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.
Somehow this week seems to be progressing slowly which is an odd occurrence. But perhaps it will translate to getting more accomplished. ‘Slow' is not to be confused with not having enough to do though at one point I did recall something my grandmother used to say “Idle hands are the devil's workshop”.
What's not moving as slow as one would like is huanglongbing. Confirmation of the citrus tree disease in Riverside County happened much sooner than anyone would hope to see and resulted in a flurry of activity within UC ANR and among our many partners with a stake in protecting the citrus industry. While many of the UC and UC ANR researchers have been focused on this disease and the associated Asian citrus psyllid and Master Gardener volunteers have been busy educating homeowners for quite some time, confirmation of the disease comes as quite a blow despite knowing it was a matter of time. Fortunately there has been considerable planning underway so folks were as prepared as anyone could be to move into action.
Yesterday, VP Council met in Oakland and had about 30 minutes with President Napolitano. She openly answered questions posed to her by the group and provided us some brief updates on what's new in the Office of the President. As important as our time with the President was an opportunity to hear what's going on with the unit leaders that sit on VP Council. We never seem to allocate enough time to have a good discussion about topics in common so perhaps we will do better in the future with the scheduling. But it was fun to hear about the programming going on around the state, the policy work underway, and plans in the works for the group. I foresee the new UC ANR Newsletter, Connected, as a great way to share our work not only with external partners and stakeholders but to better acquaint all of us internally with what goes on around us every day.
Today I spent time with a group that is working to formalize a partnership aimed at enhancing the on-the-ground work they have been engaged in for some time. The California On-Farm Demonstration Network has, through strong partnerships, been successful in demonstrating the benefits of soil health practices as a means of encouraging adoption of those practices across the state. By formalizing the partnership, the group seeks to take the next step in increasing its effectiveness and adoption. Having been part of groups that have initiated such partnerships, I think it is easy to underestimate the time and effort it takes to bring groups together and move in the same direction with a common understanding of roles and responsibilities. While perhaps painful at times, laying the groundwork now will payoff later. I see great opportunities with this group to secure increasing support to expand their efforts so a solid plan and agreement now will have tremendous payoff later.
Tomorrow it's off to Redding for the 4th of 5 information sessions. I haven't chartered a bus for this trip but still thinking about it for other excursions.