I am in DC for a few days this week to meet with Extension Directors and partners, including the new NIFA National Science Liaisons. These are the NIFA employees who stayed behind in DC while the rest of NIFA headquarters relocated to Kansas City a few months ago. My understanding is that the Liaisons will work to build stronger connections with other federal agencies, as part of an effort to increase funding opportunities for agriculture, nutrition, natural resources, and youth development programming and research. While I know half of the team, I want to hear directly from the Liaisons what they see as the vision for their newly created roles and how they plan to interact with Extension and the land grant universities as well as other federal agencies.
Because I had to fly in the day before the meeting started, I made good use of my time this morning by meeting early with a group regarding how we make the work of Cooperative Extension known in university circles. All of us, in all academic circles, need to do more to help the public better understand the public impact of research, i.e., how the results of the research will improve the lives of citizens everywhere. Within the academic family, we can work more collaboratively to engage local communities in the identification of research needs and implementation of research findings in ways that enhance adoption at the local level. The conversation was much like the one had at the ANR Governing Council meeting last week, where we discussed the public impact of our work and that of the broader UC system and the missed opportunities to partner more closely and achieve more in a streamlined manner. No surprise in this funding environment that this topic is on the minds of many.
Traveling to the east coast has its upside. The time zone difference is such that if I skip group dinners, I can still participate in Pacific Time business (email, webinars, and phone calls) such that I don't get too far behind. Except for Thursday's email traffic, I expect to be pretty much up to date on things when I land in Sacramento Thursday evening. The weather is similar on both ends of the country this week - rainy and anywhere between 40 and 60 F. While not ideal, regardless of the coast, this, too, shall pass.
There is still time to raise your hand in support of California's 4-H program! It's easy. It's free. And if can result in a $20,000 award to the state program to support youth development in California.
I'm in San Diego at the spring meeting of Extension program leaders, Extension directors, and Ag Experiment Station Directors. The views are great and the water really close. Yesterday we spent the afternoon talking about increasing cultural competency in our states. The discussion had quite a bit of focus around increasing partnerships with the 1994 institutions and increasing capacity funding through the Federally Recognized Tribal Extension Program (FRTEP). The whole conversation had me thinking about our one of our public value statements: Developing an inclusive and equitable society. When that statement was first developed there was considerable discussion about the principles as a component of everything we do; the act of inclusion without giving it any thought because it is second nature is the indicator that one is culturally competent. Admittedly, I questioned why, as a core value, we would have a stand-alone public value statement around inclusion. However, as I listened to the conversations yesterday and this morning, it became clear to me that by calling this out as a one of our UC ANR statements, we make the commitment to move the needle.
A portion of the conversation centered on the need for the academic review system to reward for impact and teamwork. I honestly don't remember how we moved to such acknowledgment when the topic was cultural competence, but that's how meetings go. I do know that at UC ANR we are doing exactly this; questioning the ‘so what' of our work and the change in conditions that resulted as opposed to focusing on evidence of scholarship (i.e. the number of publications and grant dollars secured). We've seen the value of our impact stories when we've made visits to offices of our state and federal elected officials. The impacts, not the activities, cause people sit up and take notice. Fortunately, we have many stories to tell, ranging from work with the Fresno Street Saints to efforts to improving water use efficiency.
Some of the conversation addressed the problems of using an ‘expert model' in community work. I think framing about our work, even if only in our internal conversations, under knowledge areas serves to perpetuate the expert model. Framing our work around condition changes and/or public value statements avoids said problems.
If put to a vote today whether to leave ‘Developing an inclusive and equitable society' as its own public value statement or to consider it inherent within the others, I believe I would raise my hand to leave it as is.
Yesterday was the start of my third year with UC ANR. I didn't go out and celebrate because we had our meeting with President Napolitano today and she is always well prepared for these meetings so I wouldn't want to risk not being on my toes. Overall, it was a good meeting. We were well prepared and we had strong progress on our goals to be shared. I haven't fully processed the conversations but I'm sure thoughts will weave their way into future blog posts.
Earlier in the day, President Napolitano gave a Town Hall meeting in Oakland. One statistic she shared that we should all be talking about is the fact that 42% of UC graduates were first generation students. That's amazing and I have no doubt that the work UC ANR does around the state contributed to some of those students making their way to UC, through youth development efforts, programs that enhanced skills or business success of parents, and/or money management and budget classes.
During the Town Hall the President was asked about the current practice of leaving vacant positions open. She gave an interesting answer, indicating that it's an opportunity for all to think about what they were doing and if it was the highest priority work versus using the vacancy as a driver to improve process efficiency. She went on to say that ‘change', while hard, can come from within and often it is that change that most contributes to success. The response caught me off guard but at the same time was quite empowering, as I believe it was intended. Sort of a “be the change” message.
During the noon WebANR, Nancy Franz talked about using Public Value Statements in your own program or your team's work. If you were unable to join, check out the recording. And if you have topic ideas for the WebANR series – topics ranging from effective program delivery, to resourcing your program, to navigating the office environment and systems – feel free to contact Jodi Azuli and share your idea! Be sure to thank Jodi for the work she has been doing on these third Thursday WebANRs.
While I may not be an official anniversary celebration, there's lots to celebrate in UC ANR. Fe Moncloa was just appointed to a national leadership role as co-chair of the 4-H PLWG, Equity and Engagement for All (EEA) committee. In this role, Fe will support the professional development needs of 4-H Extension professionals on issues of equity, belonging and inclusion. Congratulations, Fe!
The work of the Fresno UCCE team was recently recognized by CalCAN for their work with the SWEEP program. Congratulations to Michael, Ruth, and team! I had a chance to visit this office not too long ago and we visited a farmer who works closely with the local team. I don't think I will forget anytime soon how moving it was to hear about the partnership with the women's shelter nor with the Street Saints organization.
These are just a couple of examples of what we all have to celebrate. While the process of reviewing merit and promotion documents takes time, the timing is perfect as it allows me the chance to wind down each of my ‘years with UC ANR' recognizing and rewarding all of the outstanding effort, all across the state.
Tomorrow I need to pull together a presentation for the ANR Advisory Committee about the delivery of our programs and processes in place to review and resource programs. It's an easy sell to convey the importance of everyone's work. I just need to sit down and put it together.