Posts Tagged: advocacy
Representatives from UC ANR joined county government officials on Nov. 14-18 for the California State Association of Counties' 128th Annual Meeting held in Orange County. CSAC provides advocacy, educational and financial services to California's 58 counties.
Vice President Glenda Humiston; Anne Megaro, government and community relations director; and Rita Clemons, UC Cooperative Extension director for Riverside, San Bernardino and Orange counties; Susan Ellsworth, UC Cooperative Extension director for the Capitol Corridor; and Darren Haver, associate director for the Research and Extension Center System and South Coast REC director, discussed opportunities for collaboration with county supervisors and other county officials.
UC Cooperative Extension personnel often work with county leaders to help their communities with the pandemic, wildfires, economic development and other challenges and opportunities.
UC ANR was well-represented at the California Economic Summit in Bakersfield on Oct. 27-28 to find new ideas and partners for economic development projects. The annual event is held to identify economic opportunities, improve state and regional competitiveness and generate jobs.
“This year's California Economic Summit really highlighted the need to invest in our working landscapes and harvest the huge opportunities for jobs and economic growth throughout the state if we do,” said Glenda Humiston, vice president. “I'm really excited to see state and regional leaders recognizing the critical role that UC ANR and UC Cooperative Extension can play in supporting those initiatives.”
Humiston was joined at the event by Anne Megaro, director of government and community relations; Keith Taylor, UC Cooperative Extension community economic development specialist; Julia Van Soelen Kim, UCCE food systems advisor; Olivia Henry, UCCE food systems advisor; Cindy Chen, UCCE woody biomass and forest products advisor; Ashley Hooper, UCCE urban community resiliency advisor; Alec Dompka, UCCE rural community and economic development advisor; and Rita Clemons, director of UCCE for San Bernardino, Riverside and Orange counties.
“We have too many people that are working every single day and they're not making it,” said Antonio Villaraigosa, infrastructure advisor to Governor Gavin Newsom, told attendees on the first day.
Another speaker, Dolores Huerta, co-founder of United Farm Workers, called for equitable pay for farmworkers.
On the second day of the summit, Governor Newsom joined the event. He chatted on stage with Ashley Swearengin, former mayor of Fresno, noting that California is now the fourth largest economy in the world, surpassing Germany. He complimented the San Joaquin Valley for its economic development efforts.
The 2023 California Economic Summit Summit will be held in the Coachella and Imperial valleys.
UC ANR academics met with staff for California members of Congress via Zoom on Oct. 12 to discuss invasive species and pest management. Integrated pest management research is funded through the federal Farm Bill, which is up for renewal in 2023.
“The 2023 Farm Bill is right around the corner and it is the perfect time for UC ANR researchers, staff and volunteers to meet with policymakers and demonstrate the impact and return on investment of federal funding for Cooperative Extension throughout California,” said Anne Megaro, government and community relations director.
Jim Farrar, UC Integrated Pest Management Program director; Georgios Vidalakis, UC Cooperative Extension specialist at UC Riverside; Jhalendra Rijal, UC IPM advisor; Cindy Kron, UC IPM advisor; Andrew Sutherland, urban IPM advisor; Tom Getts, UCCE weed ecology advisor; and Missy Gable, director of the UC Master Gardener Program; and UC Master Gardener volunteer Linda Haque met with Chloe Koseff, who represented Senator Dianne Feinstein, and Angela Ebiner, who represented Senator Alex Padilla.
The group discussed how pest prevention is key, comparing the cost to mitigate established pests to the cost of preventing new pests and diseases from entering California.
Gable and Haque shared how the local UC Master Gardener hotline in Los Angeles played a critical role in elevating the first recorded sighting of Asian citrus psyllid in California, and how the UC Master Gardener Program continues to work closely with researchers like Vidalakis to share science-based information on pest management.
Sutherland discussed the human health hazards of urban pests including cockroaches and bed bugs. Farrar and Rijal provided an overview of IPM in California and the importance of the UC IPM program.
Vidalakis, Rijal, Sutherland and Gable also discussed those subjects with House Agriculture Committee staff members Malikha Daniels and Emily Pilscott.
Chris Greer, UC IPM advisor, and Gable met with Tanner Dorrough, staff member for Rep. Salud Carbajal, who represents residents in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties. They discussed soilborne diseases in berries and use of unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, on farms.
Richard Smith, UCCE vegetable crops advisor, and Gable met with Sam Harris, staff member for Rep. Jimmy Panetta, whose district includes Salinas, Santa Cruz and Monterey. Smith discussed impatiens necrotic spot virus and thrips in lettuce and the “Orwellian” experience of seeing vast swaths of dead lettuce fields surrounded by red skies and smoke from nearby fires. Gable described the UC Master Gardeners' demonstration garden in Watsonville where they teach IPM, how to read pesticide labels, weed management and more.
Getts, Gable and UC Master Gardener volunteer Kay Perkins met with Alexandra Lavy, staff member for Rep. Doug LaMalfa, whose district includes the northeast corner of California, Chico and Redding. Getts discussed the role of IPM advisors solving current problems of the local community, using invasive grasses in grazing lands and wildfire risks, grasshopper populations as examples. Perkins described the UC Master Gardener demonstration garden at Patrick Ranch Museum where they teach and demonstrate IPM and sustainable landscaping practices. They also offer adult education classes at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute and at local libraries.
Rijal, Vidalakis, Farrar and Haque met with Alexa Fox, staff member for Rep. Jim Costa, whose district extends from Merced to Fresno. Rijal discussed navel orangeworm management in almond orchards and spotted winged drosophila in cherry orchards. Haque described the outreach materials UC Master Gardener developed with IPM advisors to educate the public about these pests.
“We made several great connections and we are busy following up on issues discussed and setting up tours for staff in California,” Megaro said.
UC ANR hosted a wildfire virtual tour for state legislators, legislative staff and agency officials Nov. 16. Vice President Glenda Humiston introduced the UC Cooperative Extension advisors, a program coordinator and a Master Gardener volunteer who shared real-world examples of how UC research and tools are helping Californians prepare for and mitigate wildfires in their homes, communities, and wildlands.
Fourteen legislative and agency staff members joined the virtual morning tour across California's landscapes.
Ryan Tompkins, UC Cooperative Extension forest and natural resources advisor, discussed his forest management research and shared photos of live fires – some taken from his own front yard this year. Andy Lyons, Informatics and GIS program coordinator, showed them tools such as drone imagery and mapping that can be used in real time to fight fires.
Clio Tarazi, UC Master Gardener volunteer and retired urban planner who helped UC ANR pioneer defensible space training and Firewise Landscaping in Sonoma County, described how UC Master Gardeners worked one on one with residents, helping them reduce fire risk around their homes and neighborhoods.
Lenya Quinn-Davison, UCCE fire advisor, discussed her work with prescribed fire, training women and people from other underrepresented groups in fire careers (WTREX), and bringing together non-traditional partners to build capacity to improve fire resiliency.
“Inviting legislators and their staff to witness the work we do hand-in-hand with their constituents is critical to making informed policy,” said Humiston. “Wildfire resiliency is of utmost importance, and UC has the tools and expertise to build California's capacity to prevent and reduce the damage from catastrophic wildfires. No matter where you live in California, wildfire affects all of us.”
For guests who expressed interest in seeing a live prescribed burn, Anne Megaro, director of government and community relations, is arranging visits.
On Nov. 17, state Sen. John Laird was invited to the UC Regents' Public Engagement and Development Committee to discuss his support for the university. Laird described his instrumental role in what he called the “resuscitation” of UC Cooperative Extension by championing the state's historic increase to UC ANR's budget.
“We basically got an over 50% increase to try to bring it back to where it was at least a decade ago,” said Laird, who is chair of the Senate Budget Subcommittee on Education. He credited the agricultural community in Monterey County for initiating the push to restore UCCE funding.
“I think it's really a feather in the cap for UC because it is something that reaches into every agricultural county of the state and is really appreciated,” Laird, a UC Santa Cruz alumnus, told the regents.
While touring Santa Cruz County, Laird recalled meeting a young farm employee who reduced water consumption 15% in the farm's greenhouses by following the advice of a local UCCE farm advisor. The senator noted that the UCCE advice helped the Watsonville native, a person of color, get off to a successful start in the agricultural field.
Laird said UC needs to publicize more success stories like that. “I think that story really demonstrates the difference that is made … Here is UC Cooperative Ag Extension giving advice to somebody who is starting probably a 35- or 40-year career and saving a bunch of water right off the bat.”
To view the excerpt of his discussion with the regents, visit https://youtu.be/aL524U8z0qM.