New case numbers in California remain more than 10-fold higher than they were at this time last year. I hope the numbers continue to decline, and we don't see an upward trend such as Oregon is observing at the moment.
We have done quite a bit to help others through this time, and that work continues. The News and Outreach in Spanish team uses radio and television to reach underserved Spanish-speaking communities. And, I learned the following from Project Board and Federal reporting data.
- Sixteen small-scale strawberry farmers from Southeast Asian communities implemented use of UC ANR-provided personal protective equipment and displayed the signs, also provided by UC ANR, at their farm stands. Farmers reported that “posting the signs helped a lot, it kept customers from touching produce and they wore masks" and “customers were able to read the signs ahead, and understand what needed to be done and was expected at the fruit stand. While the customers were waiting in a single-file line, they were all six feet apart."
- UCCE in Santa Clara County distributed over 80 COVID-kits to farmers from socially disadvantaged communities to ensure worker safety. Observations during farm visits showed that farm workers were wearing masks when working. Interviews revealed that they were washing their hands more often.
I know there are many more examples out there. Keep up the good work, everyone! We are so close to our new normal if we can just continue safe practices!
More fires are popping up around the state; it is far too soon for this! This year's Federal report shares that Andrew Gray, an AES researcher at UC Riverside, studies the aftermath of fire and storm events to understand debris flows. The findings will help the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works personnel modify their approach to assessing debris flow risk after fires to better mitigate danger during post-fire storms. UC Davis AES scientist, Rahel Sollman, completed an intensive study of the plants, invertebrates, mammals, birds, bats, pollinators, and flowering plants within the burn perimeter of the 2014 King Fire. The goal was to map and understand the food web networks and assess species vulnerabilities. These baseline data provide critical information for forest managers to evaluate recovery and species declines.
This is Program Council week. The Program Council meetings conflicted with Asian Pacific Heritage Month activities, but I hope many others were able to participate. There are many meetings this week. Perhaps next week with bring a lighter schedule, no new fires, and fewer new COVID cases.
And the UC ANR nominees for the WEDA Award of Excellence are: Loren Oki, Karrie Reid, Darren Haver, and Jared Sisneroz for UC Landscape Plant Irrigation Trials Program and Deanne Meyer, Betsy Karle, Jennifer Heguy, David Lewis, Jeffery Stackhouse, Nicholas Clark, Randi Black, Daniela Bruno, and D. Denise Mullinax for California Dairy Quality Assurance Program- Environmental Stewardship: A Public Private Partnership. The two teams were selected for nomination to the Western Extension Directors Association awards program. The winner at the regional level will provide an overview of the program at the virtual WEDA Summer Meeting in June. We'll know more in a few months if either team is successful, but they are both winners with UC ANR. Congratulations to the teams for their outstanding work!
I am reminded that winter isn't quite over, yet. Laura shared that she had quite a bit of snow in Modoc County earlier this week. And, Mark saw ice on the lake over the weekend! No wonder why my garage remains cold.
Program Council met this week. We had a full agenda. The meeting left me a bit brain dead, making it difficult to do much evening catch up on emails or evaluation reviews. I don't seem to be progressing on those very quickly. However, I think I am more than half way through annual calls to review progress on goals. I enjoy the calls, but get behind on everything else. I am making some progress wrapping up agreements. I have a couple yet to be completed before spending some time connecting with partners.
I spend the next two weeks in virtual conferences. One nice thing about the virtual approach is that the meeting time is reduced, though there seems to be more homework to prepare for conversations. I guess it keeps me out of trouble.
I hope everyone has power restored. At least we don't have the temperatures to accompany the winter storm that those along the Eastern Seaboard are facing.
We presented the updated strategic plan to President Drake this week. I believe it was well received by him. He asked about the ‘so what' of our plan. The question immediately transformed me in time to a meeting where the then Governor posed the same question to me as I defended against eliminating our budget. I stumbled for the response because we lacked the evidence to make a case. After the meeting, I sat in my car, still storming about the situation, and realized that it is on us to overtly convey our ‘so what'. This time, we were well prepared for the response, but it doesn't mean we become complacent. Now, it is time to get to work making the goals happen. I have some interesting partnership discussions underway to increase our programmatic footprint. This is in addition to the good things outlined in the Governor's January budget release.
Program Council met this week. We completed presentations and discussions with Statewide Program Directors. The presentations were very informative, giving Program Council a chance to hear from the Directors what they are thinking as far as opportunities for the future. I will meet with the Statewide Program Directors later this week to brainstorm a bit about future collaborations. I met as part of a group early this week to brainstorm specifically about the 4-H program. I felt that was a great conversation.
I have had several meetings with members of NIFA lately. Last week as few of us met with the new NIFA director, Dr. Carrie Castille. She is no stranger to Cooperative Extension and specifically called out the 4-H at Home efforts as particularly important during this time. In a separate meeting this week, a small group discussed with NIFA leadership direction for the Cooperative Extension System and evolution of our partnership with NIFA.
It is time for me to get started reviewing dossiers and annual evaluation documents. In between, I look forward to reading about our programs from sources outside of California. Check out this post that shares how one of our Master Food Preservers helped prevent widespread sharing of poor canning practices. Way to go, Colleen! And California was featured as an example for reporting practices by NIFA. That should feel good for all who have been getting their program information and outcomes into Project Board!
The First Friday is here. That means a day of Zoom calls for standing meetings. In addition to REC, CD, and ECOP calls, this month I have a meeting with a newly formed systemwide group to explore transparency in animal research. That promises to be interesting and another important aspect of the ‘so what'.
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.