Community

Connecticut Residents Asked to Report Receipt of any Unsolicited Packages of Seeds

department of agriculture logo(HARTFORD, CT)- The Connecticut Department of Agriculture (CT DoAg) and The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station (CAES) have been notified that several Connecticut residents have received unsolicited packages containing seeds that appear to have originated from China. The types of seeds in the packages are unknown at this time and may be invasive plant species. The packages were sent by mail and may have Chinese writing on them. Unsolicited packages of seeds have been received by people in several other states across the United States over the last several days.

Please do not plant these seeds. CT DoAg and CAES encourage anyone who receives an unsolicited package of seeds from China to immediately contact their state plant regulatory officials, Dr. Kirby Stafford at 203-974-8485 (Kirby.Stafford@ct.gov) or Dr. Victoria Smith at 203-974-8474  (Victoria.Smith@ct.gov ). Please hold on to the seeds and packaging, including the mailing label, until someone contacts you with further instructions. 

Invasive species wreak havoc on the environment, displace or destroy native plants and insects and severely damage crops. Taking steps to prevent their introduction is the most effective method of reducing both the risk of invasive species infestations and the cost to control and mitigate those infestations.

https://portal.ct.gov/DOAG/Press-Room/Press-Releases/2020/Connecticut-Residents-Asked-to-Report-Receipt-of-any-Unsolicited-Packages-of-Seeds

COVID-19 & Social Capital Resources

man sitting at an Apple computerUpdated COVID-19 Resources from CDC:

CDC has a new Toolkit for Young Adults: 15 to 21 that includes easy to read FAQ’s, fact sheets, infographics, PSA’s, social media messages, and videos. The webpage contains a Coronavirus Self-Checker with questions to help individuals determine if they need to seek medical care. Compiled mental health resources are also published on the Support For Teens and Young Adults webpage to include COVID-19 prevention messages along with contact information for disaster, domestic violence, child abuse, and suicide prevention services. We have identified these resources to be particularly useful for youth.gov’s efforts in communicating with youth. In addition, on the Toolkit for K-12 Schools, programs can find updated social media messages, posters, and videos on how to properly wear face masks, appropriately practice social distancing, and safely manage youth sports.

Social Capital Resources from HHS/ASPE:

·         Virtual Training Series on the Value of Social Capital for Incarcerated/Reentering Populations: This training will offer concrete strategies for organizations working with incarcerated/reentering individuals to help them improve participant outcomes through building and leveraging the social capital of their participants. Webinar 3 will have a focus on youth mentoring and have speakers from OJJDP and Roca describing their work in this area.

·         Bi-weekly Tuesdays 2-3 p.m. EDT starting August 4, 2020, Register here: https://bit.ly/3e2C88M

·         Social Capital Considerations for the Incarcerated and Reentry Population: This issue brief summarizes six considerations for organizations working with incarcerated/reentering individuals who are interested in improving their participants’ outcomes through strengthening their individual social capital. The brief provides specific examples of how these action-oriented considerations are being implemented by four different organizations.

·         Networks that Work Podcast: This podcast features conversations with human services researchers and practitioners to better understand how to help program participants create and access social capital to improve their lives and outcomes.

Public meeting about CT estuarine reserve set for Aug. 4

The CT-NERR (National Estuarine Research Reserve) is currently in a designation process that involves developing an environmental impact statement (EIS) and a management plan (MP).  When completed (estimated to be spring 2021), these documents will be submitted to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for review and approval.

As part of the EIS requirements, Connecticut will be hosting a virtual scoping meeting for the public on Aug. 4 between 7 and 9 p.m.  The purpose is to provide the public with information on the proposed reserve and to seek input on issues that the EIS should consider.   Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), together with steering team partners from University of Connecticut and NOAA, have worked hard to plan the meeting in such a way that it will be open and easy to access while still maintaining NOAA’s federal requirements for public comment meetings.

Members of the public and organizations are encouraged to attend this important meeting, which will be managed using the Webex virtual meeting application.

The meeting access details are as follows:

Public Scoping Meeting on Environmental Impact Statement for the CT National Estuarine Research Reserve:

Tuesday, Aug. 4, 7 to 9  p.m.

To join by computer:

https://uconn-cmr.webex.com/uconn-cmr/onstage/g.php?t=a&d=1200263550

To join by phone:

US Toll: +1-415-655-0002

Access code: 120 026 3550

To learn more about the CT NERR, visit: https://seagrant.uconn.edu/?p=6295

Original Post By Connecticut Sea Grant: https://seagrant.uconn.edu/2020/07/21/public-meeting-about-ct-estuarine-reserve-set-for-aug-4/

Meet Autumn Blasi: UConn EFNEP Intern

Autumn BlasiHi! My name is Autumn Blasi, and I’m one of the summer interns with UConn CAHNR Extension. I’m currently working in clinical and community nutrition with organizations like the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP), and the Human Resource Agencies (HRA) of Bristol and New Britain. At UConn, I major in Nutritional Sciences, with a concentration in the Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD), and have a minor in Food Science. Also at UConn, I’ve been involved with various volunteer programs. I have been a member of both the Boston Understanding Homelessness and the New Haven Urban Food Insecurity alternative break trips, in addition to working with SOS Food Recovery. This involvement in volunteer work has greatly influenced my outlook on health and nutrition, as I have had the opportunity to learn first hand how limited resource populations are impacted by food insecurity. Beyond volunteer work, I’m also a peer educator for UConn Students Helping to Achieve Positive Esteem (SHAPE), and will be the secretary of UConn Nutrition Club beginning this fall. Currently, I also work as a dietary aide at Foxhill Center, a nursing home and rehabilitation facility.

Thanks to this experience, I have been able to begin my internship with a diverse background in food and nutrition subjects. Currently, I am helping to co-create and teach a summer nutrition education course through HRA. Additionally, I’m working on recipe and meal kit development, and have been attending clinical nutrition webinars. As the summer progresses, I hope to do more with clinical nutrition, and look forward to continuing my work with my amazing internship supervisors. Through this experience, I’ve already learned so much, and have found new ways to connect with those experiencing food insecurity. If you would like to learn more or support those experiencing food insecurity, check out the UConn EFNEP web page, or contact your local food pantry!

UConn EFNEP Website: https://efnep.uconn.edu/

4-H in Sprague

Sprague LibraryOne of UConn 4-H’s partners is the Sprague Public Library. “I cannot say enough about the programs 4-H offers libraries,” says Elizabeth Bezanson, the Sprague Public Library Director. “The 4-H educators are always extremely personable and well prepared for any number of participants or age group. Activities are engaging for our participants and, particularly in our town, expose kids to science-related concepts they may not otherwise encounter on their own.”

“The Sprague Public Library invested in our own Ozobots and we were obviously excited when Ozobots were part of the 4-H program offering because the staff learned quite a bit about facilitating an Ozobot program.”

Ozobots are tiny robots that incorporate physical and digital aspects to teach youth how to code, and is one of many programs 4-H has to teach science, technology, engineering, and math skills.

“It was a great kickoff to our regular Ozobot programs. I think this speaks to the 4-H curriculum; it is trendy, current, and relatable. From a library standpoint, it is always a blessing to have a quality program that centers around a particular story or book that comes to us fully prepared and ready to go. Partnering with UConn 4-H is a win-win for us!

Article by Pamela Gray

Improving Health and Nutrition in Hartford

girl sitting in grass drinking orange juice out of straw with basket of fruits and vegetables next to herParticipants at the Village Family Resource Center at Burns Latino Studies Academy in Hartford wanted more information on health and nutrition. Our Expanded Food and Nutrition Education program (EFNEP) partnered with the Family Resource Center to provide five educational outreach sessions in 2019. Community members wanted to learn about food security, healthy choices, feeding children, quick and easy healthy recipes, how to include more fruits and vegetables, and how to save time and money. Parents shared with our team that they struggle with diabetes, high blood pressure, and other health issues.

The workshop series covered food safety, reading and understanding food facts, meal planning, MyPlate, and portion control. We made our own spices to substitute Adobo, Sazón, and a mix of herbs and spices for soups to control sodium intake. In another workshop we made a quick and easy lasagna using spinach and zucchini.

Participants learned measuring skills, and how to use new kitchen tools to make prep time fast and easy. We also helped them develop meal planning strategies with ingredients they have at home. We encouraged them to track their spending, and have their children help with the math for extra practice.

One parent shared with us, “I am a diabetic and have been trying to start eating healthy. It has been so hard because I didn’t know what foods and how much I could eat. Now I am making changes, measuring, and using an app to keep track.” After a few diet analyses she was making positive changes that she also shared with her dietician.

We are continuing to serve community members in Hartford, and provide educational outreach programs that help improve nutrition and health outcomes. Our EFNEP program also works with other communities statewide to help our residents.

Article by Angela Caldera

Meet Megan Davenport: Hartford County 4-H Intern

Meg DavenportHi everyone! My name is Megan Davenport and I am Hartford County’s 4-H Intern this summer! I am currently a junior at UConn in Storrs, CT and am double majoring in Animal Science (ANSC) and Agriculture and Natural Resources (AGNR) and minoring in Agriculture Outreach and Learning. At UConn, I am heavily involved in the Dairy Club and the Block and Bridle Livestock Club and enjoy introducing UConn students and community members to the agricultural operations on campus. Before UConn, I was a proud 4-H member for 8 years where I showed dairy cattle for my project and I also served as a State FFA Officer among other leadership roles through my extensive involvement with FFA. Through all of my time in FFA, 4-H and my extensive experience in the dairy industry, I realized my true calling lies in the education and communication of agricultural operations and programs. I am excited to educate youth about agriscience and to inspire them to pursue their passions and make a positive impact in their community.
Due to COVID-19 and the virtual transition of 4-H programs, I will be finding creative ways to connect, engage with and educate 4-H members about the world of 4-H and agriculture online. This summer I will be focusing on social media engagement with 4-H youth and community members as well as creating educational videos for UConn 4-H members to utilize on topics such as but not limited to… animal restraint, dairy fitting and topline clipping, dairy judging, milking procedures, giving oral reasons, leadership skills, resume building and professional networking. Tune in on our various social media accounts (@uconnhartfordcounty4h) for our “Fun Fact Fridays” and “Mindful Mondays” and be sure to check out these educational videos on the UConn Extension YouTube channel!

People Empowering People

A UConn Program Partnering with Correctional Institutions

Trish and Edna standing in front of the prison they volunteer at
Trish Spofford and Edna Johnson at the York Correctional Institute, one of the UConn PEP locations.

UConn Extension has partnered with the Department of Corrections to offer the UConn People Empowering People Program at Correctional Institutions (UConn PEPCI) for over twenty years. UConn PEPCI is a personal and family leadership program modeled after the community UConn People Empowering People (UConn PEP) program and focuses on keeping people from returning to prison.

UConn PEPCI is currently offered in six correctional institutions. Volunteers who teach the UConn PEPCI program are exemplary. In the past year four UConn PEPCI volunteers received Department of Corrections awards for their outstanding contributions. Trish Spofford, coordinator for the UConn PEP CI program is recruiting new volunteers to expand the program to other facilities and offer additional programming for UConn PEP CI graduates.

The program encourages inmates to be self-reflective and draw on their unique strengths, life experiences, and capacities. Our volunteers create conditions that help offenders develop the willingness and ability to take responsibility for their lives and become empowered.

The UConn PEPCI program creates a sense of community when teaching the curriculum so that inmates can support and encourage one another. By enhancing inmates’ self-worth we hope that they become more self-sufficient and independent. Inmates can reflect on their lives and make better decisions in the future after participating in the program; and they can explore different options and develop more positive ways of thinking and behaving.

Lesson topics include: values, community and self esteem, learning to feel good about myself, understanding my personality, communicating so people understand me, listening and relating well to others, problem solving and  managing conflicts, coping strategies, choosing and enjoying healthy connections, family relations, parenting from prison, goal setting and skills for returning home. Every session begins with the UConn PEP Pledge

The feedback from inmates about the UConn PEPCI program is consistently positive and shows how grateful inmates are for what they learn. Comments always include a thank you to the volunteers and fellow inmates for their time and for creating a safe environment where they can share. One inmate summarized what many said in their comments, “Choices and decisions affect my tomorrow so I must be patient and stay in control. I must build within me the power to make the right decisions, set goals and achieve them for my own mental health and self-empowerment. I have to believe that I matter, and I have to be better than the hand I was dealt.”

Another inmate said, “This program gives me a starting point to build empowerment within myself from the bottom up. I have to believe in myself or no one else will.”

The Department of Corrections supports UConn PEPCI and other programs because programming and support for rehabilitation lowers recidivism rates. Connecticut dropped its inmate population in recent years, but the United States continues to have the largest known incarcerated population in the world at about 1.5 million people according to 2017 data. At least five million children— or seven percent of American youth—have had an incarcerated parent, with African American, low-income, and rural minors disproportionately affected. Our volunteers continue expanding UConn PEPCI and helping inmates develop skills to re-integrate into their families and communities.

Article by Cathleen Love

Riverfront Recapture’s partnership with UConn Extension’s CT Trail Census

Lady with glasses smiling at man with glasses and people in the background Riverfront Recapture‘s partnership with UConn Extension’s CT Trail Census has advanced our mission to improve the quality of life and urban vitality for those who live, work and play in central Connecticut. Specifically, Trail Census data has supported successful funding requests, including our 2019 Bank of America Neighborhood Builders Award, and was integral to our recent request to the EPA to support cleanup efforts that will allow us to expand our park and trail system along the Connecticut River in Hartford. It also helps us understand community needs by complementing the qualitative findings of a community survey on outdoor recreation by Trinity College.

View the findings.