Not only is the sun shining a bit brighter now that some of the haze has lifted in my area, but there are a number of good news items to share! Congratulations to Gabe, Maggie and the broader UC team for their recent $20M award to establish an institute that uses artificial intelligence in developing food systems!
Our fire experts are in the headlines again. It is nice to see science part of the stories. I mentioned Yana in my last post. She and Susie, both, were sought out by Salon as subject matter experts.
Claudia Diaz was recognized by Senator Mike Morrell in regards to her work engaging diverse youth in environmental conservation. Well deserved! Congratulations, Claudia! I have needed to keep this new quiet for a few weeks now. It is difficult not to spill the news!
Two other CE Advisors have been selected to be recognized for their distinguished contributions. Unfortunately, I can't share the news until the awarding organizations release the information. While I eagerly await the time to share, I will continue to accrue names of awardees. So many across UC ANR are deserving of recognition. Most are incredibly humble.
There's more good news from Riverside! I am so pleased to see that the Riverside County Board of Supervisors recognized Jose Aguiar with a proclamation that recognized and thanked him for his 28 years in Cooperative Extension. No one is more deserving. Congratulations Jose! I believe Jose was planning to travel a bit during his retirement, including back to Colombia to visit family. I hope those plans are moving forward. Jose also has big plans to help the new CE Vegetable Advisor settle in to the new position, once hired. Jose has a great video that Supervisor Perez (Chair of the Board) took the time to put together where the Supervisor presents the proclamation to Jose (virtually) and outlines Jose's contributions to Riverside County. I wish I could figure out how to attach it to this post! Feel free to email me if you would like me to email the file to you.
I am excited to listen to the Town Hall meeting on Friday with our new UC President and learn a bit more about him and his goals for UC. Following, the UC ANR President's Advisory Commission (PAC) meets for two hours to plan our first meeting with President Drake which will occur in September. The newly formed PAC committees will report out on their efforts as well. Following the PAC meeting, I am hoping to wrap up budget decisions for the programmatic units so that letters can go out next week. I know everyone is awaiting that information as we await final numbers for the state and federal budget allocations that remain some weeks away.
Then on to the weekend yard work that has no end. I welcome the cooler weather and somewhat cleaner air!
I had lunch with the UCCE – Riverside office one day last week. Understandably, some are very eager to get back to an office environment and resume client meetings. With new pests emerging frequently, field access is essential to staying ahead of production challenges. Others have found some positives to remote engagement with clientele. Carmen indicated that she feels more connected with her growers in San Diego because she doesn't need to find time to make the commute. She has used video chats to look at their grape fields and troubleshoot problems. Hopefully this increased engagement can be maintained going forward. Stephanie talked about the 6 virtual camp sessions her team is developing. No doubt, those will be very popular with parents. And Myriam has 13 of 18 EFNEP participants finishing a virtual learning series. She has another session planned this summer. Myriam said that some of the participants worked with their kids to learn how to use a computer. A useful skill, made possible by shelter at home that could be of use to these clients in the future. Rosa and her team are working on Zoom gardening workshops for the public and virtual sessions with schools just in case schools don't resume in person this fall. The hour went by very quickly so I didn't have a chance to talk with everyone. Hopefully I might be invited back soon.
I attended the 2020 World Food Prize Laureate Announcement. This year's laureate, Dr. Rattan Lal, has a long career using a soil-centric approach to building soil health. I'm sure his work is familiar to some. Dr. Lal joined the faculty at The Ohio State University in the 1990's. He is a 2007 Nobel Peace Prize certificate holder. I encourage you to look into his story and his science; so much of what we do today around the topic of soil health is built on his foundational work.
This week, the meeting schedule is a bit lighter with many short meetings and few that extend more than 60 minutes. However, the ANR Governing Council meets one afternoon this week for 90 minutes or so. This meeting was in addition to the standing schedule. The PAC now has committees with committee meetings in addition to the PAC meetings. As it is, the PAC meetings have moved from twice annually, to four meetings per year. The intended outcome is greater productivity
It has occurred to me that I am attending even more meetings than pre-COVID, perhaps due to availability because travel time is non-existent. I have a whole new outlook on travel time now; whereas I hadn't previously thought of it as ‘down time', now I see it as an alternative to meetings. On the other hand, the meetings are productive and important, especially when I get a chance to interact with our offices and RECs.
What does one serve at a skeleton picnic? Perhaps ghoul guts, severed fingers, and a taco cheese skull. I took a couple of hours off today to get ready for the potluck at the Davis building tomorrow. I am prepared for the event unless I trip in the driveway while trying to balance a skull.
Offices that have been without power are starting to reopen. Hopefully, we see rain soon. In the meantime, I was pleased to hear the national news acknowledge that grazing goats were, in part, responsible for saving the Reagan library from fire. Maybe others will take note that this is only one of the benefits (ecosystem services) provided through livestock grazing.
Yesterday, this current Western Extension Leadership Development program cohort met with a few of the Extension Directors/Associate Directors from around the West. Several of the Directors talked about the importance of partnerships and the need to expand partnering efforts, including seeking new or non-traditional partners. I was surprised to learn the Colorado State now has a CE Specialist position that is co-funded with the wine industry. Now what surprised me wasn't the idea of co-funded positions. After all, this isn't new to California and even more common in other states. What surprised me was that Colorado has a wine industry of a size that would consider such a partnership. It is not hard at all to learn something new every day.
My trip to Riverside resulted in a few productive meetings. Now I am home for just over a week. The first Friday of the month is already here, so the standing CD and REC Director meetings will cover half the day. Both look to be full agendas.
On the good news front, I learned today that the Climate Smart CES team has funding for the next two years – thanks to Doug, Betsy, Dan, and especially the group of community educators who have over-delivered this year! And, we are just about ready to get started recruiting for two community educators as part of a similar effort to address produce food safety. Erin has done a fantastic job moving that along, working with Ruth, Aparna, Margaret, Ramiro, and Jose.
Now, if we can only get word that the Kincaid Fire is under control and everyone in Sonoma County is back in their homes, the weekend will be off to a great start.
I spent the day in Riverside, working with Eta to talk with Supervisors and their Chiefs of Staff. It was an education to learn what our County partners know about us and the partnership. Overall, today was a good day. I left with some ideas and a reminder to myself that sometimes we need to go beyond what we think we need to do to ensure we've done all that we can to secure our desired outcome.
While we were in the County building Eta and I had a chance to view the art on display as part of the Riverside County Artscape. There were beautiful pieces of photography, painting, and art quilts, each made by a local artist and purchased by a Supervisor. And look what we found – the inner artist in one of our colleagues! The talent is of no surprise, but it is fun to see, firsthand, what results from one's creative outlets.
Tomorrow I only have a couple of calls. I believe I am supposed to get several merit and promotion reviews completed and uploaded. I suspect that while I will get a few done, I am likely to spend a fair bit of time reviewing a policy, drafting an MOU that is long past due, and considering a list of documents that CDs regularly sign in hopes of reducing the length of that list. While it may be a 'short week' I have a long list of things to complete.
Thursday I'm in Irvine to attend a systemwide meeting on cannabis research. UC ANR isn't the only unit that has a keen interest in research in this area, though our motivation is a bit different than some of the campuses in that our attention is in providing agricultural support to growers rather than conducting post-production research.
Friday I am in Davis for a day of meetings. My first meeting is with our new CE Specialist at UC Santa Cruz. Many within UC ANR already know Joji Muramoto, but for those who don't, he starts on Wednesday as the Organic Production Specialist. Joji already has a recognized program at UC Santa Cruz supporting commercial organic agriculture. Please welcome Joji to UC ANR!