Community

‘Completely Connecticut Agriculture’ Explores the Creativity and Resilience of Connecticut Farmers

Alyson Schnedier, Jon Russo and Zach Duda with words Completely Connecticut Agriculture over the photoIt’s easy to take our food supply for granted while strolling through the abundant aisles of a grocery store. We do not often consider how our food gets to the store or where it comes from. A group of students in UConn’s College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources (CAHNR) is bridging the communication gap between agriculture and consumers in a new documentary film, “Completely Connecticut Agriculture.”

Zachary Duda, Jonathan Russo, and Alyson Schneider are agricultural advocates and vocalize the importance of the industry while inspiring others to do the same. All three are CAHNR Agriculture and Natural Resources majors, graduating in May. The students met as high school agriscience students, and later served together as state officers in the Connecticut FFA Association. The idea for the documentary about Connecticut agriculture formed while they were state officers.

Read more or watch the documentary online.

Rachael Manzer Wins the Northeast Region 4-H Volunteer of the Year Award

Rachael ManzerRachael Manzer, a five-year volunteer with UConn’s Granby 4-H Club of Granby, a UConn 4-H Alum, and former NASA astronaut teacher, won the Northeast Region 4-H Volunteer of the Year after being selected by UConn. Hartford County 4-H Extension Educator, Jen Cushman notes, “Rachael’s dedication to making a positive difference in the lives of 4-H youth has greatly expanded the STEM opportunities for 4-H Members and promoted UConn 4-H to new audiences.” Rachael Manzer exemplifies science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) in 4-H. She understands the importance and need for STEM and Agricultural Literacy, and she has increased opportunities for STEM learning by establishing the only 4-H VEX Robotics Program in New England. Rachael’s efforts have not only expanded 4-H programming throughout New England (CT and MA) members participate, but also increased the visibility of UConn 4-H on the national level as the team participated at the World Competition and the NASA Cubes in Space Competition.

This robotics program has its own “Cinderella” story – big dreams and the amazing efforts of many to make it a success. In 2015, she started 4-H Robotics with participants who had no idea how to build and program robots. After only one year, the VEX Robotics Project group expanded to include a competition team and a high school VEX Robotics Project group. The team qualified for the World VEX competitions three times! All of the teams have qualified this year for the Southern New England Championship and are hoping to yet again earn a spot at the World Championship.

Mrs. Manzer creates opportunities for 4-H’ers to go beyond the robotic competitions to share what 4-H STEM is all about. This program has done workshops for preservice teachers, led build your own robots at local libraries, and done demonstrations for the general public at the 5th largest fair in the United States.

Her enthusiasm for STEM is infectious and every 4-H’er feels important. Rachael dedicates a large amount of time to 4-H throughout the year teaching 4-H’ers how to think, not what to think, and that you learn by failure. She focuses on workforce readiness skills in communication, listening, time management, critical thinking, problem-solving, and teamwork. Rachael regularly works with the youth on public speaking, marketing, and financial operations in order to prepare the members for the various roles they encounter as a team member. They work closely with the youth in planning and implementing the building of the robot, public speaking presentations, fundraising and various community service demonstrations with the robot. The 4-H youth in her project group shared, “Mrs. Manzer is extremely dedicated to the robotics team and its members. She is constantly cheering for us, both inside of the robotics environment and out. Her encouragement has impacted us greatly.” She is growing future leaders in 4-H, STEM, and Agriculture.

Rachael Manzer’s innovation shined as she was able to keep the 4-H robotics program going during COVID-19 following safety protocols. For many of the 4-H’ers, 4-H Robotics was the only interaction with others they had outside the home.

Rachael also led an additional project group for youth who were interested in developing a science experiment to send into space. Three projects were submitted by Granby 4-H and all were selected to fly into space, in June 2018. These projects provided youth with the opportunity to work as a team, design experiments, apply scientific knowledge, and deliver a public presentation at NASA. Rachael’s impact on programming and youth is literally out of this world!

Rachael Manzer, a 4-H alumna of the Litchfield County 4-H Club, grew up showing beef cattle. 4-H gave so much to her, her goal was to give back to the organization. As Mrs. Manzer stated, “4-H helped me develop a set of skills like; teamwork, problem solving, public speaking, dependability, leadership which I use every day in my career.” Rachael Manzer is a nationally awarded educator. Currently she is the STEM Coach for Winchester Public Schools. Mrs. Manzer has experience as an educator working in both suburban and urban schools in Connecticut. She also worked in the education department at NASA Langley Research Center in Virginia. In that role, she worked with scientists, astronauts and engineers delivering the latest breakthroughs in STEM to teachers and students across the United States.

Rachael competed against nominees from the other northeast states for the Northeast Volunteer of the Year Award. She is moving forward for consideration as the National Volunteer of the Year Award.

UConn 4-H is the youth development program of UConn CAHNR Extension. 4-H is a community of over six million young people across America who are learning Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM), leadership, civic engagement, 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 about becoming a volunteer or enrolling your child in the UConn 4-H program at http://4-H.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.

CLEAR Webinars In April

aerial view of Connecticut River and agricultural fieldsWEDNESDAY, April 21, 2021 1:00 PM – 1:30 PM
Chet Arnold, UConn Dept. of Extension & CLEAR
Qian Lei-Parent, UConn Dept of Extension & CLEAR
Land use planners, property owners, and watershed managers need all the help that they can get to reduce the impacts of nitrogen (N) pollution on waterways, particularly in coastal areas. CLEAR, URI and EPA have developed an online tool, N-Sink, that provides some of this help. N-Sink identifies areas within a watershed that are likely to contribute N to coastal waters, and other areas that are likely to remove N from the system before it gets to the coast. The tool now covers all of the coastal watersheds of Connecticut and Rhode Island. This 30-minute webinar will describe the workings behind the tool, demonstrate the new N-Sink web app, and initiate a discussion on ways that the information might be used.
city street in Connecticut
Photo: CEDAS

WEDNESDAY, April 28, 2021 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM

Laura Brown, Community & Economic Development Educator, UConn Extension
Sadie Colcord, Associate Director of Partnerships, AdvanceCT
Kristen Gorski, Economic Development Coordinator, Town of West Hartford, and President, CT Economic Development Association (CEDAS)
Many communities struggle to find a comfortable balance between the desires of the business community, the desires of residents, and the requirements of existing zoning regulations and regulatory processes. In this session, the presenters will offer suggestions for finding this balance by exploring topics including: the role of economic development in the local land-use regulatory process; what companies are really looking for in a community; ensuring your community is ready for a desired development project; why and how to say no to a development proposal; and how to strike the right balance between zoning enforcement (which sometimes means saying no to business) while simultaneously encouraging the right kind of projects for your community. Attendees will learn about the Best Practices in Land Use and Economic Development Program, created by the Connecticut Economic Development Association and the Connecticut Chapter of the American Planning Association, and how to utilize the program as a tool for balancing economic development and planning.

Job Opening: Evaluation Specialist/Academic Assistant II

venn diagram of Extension programs with food, health and sustainabilityPosition Location: Storrs, CT

Position Description: Reporting to the CAHNR Associate Dean for Extension, the Evaluation Specialist works with an interdisciplinary team of faculty and staff in UConn’s College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources (CAHNR). The Evaluation Specialist provides leadership to build Cooperative Extension’s capacity to assess the effectiveness and efficiency of Extension’s instructional programs in achieving desired results and to contribute to individual, community and organizational learning and performance improvement. Capacity building includes initiatives such as conducting evaluation studies, facilitating professional development opportunities, supporting program accountability and reporting functions.

Duties and Responsibilities:
• Conduct program evaluations for multiple purposes, i.e. reporting requirements for granting agencies, and audiences on an ongoing basis.
• Provide leadership for Cooperative Extension’s internal efforts to build individual, team, and organizational evaluation capacity to improve program effectiveness through professional development including technical assistance, training, resource development and dissemination.
• Lead CAHNR initiatives specific to evaluation to programs.
• Collaborate and provide technical support to Extension faculty and staff delivering programming to local and statewide communities, groups, agencies, organizations and individuals.
• Independently travel to and carry out field work throughout the geographic region including urban, rural and remote locations and work and/or programming sites.
• Provide leadership for annual planning and reporting of Extension programs to federal funding partners.
• Advance CAHNR’s commitment to equity and inclusion by 1) considering sources of bias and structural inequity based on race, ethnicity, disability, gender, and sexual orientation, and 2) facilitating and evaluating programs that address the burden these injustices impose on members of the campus community and residents of the state where appropriate.
• Write, publish and share articles, curricula and program designs that contribute to understanding and support the scholarly practices of evaluation.
• Cooperate with other research and Extension personnel to develop strong, integrated programs.
• Collaborate on and submit grant proposals for initiatives consistent with and in support of the purpose of this position.
• Provide relevant information to public officials, legislators, the general public, and other interested parties to communicate Extension’s value.
• Develop and use an appropriate system for reporting and evaluating programs to UConn Extension and to clients, colleagues and other Extension collaborators as needed.
• Research, gather and compile information from multiple sources utilizing various systems and techniques to conduct qualitative and quantitative data analyses and reporting.
• Attend and participate in state and national program activities as appropriate, meetings, committees and local, state and national conferences; represent and serve as a representative of the Department of Extension.

Read more information, including application instructions – search 495055.

All Paws In – Join Us for UConn Gives

UConn Gives All Paws In logo

In a time of extraordinary circumstances, UConn has adapted by seeking new opportunities and new ways to keep UConn Nation connected in a socially distant world. Through all the change and uncertainty, there has been one constant—our commitment to providing an exceptional education to our program participants. During this year’s UConn Gives, a 36-hour giving initiative, you can celebrate this commitment to excellence through giving. We invite you to join us on Tuesday, March 23rd and Wednesday, March 24th in supporting one or more of our initiatives:

Extension programs cover the full spectrum of topics aligned with CAHNR’s strategic initiatives:

  • Ensuring a vibrant and sustainable agricultural industry and food supply
  • Enhancing health and well-being locally, nationally, and globally
  • Advancing adaptation and resilience in a changing climate
  • Designing sustainable landscapes across urban-rural interfaces

Our educators faced the unprecedented challenges of 2020 and pivoted programs to offer life transformative education despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Programs delivered by Extension reach individuals, communities, and businesses in each of the 169 municipalities across the state.

4-H Members Share Project at National Agriscience Summit

UConn 4-H Litchfield County was one of seven 4-H groups in the country to be selected to create and submit a five to seven minute video to be made available to participants at the 2021 National 4-H Agriscience Summit held earlier this month. The video highlights the county’s Community Action Plan entitled Operation Community Impact, which helped address food insecurity in the county by securing donations of milk that were distributed to local food pantries and over 1,400 different food insecure families through 14 different deliveries over the past 10 months. Thank you to all our 4-H members, volunteers, Extension educators, and others for moving this to a statewide initiative.

Job Opening: Urban Agriculture Assistant/Associate Extension Educator

farmers market
Urban agriculture students at the Danbury Farmers Market.

Job Opening: Urban Agriculture Assistant/Associate Extension Educator

 
The Department of 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. Anticipated start date is July 2021.
 

Undergraduate Summer Internships with UConn Extension

photos of three of the summer interns

Applications are being accepted for UConn Extension’s undergraduate summer internship program.

Students: Get paid and gain valuable in-the-field experience in your chosen discipline at an in-state Extension office location.

• Food • Health • Nutrition • Sustainability • Research • Agribusiness • Youth Education • Community Development • Marketing

Learn where Extension offices are located across the state here so you can apply to an internship.pdf that is close to where you will be living this summer.

Get paid while learning and working in a career-oriented role. Most of these roles are for an average 18-20 hours per week over the 10 week summer period with some requiring a bit of weekend and/or evening hours, although these circumstances vary by position. Some of these positions for employment are contingent upon the successful completion of a pre-employment criminal background check.

UConn Extension is the premiere public engagement program at the University of Connecticut. Extension has eight offices in strategic locations statewide as well as the Sea Grant office at the Avery Point campus and the administrative office on the Storrs campus. Extension programs cover the full spectrum of topics related to food, health and sustainability. Programs delivered by Extension reach individuals, communities, and businesses in each of the 169 municipalities across the state. Extension has approximately 100 faculty and staff in the Department of Extension with another 20 faculty and staff with partial Extension appointments in the academic departments of the UConn College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources.

Applications are due April 5th, 2021

Learn more at http://s.uconn.edu/interns

Extension Impacts – 2020

cover of 2020 Extension impact flyerExtension is a part of UConn’s College of Agriculture, Health, and Natural Resources (CAHNR). We have over 100 years of experience strengthening communities in Connecticut and beyond. Extension programs cover the full spectrum of topics aligned with CAHNR’s strategic initiatives:

  • Ensuring a vibrant and sustainable agricultural industry and food supply
  • Enhancing health and well-being locally, nationally, and globally
  • Advancing adaptation and resilience in a changing climate
  • Designing sustainable landscapes across urban-rural interfaces

Rising to the Challenge

Our educators faced the unprecedented challenges of 2020 and pivoted programs to offer life transformative education despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Programming moved to virtual environments through online certificate programs, virtual field days, podcasts, WebEx meetings, and YouTube videos. Our educators created and released 318 new videos on YouTube in 2020. These videos reached 305,200 people and had 39,501 viewers that watched 1,200 hours of Extension instruction.

Programs delivered by Extension reach individuals, communities, and businesses in each of the 169 municipalities across the state (see map on last page). The By the Numbers 2020 highlights some of our key impacts from these initiatives.

FoodCorps Service Member Positions

As a FoodCorps service member you will teach students in the classroom and garden, but you will also learn skills that will help you grow professionally and personally. Apply to serve at www.foodcorps.org/apply
What is FoodCorps?
What will you do as a service member?
Click here to learn more.
Click here to view position descriptions.