Author: Ivette Lopez

Earth Day to feature audiovisual exhibit, puppet show

Image of"Reading the Wrack Lines" digital video projection on the UConn Avery Point Lighthouse
Example of a “Reading the Wrack Lines” digital audio/video projection on the UConn Avery Point Lighthouse. Photo: Anna Terry

Several special events are planned for Earth Day (April 22) at the University of Connecticut’s Avery Point campus, including audiovisual artwork projected on campus buildings and an original puppet show.

Events will begin at 6:30 p.m. with music recorded by the five-person Connecticut-based group Hitch and Giddyup sponsored by the Avery Point EcoHusky club. At 7 p.m., UConn Puppet Arts graduate student Felicia Cooper will perform ISH, an original one-woman puppet show for all ages inspired by Moby-Dick. UConn Dairy Bar Coastal Crunch ice cream will be served after the show.

From 8 to 9 p.m., there will be a performance of the audiovisual work, “Reading the Wrack Lines,” created by Connecticut College Professor Andrea Wollensak. This will feature creative writing responses to climate change by UConn Avery Point and Connecticut College students used as audiovisual source material within a generative multimedia artwork projected onto both the Branford House the Avery Point Lighthouse. Collaborators for “Reading the Wrack Lines” include software developer Bridget Baird and sound artist Brett Terry. The exhibit is being presented in cooperation with The Alexey von Schlippe Gallery of Art.

The events are free and open to up to 200 attendees to comply with Gov. Lamont’s Executive Orders for outdoor gatherings during the pandemic. Attendees should bring their own chair or blanket, wear face masks and maintain 6-foot social distancing. Rain date will be Friday April 23 at the same times. No pre-registration is required to attend.

Both “Reading the Wrack Lines” and ISH are supported by funding from Connecticut Sea Grant. UConn Reads and the Avery Point Global Café are co-sponsors.

“As a professor and CT Sea Grant research coordinator, I’m excited to be involved in this project,” said Syma Ebbin, who teaches courses in environmental and marine science and policy. “It seeks to integrate the personal creative reflections of students focused on coastal environments and the

Image of a "Reading the Wrack Lines" digital audio/video projection on the Branford House at UConn Avery Point.
Example of a “Reading the Wrack Lines” digital audio/video projection on the Branford House at UConn Avery Point. Photo: Anna Terry

human footprint—encompassing climate change, marine debris and plastics, among other topics they’ve explored this semester—within a generative and interactive video.

“I think the project themes resonate with and amplify the meaning of Earth Day and will generate deeper understandings in both students and the larger audience,” Ebbin said.

About the artists and their work:

Andrea Wollensak is a professor of art at Connecticut College whose work spans media from traditional to digital fabrication, to generative-interactive systems. She has collaborated with computer scientists, musicians, poets and scientists on works that explore themes of place-based narratives on environment and community. To learn more about her work, visit: https://www.andreawollensak.com/.

Felicia Cooper created ISH as part of her Master of Fine Arts in the UConn Puppet Arts program and performed it for audiences in downtown Storrs three times in March. Based loosely on Moby-Dick, it retells the story as if Ishmael were an 11-year-old girl and the whale were friendlier. She uses shadow puppets, object performance in a suitcase and original music composed by Juliana Carr in the show.

Image of Felicia Cooper using object performance in a suitcase during portions of her puppet show ISH.
Felicia Cooper uses object performance in a suitcase during portions of ISH. Photo courtesy of the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry.
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Healthy Soils to be Focus of 2021 Coastal Certificate Program

This year’s Coastal Certificate Program will take place virtually over four days in mid-May. Led by Judy Preston, CT Sea Grant’s Long Island Sound outreach coordinator, this year’s classes will emphasize healthy soils at the root of healthy gardens, landscapes, and ultimately the watersheds that are essential to clean waters and a healthy Sound.

The classes will also look at how soils fuel diverse gardens that sustain wildlife, including pollinators. Co-sponsored by Maggie Redfern, assistant director of the Connecticut College Arboretum, it will also feature guest speakers.

The classes will be from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on May 11, 13, 18 and 20. Class is limited to 35 students.

To register, visit: https://mastergardener.uconn.edu and go to the Garden Master Course Catalog: https://uconnmastergardeners.gosignmeup.com/Public/Course/Browse

For information, contact: Judy Preston at: judy.preston@uconn.edu; (860) 395-8335

Download a pdf of the flier here.

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A Guide to Planting Along the Connecticut Coast

monarch butterfly on joe pye weed
A monarch pollinates on blooming Joe Pye weed, as marsh mallow blooms in the background. Juliana Barrett / Connecticut Sea Grant.

Juliana Barrett, Ph.D. and Kiernan Sellars, 2021

This 35-page guide lists native trees, shrubs, herbaceous perennials and vines that are appropriate for planting in Connecticut’s coastal zone. It includes a map of that ecoregion and characteristics of each species, such as tolerance to salt water and salt spray, light and soil requirements as well as wildlife and pollinator value. 

Download here in PDF.

Publication Number CTSG-21-02

Sea Grant, DOE, NOAA Fisheries partner to invest $1M+ to support research for the co-existence of ocean energy with Northeast fishing and coastal communities

The Northeast Sea Grant Consortium, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Wind Energy Technologies Office and Water Power Technologies Office, and NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center, announces a research funding opportunity to improve understanding of offshore renewable energy interactions with fishing and coastal communities to optimize ocean co-use.

This unique funding partnership will support objective, community-focused research on ocean renewable energy—including offshore wind and hydrokinetic current, tidal, and wave energies—in the U.S. Northeast for the benefit of a diversity of communities and stakeholders.

With a focus on advancing community and economic resilience, the funding opportunity aims to catalyze proactive socio-economic and technology research for offshore renewable energy planning in the Northeast. Over $1 million will be available to support research projects across three innovative areas:

  • Fisheries and Fishing Community Resilience
  • Coastal Community and Economic Resilience
  • Co-Location Management of Ocean Renewable Energy with Other Marine Activities

The Northeast Sea Grant Consortium and federal partners seek collaborative, multidisciplinary, and innovative proposals with results that will be valuable to a variety of stakeholders, from the fishing industry to resource managers, as the U.S. ocean energy landscape evolves.

The funding competition is accepting pre-proposals from eligible Northeast researchers through May 14, 2021. Read more about the Request for Proposals here.

The initiative was announced as part of a Biden Administration fact sheet on wind energy, issued from the White House briefing room on March 29: https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2021/03/29/fact-sheet-biden-administration-jumpstarts-offshore-wind-energy-projects-to-create-jobs/.

Graphic for Ocean Renewable Energies research initiativeThe Northeast Sea Grant Consortium consists of the Connecticut, Maine, MIT, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Woods Hole Sea Grant Programs. Sea Grant’s mission is to enhance the practical use and conservation of coastal, marine and Great Lakes resources in order to create a sustainable economy and environment.

NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center works with the Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office to ensure informed management decisions based on sound science, promoting sustainability of marine life, supporting fisheries and coastal communities, and generating economic opportunities and benefits from the use of these resources.

DOE’s Wind Energy Technologies Office and Water Power Technologies Office are committed to developing and deploying innovative technologies for clean, domestic power generation from natural renewable resources such as wind, hydropower, waves, and tides. The mission is to enable energy science research, development, and testing of new technologies to advance innovative energy systems in the United States.

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CLEAR Webinars In April

aerial view of Connecticut River and agricultural fieldsWEDNESDAY, April 21, 2021 1:00 PM – 1:30 PM
Chet Arnold, UConn Dept. of Extension & CLEAR
Qian Lei-Parent, UConn Dept of Extension & CLEAR
Land use planners, property owners, and watershed managers need all the help that they can get to reduce the impacts of nitrogen (N) pollution on waterways, particularly in coastal areas. CLEAR, URI and EPA have developed an online tool, N-Sink, that provides some of this help. N-Sink identifies areas within a watershed that are likely to contribute N to coastal waters, and other areas that are likely to remove N from the system before it gets to the coast. The tool now covers all of the coastal watersheds of Connecticut and Rhode Island. This 30-minute webinar will describe the workings behind the tool, demonstrate the new N-Sink web app, and initiate a discussion on ways that the information might be used.
city street in Connecticut
Photo: CEDAS

WEDNESDAY, April 28, 2021 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM

Laura Brown, Community & Economic Development Educator, UConn Extension
Sadie Colcord, Associate Director of Partnerships, AdvanceCT
Kristen Gorski, Economic Development Coordinator, Town of West Hartford, and President, CT Economic Development Association (CEDAS)
Many communities struggle to find a comfortable balance between the desires of the business community, the desires of residents, and the requirements of existing zoning regulations and regulatory processes. In this session, the presenters will offer suggestions for finding this balance by exploring topics including: the role of economic development in the local land-use regulatory process; what companies are really looking for in a community; ensuring your community is ready for a desired development project; why and how to say no to a development proposal; and how to strike the right balance between zoning enforcement (which sometimes means saying no to business) while simultaneously encouraging the right kind of projects for your community. Attendees will learn about the Best Practices in Land Use and Economic Development Program, created by the Connecticut Economic Development Association and the Connecticut Chapter of the American Planning Association, and how to utilize the program as a tool for balancing economic development and planning.

The Low Down on Selecting Tomatoes

heirloom tomatoes
Heirloom tomatoes grown by the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation. Photo: Noah Cudd

Vegetable gardening is very popular these days, and even more so since the COVID outbreak.    Anyone new to this hobby is quick to hear some terms being thrown around when describing different types of vegetables. Knowing the meaning of these terms gives prospective gardeners some key information that helps them pick varieties of vegetables most suited to their needs. All living creatures, known to man, are classified according to species and genus. So for instance, all tomatoes are classified as Solanum lycospersicum.

To start off, I already used the term “variety”. This term is used rather loosely in horticulture and is incorrectly interchanged with “cultivar”. Both refer to the differences in the species of plant you have chosen. Varieties refer to naturally occurring deviations from the original species. They typically come true to seed. Cultivars have been purposely cross-bred from two or more different species. Plants must be either vegetatively propagated or started from hybrid seed each year. These varieties or cultivars have names and are associated with specific characteristics.  For example when I say “Sweet Millions” tomatoes, a person familiar with this cultivar knows that they are cherry tomatoes, indeterminate, very flavorful, and highly productive. For the sake of this article, I will stick with tomato examples, but these terms could apply to many vegetable species and cultivars.

Our tomato plants contain both male and female flower parts. Because of this, they are easily pollinated by wind or bees. This is problematic for greenhouse tomato growers, so they will hand pollinate the tomatoes with paint brushes or even special electronic devices that shake the flower to accomplish pollination. Fortunately for us outdoor gardeners, we do not need to do anything special for pollination to occur. 

Probably the best place to start is talking about “open pollination.” This is essentially how Mother Nature does things. There is a large population of organisms that have genes for individual traits, or characteristics. If we stick with our tomato example, think of: size, color, growth habit, disease resistance, plant height, etc. In my example, the population of tomatoes living in the wild in a certain area would have a lot of genetic diversity. As we all have experienced, the weather can vary from year to year. Genetic diversity in the population is nature’s way of ensuring that some organisms will survive and reproduce. Likewise, different parts of the country (or the world) will have different weather, climates, and microclimates.  Certain traits or characteristics are an advantage or a disadvantage depending on where you are living.  Over time, a population of tomatoes will see an increase in the genes that help it survive in the local environments. These would be considered different varieties of tomatoes.   

Some growers like to have open pollinated plants. They see which tomatoes produce the best and then save seeds from those plants to be planted the following year. In this way, the gardener is essentially developing a variety of tomato that is perfectly suited to living, growing, and even thriving in that particular area of the world. In addition, the gardener may also select for certain traits he or she prefers, like low acid, yellow tomatoes for example. Over time, the gardener may select and replant only the seeds of the plants that conform to certain pre-determined criteria.  Eventually the plants will breed true, or have the same set of characteristics, year to year.

Click here to read more.

E-Corps Two-Part Workshop at the UConn Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning

group of girls at a table

Please join your UConn colleagues for two one-hour virtual CETL workshops in April on:

The Environment Corps: an engaged scholarship model that combines classroom instruction, service learning, and Extension (an act in two parts)

Workshop Description:
A partnership at UConn that reaches across college and departmental lines is engaged in a project that seeks to enhance, expand, institutionalize, and study a new model for experiential learning and community engagement. The model, called the Environment Corps (“E-Corps”), combines familiar elements of classroom instruction, service learning, and extension outreach to create a method of engagement that aims to benefit students, faculty, surrounding communities, and the university community itself. This two-part series will review E-Corps structure, operation, results, and early lessons learned.

Part One will focus on course design, faculty development, and pedagogical strategies for engaged student learning; attendees will hear from instructors and students of the three current E-Corps courses.
Friday, April 9, 2:00 – 3:00 pm                   Focus on the Classroom
REGISTER HERE

Part Two will focus on building community partnerships and designing appropriate student projects, including several examples; attendees will hear from additional instructors and our municipal “clients.” Both sessions will set aside ample time for discussion.
Friday, April 23, 2:00 – 3:00 pm             Focus on Community Projects
REGISTER HERE

https://ecorps.initiative.uconn.edu/

Pick-Your-Own Revisited

strawberries

Last year we held a virtual discussion on how to deal with Pick-your-own in the age of COVID. This year we will revisit this topic with several growers sharing what they did that worked, maybe didn’t work as well as expected or at all, will keep this year, or will drop because it may not be needed. With vaccines and an ever changing landscape it may be a moving target. It is safe to say we all liked the masks because it resulted in less eating in the field. Keeping the requirement?  Let’s chat and get prepared as an industry for the upcoming season. Join UConn Extension and growers including Jamie Jones, Jones Family Farms, Shelton CT; Russell Holmberg, Holmberg Orchards, Gales Ferry CT; Michaele Williams, Bishops Orchards, Guilford CT; Don Preli, Belltown Hill Orchards, South Glastonbury CT; Andre Tougas, Tougas Family Farm,  Northborough MA; and Trevor Hardy, Brookdale Orchards, Hollis NH.

Pick-Your-Own Revisited

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Beginning at 7 pm

Free, registration NOT required. Join us using the following link:

http://bit.ly/PickYourOwn-COVID

Getchis recognized with award for pandemic response efforts

Tessa Getchis shows samples of three species of shellfish found in Long Island Sound, clams, mussels and oysters.
Tessa Getchis shows samples of three species of shellfish found in Long Island Sound: clams, mussels and oysters. Judy Benson / CT Sea Grant

Connecticut Sea Grant Aquaculture Extension Specialist Tessa Getchis will receive a Service Excellence Award in the University of Connecticut chapter of the American Association of University Professors’ 2021 UConn-AAUP Excellence Awards.

The awards have been given annually since 1997 in six categories, and this year focused specifically on responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Getchis, who also holds the title of senior cooperative extension educator, is being recognized for her role in the various responses to the impact of pandemic shutdown on the state’s commercial shellfishing industry. This included a quick-turnaround survey done early in the shutdown to assess the economic fallout on shellfish farmers. That was followed by assistance programs that included: hiring commercial shellfish workers to rehabilitate the state’s natural shellfish beds; development of a website to share information about direct-to-consumer seafood markets; buybacks of oversized oysters; and assistance with applications for various government financial aid programs.

“We were able to provide some early relief to shellfishermen, and we’re really motivated to keep going, because this wasn’t a one-time impact,” Getchis said.

She stressed that the entire response would not have been possible without the contributions of colleagues at CT Sea Grant and the state Department of Agriculture Bureau of Aquaculture.

“It was and is a team effort,” she said.

CT Sea Grant Director Sylvain De Guise said the award is well deserved.

“It reflects on the recognition of her passion, teamwork, continued leadership and energy,” he said.

Her award will be given in a virtual ceremony on April 28. Also receiving a Service Excellence Award will be three assistant professors, Milagros Castillo-Montoya, Sharde Davis and David Embrick. Ten others will receive awards in teaching excellence, teaching innovation, research and creativity.

To read more about the pandemic response efforts, visit:

https://seagrant.uconn.edu/2020/10/30/shellfish-farmers-stay-afloat-with-innovation-financial-aid/

https://seagrant.uconn.edu/2020/06/04/project-expands-support-for-ct-shellfish-industry/

https://seagrant.uconn.edu/2020/03/26/response-launched-for-severely-impacted-aquaculture-sector/

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