4-H Youth

New Podcast Episode: UConn 4-H Fairfield County

group of youth holding a sign that says thank you in many languages

Our UConn 4-H program has a positive impact on youth every day, and one of our youth, volunteers, and educators from Fairfield County explain more in our latest podcast episode. Learn more and listen in at s.uconn.edu/fairfield-fair – and join us this weekend for their 4-H Fair at Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo.

Youth Photography Scavenger Hunt at Meechooôk Farm

girl with a red string backpack holding paper and tomatoUConn Extension collaborated with the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation (MPTN) Departments of Agriculture and Parks and Recreation to facilitate a youth photography scavenger hunt at Meechooôk Farm in July 2023. This activity is part of a larger shared commitment to youth development and improvements in agricultural literacy in the MPTN community.

MPTN youth were provided with cameras and a scavenger hunt sheet that encouraged them to explore the farm with the help of two older MPTN teens who are employed at the farm. While touring the high tunnel greenhouses, the youth asked if they could harvest some of the cucumbers and tomatoes for an afternoon snack. After visiting the three sisters’ garden, the Hereford cows, the swine pen, and the vegetable production fields, the youth enjoyed the fruits of their labor as they reflected on the day. They chose to talk with friends and eat the vegetables they had picked themselves over the bags of processed snacks and their phones.

The photos that the youth had captured at the farm were then developed and entered into the New London County 4-H Fair on August 11-13th, 2023. Their efforts were rewarded with many blue, red, and white Danish ribbons. Youth projects are evaluated on their individual merits at the 4-H Fair. This fall, UConn 4-H is working with MPTN to develop a 4-H club where youth can continue to engage with 4-H programming and curriculum in topics that interest them.

Interested in replicating this at home? 

Download the UConn 4-H Scavenger Hunt template and fill in each box with an item or prompt. Or, print our UConn 4-H Farm Photography Scavenger Hunt activity sheet and visit a local farm business near you. Provide your youth with a camera and let them explore their world with a new perspective!

Article and photo: Sara Tomis

Bonnie Kegler: Empowering Youth with UConn 4-H

Bonnie KeglerBonnie Kegler (’88 CAHNR, ’90 NEAG) joined UConn Extension and the 4-H program in Windham County as an assistant extension educator in July, after an award-winning teaching career at Killingly High School in the agricultural education program.

“I want youth in the UConn 4-H program to have a sense of accomplishment on any level, whether it’s receiving a ribbon at the 4-H fair, being recognized for their contributions, or being in a peer group among other people with similar interests,” she says.

Bonnie was an agricultural education student at E.O. Smith High School and wanted to be a veterinary technician. She went to Sul Ross State University in Alpine, Texas; at the time, their vet tech program was the second highest rated in the country. She only intended to stay two years but discovered the livestock judging team.

“It changed my life, I didn’t even know they had one,” Bonnie says. “I love decision making with the information you have, and the confidence that comes with making that decision and living with the consequences.” She ended up coaching the team her senior year at Sul Ross, a significant recognition for her livestock evaluation and teaching skills.

After graduating, she got a job at a veterinary practice in West Texas, it was the only practice for 100-miles, so they treated all animals. Bonnie recalls taking a metal coffee can with rocks out to the barn section of the clinic to feed or treat animals, shaking the can along the way to scare the rattle snakes, who slithered out of the barn.

Bonnie returned to Connecticut in 1985, and pursued a masters degree in animal science, also coaching the livestock judging team at UConn, and then earned a teaching certificate from the Neag School of Education.

She loves education and animals, so it was a natural fit to teach agricultural education in the high school setting. Bonnie was always involved with 4-H through her own children too and adds that she loves watching the relationship and learning process between kids and animals.

“Watching youth find out something they didn’t know or get better at something excites me,” she says. “They want to improve, those ‘aha’ moments and watching growth, or having someone get recognized for something they’re passionate about, and helping kids understand how much they are capable of accomplishing. Seeing youth understand that what they know and the skills they have is the coolest thing, and it carries over to adult education too.”

Connecticut has a lot to offer, and Bonnie enjoys living in Mansfield with her husband, and spending time on the shoreline. She also raises and shows Hampshire sheep, and participates in dog agility with Tucker, her Corgi.

Her positive impact is already being felt by youth in Windham County, she led her first 4-H Fair shortly after joining Extension in July and is currently recruiting youth and adult volunteers for the program. Bonnie is also working on statewide agricultural and food literacy programs to educate residents. All her work with UConn 4-H is united in the effort to empower youth to make a positive impact and reach their full potential.

“Youth need to hear from someone that believes they have the ability to do something. I see things in kids where they weren’t sure they would be good, and I give them a different way to look at it,” Bonnie concludes. “I help them understand that what they know is valuable. If they’re willing to learn there isn’t anything they can’t do.”

Visit s.uconn.edu/4-H to learn more about the UConn 4-H program, enroll your youth member, or become a volunteer.

Job Opening: Evaluation Specialist

banner of Extension programs

We’re hiring an Extension Evaluation Specialist. Join our team and advance the field of program evaluation by designing and testing methods that lead to improved capacity to measure outcomes of UConn Extension programs. The Specialist designs and delivers education programs and non-credit courses for UConn Extension faculty, staff, and administrators to increase their capacity to evaluate programs aligned with the College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources strategic vision and initiatives. Learn more and apply: https://s.uconn.edu/eval-specialist

Bug Out During our 2023 Bug Week Events

monarch butterfly on lilacUConn Extension’s 9th annual Bug Week is buzzing from July 24 to July 29 with programs for the entire family.

All ages are welcome to attend and explore the activities and events dedicated to insects and their relatives.  Bug Week programs include the following:

Join UConn Extension faculty, Spring Valley Student Farm staff and students for an interactive “Insect Wonders at the Farm” event on Tuesday, July 25 from 2 to 6 p.m. at 1327 Stafford Rd., Mansfield, CT.

While at the Farm you can play Bug Jeopardy, take a bug tour and learn about beekeeping.  There will be free activities for the entire family.

See displays of live insects from local gardens and participate in bug walks at the Middlesex County Extension Office, 1066 Saybrook Rd., Haddam, CT on Wednesday, July 26 from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.  The program will include bug hunts in the Extension gardens, insect identification, and giveaways.  Master Gardeners will be available to answer your gardening questions All ages are invited to explore the wonderful world of insects at this free event.

Learn about insects and where to look for them by participating in bug walks at the New London County Extension Office,  562 New London Turnpike, Norwich, CT on Thursday, July 27 from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.  The program will include displays of live insects from local gardens, insect identification and giveaways.  Master Gardeners will be available to answer your gardening questions.  Join us at this free event to learn more about the fascinating world of insects.

Join the Connecticut State Museum of Natural History and the UConn Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology in the Biology/Physics building at UConn Storrs on Thursday, July 27 from noon to 4 p.m. for Parasite Day! Explore the wonderful, under-appreciated world of parasites with displays and activities for all ages. See real museum specimens up close, participate in games and scavenger hunts, enjoy a tour of the Biodiversity Research Collections, and learn ways to keep your pets parasite free from UConn Police Department K9 Officers Tildy and Carson (and their handler Officer O’Reilly). FREE and open to the public!

Visit our website at bugs.uconn.edu to register for events!

We are also holding a Photo Contest.  Learn more at http://bugs.uconn.edu/photo-contest/

UConn Extension offices are located across the state and offer an array of services dedicated to educating and informing the public on innovative technology and scientific improvements.  Bug Week is one example of UConn Extension’s mission in tying research to real life, by addressing insects and some of their relatives.  For more information on Bug Week, please visit our website at www.bugs.uconn.edu, email bugweeek@uconn.edu or call 860-486-9228.


UConn Extension Receives Four National Communications Awards

UConn Extension received four awards from the Association for Communication Excellence (ACE) at the annual conference in June.

gold award sealGold Award – Respecting Roots and Growing for the Future – Writing

Team: Stacey Stearns

Silver Award – On Farm Food Safety Animated Videos – Educational Video 

Team: Indu Upadhyaya, Mike Zaritheny, Juliana Restrepo-Marin, Stacey Stearns, Bonnie Burr

Silver Award – UConn 4-H Brochure – Marketing Item

Team: Kara Bonsack, Stacey Stearns, Jennifer Cushman, Nancy Wilhelm

Bronze Award – Growing UConn 4-H – Marketing Campaign

Team: Stacey Stearns, Jen Cushman, Kara Bonsack, Nancy Wilhelm, Emily Syme, Melanie Desch, Paula Wolf, Ivette Lopez, Bonnie Burr

More information on these, and other Extension programs is available at s.uconn.edu/Extension. Two of these programs received external funding. The program with the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation receives financial support from the USDA NIFA Federally-Recognized Tribes Extension Program (FRTEP Awards 2017-41580-26950 and 2022-41580-37944). The food safety animations are made possible, in part, by the Food and Drug Administration through grant PAR-16-137.

UConn Extension programs provide life-transformative experiences to diverse groups of individuals, students, communities, and businesses in each of the 169 municipalities across the state. We are part of the nationwide Cooperative Extension System that connects the public with the research and resources of land-grant universities. At UConn, our Extension network is comprised of faculty and staff in the College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources.

ACE is an international association of professionals who practice in all areas of communication. ACE offers professional development and networking for individuals who extend knowledge about agriculture, natural resources, and life and human sciences.

UConn Summer Riding: Community Polo Lessons 2023

4 students riding on horses. Infographic explains the ext written in this announcementPolo lesson registration is now open! Lessons are available to Intermediate or Advanced Level riders who can maintain control of their horse at the walk, trot and canter, and comfortable on different levels of horses.

Session 1: Jun 5 – 24
Session 2: Jun 26 – Jul 14
Session 3: Jul 17 – Aug 4
Session 4: Aug 7 – 25

Polo Fundamentals I
Polo Fundamentals II
Intermediate Polo