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Posts Tagged: Faith Kearns

New research identifies UCCE disaster management needs

From left, UCCE small-farm team members Jesus Ontiveros Barajas, Marianna Castiaux and Jacob Roberson distributed COVID-19 safety kits to small-scale farmers in Fresno County. Photo by Carmen Mendoza

Californians have been dealing with wildfires, the pandemic, power shutdowns, excessive heat and drought, sometimes all at the same time. In every county, UC Cooperative Extension is there to assist community members.

To better serve their clientele, nearly three-quarters of UC Cooperative Extension employees say they need professional development related to disaster response, according to a new study led by Vikram Koundinya, UC Cooperative Extension evaluation specialist in the UC Davis Department of Human Ecology.

Koundinya and coauthors Cristina Chiarella, UC Davis doctoral graduate student researcher; Susan Kocher, UC Cooperative Extension advisor for the Central Sierra; and Faith Kearns, California Institute for Water Resources academic coordinator, surveyed UC ANR personnel to identify existing disaster management programs and future needs. Their research was published in the October 2020 edition of Journal of Extension.

“It's becoming so common that our folks are being put in the role of responding to disasters, while not having much training or background to do so,” Kocher said. 

After the Camp Fire, Tracy Schohr sampled stream water in Butte County to test for livestock owners who worried whether it was safe for animals to drink.

“And, it's really cross-disciplinary,” she added. “Right now, our nutrition folks are doing so much with assisting their communities with food access during COVID. Others, like Faith Kearns, have been working hard to address drought and help clientele weather drought impacts. There are the individual events like the LNU Lightning Complex fires [wildfires caused by lightning strikes in Lake, Napa, Sonoma, Solano and Yolo counties that burned from Aug. 17 to Oct. 2, 2020], but really, so many of us are currently doing disaster work across our disciplines and that role will only continue to expand with climate change-induced disasters. Once you frame it as ‘disaster work' you can start to see how our system needs to be much more prepared and to learn from and collaborate with each other and with disaster organizations.”

The survey showed that about one-third of the 224 respondents had been involved in preparing for, responding to, or helping communities recover from disasters. Respondents also noted a variety of needs related to disaster preparedness, response and recovery systems, procedures, materials and equipment, and educational materials.

“UC ANR personnel reported a need for professional development related to understanding how we fit into broader disaster response systems (73%) in California, what Extension resources are available for disaster response (63%), how the landscape of disaster risks in California communities is changing (62%), how communities can mitigate or manage disaster risks (62%), how to develop pre-established networks within the organization for responding to disasters (52%) and coordination with local and state entities (48%),” Koundinya said.

The authors note in the journal article, “Even though UCCE has been playing a critical role in disaster response for decades, because of the size and geographic spread of the UCCE system, disaster management approaches and materials have tended to develop piecemeal on a program-by-program and often county-by-county and disaster-by-disaster basis.” 

Betsy Karle takes a forage sample to assess whether it was safe for cattle to be moved onto pasture that was not burned but had received ash from the Camp Fire. Photo by Tracy Schohr

The article, “Disasters Happen: Identifying disaster management needs of Cooperative Extension System personnel” can be viewed at https://joe.org/joe/2020october/a2.php.

“We recommend that the findings be used for designing professional development on the topics and needs identified by the respondents,” said Koundinya.

In her blog ANR Adventures, AVP Wendy Powers, wrote about the report, “The tables identifying needs are of particular interest to me and perhaps something the Learning and Development team might think about for future trainings.” 

Posted on Friday, October 30, 2020 at 11:09 AM

UC ANR visits the Capitol

The first UC ANR Day at the Capitol was March 26, 2019.

UC ANR Day at the Capitol was held on March 26, 2019, to update California legislators and legislative staff on UC ANR's research and outreach projects. Vice President Glenda Humiston and a UC ANR delegation discussed a wide variety of topics during the legislative visits, including wildfire and forest health, water quality, youth development, nutrition and climate adaptation.

Every year, representatives from each UC campus gather in Sacramento for UC Day at the Capitol to educate lawmakers about the importance of research and higher education and their contributions to California's economy and progress. Although UC ANR participates in the annual Ag Day at the Capitol, this was the first UC ANR Day at the Capitol.

State Senator Jim Nielsen, fourth from left, who represents the Town of Paradise and the surrounding communities, thanked Tracy Schohr and Bailey Butler for helping Butte County residents evacuate their animals and keep them safe during the Camp Fire.

ANR's Global Food Initiative fellow Maci Mueller set up appointments with the policymakers and coordinated the UC ANR delegation to explain the value of investment in UC ANR research and outreach.

The UC ANR delegation consisted of two teams led by Humiston and Wendy Powers, associate vice president. The teams included Faith Kearns, California Institute for Water Resources academic coordinator; Ruth Dahlquist-Willard, UC Cooperative Extension small farms advisor for Fresno and Tulare counties; Tracy Schohr, UC Cooperative Extension livestock and natural resource advisor for Plumas, Sierra and Butte counties; Alena Pacheco, 4-H community education specialist in Fresno County; Bailey Butler, Oroville 4-H member; and El Dorado County 4-H Ambassadors Emily Ferrell, Josie Rothman and Isabella Veffredo, who were accompanied by El Dorado County 4-H program representatives Vera Bullard and Denise Veffredo. 

Alena Pacheco told Assemblymember Susan Talamantes Eggman, standing fourth from left, how 4-H collaborates with UC Master Gardener Program and UC CalFresh Nutrition Education to engage at-risk children in Fresno County in gardening and other activities to teach them life and work skills.

“As a team, we were able to connect with every member or staffer that we met,” Powers wrote in her ANR Adventures blog. “Sometimes it was around the 4-H program, and what the program has done for our impressive team members, sometimes it was around fire or water, and other staffers or members were particularly interested in moringa. Either way, the goal was to make a connection so that each visit left an impression.”

“UC ANR Day was a terrific opportunity for 4-H members to practice their communication skills and get involved in advocacy at the state level,” Mueller said. 

Oroville 4-H member Bailey described for legislators and their staff how she worked from Nov. 8 when the Camp Fire broke out until after Christmas with UC Cooperative Extension advisor Tracy Schohr and UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine staff to care for 1,200 evacuated livestock and to train others to assist. Emily, a 4-H Ambassador in El Dorado County, said her 4-H experience with STEM activities and leadership training helped her get into the university of her choice – UC Santa Barbara.

Bailey and Emily told Assemblymember Laura Friedman, fifth from left, how they have benefited from their 4-H experiences and she is interested in learning more about UC Cooperative Extension activities in Los Angeles County.

The 2018-19 UC budget fact sheet can be downloaded at http://ucanr.edu/fy2018budgetbrief.
The teams visited a total of 17 offices including state senators Cathleen Galgiani (Senate Agriculture Committee chair), Hannah-Beth Jackson, Brian Jones, Connie Leyva, Mike McGuire, Holly J. Mitchell, Jim Nielsen and Scott Wilk and assemblymembers  Brian Dahle, Susan Talamantes Eggman (Assembly Agriculture Committee chair), Heath Flora, Laura Friedman, Monique Limon, Jose Medina, Jay Obernolte, Robert Rivas and Jim Wood.

Greeted warmly by each office, the teams shared examples of work being done by UC ANR in their districts, offered them assistance and thanked the legislators for their support. They left a copy of the UC ANR Snapshot, UC ANR map and overview, a 4-H fact sheet and UC at a Glance.

Legislators praised the 4-H members and UC ANR staff for the work they do for Californians.

“I look forward to making UC ANR Day at the Capitol an annual event,” Humiston said. “Telling people about the value of ANR's work is not only part of our mission, it is essential in educating others about all that we accomplish with the resources we have.”

A fact sheet showing the effects of shrinking public investment in the University of California and agricultural research can be downloaded at https://ucanr.edu/sites/Professional_Development/files/302896.pdf.

 

At Ag Day at the Capitol, UCCE Modoc County Director Laura Snell talks with Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry and Maci Mueller.
 
Senator Richard Pan discusses avocado production with VP Humiston.
 
State Senators Steven Bradford and Brian Jones talk with members of California 4-H about rabbits.
VP Humiston tells Assemblymember Steven Choi about the array of research projects conducted at South Coast Research & Extension Center in his district.
Mueller welcomed Karen Ross, secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture, to the UC ANR booth at Ag Day at the Capitol.

Sean Hogan, IGIS academic coordinator, talks drones with Assemblymember Devon Mathis.
Sean Hogan, IGIS academic coordinator, talks drones with Assemblymember Devon Mathis.

Building climate change into the work of UC ANR

UC Cooperative Extension researchers convey need for more climate change communication and curriculum tools

[NOTE: The Integrating Climate Change in California Cooperative Extension Programs Workshop will be held Feb. 6-7.]

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions from natural and working lands is one of California's key climate change strategies. In particular, the potential for farm and rangeland soils to serve as carbon sinks has been getting a lot of attention lately in the national media — and during California Healthy Soils week, which wrapped up Dec. 7.

These are areas where UC Cooperative Extension, with its local presence across the state, is well-positioned to drive change. But as a recent survey of UCCE advisors, specialists and faculty found, while there is a good deal of climate work happening, there are also some significant obstacles.

The survey results — reported in an article by UCCE academics Ted Grantham, Faith Kearns, Susie Kocher, Leslie Roche and Tapan Pathak in the latest issue of California Agriculture — showed that while nearly 90 percent of respondents believe it is important to incorporate climate science into extension programming, only 43 percent currently do so.

Respondents pointed to a number of issues. One was "limited familiarity with climate science fundamentals." It's one thing to cite the overwhelming scientific consensus that climate change is real and is being driven largely by human activity; it is another to be able to respond quickly and convincingly to detailed questions from doubters. This list from Grist, for instance, details more than 100 common arguments raised by climate skeptics, many of which have non-trivially complex answers.

Another important issue cited by respondents was "fear of alienating clientele by talking about a contentious topic," a response that highlights the importance of personal relationships in UCCE's work, and the challenge of communicating an area of science that is highly politicized.

The authors conclude: "To further increase the capacity of UC ANR staff to support the needs of their clientele and the broader public, professional development around climate science fundamentals, communication, and adaptation strategies is critical." As an initial follow-up, the UCANR climate change program team (led by authors Grantham, Kocher and Pathak) is presenting a workshop and professional development meeting for extension professionals in February.

Posted on Tuesday, December 19, 2017 at 6:23 PM
  • Author: Jim Downing

PAC discusses strategic plan and urban agriculture

At the recent President’s Advisory Commission meeting, President Napolitano praised UC ANR’s work in “areas of critical importance.”

Downtown Oakland was the site of the biannual UC President's Advisory Commission on Agriculture and Natural Resources (PAC) meeting on Aug. 9, which included a Q&A session with President Napolitano, program presentations from UC Cooperative Extension county directors Rob Bennaton and Igor Lacan, and updates from deans Helene Dillard (UC Davis), Keith Gilless (UC Berkeley) and Kathryn Uhrich (UC Riverside), as well as Executive Associate Dean John Pascoe (filling in for Dean Michael Lairmore, UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine). 

In her opening remarks, UC ANR Vice President Glenda Humiston introduced Mark Bell, the division's new vice provost for statewide programs and strategic initiatives. Bell spoke about the strength of the UC system, the diversity of programs offered by UC ANR statewide, and his plans to leverage the strong volunteer and staff base of programs like UC Master Gardeners and 4-H.

Humiston also offered updates on the division's strategic plan and the significant progress made in implementing its key goals. Associate Vice President Tu Tran then gave a presentation on the division's financial situation, which he titled “A Fiscal Plan for Success.” Tran addressed UC ANR's place in the state budget and its revenue projections through FY 2021-22, which includes significant growth in major gifts and fundraising.

Jerry Lohr, right, congratulated fellow PAC member Grant Davis on his new position as director of the state Department of Water Resources.

Bennaton and Lacan both gave spirited and enthusiastic presentations that were received well. Bennaton, who serves as county director for Alameda and Contra Costa counties as well as UCCE urban agriculture advisor for the Bay Area, discussed the benefits of urban agriculture and the assortment of activities going on in community development, habitat restoration and youth programming.

Lacan, also a UCCE environmental horticulture advisor for the Bay Area and co-director in San Mateo and San Francisco counties, talked about the diverse and richly rewarding work he spearheads in urban forestry. His work currently focuses on sustainable management of urban trees and urban water.

Following lunch, UC President Napolitano offered glowing remarks about UC ANR's contributions and the long-term strategy reflected in the division's new strategic plan. She said she was particularly impressed by ANR's recent work in water, childhood obesity, nutrition education, and Asian citrus psyllid, calling them “areas of critical importance.” She also praised Humiston's leadership in the area of tech innovation and partnerships.

During a Q&A period, the president engaged PAC members on various issues such as potential public-private partnerships that could involve UC ANR, targeted approaches to advocacy and deferred maintenance needs for UC writ large but also for UC ANR and its research and extension centers system, specifically.

The deans gave updates on research and activities occurring at their respective colleges and school.

The next PAC meeting is scheduled for December, also in Oakland. 

Posted on Wednesday, August 30, 2017 at 5:06 PM
  • Author: Mike Janes

Travel funds available for UCCE specialists, AES faculty to collaborate with off-campus ANR academics

ANR will be making additional travel support available for UC Cooperative Extension specialists to collaborate with ANR academics off-campus, including UCCE advisors in the counties and ANR academics at the RECs in fiscal year 2017/18.

With the level of funds available, each specialist may apply for up to $2,500 for FY 2017/18 (travel reports must be submitted within 45 days of travel, and funds must be expended by June 30, 2018). These travel funds must be utilized by the UCCE specialists only and cannot be used for out-of-state travel.

UC ANR values the work of AES faculty across the three partner campuses. As the recognized lead for the California Agriculture Experiment Station, UC ANR receives federal Hatch funds to support the AES mission and distributes those funds to the three partner campuses to manage and support AES faculty. In recognition of the importance of the partnership between UC ANR academics and AES faculty, UC ANR is expanding the travel support program to include AES faculty as part of a pilot program. Upon completion of a request, UC ANR will support travel by AES faculty to meet and work with UC ANR county-based or REC-based academics. Support is limited to $1,000 per AES faculty member with a cap on the total pool of funds available set at $25,000 for FY17-18. Additional support may be available through the campuses; AES faculty should consult their departments or colleges to determine if additional support is available. Travel support must be used by the AES faculty member for his/her own travel to plan and execute research or present research findings at meetings hosted by UC ANR academics.

Completing a short online survey is the only step to apply for these funds.

A brief survey form is accessible from your ANR Portal. The direct link is http://ucanr.edu/survey/survey.cfm?surveynumber=18400. The survey asks 

•        Name and title of specialist requesting support

•        Project/Program name

•        Brief project description (one paragraph)

•        Collaborating advisors

There is no deadline for applications for these travel funds, but they must be expended in the fiscal year 2017/18.

 

Posted on Wednesday, August 30, 2017 at 4:35 PM

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