- Author: Wendy Powers
It turns out there is far more to the UC Master Gardener Conference than talk about gardening! I was unable to attend as many talks as I had hoped but those I made were great – filled with timely information from UC ANR Advisors. Despite the outstanding venue, the talks were well attended, reflecting the strong commitment to continued education by the volunteers. Rachel Surls gave a nice overview of the Search for Excellence First Prize Grow LA Victory Garden Project, complete with evaluation data that demonstrated the personal benefits one achieves due to gardening. There was a nice awards ceremony complete with Silent Auction and a Marketplace. Apparently Master Gardeners are passionate about shopping, in addition to gardening. Considering I once managed to buy 2 pairs of shoes while attending the World Pork Expo, it should be no surprise I returned home with a few items from both the Marketplace and the Silent Auction (thanks Lauren for transporting my items that were not plane-suitable!).
The most coveted item at the Silent Auction was a beautiful redwood garden bench made by our own Jim Downer – and it was mine until the final minute of the auction! Alas, I drowned my sorrow by winning a few gift baskets well stocked with regional wines and then brought home a beautiful ceramic pumpkin made by Master Gardener Liz Burns of Monterey County. When I get to that county I will be sure to try to meet her. Overall, it seems that Master Gardeners are quite a talented bunch, especially those in Ventura County. Must be the salt air.
On the flight back from Long Beach I took a look at the Southwest magazine and had some of my earlier questions answered, right there in the message from the CEO. As I read through the magazine I came upon another article that gave me an ‘ah-hah' moment and the start of an idea. More on that later. I don't mean to keep us all in suspense but now I really must get that logic model done. The workshop to identify condition changes associated with the public value statements that were developed by the Statewide Program and Institute Directors and the Strategic Initiative Leaders is Tuesday and Wednesday of this week. Thus my procrastinating is over.
I was a bit surprised to see that one of the promotion portfolios I reviewed for a faculty member seeking promotion from assistant to associate professor included a logic model for the candidate's research and Extension program. I wouldn't say it was the best logic model I have ever seen. However, this was the first time I have seen one in a promotion package. I can't help but think this demonstrates a movement in academia, or at least Extension, away from conducting activities as they present themselves to a more deliberate planning of work and efforts in order to achieve intended outcomes. What I found particularly astute, especially for an assistant professor, was that this candidate gave consideration to trends in funding and in societal and stakeholder needs and how those trends and needs might redirect the candidate's efforts in the future despite strong success up to the present. Despite the time it takes to review promotion documents for candidates outside of the UC system, there is great value in not only seeing what candidates across the U.S. are up to but in also seeing how portfolios are prepared – what's emphasized and how accomplishments are conveyed. I suspect that was my last review for this promotion year.