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UC ANR’s impact benefits every Californian

By helping low-income families save money on healthy food, teaching farmers how to maintain abundant crops even as the climate changes, Introducing young people to new technologies and protecting the state's forests from threats to their future, UC Agriculture and Natural Resources strives to improve the lives of all 40 million Californians.

These are the types of UC ANR research summarized in the recently completed, 16-page 2019 Annual Report, Working for the Benefit of All Californians, produced by UC ANR's office of Program Planning and Evaluation.

“As we pulled this together, we realized that UC ANR research and extension branch out widely, reaching much further than is obvious on the surface,” said PPE director Katherine Webb-Martinez. “If you eat food grown in California, enjoy the outdoors, care about the state's less fortunate residents and find hope in the future of our state under the leadership of today's youth, UC ANR enhances your life.”

The new publication provides 60 examples of the hundreds of research and extension projects conducted in 2019 by UC Cooperative Extension advisors and specialists, and researchers who are part of the campus-based Agricultural Experiment Station.

Among the stories in the annual report is the work of UCCE nutrition, family and consumer sciences advisor Mary Blackburn to teach Alameda County senior citizens how to make simple, healthy meals on a budget. Her classes resulted in 92% improvement in understanding food advertisements.

In Santa Clara County, UCCE 4-H advisor Fe Moncloa provided training for teenaged teachers and afterschool staff in delivering computer science programs to young children. All of the 52 teens reported increased teaching confidence and most of the 35 staff members increased their understanding of the material.

UCCE specialist Dan Putnam and UC Agricultural Experiment Station researcher Charles Brummer at UC Davis tested alfalfa and forage grasses from around the world to select species and varieties farmers can use now and in the future, when climate change will likely require them to produce crops under warmer, drier conditions.

With only 75 native giant sequoia groves still gracing the Sierra Nevada, UCCE specialist Rob York developed a management plan to protect a grove owned by the Save the Redwoods League from high-severity fire in the future.

While there are many additional research and extension achievements recounted in the annual report, the work is not done.

“Despite such success stories, problems remain and the issues grow more complicated,” said UC ANR vice president Glenda Humiston. “The future will hold situations we have never seen before.”

PPE invites UC ANR staff and academics to share the PDF version of the annual report widely to clientele, contacts, political leaders and other stakeholders. A limited number of printed copies are available. Email to request paper copies.




Posted on Thursday, May 28, 2020 at 8:22 PM
Tags: annual report (2), May 2020 (8)

ANR celebrates Pride Month with virtual film fest

In June, we celebrate lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people and raise awareness of issues facing the community. Every Wednesday at 6 p.m. in June, you are invited to join UC ANR colleagues to view films about LGBTQ+ communities and participate in discussions after the shows from the comfort of wherever you are sheltering in place.

“The purpose is to celebrate inclusion and affirmation, as well as to learn about differences and U.S. history related to LGBTQ+ communities,” said Katherine Soule, who is organizing the events.

The films will be shared via Zoom for participants to watch, followed by a group discussion about each film, much like book club participants exchange their thoughts about books.

“I am proud to be a part of the UC system, where I can support meaningful work and live my life authentically,” Soule said. “I am humbled to be able to support others to have the same in their own lives.”

Bring your own beverage and join us for movies at 6 p.m. Wednesdays in June. The length of each session will vary with the length of the film. Register for the ANR Pride Film Fest at to get the Zoom link.

The schedule of four documentaries selected by Soule is as follows:

June 3: State of Pride (2019) 70 min. – Fifty years after the Stonewall uprising, Oscar-winning filmmakers Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman and host Raymond Braun travel to three diverse communities - Salt Lake City, San Francisco and Tuscaloosa, Alabama - for an unflinching look at LGBTQ Pride, from the perspective of a younger generation for whom it still has personal urgency. 

June 10: The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson (2017) 1 hour, 45 min. – Who killed Marsha P. Johnson? When the beloved, self-described "street queen" of NY's gay ghetto was found floating in the Hudson River in 1992, the NYPD chalked it up as a suicide and refused to investigate. However, as shown in Academy Award (R) nominated director and journalist David France's (How to Survive A Plague) new film, it's a decision many questioned. Having played a pivotal role in the previous year's Stonewall Riots, in 1970, Johnson and fellow trans icon Sylvia Rivera formed the world's first trans-rights organization, STAR (Street Transvestites Action Revolutionaries). 

June 17: Kiki (2017) 1 hour, 34 min. – If anyone wondered where Madonna heard about "voguing," the documentary "Paris is Burning" was the answer. "Kiki" is another deep dive into the same scene. It's an intimate look at a marginalized community, many of whom rely on the various neighborhood clubs for support systems that don't exist anywhere else. The so-called "Kiki" scene is not just about the various competitive dance club contests. The scene provides a social structure, a "net" for kids who have nowhere else to go.

June 24: Three of Hearts: A postmodern family (2005) 97 min. – Steven, Samantha and Sam together form an amorous threesome, a "mariage-a-trois" of sorts. Their journey takes them from the more humorous and sensational aspects of such a relationship to moments that truly show the depth of their love and commitment to each other.



Posted on Wednesday, May 27, 2020 at 6:00 PM
Tags: LGBTQ (1), May 2020 (8)

Finances hurt by COVID-19? UC Regents allow access to retirement savings

The UC Board of Regents voted on May 21, 2020, to implement provisions of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) designed to make it easier for participants to access funds from their retirement savings plans. These optional provisions required approval from the Regents, who are responsible for overseeing the UC Retirement Savings Program (which includes the Defined Contribution Plan, Tax-Deferred 403(b) Plan, and 457(b) Deferred Compensation Plan). 

If you or a dependent are diagnosed with the virus SARS-Co-V-2 or with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), or you experience adverse financial consequences as a result of the virus or disease, the CARES Act is designed to help by extending access to loans and withdrawals from employer-sponsored retirement savings plans like UC's.

Withdrawals from the UC 403(b), 457(b) and DC Plan

  • The CARES Act allows you to withdraw 100% of your own vested balances up to $100,000 (whichever is less) from your UC 403(b), 457(b) plan, or DC Plan account.
  • You won't owe the customary early withdrawal penalty when you withdraw under the CARES Act provision.
  • You are still subject to federal income tax on your withdrawal, but it can be spread out evenly over three years. Check with your state tax board for more information about how this applies to your state income taxes.
  • You may also repay all or part of your CARES Act withdrawal within three years and, if you do, your repayment won't be subject to federal income tax or to the annual IRS contribution limit. That means it won't affect the amount you would normally contribute to your UC plan.
  • CARES Act withdrawals are available until Dec. 30, 2020.
  • The CARES Act increases the maximum amount you can borrow from your UC 403(b) Plan. This increase is available until Sept. 23, 2020 (180 days since the CARES Act was enacted). Currently, you can borrow up to 50% of your total UC Retirement Savings Program account balance up to $50,000. Under the CARES Act, you can borrow up to 100% of your vested 403(b) plan balance up to $100,000, whichever is less. Note: If you've taken a loan in the past 12 months, the amount you can borrow will be reduced by the highest outstanding loan balance. 
  • If you are currently repaying a UC 403(b) Plan loan or request a CARES Act loan, you can delay your repayments until Dec. 31, 2020.

403(b) Plan Loans

What qualifies as a financial consequence?

To qualify for a CARES Act withdrawal, loan, or to delay a loan repayment, you must self-certify that you face at least one of the following financial consequences:

  • You, your spouse, or your dependents have been diagnosed with SARS-Co-V-2 or COVID-19 by an approved test from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • You have experienced a financial hardship as a result of quarantine, furlough, layoff, or reduced work hours.
  • You are unable to work due to issues accessing childcare.
  • A business that you own or operate has been closed or its hours have been reduced.
  • You meet other criteria determined by the U.S. Treasury Secretary.

Important considerations

Weigh the consequences on your future financial security before you tap into your UC retirement savings accounts, especially in volatile markets. If you have access to other means of funding, such as home equity, a family member, or other viable sources of short-term cash, consider these options as well.

Call Fidelity at 1-866-682-7787 to request a withdrawal or loan, or to delay your current loan repayments.

For more information

  • To understand UC 403(b) Plan loans, read How 403(b) Plan Loans Work.
  • To learn more about the CARES Act or find updates on its provisions, visit
  • If you have questions about the CARES Act or need guidance on accessing your retirement funds through these provisions, call a UC-dedicated Fidelity Retirement Planner at (800) 558-9182.
Posted on Wednesday, May 27, 2020 at 4:00 PM
Tags: coronavirus (5), May 2020 (8)

Help NFCS advisor understand family food resiliency during COVID-19 pandemic

UC Cooperative Extension nutrition, family and consumer sciences advisor Deepa Srivastava asks for her colleagues' help in a virtual project that she initiated to understand family food resiliency during the COVID-19 pandemic. For this project, she asks primary caregivers of young children to answer a single open-ended question. Responses will help Srivastava understand how families with young children are navigating the food-related situation in their everyday lives.

"More specifically, the responses will help us understand the various strategies primary caregivers are using to ensure that food is available, accessible, purchased, prepared and consumed in their households," she said.

Srivastava is reaching out to local community partners in Tulare and Kings counties, but she would appreciate broader participation. UC ANR staff and academics with young children are encouraged to respond, as well as their contacts and clientele. 

Feel free to share the flyer image below or a pdf version at the end of this article.

The open-ended question is:

"During COVID-19, what changes do you have to make in your household food availability, food accessibility, food purchasing, food preparation and food consumption?"

Responses may be emailed to

Posted on Wednesday, May 27, 2020 at 2:29 PM
Tags: Deepa Srivastava (2), May 2020 (8)

See the winning UC Walks 2020 photos

Best Nature photo by Ana Medina.

This May, UC ANR staff and faculty opted outside for a Virtual UC Walks 2020. More than 100 ANR staff and academics chose to walk together while apart for a total of 90 hours! Several participants chose to submit photos of their walks to the photo contest competition hosted by the UCANR Staff Assembly Wellness Committee.

Best Nature photo winner Ana Medina, awed us with her lovely twilight panoramic of the Bay Area.

Best Fashion photo by Emily Melton Casado.

Best Fashion photo winner, Emily Melton Casado, made us smile with family's coordinated UC Walks attire.

Best Urban photo by Sarah Angulo.

Last but certainly not least, Best Urban photo winner, Sarah Angulo, impressed us with the creativity her walking team brought to the event by turning their walk into a Zoom meeting.  

Ben DiAnna won a FitBit in the participation survey raffle

In addition to a photo contest, the UC Staff Assembly Wellness Committee raffled off two Fitbits. Congratulations to Ben DiAnna for winning the participation survey raffle and to Russ Hill for winning the social media post raffle.

See more UC Walks photos on the Staff Assembly website.

Russ Hill won the UC Walks 2020 social media post raffle.

The UC ANR Staff Assembly Council wants to send out a huge thank you to everyone who participated in this year's event. Your participation highlighted how, even in these unusual times, UC ANR stands together. Cheers to a UC Walks 2021 that is not just virtual. In the meantime, we hope this event inspires everyone to get outside and take a stroll.

Be well,

The UC ANR Staff Assembly Council

Posted on Tuesday, May 26, 2020 at 4:18 PM
  • Author: Kaela Plank
Tags: Kaela Plank (1), May 2020 (8), UC Walks (3)

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