A little boredom sounds good right now. Merit and promotion package reviews are over, but time still seems to be inadequate for the workload. I think it is due to the short week whereby the number of meetings didn't decrease, but were rather crunched into fewer, longer days. The budget outlook is bright, and with it comes a workload to meet the obligations to the funding. Overall, a good problem to have. I am not complaining. I suspect I overcommitted to requests to serve on committees, provide leadership and feedback. Sound familiar? It happens.
This week I attended a national conference for the Western Region Extension and Experiment Station Directors. On Monday, we had a business meeting, updates from our federal partners, and an awards ceremony. The California Dairy Quality Assurance Program team was honored for their impactful work – congratulations to Deanne, Betsy, Jennifer, Randi, David, Nick, Jeff, and Denise! I hope I didn't forget anyone!
During the conference we talked about the Land Grant University, post-COVID. Extension Directors in the West have been discussing this monthly since January. Today, we received an update from President Barry Dunn on the Wokini Initiative at South Dakota State University that provides scholarships and intentional support to American Indian students (Lakota and Dakota). This year, the inaugural class graduated. The program has strong metrics, with success declared when the student achievement and completion of American Indian students exceeds that of the remaining student population. The update was inspirational, to say the least, focusing on the opportunity and responsibility in front of leaders today. ‘We can begin again, and change the ending' (C.S. Lewis) was the takeaway message. During the Q&A there was reference to some of the work underway with the Karuk tribe by UC ANR, led by Jennifer Sowerwine. It is always nice to hear another state call out the efforts by UC ANR!
Given the holiday this week, and the upcoming holiday, the message was timely. There's no time for boredom. We have important work to do; work that the state legislature clearly recognizes as an opportunity to lift all up and ensure opportunity for all.
Congratulations to our ANREP winners! A group of CE Specialists, CE Advisors were recognized with a Bronze Award for their “Ranch Water Quality Planning Instructor's Guide and Lesson Plan”. Take a look at the list of recipients: Anthony O'Geen, Bill Birmingham, Brooke Latack, D.J. Eastburn, Dan Macon, David Lewis, David Lile, Devii Rao, Fadzayi Mashiri, Jeffery Stackhouse, Jim Downing, Josh Davy, Julie Finzel, Kenneth Tate, Laura Snell, Leslie Roche, Lucien Crowder, Matthew Shapero, Michael Lennox, Morgan Doran, Randy Dahlgren, Rebecca Ozeran, Robert Atwill, Sandra Osterman, Stephanie Larson, Theresa Becchetti, and Tracy Schohr.
The other winner at ANREP was Lenya Quinn-Davidson! Lenya received the Early Career Award. We couldn't agree more with the selection committee! Be sure to take a look at the write up (page 27). Thanks so much to Yana and Susie for the nomination of their colleague.
Take a look at a recent Morning Ag Clips article that featured some of Dorina, Anne, Marcel, Katherine, and Kendra's work! I am anxious to see impact statements as this important work progresses! I took a getaway near Cambria last weekend for my own mindfulness exercise.
Thanks to the research reviewers who mined through the Project Board data to identify stories for the federal research report. I will share more stories in the future, or be sure to take a look for yourself.
Youth & Community Develoment: Martin Smith
Nutrition: Karina Rios Diaz
Livestock/Rangeland: David Lile
Forestry/Fire: Yana Valachovic
Water: Doug Parker
SFS: Neil McRoberts and Deanne Meyer
EIPD: Jim Farrar and Georgios Vidalakis
In addition to 11 annual evaluation conversations this week and ‘first Friday' meetings with REC and County Directors, I have spent the week at a virtual conference of Western Extension and Experiment Station Directors. In addition to the business meetings and Center updates, we heard from a University of New Mexico FRTEP Advisor who shared with us the challenges for the Navajo reservation residents during the pandemic lockdown with few grocery stores and a need to continue ag production in order to feed residents. The death rates and COVID incidence numbers shared are alarming and sad. The Advisor talked about increased youth participation in Master Gardener program and other virtual programs since the pandemic began in addition to increased collaboration and partnering with other institutions. Vaccine education is a critical ongoing effort to provide this and other COVID relief services. The program seeks opportunity to develop a partnership for pre-college programs and a sheep herd health program.
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.
Another busy week with many overlapping conversations focused on opportunities for UC ANR. When I met with Dr. Carrie Castille a week or so ago, her comments focused on the need for responsive outreach around the Biden priority topics of climate change, economic recovery following the pandemic, and a need to increase the diversity and inclusiveness of the land grant system. These are all priorities for the Cooperative Extension System this year and for the next couple of years. In addition, issues associated with the urban-rural interface, including infrastructure and workforce development, are areas of emphasis and where, I think, there is tremendous opportunity to demonstrate the Cooperative Extension value to more decision makers. We've been in this space for a long time, but we may not have communicated our impact story using language that resonates.
During a conversation with other CE directors from the West, I learned that Idaho talks about 4-H as ‘students first class at the University of Idaho'. I wonder how that would be received by the UC Academic Senate. No harm in trying it out. Colorado State University is working to ensure systemwide branding so that when a user visits the Durango County Cooperative Extension website, they recognize immediately that they are on a ‘ram' site (the CSU mascot). The goal is to lift the profile of CSU in communities across the state and convey the entirety of CSU efforts in any given county. I took a look at a site for the University of Missouri system. The system has focused on the collective impact by the system for the benefit of each county. I like the approach. Thinking about the size of the UC system and of California, I am tired of thinking about what it would take for us to accomplish something similar. Rhode Island would be far simpler.
There are many more conversations yet to be had this week, including more partnership opportunities. Last week's conversations produced some new agreements that I need to finalize. Mary Blackburn started the conversation during this afternoon's history discussion. Her words blew me away. I had read her story, but to hear it in her words was truly special. I have started reading through merit and promotion documents and annual evaluation documents. I have a few more than usual this year. But who knows, perhaps I will get a chance to read one of Rachel Long's stories this weekend. I just learned that she is a published author of more than research. Another example of the immense talent across UC ANR!
Fortunately, those of us in the northern part of the state have seen rain recently, quieting concerns about wildfires in our areas. However, if you have tuned into the national news lately, you've heard about the concern over fire and climate change impacting the future of California's redwoods, some of the world's oldest living things. This concern isn't new to many of us. Hopefully, awareness has been raised for many, many more, thanks to people like Lenya. Lenya was recently quoted in the New York Times. It is always great to see UC ANR names in prominent publications!
This is a crazy week – the storm before the calm, I hope. Everyone is rushing to get things done before a 10- to 14-day break. Yesterday I spent half the day working with a small team to develop a strategic directions document and annual work plan for the Western Extension directors. There is more work to do next week to complete that effort. The REC directors spent today working on development of strategies to achieve the goals for the REC system. It was a good meeting with lively discussion and solid plans outlined. At the same time, it made for a bit of an exhausting day. It doesn't help that Wednesdays begin at 7 AM each week for me and that 7 AM meeting always has a full agenda for the 6 of us that meet.
Friday holds an interesting mix of meetings, some of which may translate into new exciting opportunities. I will be sure to share more as things develop. I look forward to the virtual winter celebration tomorrow. It will be different from ‘normal' years with a benefit that we can celebrate with people both near and far. The planning committee came up with clever ideas for breakout activities. I hope to see many of you there!