- Author: Lara Schröder
Representatives of UCANR visited the legislative building in Sacramento for UCANR Advocacy Day on April 18 and engaged with members of the Legislature and staff to advocate for UC's budget priorities. Attendees included Glenda Humiston, vice president; Deanne Meyer, interim associate vice president; Anne Megaro, director of government and community relations;Sheron Violini, associate director of government and community relations; and Lara Schröder, graduate student assistant. They were joined by UC Cooperative Extension advisors, statewide program representatives and two 4-H youth State Ambassadors .
The UC ANR team visited 16 legislative offices and were honored to meet directly with Assemblymember Vince Fong and Senator John Laird.
UC ANR representatives provided insights into how UC ANR delivers applicable research tools and knowledge and adds value to local communities. Zheng Wang, UCCE vegetable crops advisor, shared how farmers in Stanislaus County have been able to increase their profits by growing grafted watermelons using the same amount of water for a greater yield, while Susie Kocher, forestry and natural resources advisor, talked about her workshops for small forest landowners to prevent catastrophic wildfires and to help recover after a wildfire. 4-H State Ambassadors Megna and Sruthi told their stories of how the youth development leadership program has improved their personal skills and also how they engage with low-income schools and introduce STEM and agriculture to elementary school students.
Amira Resnick, statewide director of community nutrition and health, Stephanie Mar, associate organic waste management advisor, and Hanif Houston, associate director of communications and marketing for The VINE, also shared success stories and how UC ANR has made significant progress within the past year.
Resnick and Mar explained how UC ANR's nutrition and organic waste management programs teach Californians about nutrient dense foods, food preservation and composting. Houston highlighted how robots and drones play an important role in agriculture production. The UC ANR representatives also invited the legislators and staff to visit UC ANR's Elkus Ranch Environmental Education Center and UC ANR Research and Extension Centers in members' districts.
This valuable work is achieved through supportive state funding. These visits underlined the importance of the 5% base budget increase as currently proposed by Gov. Gavin Newsom for the upcoming fiscal year and asked staffers and members to support the proposal.
A special highlight of the day was a short tour of the State Capitol. Thanks to Sheron Violini, the group viewed the governors' portraits, peeked into the Senate Floor and learned the history of the Reagan statue.
Several follow-up opportunities stemmed from these meetings, and Assemblymember Cottie Petrie-Norris is already planning to visit South Coast REC, and Assemblymember Vince Fong doesn't want to wait for the December citrus tasting to visit Lindcove REC. The government and community relations team is looking forward to extending future invitations for members to visit UC facilities, and especially to a forest management and prescribed burning tour at the Blodgett Forest Research Station.
The UC ANR representatives also met with legislative staff for Senators Josh Becker, Nancy Skinner, Dave Min, Marie Alvarado-Gil, Anna Caballero, Melissa Hurtado and Steve Padilla, and Assemblymembers Rebecca Bauer-Kahan, Reginald Jones-Sawyer, Carlos Villapudua, Robert Rivas, Luz Rivas and Juan Alanis.