- Author: Wendy Powers
Had this been a normal year, I would be heading to Glacier National Park for a week of no cell phone and no Zoom meetings. But this isn't a normal year (I hope!). Instead, my calendar opened up such that I can participate in a multi-day training that aligns with two of my personal core values, not the least of which is continuous improvement. I have to admit that I am dreading the training, not because of the topic, but because of the format. We have to share an ‘object' as part of our self-introduction and reveal something interesting about ourselves. What's worse, we will be journaling through the entire course. Ughh… not my thing. Can't I just make a spreadsheet of some sort? I've had to give my introduction considerable thought. Here's what I have from which to select:
- As part of my self-introduction in kindergarten, I shared that my career goal was to become a pickpocket
- In high school, some teachers encouraged me to pursue a career in music
- I've never been to a dentist, but have all of my teeth and no cavities
- I am half of a set of Irish twins and ‘the middle child'
Perhaps I should call in sick next week.
As part of a virtual national meeting I am attending this week, I listened to a presentation by Scott Hutchins from REE, who talked about REE's continuous improvement efforts, including establishment of Mission-2-Mission goals, measuring and documenting impacts, and a priority-based hiring plan. That all sounds familiar. Dr. Hutchin's comments reflected USDA's Science Blueprint. He spoke a bit about USDA's Agriculture Innovation Agenda and its application for setting discovery goals (targeting and steering efforts) as well as the benefits now recognized as a result of the NIFA and ERS moves to Kansas City.
Parag Chitnis, Interim Director for NIFA, shared that the Request for Applications is under development for the Urban Agriculture program and should be out early in Federal FY21 (October-ish). That RFA will be of great interest to UC ANR personnel. The Sustainable Ag Systems RFA should be out at about the same time. The program ties closely to both the Science Blueprint and the Agriculture Innovation Agenda. Of note for this program is that two years of funding will be awarded in a single year. I'm curious to see how ‘sustainable' addresses resiliency of our ag system. I suspect researchers needed to look to the COVID-19 AFRI program for those opportunities (applications were due June 4, 2020).
NIFA, too, focuses on continuous improvement and provided an update on Project CAFÉ (Collaboratively Achieving Functional Excellence). The Project responds to feedback from state partners about process improvements needed for grants management, capacity funds management, and customer service. Thanks to all from UC ANR who provided feedback to NIFA last year.
Just a couple more days of the virtual national meeting, then back to homework. Maybe I will find something interesting over the weekend!