- Author: Wendy Powers
Amazing what a difference two years makes! I looked forward to returning to the desert that is California; not something I could have imagined my first summer in CA. Both Guam and Oahu were miserably hot and humid. It's hot in northern California, too but I can count on a dry heat and reasonably anticipate a delta breeze that prevents the A/C from running constantly – at least that's what I thought earlier this week. Overall, while it was nice to get away for a bit, it's always nice to come home and back to the daily buzz of ANR.
Then I spent a couple of days in the smoky Central Sierra; it was hot but the smoke didn't bother me much. Staying up on email access was a challenge given cell phone signal but that's not unique to just that part of the state. And it was well worth the trip to visit with the Central Sierra Multi-County Partnership group (Amador, Calaveras, El Dorado, and Tuolumne Counties). We started off with Wylie cooking us breakfast as a way of talking about the programming she, Katie and the team deliver to help families develop affordable and healthy meals. Then we were off to visit a number of places, including one stop where I picked up a cute and creative way to offer shade to plants. Those Master Gardeners are always so clever! Jeremy James and Theresa Becchetti were in the area planning a research project at a cooperator farm where Theresa and Scott have been conducting research so we were able to learn about their project findings, to date. The findings have been so helpful there's a good chance the sponsor will continue to support the work beyond the original project period! We had a chance to see the special weather/data stations that Lynn and Franz have installed at a cooperator site that will help predict downy mildew infestations in the Shenandoah Valley vineyards.
I participated in my first 4-H camp! The theme was the Wizard of Oz and it was witches night at camp. Cabin teams put on skits, we had burritos for dinner (a camper favorite, I have been informed), and we attended the flag pole ceremony where the equivalent of Spot Awards were given out to campers. Scott and JoLynn were very close to winning the costume contest. Highlights of the evening were numerous, including
- dinner conversation with the Junior Counselors (teenager volunteers who had all been past campers) that donated their time because of the impact camp had had on them,
- hearing from Scott about his experience as a Counselor last year and his new-found perspective of 4-H camp (note: Scott recommends that all County Directors volunteer a full week as a counselor at least once),
- watching talent show that included none other than JoLynn belting out a childhood favorite song,
- discovering the Susie knows all the camp songs and skits, and is an avid Girl Scout Leader and camp volunteer
- observing the enthusiasm and commitment to the program by the adult counselors and director (Pali)
I didn't leave with a camp name but I did leave with a sense that every kid should have the chance to go to camp even if it is only 1 week of a lifetime.
This morning we met with Hector to see some of the interaction taking place between program areas and hear from a partner what our youth gardening and nutrition program means to him and his colleagues. The kids seemed to be enjoying themselves; both the young kids and the early teen helpers. They had picked what promised to be a delicious lunch from their own garden. Then we headed out to look out over the effects of the Angora fire and see a project underway that gives Susie and her team a chance to evaluate differences between various reforestation strategies. I picked up some tips about defensible space and will take a look around my own yard to see how I ‘score'.
Once again, I learned a bunch of new things and am humbled by the talent within UC ANR. Thanks to the Central Sierra UCCE for a memorable and rewarding visit! We've got some great stories to share with the public and decision-makers about all of the great work you are doing!
Tonight I need to prepare for tomorrow's meeting with the Peer Review Committee. Then I've got a backlog of emails to get through over the weekend. Next week is Program Council and a trip to the far north to learn even more! I'm much better prepared for the heat that may come with the IREC field day this year than I was two years ago!