Education

What is Extension – New Video Released

UConn Extension connects thousands of people across Connecticut and beyond each year, with the research and resources of the University of Connecticut’s College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources. We are comprised of more than 100 educators and a vast network of volunteers. UConn Extension works collaboratively to build more resilient communities through educational initiatives aimed to cultivate a sustainable future and develop tomorrow’s leaders. The work of UConn Extension connects communities and individuals to help make Connecticut a better place to live, and a better place for future generations.

2021 Vegetable Production Certificate Course

vegetables in a greenhouse with vegetable course text on them lettuce with vegetable course text on it

We’re offering a Vegetable Production Certificate Course, beginning on January 20th 2021. It is a fully online course for new and beginning farmers who have 0-3 years of vegetable growing experience or no formal training in agriculture. The participants will learn answers to the basic questions about farm business planning, planning and preparing for vegetable farm, warm and cool-season vegetable production techniques, season extension, identification of biotic and abiotic issues, and marketing. The price of the course is $149. See the course description here.

Please contact the course coordinator, Shuresh Ghimire (Shuresh.Ghimire@uconn.edu, 860-870-6933) with any questions about this course.

Register Here.

Farm Flavor Magazine Features Extension Programs

group of people in masks at a farm
Commissioner Hurlburt doing farm visits to meet with producers to discuss the challenges they faced.

In the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, farmers urgently needed access to the newest information on government compliance, health protocols, federal aid and more. UConn Extension put together its own website for COVID-19-related information for both farmers and consumers on production, distribution and processing. UConn Extension also responded by organizing an initiative that enlisted UConn 4-H members and volunteers to distribute more than 144,000 pounds of surplus milk and other products from Connecticut dairies to 53 food pantries in the state.

Read the full article and the article on the work our Connecticut Sea Grant program is doing.

Diverse perspectives explored in new issue of Wrack Lines

Learn about bringing more diversity to the sciences, environmental justice, the Shoreline Greenway Trail, a new diversity fellowship and the unique career of Bob Pomeroy with fish and fishermen across the globe in the Fall-Winter 2020-21 issue of Wrack Lines magazine.

With the theme of “Diverse Perspectives in the Environment We Share,” the issue highlights the contributions of writers and photographers from diverse backgrounds delving into topics that are local, statewide, national and international in scope.

This issue also launches the “Talk to Us” feature soliciting reader comments, many of which  will be shared on the CTSG website. Comments should be sent to Wrack Lines editor Judy Benson at: judy.benson@uconn.edu.

The entire issue can be found here.

Individual articles:

Editor’s column, contents and contributors

Bringing more diversity to the sciences starts in the classroom

Getting to know environmental justice scholar Gerald Torres

Bob Pomeroy: dedicated to improving the lives of fishermen and marine ecosystems around the world

Mile by mile, shoreline trail pieces together expanded coastal access for a variety of uses

Fellowship supports diversity in marine, coastal research

Original Post

UConn Extension: Committed to a Sustainable Future 

fall newsletter collage of three pictures and story titles

Connecticut has faced challenges related to sustainable landscapes, food and agriculture, health, and the climate for generations. As problems are solved, new issues arise. UConn Extension educators work in all 169 cities and towns of Connecticut to help solve the problems that our residents, communities, and state face. Connecting people with agriculture, the natural environment, and healthy lifestyles are critical components to a sustainable future. Extension works collaboratively with our partners and stakeholders to find solutions that improve our communities for the next generation.

Read the fall newsletter.

Diego Marks: Engineering His Future

Diego Marks on his tractor with it hooked to the sled ready to pull the weightsThe Goshen Fairgrounds in Litchfield County stretches out in an expanse of open space, rings, and buildings that host the annual fair and other events. On Sunday, September 27th vehicles towing tractors slowly started arriving for the first annual Litchfield County 4-H Garden Tractor Pull. UConn 4-H, Extension’s youth development program in the College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources (CAHNR), hosted this socially distanced event.

Diego Marks of Bethany woke up early the morning of the tractor pull. He hadn’t participated in a pull with UConn 4-H before. The pandemic cancelled the other tractor pulls he was supposed to compete in this year. Diego, a 9th grader at the Engineering Science University Magnet School in West Haven, was looking forward to getting his tractor out and testing the modifications he had made. He packed extra masks and hand sanitizer, in case anyone needed them, and secured his tractor for the trip to Goshen with his parents.

Youth acquire engineering and math skills when they’re working on their tractors and participating in a tractor pull. Machines pull sleds with weights at a tractor pull. Those that can pull the sled the farthest, win. Weights become progressively heavier as the day continues. Tractor operators must be strategic and skilled. Tractor engines lose momentum and torque when they are continuously pulling weight. A successful pull requires momentum and torque. The operator that can modify his machine’s engine to withstand the most pressure and successfully manage the engine throughout the demands of the day often wins.

Diego gives a thumbs up after checking his second tractor into the 4-H garden tractor pull“My son has been tractor pulling since the age of six, and was very disappointed with the season being cancelled,” Wendy Marks ’92 (CLAS) says. “The day he heard that Litchfield County 4-H would be able to host the tractor pull, he was beyond excited! It instilled a joy and excitement in him that was missing for a long time because of the pandemic. Immediately he began preparing his tractors and discussing with his friends how great of an opportunity this is.”

Opportunities to participate in a program can introduce a whole new world of ideas and experiences to youth. UConn 4-H offers transformational life experiences for youth through our club-based programs, afterschool programs, and various other events and activities. The Garden Tractor Pull is one example of our commitment to offering youth opportunities to learn and grow.

“We had over 35 entries at the Garden Tractor Pull,” says Bill Davenport, the UConn 4-H Educator in Litchfield County. “It was a team effort and many volunteers made it happen while adhering to strict safety and social distancing guidelines due to coronavirus. Volunteers and sponsors that helped coordinate the event include Shawn Uscilla, O & G Industries, Missy Cole and the Willing Workers 4-H Dairy Club, and Dean Florio and the Working Wheels 4-H Tractor Club.”

Diego’s father, William Marks, volunteered in the pit crew area of the tractor pull all day, helping hitch and unhitch tractors from the weight and measure distances pulled. Diego’s grandparents, Edward and Hazetta Jackson spent the day at the tractor pull with the family, cheering on all the participants.

Edward Jackson ’62 (CAHNR) was a 4-H member in his youth and started a lifelong journey for his family with UConn. Wendy and her three sisters all graduated from UConn. Hazetta helps Diego every step of the way, helping him with school and getting his tractors ready. She drives him to the different stores for tractor parts; both grandparents are a big part of encouraging Diego and his engineering interests.

“In my spare time, I enjoy working on my tractors, and inventing items that help homeowners make chores easier and faster,” Diego says. “Skills I have learned at school have helped me to fix and modify my garden tractors. My future career goals are focused on owning an engineering and construction company where large equipment is a daily part of my business. One of my goals in the future, is to be able to give back to the community and help others have a 4-H experience.”

Diego is new to 4-H, he’s a member of the 4-H dog club in Hamden and recently joined the Working Wheels in Morris after meeting other youth at the tractor pull. “4-H is very important to me because it gives me the opportunity to be outdoors and work with nature. I am a kid that loves the outdoors,” he says.

“My son is a hard-working student in school, however, with no activities to look forward to, it is hard to keep him Diego with his first place ribbon after winning a class at the Litchfield County 4-H Garden Tractor Pullmotivated on his studies,” Wendy Marks says. “The 4-H tractor pull is exactly the type of activity he needed to keep him working hard in school. What a way to raise a child’s self-esteem, interest and keep them motivated to be involved! At the 4-H tractor pull, for the first time, he placed first in one of the classes.”

Transformational life experiences can happen anywhere, at any life stage. The magic in the UConn 4-H program is that there is something for every youth member. Diego Marks, a young man with a keen interest and skills in engineering, found a new community and opportunities for continued growth and lifelong learning at the Litchfield County 4-H Garden Tractor Pull.

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. Learn more and enroll 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.

Article by Stacey Stearns

Job Opening: Director of Communications

food, health, and sustainability are three of CAHNR's focus areas

Job Opening: The College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources (CAHNR) at the University of Connecticut is seeking a full-time Director of Communications. Reporting to the Dean, the incumbent in this position will provide vision, leadership, and direction to support CAHNR’s communication and marketing strategies and promote its brand and reputation. The Communications Director must be an energetic, creative and dedicated leader who is accessible and responsive to faculty, staff and students and fosters collaboration and an organizational culture that promotes diversity and inclusion.

Full information is available at https://bit.ly/CAHNR_Comm_Dir.

Let’s Talk GMOs: A New Online Course from UConn CAHNR

let's talk GMOs text on blue and green backgroundAre you confused or do you have questions about GMOs?

Do you feel inadequate when discussing GMOs?

Are you given opposing information of GMOs and not sure what is right?

Do you wonder how the misinformation about GMOs spreads like a wildfire?

UConn’s College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources is offering a new online course, Let’s Talk GMOs: Creating Consistent Communication Messages. This course introduces participants to the basics of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). They will learn how to create consistent communication messages and manage dialogue processes about GMOs with various audiences. The synchronous course is launching in January 2021; it has six online modules and three optional virtual sessions with instructors. The introductory cost is $150.

Most people have an emotional reaction to GMOs. They either love them or hate them. The majority already have an opinion about GMOs when the topic comes up. Extension educators, land-grant communicators, and agricultural producers will be comfortable sharing science-based information with their audiences after completing this course. Our role is to provide unbiased information that helps our audience form their own opinion and share their information in a non-confrontational manner.

Participants in the course will learn more about the science of GMOs and how to talk about GMOs in small group sessions where those in the dialogue have differing opinions of GMOs. The course instructors and their modules are:

  • Robert Bird, a professor of business law in the Department of Marketing, presents the module on how misinformation spreads.
  • Bonnie Burr, the department head of Extension, presents the modules on public policy and GMOs, and difficult conversations.
  • Stacey Stearns, a program specialist with UConn Extension presents, the module on communication messages you can use and is the course facilitator.
  • Cindy Tian, a biotechnology professor in the Department of Animal Science, presents modules on the history of GMOs and dialogue management.

There are brief introductory and course wrap-up modules in addition to the six core modules. The first three modules take approximately one hour each. Participants should expect to spend two hours on the last three modules.

Registration for the course opens in late November. Those interested in receiving an email when course registration opens can fill out this form: http://bit.ly/LetsTalkGMOs_signup or email Stacey.Stearns@uconn.edu for more information.

Let’s Talk GMOs: Creating Consistent Communication Messages is an initiative of the GMO Working Group in UConn’s College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources. The group has a multi-faceted outreach campaign to educate the public on the science of GMOs, offering background on the diverse application of GMOs with research-based consideration of the risks and benefits. Visit https://gmo.uconn.edu/ for additional resources from the team.