UConn Extension connects thousands of people across Connecticut and beyond each year, with the research and resources of the University of Connecticut’s College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources. We are comprised of more than 100 educators and a vast network of volunteers. UConn Extension works collaboratively to build more resilient communities through educational initiatives aimed to cultivate a sustainable future and develop tomorrow’s leaders. The work of UConn Extension connects communities and individuals to help make Connecticut a better place to live, and a better place for future generations.
In the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, farmers urgently needed access to the newest information on government compliance, health protocols, federal aid and more. UConn Extension put together its own website for COVID-19-related information for both farmers and consumers on production, distribution and processing. UConn Extension also responded by organizing an initiative that enlisted UConn 4-H members and volunteers to distribute more than 144,000 pounds of surplus milk and other products from Connecticut dairies to 53 food pantries in the state.
In an effort to enhance the UConn 4-H program, members have gotten together to form the UConn 4-H Teen Council. The Council consists of active members in UConn 4-H between the ages of 14 and 18, with no more than 2 members from each county in the state.
Check out UConn 4-H Teen Council’s Quarterly Newsletter, County Connections, to learn more about the council’s vision, officers, and more!
Access the newsletter here.
Our UConn 4-H Litchfield County and UConn 4-H New London County programs continued their grassroots efforts to help local families in need this week. This effort builds upon several dairy donations that have gone to food pantries statewide over the past few months since the pandemic started back in March. Over 144,000 pounds of dairy products have been delivered by our youth and volunteers, including 2,880 half-gallons on Monday, December 21st.
The Bethlehem Busy Stitchers 4-H club is very fortunate to have Elaine Brodeur as their club leader. Elaine’s daughter will tell you that Elaine needs 4-H as an excuse to own eight sewing machines and a stash of fabric and sewing supplies to rival any JOANN store. But Elaine goes on to explain, “I love to sew and share my skills with young people especially since it is not taught in schools anymore.” She joined 4-H at the age of 10 and has maintained her connection with 4-H for the past 65 years. As a youth, her project focus was clothing. She attended 4-H camp for several years at the Litchfield County 4-H Camp (what is now Warren Woods) and Junior Leadership conferences that were held at the UConn Storrs campus.
Elaine adds, “At that time we had county dress reviews and the best senior members were chosen to attend the state dress review. Winners from there went to National 4-H Congress. I was in the state review several times. I never went out of state…the competition was pretty tough then.”
Elaine gets her commitment to 4-H from her mother, Bernice Assard, who passed away in 2008. Bernice became the club leader of the Bethlehem Busy Stitchers back in 1956. During Bernice’s 50 years as club leader hundreds of youth benefitted from her instruction and guidance with many also participating in statewide activities and national trips such as Citizenship Washington Focus and National 4-H Congress. In 2002 Bernice was inducted into the National 4-H Hall of Fame during its inaugural year.
While the club’s projects focus on sewing and home economics, they have always participated in community service projects. In the past the club has sold soup at the Christmastown Festival, marched in the Memorial Day Parade and made hand warmers for the Woodbury Senior Center. The club also made lunches to serve the workers who volunteered to rebuild the local community hall after it burned back in the 1980s. More recently they have sewn and donated over 300 tote bags to a local women’s shelter which in turn fills the bags with much needed supplies for the residents. They have been participating in this project for the past eleven years.
With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the club has been sewing face masks for local nursing homes. This has turned into a major community effort in which the club has donated enormous time and effort in assisting the Caring for Bethlehem organization, a local non-profit charity that provides food and relief assistance to the surrounding community.
Elaine took over leadership of the club from her mother in 2006 and keeps club members busy with a variety of activities. She spends a great deal of time during the summer helping club members get their sewing, craft and cooking projects ready for the 4-H Fair held each year in August. She is also the coordinator of the Textile Arts Contest for 4-H Expressive Arts day and serves on the planning committee for this event.
When asked why she has stayed involved with 4-H for so many years, she replies, “To some extent I feel obligated to carry on my mother’s legacy. 4-H was very important to her. 4-H provides a structure for opportunities to practice many life skills in a low-risk environment like project planning, meeting deadlines, interviewing, public speaking, following instructions, record keeping and teamwork. I could not do it without the help of Jen Woodward my assistant or the help of the member’s parents.”
Article by Nancy Wilhelm, State 4-H Program Coordinator
Meet the UConn 4-H Legends, a soccer playing 4-H club in Danbury, CT that’s been in existence for about three years. This 35-member club, composed of boys and girls, has several projects: sports, nutrition, leadership and community service. Although they do a variety of things, they are at the soccer field 3 times a week, improving their soccer skills and learning teamwork, personal responsibility, goal setting, decision making, and creative problem solving. Leader Anna Loor and her coaches, Julio Buestan and Narcisa Tenezaca lead and facilitate the club.
Until Covid 19 struck, 4-H Legends participated in soccer tournaments every month. Healthy snacks are part of the nutrition education and soccer practice. At monthly Family Nights Out, youth and their families increase their nutrition knowledge while making a group healthy meal for everyone to eat.
As a multi-disciplinary effort of the Fairfield County UConn Extension office, Heather Peracchio, Community Nutrition Educator, registered dietician organized and taught the classes at the Family Nights Out. German Cutz, our former Sustainable Community Educator organized the soccer portion, and Ede Valiquette, 4-H Educator, worked with the adult leaders to support the 4-H club.
As with any 4-H club, community service is a priority. At their monthly business meetings, the club discuses and makes decisions regarding service projects for the year. Although they have done a variety of projects, their “best” one was perhaps conducted this year, “Celebrating our Heroes”. In “Celebrating our Heroes”, Legends soccer coach and chef, Julio Buestan helped the Legends, prepare 150 meals for healthcare workers at Danbury Hospitals during the height of the Covid 19 virus outbreak.
Article by Edith Valiquette, Extension 4-H Educator
Make sure the kids end the year with fun STEM related activities! Find a printable pdf here.
We are scientists, inventors and engineers. We believe in learning by doing. We create positive changes in our communities. We believe we are stronger as a community. We believe in the power of UConn 4-H to transform lives. Join us by finding a UConn 4-H program in your community. 4-H.uconn.edu