Why you should participate
January 9, 2009
I am writing to share with you my reasons for continuing to plan for the ANR Statewide Conference in Sacramento on April 27-30, despite the serious budget shortfall facing California.
My two highest priorities when I arrived on the job last January were to commission a strategic plan to guide future program, planning, and hiring decisions in ANR and the launching of a coordinated, statewide strategic communications and advocacy initiative to educate decision makers about how ANR programs and people are making a difference in the livelihoods and quality of life for all Californians. We are making significant progress in both of these areas.
The ANR Statewide Conference is scheduled around the release of the ANR Strategic Plan that will be completed in mid-April. Many of you are already involved in this unprecedented effort to chart a future course for the Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources. We are engaging external stakeholders and the UC community in helping us to identify the major issues and trends California will face over the next 20 years and defining where ANR can make a real difference through science and public service.
I personally believe that visioning for the future is critical for our continued relevance to the people of California and for our long-term growth as a dynamic research and public service arm of the university. That is why convening the ANR Statewide Conference is so important at this time.
It will provide an opportunity for all members of the ANR community to come together, understand our strategic directions, and begin developing the implementation roadmap for making this vision a reality. Our biggest mistake would be to receive the strategic plan, put it on a shelf, and go about business as usual.
There will also be a number of concurrent sessions and workshops at the ANR Statewide Conference focusing on cutting-edge science, strategic communications and advocacy, and major issues facing the state where ANR is making a difference.
UC President Mark G. Yudof recognizes the importance of this conference and will be our keynote speaker on the opening day. The UC President's Advisory Commission on Agriculture and Natural Resources will be holding its spring meeting in conjunction with the ANR Statewide Conference and the commissioners will be joining us the afternoon of April 27 and for a reception and poster session that evening. County Directors will invite their local legislators for a reception the evening of April 28 that will provide an opportunity to showcase our programs and exchange ideas among ANR colleagues and state decision makers.
Before closing, I want to address how we are funding the conference as I know concerns have been expressed. The funding source is federal Smith-Lever funds that are to be used for integration of research and extension activities to encourage greater interaction leading to timely, effective, and efficient solutions to critical agriculture issues. The federal funds supporting the conference are available because we did not issue core issue grants this year and held coordinating conferences rather than workgroups during this planning year. We made the decision last summer to make the conference a high priority and to convene the entire ANR community to begin implementation of our strategic plan. I stand by this decision.
I welcome your comments, thoughts, and suggestions and hope that you will agree with me that holding the ANR Statewide Conference is critical to the future of the Division and our ability to meet the demands of future Californians.
Vice President -- Agriculture and Natural Resources