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!
We are just a few hours away from a 2-day reprieve from Zoom! A colleague who has been stuck in South Africa for 3 weeks with no end in sight asked is we could Zoom this weekend. I declined and suggested we use What's App instead. I need the change in pace.
Earlier this week I recognized that something was ‘off'. At first I thought perhaps I am less of an introvert than I believed and I was missing the social interaction or the commute. Not the case. What I miss is the change in venue and the rat race to get from one meeting to the next either in the same building or across the country, anxiously awaiting whatever surprise the airline has in store for me, and the general pace of getting from one place to the next. I've never cared much for working from home, this might be why. This, too, shall pass (at some point).
Yesterday the Vice President's Council met (VP Council). We covered a number of items, including updates on proposed changes to strategic plan goals #3 and #4. Both goal owners mentioned needing to get changes submitted by mid-April. I panicked a bit that I had homework to do, but no worries, my email say May 4 and I will procrastinate until that time. In the meantime, I am on track to meet my advancement package review target this week. I have 2 to review today and then I will be up to 39 completed!
The VP Council received updates on plans to review the cost recovery policy and ‘The Salmon Report' which was developed some years ago, maybe a decade ago, but not widely implemented. Several of the Statewide Program and Institute Directors offered updates on their programs. It was a long Zoom meeting. Fortunately, Katherine kept us moving.
Today are the monthly calls with the REC Directors and the County Directors. My monthly noon Zoom call was held last Friday so I have a bit of a break before the afternoon Zooms begin. In the meantime, we are working to finalize the list of who continues to do field research and extension and where those people are located. By next week, we should be coordinated with the campuses.
Enjoy your Zoom-free weekend! Given the forecast, we can all avoid yardwork, too.
Is it Friday yet? I've been asking that since Monday. Each day I am further behind and increasingly tired. I'm not sure Friday can fix all of that.
Tuesday was a long day at the Capitol. Overall, our visits went well. The stars of our team were the two 4-H'ers from El Dorado County. The Community Educator, Denise, was fantastic, as well. And rounding out the team was Faith Kearns and Ruth Dahlquist-Wilard. What an amazing group! As a team, we were able to connect with every member or staffer that we met. Sometimes it was around the 4-H program, and what the program has done for our impressive team members, sometimes it was around fire or water, and other staffers or members were particularly interested in moringa. Either way, the goal was to make a connection so that each visit left an impression despite a long day of visitors for each member or staffer. Glenda was accompanied by 4-H'ers from Butte and El Dorado Counties, Community Educators, Vera and Alena, Tracy Schohr, and Pam Kan-Rice. Maci and Sarah kept both teams on schedule and in line. We left with a few follow-up items that will keep the communication lines open. While the halls weren't packed with visitors like they are when we are in DC, we did happen to run into one of our 4-H leaders who was making visits on behalf of his professional association.
Today we were at the UC Merced campus meeting with the leadership team. If you haven't been to UC Merced, be sure to schedule a trip. I can't believe how fast it has grown just in the two years since I was last on campus! During our visits, it became apparent that there are many ways that UC ANR can work more closely with the faculty at UC Merced. We will work towards an opportunity for those in that part of the state to network with the UC Merced academics and staff.
Tomorrow is the VP Council meeting (Statewide Program/Institute and unit directors), followed by an Executive Council meeting (campus Deans). I haven't looked at the agendas for either yet. But given those teams, I anticipate excellent conversations.
Before today ends, I need to review some documents that are past due back to the authors. I am still sitting with 53 dossiers left to study. I have 3 Multistate Research Project reports to review in advance of the regional review committee meeting next week and some preparation for the Western Extension Directors Association meeting, also next week. Maybe April slows down a bit.
To clarify, it was not that I did not have anything to do last week; I just didn't have many meetings scheduled. The week of few meetings is clearly over. It was actually over by Friday when the day was very much focused on doing things differently in order to gain better position going forward.
One of the remarks I heard on Friday was “if you only aim for the moon, you'll never get out of the atmosphere”. Normally, I consider myself as one who is open to change and able to think big. But I had sat with a group of entrepreneurs the evening before who had me wondering if I might be stuck a bit and with limited imagination. The individual immediately next to me talked about some of his plans for development in his home country of Grenada and he clearly aimed well past the moon. During his week in CA alone, he was beginning to think about how to develop a university-based Extension system in Grenada, convincing the government to redirect the funds from federal agencies to the university.
When I was in Des Moines a couple of weeks ago Chavondra Jacobs-Young, Administrator of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service, talked about the need to move beyond incremental change in productivity research in order to meet the food needs of a growing population. This reminded me of the TedTalk by Guy Kawasaki I listened to not long ago. I suspect Dr. Jacobs-Young had many of the technologies identified by Standford Business in mind (thanks to Andrea Ambrose for sharing the article). I suppose that if you don't dream it, you'll surely never live it. Admittedly, I'm not quite sure how one really gets to a place where they can imagine what, to most, seems impossible. We need to get to that place with food production and even in how we think about delivering our programs and services in UC ANR. We need to make that jump from thinking about building a better horse for transport to building a car.
Mark Twain is credited with stating that “you can't trust your judgement if your imagination is out of focus”. Perhaps that's where the challenges lie. Our imagination isn't focused on transformational change but rather on the incremental change that won't push us far enough, fast enough.
It is interesting that all of these things came up just in the last week or so, alone, for me irrespective of the actual topic of conversation. Perhaps this suggests that the need to that next ‘car' is more urgent that I had previously thought. If you have any ideas, I'd love to hear them.
Looks like I have homework tonight; I didn't cross enough things off my list today. VP Council meets later this week and I need to get some things pulled together. Then I need to line up some things for the upcoming Ideation workshop and make sure I am caught up on my commitments to the new agreement with CDFA. No doubt I've forgotten an item or two. Who knows, maybe one of these items will lead to something bigger than an incremental change.
Over the weekend I went in search of the bowling balls near Schooner Gulch in Mendocino County. I didn't fantasize the experience would be anything that rivals the Moeraki Boulders of New Zealand or the ice balls on Lake Superior but I had hoped to add the bowling balls to my bucket list of sights, nonetheless. I didn't find them. The trail was closed due to erosion of the steps. So we took a different route and instead came across this sand/limestone formation that looked like a huge lizard and at times other than low tide obscured our access to the beach path that would take us to the bowling balls. Then we tried a different route that had magnificent ocean views but none of our intended destination. Fortunately the weekend was about the journey and not the destination itself; it did not disappoint.
Now it's back to work, a week full of various meetings and preparations for next week's Statewide Conference. Tomorrow I have a meeting with VP Tu Tran to review the budget requests and feedback received to date from Program Council and the Administrative Review Process. Based on that, Tu and I formulate recommendations that we will present to Glenda later in the spring. What we are looking for are opportunities to invest in programs and units that use that investment as leverage for achieving more than what the investment actually funds.
The VP Council will be meeting on Thursday. Agenda items include updates on accomplishments of the strategic plan, an overview of the ANR budget process for FY18-19 followed by conversations about budget priorities, a conversation about reorganization of UCOP, and updates from the various program and unit leaders that comprise VP Council. I need to prepare the updates for strategic plan goals that I own and, in particular, identify areas where the goal outcomes would be strengthened by input from the VP Council. There isn't any input in particular that I am seeking. Rather there are particular areas where I think the VP Council can contribute different approaches and ideas to strategies already identified.
Friday starts with the monthly call with REC directors followed by the CD call. Each call has a full agenda and promise to be productive. Following, I will be spending much of the afternoon with a candidate for the Vice Provost – Academic Personnel and Development position. This is a new position for ANR that has specific responsibilities in working with academics to foster and support professional development. I hope a large number of people are able to attend the interview, either in Davis or by Zoom. At this point, it is too early to tell if the candidate is what we are looking for but even if it doesn't work out, no doubt we will learn much along the journey and likely find a better path.