Author: Stacey Stearns

Huerto Para Principiantes

poster about Spanish gardening class¿Quieres empezar un huerto, pero no sabes cómo empezar? ¡Los Maestros Jardineros de UConn están listos para ayudar! Ofrecemos un taller “Huerto para Principiantes” el 25 de agosto. La presentación incluye como planear el huerto y la siembra, mantenimiento, y cosecha de sus vegetales favoritos. También hablaremos de como hacer un huerto en espacio limitado, como en macetas.  ¡No se lo pierdan!

Cuando:  Jueves, el 25 de agosto, 9:30am-11:30pm

Dónde: Senior Center, 1 Jillson Square, Willimantic CT

Meet Samuel Kocurek

Samuel KocurekSamuel is our Ecotypic Seed Supply Chain Intern this summer. His majors are Mathematics and Environmental Science – ’23 CLAS.

I truly believe in developing a personal relationship with the land. So when I saw UConn Extension offering this internship I was immediately hooked. With this work, I am aiding a professor and doctoral student in developing an ecotypic seed supply chain to revegetate highway roadsides with native plants. Ecotypic seed refers to native plant ecotypes that are grown and processed here in New England. It results in better erosion control, better pollinator health, greater plant longevity, less invasive plants… the list goes on about the benefits of using native plants.

I am also learning about mowing patterns and how we can best mow for pollinators and native plants. Although not an initial interest of mine, I have been taken aback by how much reducing our mowing can benefit the land. As I drive along the highways now, I am particularly aware of all the beautiful plants and wildflowers that have proliferated due to reduced mowing. We use our roads every day, traveling at high speeds turning the landscape into a blur. Having the opportunity to make our drives more ecologically authentic for ourselves, pollinators, and wildlife has been extremely meaningful. I am learning so much about the land we inhabit and about the beautiful plants that we often take for granted.

Summer Program Updates

Empowering Connecticut Communities 

Extension programs are in full swing this summer, both in-person and online. we are here to serve and empower our Connecticut communities, while co-creating solutions to the critical issues that residents and communities are facing. Programs focus on the expertise of the College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources (CAHNR) and incorporate UConn’s research. These areas include agriculture and food, climate adaptation and resilience, enhancing health and well-being, and sustainable landscapes at the urban-rural interface. All programs incorporate diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice, as we strive to empower all Connecticut residents.

There are opportunities for you to become further involved with Extension programs this summer. Our UConn 4-H program is preparing for the new 4-H year that begins on October 1st and we need help statewide implementing these programs. Volunteer opportunities include one-time commitments and ongoing involvement. Extension is hiring in different locations at our statewide offices. This summer, we welcomed 17 interns to work on various programs and extend our knowledge further while providing them with life transformative educational opportunities. Finally, we continue adding to our suite of online programs that are offered in both synchronous and asynchronous formats. We look forward to working with you on our various programs and initiatives.

Learn about all our updates.

UConn 4-H New Haven County: Here to Be Healthy!

4-H dance squad members pose in the grassDo you need some tips on how to maintain a healthy lifestyle? Do you have a project that you are passionate about, but haven’t shown it off? Are you looking for a place to both learn and enjoy what you learn about? My name is Genesis Rosario and I’m the Summer 2022 Intern for UConn Extension’s 4-H New Haven County office working with Margaret Grillo, where the fundamentals of living healthy are exhibited through creative and interactive workshops. Being held both virtually and in-person, there are Healthy Living workshops being offered throughout New Haven county where the youthful community, alongside their adult chaperones, are welcome to attend. From learning how to identify mold in the house to learning how to be safe in the kitchen, these workshops will introduce all participants to information that is valuable for staying healthy in their everyday lives. Have a specific interest in cooking healthy recipes in the kitchen? There are even 4-H cooking workshops that have a step-by-step process of cooking your favorite meals with substitutes of certain ingredients to maintain an effective diet-based meal. Participants of all ages are welcome to attend the 4-H cooking workshops. 

4-H is an organization that emphasizes the importance of living healthy while bringing insight on topics that can impact the community of all ages. Nonetheless, every year 4-H hosts a fantastic 4 H-fair for community members to show off their best interests and hobbies, while still being able to attend and learn about healthy living through local workshops. These projects can suit anyone! Projects exhibited at the fair range from raising livestock to showing off home art crafts. The 4-H fair has a variety of entertaining and inclusive attractions that serve as a way to incorporate education and genuine interest for a project on a personal level. Come join the fun

Article by Genesis Rosario

Marketing Extension with Michael Wolf

Michael Wolf holding a calf in the grassMy name is Michael Wolf, I am currently the Marketing Intern for UConn Extension and have been working on multiple projects focusing on growing our network and how we can continue to interact with the community. Extension is constantly growing our outreach through our various social media platforms where we advertise virtually all of the activities, we participate in. This is where you can find educational content related to our research and plenty of entertainment and enjoyment through our student-run pieces. Not only is UConn Extension focused on informing the community, but through developing our marketing efforts we are better able to provide those at the university with the proper channels needed to gather knowledge and build a platform to grow our skills.

Currently, one of my main focuses is working on our exciting new project called FertAdvisor. This program is an Apple and Android-friendly application that was developed by a group of faculty members in the College of Agriculture, Health, and Natural Resources to help homeowners better understand how to fertilize their turf, yard, and gardens.

Throughout the course of my internship, I look forward to promoting our programs through events such as Turf Grass Field Day (where turf grass professionals of all levels are provided the opportunity to learn about the cutting-edge research being done in lawn care, sports, and golf turf management), and helping to launch new marketing initiatives for UConn Extension to help promote our diversity, ingenuity, community, and impact. I am very excited to be working with Stacey Sterns and Vickie Wallace to complete all these tasks and look forward to learning from both of them through this process. Make sure to check out all our resources to keep your lawn picture-perfect this summer and stay tuned for YouTube videos and social media content to help turn you into a master gardener for years to come.

Community Nutrition Outreach with Kate O’Brien

Kate O'BrienHi! My name is Kate O’Brien, and I’m one of the summer interns with UConn CAHNR Extension. I’m currently working in clinical and community nutrition with organizations such as Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP), and Auerfarm under Sherry Gray. At UConn, I am a rising senior majoring in Nutritional Sciences, with a concentration in the Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD). On campus, I have been involved with Husky Programs and Husky Reads where I taught nutrition education to preschoolers and developed my love of working with kids and nutrition. I am also involved with Nutrition Club and Habitat for Humanity. 

This internship has given me a variety of experiences. At Connecticut Children’s Genetics Clinic, I have been able sit-in on patient appointments and learn about metabolic disorders and their dietary treatment. It has been so interesting learning about how to approach such specific conditions with unique dietary needs while trying to allow the child to live a normal daily life. I am also working with the education specialists for Hartford County EFNEP to co-create and teach a summer nutrition education course. I have been building coursework that focuses on fitness, nutrition, and social media. Soon I will begin working at Auerfarm’s summer camp where I will teach high school transition students with disabilities about nutrition, food safety, and food preparation. It has been such a great experience being a part of the Hartford County Extension office, meeting the other people who work for UConn Extension, and learning about the different programs they are a part of such as Master Gardeners and the PATHS trails programs. I have learned so much already and I can’t wait for the rest of the summer!

Youth: Apply for New Biotechnology Career Readiness Program

youth with DNA strandYouth are invited to apply for a new biotechnology career readiness program with UConn Extension’s 4-H program. Cohorts of teen 4-H members will build knowledge and career awareness through the program, while also visiting laboratories, meeting with biotechnology professionals, and developing a biotechnology video game.

Applications are available now for this new program at s.uconn.edu/biotech – youth ages 14-18 with an interest in learning about biotechnology and exploring career opportunities are invited to apply. 

Selected participants will join a cohort, visit agriculture, food, and biotechnology companies in the state (including participating in field trips), explore careers in food, agriculture, biotechnology and STEM, and help build online games. Each group is limited to 20 youth, ensuring that all participants receive ample opportunities to interact with program leaders and industry professionals.

“Our project is propelling innovative biotechnology and STEM career work in our 4-H youth development program to the next level. We will sustain project outcomes through ongoing support from our partners. This is a strategic growth area for the 4-H program and Extension,” says Jennifer Cushman, the principal investigator on the grant. Cushman is also the co-team leader for the UConn 4-H program.

Youth will also experience the 4-H fundamentals of belonging, mastery, independence and generosity. These all align with a Whole Child approach through the 4-H Thrive Model. Evaluation will include the 4-H Common Measures validated instrument.

Visit s.uconn.edu/biotech for more information on the new project and for the youth participation application.

UConn 4-H is the youth development program of UConn Extension. As part of the University of Connecticut, 4-H has access to research-based, age-appropriate information needed to help youth reach their full potential. The mission of 4-H is to assist all youth ages 5-18 in acquiring knowledge, developing leadership and life skills while forming attitudes that will enable them to become self-directing, productive and contributing members of their families and communities.

This work is supported by the Food and Agriculture Nonformal Education program, grant no. 2022-68018-36094 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

Forest Silviculture Research and Extension in Action

UConn Forest crew working in the woods with sun shining through trees
Photo: Margot Drummey

Our forests are one of our most vital environmental, economic, and recreational resources, and we are fortunate to have abundant access to these wonderful spaces right here in Connecticut! The UConn Forest Crew works with Professor Tom Worthley in the UConn Forest and across the state to apply silvicultural practices, conduct maintenance work, and gather data to analyze the health and condition of this land. This summer, the Forest Crew has worked with UConn NRE professor Dr. Bob Fahey to conduct research at Lee Farm in Coventry, Connecticut.

This research is in collaboration with the Adaptive Silviculture for Climate Change (ASCC) project which seeks to educate forest managers on changing silvicultural planning in the face of climate change. Each project uses a standardized method of plotting and recording to gather data on forest health, and to better predict the future condition of each area. The UConn sites have been revised from the ASCC scale to assess the land at Lee Farm. Our findings from this research will ideally help us to preserve and proactively protect the health of our forests. Forest Crew work also typically includes wood working, clearing trails, and managing sections of the UConn Forest. This summer, the crew is also working with Tom to create a video series entitled “Woods Talk” which is filmed with the intention of educating woodland owners. These videos will include information on age mixes, ecosystem health, and stand diversity among an array of other topics. Keep an eye out for this series on YouTube or via the UConn Extension website later this summer!

Article by Margot Drummey

Take Extra Care in Extreme Heat

man wiping sweat off his headDuring times of high temperatures, it is wise to take some extra precautions for your health. The UConn Extension Disaster Education Network (EDEN) would like to share some information from its USDA-NIFA funded project called Shelter from the Storm: Preparedness Education for Vulnerable Populations. The project is focused on reaching people who are unsheltered or at risk of housing insecurity with basic information about how to be better prepared to deal with four weather conditions—extreme heat, strong winds, severe flooding, and extreme cold. The resources developed include brief videos, info cards, infographic sheets, and coloring pages. They provide helpful reminders to all and can be found at: https://eden.uconn.edu/shelter-from-storm/