4-H Youth

Ready, Set, Go! For a Healthier You!

Welcome any youth between the ages of 7 and 18 interested in challenging themselves to improve how they feel and how they feel about themselves.  Join us for the next 6 weeks in learning about ways to practice good habits, and getting rewarded for doing it.  We will be holding a weekly workshop on a variety of healthy living topics that will be followed by a week-long challenge related to that topic. Your participation will earn points towards fun prizes – the more workshops you attend and challenges you complete, the more prizes you will become eligible for. No charge to participate!! This activity is sponsored by an award from National 4-H Council and the Walmart Foundation.

Ready, Set, Go! For a Healthier You! – Weekly Topics

  • Let’s Get Moving – June 15th, 7 p.m. – Focus on physical fitness and making summer safety a breeze
  • What’s Cooking? – June 22nd, 7 p.m. – Summer fun in the kitchen
  • Lettuce Learn about Nutrition – June 29th, 7 p.m. – What’s on your plate?
  • Go Bag Go! – July 6th, 7 p.m. – Make a go-bag 
  • Ready to be Mindful – July 13th, 7 p.m. – Taking a closer look  
  • Hydration Station – July 20th, 7 p.m. – Getting bored with water?
  • 4-H Healthy Living Awards and Recognition Ceremony 

 Secure your place now – first workshop is next Tuesday, June 15.  Special offer to the first 50 registering – free 4-H zippered bag to be used for storing supplies in case of emergency.  Any questions, email Margaret.grillo@uconn.edu

Click Here to Register

Job Openings: Educational Program Assistants

banner of Extension programs
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

Frontlines of Extension

Meet Some of our Staff

Extension serves over 124,265 individuals statewide every year. Our staff are essential to the success of our Extension programs— ensuring that participants, volunteers, and educators have what they need. We’re pleased to introduce you to a few of the faces on our frontlines.

Maria Camara

Haddam Office

“I support all office programs with administrative functions. I am fortunate to be able to do my job from home, as it keeps me safe and keeps my dogs happy. I find that everything I do can be done remotely on my laptop except the public interaction. I really miss that part of my job. I enjoy the public interaction whether by phone or in person. Every day there is always something new I hear and learn.”

Sharon Narotsky

Brooklyn Office

“I support 4-H programming, the Master Gardener program, a Nutrition Educator and the Livestock Educator. My job location has changed because of COVID-19 and unfortunately, I can’t physically meet the customers, but I can still serve them through emails and phone calls. I definitely miss seeing the faculty and staff in person on a daily basis. The best part of my job is my co-workers and the customers I serve.”

Frances Champagne

Farmington Office

“Working with multiple programs in a variety of disciplines is by far the best part of my position. I have such a wide array of interests that working in a single discipline would become monotonous after a while. In my position, I get to work with individuals and groups on projects of all kinds. Because of this, I am continually learning new things and meeting new people.

Extension and its many facets have played a positive role in my life as well as those of my friends and family; I am honored to be working in this department professionally at UConn.”

Donna Liska

Bethel Office

“I primarily work with the 4-H youth program. I really enjoy seeing the kids grow while they are a part of 4-H. Some join at such a young age and they stay until they are graduated. Every year in February when our public speaking program takes place their growth is evident! I enjoy seeing the all the projects the 4-Hers have completed during the year at the County 4-H Fair.”

Amber Guillemette

Storrs Office

“Besides being the support staff for the department head, I work with the Master Gardener and CLIR: Lifelong Learning programs. Most recently, we have moved the Winter 2021 CLIR programming completely virtual. Therefore I have spent more time getting that programming set up and usable for community members with all levels of technology experience. I like supporting the community and supporting those doing the frontline work.”

MacKenzie White

Tolland Office

“I work with 4-H, the new farmer program, vegetable crops, agriculture business, food safety, and sustainable foods programs. I participate in the program and grant planning meetings. I assist with brainstorming how we will carry out and who will be involved with our workshops, trainings and conferences. I am very involved with program promotion whether it is email marketing, posting on social media, updating all of our many websites or adding it to multiple event calendars.

The best part about my job is the amazing people I get to meet and work with!”

Resilience Through Partnerships

Enhancing Food Security in Fairfield County

Food insecurity is not a new phenomenon, but the COVID-19 pandemic intensified the situation for many residents, including those in Fairfield County. Food banks and pantries across the state expanded their services to help the increasing numbers of food insecure families.

The pandemic introduced Heather Peracchio, an Assistant Extension Educator in our Fairfield County office with Lori Turco, the food pantry coordinator for Walnut Hill Community Church. They were introduced by Steve Harding and quickly formed a strong partnership to meet the communities’ needs. Heather works with the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) and with SNAP-Ed.

The number of families being served by the Walnut Hill Community Pantry increased because of the pandemic from 150 pre-pandemic to over 500 families. The food pantry was offered monthly before the pandemic and then shifted to weekly when the pandemic started. Staff serve three locations: the church in Bethel, Derby and New Milford. They serve over 1,500 families across the three locations from 22 towns. Some families come from as far as Stamford, Torrington, or Waterbury—there is a huge need for food resources.

The partnership between Extension and Walnut Hill Church started with Operation Community Impact— Heather wanted to help food pantries access the milk and dairy products donated by Guida’s and Cabot. Walnut Hill Church was happy to accept the donations and let Extension use their FEMA supplied 40-foot refrigerated trailer for deliveries. The Fairfield County Extension team connected food pantries throughout the area with dairy donations. Team members Edith Valiquette, Donna Liska, Linda Connelly, and the 4-H volunteers that delivered dairy were crucial to the project.

From that initial collaboration, the partnership has grown, and expanded the services offered to the community. “I connected Lori and the Walnut Hill Community Pantry to the Danbury Food Collaborative,” Heather says. “She has used that connection to establish a network of food distributions and Walnut Hill Church has become the main delivery site for all Danbury area USDA Farmers’ to Families Food Boxes. Lori also started a non-profit Community Food Rescue and is planning a Food Hub in Danbury.”

“The partnership with UConn Extension is phenomenal,” Lori says. “The only time we get dairy is in the USDA Farmers to Families Food Box or from Extension. The Extension team organized the dairy donations and facilitated funds. We were able to consistently provide milk for almost 500 families. We could buy more food with the money we have and be able to give fresh milk to everyone.”

group of people wearing masks and holding signsGreenhouse Wealth Management, LLC in Westport generously donated $1500 to the effort (photo below). Ryan Callas owns the company and is a UConn alumni. He heard about the initiative through an employee whose cousin lives next door to Heather—and Ryan was happy to get involved because of the UConn ties. The initial donation from Green Wealth Management prompted other donations that further supported Operation Community Impact in Fairfield County.

Extension’s contributions extend beyond facilitating and coordinating the dairy donations for food pantries. Our educators provide resources and connections for many areas of need. For example, Heather makes videos in English and Spanish for each USDA Food Box to help recipients use the items they are receiving.

Heather creates videos where she uses the ingredients in the food boxes in recipes. She then creates a QR code that links to the video to help recipients use the products. “Her videos have friendly, helpful hints and they are bilingual,” Lori says. “It helps make the food stretch further for our families. We put the QR code on our program materials each week for our families. The videos are an amazing tool that she’s created for us.”

Baby food was secured for families, and Heather also connects them to other resources, answers questions on everything from nutrition to expiration dates, and serves as an overall resource for the community.

“UConn Extension has helped us on multiple levels way beyond the dairy donations during Operation Community Impact,”

Lori says. “They gave us laundry cards last week for our families to get laundry done. Heather connected us with birthday bags for our residents too, these have everything a family needs to create a birthday for a family member. I can’t say enough about UConn Extension connecting us with the people we need. We’re extremely thankful for everything we’ve received.”

“Our work with Lori captures the essence of what Extension is,” Heather says. “UConn Extension helped the community, and we also fostered connections related to food security that are sustainable and will have long-term effects on the people living here.”

Article by Stacey Stearns

Supporting Families and Communities

Joyce Ann Hyde Foundation Sustains Food Donations

4-H is a family tradition for the Hyde’s of New London County. Brothers Harlan and Brandon Hyde were both active as youth, and now their children are members. They represent the slogan that 4-H grows true leaders—Brandon ’01 (CAHNR) has served on the alumni board for CAHNR and Harlan is an active 4-H volunteer.

“I have a fix-it personality, and we can’t fix COVID,” Harlan says. “Bonnie Burr, the assistant director for Extension called me in April about Operation Community Impact and the yogurt and sour cream delivery, and we started finding homes for it with the local food pantries. This project really changed my outlook on COVID. We were doing something for people and making a small contribution.”

Joyce Ann HydeThe Hyde’s started the Joyce Ann Hyde Food for Families Fund, a non-profit foundation, in honor of their late mother. The Foundation raises funds to support agriculture and community members in need.

“We’ve committed 100% of the funds from our non-profit to the purchase of food for the community,”

Brandon says. “There are three prongs to our non-profit. Our family has ties to agriculture and 4-H, and we want to be able to help feed families in need while directly supporting agriculture. It’s one of the goals in the mission of our non-profit. The third prong is using 4-H members to distribute the food, so they understand what it takes to give back.”

The Joyce Ann Hyde Foundation supported four milk deliveries and 10 produce deliveries to 27 food pantries in New London County to date. Over 30 families and 50 4-H youth members volunteer to move dairy and produce from central drop-off locations to the various food pantries. Brewster’s Orchards in Griswold donated apples and pears and the Foundation coordinated the logistics and distribution. Volunteers distributed the 7,500 pounds or produce throughout the fall of 2020. The Foundation purchased and distributed cheese in February. Sponsors donate refrigerated trucks and other logistics.

“We have an opportunity to impress on 4-Hers the givers heart,” Harlan says. “It’s also important to us that the whole thing started with farmers dumping milk, being limited to what they could ship to market—we want to increase demand. We buy fruit that might not be sold at market, and increase demand for those products, and we get the 4-H members involved in community service. We’re taking a holistic approach from farm to food pantry to table.”

“I’m really proud of the impact on the thousands of people we’re serving from all the food pantries,” Brandon says. “Just the three largest pantries in our network serve over 1,000 people.”

The Joyce Ann Hyde Foundation is growing the next generation of true leaders from the New London County 4-H program and positively impacting families and farm businesses throughout the county. The pandemic has upended the lives of thousands, and together we can help those in need and strengthen our communities.

Article by Stacey Stearns

We All Scream for Ice Cream

Alums Integral to Success of Operation Community Impact

Ice cream is one of life’s simple joys and something every age group enjoys. It’s also a rare treat for those relying on food pantries for their meals—and one they enjoyed in May through the efforts of our 4-H alumni and UConn Extension’s Operation Community Impact.

Meg (Eberly) Uricchio

Meg Uricchio stands in front of a case of Hood ice creamMeg Uricchio was a member and president of Hartford County’s Granby 4-H Club in her youth. “I started showing goats and transitioned to dairy. I also had photography, cooking, woodworking, and poultry projects.”

She got involved with the Merry Moo-ers 4-H Club while an undergraduate at UConn and still provides 4-H members with heifers to lease for their projects. Meg is an active volunteer for various Hartford County 4-H initiatives, including the fair and the 4-H Education Center at Auerfarm.

“I didn’t know it at the time, but the amount of responsibility that 4-H instills in you is very important for youth members,” Meg says. “4-H teaches you about putting someone other than yourself first. I loved the dedication that the volunteers have and am pleased to give back to the program.”

Meg works for HP Hood, Inc. and secured the donation of a tractor trailer load with 33 pallets of ice cream for Operation Community Impact. HP

Hood, Inc. has a long history of giving back to the communities surrounding its 11 plants nationwide.

Each donation for Operation Community Impact is a team effort— and the ice cream was no exception. “Jen Cushman, the Hartford County 4-H Educator, was instrumental in securing the donation,” Meg says. “Bill Davenport, the Litchfield County 4-H Educator, had a neighbor with the refrigerated trailer for 4-H to use. Jen took care of the logistics of where the donation would go, and I gathered the product and made sure it got loaded.”

The refrigerated trailer was donated by O & G Industries of Torrington. They provided a truck, freezer trailer, and two drivers and delivered the ice cream to all the counties in the state. Tulmeadow Farm in West Simsbury was the drop off location for Hartford County, where another 4-H and CAHNR alum stepped in to facilitate the process.

From Processor to Food Pantry: Don Tuller

Don Tuller ’77 (CAHNR), owner of Tulmeadow Farm, has been actively involved with 4-H and the agricultural community for his entire life. He was one of the volunteers staining the brand-new cabins at the Hartford County 4-H Camp in Marlborough, was later a camper and then a counselor. Don was also a member of the Hartford 4-H Fair Association and served in numerous leadership positions.

He understates his ongoing service to the community, including his role in the ice cream donation from HP Hood.

“4-H runs deep in our family,” Don says. “We were the transfer spot for the ice cream from H. P. Hood, and put it into my freezer, and then all the volunteers came and picked it up. We were willing to make our facility available and unload the ice cream with our forklift. We played a small role in the process and we’re happy to help.” Food pantries in six counties received ice cream donations.

The logistics of handling frozen products is not easy—and those 33 pallets of ice cream could have been ruined if the distribution process was not correct. “We’ve used our freezer space to support other food distribution efforts too, whenever it’s needed. We’ve had ongoing adventures with food donations to Foodshare over the years.”

Tulmeadow Farm sends sweet corn and extra vegetables to Foodshare and the Simsbury Food Bank every year too. Don’s record of service extends beyond his community, he recently retired as president of Connecticut Farm Bureau Association, where he served for 12 years in that role, and as a board member for the American Farm Bureau Federation. He currently serves as the president of the Connecticut Agricultural Education Foundation.

The COVID-19 pandemic has devastated communities throughout the world and caused untold damages. Throughout it all, the UConn 4-H program has embraced its commitment to civic engagement by addressing food insecurity and assisting families and food pantries across the state. Our alumni and volunteers continue giving back to the program and making the best better.

Article by Stacey Stearns

Making the Best Better

4-H Members Civic Engagement Initiative Has Statewide Impact

girl pulling wagon of millkFood insecurity spiked across Connecticut because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The UConn 4-H team led and coordinated Operation Community Impact, a grassroots effort to help local families with food insecurity issues intensified by the COVID-19 pandemic. The effort also addresses surplus milk issues that negatively impact dairy farms in the state due to the pandemic.

The Litchfield County 4-H program selected Operation Community Impact focusing on food insecurity in the county as their theme for the year in January of 2020—the pandemic made that theme a necessity—and they focused their efforts on dairy products and organized the first milk distribution in March, and then the effort expanded statewide through our 4-H network in April.

The Extension Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) team and others are also instrumental to the success by facilitating connections with food pantries and volunteers. Businesses and partner organizations statewide have donated refrigeration, trucks, and space to facilitate donations.

4-H youth and volunteers facilitated donation and delivery of over 200,000 pounds of dairy products—and counting. They worked with 96 food pantries in 57 towns, serving over 10,710 families. Thousands of hours of volunteer time and services are integral to the success of Operation Community Impact—and many of those volunteers are alumnus of our 4-H program and the College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources (CAHNR).

“Over my seven years in 4-H I have been given many cool community service opportunities, but the dairy outreach community project is by far the most influential,” says Madeline Hall, a Litchfield County 4-H member. “It is a huge operation that really helps the community. It is a beautiful sight to see how utterly grateful the pantries and families receiving the milk are. I never knew how many families in Connecticut were in need. I’m so proud to be part of UConn 4-H.”

Madeline, her sister Olivia, and their mom Margaret have volunteered at all 12 donations to date. The Hall family has donated over 1,000 hours of their time to the effort. Margaret Hall has been a 4-H volunteer leader for eight years and leads the Diggity Dogs 4-H Club. She is also a co-leader and helped start the Grow Getters 4-H Horticulture Club this past year.

All eight counties received donations and had 4-H youth participate in the initiative. Litchfield and New London counties continued serving their food pantries through community initiatives that raised funds to purchase milk—and fruit in New London county—to support the local food pantries.

“It reassures me that we have a bright future ahead of us because we have these motivated, hard-working, intelligent, outgoing individuals that come up through the 4-H program,”

says Bill Davenport, the Litchfield County 4-H Educator. “We are excited to get surplus dairy products—in storage because of the pandemic—into the hands of families who are food insecure. Our actions increase awareness of the issue and encourage others to help do the same across Connecticut and the region so that we can help move more milk and dairy products out of the surplus and into the refrigerators of people who desperately need it.”

Article by Stacey Stearns

2021 UConn 4-H Virtual Public Speaking Contest Results

4-H logo

The 2021 UConn 4-H Virtual Public Speaking Contest results are in!

UConn 4-H would like to thank all the presenters and judges for their time and commitment. All presenters did an amazing job displaying their public speaking skills while delivering outstanding presentations.

A champion and reserve champion were selected in each division.  All other youth who made it to the level 3 contest will be recognized as members of this year’s court of honor. The final results are as follows.

 

Jr. Speech Division

Champion – Owen Miller (Litchfield County)

Reserve Champion – Charlotte Behnke (Middlesex County)

Court of Honor – Samira Tanko (Fairfield County) & Amanda Sawyer (New London County)

 

Senior Speech Division

Champion – Bailey Hirschboeck (Windham County)

Reserve Champion – Maggie Leopold (Fairfield County)

Court of Honor – Harper Treschuk (Fairfield County) & Madeline Hall (Litchfield County)

 

Visual Presentations

Jr. Visual Presentation Division

Champion – Olivia Hatt (New London County)

Reserve Champion – Alyssa Behnke (Middlesex County)

Court of Honor – Lucy Foss (New London County) & Sloan D’Aquila (New London County)

 

Senior Visual Presentation Division

Champion – Caroline Holmberg (New London County)

Reserve Champion – Josie Thomson (Middlesex County) & Sarah Bourgoin (Litchfield County) Tie

Court of Honor – Olivia Hall (Litchfield County)

 

Congratulations!