4-H Youth

UConn 4-H’er Selected as Runner Up for National 4-H Award

Olivia HallNational 4-H Council announced that Olivia Hall of Litchfield County is a runner up for the 2022 4-H Youth in Action Award for Healthy Living. Hall is recognized nationally for her commitment to addressing food insecurity in her community and surrounding areas.

Already aware of the food insecurity issues in her community, Hall noticed how the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated these needs further. School and business closures caused dairy farmers to dump their now-excessive milk supplies. The resourcefulness and leadership skills gained through 4-H helped motivate Hall to create “Operation Community Impact,” a bi-weekly milk delivery service to food insecure families in her county and across her state. She has taken on the responsibility of recruiting volunteers, loading and delivering pallets of dairy products, and raising money to continue supporting this project further.

Still planning to continue her project from college, Hall is a freshman at University of New Haven studying Criminal Justice.

The 4-H Youth in Action Awards began in 2010 to recognize 4-H’ers who have overcome challenges and used the knowledge they gained in 4-H to create a lasting impact in their community. To learn more about the 4-H Youth in Action program and the 2022 runners up, please visit http://4-H.org/YouthInAction.

About 4-H Nationally
4-H, the nation’s largest youth development organization, grows confident young people who are empowered for life today and prepared for career tomorrow. 4-H programs empower nearly six million young people across the U.S. through experiences that develop critical life skills. 4-H is the youth development program of our nation’s Cooperative Extension System and USDA, and serves every county and parish in the U.S. through a network of 110 public universities and more than 3,000 local Extension offices. Globally, 4-H collaborates with independent programs to empower one million youth in 50 countries. The research-backed 4-H experience grows young people who are four times more likely to contribute to their communities; two times more likely to make healthier choices; two times more likely to be civically active; and two times more likely to participate in STEM programs.

Learn more about 4-H at www.4-H.org, find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/4-H and on Twitter at https://twitter.com/4H.

About UConn 4-H

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 s.uconn.edu/4-h.

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.

Unpeeled: The Case Files of Maya McCluen Game is Available

Maya McCluen and the text Unpeeled behind herNavigating the grocery store aisle is challenging for many consumers—especially those who want to buy the most nutritious food and stay within their budget. The University of Connecticut (UConn) Extension New Technologies in Agricultural Extension (NTAE) team developed an interactive learning activity (or game), Unpeeled: The Case Studies of Maya McCluen. Our team sought to clarify food marketing labels and empower consumers to make science-based decisions while shopping. The game and other resources from our team are available at s.uconn.edu/unpeeled.

Food manufacturers and distributors cover their boxed, canned, and bottled foods with labels like “whole grain” and “low-calorie” to suggest that their food has certain health benefits. Among the most misunderstood food marketing labels are “non-GMO,” “natural,” and “organic:”

  • In a representative survey conducted by GMO Answers (2018), 69% of consumers could not define GMO (genetically modified organism). Wunderlich et al. (2019) surveyed members of Montclair State University and found that over 98% of respondents had heard of the term “GMO,” but only 8% of consumers were familiar with the definition.
  • “Organic” foods are often credited with health and nutrition benefits that the food does not have (Noone, 2019). This is in part due to media framing that portrays organic as ethical, healthier, and more nutritious (Meyers & Abrams, 2010).
  • The “natural” label, which is not well regulated, has various meanings depending on who is using it (Nosowitz, 2019).

Our project started in 2017 when members of our team formed the Science of GMOs working group at UConn (gmo.uconn.edu). Our team was one of the eight selected for NTAE’s second annual grant program, and we expanded the project to encompass additional food marketing labels and include new members with other areas of expertise. Team members include representation from nutrition, biotechnology, youth development, communications, and food marketing.

Dr. Cindy Tian, a member of our team and biotechnology professor, answered some common questions about GMOs for audiences:

  • Why is there not a human trial on GMOs? It is not required by the regulation of the FDA. However, a myriad of tests and safety requirements must be conducted/met before any GMOs are marketed. Humans have been consuming GMOs since 1996 and not a single credible adverse event has been reported.
  • Do GMOs change our genome? No. Everything biological we eat today has been genetically modified mainly by breeding and a few by genetic engineering. Humans have been eating genetically modified food since the beginning of time. We are still humans.
  • Is our genome pristine? No. Like other species, our DNA changes constantly. DNA molecules are very fragile, they break all the time, get sewed back and many times wrong pieces get put together. If these changes happen in our germ cells, they may get passed down. But this is rare. Through millions of years of evolution, the human genome accumulated 10,000 copies of viral DNA molecules.
  • Speaking of virus, the COVID vaccines (in the US) are GMOs. The viral genome is broken down and only small pieces are used for the vaccines so we will never get COVID from the vaccine itself (unlike some earlier Polio vaccines).

Members of our team are also offering the virtual course Let’s Talk GMOs: Creating Consistent Communication Messages. Participants are introduced to the basics of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). They will learn how to create consistent communication messages and manage dialogue processes about GMOs with various audiences. The asynchronous course is available on-demand; it has eight online modules with instructors from UConn. The fee is $49. Register online at s.uconn.edu/gmocourse.

Game development was made possible through support by the Learning Games Lab at New Mexico State University. An eFieldbook about our project will be available on Connect Extension in early September. The Extension Foundation supports this team through key informant expertise to help grow the overall project. We had additional funding and support from UConn Extension and Northeast AgEnhancement and Farm Credit East.

What is a 4-H Escape, and how can I sign up? – #AskUConnExtension

This week, we put the #AskUConnExtension Showcase spotlight on “4-H Escape,” a UConn 4-H program connecting and teaching students and campers across CT.
To learn more and start your escape room journey, check out 4-h-escape.extension.uconn.edu
blue and green boxes with 4-H escape image and kids in the background
Text: This summer, stay connected with 4-H and try your luck at one of their online escape rooms! UConn 4-H is excited to offer “4-H Escape,” a library of virtual escape rooms and puzzles for families and students to enjoy.
blue, white and green boxes with text and image of Marc
Text: Escape rooms were first introduced to the program at the Middlesex County 4-H in 2019. Since then, the COVID-19 pandemic has made virtual escape room opportunities an extremely important activity for the program, with demand skyrocketing. Marc Cournoyer, a member of the 4-H team, says: “These activities help youth build skills in creative thinking, problem solving and retention of key concepts through the use of gamification. Kids are learning through play.”
boxes with text, 4-h escape images and laptop background
Text: Escape rooms are not only educational, but they are extremely fun skill-building exercises. Currently, 4-H Escape offers escape rooms in different subjects, such as “The Secret Clover Quest,” “Life on the Farm,” and “Under the Sea.” These activities are available to the public, and are just waiting to be solved!

New Normal with Extension Programs

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Extension educators rose to the challenge and virtually shared our programs and educational outreach over the past year and a half. While we will continue incorporating virtual educational opportunities, we are eager to resume in-person programs as well. A few of our educators share what the new normal with Extension will be for their programs. All our programs will continue serving your needs, including those that are not listed. We continue adhering to all state guidelines, and protocols may adapt as needed.

4-H

The UConn 4-H Program is looking forward to in-person 4-H club and county activities this fall. UConn 4-H delegates plan to participate in various 4-H activities at the Eastern States Exposition and the National 4-H Congress.

Master Gardeners

Master Gardeners have started reconnecting directly with the public through our outdoor activities and look forward to increasing in-person classes and events this fall. Our online experiences over the last year helped us reach an even larger audience, however, and we will continue to incorporate new technologies alongside our familiar hands-on programming. The heightened interest in gardening and environmental projects is likely to continue and we will be here in person, by phone, and online to assist!

CLEAR

Programs at the Center for Land Use Education and Research (CLEAR) are slowly returning in-person outreach into the mix. However, virtually all programs will be retaining elements of the techniques and educational options developed during the pandemic year. The Land Use Academy now has recorded online versions of all basic training modules, available to the user at any time. CLEAR, in concert with the CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, is developing a new “one-stop shopping” online training portal (coming soon!) that will include all our virtual programs.

People Empowering People (PEP)

UConn Extension’s People Empowering People (PEP) Program is a parent, community, and civic leadership program, and we are preparing for different possibilities this fall. We plan to offer in-person PEP Communities Training for our local partnering organizations in October. However, we will offer this training online again if needed. Partner organizations can choose to offer the training in-person or online. Our People Empowering People CI Program reaches people who are currently incarcerated in correctional institutions in our state. When the Connecticut Department of Corrections is ready for our trained volunteer facilitators to return and lead the PEP CI program with the partnering institutions, the facilitators will return.

CLIR Lifelong Learning

Our volunteer board of directors is forming our fall program plan and will be releasing more information in early August.

Visit our programs page to find out more about the new normal for our other Extension programs.

UConn Extension is Strengthening Immunization Excitement Through USDA-NIFA, CDC Grant Funding

blue square with text vaccine resourcesUConn Extension received funding to strengthen immunization excitement in Connecticut through a grant funded project by USDA-NIFA, the Extension Foundation, and the CDC. The UConn project focuses on residents in Windham, Middletown, East Hartford, Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, and Groton.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provided $9.95 million in funding to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) to support an innovative approach to community education and partnerships to advance adult immunization. This is the two agencies’ first concentrated vaccine education effort.

NIFA will use this funding, provided in an interagency agreement, to support Land-grant Universities and the Cooperative Extension System in delivering immunization education to the communities they serve to improve vaccine confidence. Extension will also work with local partners, including healthcare providers, to make COVID-19 and other adult vaccines more accessible for rural, medically under-served and other harder-to-reach communities.

Our secondary cities continue to be underserved in statewide public health initiatives, and COVID immunization levels in Connecticut align with this trend. While our state is relatively successful in our initial immunization efforts, pockets of underserved audiences exist at the first level of vaccination.

From informal qualitative data from a stakeholder in our target audience, the UConn Extension team is well positioned to identify key community influencers and work to address barriers to vaccinations in communities.

Our goal is to strengthen excitement for immunization in our five secondary cities in Connecticut. We are working with stakeholders to understand the barriers, identify key community influencers, create target social media and print media to increase vaccine awareness, efficacy, and safety and willingness to obtain vaccination. 

“Cooperative Extension educators are recognized and trusted messengers in their communities and can help deliver fact-based information on the COVID-19 vaccine and other adult vaccines,” said Dr. Jay Butler, CDC’s Deputy Director for Infectious Diseases. “We know vaccination rates overall are lagging in rural communities, and Extension agents can play an important role in building COVID-19 vaccine confidence and increasing vaccine access within the communities they serve.”

“Cooperative Extension has a century of experience as change agents and educators in communities across America,” said NIFA director Dr. Carrie Castille. “NIFA is proud to be the federal partner with such a trusted educational resource, but especially in this effort to deliver science-based vaccine education. This new partnership with CDC is a natural fit for the Extension System to do what they do best – provide balanced, reliable information so people can make informed decisions.”

“Vaccinations are a critical step in fully re-opening our nation. This partnership between USDA and CDC is an important part of our National Strategy to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and getting Americans fully vaccinated,” said Dr. Sara Bleich, USDA senior advisor for COVID. “The President has directed us to make it easier for those living in rural communities to access vaccines by sending vaccines to rural health clinics, increasing vaccine education and outreach efforts in rural communities with resources from the American Rescue Plan (ARP), and increasing funding for rural health clinics and hospitals to respond to the pandemic with testing and mitigation measures.”

NIFA invests in and advances agricultural research, education, and Extension across the nation to make transformative discoveries that solve societal challenges. NIFA supports initiatives that ensure the long-term viability of agriculture and applies an integrated approach to ensure that groundbreaking discoveries in agriculture-related sciences and technologies reach the people who can put them into practice. In FY2020, NIFA’s total investment was $1.95 billion.

UConn Extension has more than 100 years’ experience strengthening communities in Connecticut and beyond. Extension programs address the full range of issues set forth in the College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources 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. 

Job Opening: Assistant/Associate Cooperative Extension Educator Urban 4-H

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Job Opening: Assistant/Associate Cooperative Extension Educator Urban 4-H

UConn Extension is seeking applicants for a full-time (11-month), non-tenure track Assistant/Associate Extension Educator, primarily based at the Fairfield County Extension Office in Bethel, CT. Extension Educators are community-based faculty who make a difference in communities by connecting community needs with university resources. Position level/rank will be commensurate with experience working with Extension. The successful candidate shall create an active 4-H youth development program with a focus on STEM, food, and agricultural literacy.

More information and application instructions are available at s.uconn.edu/urban4-hposition

#jobs #uconn #youthdevelopment #4h #agriculture #food

Volunteer Spotlight: Dr. Lynn Keller

UConn CAHNR Extension typically holds Bug Week in July; however, this year Extension has designated July as Bug Month. The UConn Extension Master Gardeners and Master Gardener interns participate. Bug Month is an educational outreach activity that promotes insects in the environment (bugs.uconn.edu/). Volunteers like Dr. Lynn Keller make this educational event fun and successful. In order to become a Master Gardener people need to attend and complete the Master Gardener program that includes coursework, office hours, and community service. The training allows them to become knowledgeable about various gardening topics.

Lynn Keller in her gardenLynn heard about the UConn Extension Master Gardener program many years ago and completed the program in 2019. She learned about a volunteer opportunity to assist with Bug Week from Gail Reynolds, the Middlesex County Master Gardener program coordinator. Lynn enjoyed her entomology (study of insects) classes in college while studying to be a veterinarian. She also enjoyed the entomology class offered by the Master Gardener program and felt like it would be a good fit for her interests.

As a volunteer, Lynn works with various program leaders to coordinate dates and events during Bug Month in July. These activities include bug kits for youth, photo contests, and educational activities. Part of her role includes finding new leaders for these programs and ensuring they have the proper resources as well as creating content for the Bug Month website (bugs.uconn.edu/). New programs are suggested every year, and Lynn works with the team to implement them in addition to fundraising and finding sponsors. She also promotes Bug Month by writing articles and participating in local radio shows.

Bug Month is designed for family participation, and Lynn enjoys educating families on the importance of insects in our lives. She says, “If we didn’t have insects, we wouldn’t have pollination, which would result in missing out on many of our favorite foods.” Her volunteer work is making an impact because adults and children are learning more about the “integral role that insects play in the food web and in our environment.” She also notes that this program provides suggestions for simple steps families can take to improve beneficial insect habitats in their yards and communities.

One of Lynn’s favorite memories from her time as an Extension volunteer is at Bug Week events in 2019. Many children attended the event at the Tolland Agricultural Center and were excited to participate in the fun activities. Lynn enjoyed seeing the children’s enthusiasm while they were looking at bugs under a microscope and learning about them. She also enjoys continuing her education on native plants and insects which allows her to share this information with family and friends. Her advice to new volunteers is to find an opportunity that you are passionate about and use that passion to make a positive difference in our communities.

The UConn Extension Master Gardener Program started in 1978 and consists of horticulture training and an outreach component that focuses on the community at large. Master Gardeners devote thousands of hours to organized community outreach projects each year. The Master Gardener program also offers Garden Master Classes for our volunteers and interested members of the general public. More information on the program and classes are available at mastergardener.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

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

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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