There is more good news for our nutrition programs. During the National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (NEAFCS) Virtual Annual Session team members were recognized for their outstanding contributions. Deepa Srivastava, and UCCE Tulare-Kings Nutrition Education Team placed second in the Western Region SNAP-ED/EFNEP award. This on the heels of a win last year! Mary and her CalFresh Healthy Living, UC Team in Alameda County are the 3rd Place Regional winner of the Community Partnership award. And, Mary Blackburn received the NEAFCS Hall of Fame Award! I've had to keep that one quiet for about a month now, but am so pleased to share the news! Congratulations to all! And, thanks to Katie for sharing the news!
Speaking of the UCCE Tulare office, they have quite the sense of humor. Take a look at their door sign. No doubt some are better able to estimate the length of a Holstein cow. Perhaps social distancing won't last long enough for all to learn that measure. It's hard to tell. Who would have guessed back in March that seasonal face coverings would be a fashion trend? Just to stay in practice for pre-COVID behaviors, I put on grown up clothes and sat in my real office today, downloading computer updates and grabbing some items to make life a bit easier in the garage. It was nice to be in the office for a brief visit before putting my face covering back on and moving into the rest of the day.
Glenda shared that she's been hearing great things about one of our 4-H projects focused on getting rural communities to fill out the census (https://ucanr.edu/sites/census/). “They've received kudos from county supervisors, farm bureau leaders and many others who saw the materials and really appreciated the help to make sure their communities were counted. This is a great 4-H civic engagement project”!! Let's hope everyone turns out to vote in November, too!
Strategic planning work is winding down, both for UC ANR as a whole and for the RECs. Last week the ANR planning team met to review and incorporate feedback from the August webinars. I have already finished my homework! Later this week the REC planning team meets and I am hoping to pass any homework assignments on to others. I will miss the Town Hall this week, but hope there is strong attendance to hear about all the great things Ricardo and his team are doing to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month.
I have almost completed my assignments for a national conference to be held next week so perhaps the weekend can focus on yard work. I think weed growth may be slowing a bit.
Despite the television news (stock market, Rochester, fires, temperatures) the good news continues in UC ANR!
Laura Ann Yee Vollmer started this week as the Nutrition, Family and Consumer Sciences Adviser, based in Half Moon Bay, with programmatic responsibilities in San Mateo, Santa Clara, and San Francisco Counties. Please welcome Laura!
One of NOS's news stories got picked up by the LA Times in Spanish. Congratulations, Norma! If you haven't heard, Ricardo has a great lineup of events to celebrate Hispanic Heritage month. Be sure to take a look.
Scott Brayton also shared good news that I am excited to pass on. A passionate donor has made a very generous personal gift to form a new ANR endowment. The Citrus and Avocado (CA) Endowment will support critical and innovative research and extension activities designed to advance and protect citrus and avocado crops in California. Through this gift, our donor (who wishes to remain anonymous) has provided us with a long-term, sustainable resource that will enable us to better face today's challenges and create tomorrow's solutions. The CA Endowment will be established with an initial gift of $109,000. In addition, our donor has graciously pledged ongoing support to the endowment through a future estate gift. Development Services team member, Scott Brayton, stated that the donor is excited to make this gift to show their appreciation to all of ANR. In the wake of all that has happened this year, I am continually humbled by the support of our donors who stand apart as sources of optimism and inspiration for our work.
The Almond Board of California publically thanked UC ANR and farm advisors for the great work and research conducted in support of the almond industry.
I finished by project for the Master Gardener's auction. I hope there is much interest in the items and I can't wait to get them to Missy! I also completed my 21-day challenge last week, but work is far from finished and never will be when striving for excellence. However, the goal of the challenge is to prepare one for the journey.
Overall, a great start to a short week!
It is only Wednesday, but a crazy week already. Program Council met this week as did the Strategic Initiative Leaders. Those meetings always lead to much thinking after the meeting wraps up. Thursdays are ‘COVID day'. Between calls with the Vice Chancellors for Research, the ANR Emergency Response Team, and Directors (REC, County, and Statewide Program/Institute), the day is full of progressive conversation each week. On Friday, the REC Directors and County Directors, taking a chunk of time out of the day, but well worth the chance to connect with everyone in some small way and share some ideas.
In between, I have made slow progress working on a concept that hopefully generates much interest among prospective partners. I need to wrap that document up and get it out to others for their input. We are winding down details on a new agreement that will fully fund two academic coordinators in the natural resources program area. Thanks to others in UC ANR, we have leads on a couple of possible partnerships that could result to two much-needed CE Advisor positions. I am looking forward to those conversations.
The Academic Assembly Council (AAC) Personnel Committee has continued their hard work to update the e-book, in preparation for the upcoming review period. That group doesn't make it easy to keep up, but I believe revisions are complete and both Mark and Mark are working with a group of the AAC to pull together training that will launch in October.
I am looking forward to the long weekend, despite the temperature forecast. I do have to do a bit of work to get ahead of next week's commitments, but the yard work is already caught up! I thought I was ahead on finishing my contribution to the Master Gardener auction – that ended quickly and I now find myself needing to wrap that project up this weekend. Of course, there's the pool, too, that needs some use before fall sets in. No doubt many of you have your sights set on Friday afternoon as well. Everyone, enjoy!
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!
The widespread evacuations and associated air quality have certainly added to already challenging times. I know many across the state have ‘go bags' ready and are anxious about what every hour brings. Others have had to evacuate. And some of our UC ANR family have suffered significant losses. Fortunately, some had a brief, but welcomed, rain Sunday night/early Monday morning. In my part of the state, the rain arrived Monday night. This unusual August event brings me great hope!
Members of UC ANR have actively engaged in assisting those negatively impacted by the fires. JoLynn Miller (@JoLynn_Miller) has been busy volunteering with a non-profit in response to the fires. She's been picking up donkeys, chickens, pigs, and alpacas and finding temporary homes for them. Thanks, JoLynn! Scott Stephens was on KQED talking about the need for a fire extension program statewide. Yana, Scott, and Lenya have been working hard to secure new resources to do exactly that - expand the network of UC ANR fire resources that are desperately needed. Let's all send good thoughts to them for their success.
In the good news department, it sounds like Kamal has secured an increase in CalFresh support for programming in Los Angeles and Sacramento Counties! Kamal's near $1M success will make a huge difference for families in those counties. Congratulations to Kamal and the entire nutrition program!
The Department of Pesticide Regulation has made research awards to three UC researchers, including Mark Hoddle and David Haviland, whose research teams were each awarded $500,000 to study chlorpyrifos alternatives. Excellent work, and good luck carrying out the research objectives. Let's hope the researchers identify sound chlorpyrifos alternatives!
Mark Bell found and shared this article that outlines the history of the Cooperative Extension System (CES) and the modern-day relevance of CES in meeting community needs, noting the method of distribution for federal funds among states. An interesting read if you aren't familiar with the CES background.
I read an interesting article in Nature that has me thinking about what we can do to ensure that those across UC ANR who conduct our essential work, feel safe doing so. We want to do all that we can to encourage science and Extension as career options for youth. I suspect the article triggered, in part, other thoughts.
As I watched the ash floating in my pool, just shortly after the filter had ceased its morning cycle, I realized that I am angry. My anger stems from the COVID environment that has me homebound for months, unable to travel and see our programs in action, watching the impact of limited socialization on others, all while some have no concern about the risks they impose. Compounding the quarantine is the election circus, coupled with law enforcement behavior that ceases to learn any lessons, the long-run economic impact of the pandemic and the toll that will take on getting our important work out to those who need it most, and now the fires. I don't know anyone who has tested positive for COVID, lost their job due to the pandemic, or lost their home due to the recent fires. I can go for a walk without worry that my skin color puts me in danger. Yet, I want to scream, "Give us a break!" When I boil it down, the anger is due to helplessness, that I cannot 'fix it' for those who check any of the boxes for the conditions I outlined above. I can't even imagine how difficult life is right now for so many, many people and I feel for all. The situation weighs heavily, even on those who are not directly impacted.
I won't scream, because it won't get the work done. Work that continues, by all of us, to the benefit of all California. A thick haze won't stop us.