TGFS stands for two things this year: Thank Goodness for Staff, of course, and Thank Goodness for Sandwiches.
Ice cream sandwiches.
They are back, the preferred TGFS dessert: vanilla ice cream sandwiched between two chocolate cookies.
The frozen treats did not make last year's TGFS Picnic menu, leading to a lot of good-natured grumbling. OK, maybe not so good-natured. Suffice to say, the organizers heard about it.
"They knew after all the feedback last year, that the ice cream sandwiches had to come back," said Jennifer Lucero, Staff Assembly coordinator. So, for TGFS next week, Staff Assembly has ordered nearly 5,000 Nestle Carnation ice cream sandwiches.
The menu also includes teriyaki chicken sandwiches, veggie burgers, pasta salad and fruit salad — a free meal for all staff. The picnic, scheduled from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Shields Oak Grove at the west end of the arboretum, also includes the TGFS Idol Contest, a raffle and Gunrock Bingo.
This year's theme is "Staff Helping UC Davis Grow."
Lucero did not work for Staff Assembly at the time of last year's TGFS Picnic, the administration's annual thank-you to staff. But, as soon as she came on board in November, she heard all about the ice cream sandwiches.
"As soon as people found out I worked for Staff Assembly, they told me, 'You better make sure we have ice cream sandwiches at the next TGFS!' " Lucero said.
The problem last year was twofold, said Lin King, Staff Assembly chair.
First, University Catering's ice cream vendor had switched from all-paper to paper-plastic wrappers on its ice cream sandwiches. Wrappers with plastic in them are not biodegradable — and that did not sit well with TGFS organizers, who pride themselves on putting on a zero-waste event.
This year, the all-paper wrappers are back.
The second problem last year: Too few administrators to hand out the ice cream sandwiches, King said. Each year, Staff Assembly recruits the chancellor, vice chancellors, deans, program directors and the like to load up workers' paper plates in the food lines.
"We want the staff to enjoy the picnic and relax," Lucero said. So, administrators do the serving. As King put it: "This is their thank-you to the staff who work hard all year long."
King said administrators are still being lined up for this year's TGFS, and any who would like to volunteer are asked to contact Staff Assembly.
Lucero assured staff: "The ice cream sandwiches will happen no matter what."
Brownies will be happening, too, she added, "and Sodexho (which runs University Catering) makes good brownies."
Worried about all those calories? Aggies on the Move invites you to get some exercise in advance, by joining group walks to the TGFS Picnic.
Here is where to meet up, and the "prompt" departure times:
- Mrak Hall, south entrance, 10:45 a.m.
- Memorial Union, flagpole, south entrance, 10:45 a.m.
- Activities and Recreation Center, main lobby, 11 a.m.
Need incentives to join a group walk? Organizers said walk participants get to go in a special express line for picnic food, and the first 150 walkers will receive Aggies on the Move pedometers (new members only).
Whether you walk or take a shuttle bus, the arboretum has arranged for a greeting party of insects and birds and even a tree to herald your arrival. Well, of course, you might ask: How tough can it be to arrange for insects, birds and trees in the arboretum?
This greeting party will comprise Arboretum Ambassadors (student interns and staff) in costumes, as the arboretum promotes itself as "The GATEway to the Wild."
GATE is capitalized because it stands for Gardens, Arts and the Environment — the theme of a new project aimed at better connecting the arboretum to the university's academic mission. One GATEway element, the Art-Science Fusion Program, is already in place — and student artwork from that program is included in the arboretum's decoration plan for the TGFS entryway. Plants and flowers also will be displayed, organizers said.
Betsy Faber, the arboretum's education outreach manager, said you can expect to see people dressed as a ladybug and honeybee, owl and western scrub jay, and a valley oak tree. Other people will be outfitted as if they were on a nature adventure, wearing hats and hiking boots, and carrying binoculars.
Carmia Feldman, the arboretum's assistant director, said UC Davis employees attending TGFS will be invited to buy annual memberships in Friends of the UC Davis Arboretum at a $5 savings (making the cost $35 for individuals and $55 for families, for example). Each new member also will receive a coupon for a free plant at an arboretum plant sale, Feldman said.
More information on TGFS: staff.ucdavis.edu (click on "TGFS"). To volunteer, contact Lucero at (530) 752-0988 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
TGFS shuttle information: staff.ucdavis.edu (click on "TGFS," then "Transportation and Parking.")