Agriculture and Food

Ensuring a vibrant and sustainable agricultural industry and food supply

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

UConn EFNEP Adult Course May 2021 Graduates!

Heather, Molly, and Juliana of our UConn Expanded Food and Nutrition Program led participants through a virtual nutrition and cooking class. 

After completion participants shared:

“Best class ever!”

“The class was great, complete information, I liked it and learned a lot about food, hygiene, and sugary drinks. The drink class was very informative! Thank you to both educators and the translator. We really appreciated the materials and utensils.”

“I looked forward to this class each week, you have been part of our home the past 5 weeks.”

“I didn’t like cooking before but I do now.  I have tried the recipes and my family enjoys them. These last 12 months have been so hard. I never thought being on the computer would bring me joy.”

“When I made the lentil burgers I thought they would taste disgusting, but I tried them and they were SO good!” 

We love the wonderful feedback. Congratulations graduates!

Click here to learn more about UConn EFNEP

people in a zoom meeting

Local Food and Agriculture

Connecting Farmers and Consumers in the Northeast Corner

Local food and agriculture took a spotlight in 2020 as residents avoided grocery stores and sought out contactless and close to home food options during the unfolding of COVID-19. Coincidentally, just months earlier, UConn Extension launched a new federally funded project to increase direct-to-consumer sales for farm businesses in Northeast Connecticut.

woman reading sign at farmers marketWorking with farms across 23 towns in the region (see map), the project aims to increase direct-to-consumer farm sales by 15%, increase customers by 20%, and expand market opportunities for at least 70 producers over the course of three years. A 12-member Farmer Advisory Board is guiding project activities, which include new marketing tools, trainings, and branding.

The project tracks farmers markets, farm stands, and CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture) to see if there is an increase in customers and sales over time. “Everyone who lives in Northeastern Connecticut knows it is a beautiful place to live, but many miss out on supporting local farm businesses because they lack information about what farms offer and where to purchase their products,” explained Jiff Martin, Extension Educator in Sustainable Food Systems.

As part of this work, UConn’s team is developing a brand to capture the unique identity that agriculture has in the region. With over 100 farms in the 23 towns, there are a wide variety of products consumers can purchase, and the region takes great pride in its agricultural landscapes. In June 2020, UConn Extension put together a guide that showcases this strong agricultural identity, while helping consumers see the variety of what farms offer and how accessible it is for them to purchase locally. This guide has seen a fall update in September and a winter iteration in December.

Printed versions of the summer guide were quickly snatched up by the community from farmers markets, local business, and community centers. The online magazine version has seen plenty of traffic as people looked to this resource on the go, or to plan out their purchasing of weekly groceries. A postcard mailing to thousands of households in the region and strategic social media marketing around #heartctgrown helped broadcast messaging about local farm offerings in the region.

In addition to consumer education and outreach, three marketing training sessions were held in late fall to help farmers acquire new skills to reach more customers and expand their product reach. The topics included online marketing, using point of sale to increase your market, and relational marketing for farm stands and farmers markets.

Looking ahead to programming for 2021 and 2022, plans are in the works to start promotions of the area’s CSAs, including a searchable online map and a postcard mailing to targeted households. The project will continue to offer marketing trainings for farm businesses, publish shopping guides, and distribute marketing materials. When the COVID-19 pandemic has subsided and public events are safe, the project will employ local food ambassadors to travel the region educating residents about the reasons to buy local food and where to find it.

Article by Rebecca Toms

N-Sink Online Tool

A New Way of Looking at Nitrogen Pollution

Extension educators from the Center for Land Use Education and Research (CLEAR) and their partners have developed an online tool that helps land owners and land use decision makers better understand the direct connection between their land and nitrogen (N) pollution in coastal waters.

The tool, called “N-Sink,” is the result of a multi-year collaboration of CLEAR with the University of Rhode Island Coastal Institute and the EPA Atlantic Coastal Environmental Sciences Division Laboratory in Narragansett, Rhode Island.

map with a lot of red areas on it where there is nitrogen pollution
The particle tracking tool (shown here is the lower Pawcatuck River) allows users to click on a point within a watershed and, within seconds, generate its flow path to the coast and get an estimate of how much N (relatively speaking) will be delivered.

Nitrogen (N) pollution is a big threat to water quality, especially in coastal areas like Long Island Sound. Excess nutrients like N can fuel algal blooms that rob the waters of oxygen, directly harm marine life, and damage habitat. As a result, much attention has been paid to N pollution by the scientific community, including the development of many models designed to explore the transport and fate of N in our coastal watersheds. Most of these models focus on N “loadings,” i.e., estimating the amount of N being put into the system from sources like agricultural and lawn practices, septic systems, and atmospheric deposition from acid rain. Thus the focus is on what the total load of N is to the receiving water body, and what the impacts to that water body might be.

N-Sink uses a different approach that shifts the focus to the land within the watershed, rather than the receiving waters. The end result is a series of maps that help to provide specific geographic focus on which areas in the watershed are at the most risk for sending N to the coast (see maps, right). To do this, N-Sink uses particle tracking technology in concert with stream network data that includes information on nitrogen “sinks”—areas in the landscape that help to remove N from the system, like wetlands, riparian areas, lakes, and ponds. Depending on the sinks that it encounters along its journey to the coast, a unit of N could have very different fates, and thus very different impacts on water quality. For instance, a pound of N in one area of the watershed could be transported almost entirely to the coast, while another pound of N, applied just a short distance away, could take a different pathway through the stream network that results in the removal of a significant amount of N via sinks.

“One contribution of N-Sink is that it focuses on critical sink areas like wetlands and riparian corridors, which will hopefully lead to intensified efforts to protect or even restore these areas,”

says Extension Educator Chet Arnold. “Also, since the geographic specificity of N-Sink ties any location in the watershed to its likelihood of contributing N pollution, we think it can be useful both for land use planners when determining future uses, and land owners when discussing management practices on land already in use.”

The CLEAR team has created a state-of-the-art interactive N-Sink application where you can explore the maps for the entire Long Island Sound coast of Connecticut.

Article by Chet Arnold

Virtual Meat & Poultry HACCP Course – June 2021

 

Date/Time of Event:  June 22, 23, and 24, 2021 

Tuesday, June 22 (8.30 am-4.30 pm) 

Wednesday, June 23 (8:30 am -4.30 pm) 

Thursday, June 24 (8:30 am-2.00 pm) 

Instructors 

  • Indu Upadhyaya, Ph.D., Food Safety Specialist, UConn Cooperative Extension 
  • Diane Hirsch, MPH, Food Safety Specialist, UConn 
  • Lori Pivarnik, Ph.D., Food Safety Specialist, University of Rhode Island 
  • Jason Bolton, Ph.D., Food Safety Specialist, UMaine Cooperative Extension 
  • Robson Machado, Ph.D., Food Safety Specialist, UMaine Cooperative Extension 

 Summary

This virtual, three-day International HACCP Alliance approved Meat and Poultry HACCP course will be on a zoom platform, it will provide participants with the information they need to prepare a HACCP food safety program and also plan for a plant under USDA/FSIS Grant of Inspection. 

 If you work in a slaughter-only facility, email indu.upadhyaya@uconn.edu before registering. 

During this course, we will not prepare an HACCP plan for your specific operation but provide resources and guidelines for you to successfully prepare a HACCP plan. This course meets requirements for the training of personnel responsible for HACCP plan development and implementation, including plan validation and verification activities. 

IMPORTANT NOTICE:    

You MUST be present for the entirety of the course if you wish to receive the HACCP certificate. Please make sure you have a computer/laptop (no phones or tablets allowed) with built-in video or external webcam and microphone with sufficient internet connectivity for the entire duration of the course. There will be 10-minute breaks and Lunch break each day of the course. The agenda is tentative and subject to change.     

  • No more than 3 people from the same company should register for the course.    
  • Please become familiar with Google Docs, if you are not already.  
  • If you are joining in the same physical room as someone else, you must utilize headphones to minimize background noise and feedback.  

Registration Types and Their Associated Fees: 

Course registration fee (includes all course materials):  $425  

You must pre-register. Space is limited. Registration materials must be received by May 31st, 11.59 PM. 

Click Here to Register

Find more information here.

Educator Spotlight: Indu Upadhyaya

Supporting Farmers, Businesses, Students and Communities

Indu
Photo: Kevin Noonan

With positive vision and great ambition, Indu Upadhyaya joined UConn’s College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources in June 2019 as an Assistant Extension Food Safety Educator. Indu obtained her Bachelor of Veterinary Science and Animal Husbandry (equivalent to DVM) and a Master’s degree in Veterinary Biochemistry from Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Veterinary Education and Research in Pondicherry, India.

After working as a practicing veterinarian in India for a year, she joined UConn to pursue her PhD from the Department of Animal Science focusing on poultry microbiology and safety.

After completing her PhD, Indu moved to the University of Arkansas Center of Excellence for Poultry Science, Fayetteville, Arkansas as a postdoctoral associate, working in collaboration with the USDA-ARS Poultry Production and Product Safety Research Unit.

Before returning to UConn as a faculty member, Indu worked as an Assistant Professor in the School of Agriculture at Tennessee Tech University for one year, where she led a collaborative research program in poultry and fresh produce safety. She also taught two upper-level undergraduate courses in poultry science and facilitated several outreach activities and recruitment drives in Tennessee.

“As I approach completion of two years in my current role, I feel respected and valued in my department and in the college community.” Indu says. “The majority of my work so far has focused on training Connecticut’s growers and producers to comply with the Produce Safety Rule (PSR), a part of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) that went into effect in 2016. I am also leading outreach efforts in several USDA, NE-SARE and CPS grants and look forward to contributing to them.”

Indu has conducted other trainings including Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP) training for meat and poultry producers. These provide the framework for monitoring the total food system, from harvesting to consumption, to reduce the risk of foodborne illness.

Indu is working alongside extension educators in the Northeast to conduct successful trainings for producers and growers. Working closely with Diane Hirsch, an Emeritus Extension Educator for Food Safety, has made for a smooth transition. With 2020 throwing curveballs for many of us, it did not dampen UConn Extension training programs including Food Safety.

“We have successfully completed multiple farmer trainings using remote learning,” Indu says. “This includes the Produce Safety Alliance Grower training (three courses with 52 trainees) and a, three-day, Meat and Poultry HACCP training (17 participants). I have also continued farm visits during the pandemic following CDC guidelines. Various online platforms have helped me to serve the Connecticut community by remote consultation on various food safety and handling practices.”

Indu has been awarded a Hatch-Multistate Hatch grant as lead PI for mitigating the food safety risks associated with fresh produce production and is a co-PI on several USDA-NIFA, and Northeast Sustainable Agriculture and Research Education grants.

However, the biggest highlight for her in collaboration with UConn CAHNR colleagues, is a $10 million federal grant to improve sustainable poultry production globally. The USDA-NIFA funded project is developing an integrated and sustainable program for enhancing the viability of antibiotic-restricted broiler production in the poultry industry. The project launched in September of 2020 and focuses on a systems approach integrating bird health, human health, and environmental remediations to improve the sustainability of antibiotic restricted poultry production.

As a critical element in this grant, Indu is focusing on poultry outreach for both consumers and stakeholders to educate them on interventions and sustainable methods of production. She will conduct workshops, train-the-trainer programs and on-farm demonstrations to disseminate the results of the research objectives, so the stakeholders can implement more sustainable production practices.

“While our communities face ever evolving and serious challenges due to the ongoing pandemic, associated financial difficulties and health risks, I will continue to support farmers, small business owners, students and other members of the community through research, trainings and consultation in the state, region and nationally.”

Article by MacKenzie White

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!”

ACE C & A Awards – UConn 2021

We would like to congratulate all of the UConn Extension team members who received awards from the Association for Communication Excellence (ACE)! Thank you for your hard work and continued efforts.

All award recipients will be recognized at the ACE virtual conference in June.

 

Rising Star Award

  • Recipient: Stacey Stearns

C & A Awards

  • Gold – Ask UConn Extension – Marketing Campaign – Budget Under $1000

                       Team: Stacey Stearns, Kara Bonsack, Ivette Lopez, Zachary Duda

 

  • Silver – What is UConn Extension Video – Electronic Media, Video 5 – Educational Video

                          Team: Stacey Stearns, Mike Zaritheny, Meredith Zaritheny, Zachary Duda

 

  • Silver – On the Trail and Walk With Me Podcast – Electronic Media, Audio 2 – Podcasts
                    Neva Taylor

 

  • Silver – Annual Extension Impact Sheet – Publishing 5 – Promotional Publications

                         Team: Stacey Stearns, Kara Bonsack, Ivette Lopez

 

  • Silver – Fall-Winter 2020-21 Issue of Wrack Lines (CT Sea Grant) – Diversity

                          Judy Benson

 

  • Bronze – On the Trail and Walk With Me Podcast – Diversity 5 – Electronic Media

                             Neva Taylor

 

  • Bronze – Spring-Summer 2020 Issue of Wrack Lines (CT Sea Grant) – Writing
                      Judy Benson

 

CT trail census logoSea Grant logoExtension word mark

NOAA Live! Webinar: Kelp Farming in Coastal Waters with Anoushka Concepcion and Holly Turner-Moore

Anoushka Concepcion, one of our Extension educators with Connecticut Sea Grant, and Holly Turner-Moore, from the Bridgeport Aquaculture High School, introduce students to Kelp Farming during their presentation in the NOAA Live! Webinar Series.