Author: Syme, Emily

Part Time Biotechnology Grant Project

youth with DNA strandUConn Extension has two part-time positions open on a biotechnology grant project. These positions are both four-year appointments through the grant period.

The grant will create 4-H clubs focused on teaching teen members about biotechnology and encouraging them to pursue it as a career. Cohorts of 4-H youth will work with the UConn and NMSU teams to learn about biotechnology and create games about biotechnology careers.

The outreach effort will target high school-aged youth already in 4-H youth development programs in Connecticut and the surrounding area. The researchers will prioritize working with communities currently underrepresented in STEM fields.

The project will provide participants and their families with informal education in food and agricultural sciences, teaching them about potential careers in biotechnology, including gene editing.

Using a game-based learning approach, participants will learn about the safe use of biotechnology for agriculture and career opportunities in this field. The UConn team is partnering with the New Mexico State University Learning Games Lab to develop these educational games, and the youth will be involved throughout the process.

Participants will develop outreach materials to communicate science-based information about biotechnology to their peers and adult audiences. This effort will help build public trust in these methods. A multimedia dissemination approach will make use of diverse tools such as YouTube, social media, a website, seminars, and workshops. Learn more about the grant.

Job Posting Assistant/Associate Extension Educator in Water Quality

The Department of Extension in the College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources invites applications for an Assistant/Associate Extension Educator in Water Quality. We seek an individual whose professional skills and abilities can foster the integration of extension with research to address local and regional water quality issues such as urban stormwater and agricultural runoff. This position will be housed in the award-winning Center for Land Use Education and Research (CLEAR) and contribute to the Center’s mission of working with communities to balance growth and natural resource protection. The ideal candidate will have expertise in translational outreach programming in the areas of water quality management, watershed management, stormwater management, or other relevant disciplines in water science. The position will be based in the Department of Extension (75%) and jointly appointed in the Department of Natural Resources and the Environment (25%). There are also opportunities to collaborate with municipalities, state and federal government agencies, and across UConn through the Connecticut Sea Grant, Connecticut Institute of Water Resources, Institute of the Environment, and Connecticut Institute for Resilience and Climate Adaptation.

The Department of Extension in the College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources (CAHNR) works collaboratively with partners in all 169 municipalities across Connecticut, throughout the northeast region, and beyond. It is a non-tenuring unit with 35 faculty, 30 program, and administrative staff. Additional grant-specific program personnel assist to solve problems, and enhance the wellbeing of our state citizens where they live, work, and learn. Work carried out by the Department constitutes the majority of activity carried out by the UConn Extension System. Faculty and staff conduct activities through eight-county/community-based offices and may be co-located with additional community/agency-based working partners when applicable.

CAHNR has developed and implemented a Strategic Vision to guide the development and focus of our teaching, research, and Extension programs in the years 2020-2025. All faculty and technical staff are expected to contribute to the implementation of CAHNR’s five strategic priorities (https://cahnr.uconn.edu/visionandvalues).

  • Ensuring a vibrant agricultural industry and sustainable food supply
  • Enhancing health and well-being locally, nationally, and globally
  • Dismantling structural racism and fostering environments that advance racial equity, inclusion, and belonging by advocating for antiracist policies, practices, and norms.
  • Fostering sustainable landscapes across urban-rural interfaces
  • Advancing resilience and adaptation in a changing climate

The University and CAHNR prioritize scholarship in areas that impact quality of life, including human, animal, plant and environmental health and sustainability. We encourage and provide support for cross-disciplinary, collaborative scholarship across the College, University, nation, and globe. UConn is committed to Life-Transforming Education for students and Extension audiences. UConn is recognized as one of the most sustainable and environmentally friendly campuses by the Sierra Club. Through research, teaching, service, and Extension, UConn embraces diversity and inclusion and cultivates leadership, integrity, and engaged citizenship in its students, faculty, staff, and alumni.

Founded in 1881, UConn is a Land Grant and Sea Grant institution and member of the Space Grant Consortium. It is the state’s flagship institution of higher education and includes a main campus in Storrs, CT, four regional campuses throughout the state, and 13 Schools and Colleges, including a Law School in Hartford, and Medical and Dental Schools at the UConn Health campus in Farmington. The University has approximately 10,000 faculty and staff and 32,000 students, including nearly 24,000 undergraduates and over 8,000 graduate and professional students. UConn is a Carnegie Foundation R1 (highest research activity) institution, among the top 25 public universities in the nation. Through research, teaching, service, and outreach, UConn embraces diversity and cultivates leadership, integrity, and engaged citizenship in its students, faculty, staff, and alumni. UConn promotes the health and well-being of citizens by enhancing the social, economic, cultural, and natural environments of the state and beyond. The University serves as a beacon of academic and research excellence as well as a center for innovation and social service to communities. UConn is a leader in many scholarly, research, and innovation areas. Today, the path forward includes exciting opportunities and notable challenges. Record numbers of undergraduate applications and support for student success have enabled the University to become extraordinarily selective.

DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES 

Extension (75%) – The successful applicant will develop and deliver impactful Extension programs. Program foci might include water quality management strategies; agricultural conservation practices to improve water quality; novel approaches to stormwater management; measures to protect private water supplies; assessment of causes, effects, prevention and restoration of surface water and groundwater impairments; methods to address point and nonpoint source pollution; and impacts of land-use change. The successful applicant will provide leadership and science-based information to key stakeholders, policymakers, and the public on solutions to water quality and water resource challenges in agriculture and urban communities locally and regionally. The successful applicant will be expected to seek external funding to enhance Extension programs. Activities will also include building collaborative, interdisciplinary networks between UConn CLEAR, other Extension educators, and academic faculty.

Research (25%) – Applied research will be done in collaboration with the Department of Natural Resources and the Environment, where the successful applicant will have collaborative access to analytical chemistry equipment in laboratories and hydrological field sampling equipment. The successful applicant will be expected to seek external funding to perform research that complements Extension activities outlined for this position.

MINIMUM QUALIFICATIONS 

  • Doctoral degree in water quality, hydrology, watershed management, natural resources, environmental sciences, agricultural/biological engineering, water sciences, or a related field
  • Demonstrated expertise in addressing agricultural and urban water quality problems
  • Demonstrated expertise in outreach activities
  • A record of publishing outreach and peer-reviewed research
  • Experience obtaining and/or managing competitive grants
  • Excellent oral and written communication and interpersonal skills

PREFERRED QUALIFICATIONS 

  • History of funding from state and/or federal agencies
  • Experience as funded project director/manager
  • Integration of social science concepts in extension programming
  • Understanding of Geographic Information Systems/geospatial technologies
  • A record of commitment to promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion through academic, extension, and/or research activities.

APPOINTMENT TERMS 

This is a full-time, 11-month position with an anticipated start date of August 23, 2022. The successful candidate will work primarily at the University of Connecticut’s Middlesex County Extension office located in Haddam, CT, with occasional travel to the Storrs Campus, other Extension centers, and elsewhere in the state.

TERMS AND CONDITIONS OF EMPLOYMENT

Employment at the University of Connecticut is contingent upon the successful candidate’s compliance with the University’s Mandatory Workforce COVID-19 Vaccination Policy.  This Policy states that all workforce members are required to have or obtain a Covid-19 vaccination as a term and condition of employment at UConn, unless an exemption or deferral has been approved.

Employment of the successful candidate is contingent upon the successful completion of a pre-employment criminal background check.

TO APPLY 

Please apply online to Academic Jobs Online https://academicjobsonline.org/ajo/jobs/21333 and submit the following application materials:

  • Cover letter summarizing how your qualifications and experience meet the position requirements (maximum two pages).
  • Curriculum vitae.
  • A statement of academic disciplinary interests summarizing how your professional outreach/extension and research accomplishments will contribute to the College’s success in achieving its Strategic Vision (maximum one page).
  • Statement on Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (maximum one page).
  • Names and contact information for at least three references.

Review of applications will begin on April 1, 2022, and continue until a successful candidate is selected. Inquiries should be sent by email to the search committee chair, Dr. Michael Dietz at Michael.dietz@uconn.edu.

At the University of Connecticut, our commitment to excellence is complemented by our commitment to building a culturally diverse community.

This position will be filled subject the budgetary approval.

All employees are subject to adherence to the State Code of Ethics which may be found at http://www.ct.gov/ethics/site/default.asp.

The University of Connecticut is committed to building and supporting a multicultural and diverse community of students, faculty and staff. The diversity of students, faculty and staff continues to increase, as does the number of honors students, valedictorians and salutatorians who consistently make UConn their top choice. More than 100 research centers and institutes serve the University’s teaching, research, diversity, and outreach missions, leading to UConn’s ranking as one of the nation’s top research universities. UConn’s faculty and staff are the critical link to fostering and expanding our vibrant, multicultural and diverse University community. As an Affirmative Action/Equal Employment Opportunity employer, UConn encourages applications from women, veterans, people with disabilities and members of traditionally underrepresented populations.

Dig Deeper Into Your Garden

Dig Deeper Into Your Garden! 🌱🌾🌷 Learn the fundamental concepts of horticulture, as taught by UConn Extension educators and specialists. Based on UConn Extension Master Gardener Program curriculum, this four-part, online series can be taken at your own pace, at times that work for you. Choose just the modules you’re interested in or complete all four sections to earn a certificate of completion in Fundamentals of Home Gardening.
Classes begin now and run through May 2022. Registration information is posted on bit.ly/ExtensionStore. Questions? Email sarah.bailey@uconn.edu.

Master Gardner Community Garden

Several of our 2021 Master Gardener interns from Litchfield County worked on community gardens that helped provide not only food, but veggie gardenmuch needed outdoor learning environments.  Rebekah Chestna spearheaded the creation of an outdoor classroom garden in Watertown, CT that donated over 200 pounds of food to the Watertown Food Bank. Carolyn Morin worked with 2014 Master Gardener, Mary Guilfoile, and Litchfield County Master Gardener program coordinator, Michelle Winkler, to help improve upon a food pantry garden started in 2020.  Carolyn helped build support structures for peas, beans, and tomatoes providing for better air circulation around the plants and easier harvesting. Produce was donated to Friendly Hands Food Bank in Torrington. Rebecca Kowalski designed a pollinator garden to be used as an outdoor classroom at Goshen Center School.

DEEP Recreational Trails Program Grant

The Connecticut Trail Census Program by UConn Extension received funding from the CT Department of Energy and Environmental. The DEEP awarded $3 million in grant funding through its Recreational Trails Grant Program. These funds will be used for locally supported trails and trail systems, bikeways, and multi-use paths. More information can be found at https://portal.ct.gov/DEEP/News-Releases/News-Releases—2022/DEEP-Announces-3-Million-in-Trail-Grants-For-20-Projects-Across-the-State 

EFNEP Baby Food Making Class

zoom screenUConn EFNEP hosted a baby food-making class which was a success!  9 parents register and picked up baby food-making kits. Three mothers with infants attended consistently, for one mother English was a second language, and another mother was from a family of 7 with her youngest just 7 months.  They discussed how to make homemade baby food, food safety and the kitchen tools necessary for preparing baby food at home. They cooked together to prepare homemade turkey puree and homemade applesauce. They discussed important resources for families like local food pantries as well as the WIC and SNAP programs, eligibility and how to apply.  During the initial discussion a great video was shown from The University of Maine Cooperative Extension on How to Make Home Made Baby Food and encouraged the mothers to come back to it if they needed a refresherhttps://youtu.be/cili44BebXY  A nice discussion was had about preparing homemade baby food and safely introducing complementary foods as well as allergen foods.

One participant said There were so many tools provided in this workshop that I will use moving forward. I will use the recipes that were shared in class and also the recipes that were given in the recipe book provided. I am more confident in the food I choose to give my baby and how to prepare it. I also learned the rules for storing food and keeping the temperatures safe for my baby.” 

Baby food and feeding infants have become a topic of interest recently. Politico posted an article about the recall of formula from brands Similac, Alimentum and EleCare.”Infant formula, it should be noted, is one of the most regulated food products in the U.S. Formula plants are inspected annually, which is much more frequent than a typical food facility. Still, inspectors uncovered several issues, including lapses in basic plant sanitation and handwashing ( see eFoodAlert here for more details) https://efoodalert.com/2022/02/20/cronobacter-and-powdered-infant-formula/

 

Fact sheets help local leaders navigate climate change questions

Questions poured in by the dozen after the morning session of the 2015 Adapt CT legal workshop—six pages worth, in fact. 

“After the lunch break, we asked people to put questions into a box, and we got through some of them in great panel discussions in the afternoon,” recalled Juliana Barrett, Connecticut Sea Grant coastal habitat specialist and one of the workshop organizers. “But we had received huge numbers of questions.”

The roomful of state and municipal officials had come to explore the complex legal conundrums arising with the effects of climate change, mainly rising sea levels and stronger, more frequent storms causing increased flooding, property damage and loss, among other impacts. ‘Tip of the iceberg’ might be the metaphor that came to mind, even as icebergs shrink with climate change.

The workshop attendees posed questions like:

How does state/local government start to enact meaningful regulations that address climate change, knowing they will affect property rights?

Does beach nourishment change property lines?

Is there a legal liability to a town for identifying properties in a coastal resilience plan that may be flooded in the future by sea level rise?

The workshop was part of a series on climate adaptation hosted by Connecticut Sea Grant and the UConn Center for Land Use Education and Research, known as CLEAR, through their joint organization Adapt CT. Legal issues had starkly emerged as another area being reshaped by the broad sweep of the changing climate, as effects are felt across fisheries, agriculture, health, infrastructure, wildlife and economies.

Juliana Barrett
Juliana Barrett Photo: Judy Benson / Connecticut Sea Grant

“In the beginning I didn’t realize it was going to be such an issue,” Barrett said. “But then I saw that this is going to be an ongoing issue, and we needed to get out there in front of it.”

That realization led Barrett and co-organizer Bruce Hyde of CLEAR to start working with the Marine Affairs Institute at Roger Williams University School of Law, home of the Rhode Island Sea Grant Legal Program that serves Sea Grant programs throughout the Northeast. The partnership agreed to produce the Legal Issues in the Age of Climate Adaptation fact sheet series on issues specific to Connecticut case law and policy, researched and written by Rhode Island Sea Grant law fellows supervised by staff attorneys. Connecticut Sea Grant supported the work of the law fellows, and each project produced three to six pages of content followed by several pages of citations and other references. 

The sixth and most recent fact sheet in the series, “Flooding, Eminent Domain and Government Authority” was published on the websites of Connecticut Sea Grant and Adapt CT in early January, building off a virtual workshop on managed retreat in November 2020. Several in-person workshops complemented the previous fact sheets.

Julia Wyman
Julia Wyman Photo: James Jones

“Climate change is a dynamic field, but so is law and policy, so we are used to evolving areas of practice,” said Julia Wyman, director of the Marine Affairs Institute and Rhode Island Sea Grant Legal Program. “Connecticut Sea Grant reached out to us directly with their questions. We worked on the fact sheets, and the workshops, over several years. It was a really fun opportunity to dig into the issues surrounding climate change.”

Wyman said the fact sheets are a “snapshot in time” relying on the best available science and legal research at the time they were written. 

“As time progresses,” she said, “it is likely science, climate change impacts and laws and policies surrounding both will change. If our partners have a need for updating them in the future, we are open to working on updates.”

The titles of the first five fact sheets, like that of the sixth fact sheet, signal the intriguing, complex and varied challenges that local and state officials and others are facing:

First page of "Flooding, Eminent Domain and Government Authority," fact sheetFor the law fellows and staff attorneys at the Marine Affairs Institute, the fact sheet project was a chance to apply their legal skills to helping answer some real-world questions. For the fact sheet about road flooding, for example, Barrett led one of the law fellows on a tour of problem roads in Madison, Old Saybrook and other coastal towns.

“It was a great opportunity for us to partner with Connecticut Sea Grant and UConn’s CLEAR,” Wyman said. “Our staff and students enjoyed working with the team, attending and presenting at workshops, and in general learning more about Connecticut law related to climate change.”

Wyman said her institute has done several projects on climate change issues, including producing similar legal fact sheets for Rhode Island Sea Grant and another series for other New England states. 

“We are always happy to partner with other Sea Grant programs and other coastal constituents on their questions of coastal law and policy,” Wyman said.

Barrett said the Connecticut Sea Grant fact sheets have been well-received, prompting many of the 3,740 visits last year to the Adapt CT website, where the documents can be downloaded. While most of the users are municipal officials, private landowners are also accessing them. 

“As situations and topics arise, I would like to see this partnership with the Marine Affairs Institute/Rhode Island Sea Grant Legal Program continue,” Barrett said. “We’re getting a really strong and useful product for our stakeholders.”

Article by Judy Benson is the communications coordinator at Connecticut Sea Grant. First posted on https://seagrant.uconn.edu/2022/02/09/fact-sheets-help-local-leaders-navigate-climate-change-questions/ 

Advancing 4-H Careers in Food and Agriculture via Biotechnology and STEM (FANE) Job Openings

Job opening! UConn Extension Hartford County is looking for a program assistant to work under the direction of the FANE Grant Team. For full consideration, please submit a cover letterresume, and the names and contact information for three professional references to Jen Cushman,(Jennifer.cushman@uconn.edu), with the email subject FANE Coordinator Position.

More information can be found at https://hr.uconn.edu/special-payroll-employment-opportunities/