Family

¡Sí Se Puede! Empoderando Familias con Monica Jimenez

De niña Monica Jimenez jugaba a ser maestra. En la escuela secundaria, sus intereses pasaron de educación a la abogacía. Poco después de comenzar la escuela de leyes, se dio cuenta de que ese camino no era para ella. Luego encontró su verdadera pasión, la Educación Especial.

Monica JimenezEn 1996, Monica se graduó de La Universidad de Azuay en Ecuador con una Licenciatura en Educación Especial. Llegó a Estados Unidos desde Ecuador a través de un programa de intercambio cultural y se enamoró de la cultura estadounidense y de su familia anfitriona. Con la ayuda de su familia anfitriona, pudo convertirse en residente y luego obtuvo la ciudadanía estadounidense. En los EE. UU., Monica obtuvo su Credencial de Asociada en Desarrollo Infantil y comenzó a trabajar como para-educadora en las Escuelas Públicas de Stamford. Allí pasó cinco años ayudando y fortaleciendo académicamente a los estudiantes en el programa Bilingüe y de Recién Llegados. Hoy, Monica vive en Stamford con su hija y trabaja como educadora de padres para “Family Centers”, una organización sin fines de lucro que ofrece servicios educativos, de salud y humanos a las familias.

Durante sus años como para-educadora, Monica se dio cuenta de cómo sus estudiantes luchaban para ser entendidos. Esto motivó a Mónica a advocar por sus estudiantes y ayudarlos a apreciar sus raíces e identidad. “Necesito hacerle saber a los niños que ellos son importantes y que deben estar orgullosos de sus raíces, orgullosos de su casa, orgullosos de donde vienen, orgullosos de su cultura, y sentirse felices de que tienen esa capacidad de que sí hablo Español, y estoy aprendiendo el Inglés, yo voy a poder. Hay que recordarles a los niños que pueden porque si pueden y a cualquier edad” dice Monica.

Monica Jimenez UConn PEP graduationComo asistente de educación, Monica también se dio cuenta de la importancia de la participación de los padres en la educación de sus hijos. Sabía que tenía que encontrar una manera de llegar a los padres de su comunidad para ayudar más a sus estudiantes. Queriendo hacer más por su comunidad, en 2017, Monica se unió al programa en Stamford UConn People Empowering People (UConn PEP). UConn PEP es un programa de Extensión en la Facultad de Agricultura, Salud y Recursos Naturales. Es un programa innovador de desarrollo personal y familiar con un fuerte enfoque en la comunidad. UConn PEP se basa en las fortalezas y experiencias únicas de vida de los participantes. El programa enfatiza la conexión entre los individuos y la acción comunitaria.

La experiencia de Monica con UConn PEP ha cambiado su vida. Se ha convertido en la base que la ha ayudado a expresar su pasión por empoderar a las personas. “UConn PEP y el curso que hice fue mi punto de partida para el trabajo en que me encuentro ahora. Aprendí muchas herramientas. Fue una mezcla de lo que ya había hecho en la escuela pública y UConn PEP me dio la oportunidad de aprender y saber cómo ayudar a la gente y cómo empoderarlas. Especialmente en mi caso a las mamás. Me empodero a mi y a la vez puedo empoderar a otras personas” dice Monica.

Monica Jimenez's group zoom meetingUn año después de graduarse del programa UConn PEP, Monica fue contratada como maestra para el programa “Children’s People Empowering People (CPEP)”. Además, también imparte cursos para el “Children’s Leadership Training Institute (CLTI)”. Actualmente está trabajando para convertirse en una madre líder en Stamford y completará su curso de “Parent Leadership Training Institute (PLTI)” en junio. Aunque a veces convertirse en líder de la comunidad puede ser un desafío, Monica se alegra de que a través de UConn PEP haya aprendido a ser directa y a manejar diferentes situaciones y audiencias.

Monica Jimenez selfie with daughterComo educadora de padres, Monica sirve a madres primerizas con niños recién nacidos hasta los cinco años de edad. A través de visitas en persona y virtuales, Monica ayuda a las madres a aprender sobre el desarrollo infantil, la importancia de la relación entre padres e hijos y las conecta con los recursos disponibles en su comunidad. Para Monica, tener este trabajo es un sueño hecho realidad.  “Es muy lindo llegar a la casa que es la raíz y es donde yo como la visitadora puedo acompañar a la mamá  en el crecimiento del niño e incentivarla a que pueda hacer un buen trabajo con sus hijos desde el principio” dice Monica. Como madre soltera, Monica comprende lo difícil que puede ser criar a un hijo. Siempre se ha esforzado por hacer lo mejor para su hija y constantemente anima a las madres a creer en sus propias habilidades, “siempre me encargo de decirles que sí se puede”, dice Monica.

Cuando se le preguntó por qué creía que empoderar a las personas era importante, Monica compartió: “Empoderar a la gente es importante porque todos tenemos una fuerza. Todos tenemos dentro toda la capacidad y el talento, solo que a veces, circunstancias de la vida nos hacen olvidar que tenemos esa capacidad. Todos tenemos eso. Hay algunos talentos que se encuentran escondidos. Hay algunos talentos que se encuentran apagados. Me ha dolido mucho que nuestra comunidad no siempre sea vista como una comunidad que aporta y nosotros si somos gente que aporta. Nosotros, la gente hispana aportamos. Podemos aportar mucho, tenemos capacidades dobles”.

En este momento, Monica está enfocada en completar su curso PLTI y lanzar su proyecto “Helping You Get Started (HUGS)”. HUGS acoge y presenta el sistema escolar a las familias recién llegadas. A través de visitas domiciliarias, Monica espera ayudar a los padres con cosas básicas como: cómo solicitar almuerzo gratis / reducido y en situaciones más complejas, cómo comunicarse con los maestros. Para ella es muy importante que los padres se den cuenta de que tienen toda la autoridad sobre cualquier decisión que se tome con respecto a la educación de sus hijos. HUGS cerrará la brecha de conocimiento y ayudará a los padres a encontrar su voz y ganar confianza. El segundo objetivo de Monica es regresar a la escuela y comenzar a trabajar para obtener una maestría en Trabajo Social. Con este título, ella espera poder servir y empoderar a más poblaciones.

 “Cuando uno cuenta su historia muchas personas pueden identificarse con ella y pueden aprender. Esta historia sirve para que alguien piense okay estoy en una situación similar, mejor, o peor, pero si una persona pudo, yo también puedo,” concluye Monica.

 

Artículo por Ivette Lopez

 

Click here to view in English.

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

Elevating Voices with UConn PEP

UConn PEP Goes Online

family poses for a front porch portrait as part of the Wethersfield PEP program
A Wethersfield family poses for their front porch photo.
Photo courtesy of Jeanine Berasi

Our communities are stronger when all voices are elevated and included. UConn Extension’s People Empowering People (UConn PEP) program elevates voices by empowering individuals through community-based parent leadership training. People Empowering People builds on the unique strengths and life experiences of the participants. The program emphasizes the connection between individuals and community action.

We collaborate with community organizations to offer UConn PEP. Trained facilitators guide participants through 10 educational sessions plus additional weeks for completion of individual or group projects before graduating from the program. Cherry Czuba, a retired Extension educator, started the program 25 years ago. The program was revised and updated while Dr. Cathleen Love was coordinating the program. Over 3,110 participants have graduated from UConn People Empowering People programs located in three states.

COVID-19 affected UConn PEP – as it did with all other aspects of our lives. But the need for personal development and empowerment programs increased because of the pandemic and racial injustice. We rose to the challenge by transitioning our programs online. We continued to offer programming, trained facilitators in a new online certificate program, and community participants graduated from local programs.

The program was offered in eight communities, seven of these in Connecticut and one in Miami, Florida. Our Connecticut programs were in offered in Middletown, Stamford, New London, Wethersfield, Hartford with Community Renewal Team (CRT) and Family Life Education, and Meriden – with Meriden Children First. Program graduates made a difference in each community.

Community-based projects are always an impactful part of the UConn People Empowering People Communities program and had a positive influence during the pandemic. Two participants in our Meriden program created a project called, Sprinkle of Kindness and Twisted Vines. They collected donations of hand sanitizers, masks, and snacks and gave them to police departments in Waterbury and Torrington. Seven women in the Wethersfield UConn PEP 2020 program, with the help of a few key volunteers organized Wethersfield Front Porch Portraits. Over 120 families participated, and the project raised over $3,500 for the Wethersfield Foodbank. Their project was shared with the Wethersfield Historical Society.

Robin Drago-Provencher and Sheri Amechi.

People Empowering People’s impact on individuals has a ripple effect of positive outcomes for the community that continues beyond graduation. Sheri Amechi participated in the Meriden UConn PEP program in 2017. Her initial involvement with UConn PEP was a catalyst for transformative changes in her life and the community. When asked how the UConn PEP program made a difference in her leadership journey, here is what Sheri said, “When I interviewed for PEP in 2017, I had mentioned that my goal was to run for a seat on the Meriden Board of Education. I had participated in other Parent Leadership programs in the Meriden community prior to UConn PEP. These programs reinforced what I already knew, I wanted to make a difference in my community. Through People Empowering People, I learned valuable lessons in communication, problem-solving, and I improved my leadership skills. These lessons  prompted me into taking the step to run for a seat on the Board of Education in Meriden in 2019. Sadly, I was not successful in my attempt to win a seat (losing by 41 votes), but I am determined to run again in 2021. To my excitement and surprise, I was appointed to fulfill a seat on the Board of Education, achieving my goal I set many years ago.”

“After graduating from UConn PEP, I continued my community involvement when I was elected to the Local Advisory Committee of Meriden Children’s First non-profit,” Sheri continues. “From this group I was eventually elected as President of Meriden Children’s First. Currently, I am the Vice President of the organization.”

Sheri knew what she wanted, set her goals and continued until she achieved her goals. People Empowering People opens doors, brings people together, provides training, builds skills, creates connections, and opportunities for participants to follow their passion and make a difference in their communities.

The positive effects of UConn PEP are the same across all participants – in any location – goals are set, relationships develop, projects are completed, a shift happens, and the goodness grows. When participants were asked at the completion of the program, what they learned during UConn PEP, one participant stated: “I’ve learned from the entire PEP program and how important it is to me. I’m going to continue using the tips and tools I’ve learned in these sessions. I want to continue to grow.”

Our communities need connection and leadership now more than ever. UConn PEP is rising to the challenge and helping participants to find their voice, elevate others’ voices, and create a better place to live. Programming may have shifted online during the pandemic, but we can still create that personal connection that allows people to thrive.

For more information about UConn People Empowering People (PEP) Communities go to pep.extension.uconn.edu.           

Article by Robin Drago-Provencher and Stacey Stearns

Celebrate CT Trails Day June 5 with Thames River Quests

The Thames River Heritage Park and Connecticut Sea Grant are celebrating Connecticut Trails Day on June 5 by inviting people to visit one or more of the four park sites where they can enjoy a self-guided, educational activity and receive a complimentary harbor cruise ticket for the heritage park water taxi.

In the Thames River Quests, first offered on Trails Day in 2018, participants follow a set of clues to different locations at each site to solve a word puzzle and learn about the region’s history and ecology. The Quests take place at Fort Trumbull State Park and the downtown Waterfront Park in New London; and at Fort Griswold Battlefield State Park and Thames Street in Groton.

For the second year, the Quests are available as self-guided activities people can enjoy any time, but those who register and complete the Quests on Trails Day can receive a free harbor cruise ticket and will be eligible to enter a prize drawing for heritage park T-shirts. The tickets can be used on the park water taxi once it begins operating for the season on June 12.

“These Quests are a shining example of our communities and local organizations working together and taking advantage of the resources we have right here to provide family-friendly and fun park experience,” said Capt. Paul Whitescarver, TRHP board president.

Those who plan to do one or more of the Quests on Trails Day are asked to pre-register on the heritage park website beginning on May 20. Everyone planning to do the Quests should download and print the directions from their home computer at: thameriverheritagepark.org/quests.

“These Quests are a wonderful way to get outside and visit places perhaps you haven’t before, while learning about the rich  maritime heritage and history of the Thames River region,” said Nancy Balcom, associate director of Connecticut Sea Grant.

At the end of each Quest, participants are asked to take a photo and post it to their Facebook or Instagram account with @ThamesRiverHeritagePark #TRHPQuest or email it to: info@thamesriverheritagepark.org to receive their complimentary ticket and to be entered into the prize drawing. Winners will be randomly selected throughout the summer.

Photos of the winners will be posted on the Thames River Heritage Park’s Facebook page. In addition to the Thames River Heritage Park and Connecticut Sea Grant, the Thames River Quests are also sponsored by The Day Publishing Co.

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!”

CT Trail Census

A Yearly Review

The Connecticut Trail Census (CTTC) is a volunteer-based program that brings transparent trail use data to the community and state through a network of infrared trail counters statewide and through implementation of trail-based user surveys. CTTC was created four years ago, and the data generated each year is instrumental in helping with land-use decisions.

family on bridge smilingResponses to the 2020 CT Trail Census Evaluation Survey show that over 75% of respondents indicate they have used or plan to use the CTTC program and associated data to communicate trail use data for decision makers or the public, reference trail use data to make trail decisions, use trail use data to leverage resources, integrate trail use data into long term planning efforts, or identify patterns of use or trends on their trails.

The COVID-19 pandemic significantly increased trail use starting in March of 2020 as more people than ever are using trails due to decreased options. Several reports comparing monthly 2019 to 2020 use data were completed for March through June 2020. Preliminary data analysis completed for Laura Brown’s presentation as a component of the 2020 Northeast MultiModal Summit document increased use in our data counts across 16 automated counter locations on trails throughout Connecticut.

The comprehensive 2020 Trail Use Count Report, summarizing trail counter and survey data was released in March 2021. In response to the increase in new trail users, the CTTC, in partnership with the People Active on Trails for Health & Sustainability (PATHS) team, produced four trails 101 videos to help new and experienced trail users understand how to plan and prepare for a hike, read trail blazes, and review trail etiquette.

The On the Trail and Walk with Me Podcast Series, produced by UConn undergraduate student Neva Taylor raises up the voices of a wide range of people from many different outdoors disciplines. A UConn Today article compelled UConn President Thomas Katsouleous to write a personal letter in appreciation for this work. In the new year the Podcast continues to highlight voices of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color and continues informational on the trail episodes. Laura Brown of UConn Extension and Don Rakow of Cornell compiled an extensive Anti-Racism in the Outdoors resource guide that includes readings, podcasts, and articles. The list is updated monthly with new information.

The new Connecticut Trail Finder website is under development as a partnership between UConn Extension, the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and the Department of Transportation. Projected to be released in time for National Trails Day on June 5, 2021, the Trail Finder tool enables community members to view trails, get essential information like maps and parking information, and submit trip comments and photos. Users will be able to track trail experiences, noting trails that they have completed, their favorites, or ones they want to visit. This resource is meant to centrally locate everything that one would need to know in order to enjoy the trails.

We also wanted to acknowledge the changes in our staff over the past six months. Charles Tracy, our Trail Census Coordinator, transferred into full retirement in late August. Kimberly Bradley transferred into Charlie’s role in late September and has been gracefully catching up and moving forward ever since. Ryan Faulkner, our graduate student intern who helped with launching the online/QR Code survey, left us at the end of October to finish his graduate degree for a Masters in Geography in pursuit of a career as a Transportation Planner. Neva Taylor, our undergraduate student intern from the summer who launched our podcast series, stayed on with us through the fall to continue her podcasts and work as a communications and social media coordinator. We want to thank all our staff this year for helping us get through these crazy times.

Article by Kimberly Bradley and Neva Taylor

Supporting Families and Communities

Joyce Ann Hyde Foundation Sustains Food Donations

4-H is a family tradition for the Hyde’s of New London County. Brothers Harlan and Brandon Hyde were both active as youth, and now their children are members. They represent the slogan that 4-H grows true leaders—Brandon ’01 (CAHNR) has served on the alumni board for CAHNR and Harlan is an active 4-H volunteer.

“I have a fix-it personality, and we can’t fix COVID,” Harlan says. “Bonnie Burr, the assistant director for Extension called me in April about Operation Community Impact and the yogurt and sour cream delivery, and we started finding homes for it with the local food pantries. This project really changed my outlook on COVID. We were doing something for people and making a small contribution.”

Joyce Ann HydeThe Hyde’s started the Joyce Ann Hyde Food for Families Fund, a non-profit foundation, in honor of their late mother. The Foundation raises funds to support agriculture and community members in need.

“We’ve committed 100% of the funds from our non-profit to the purchase of food for the community,”

Brandon says. “There are three prongs to our non-profit. Our family has ties to agriculture and 4-H, and we want to be able to help feed families in need while directly supporting agriculture. It’s one of the goals in the mission of our non-profit. The third prong is using 4-H members to distribute the food, so they understand what it takes to give back.”

The Joyce Ann Hyde Foundation supported four milk deliveries and 10 produce deliveries to 27 food pantries in New London County to date. Over 30 families and 50 4-H youth members volunteer to move dairy and produce from central drop-off locations to the various food pantries. Brewster’s Orchards in Griswold donated apples and pears and the Foundation coordinated the logistics and distribution. Volunteers distributed the 7,500 pounds or produce throughout the fall of 2020. The Foundation purchased and distributed cheese in February. Sponsors donate refrigerated trucks and other logistics.

“We have an opportunity to impress on 4-Hers the givers heart,” Harlan says. “It’s also important to us that the whole thing started with farmers dumping milk, being limited to what they could ship to market—we want to increase demand. We buy fruit that might not be sold at market, and increase demand for those products, and we get the 4-H members involved in community service. We’re taking a holistic approach from farm to food pantry to table.”

“I’m really proud of the impact on the thousands of people we’re serving from all the food pantries,” Brandon says. “Just the three largest pantries in our network serve over 1,000 people.”

The Joyce Ann Hyde Foundation is growing the next generation of true leaders from the New London County 4-H program and positively impacting families and farm businesses throughout the county. The pandemic has upended the lives of thousands, and together we can help those in need and strengthen our communities.

Article by Stacey Stearns

Making the Best Better

4-H Members Civic Engagement Initiative Has Statewide Impact

girl pulling wagon of millkFood insecurity spiked across Connecticut because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The UConn 4-H team led and coordinated Operation Community Impact, a grassroots effort to help local families with food insecurity issues intensified by the COVID-19 pandemic. The effort also addresses surplus milk issues that negatively impact dairy farms in the state due to the pandemic.

The Litchfield County 4-H program selected Operation Community Impact focusing on food insecurity in the county as their theme for the year in January of 2020—the pandemic made that theme a necessity—and they focused their efforts on dairy products and organized the first milk distribution in March, and then the effort expanded statewide through our 4-H network in April.

The Extension Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) team and others are also instrumental to the success by facilitating connections with food pantries and volunteers. Businesses and partner organizations statewide have donated refrigeration, trucks, and space to facilitate donations.

4-H youth and volunteers facilitated donation and delivery of over 200,000 pounds of dairy products—and counting. They worked with 96 food pantries in 57 towns, serving over 10,710 families. Thousands of hours of volunteer time and services are integral to the success of Operation Community Impact—and many of those volunteers are alumnus of our 4-H program and the College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources (CAHNR).

“Over my seven years in 4-H I have been given many cool community service opportunities, but the dairy outreach community project is by far the most influential,” says Madeline Hall, a Litchfield County 4-H member. “It is a huge operation that really helps the community. It is a beautiful sight to see how utterly grateful the pantries and families receiving the milk are. I never knew how many families in Connecticut were in need. I’m so proud to be part of UConn 4-H.”

Madeline, her sister Olivia, and their mom Margaret have volunteered at all 12 donations to date. The Hall family has donated over 1,000 hours of their time to the effort. Margaret Hall has been a 4-H volunteer leader for eight years and leads the Diggity Dogs 4-H Club. She is also a co-leader and helped start the Grow Getters 4-H Horticulture Club this past year.

All eight counties received donations and had 4-H youth participate in the initiative. Litchfield and New London counties continued serving their food pantries through community initiatives that raised funds to purchase milk—and fruit in New London county—to support the local food pantries.

“It reassures me that we have a bright future ahead of us because we have these motivated, hard-working, intelligent, outgoing individuals that come up through the 4-H program,”

says Bill Davenport, the Litchfield County 4-H Educator. “We are excited to get surplus dairy products—in storage because of the pandemic—into the hands of families who are food insecure. Our actions increase awareness of the issue and encourage others to help do the same across Connecticut and the region so that we can help move more milk and dairy products out of the surplus and into the refrigerators of people who desperately need it.”

Article by Stacey Stearns

New Unpeeled Game Helps Consumers Navigate the Grocery Store Aisle

Maya McCluen and the text Unpeeled behind her
We developed a new game to help shoppers like you learn about genetically modified food with our partners at New Mexico State University. UConn Extension is dedicated to providing educational resources to consumers and we would like your input! We would appreciate it if you could play the game (https://unpeeled.nmsu.edu/) and tell us what you think.
This link will take you to the game, after which there is a short survey. Our goal is to learn what you think about the game, including what you did and didn’t like. The game and survey should only take 20 minutes and your input will be used to improve the game. Play the game and take the survey at https://unpeeled.nmsu.edu/. Thank you for your help!

Highlights of Extension Report

Committed to a Sustainable Future

Highlights of Extension report cover with blue bars and photos of agriculture, health, and sustainabilityConnecticut has faced challenges related to sustainable landscapes, food and agriculture, health, and the climate for generations. As problems are solved, new issues arise. 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, WebEx meetings, and YouTube videos. Our educators created and released 318 new videos on YouTube. These videos reached 305,200 people and had 39,501 viewers that watched 1,200 hours of Extension instruction.

One of every nine Connecticut residents struggled with food insecurity before COVID-19. For many individuals and families, challenges surrounding food inse­curity increased when the pandemic arrived and continued throughout 2020. The stress associated with food insecurity challenges one of the most basic human needs and deepens income and health disparities.

UConn Extension programs addressed the food insecurity challenges that our community members are facing due to COVID-19. Educators coordinated dairy foods donations to help address food inse­curity challenges—facilitating the donation of over 160,000 pounds of dairy products statewide.

Extension works collaboratively with our partners and stakeholders to find solutions that improve our communities. We serve thousands of people every year. Our work is in every town and city of the state and the broader impacts make Connecticut a better place to live for all of us.

The human, environmental, and agricul­tural issues that we face change. The needs of our residents’ change. Our commitment to providing life transformative education remains steadfast.

Read the report at s.uconn.edu/extensionhighlights.