- Author: Pamela Kan-Rice
UC Cooperative Extension Central Sierra, the office serving Amador, Calaveras, El Dorado, and Tuolumne counties, received final approval from the last county last week, making it ANR’s first official multi-county partnership.
Over the past year, ANR leaders have been working with county governments to identify a new structure for county-based Cooperative Extension that would maintain the strength of the programs, while reducing costs. The result is a collaborative agreement between the four counties that will consolidate administration to meet budget cuts without reducing services to residents.
“Central Sierra Nevada residents will continue to have access to educational programs and expertise in nutrition, healthy living, youth development, agriculture, home gardening, animal husbandry, forestry and natural resources,” said Scott Oneto, director of the Central Sierra Cooperative Extension office.
“This was complicated,” said Don Klingborg, director of ANR Strategic Advocacy and UC-County Partnerships. “Scott Oneto and Dorothy Smith are to be commended for negotiating the details within their communities and creating new policies so that the final package was strongly supported by county partners and stakeholders. Through this effort, we have established some guiding principles that will provide best practices for other multi-county partnerships.”
ANR will maintain an office in each county to support its county-based programs and staff, which include 4-H Youth Development, CalFRESH, Master Gardeners, Master Food Preservers, Natural Resources, Agriculture and the Nutrition, Family and Consumer Sciences Program. The UCCE office in El Dorado County at 311 Fair Lane in Placerville will serve as the administrative hub for the four counties and will be open full time. The other three counties will be open part time.
The 4-H Youth Development, Master Gardener and Master Food Preserver volunteers will continue to serve in their respective communities. Likewise, 4-H clubs and projects will maintain their county identity.
“This has been a long and challenging process,” Oneto said, “It has taken over a year to get to this point, but it has been worth it. The changes we have already made just in the last month are already resulting in significant savings in both time and money. We are fortunate to have a team of staff that is willing to pull together and make significant changes to their programs and job duties for the betterment of UCCE and clientele. A number of staff members have gone from working in just one county to now working in four. I am privileged to have such a strong and dedicated group of professionals who see the bigger picture.”
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