4-H Youth

Learning by Doing with Heather Wirth, Extension Intern

Heather Wirth holding a Jersey heifer with sunshine in the backgroundMy name is Heather Wirth, and I am excited to be an intern this summer through UConn Extension. I am working with UConn 4-H – Tolland County to plan this year’s edition of 4-H Food Revolution. My job is to create a curriculum for a four day youth summer program as well as recruiting participants. During this program youth ages seven to eleven are given the opportunity to experience hands-on learning by partaking in STEM activities relating to preparation of food, gardening, and sustainable living. This program is an important enrichment opportunity for children during the summer, and it creates a foundation for healthy living habits as well as awareness of ecological topics. Food Revolution is a fun way to connect with youth about important environmental matters and to get them out in the field to experience exciting topics.The Food Revolution program also includes lessons and activities to get children started on a Junior Master Gardener certification. I hope to make an impact on the youth of my community by providing an exciting program that sparks curiosity and lifelong learning. 

During this internship, I am working on general recruitment of new members for Tolland County 4-H. By utilizing community based outreach, my goal is to spread awareness about getting involved in 4-H in order to bring in new adult volunteers as well as more youth participants. There are a vast array of ways for people to get involved and I would like to show those who are interested that they can bring valuable knowledge and skills to the 4-H community. I would like to implement educational sessions and resources (such as brochures and social media posts) to a broad audience to spur the interest of newcomers to the organization. Another major component of my internship program is to facilitate the Tolland County 4-H Fair in August. In preparation for the event I will serve as a resource for the youth participants, assist the fair board, and conduct general organization.   

Extension Recognizes Program Volunteers

Carol LeBlanc receiving her volunteer award
Carol LeBlanc receiving her volunteer award.

Volunteers are the heart of UConn Extension Master Gardener Program, UConn CLIR program, and our UConn 4-H program. We were honored to recognize a few of them for their contributions at an event on June 16, 2022. In total, our volunteers donated 156,597 hours (the equivalent of 6,524 days) to our programs in 2021. Thank you all for being a vital part of our Extension work! More information about our volunteer programs is available on our website. The following individuals were recognized for their contributions.

2022 UConn Master Gardener Acorn to Oak Award

Marlene Mayes

Marlene Mayes has been a constant at the Foodshare Garden at Auerfarm for the last two decades. She and the garden both began their Master Gardener relationship in 2004 when then-intern Marlene was one of the initial volunteers who dug, planted and nurtured the first rows of vegetables in a former hayfield at the Bloomfield farm. From those humble beginnings Marlene dreamed, encouraged, cajoled, taught and inspired literally hundreds of volunteers – both Master Gardeners and others – to help build the 50+ bed garden that exists today.

Throughout the years, Marlene has introduced countless would-be gardeners to the skills and satisfaction of growing healthy food, both for themselves and for those in need. The garden has yielded over one ton of food annually for Foodshare in several recent years, and volunteers from all walks of life have discovered the pleasures and the satisfaction of providing for those in need in our communities.

This year, as the garden undergoes a major renovation and upgrade, it is only fitting to honor the person who has been the constant, the rock, the teacher and the inspiration with the Extension Master Gardener Acorn to Oak Award.

2022 UConn Master Gardener Project Pollinator Award

Katherine Kosiba

Look carefully at almost any public garden project in the Colchester area and you will find that Katherine Kosiba was there at the beginning. A Master Gardener since 2007, Katherine has shared her passion for gardening and the environment with anyone and everyone who has shown an interest. Both as president of the Colchester Club and as a Colchester resident, her enthusiasm and inclusive attitude is on display throughout the area. Town parks, senior centers public road medians and the library are all beautified and ecologically healthier sites with diverse gardens and plantings spearheaded by Katherine.

Master Gardeners interns in the Haddam office are also the beneficiaries of Katherine’s energy and generosity as she guides many of them through their first outreach projects, demonstrating not only the nitty-gritty gardening details, but also the organizational and planning skills that are crucial to a successful endeavor. Additionally, she has provided many a nervous Master Gardener with a welcoming venue for their first public talk!

For her tireless efforts developing so many projects and moving from one to the next, and the next, we are delighted to present Katherine Kosiba with the Extension Master Gardener Project Pollinator Award.

2022 CLIR (Center for Learning in Retirement) Outstanding Lifetime Volunteer Award

Compton Rees

Compton passed away on March 14 shortly after being told of his recognition for his longtime service to CLIR.  Compton is a charter member of CLIR joining immediately after his retirement as a UConn English professor.  Over almost 30 years as a member of CLIR, he has presented many classes on Shakespeare’s works and served for years as a member of the CLIR Executive Council including as vice-president several times.

Howard Raphaelson

Howard has been a CLIR member for 25 years, serving on the CLIR Executive Council as Treasurer for several terms where he worked tirelessly to coordinate CLIR’s bookkeeping with UConn and State of Connecticut accounting practices.

Erika Kares

Erika has been a CLIR member for 24 years with more than a decade of service on the CLIR Executive Council.

2020 UConn 4-H Rising Star Award

Stephanie Bicknell

As a 4-H member Stephanie participated in many of the local, state and regional activities which support the 4-H dairy project.  She became a volunteer shortly after aging out as a member and has taken on major leadership with her club “Herds ‘R Us” and serves as the organizational leader.  She also continues to work with the Middlesex & New Haven 4-H Fair and serves as a Fair Program Advisor – one of the key volunteers working with the 4-H Fair Association and the Extension 4-H Staff.  She supports all of the tenets of the 4-H program and epitomizes what the experience in the 4-H program provides for a young person.

Stephen Gustafson

Steve helped create and is the leader of the Paca Pals 4-H club.  The Paca Pals are an alpaca club.   Steve found a place for the youth to learn and grow in the Tolland Agricultural Center (TAC) 4-H Children’s Garden.  The garden was established in 2002 and has been maintained by the 4-H club program for many years.  A neighbor of the TAC property is the Creative Living Community of Connecticut (CLCC) greenhouse and vocational program.   The work of CLCC is to create opportunities for people with and without disabilities to work and learn together.  Steve has been instrumental in fostering a partnership between the 4-H club and CLCC.  Working with CLCC the 4-H club members learn vocational skills and working with diverse populations.  Steve is able to weave science, healthy living and civic engagement into all aspects of the 4- H program through his dedication and hard work.

Megan Hatt

Megan has been a leader of the Happy Hoofbeats 4-H club since 2015.  She is passionate about 4-H and horses.   She is a positive influence on both the county horse program as well as the public speaking program.  Megan is always ready to put teams together and arrange practice for the state horse contests and has served as the coach for 4-H teams participating in the Eastern National 4-H Horse Roundup.  She is very involved in the New London County 4-H Fair and has helped to create a Horse Exhibition at the fair which includes clinics and games and leadership opportunities for the youth involved.  She is generous with her own horses, time and equipment and believes that 4-H helped her become a successful adult and wants to help others find these benefits as they grow.

2021 UConn 4-H Rising Star Award

Margaret Hall

Peg Hall has been an incredibly active, supportive and positive presence in Litchfield County 4-H since she established the Diggity Dogs 4-H Club 8 years ago.  She has also helped to establish and is serving as a co-leader for a new club, the Grow Getters 4-H club.  This new club, the first horticulture based club in Litchfield County drew over 20 new members to its first meeting.  They exist because of Peg’s hard work and determination to help a local garden center owner who is new to 4-H get this club established.  Peg also serves as a Litchfield County 4-H Fair Association director.  Her involvement includes helping to plan and implement the fair as well as cleaning up the fairgrounds.  Peg has also been instrumental in the success of the Operation Community Impact dairy distribution program which provides milk to over 1400 food insecure familes in Litchfield County.

Lauren Manuck

Lauren is an alum of the Hartford County 4-H Program.  She is currently serving as a club leader of the 4-H Clovers.  She has also jumped into action on the county level as well serving as a Hartford County 4-H Advisory Committee member and as a 4-H Fair advisor since 2013.  Within Advisory, Lauren eagerly steps up and takes the lead on projects, ensuring that youth thougout UConn 4-H have numerous opportunities to participate in activities beyond the club level.   She has been instrumental in the success of the Nutrition and Food Show, Hartford County Teen and Volunteer Banquet and Awards Night to name a few.  She was a recipient of the 2020 Winding Brook Community Service Award for her efforts in assisting with the Operation Community Impact milk and ice cream distribution in Hartford County.  She continues to see opportunities to provide nutrition education and work with youth.

2020 UConn 4-H Hall of Fame Award

Colleen Augur

Colleen is the organizational leader of one of New Haven County’s largest and most active 4-H clubs.  Colleen works with 4-5 registered 4-H volunteers conducting 4-H meetings and teaching the youth how to care and manage their animals which are primarily dairy and beef. The member’s involvement does not stop at the club level.  Yearly, they have 100 percent participation in the 4-H fair ad campaign, showing at the 4-H fair and other county activities.  Her teen members become managers, superintendents and officers in the 4-H fair on a regular basis.  Colleen often provides project animals from her own herd for members without animals of their own, helping the members transport their project animals to and from the fair.  Colleen shares her love of farming, agriculture and 4-H with youth and the general public.  She is a great example of what youth can learn and achieve with hard work and responsibility.

Stephen and Nancy Hayes

Some people choose to join 4-H, other, such as the Hayes family, are born into it.  Stephen and Nancy Hayes have made a lifelong commitment to 4-H.  Both are guiding forces for the Granby 4-H club and have been instrumental in many other aspects of the Hartford County 4-H Program.  Nancy has served the goat program in Hartford County and UConn 4-H extensively.  For 15 years Nancy has been instrumental in the very successful UConn 4-H Goat Day.  In 2017 a robotics team was formed as part of Granby 4-H. Stephen became involved as a mentor to members, sharing his programming knowledge.  Shortly after that Nancy became involved.  Both Stephen and Nancy spend hundreds of hours meeting several times a week with the youth members.  They are both skilled in empowering the youth to make decisions, allowing them to safely ask questions without hesitation, make mistakes, master their skills, then celebrate the successes as a team and individuals.

2021 UConn 4-H Hall of Fame Award

Wendy Kennedy

For over 35 years Wendy has been an active part of the success of the Litchfield County 4-H Program.  She grew up in Litchfield County 4-H and has been the co-leader of the Busy Farmers 4-H Dairy Club for over 20 years.  As a club leader Wendy makes sure her members hold regular meetings, participate in county and state-wide activities and that members are learning something while having fun. She has served as a director on the county 4-H Fair Association for many years.   She serves on the Board of Directors for the Litchfield County 4-H foundation and has held many leadership positions on the foundation board.  She has volunteered to chaperon many county and state-wide 4-H trips and was also involved in the Operation Community Impact dairy distribution project providing over 1400 food insecure families with dairy products.  Wendy embodies the true spirit of 4-H in everything that she does.

Patricia Miele Bianchi

Pat grew up in a home where 4-H was a significant component of daily life and she was an active and enthusiastic 4-Her.  She served as a club leader for 18 years and helped foster an interest in 4-H in many youth including her own children.  Pat served as a Hartford County 4-H Camp Trustee holding numerous officer positions and participating on many committees.  In addition to her work with 4-H camp, Pat is involved as a Director within the Hartford County 4-H Fair Association.   Pat’s county-wide contributions include judging for the Nutrition and Food show, the Fashion Review as well as for the County and State Public Speaking Contests.  Her experience with Toastmasters has contributed to the learning of public speaking contestants.  On a broader level, Pat was active in the College’s Strategic Visioning process.  She uses her first-hand experiences as a 4-H’er and volunteer to champion the positive impact that 4-H has on the lives of young people.

2020 4-H Salute to Excellence – Volunteer of the Year Regional Winner

Stephen Gustafson

Steve helped create and is the leader of the Paca Pals 4-H club.  The Paca Pals are an alpaca club.   Steve found a place for the youth to learn and grow in the Tolland Agricultural Center (TAC) 4-H Children’s Garden.  The garden was established in 2002 and has been maintained by the 4-H club program for many years.  A neighbor of the TAC property is the Creative Living Community of Connecticut (CLCC) greenhouse and vocational program.   The work of CLCC is to create opportunities for people with and without disabilities to work and learn together.  Steve has been instrumental in fostering a partnership between the 4-H club and CLCC.  Working with CLCC the 4-H club members learn vocational skills and working with diverse populations.  Steve is able to weave science, healthy living and civic engagement into all aspects of the 4- H program through his dedication and hard work.

2021 4-H Salute to Excellence – Lifetime Volunteer Regional Winner

June Zoppa

June is a positive and integral part of the 4-H community in Hartford County.  She is the only volunteer who serves or has served simultaneously on the Hartford County 4-H Advisory Board, Hartford County 4-H Fair Association and the Hartford County 4-H Camp, Inc. Board of Trustees along with being a club leader.  Within her 4-H club, June works patiently with club members as they learn to master sewing projects.  Many judges have rewarded the projects submitted by June’s club with ribbons, special honors, and awards.  In addition, a major component of June’s 4-H experience is built upon community service and leadership development.  June’s involvement as Fair Advisor includes helping the Fundraising Committee plan and execute an ambitious fundraising drive.  She supports the youth in assessing decisions required to promote, design and print the premium book, roll out the sponsorship campaign and additional fundraisers.  Her work ethic and compassion for youth has been demonstrated since her initial days in 4-H and has been evident in the relationships she has formed with members, parent, volunteers and mentees.

2021 4-H Salute to Excellence – Volunteer of Year Regional Winner

Rachael Manzer

Rachael Manzer exemplifies science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) in 4-H.  She understands the importance and need for STEM and Agricultural Literacy, and she has increased opportunities for STEM learning by establishing the only 4-H Vex Robotics program in New England.  This robotics program has its own “Cinderella” story – big dreams, few resources and the amazing efforts of many to make it a success.  Out of approximately 12,500 teams across the world, about 500 earn a spot to compete in the World Championship.  At VEX World Championship, the largest robot competition in the world, teams from around the world compete. Rachael’s robotics program acheieved this honor three times.  Rachael is also a very accomplished educator, astronaut and STEM teacher.  She uses these experiences, knowledge, skills and networks to enhance the experiences and opportunities for her 4-H club members.

2022 – 4-H Salute to Excellence – Volunteer of the Year State Winner

Margaret Hall

Peg Hall has been an incredibly active, supportive and positive presence in Litchfield County 4-H since she established the Diggity Dogs 4-H Club 8 years ago.  She has also helped to establish and is serving as a co-leader for a new club, the Grow Getters 4-H club.  This new club, the first horticulture based club in Litchfield County drew over 20 new members to its first meeting.  They exist because of Peg’s hard work and determination to help a local garden center owner who is new to 4-H get this club established.  Peg also serves as a Litchfield County 4-H Fair Association director.  Her involvement includes helping to plan and implement the fair as well as cleaning up the fairgrounds.  Peg has also been instrumental in the success of the Operation Community Impact dairy distribution program which provides milk to over 1400 food insecure familes in Litchfield County.

2022 – 4-H Salute to Excellence – Lifetime Volunteer Regional Winner

Carol Ann LeBlanc

Carol’s 52 year 4-H volunteer career began in 1970 when she wanted to expand upon her early 4-H experiences.  She has established three 4-H clubs, including Snoopy’s Pals 4-H Club, serving youth from Connecticut and Massachusetts and she served in numerous other county, state and regional roles.  Members of Carol’s club have earned showmanship championships, AKC certifications, record book awards, leadership medals and county fair fundraising awards.  Club members have served in county Fair Association roles and as delegates for various award trips.  With Carol’s careful guidance and commitment to positive youth development, club members and mentees demonstrate the traits of independence, confidence, leadership and perseverance. Carol’s leadership on the New England 4-H Dog Committee, and her pioneering partnership with the Eastern States Exposition (The Big E), has ensured a three-day, two night 4-H dog program during The Big E.  Carol has been a tireless 4-H volunteer who leads by example.  Her compassion for youth has been demonstrated since her initial days in 4-H.

Job Openings with UConn Extension

UConn Extension is hiring! We have several positions open. Please visit the individual position links for full descriptions and information on how to apply:

UConn 4-H Escape Moves to the Next Level

group of girls wearing masks with their screen that says Escape RoomThe UConn 4-H program introduced escape rooms in 2019 as a tool for teaching concepts and content to youth in a fun and interactive manner. This saw great success among audiences of all ages and was repeated a second time in early 2020. Then March 2020 introduced the pandemic and shuttered all in-person 4-H programming. This necessitated the need to switch gears and discover new ways to reach young people in non-traditional formats.

Thus, the 4-H Escapes digital breakout website begun. There was a desire to replicate the success of these in-person breakout activities into a format that could be delivered in the new digital environment everyone suddenly found themselves living in. We designed the first digital escape room activity titled The Secret Clover Stash in the summer of 2020. This first escape room was very rudimentary in its presentation due to limited knowledge by designers at the time. Over the course of the summer new skills were learned and more sophisticated ways to present the content was developed. Using Google Drive software such as Sites, Slides, Forms and Docs, designers crafted immersive, educational experiences for youth using video game design concepts. Similar to the live escape rooms, this digital model challenged participants to solve a series of puzzles to unlock doors to delve deeper into the experience until they reach their ultimate goal.

From the beginning, the desire of the design team was to develop a series of digital breakout experiences on a variety of topics. Many teachers from around the country have used this format to create fun and interactive learning opportunities for their students. However, there was nothing that directly focused on 4-H themed topics. Therefore UConn Extension 4-H educators Marc Cournoyer and Emily Alger began creating content that would fill this void. The Secret Clover Stash was the first but not the last. Since its start in the spring of 2020 the 4-H Escape website now houses a total of seven separate digital breakout activities with more added regularly.

This led to additional partnerships within UConn, as well as with outside educators from other institutions around the country. In the spring of 2021, Michael Puglisi from the UConn Department of Nutritional Sciences inquired on ways to potentially partner some of his students with the design team. Like 4-H, the EFNEP program was in search of innovative ways to deliver educational content to their youth audiences throughout the state. 4-H educators partnered with nutritional sciences undergraduate students to give them the tools to create additional content they would be able to deliver electronically to their audiences. This was a win for everyone, since now EFNEP had new resources and the 4-H Escapes website benefited from the additional content available to their growing audiences.

The summer of 2021 saw the addition of undergraduate Colleen Brady to the design team as part of her summer internship with the Windham County 4-H STEM program. Colleen quickly became a valuable asset to the team designing five new digital breakout activities during the summer months. She is now serving as a peer mentor to the next batch of nutrition students who are interested in becoming content designers.

The growth of the 4-H Escape project goes beyond UConn as partnerships have been developed with 4-H educators throughout the country. This includes universities such as Michigan State, Virginia Tech, the University of Wisconsin. The most recent partner is a 4-H educator from Hawaii who was interested in replicated The Secret Clover Quest to use with her 4-H members throughout the state.

There is also a proposal to design a 4-H horse themed digital breakout in partnership with Dr. Jen Nadeau of the UConn Department of Animal Science to be presented in the spring of 2022 at a national level conference.  This will provide the design team with additional opportunities to share what they have created and the various ways this technology can be replicated and used throughout the country.

The greatest value is that this resource is not limited by geographic borders or space limitations.  Anyone can participate from anywhere.  For more information of the program contact Marc Cournoyer at marc.cournoyer@uconn.edu or 860-774-9600.  All digital breakout activities can be found at https://4-h-escape.extension.uconn.edu/.

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.

Article by Marc Cournoyer

Community Promise Week – Thank You Volunteers!

To celebrate our amazing volunteers, we are recognizing the work they’ve done. This April 24-30 is our #CommunityPromiseWeek, where we’ll be highlighting a few key leaders that make our programs possible. Thank you to Carol, Sandy, Ellen, Kim, Peg and Rich for all that you do! Stay tuned throughout the week as we highlight more of our volunteers.

Carol LeBlanc Sandy Eggers


Ellen PaineKim Osga

Peg HallRick Page

4-H Mentoring Continues Serving Youth 

Antwon with his 4-H mentoring awardsYouth in Waterbury continued benefitting from the 4-H Mentoring project during the pandemic. The 4-H Mentoring Project is a prevention program where youth gain knowledge, build character, and develop life skills. It is a fun learning environment that helps them become self-directing, productive members of society.  

Approximately 45 youth ages nine through 14 participate annually. Mentoring is a proven strategy for helping at-risk youth achieve a better future. They are more likely to succeed with the extra support of a caring, consistent adult mentor. 

The program increases their interpersonal skills and strengthens family bonds through the 12-month mentoring program. The three project components, mentoring, 4-H activities, and family nights, all contribute to positive impacts.  

The 4-H Mentoring Project provides youth and their families opportunities to broaden their horizons with positive involvement in all that UConn 4-H offers. It’s a win–win for both agencies we partner with, and for youth and their families. 

By Edith Valiquette 

Extension Donor Support is Growing Statewide Programming

high school student sitting with a notebook by the Fenton River
Photo Kara Bonsack

The work of UConn Extension serves thousands of people across Connecticut. UConn Extension educators work in all 169 cities and towns helping Connecticut residents to solve problems in their communities and provide transformational learning experiences to program participants. This couldn’t be done without the financial support of generous donors, many of whom have experienced Extension programs firsthand. 

Donations for Extension programs are made through the UConn Foundation which is an independent nonprofit organization that operates exclusively to promote the educational, scientific, cultural, research and recreational objectives of the University of Connecticut and UConn Health. Housed within the Foundation are funds specifically earmarked for Extension programming that provide critical support to these programs and make it possible to develop innovative programming for Connecticut residents. Here are some examples of programs made possible by the generous contributions of UConn Extension donors.

David E. and Nancy H. Bull CES Innovative Programming Fund

A generous gift from Nancy H. and David E. Bull provides funding to support innovative programming in Extension through a competitive application process open to personnel with a full or partial Extension appointment. Applications must explicitly identify the innovation proposed and the risks involved along with the potential to influence future program delivery. Some of the projects funded include:

UConn CAHNR GMO Team received funding to address the lack of science-based information for citizens regarding genetically modified organisms (GMOs). A multi-faceted educational approach provided unbiased information which included a web site, a panel discussion on the Storrs campus, development of curriculum for youth audiences, and short videos on GMO subjects.

Assistant Extension Educators Abby Beissinger and Shuresh Ghimire received funding to establish a hot water seed treatment program to combat seed-borne pathogens that cause early infections in fields. Identified in 2019 listening sessions as a top agricultural priority in Connecticut, Dr. Ghimire and Ms. Beissinger shared the hot water treatment protocols and workshop curricula and work collaboratively with other states to contribute to best practices.

UConn Natural Resources Conservation Academy program leaders received funding to address equity and inclusion within community conservation practices. NRCA implemented a series of participatory processes to co-design local conservation projects with multiple community stakeholders in the metro-Hartford area. The goal of this project is to allow communities to meaningfully contribute to the development of conservation that is most in demand within their community.

Master Gardener Fund

UConn Extension’s Master Gardener Program began in 1978 instructing participants in science-based horticulture practices and garden management, after which students apply their knowledge by engaging in community education, including lectures, educational displays, demonstrations, and plant clinics, as well as various outreach projects throughout Connecticut. Donations to the Master Gardener Fund within the UConn Foundation are critical to the ongoing training and community outreach that they provide. Donations contribute to salaries of the Master Gardener coordinators housed in each of the local Extension Centers in Connecticut. Donations literally keep the program going and also allow for increased accessibility and flexibility in learning modalities which combines online learning with traditional classroom instruction. 

4-H Centennial Fund

The 4-H Centennial Fund was created in 2002 in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the national 4-H program. Donations to the fund ensure that participants in the UConn 4-H program have the opportunity to participate in unique and exciting state, regional and national 4-H events. Many 4-H alumni remember their experience at Citizenship Washington Focus or National 4-H Congress. These trips provide important leadership and civic engagement experiences that youth don’t get elsewhere. A delegation of youth once again attended the 2021 National 4-H Congress and plans are underway for the 2022 Citizenship Washington Focus. 

Donations to UConn Extension through the UConn Foundation have made it possible to reach more people with unique and innovative programming that solves problems in communities and enriches the lives of Connecticut families. Donors can rest assured that their contributions matter and significantly impact the lives of Connecticut residents. 

Please consider supporting Extension at s.uconn.edu/GiveToExtension

Article by Nancy Wilhelm

Job: Educational Program Assistant – Part-Time in Fairfield Co.

Search #: 496223Work type: Part-timeLocation: Fairfield County Extension CtrCategories: Academic Programs and Services


The UConn Extension Center located in Bethel, CT is seeking applications for a part-time Educational Program Assistant 1 position (50%).  This position is responsible for supporting and helping implement high-quality, comprehensive, Extension programming at different program sites throughout the region, with specific support to Urban Agriculture, EFNEP/Community Nutrition, Master Gardener, and 4-H programs. The Educational Program Assistant will report to the Center Coordinator to prioritize programmatic work assignments.


  1. Assists and provides support to Extension Educators working with programs which may include but not be limited to Urban Agriculture, EFNEP/ community nutrition, Master Gardener, and 4-H programs.
  2. Assists in developing educational programs, recruiting, explaining, and providing program information and processes to Extension volunteers and participants.
  3. Works with and helps develop and refine program databases using programs such as Excel and Access, as well as national and federal databases such as 4-H, Z-Suite, and WebNEERS to extrapolate relevant data sets, maintain program enrollments, membership, and volunteer records and provide program reports to the Extension educators as required.
  4. Maintains accurate records on each program and assembles databases and prepares statistical and/or historical reports for Extension educators/Program Coordinators based on program outcomes.
  5. Performs office support functions, in support of educational programs; processes paperwork, records, and files which may be computerized or confidential in nature.
  6. Supports Extension Educators/Program Coordinators in implementing and providing off-site educational activities in the community to improve practical understanding and accomplish program goals.
  7. 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.
  8. Supports media relations activities for various programs; works with others to write and edit program and promotional materials for hard and soft copy publications and social media platforms.
  9. Assists Extension Educators/Program Coordinators in assessing clients’ capacity to participate in programs and helping to incorporate related knowledge into program activities for greatest learning opportunities.
  10. Assists Extension Educators/Program Coordinators in developing and implementing programs to enhance learning and provide appropriate content-based experiences to accomplish program goals.
  11. Under supervision, provides educational training and conducts related support services on an ongoing basis, and assists in resolving problems in assigned area of responsibility.
  12. Assists with increasing community collaborations with partner groups.


  1. Bachelor’s degree in related field and up to one year of related experience or an Associate’s degree and two to three years of related experience; or four to five years of experience utilizing profession based standards in urban agriculture, community nutrition, gardening, 4-H or related fields.
  2. Demonstrated written and verbal communication skills and ability to work effectively with communication technologies and the media.
  3. Proficiency in Microsoft Office Suite including Excel and Access and other database activities.
  4. Demonstrated sensitivity towards diverse youth, families, and volunteer clientele to be served.
  5. Must be detail-oriented. Demonstrated experience providing organizational support in a team environment including but not limited to filing, database management, and administrative processes.
  6. 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.
  7. Must be willing and able to work flexible and irregular hours, including occasional nights and weekends to help conduct programs at off-site locations.
  8. Must have reliable transportation to meet in-state travel requirements (mileage allowance provided).


  1. Knowledge and familiarity with the Cooperative Extension System.
  2. Demonstrated success in public relations utilizing electronic, social, and print media platforms.
  3. Experience working with large databases, and generating reports including 4-H online registration.
  4. Experience participating with collaborative community partnerships.
  5. Experience working with UConn administrative processes.
  6. Experience with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) technology.
  7. Multilingual – Spanish and English preferred

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


This is a part-time (50%, 17.5 hours) position based in Bethel, CT. The annual salary will be prorated according to the percent 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.


Please apply online at https://hr.uconn.edu/jobs, Staff Positions, Search #496223 to upload a resume, cover letter, and contact information for three (3) professional references.

This job posting is scheduled to be removed at 11:55 p.m. Eastern time on May 1, 2022.

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.

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Waterbury 4-H Youth Mentoring Program is Thriving

Waterbury 4-H youth dance squadWaterbury’s 4-H program is going strong! As we all know the past two years have been far from ordinary. While Waterbury Youth Services, Inc. (WYS) has been facilitating 4-H programing for 30 years, we have had to face new challenges and with them, new joys. While in person programming was not an option, our team of mentors put together bi-monthly activities which we mailed to our 4-H families. Just like if we were in person, our activities were seasonally themed and encouraged members to get outside, collaborate with their families and communities, and hopefully learn a thing or two while having fun. We sent out monthly challenges, in which youth would send back evidence of a completed “challenge” such as a scavenger hunt or science experiment, each submission an entry to a gift card drawing.

This summer, our summer camp had a blast integrating 4-H Healthy Living activities into our camp day. We ate food from every color of the rainbow, reminded each other to drink plenty of water, and even prepared “go-bags” that members were able to take home and discuss emergency plans with their families. They were so excited to receive achievement awards from our UConn Extension collaborators (Ms. Peggy and Ms. Maryellen) at the end of summer.

4-H youth with a mentor working on codingOur dance program is back in full swing with our new dance coach Ms. Tatiana. Their first performance was at Waterbury Youth Services annual Back to School Rally in August, a citywide event where families can get free backpacks, school supplies, and resources for their students. The 4-H dance team’s debut was a huge success, with an original performance followed by the team leading the crowd in line dances like the cha-cha, slide and cupid shuffle. They also put together an original dance for our Halloween family night as well as our Winter Holiday family night.

Creative arts has been working on seasonal decorations for our WYS hallway now that peopleWaterbury 4-H youth coding project are back in the building. From paper crafts to painting to sculpture, there is no limit to this group’s creativity. This spring they will be taking on photography, and we cannot wait to see what the capture.

Our new Coding group is thriving. We are balancing computer activities with “unplugged” computer science, such as coding your own name, designing and troubleshooting a maze, and finding the computer science skill of error detection to be quite helpful in magic tricks.

Waterbury Youth Services is proud of our 4-H groups and look forward to many more years of collaboration!

Article and Photos: Amanda Augeri, 4-H Mentoring Coordinator