Virtual CARET visits with congressional staff productive
Vice President Glenda Humiston led a delegation representing California to the virtual annual joint meeting of the Council for Agricultural Research, Extension and Teaching (CARET) and the Administrative Heads Section (AHS) of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, March 1-4.
Over a series of Zoom calls, CARET delegates met with California's Congress members to discuss the specific impacts of UC Agriculture and Natural Resources in their districts and the importance of strong federal funding to support the programs, including Cooperative Extension, 4-H Youth Development, nutrition education, and the research and extension centers.
“CARET was our last in-person meeting in 2020 so we weren't sure what to expect with virtual visits in 2021, but they were even more productive than in years past,” said Anne Megaro, UC ANR director of government and community relations.
“We had more time with congressional staffers and members in each meeting and our conversations were more detailed and thoughtful. Congress is working hard to meet the needs of their constituents and they were very interested to hear about UC's work in wildfire and everything we've been doing to support communities through COVID, particularly with our communities of color and those where English is a second language.”
Collectively, the group visited 22 congressional offices, including meeting with members Jim Costa, Jimmy Panetta and Ami Bera.
CARET delegates – new delegate Ishmael (Ish) Herrera of California Forward, San Diego County nurseryman Mike Mellano, Humboldt County rancher Dina Moore, and Environmental Solutions Group managing partner Jean-Mari Peltier – explained how their businesses and industries have benefited from UC ANR research and extension. Bill Frost, former UC ANR associate vice president and UCCE advisor emeritus, also served as a CARET delegate.
UCCE forest and natural resources advisor Ryan Tompkins, UC Master Gardener Program Director Missy Gable, and UCCE County Director for Fresno, Tulare, Kings and Madera counties, Karmjot Randhawa, were the UC ANR academics and staff who described how their work and programs impacted members' districts over the past year. COVID-19 was a strong theme, as well as wildfire and forest management.
Building on the success of the virtual CARET visits, Megaro arranged a few more meetings for UC ANR academics and congressional staffers over Zoom.