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Posts Tagged: advocacy

Regent Estolano, Senator Caballero tour UCCE Fresno

 

4-H community educator Alena Pacheco (in green jacket), introduced Regent Estolano (in white pants) and Sen. Caballero (next to Pacheco) to UCCE Fresno partners Street Saints, who offer a safe place for youth after school where they can develop employment skills through 4-H activities.

“UC ANR touches the lives of thousands of people in rural communities and urban centers alike,” said state Senator Anna Caballero, after meeting UC Cooperative Extension staff and stakeholders in Fresno County. Caballero joined UC Regent Cecilia Estolano for a tour Sept. 25 to see results of ANR's work with small-scale farmers, 4-H youth and UC Master Gardener volunteers.

“On my tour, I saw how ANR is a valuable partner across generations and communities for Californians who grow our food, and green our neighborhoods,” Estolano said. “From urban 4-H chapters to Master Gardeners to culturally connected crop advisors and nutritional instructors, ANR is keeping California on the leading edge of agriculture, health and healing.”

Ruth Dahlquist-Willard shows Estolano moringa and describes her work to connect disadvantaged farmers with resources to improve their businesses.

Joined by Vice Provost Mark Bell, UCCE Fresno County Director Karmjot Randhawa, and Anne Megaro, government and community relations director, Caballero and Estolano began the tour with a visit to the Thao family farm, where they learned about specialty crops – such as jujubes and moringa – grown in the area by Southeast Asian farmers. UCCE farm advisor Ruth Dahlquist-Willard described growing and marketing moringa and her work to help bring resources to disadvantaged farmers to help improve their prosperity. Michael Yang, UCCE Hmong agricultural assistant, talked about delivering UCCE information to farmers in Hmong via his radio program.

Next, they visited Street Saints, a program of the Fresno Economic Opportunities Commission, and learned how they created an afterschool program to keep low-resource youth in Southwest Fresno safe. The Street Saints, who partnered with 4-H, described for the senator and regent how they promote healthy choices to deter young people from engaging in gang activity in their urban setting. Using 4-H's evidence-based curricula, Street Saints offers a safe place for youth after school where participating youth develop employment skills through 4-H activities such as sewing classes, STEM Teen Teachers, “Mindful Me” to improve physical and emotional health, and working in a community garden. 

At Garden of the Sun, Caballero and Estolano learned how the Master Gardener Program serves the community.
At Garden of the Sun, Caballero and Estolano learned how the Master Gardener Program serves the community through extending research-based information on home horticulture. With nearly 200 Master Gardener Volunteers, UCCE Fresno is able to staff a horticulture helpline, provide public educational classes and plant clinics, and donate pounds of food grown on-site to organizations in the community. They also heard about collaborative activities between the Master Gardener Program and UC ANR's nutrition programs. Nancy Zumkeller, CalFresh Healthy Living, UC nutrition educator, explained the importance of gardening and nutrition education to the Fresno Rescue Mission's Rescue the Children program.

“It was exciting to see the interaction between the senator and regent with the UCCE stakeholders,” Randhawa said. “Both seemed really engaged in the work and asked questions. It's vital for them to see how we engage with the community and how the community amplifies the research and support we provide. They met small farmers and 4-H members who have built businesses based on their work with 4-H and Cooperative Extension. They met with Master Gardeners. It was fantastic for them to experience, rather than be told, how we deliver ANR's mission.”

Megaro got the impression Caballero and Estolano enjoyed meeting some of the Californians who have bettered their lives by participating in ANR programs. 

“I think they both knew us mostly for our rural agricultural work, but this tour really showed them how we're active and present in urban communities to effect change and how we partner with community-based organizations to further our reach.” Megaro said.  “We also talked about how the sites we visited were just one example of the programs and services we provide throughout the state, and how we are looking to increase resources so we can build out our programs to serve more people.”

State Senator Anna Caballero, left, and UC Regent Cecilia Estolano learned more about how UCCE serves urban Californians.

 

Posted on Friday, November 1, 2019 at 10:58 AM

At UCCE’s suggestion, Humboldt waives air-quality fees for public benefit burning

A Mendocino County Fire Safe Council member sets a prescribed burn during a UC ANR fire retreat. Photo by Lenya Quinn-Davidson

“I thought you all might enjoy this bit of good news from Humboldt County. Yesterday reminded me of the important role we at UCCE can play in these types of local issues,” wrote Lenya Quinn-Davidson, UCCE area fire advisor in Humboldt County.

Concerned about habitat loss and fuel buildup on private lands in Humboldt County, Quinn-Davidson and Jeff Stackhouse, UCCE livestock and natural resources advisor, recently formed a Prescribed Burn Association.

Thanks to Senate Bill 1260, which was signed into law last year, air districts are receiving grants from the California Air Resources Board to support local prescribed fire programs. 

Stackhouse and Quinn-Davidson attended the North Coast Unified Air Quality Management District Board meeting Sept. 18 in Weaverville to suggest their district subsidize the air quality permit fees for prescribed burners.

Lenya Quinn-Davidson and Jeff Stackhouse suggested that their district subsidize the air quality permit fees for prescribed burners. The board accepted all of their suggestions.
“All of our suggestions were incorporated into the plan,” Quinn-Davidson said.

“Our district has decided to use some of these grant funds to subsidize air quality permit fees for prescribed burners in the district. This is welcome news to those of us with the PBA who have been working for the last year to alleviate air quality permit fees, which can be $250 to $1250 for bigger projects. For our PBA burns, air quality permit fees are one of our biggest project costs, and now those fees will be waived.”

The air board's original plan was to subsidize projects with a focus on wildfire risk reduction. At the meeting, she and Stackhouse encouraged them to broaden the scope and include all projects that have a public benefit, including burns focused on habitat restoration, range improvement, forest improvement, cultural resources, etc., in addition to fuels reduction. 

“We suggested that they tie the subsidy program to Public Resources Code 4475, which was amended through SB1260 to include an expanded definition of ‘public benefit burning.' They accepted our suggestion and amended the rule to reflect this broader suite of project types, which covers most of the great burning we're all doing in the North Coast: oak woodland restoration, medusahead/starthistle/blackberry control, coyote brush/coastal rangeland/prairie burning, understory fuels reduction, etc. With this cost relieved, we can start thinking about planning more projects and bigger projects! Yesterday, a 300-acre burn would have cost $1,250 (permit) + $65 (smoke management plan). As of today, those costs will be $0.”

The district's proposal also recommended excluding federal agencies and timber companies from the subsidy program, but Quinn-Davidson and Stackhouse asserted that any entity doing work that benefits the public should have equal access to the subsidy. In response, the Board voted to expand the program to include federal agencies and timber companies.

“Based on what air district staff said at the meeting, it sounded like this would save landowners about $14,000 to $18,000 per year in fees district-wide. I think it'll be even more than that in the coming years, with all the interest we have in prescribed fire,” Quinn-Davidson said.

“We're still working with the district to think about longer term solutions to their fee structure, but in the meantime, this is a fabulous step in the right direction!” Quinn-Davidson said.

 

Posted on Monday, September 30, 2019 at 3:01 PM

Congressman Carbajal tours UCCE projects in SLO and Santa Barbara

Congressman Carbajal and Andrea Keisler discuss UC Master Food Preserver home food preservation lessons for CalFresh participants in San Luis Obispo County.

The UCCE team in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties met with Congressman Salud Carbajal and his team twice in the past few weeks. On Aug. 20, Jeremy Tittle, the congressman's chief of staff, and Erin Sandler, the congressman's scheduler, visited. The congressional staff met with UCCE advisors, office manager, and director to learn more about UCCE research and programming.

UCCE advisor Ben Faber led a tour of research and education collaborations at Cal Poly, sharing research occurring on pomegranates, blueberries and other crops. In the afternoon, UCCE advisor Mark Battany led a tour at Wolff Vineyard, discussing research on how climate conditions relate to frost and water management.

Carbajal’s staff toured UCCE research collaborations with Cal Poly SLO. From left, Laura Garner, Ben Faber, Chris Greer, Jeremy Tittle, Erin Sandler, Jerry Harris and Mark Battany.

The following week, Katherine Soule, UCCE director, met with Congressman Carbajal and project collaborators to discuss the outcomes and success of a USDA Community Food Project grant. On Sept. 5, the congressman visited with the project partners at the Food Bank Coalition of San Luis Obispo County. 

Community partners described their contributions to the project, including UCCE's efforts to reduce food waste, increase awareness of local food systems, and maximize limited food resources through the UC Master Food Preserver Program. For this project, UC Master Food Preservers teach low-cost, safe, home food preservation methods to clientele receiving food at food bank distribution sites. During this meeting, the partners also discussed the San Luis Obispo County CalFresh Alliance's objective to increase CalFresh participation in the county. 

San Luis Obispo County currently has one of the lowest CalFresh participation rates in the state so the partners have been working together to identify and address barriers to participation. Carbajal shared his concerns about the low rates of participation and his commitment to working to address food insecurity in the region.

These successful visits led Carbajal's team to schedule a meeting with 4-H youth, families and volunteers in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties in the next few months.

Posted on Friday, September 27, 2019 at 2:50 PM
  • Author: Katherine Soule

ANR has a tight budget, not budget crisis

In spite of slowed hiring due to budget constraints, the numbers of UC ANR academic are holding steady. Most current data shown, next quarter's data will be available in September.

ANR's budget is tight this year, but we don't have a budget crisis, VP Glenda Humiston emphasized during the ANR town hall on Aug. 15. In addition to the budget update, Humiston discussed UCPath, which launches on Oct. 1, and answered ANR members' questions during the 78-minute online meeting that was scheduled for an hour.

ANR's budget remained at $72.6 million for FY 2019-20, the same as last year, while expenses including salaries and benefits have increased nearly $5 million. She shared the good news that President Janet Napolitano will provide ANR with $2.2 million to help cover some of the shortfall the flat budget has created.

Despite the tight budget, Humiston reiterated ANR's commitment to continuing salary equity programs.

“ANR people are our most important resource, they are our infrastructure, so to speak, because without our people we can't do extension, we can't do research,” she said.

In addition to the one-time $2.2 million supplement, ANR will also receive $19 million to help with deferred maintenance.

“This is a huge increase over the roughly $700K we typically receive per year,” Humiston said, noting that the $19 million designated for capital projects cannot be spent for anything else. “We will also have access to more funding for this critical need as part of the General Obligation Bond that will be on next year's ballot.”

She also addressed concerns about the number of UC Cooperative Extension academics. 

“Despite a 20-year slide in funding from the state and federal government, we have been able to retain academic numbers through partnering more on shared appointments and redirection of administrative funds to programs. I'm very proud to say that the graph of our academic footprint has not been dropping the past 4 years.”

She pointed out that the state had been cutting funding for the entire UC system. The campuses are able to increase tuition fees to make up the difference while ANR depends on contracts, grants, private giving and other new funding sources. Humiston encouraged everyone to work with Development Services for support in securing more funding. She also urged everyone to tell stakeholders about the value of ANR's work for California.

“There is nothing, nothing good about being the best kept secret out there,” Humiston said.

“All of you do fantastic work. We've got to let our stakeholders know that and we also need to let them know about our budget situation.”

UCPath launches Oct. 1

John Fox, director of Human Resources, reminded everyone that UCPath will officially launch next month.  As part of the transition, the AYSO website will become view-only for personal information, tax withholding, and benefits on Aug. 30; all future changes will have to be made in the UCPath portal when it goes live Sept. 27.

The first paychecks from the new UCPath system will be issued on Oct. 1 for monthly paid employees, and on Oct. 2 for bi-weekly paid employees. Fox emphasized that meeting timesheet deadlines is critical in ensure accurate and timely pay in the new system. 

As UCPath goes live, the UC ANR Beehive – a team of people who have been involved in the project – will be available to academics and staff to help troubleshoot.

Visit the UC ANR UCPath website at http://ucpath.ucanr.edu to preview the employee self-service portal and get answers to frequently asked questions. Comments and questions can be addressed to ucpath@ucanr.edu.

Q & A

The following are some questions that were asked during the town hall:

Can you provide the actual budget numbers behind the charts and power point slides that were shared by Glenda to the CDs in January as well as current budget numbers?

Yes, we can provide the numbers. See the pie charts at the bottom of the one-page budget handout. We will post more budget information in a separate story.

When will we find out about professional development funds?

At the time of the call, AVP Wendy Powers had not received her budget letter. She expects the amount of professional development funds to be the same as last year and to announce within the next two weeks.

Did (or will) the ANR budget challenges impact decisions on academics' merit/promotion/accelerations? 

No. While the budget situation may impact the amount of money for salary equity programs or the increase to base scales (3% for CE Advisors and CE Specialists), it does not influence the merit and promotion decisions. Every year the percent of successful merits and promotions varies, as does the number of requests submitted and what requests are made. High level data suggest that this year's success rate is within the range since 2016. That high level data will be shared with the Academic Assembly Council for broader distribution. 

When is leadership going to update and improve ANR maternity leave policy, same for paternity leave. When will leadership begin to better align vacation for staff with vacation for academics?

UC ANR leadership does not have the authority to unilaterally change leave policies for our employees.  We are part of the UC system.  Policies for academics and staff are consistent across the system, and changes generally would have to be approved by the President or the Regents. 

When will we see/hear about the new communication strategy being created by our new communication leader?

A working strategic communications plan has been developed. Strategic Communications and Publishing are embarking on a combined strategic planning effort in September to develop longer-term strategies.

Why do we not have a map of specialists and advisors that serve our state on our website?

Informatics and GIS has created two maps. The storymap at http://arcg.is/0yWGfj can be used to quickly see where academic personnel covering specific subjects are located around the state. The UCANR Personnel Filtering App at https://arcg.is/0XHSXb can be used to query and visualize the data more fully. A short video (https://goo.gl/dzykqK) walks through the different features of the UCANR Personnel Filtering App.

How can we attract and retain talent for co-funded advisor positions when they have no indefinite status? How can co-funded academics maintain academic freedom when their position is tied to specific funding partners and their priorities?

For some time now, UC ANR has had two CE Advisors who are very talented and do not have indefinite status. We have successfully retained those individuals. More recently, we have attracted six more talented CE advisors into co-funded positions. All of these positions were filled upon the initial search.

Senior leadership is proud to have these people in these key positions, as are our funding partners. They are here now and there is no evidence that retention is an issue. There is no evidence that academic freedom is compromised. All of our academics are expected to work with stakeholders to identify their priority needs.

Are ANR staff encouraged to contact their local legislative representative to discuss ANR's contribution to California's leading ag industry?

You may and should educate and inform elected state and federal officials and their staff of the work you do in their districts. As UC employees, we cannot take positions on bills or ask for budgetary support without the expressed consent of the UC Office of the President. For more information, please contact Anne Megaro, director of government and community relations, and read the one-pager at http://ucanr.edu/sites/Professional_Development/files/293044.pdf.

A recording of the 78-minute town hall is at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=62WrjR1Il7w.

Posted on Friday, August 30, 2019 at 11:28 AM

Names in the News

Nouri named UCCE orchard systems advisor for San Joaquin County

Mohamed Nouri

Mohamed Nouri joined UC Cooperative Extension on July 1, 2019, as an orchard systems advisor serving San Joaquin County. Nouri will address production and pest management issues in walnuts and sweet cherries, as well as apples, oil olives, and several smaller-acreage crops. Because San Joaquin County is the statewide leader in both cherry and walnut production, Nouri will become a regional and statewide leader within ANR for these crops. 

Prior to joining ANR, Nouri worked for UC Davis as a graduate student and postdoctoral researcher at the Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center from 2015 to 2019. Working closely with UCCE specialists, UCCE farm advisors, pest control advisers and farmers, Nouri studied fungal diseases of major fruit and nut crops, including olive, pistachio, sweet cherry, citrus, almond and grape. He oversaw the plant disease diagnostic services for perennial fruit and nut crops in California and management tasks for the laboratory.

Conducting his research in California, Nouri earned a Ph.D. in plant pathology from University of Tunis El Manar, where he also earned an M.S. in microbiology and plant pathology and a B.S. in life and earth sciences. Nouri is fluent in Arabic and French. 

Nouri is based in Stockton and can be reached at (209) 953-6115 and mnouri@ucanr.edu.

Matias joins UCCE as nutrition specialist

Susana Matias

Susana Matias joined UC Cooperative Extension on July 1, 2019, as an assistant specialist in the UC Berkeley Department of Nutritional Sciences and Toxicology. She has several years of experience in public health nutrition and a profile that blends nutrition, epidemiology and psychology. Her research interests include maternal and child nutrition, immigrant health, food security, obesity and diabetes prevention, and nutritional and behavioral interventions. Her extension efforts focus on promoting healthy nutrition at the regional and local levels, and on expanding the role of nutrition within the delivery of primary care. 

Prior to joining UCCE, Matias was a research scientist at the California Department of Public Health and a specialist at UC San Francisco. From 2013 to 2018, she worked as an assistant project scientist at the UC Davis Department of Nutrition. Matias, who is fluent in Spanish, has authored an extensive list of scientific papers and technical reports.

She earned a Ph.D. in epidemiology with designated emphasis in international and community nutrition from UC Davis. She holds a M.A. in educational psychology and a B.A. in psychology from Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú.

Matias is based in Morgan Hall at UC Berkeley, and can be reached at (510) 642-0980 and slmatias@berkeley.edu.

Eftekhari named chief of staff to VP

Kathy Eftekhari

Kathy Eftekhari joined UC ANR as the vice president's new chief of staff on Aug. 19, 2019. 

As chief of staff, Eftekhari will provide leadership and managerial support to the division and will be a member of the UC ANR Core Leadership Team. Her professional experience includes more than 25 years successfully managing programmatic, financial and human resource operations within higher education, and in private and nonprofit organizations across the U.S. and abroad. She has considerable experience in economic and community development.  

Eftekhari comes to UC ANR from the Strategy and Program Management Office at the UC Office of the President, where she has served as a senior organizational consultant for the past six years. In this role, she was responsible for the development and facilitation of the UCOP strategic planning process and has also successfully led a number of UCOP and systemwide initiatives. Co-facilitating UC ANR's strategic planning process in 2016, she became familiar with UC ANR's high-level goals and challenges.   

She holds a B.A. in liberal studies, an M.A. in educational administration, and a Ph.D. in education with an emphasis on research and policy analysis, all from UC Berkeley.

Eftekhari is based in room 10204 at UCOP and can be reached at (510) 987-0980 and Kathy.Eftekhari@ucop.edu

Sapeta named director of Facilities Planning and Management 

Bart Sapeta

Bartlomiej (Bart) Sapeta joined UC ANR as director of Facilities Planning and Management Aug. 7. In this role, he will work with ANR units such as the Research Extension Centers and other ANR-owned and leased facilities across the state to plan and execute maintenance and capital renewal work.

Sapeta is a licensed architect and a former project manager with over a decade of experience in design, renovation, repurposing, master planning, historic preservation of buildings for civic, community, and education markets. 

Most recently, Sapeta was a city councilor for the City of Keene, NH, and a tenured associate professor of architecture at Keene State College. He also served as a client representative on several capital improvement projects for Keene State, and has extensive experience in design and building.

Sapeta earned his M.A. in historic preservation from Plymouth State University, Plymouth, NH, Master of Architecture and Engineering from Wroclaw University of Science and Technology, Wroclaw, Poland, and Bachelor of Architecture from Drury University, Springfield, Mo.

In his role as director of Facilities Planning and Management, Sapeta will report to Tu Tran, AVP for Business Operations, and with appropriate delegation of authority will be the appointed Building Official for the Division. 

Sapeta is based in the ANR Building in Davis and can be reached at (530) 750-1292 or bksapeta@ucanr.edu

Freutel joins CalNat in Southern California

Eliot Freutel

Eliot Freutel joined the California Naturalist Program as a community education specialist on March 12, 2019, to advance new and continuing CalNat programs in Southern California.

Freutel has extensive experience working in marine environments as an outdoor education instructor. Prior to joining UC ANR, he was an educator and climate resilience coordinator for the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach. In that capacity, he developed two community outreach programs focused on bringing climate resilience strategies to underserved community members. For over 10 years, he worked on Catalina Island with the Long Beach Marine Institute as an outdoor education instructor, teaching students about the ecology of the island.

He earned his B.A. in translation and interpretation for Spanish and English at California State University Long Beach. He is fluent in Spanish and Portuguese, a shark and marine ecology expert, and happiest when he is outdoors or underwater.

Freutel is based in the UCCE office in Alhambra and can be reached at (626) 586-1985 and etfreutel@ucanr.edu.

Ferguson named ASHS president-elect

Louise Ferguson. Photo by John Stumbos

Louise Ferguson, UC Cooperative Extension pomology specialist in the Department of Plant Sciences at UC Davis, is the new president-elect of the American Society for Horticultural Science (ASHS), a professional academic society.

Ferguson's research and extension work is in fruit and nut trees, including pistachios, olives, figs, citrus and other subtropical fruit crops. She works with Cooperative Extension farm advisors and growers throughout California to establish research and outreach programs that support the fruit and nut industry. Among her many accomplishments, she is also a core faculty member in the California Agricultural Leadership Foundation program.

Acclaimed for her international agricultural development work in Afghanistan, Egypt, Iraq, and Pakistan, Ferguson is also recognized as an international leader in knowledge extension related to fruit tree crop production in many countries around the world.

Her appointment began in July at the ASHS annual conference in Las Vegas. Following the upcoming year as president-elect, board member and executive committee member, Ferguson will serve for a year as ASHS President, and a third year as chair of the ASHS Board of Directors. – Ann Filmer

 

 
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