Agriculture and Food

Ensuring a vibrant and sustainable agricultural industry and food supply

Winter 2024 Ornamental and Turf Short Course

Registration now open! 

Winter 2024 Ornamental and Turf Short Course

Wednesdays 5:30-7 pm, from January 10 – March 13, 2024 

Register Here

More information at

Ornamental and Turf Online Short Course Description 

UConn Extension offers an online Ornamental & Turf Short Course in the fall and winter, which helps students prepare for the pesticide applicator supervisory exam. 

This Short Course is an in-depth review of the information necessary to study for and pass the Ornamental and Turf/Golf Course Superintendents State of Connecticut Supervisory Pesticide Applicator Certification (category 3A) exam. A student that completes all the modules, works through the quizzes, and studies the resource materials independently should be able to pass both the written and oral state exam successfully. 

This short course consists of eight modules that the student can complete independently: Pesticide Laws and Regulations, Pesticide Safety, Botany, Plant Pathology and Ornamental Plant Diseases, Entomology and Insect Pests of Woody Ornamentals, Area and Dosage Calculations, Turf Management, and Weed Management. Each module consists of learning objectives, topic sections, and slides with a recorded narrative, and closes with a quiz on the material. The modules can be completed and revisited at any time while the student is enrolled in the course. 

An instructor will meet virtually with the students weekly on Wednesdays at 5:30-7 pm to review each module topic and answer questions. Each weekly class includes a basic overview of the subject and highlights specific pests, their biology, and control. There will be a total of 10 sessions, including 8 sessions for modules, one introductory session, and one optional wrap up session for questions. 

Expect to spend study time reviewing each module topic outside of the review class. The more time you spend studying the module topics and reviewing each module’s post-quiz, the more beneficial the course will be for preparing for the final short course exam and the state exam. 

Registration is $375 and is available online with a credit card at: 

UConn Extension Marketplace 

Please register as a guest and select NONE for shipping. 

Questions? Please contact Alyssa Siegel-Miles, 



The Pesticide Applicator Core Manual, the required training manual for the course, can be downloaded free at National Association of State Departments of Agriculture Core Manual.


You can also buy a physical copy of this manual from UConn Marketplace:  

Core Manual (pickup in Vernon CT option) or  

Core Manual (shipping option)


An optional manual, “Ornamental and Turf, Category 3 Manual” ($43.00 plus shipping and handling), is also available from Cornell at: 

Check for used copies of these books with your colleagues or online. 

Information regarding testing and other information can be found on the CT DEEP website links: 


Information for Supervisory Certification is at: 


Questions? Please contact Alyssa Siegel-Miles,

2024 CT Vegetable and Small Fruit Growers’ Conference

UConn Extension Vegetable & Small Fruit Growers’ Conference

 January 9, 2024

UConn Student Union, Rooms 330 & 304

For full agenda and more information visit:
Early Registration $40.00, ends Wednesday December 20, 2023 at noon

$60.00 after December 20, 2023

Matriculated Students: $30.00 with valid school ID

Online registration will be open until January 3, 2024 at noon

Trade Show held throughout the conference, Pesticide recertification credits: 4 CEU to be confirmed. 

Lunch & Parking is included in conference registration. Prior to the day of the conference, you will be sent an event parking link to register for validated parking

You must be registered prior to January 3, 2024 in order to receive free parking

Register online at:

To pay by check visit: or email

Trade Show Registration: $180.00 (includes one person’s registration)


Trade show set up is from 7:00-7:45 am, breaks for trade show are from 8:00-8:55 am,

10:00-10:45am and 12:00-1:00pm, clean up is after 2:00 pm.

Trade Show Registration closes December 22, 2023 at 11:59 PM

Conference Sponsor Information 

Sponsor Registration:

Silver Sponsor: $100.00 Includes advertisement

Gold Sponsor: $250.00 Includes 1 regular registration & larger advertisement

Platinum Sponsor: $500.00 Includes 1 trade show registration, 1 regular registration (2 people total) & larger advertisement

Advertisement includes: business logo highlighted in the conference program and business information advertised periodically throughout the conference and at the tradeshow. Sponsor Registration closes December 22, 2023 at 11:59 PM

Any business, farm, organization or individual can be a conference sponsor. You do not need to attend the conference to be a sponsor.

If you have any questions please email or call 860-875-3331


Build Scientific Understanding of Genetic Engineering with High School Students

three people in a lab with equipmentUConn Extension has made available a standards-based curriculum aimed at addressing the misunderstandings about genetically modified foods.  This curriculum, aimed toward science and agriscience educators, provides information about the applications of genetic engineering in agriculture and other fields.  Both a formal and non-formal curriculum are available.  The non-formal curriculum is a great tool that could be used in 4-H programming or other non-formal settings. Both the curriculum and workshop are free.  The curriculum can be found at

If you’d like a deeper dive with some hands-on lab time, a one-day professional development workshop will be held Monday, December 11th, 2023 at the UConn Storrs Campus from 9 AM – 3 PM.

Participants of the workshop will gain enhanced genetic engineering knowledge and lab skills, a demonstration kit & materials, and the curriculum, which provides students with a fundamental understanding of how genetically modified organisms are formed and how they can be safely utilized.

Workshop participants must be certified science or agriscience educators with three years or more of teaching experience preferred.  They should also be teaching one or more courses in the upcoming school year that include genetic engineering.

Interested parties in the workshop should visit to apply.  Space is limited. Registration will close on December 1st.

Questions can be directed to Jennifer Cushman, 4-H Extension Educator –

Participants are expected to be in attendance in person during the duration of the workshop and agree to implement one or more lessons from the curriculum during the 2023-2024 school year.

Interview with Anoushka Concepcion: Barriers to Seaweed Expansion

Anoushka Concepcion was interviewed by Chaya Gaberria on April 26, 2023. Interview edited by Carla Schubiger.

I would encourage everyone, specifically women and POC, to establish support systems early in their careers.” – Anoushka


Anoushka holding a long piece of seaweed on a boatPlease introduce yourself (briefly; name, position, what are you working on)?

My name is Anoushka Concepcion, and I am an Associate Extension Educator in Marine Aquaculture with Connecticut Sea Grant and UConn’s Cooperative Extension. I am working with various aquaculture industry sectors to address barriers preventing the expansion of the domestic seaweed aquaculture industry in Connecticut and beyond.

1. How did you get your first job in the field of aquaculture? And what was the position?

My first job in aquaculture was working for Shrimp Improvement Systems in the Florida Keys. I met a recruiter at one of the Aquaculture America meetings as an undergraduate. My main job was cultivating microalgae (diatoms) for the larval shrimp. During the off-season, I worked in the other departments, including maturation, larval culture, and brood stock husbandry. It was a great way to learn all the components of a nursery operation.

2. What advice would you give someone starting in the field of aquaculture (maybe a student)?

Learn as much as you can about the different types of aquaculture and jobs associated with supporting the industry, such as roles in regulatory, engineering, seafood supply, and markets. It is important to have a good understanding of what goes into making aquaculture commercially viable. Apply for various internships and attend conferences and other events. Most importantly, talk to different folks and those that support the industry. Ask them what their challenges are. You will learn a lot more about how the industry works.

3. What advice would you give your younger self?

Broaden the scope and types of folks you work with, don’t limit yourself to a specific discipline or industry, and apply all the knowledge you have learned throughout college. For example, I couldn’t find a job in aquaculture after graduate school, however, I utilized my knowledge in biology and chemistry to find a job in the pharmaceutical industry. As a result, I was able to pay my bills and save money, while I looked for a job in aquaculture.

4. What is something that most people don’t know about the aquaculture industry or your role in the industry?

What most people don’t know is how regulated the aquaculture industry is. From permitting to food safety, there are a lot of moving parts (and people) to get the product from the farm to the plate. I have a better understanding of how important regulatory roles are in making the industry economically viable. From mitigating negative environmental impacts to ensuring seafood is produced safely, regulators have a big role in sustaining the success of the industry. It’s not always perfect, which is where someone like me can help to find ways for all the sectors to work together. In addition to doing applied research, I facilitate conversations between industry and regulators to find common goals and then work with them to implement plans to reach those goals.

5. If you could be any aqua species, what would you be and why?

I would be a black sea bass. They are very interactive, almost like puppies! For my Masters’ thesis, I evaluated varying levels of protein in feed on the growth of black sea bass juveniles. The fish would follow me around the tank, spitting water in my face, asking to be fed. They were very entertaining to work with.

Anoushka cutting rope on a boat in the Ocean

6. In your opinion, what is the most fascinating part of the aquaculture industry? Why?

I am always fascinated by the many types of organisms we grow. Our industry is very diverse and creates a space for many kinds of producers. We also value responsible production, which is so important when discussing aquaculture with general audiences.

7. What is a trend that you have seen come and go? Or where do you envision the aquaculture industry in 10 years?

Aquaponics has been of great interest for many years; however, in CT we have seen many aquaponics efforts come and go due to the lack of funding to maintain the operations. Unfortunately, many of these operations were not independently viable and relied on subsidies, which was not sustainable.

8. Favorite seafood dish? Would you like to share your favorite recipe?

I love eating raw oysters on the half-shell. Nothing fancy, just fresh out of the water.

9. What is your favorite aqua and/or non-aqua past-time?

I enjoy exploring the outdoors with my children.

10. If applicable: Being a female/entrepreneur/POC in aquaculture what are the challenges/successes you like to share?

As an immigrant woman of color in the United States and aquaculture, I’ve had to navigate between cultural expectations and finding my own path. When I got started in aquaculture, no one looked like me, and I had a difficult time “fitting in”. Unlike my colleagues, I grew up in NYC and not in a coastal community, so I didn’t have the same experiences as they did. As a result, it was difficult relating to them. The academic field is very competitive, and as a result I have not been taken seriously. Others have tried to intimidate me. Despite these experiences, I am fortunate to have great personal and professional support systems, with mentors who consistently encourage, yet challenge me, to always perform to the best of my abilities. I would encourage everyone, specifically women and POC, to establish support systems early in their careers.

11. Anything people would be surprised to know about you?

I am obsessed with Star Trek and am currently geeking out to this season of Picard. I also love a great Drag Show – the talent is awe-inspiring, and the costumes and music are so joyful.

Solid Ground DIY series- Farming in Small Spaces

Hey Farmers!Solid Ground graphic
If you’re thinking about growing in a small footprint, or want to look at different ways folks are growing in their small space in CT, this is the video series for you!
We visited with farmers throughout the state that were growing on a quarter acre or less and took a look at some of the DIY projects they did in order to get the most out of their spaces.  Each farm has different approaches to their growing including hydroponics, growing in containers, in ground growing, raised beds, etc.  Take a look through and get some ideas for how you can utilize your small spaces without spending a lot of money.
To see all the videos in one place, including our other DIY videos, click the link here:
To view the videos on YouTube one by one, use the links below:
Jacqueline Kowalski, Assoc. Extension Educator for Urban Agriculture, UConn Extension:

8 Essential “Always” of Holiday Food Safety

Article by Indu Upadhyaya, Ph.D., Assistant Extension Educator, Food Safety

Holiday gatherings bring families and friends together, to spread more joy and happiness. While the merriment begins around Thanksgiving and continues until the New Years’, the food during holiday buffets, the party trays, the turkey, and other delicacies remain the main attraction of gathering. But be aware that a well-meaning and much anticipated get together can easily turn sour if the food is not safely prepared, served, or stored. Food safety should be diligently taken care of, especially during holidays, as in the delight of the season, negligence could cause serious health consequences.

dinner table set for a holiday meal with candles in the middle
(Sean Flynn/UConn Photo)

Most people who get sick from eating contaminated food, might have mild illness and recover early, however susceptible populations can see lasting effects or even death. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that each year roughly one in six Americans get sick from contaminated food. Approximately 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die due to foodborne diseases across the country. These data are out of reported cases, thereby not including cases of undocumented, non-reported stomach indigestions and/or mild diarrhea or vomiting. The real number of patients getting sick from foodborne illnesses is still an unknown and hard to predict.

What you can do this season is control food contamination in your own home and community. Start with these simple steps aligning with USDA holiday food safety guidelines.

Here are the eight “always” of food safety to help everyone stay healthy during the holiday season:

1. Always wash your hands.

It’s a simple rule to follow, yet many easily forget in the midst of festivities. Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Wash hands:

  • Before you start preparing food,
  • After using the bathroom,
  • Before serving food and eating,
  • After you handle raw meat, poultry, fish, seafood, and eggs.

    2. Always clean and sanitize

    Clean and sanitize any surfaces that have touched raw turkey, meat or fish and their juices and will later touch food such as kitchen counters, sinks, stoves, tabletops, etc.

    • Cleaning: with soap and hot water, and a paper or dish towel. Use these to remove any dirt and debris you can see.
    • Sanitizing: sanitize the surfaces to kill any remaining germs. Different food grade sanitizers or sanitizing wipes can be used. Allow to air dry and follow the label instructions on commercial sanitizers to determine whether you need to rinse food preparation areas after use.

    Food borne bacteria like Campylobacter and Salmonella, found in poultry products, can survive on countertops and other kitchen surfaces from four to up to 32 hours, so make sure you repeat this step after handling raw meats or turkey.

    Don’t forget to clean and sanitize any areas that will encounter the turkey before and after cooking.

    3. Always thaw the frozen meat/turkey safely.

    Always follow USDA recommended thawing. There are three ways to safely thaw a turkey: in the refrigerator, in cold water and in the microwave.

    • Refrigerator thaw: Turkey can be safely thawed in a refrigerator. Allow roughly 24 hours for every four to five pounds of turkey. After thawing, a turkey is safe in a refrigerator for one to two days, before cooking.
    • Cold water thaw: The cold-water thawing method will thaw your turkey faster but needs to be done very carefully. When thawing in a cold-water bath, allow 30 minutes per pound and submerge the turkey in its original wrapping to avoid cross-contamination. Change the water every 30 minutes until the turkey is thawed. Cook immediately after thawing.
    • Microwave thaw: Smaller sized turkeys that fit in the microwave can be thawed using this method. Make sure to follow manufacturer’s recommendations. Cook it immediately after thawing because some areas of the food may become warm and begin to cook during the thawing process, bringing the food to the “Danger Zone” (between 40-140°F).

    It’s safe to cook a completely frozen turkey; however, it will take at least 50 percent longer to fully cook. Remember to never thaw your turkey in hot water or leave it on a countertop.

    4. Always separate food items to avoid cross contamination.

    Cross-contamination is the spread of bacteria from raw meat and poultry onto ready-to-eat food, surfaces, and utensils. To avoid this, always use separate cutting boards — one for raw meat and poultry, and another for fruits and vegetables. Keep raw meat, poultry, fish, and their juices away from other food. After cutting raw meats, wash the cutting board, knife, and counter tops with hot, soapy water.

    USDA recommends not to wash your raw poultry due to the risk of splashing bacteria throughout your kitchen. It can easily lead to aerosolizing bacteria and cross contamination.  As mentioned earlier, always clean and sanitize any surfaces that have touched raw turkey and its juices. That includes counters, sinks, stoves, tabletops, utensils, and plates. Sinks are the most contaminated areas of the kitchen, so keep them clean and don’t transfer any dirty items to clean spaces. It’s important to pay attention to your movements in the kitchen to avoid cross-contamination.

    5. Always cook thoroughly.

    Always follow a standard recipe to cook properly. Make sure your turkey is cooked to a safe final internal temperature of 165°F by using a reliable food thermometer. Check the thickest part of the breast, the innermost part of the wing, and the innermost part of the thigh. Cook your turkey at 325°F until its internal temperature reaches at least 165°F. Cooked, hot foods should be kept at 140°F or warmer.

    When cooking a stuffed turkey, pay attention that the turkey, as well as the stuffing inside of it, reaches at least 165°F. Even if the turkey itself reaches 165°F, the stuffing inside may take longer. Its best to prepare your stuffing and turkey just before cooking. Using a cold stuffing makes it more difficult to reach the safe temperature of 165°F. Stuff the turkey loosely and use ¾ of a cup of stuffing per pound of turkey. Use a moist stuffing rather than a dry stuffing because heat destroys bacteria better in a moist environment. To be on the safe side, cook stuffing separately.

    If cooking other meats, cook all raw beef, pork, lamb and veal steaks, chops, and roasts to a minimum internal temperature of 145°F as measured with a food thermometer before removing meat from the heat source. For safety and quality, allow meat to rest for at least three minutes before carving or consuming. If you prefer, you may choose to cook the meat to a higher temperature.

    For ground meats: Cook all raw ground beef, pork, lamb, and veal to an internal temperature of 160°F as measured with a food thermometer.

    For baked goods, avoid eating foods containing raw eggs or uncooked flour, such as cookie dough or cake batter. It’s tempting to sneak a taste during preparation, but pathogens like Salmonella present in these ingredients can lead to food poisoning if not cooked first.

    6. Always follow the two-hour rule.

    All perishable foods must be refrigerated within two hours of coming out of the stove or fridge, or one hour if the ambient air temperature is above 90°F. Never forget this two-hour rule put forth by USDA. After two hours, perishable food will enter the “Danger Zone” (between 40°F and 140°F), which is where bacteria can multiply quickly and cause the food to become unsafe. Discard all foods that have been left out for more than two hours.

    7. Always keep warm food warm and cold food cold.

    Remember the rule — keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold.

    • Always transport hot foods by wrapping the dishes in insulated containers to keep their temperature above 140°F.
    • Always transport cold foods in a cooler with ice or gel packs to keep them at or below 40°F.

    When serving food to groups, maintain the temperature by using chafing dishes or crock pots and ice trays. Hot items should remain above 140°F and cold items should remain below 40°F. Temperature abuse of food is one of the main reasons for people falling sick very often. Always follow proper guidelines.

    8. Always store leftovers appropriately.

    Everyone looks forward to Thanksgiving leftovers. But they must be stored and refrigerated promptly to be safe to eat. After the turkey is served, immediately slice, and refrigerate it on shallow platters. Store leftover food in shallow containers and refrigerate promptly. Use refrigerated turkey and stuffing within three to four days. Use gravy within one to two days. Thanksgiving leftovers are safe to eat up to four days in the refrigerator. In the freezer, leftovers are safely frozen indefinitely but will keep the best quality from two to six months.

    Always reheat all leftovers to 165°F, and check that temperature with a food thermometer. Cold foods should be kept at 41°F or less. And as they say, when in doubt, throw it out! Do not try to save potentially contaminated food.

    Lastly, don’t prepare foods if you are sick or showing symptoms of vomiting or diarrhea or if you recently had such symptoms. Many foodborne illnesses are transmitted unknowingly by human error, by a food preparer who had these symptoms. If you are ill, let someone else do the cooking so you can have a safe and enjoyable meal with your family and friends.

    References and additional resources:

    Online Course: Climate Smart Adaptation Strategies for CT Farmers

    Man and his tractor on the fieldClimate Smart Adaptation Strategies for CT Farmers

    Join UConn Extension Solid Ground program in a new course that will help you understand the best practices for your farm in a changing climate.  Course includes expert instructors in various fields implementing climate smart agriculture practices, tools under $2000 that are suggested for use, virtual field trips and more.

    Topics include: soil health, composting, using plastic and fabric mulches, managing water on the farm, biological pest control, etc.

    Running fully online and asynchronously, so learn at your own pace.

    The price of the course is $60– at course completion, participants will be refund $30 of the course fee.

    The course will run from 11/29/2023 to 2/28/2024

    The course is part of a suite that we are putting together, including a microgrant of up to $2400, but you are required to have had completed the course (and request funding for a project with climate smart initiatives), in order to apply for this grant.  Keep your eyes out for more information as this will open in December.
    To learn more about the course, and all the other offerings that come with this project, check out a brief 10 minute video that goes through all that we are providing for farmers here:

    Meet Mike Gilman

    Mike GilmanMike Gilman of Branford recently joined us as an Assistant Extension Educator with Connecticut Sea Grant, where he works with our aquaculture program. Mike received his bachelor of science from Albertus Magnus College and a master of science from Southern Connecticut State University.

    What is your area of interest?

    My main areas of interest are shellfish aquaculture, marine ecology, and education.  I got into shellfish aquaculture by co-starting an oyster farm with a family friend/commercial fisherman.

    What will your role be with UConn Extension?

    My main roles will include teaching a shellfish aquaculture training course called, Foundations of Shellfish Farming. I’m also the state shell recycling coordinator where my focus is being a resource and liaison for all interested parties and stakeholders in the shell recycling world.

    What excites you the most about working with UConn Extension?

    I am very excited about the opportunity to work with UConn Extension. I have spent most of my professional life in shellfish aquaculture and teaching and this seems like a great opportunity to take all of the things that I have learned and tie them together. Everyone at UConn Extension and Connecticut Sea Grant that I have worked with so far has been incredible to work alongside and learn from and I look forward to that continuing.

    What is one thing you hope people will learn from you and your work?

    One thing that I hope people will learn from my work is that farming an oyster or clam is equal parts difficult and rewarding. And to really appreciate all that has gone into that plate of shucked shellfish getting served at a restaurant or raw bar.

    What is your favorite thing to do in Connecticut?

    My favorite thing to do in Connecticut is hike and explore different state parks with my family and dog Redwood.

    What is the most unusual job you’ve had?

    Probably all of the little fine details of oyster farming. One day you’re removing hundreds of pounds of sea grapes or tunicates from oyster cages and the next you might be fighting with a blue crab or oyster toadfish that wants to call your oyster cages home.

    What are some of your hobbies and other interests?

    Being outdoors with family and friends and chasing my kids around to all of their different events.

    Meet Heather Zidack

    Heather ZidackHeather Zidack (‘11 CAHNR, ’12 Neag) joined the UConn Home and Garden Education Center as an educational program assistant in September. Heather works with faculty and staff at UConn to provide educational resources and answer home and gardening questions for residents statewide. She earned her bachelor of science in ornamental horticulture and her master of arts in curriculum and instruction. She worked in the horticulture industry and taught high school agriscience before returning to UConn.

    What is your area of interest?

    I absolutely love everything plant-related! I started with an interest very young when I would help my grandfather in his garden and never really stopped asking questions. I’ve been fortunate to work in the horticulture industry as well as in agriscience education and have always enjoyed being able to share my passion with others throughout my career.

    What excites you the most about working with UConn Extension?

    This job allows me to pull from many experiences and interests I’ve had over the course of my career. It allows me to share my passion with others while continuing to grow and learn about things that I enjoy!

    What is one thing you hope people will learn from you and your work?

    Working with plants and in the garden can be accessible and enjoyable for all. It’s a broad field and narrowing it down to find what you enjoy is half the journey!

    What is your favorite thing to do in Connecticut?

    I love to go to Mystic Aquarium and watch the beluga whales. I could watch them all day if you let me!

    What is the most unusual job you’ve had?

    I’ve had some interesting design requests; I once had to help design and build haunted scarecrows for the governor’s Halloween celebration. When I was teaching, I taught a wide array of both ag-related and core curriculum topics – no two days ever felt the same!

    What are some of your hobbies and other interests?

    I am a gardener and have a solid collection of house plants at home. I love science fiction and fantasy. I love to play games of almost any format including video games, board games, and tabletop games. I also believe that crafting and collecting craft supplies are two separate hobbies that need their own time and attention.

    I’m also a dog person! I have a 10-year-old terrier mix named Bow and I probably have more pictures of him than anything else on my phone.

    Climate Smart Adaptation Strategies for Beginner Famers

    Hey Farmers!

    Looking for a new suite of tools and resources for you to use on your farms to help you make good decisions about the climate needs you are undoubtedly facing. We want to tell you about them!

    So JOIN US for an introduction to UConn Extension’s newest project to support beginning farmers as they shift toward climate smart farming strategies. The project includes a new online course, one-on-one consultations, expert analysis of soil tests, plus a microgrant opportunity!

    Thursday, Nov. 9

    11:30 AM- 12:15


    people standing around a women teaching how to plant a plot