Author: Stacey Stearns

New Normal with Extension Programs

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Extension educators rose to the challenge and virtually shared our programs and educational outreach over the past year and a half. While we will continue incorporating virtual educational opportunities, we are eager to resume in-person programs as well. A few of our educators share what the new normal with Extension will be for their programs. All our programs will continue serving your needs, including those that are not listed. We continue adhering to all state guidelines, and protocols may adapt as needed.

4-H

The UConn 4-H Program is looking forward to in-person 4-H club and county activities this fall. UConn 4-H delegates plan to participate in various 4-H activities at the Eastern States Exposition and the National 4-H Congress.

Master Gardeners

Master Gardeners have started reconnecting directly with the public through our outdoor activities and look forward to increasing in-person classes and events this fall. Our online experiences over the last year helped us reach an even larger audience, however, and we will continue to incorporate new technologies alongside our familiar hands-on programming. The heightened interest in gardening and environmental projects is likely to continue and we will be here in person, by phone, and online to assist!

CLEAR

Programs at the Center for Land Use Education and Research (CLEAR) are slowly returning in-person outreach into the mix. However, virtually all programs will be retaining elements of the techniques and educational options developed during the pandemic year. The Land Use Academy now has recorded online versions of all basic training modules, available to the user at any time. CLEAR, in concert with the CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, is developing a new “one-stop shopping” online training portal (coming soon!) that will include all our virtual programs.

People Empowering People (PEP)

UConn Extension’s People Empowering People (PEP) Program is a parent, community, and civic leadership program, and we are preparing for different possibilities this fall. We plan to offer in-person PEP Communities Training for our local partnering organizations in October. However, we will offer this training online again if needed. Partner organizations can choose to offer the training in-person or online. Our People Empowering People CI Program reaches people who are currently incarcerated in correctional institutions in our state. When the Connecticut Department of Corrections is ready for our trained volunteer facilitators to return and lead the PEP CI program with the partnering institutions, the facilitators will return.

Visit our programs page to find out more about the new normal for our other Extension programs.

Songbird Alert

bird in a tree
A bird in a tree at Mirror Lake on May 7, 2019. (Sean Flynn/UConn Photo)

CVMDL (Drs. Mishra, Reinhardt, and Frasca) in UConn CAHNR are working with wildlife biologists of the CT DEEP to investigate this illness of songbirds; it is a disease concern throughout the mid-Atlantic and Northeast.

CVMDL – the Connecticut Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory – is coordinating sampling and testing with CT DEEP, who are working with wildlife rehabilitators.

We encourage you to take down your birdfeeders, follow DEEP’s cleaning recommendations, contact a licensed wildlife rehabilitator for guidance if you find a songbird in distress, and follow DEEP’s guidelines on disposal and reporting of dead songbirds.

More information can be found at s.uconn.edu/songbirds

UConn Extension is Strengthening Immunization Excitement Through USDA-NIFA, CDC Grant Funding

blue square with text vaccine resourcesUConn Extension received funding to strengthen immunization excitement in Connecticut through a grant funded project by USDA-NIFA, the Extension Foundation, and the CDC. The UConn project focuses on residents in Windham, Middletown, East Hartford, Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, and Groton.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provided $9.95 million in funding to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) to support an innovative approach to community education and partnerships to advance adult immunization. This is the two agencies’ first concentrated vaccine education effort.

NIFA will use this funding, provided in an interagency agreement, to support Land-grant Universities and the Cooperative Extension System in delivering immunization education to the communities they serve to improve vaccine confidence. Extension will also work with local partners, including healthcare providers, to make COVID-19 and other adult vaccines more accessible for rural, medically under-served and other harder-to-reach communities.

Our secondary cities continue to be underserved in statewide public health initiatives, and COVID immunization levels in Connecticut align with this trend. While our state is relatively successful in our initial immunization efforts, pockets of underserved audiences exist at the first level of vaccination.

From informal qualitative data from a stakeholder in our target audience, the UConn Extension team is well positioned to identify key community influencers and work to address barriers to vaccinations in communities.

Our goal is to strengthen excitement for immunization in our five secondary cities in Connecticut. We are working with stakeholders to understand the barriers, identify key community influencers, create target social media and print media to increase vaccine awareness, efficacy, and safety and willingness to obtain vaccination. 

“Cooperative Extension educators are recognized and trusted messengers in their communities and can help deliver fact-based information on the COVID-19 vaccine and other adult vaccines,” said Dr. Jay Butler, CDC’s Deputy Director for Infectious Diseases. “We know vaccination rates overall are lagging in rural communities, and Extension agents can play an important role in building COVID-19 vaccine confidence and increasing vaccine access within the communities they serve.”

“Cooperative Extension has a century of experience as change agents and educators in communities across America,” said NIFA director Dr. Carrie Castille. “NIFA is proud to be the federal partner with such a trusted educational resource, but especially in this effort to deliver science-based vaccine education. This new partnership with CDC is a natural fit for the Extension System to do what they do best – provide balanced, reliable information so people can make informed decisions.”

“Vaccinations are a critical step in fully re-opening our nation. This partnership between USDA and CDC is an important part of our National Strategy to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and getting Americans fully vaccinated,” said Dr. Sara Bleich, USDA senior advisor for COVID. “The President has directed us to make it easier for those living in rural communities to access vaccines by sending vaccines to rural health clinics, increasing vaccine education and outreach efforts in rural communities with resources from the American Rescue Plan (ARP), and increasing funding for rural health clinics and hospitals to respond to the pandemic with testing and mitigation measures.”

NIFA invests in and advances agricultural research, education, and Extension across the nation to make transformative discoveries that solve societal challenges. NIFA supports initiatives that ensure the long-term viability of agriculture and applies an integrated approach to ensure that groundbreaking discoveries in agriculture-related sciences and technologies reach the people who can put them into practice. In FY2020, NIFA’s total investment was $1.95 billion.

UConn Extension has more than 100 years’ experience strengthening communities in Connecticut and beyond. Extension programs address the full range of issues set forth in the College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources strategic initiatives:

  • Ensuring a vibrant and sustainable agricultural industry and food supply
  • Enhancing health and well-being locally, nationally, and globally
  • Designing sustainable landscapes across urban-rural interfaces
  • Advancing adaptation and resilience in a changing climate.

Programs delivered by Extension reach individuals, communities, and businesses in each of Connecticut’s 169 municipalities. 

Job Opening: Assistant/Associate Cooperative Extension Educator Urban 4-H

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Job Opening: Assistant/Associate Cooperative Extension Educator Urban 4-H

UConn Extension is seeking applicants for a full-time (11-month), non-tenure track Assistant/Associate Extension Educator, primarily based at the Fairfield County Extension Office in Bethel, CT. Extension Educators are community-based faculty who make a difference in communities by connecting community needs with university resources. Position level/rank will be commensurate with experience working with Extension. The successful candidate shall create an active 4-H youth development program with a focus on STEM, food, and agricultural literacy.

More information and application instructions are available at s.uconn.edu/urban4-hposition

#jobs #uconn #youthdevelopment #4h #agriculture #food

Heat Kills! Problems and Solutions from our EDEN Team

man that is overheated wiping his head with a towel

We are in a period of extreme heat and heat kills! Our Extension Disaster Education Network (EDEN) team shares problems and solutions for dealing with extreme heat.

The Problem: Know the Signs

Profuse sweating

Dizziness

Confusion

The Solution: Take Action

Seek shade (outside) or air conditioning (inside)

Drink fluids (water is ideal)

Rest


Learn more at https://eden.uconn.edu/shelter-from-storm/.

This work is supported by Smith-Lever Special Needs Competitive Grants Program 2019- 41210-30065/1020290 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Volunteer Spotlight: Dr. Lynn Keller

UConn CAHNR Extension typically holds Bug Week in July; however, this year Extension has designated July as Bug Month. The UConn Extension Master Gardeners and Master Gardener interns participate. Bug Month is an educational outreach activity that promotes insects in the environment (bugs.uconn.edu/). Volunteers like Dr. Lynn Keller make this educational event fun and successful. In order to become a Master Gardener people need to attend and complete the Master Gardener program that includes coursework, office hours, and community service. The training allows them to become knowledgeable about various gardening topics.

Lynn Keller in her gardenLynn heard about the UConn Extension Master Gardener program many years ago and completed the program in 2019. She learned about a volunteer opportunity to assist with Bug Week from Gail Reynolds, the Middlesex County Master Gardener program coordinator. Lynn enjoyed her entomology (study of insects) classes in college while studying to be a veterinarian. She also enjoyed the entomology class offered by the Master Gardener program and felt like it would be a good fit for her interests.

As a volunteer, Lynn works with various program leaders to coordinate dates and events during Bug Month in July. These activities include bug kits for youth, photo contests, and educational activities. Part of her role includes finding new leaders for these programs and ensuring they have the proper resources as well as creating content for the Bug Month website (bugs.uconn.edu/). New programs are suggested every year, and Lynn works with the team to implement them in addition to fundraising and finding sponsors. She also promotes Bug Month by writing articles and participating in local radio shows.

Bug Month is designed for family participation, and Lynn enjoys educating families on the importance of insects in our lives. She says, “If we didn’t have insects, we wouldn’t have pollination, which would result in missing out on many of our favorite foods.” Her volunteer work is making an impact because adults and children are learning more about the “integral role that insects play in the food web and in our environment.” She also notes that this program provides suggestions for simple steps families can take to improve beneficial insect habitats in their yards and communities.

One of Lynn’s favorite memories from her time as an Extension volunteer is at Bug Week events in 2019. Many children attended the event at the Tolland Agricultural Center and were excited to participate in the fun activities. Lynn enjoyed seeing the children’s enthusiasm while they were looking at bugs under a microscope and learning about them. She also enjoys continuing her education on native plants and insects which allows her to share this information with family and friends. Her advice to new volunteers is to find an opportunity that you are passionate about and use that passion to make a positive difference in our communities.

The UConn Extension Master Gardener Program started in 1978 and consists of horticulture training and an outreach component that focuses on the community at large. Master Gardeners devote thousands of hours to organized community outreach projects each year. The Master Gardener program also offers Garden Master Classes for our volunteers and interested members of the general public. More information on the program and classes are available at mastergardener.uconn.edu.

UConn CAHNR Extension has more than 100 years’ experience strengthening communities in Connecticut and beyond. Extension programs address the full range of issues set forth in CAHNR’s strategic initiatives:

  • Ensuring a vibrant and sustainable agricultural industry and food supply
  • Enhancing health and well-being locally, nationally, and globally
  • Designing sustainable landscapes across urban-rural interfaces
  • Advancing adaptation and resilience in a changing climate.

Programs delivered by Extension reach individuals, communities, and businesses in each of Connecticut’s 169 municipalities. Learn more about our volunteer programs at s.uconn.edu/volunteers.

Article by Emily Syme

Job Openings: Educational Program Assistants

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Search #: 495338

Educational Program Assistant 1, Tolland County Extension

Search #: 495338
Work type: Full-time
Location: Tolland County Extension Ctr
Categories: Academic Programs and Services

JOB SUMMARY

The UConn Extension Center located in Vernon, CT is seeking applications for two (2) Educational Program Assistant 1 positions – one full-time position and one part-time position (75%).  These positions are responsible for supporting and helping implement high-quality, comprehensive, Extension programming at different program sites throughout the region, with specific support to Farm Business Planning, Beginning Farmer, Food Systems, Food Safety, Vegetable, Master Gardener, and 4-H programs.  The Educational Program Assistants will report to the Center Coordinator to prioritize programmatic work assignments.

DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES 

  • Assists and provides programmatic support to Extension Educators
  • Assists in developing educational programs
  • Coordinates recruitment and orientation for Extension volunteers and participants
  • Assists with development and maintenance of program databases using programs such as Excel and Access
  • Maintains accurate records on each program, assembles databases, and prepares statistical and/or historical reports
  • Performs administrative functions in support of educational programs
  • Supports Extension Educators/Program Coordinators in implementing and providing off-site educational activities in the community
  • Provides assistance in assembling, arranging, organizing, and dismantling program event and activity set-ups and arrangements at various locations and venues, i.e. classrooms, fairgrounds, community centers, etc.
  • Supports media relations activities for various programs; assists with promotional material for Extension programs
  • Assists Extension Educators/Program Coordinators in developing and implementing programs to enhance learning and provide appropriate content based experiences to accomplish program goals
  • Under supervision, provides educational training and conducts related support services on an ongoing basis, and assists in resolving problems in assigned area of responsibility
  • Assists with increasing community collaborations with partner groups
  • Performs other related duties as required

MINIMUM QUALIFICATIONS   

  • Bachelor’s degree in a related field and up to one year of related experience or an Associates degree and two to three years of related experience; or five or more years of profession-based experience in agriculture, food systems, education, 4-H, or related fields.
  • Demonstrated written and verbal communication skills and the ability to work effectively with communication technologies and the media.
  • Proficiency in Microsoft Office Suite including Excel and Access
  • Demonstrated sensitivity towards diverse youth, families, and volunteer clientele to be served.
  • Demonstrated experience providing organizational support in a team environment.
  • Knowledge and familiarity with the Cooperative Extension System.
  • Must be able to regularly lift, carry, load, unload, and transport equipment, supplies, and/or program materials for educational events and workshops such as laptops, projectors, tables, chairs, displays, paper media, etc.
  • Must be willing and able to work flexible and irregular hours, including occasional nights and weekends to help conduct programs at off-site locations.
  • Must have reliable transportation to meet in-state travel requirements (mileage allowance provided).

PREFERRED QUALIFICATIONS 

  • Demonstrated success in public relations utilizing electronic, social, and print media and platforms such as Cushy and Aurora.
  • Experience working with large databases, and generating reports including 4-H Online.
  • Experience participating with collaborative community partnerships.
  • Experience working with UConn administrative processes.
  • Experience with STEM (Science, Technology. Engineering, and Mathematics) technology.
  • Bilingual Spanish and English

Physical Requirements

Incumbents must possess the ability to perform the required duties set forth above.

APPOINTMENT TERMS

Both positions are located at the Tolland County Extension Center in Vernon, CT, however, regular travel within the region will be required. Occasional in-state travel to other UConn campuses, including Storrs, may be required in support of program needs. These positions include an outstanding full benefits package. Salary will be commensurate with the successful candidate’s background and work experience.

TO APPLY

Please apply online at https://hr.uconn.edu/jobs, Staff Positions, Search #495338 to upload a resume, cover letter, and contact information for three (3) professional references. ** Please indicate in your cover letter if you wish to be considered for the full-time or part-time (75%) position, or both.**

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

This job posting is scheduled to be removed at 11:55 p.m. Eastern time on June 22, 2021.

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.

Advertised: Jun 08 2021 Eastern Daylight Time
Applications close: Jun 22 2021 Eastern Daylight Time

Dr. Larry Pennington: 23 Years of Volunteering to the UConn 4-H Program

Volunteers are the backbone of the UConn 4-H program and are who keep the program vibrant. “Volunteer helps grow true leaders” Dr. Larry Penington of the First Town Veterinary Science 4-H Club of Hartford County 4-H has volunteered 23 years of service to this program. An interview was conducted with him and below are his responses… 

Emily Syme: How did you learn about this Extension volunteer program? 

Larry PenningtonDr. Larry Pennington: I have been familiar with the extension program and 4-H dating back to my youth in the early 60’s. I grew up as a 4-Her and at age 8, I even had a grand champion pig at my first county fair in Ohio. I was never lucky enough to pull that off again, but I was so appreciative of the wonderful learning experiences like that as a youngster. I have 4-H to thank for help shaping me ever since and to evolve into the person that I am today. Fast forward to 1998, I was introduced to UConn 4-H and the UConn Extension system for the first time. I had been a small animal practicing veterinarian in Windsor, and was challenged by a friend to start up a veterinary science 4-H club and introduce young people to what my profession had to offer. This was an opportunity to give back to the community after I received so much while growing up. Hence, “The First Town Veterinary Science 4-H Club“ got its start that year. We have flourished every year since; something that’s been one of the most fulfilling things I have accomplished in my life.

ES: What do you do in your role as an Extension volunteer?

LP: As a volunteer, I am all of the following: a leader, a teacher, a coordinator, and best of all, a very proud advisor to many young people. As a volunteer I have put in countless hours with my organization to help it grow and become the educational tool that it is.

ES: Why do you volunteer your time to this Extension program? 

LP: I am often asked that question on why I do it. My emphatic response is always that I do it “for the kids!” Being a parent myself, they really do matter, and being able to guide them and to show them the way, is so gratifying and heartwarming. Just to know that I played a small role in their lives as they grew up, is so comforting and gives me great pride.

ES: How does volunteering with the Extension program benefit you? 

LP: Volunteering through 4-H has allowed me to maintain a connection with young people and to stay relevant. It keeps me young and allows me to be a kid amongst kids, like Peter Pan who never wanted to grow up. At my age, 4-H has been my fountain of youth, where I can make a difference with young people. I hope that their parents see me as a good role model, and in setting a good example of what a warm and caring veterinarian should be.

ES: How do you feel like your volunteer work is making an impact? 

LP: I have always tried to make a positive impact on kid’s lives. I show them through their love for their pets in how to be caring and compassionate to all. We have performed many community service projects over the years and have been impactful to senior citizens in nursing homes through our pets, provided low cost Rabies Vaccination Clinics locally, and partnered with Fidelco  Guide Dogs. What better way to give back to the community!

ES: What is your favorite memory with this Extension program?

LP: My favorite memory in 4-H was our club’s involvement in the Dog Walk in Windsor at an area park. Over a seven year stretch starting 20 years ago and with the help of the surrounding community, our club orchestrated an annual event that brought together many dog lovers. The kids “lived it, ran it and owned it”, and got to see two rescue dogs go into service work with our most famous being, Chance. He was a highly trained Golden Retriever that assisted a local lady that was wheelchair bound. Our club got a lot of wonderful media coverage with the success of our Dog Walk and Chance. More importantly, it’s what the kids took away from that experience.

ES: Do you have any advice for new and current Extension volunteers?

LP: My advice to anyone wishing to volunteer is to follow your heart. Take a leap of faith and get involved with our youth through 4-H. After all, they are our future!

It’s been said that the more we give, the happier we feel. Volunteering increases self-confidence. You are doing good for others and the community, which provides a natural sense of accomplishment. Your role as a volunteer can give you a sense of pride and identity, as it has with me.

UConn 4-H is the youth development program of UConn CAHNR Extension. 4-H is a community of over 6 million young people across America who are learning Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM), leadership, citizenship and life skills through their 4-H project work. 4-H provides youth with the opportunity to develop lifelong skills including civic engagement and healthy living. Learn more and enroll your child in the UConn 4-H program at http://4-H.uconn.edu/

UConn CAHNR Extension has more than 100 years’ experience strengthening communities in Connecticut and beyond. Extension programs address the full range of issues set forth in CAHNR’s strategic initiatives:

  • Ensuring a vibrant and sustainable agricultural industry and food supply
  • Enhancing health and well-being locally, nationally, and globally
  • Designing sustainable landscapes across urban-rural interfaces
  • Advancing adaptation and resilience in a changing climate.

Programs delivered by Extension reach individuals, communities, and businesses in each of Connecticut’s 169 municipalities. Learn more about our volunteer programs at s.uconn.edu/volunteers.

Interview edited for space and clarity.

Article by Emily Syme

Volunteer Spotlight: Nate McMullin of Hartford County 4-H Camp

Nate McMullinHartford County 4-H Camp, located on 100 acres in Marlborough, Connecticut has been offering camp experience for over 56 years to youth ranging from age 7 to 15. 4-H camp offers various options and sessions throughout the summer months and hosts small team building events in the off season for teenagers. Bring-your-own horse camp is offered where kids can bring their horse for a week. 4-H camp also offers teen counselor positions which is a great opportunity for youth to learn leadership and responsibility. Nate McMullin serves as a board member for Hartford County 4-H Camp. He volunteers his time by serving on various committees and overseeing the hiring of staff, facility maintenance and programming.

Nate’s love for camp started when he spent many summers as a camper, counselor and then staff member since 1986. He joined the Camp Board in 2011. His love for camp is the reason he volunteers his time to the program. Nate brings a unique perspective to the board since he attended camp in his youth, served in a leadership role as a staff member, and is a parent of camp age kids.  He enjoys being able to see his work be put into motion and what is happening with camp behind the scenes. Nate feels that serving as a volunteer on the board allows him to make an impact and keep camp strong, especially through COVID. He reflects, “I am proud of the work the board has done to have camp reopen for 2021.”

Board members volunteer their time to make camp a better place and serve on various committees. Nate served on the communications and security committee and helped bring Wi-Fi to camp; it previously had no broadband internet and relied on a very expensive mobile hotspot. He used his skills in business technology to create a stable communications network that allowed for camp to have additional security cameras and cover the main buildings of camp with stable internet connection. He is currently working on extending the internet service to cover more acres of camp and all buildings.

COVID offered a challenge to 4-H camp which in a normal year hosts 163 campers every session for 8 weeks throughout the summer. Nate set up an online course system where parents could still register kids for camp for summer 2020. Kids attended online Zoom sessions (similar to what students use in the classroom) along with other digital content that was coordinated by camp staff. Although it didn’t replace the in-person fun campers have every summer, it was still a success. Nate would like to explore more options like this in the future for off-season to keep kids connected with the camp experience all year long. 

Nate is able to contribute his expertise and time to help camp grow and give back. One of his favorite memories of being a volunteer is visiting the camp staff and dining at camp. His experiences have come full circle since he remembers being a camper when the board visited. This time at camp gives him a first hand view of camp at the moment.  When asked if he has any advice for new Extension volunteers, he says to contribute your time if possible there are so many opportunities to do so and every little bit helps!

UConn 4-H is the youth development program of UConn CAHNR Extension. 4-H is a community of over 6 million young people across America who are learning Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM), leadership, citizenship and life skills through their 4-H project work. 4-H provides youth with the opportunity to develop lifelong skills including civic engagement and healthy living. Learn more and enroll your child in the UConn 4-H program at http://4-H.uconn.edu/.

UConn CAHNR Extension has more than 100 years’ experience strengthening communities in Connecticut and beyond. Extension programs address the full range of issues set forth in CAHNR’s strategic initiatives:

  • Ensuring a vibrant and sustainable agricultural industry and food supply
  • Enhancing health and well-being locally, nationally, and globally
  • Designing sustainable landscapes across urban-rural interfaces
  • Advancing adaptation and resilience in a changing climate.

Programs delivered by Extension reach individuals, communities, and businesses in each of Connecticut’s 169 municipalities. Learn more about our volunteer programs at s.uconn.edu/volunteers.

Article by Emily Syme

Volunteer Spotlight: Steve Kenton

people standing at a table talking
Steve Kenton, center, in the blue jacket, discusses CLIR at a UConn event in 2015.

UConn Extension’s Center for Learning in Retirement (CLIR) provides meaningful and serious intellectual activities for retirees and other adults from all walks of life, conducted in an informal and relaxed atmosphere. Volunteers work to put together interesting speakers for various sessions through the year. One of these volunteers is CLIR President, Dr. Steve Kenton. With the help of the CLIR Council, a volunteer board, Dr. Kenton directs and oversees the CLIR program.

Dr. Kenton is a 1964 UConn alumnus in the Department of Mathematics and has led a busy life. He went on to graduate school and then became a Professor of Mathematics and Computer Science at Eastern Connecticut State University where he also served as the Head of the Mathematics Department until he retired in 2008. He spent two years as a volunteer for the Peace Corps in Nigeria and had various sabbaticals in Sri Lanka, New Zealand, and Thailand. Dr. Kenton enjoys learning new things throughout his life. He always stayed connected with UConn, serving as a self-defense instructor for the Women’s Center, becoming involved in the CLIR program, and most recently, working with the Alumni Center arranging a 50th reunion for the Allen House Alumni. 

Steve first learned about CLIR through colleagues who were members of this Extension program. He started participating in CLIR workshops right after he retired in 2008.  He has now served as the President of the program for the past eight years! Some of his duties include recruiting speakers for the workshops. This might sound like a daunting task but Steve has great volunteers on the CLIR Council who help him with most of the work. Every season there is an impressive line-up of highly educated speakers who cover a wide variety of interesting topics. Each year CLIR offers 3 sessions (Winter, Spring, and Fall) that consist of around 25 single and a few multi-week classes. He can also always rely on the UConn Extension staff to help make a successful program. The most popular classes of CLIR participants are topics on history and political science. Steve volunteers his time because he likes supporting  a community of like minded lifelong learners like himself. He remarks, “As one ages, it is increasingly important to interact socially, and to be of service.”

Steve is making an impact by ensuring the CLIR Council runs smoothly and positions themselves within the overall mission of UConn Extension. With his help CLIR is financially stable. His favorite impression is when the speakers happily realize the CLIR audience are not just passive listeners–rather, they eagerly interact with the presenter.  Steve can’t pinpoint a favorite speaker he has listened to through CLIR since they are all excellent but one of his most memorable classes was when Rebecca Lobo, a beloved UConn Basketball alumna, spoke to the largest audience in attendance of over 75 people (pre-pandemic). When asked if he has any advice for Extension volunteers, Steve said “Take pride in being of service to your community of interest.” It’s important to go into volunteering having a goal so you can enhance your group’s role. He also mentions that, “With the critical continuing support of the UConn Extension staff and volunteers from among our membership, CLIR has a bright future as part of the Extension family.”

UConn CAHNR Extension has more than 100 years’ experience strengthening communities in Connecticut and beyond. Extension programs address the full range of issues set forth in CAHNR’s strategic initiatives:

  • Ensuring a vibrant and sustainable agricultural industry and food supply
  • Enhancing health and well-being locally, nationally, and globally
  • Designing sustainable landscapes across urban-rural interfaces
  • Advancing adaptation and resilience in a changing climate.

Programs delivered by Extension reach individuals, communities, and businesses in each of Connecticut’s 169 municipalities. Learn more about our volunteer programs at s.uconn.edu/volunteers.

Article by Emily Syme