforts. The drafts for both the division and the RECs are out for review. If you can make the time for review, we would appreciate your feedback!
This year, the 4th of July holiday seemed surreal. From the record-setting days of COVID-19 cases to the alarming speeches, I would be fine if we don't repeat one like this anytime soon. Great to see that some were able to get away and maintain physical distancing.
Last week was a short week. This week is anything but a short week. Each day is full of meetings from morning to late afternoon. No time for work on any project this week. Today, we held the County Director monthly meeting. The customary 2.5-hr meeting seemed long, likely due to the afternoon timing. Having had no break since my first meeting of the morning didn't help. The Strategic Initiative Leaders meet Tuesday afternoon before Program Council begins. Program Council runs through midday Wednesday, followed by a meeting of the Vice Chancellors for Research. Thursday includes, among other sessions, several hours set aside to makes some needed budget decisions, despite the fluid budget situation. On Friday, the week winds down with a full day of strategic planning for the REC system. Zoom fatigue is a real thing!
To prepare for a Thursday meeting, I watched a few videos over the weekend that focused on farming with data to address how we will build on precision agriculture to increase food production by 40% while reducing the environmental footprint of agriculture. The meeting addresses USDA's Agriculture Innovation Agenda. If you are interested in participating in this Western listening session, please register here. Note this is a working session where participants will select a breakout topic for contributing their ideas.
The UC Regents meet this week. Rumor has it we will learn who will serve as the next UC President. We are eager to help the new President learn about UC ANR and the great work that goes on all around the state. Our recent retirees are acknowledged far and wide.
Some good news is that the UC ANR 4-H planned giving site is now live! Planned giving is a new topic for UC ANR. Hopefully, a more general site that promotes planned giving for all programs will follow.
Enjoy your week. I know many were able to take a 4-day weekend, making this a short week.
Mentally, I am exhausted. The week started with a couple of excellent meetings on the Berkeley campus. Then came a full day at the UC ANR Governing Council where we had a lively and productive conversation about UC ANR's public value statements, our partnerships, and our statewide programs. I was pleased with the level of interest in our work by those members of the Council who perhaps don't know us as well as our traditional campus partners. I found the suggestions and insights very helpful. I believe there is much potential to build solid partnerships with new campus partners while strengthening existing partnerships such that everyone feels a win. Things won't happen overnight, but the conversation has to start somewhere. I believe that conversation is off to a good start.
I'm hearing good things about the outcome of Giving Tuesday! I know final numbers are not tallied but I understand we exceeded an aggressive goal of $125,000 by over $5,000 and increased our number of donors! How exciting! The outcome is particularly strong considering we had added a second day of giving back in June. There's so much good work going on in UC ANR, it makes sense that people want to give! Congratulations to everyone who had any role in Giving Tuesday – from IT who made the Donate buttons happen, to everyone who sent encouraging emails, to every donor. We couldn't have done it without you!
Today the Program Council met and reviewed the CE Specialist and CE Advisor needs. There were moments during the meeting where I thought we couldn't possibly finish on time, but we did. While the thinking that had to go on was grueling, we were all fueled by the anticipation of building our colleague numbers. I don't envy the decisions the Vice President has to make; there were no unnecessary positions in the bunch. However, I am elated that there are positions to be announced in the very near future.
Mental exhaustion aside, the week has been uplifting and filled with motivation to do more. I can't wait to see what tomorrow brings!
The week has flown by. The fall is flying by. It's all good but hard to keep up. Others have made the same comment. I hope this isn't a sign of age.
Monday turned out to be one meeting after the next, but all good meetings. During the CE Specialist meeting at Davis, we had a chance to meet a few of the newest CE Specialists and say hello to others. That meeting always seems too short. My last meeting on Monday consisted of a Zoom call with, among a number of others, Shannon Horillo. It was nice to see her!
The Program Council schedule was full. We had a presentation from the chair of the SAREP program review committee, planning the process to review CE Advisor and CE Specialist needs at our next meeting, a more generic conversation about academic planning, and an update from Academic HR regarding emeritus status. I'm not sure how Katherine and Jennifer keep up with the conversation, but I'm counting on them to remind me what ‘to-dos' I left with from the meeting.
Oddly, today was a light day, as is tomorrow. I must be missing something. Likely it is a reflection of the fact that I haven't been out to visit any county offices or RECs lately. I am not short on things to edit or prepare so no doubt the day will pass quickly. Who knows, I may catch up on things before heading to a meeting that runs Saturday – Tuesday.
Congratulations to Jairo, Gilberto and the DREC crew! They survived an AAALAC review with apparently no actionable items. The final report isn't in yet, but things look promising. My lab in Michigan underwent an AAALAC inspection twice while I was there. Fortunately, I had an outstanding manager who kept the lab inspection-ready at all times.
Be sure to thank all of the veterans for their service that continues to keep us safe.
A couple of weeks back, I had a chance to see the Hispanic Heritage Month video that featured DREC director, Jairo Diaz. I meant to find other videos, but I lost track of the thought. Today I had a chance to see those videos featuring Fe Moncloa, Maria de la Fuente, and Aileen Carrasco –Trujillo. They were as inspiring as any TED talk I have heard lately. I highly recommend you take the 12 minutes to review the four videos. Each of the featured ANR team members talks about their values and what brought them to UC ANR. Immediately I thought how fun it would be for people throughout UC ANR to have a similar video on their ANR portal page. Then I remembered that JoLynn Miller is working on something just like this for the County UCCE page (and that I owe her something). Perhaps this is a new trend.
Equally inspiring was a conversation I had with Devii Rao and Lynn Schmitt-McQuitty today. Devii is working on a vision for UCCE in San Benito County, to share with key County administration and perhaps a couple of Supervisors later this month. She has some great ideas, building off what peers have shared and her knowledge of what County needs and priorities are. I like the phased approach she is building and the connection to partners. I know Devii is putting much effort into this; hopefully, the prospects energize Devii.
Program Council produced some homework. For some reason I can't quite define, this month's meeting left me a bit tired. We spent a fair bit of time talking about needs across UC ANR (people, support) and how to prioritize and meet those needs. Lorna Krkich spoke to us about the nuts and bolts of working with the Development Services team (how, who's responsible for what, what are their goals, etc.). Jim Downing and Linda Forbes met with Program Council to talk about their strategic plan development for both the Publications unit and the Strategic Communications Unit. Jon Wilson joined them to talk about the vision for a much-needed overhaul of the web presence (Integrated Web Project). The Council welcomed the presentations as nice breaks from other topics.
Not unlike most weeks, it has been a 'learning week.' I am looking forward to the rest of the week.