- Author: Pamela Kan-Rice
On Nov. 17, state Sen. John Laird was invited to the UC Regents' Public Engagement and Development Committee to discuss his support for the university. Laird described his instrumental role in what he called the “resuscitation” of UC Cooperative Extension by championing the state's historic increase to UC ANR's budget.
“We basically got an over 50% increase to try to bring it back to where it was at least a decade ago,” said Laird, who is chair of the Senate Budget Subcommittee on Education. He credited the agricultural community in Monterey County for initiating the push to restore UCCE funding.
“I think it's really a feather in the cap for UC because it is something that reaches into every agricultural county of the state and is really appreciated,” Laird, a UC Santa Cruz alumnus, told the regents.
While touring Santa Cruz County, Laird recalled meeting a young farm employee who reduced water consumption 15% in the farm's greenhouses by following the advice of a local UCCE farm advisor. The senator noted that the UCCE advice helped the Watsonville native, a person of color, get off to a successful start in the agricultural field.
Laird said UC needs to publicize more success stories like that. “I think that story really demonstrates the difference that is made … Here is UC Cooperative Ag Extension giving advice to somebody who is starting probably a 35- or 40-year career and saving a bunch of water right off the bat.”
To view the excerpt of his discussion with the regents, visit https://youtu.be/aL524U8z0qM.