Gardens

New Normal with Extension Programs

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Extension educators rose to the challenge and virtually shared our programs and educational outreach over the past year and a half. While we will continue incorporating virtual educational opportunities, we are eager to resume in-person programs as well. A few of our educators share what the new normal with Extension will be for their programs. All our programs will continue serving your needs, including those that are not listed. We continue adhering to all state guidelines, and protocols may adapt as needed.

4-H

The UConn 4-H Program is looking forward to in-person 4-H club and county activities this fall. UConn 4-H delegates plan to participate in various 4-H activities at the Eastern States Exposition and the National 4-H Congress.

Master Gardeners

Master Gardeners have started reconnecting directly with the public through our outdoor activities and look forward to increasing in-person classes and events this fall. Our online experiences over the last year helped us reach an even larger audience, however, and we will continue to incorporate new technologies alongside our familiar hands-on programming. The heightened interest in gardening and environmental projects is likely to continue and we will be here in person, by phone, and online to assist!

CLEAR

Programs at the Center for Land Use Education and Research (CLEAR) are slowly returning in-person outreach into the mix. However, virtually all programs will be retaining elements of the techniques and educational options developed during the pandemic year. The Land Use Academy now has recorded online versions of all basic training modules, available to the user at any time. CLEAR, in concert with the CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, is developing a new “one-stop shopping” online training portal (coming soon!) that will include all our virtual programs.

People Empowering People (PEP)

UConn Extension’s People Empowering People (PEP) Program is a parent, community, and civic leadership program, and we are preparing for different possibilities this fall. We plan to offer in-person PEP Communities Training for our local partnering organizations in October. However, we will offer this training online again if needed. Partner organizations can choose to offer the training in-person or online. Our People Empowering People CI Program reaches people who are currently incarcerated in correctional institutions in our state. When the Connecticut Department of Corrections is ready for our trained volunteer facilitators to return and lead the PEP CI program with the partnering institutions, the facilitators will return.

Visit our programs page to find out more about the new normal for our other Extension programs.

Save Your Boxwoods: Check Them for the Box Tree Moth!

A Message from USDA to Gardeners in Connecticut

boxwood
(Courtesy: Matteo Maspero and Andrea Tantardini, Centro MiRT – Fondazione Minoprio [IT].)

A New Invasive Pest May Be in Connecticut

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is responding to a significant plant health threat and needs your help. Please check your boxwood plants for the invasive and destructive box tree moth. During the spring, a number of U.S. nurseries received potentially infested Canadian boxwood plants. This invasive pest feeds on the plants’ leaves, and can cause complete defoliation, eventually killing the plant.

Many Connecticut residents have already purchased and planted these boxwoods. If you bought one, you may have infested boxwood on your property. USDA wants to prevent the box tree moth from spreading and establishing itself in the State and beyond.

Box Tree Moth
(Photo by iredding01, Adobe Stock.)

Help Protect Connecticut’s Boxwoods!

Here’s how you can help:

If you bought a boxwood plant during spring 2021, please inspect it for signs of the moth and report any findings to your local USDA office or State agriculture department. If State or Federal agriculture officials visit your home, please allow them to inspect your boxwood trees and place an insect trap. Box tree moths can produce several generations between June and October, so acting now is essential to prevent this pest from establishing itself in Connecticut.

This is what you should look for:

Caterpillars and webbing (larvae can reach 1.5 inches long)

Caterpillars
(Courtesy of Matteo Maspero and Andrea Tantardini, Centro MiRT – Fondazione Minoprio [IT].)
Damage

box tree moth damage
(Photo by Lavizzara, Adobe Stock.)

Pupa

Pupa
(Courtesy of Ilya Mityushev, Department of Plant protection of the Russian State Agrarian University – Moscow Timiryazev Agricultural Academy.)

Adult moths (wingspan is 1.5 to 1.75 inches):

box tree moth
(Courtesy of Matteo Maspero and Andrea Tantardini, Centro MiRT – Fondazione Minoprio [IT].)
box tree moth
Dark form of the moth. (Courtesy of Ilya Mityushev, Department of Plant protection of the Russian State Agrarian University – Moscow Timiryazev Agricultural Academy.)

Egg mass under the leaves

Box Tree Moth Egg mass under leaves
(Courtesy of Walter Schön, www.schmetterling-raupe.de/art/perspectalis.htm.)

Report signs of infestation to:

Your USDA local office: http://www.aphis.usda.gov/planthealth/sphd

 

The Importance of Boxwoods

Boxwoods are popular shrubs and are found all over the country. They make an excellent choice for hedges and topiaries.

Older boxwoods can hold great historical value, such as the 150-year-old boxwoods at the Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site in North Carolina. Unfortunately, these plants were lost to boxwood blight. Many States have historical gardens containing boxwoods, which the box tree moth could devastate.

This pest threatens the thriving U.S. boxwood industry, as well as nurseries and other businesses that sell these plants wholesale and direct to consumers. Boxwoods have an estimated $141 million economic impact in the United States, according to one industry estimate.

About the Box Tree Moth

The box tree moth is native to East Asia. It has become a serious invasive pest in Europe, where it continues to spread. The caterpillars feed mostly on boxwood, and heavy infestations can defoliate host plants. Once the leaves are gone, larvae consume the bark, leading to girdling and plant death.

Females lay eggs singly or in clusters of 5 to more than 20 eggs in a gelatinous mass on the underside of boxwood leaves. Most females deposit more than 42 egg masses in their lifetime. They typically hatch within 4 to 6 days.

Pupae typically first appear in April or May and are present continuously through the summer and into the fall, depending on the local climate and timing of generations. Adults first emerge from the overwintering generation between April and July, depending on climate and temperature. Subsequent generations are active between June and October. Adults typically live for two weeks after emergence.

Box tree moths are highly mobile and are reported to be good fliers. Natural spread of this moth in Europe is about 3 to 6 miles per year. One analysis from Europe concluded that natural dispersal from continental Europe to the United Kingdom was possible, suggesting sustained adult flights of over 20 miles.

USDA’s Response with State Partners

In response to the incident, USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) issued a Federal Order on May 26, 2021, to halt the importation of host plants from Canada, including boxwood (Buxus species), Euonymus (Euonymus species), and holly (Ilex species). 

In addition, APHIS is working closely with the affected States, including Connecticut, to:

  • Find and destroy the imported plants in the receiving facilities;
  • Trace sold imported plants to determine additional locations of potentially infected boxwood;
  • Provide box tree moth traps and lures for surveys in the receiving facilities and other locations that received potentially infected plants; and,
  • Prepare outreach materials for state agriculture departments, industry, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agriculture Specialists stationed along the Canadian border, and the public

More Information

For more information about the moth and boxwoods, or USDA’s response with State partners, visit: www.aphis.usda.gov/planthealth/box-tree-moth 

 

Suzanne Wainwright Evans talks Biocontrols for Greenhouse Ornamentals

UConn Extension Offers Biological Control Webinar for Ornamental Greenhouse Growers
Monday, July 19, 2021, 12:00 – 1 pm EST

Suzanne Wainwright Evans

Suzanne Wainwright Evans talks Biocontrols for Greenhouse Ornamentals Growers!

Register Here.

One pesticide recertification credit available (PA, 3A) for this online webinar.

For more information contact: Rosa E. Raudales (rosa@uconn.edu) & Leanne Pundt (Leanne.pundt@uconn.edu)

Bug Out with UConn Extension

monarch butterfly on an orange flower

UConn Extension is celebrating Bug Month from July 1 – 31 with virtual programs and resources for the entire family.

 

All ages are welcome to explore the activities dedicated to insects and their relatives. Bug Month virtual programs and resources are buzzing with the following:

  • Answer a few questions to qualify for a free bug kit. The bug kit comes with a Bug Month activity booklet, supplies for collecting and looking closely at bugs as well as ideas for backyard adventures with the kit. Learn more at https://bugs.uconn.edu/bug-kits/
  • Check out the “Up Close” with the Luna Moth videos to learn more about Luna Moth development. 
  • A beneficial insect section. Read more about beneficial insects in our area and the roles they play. 
  • Want to make some bug-related crafts and recipes? Check out https://bugs.uconn.edu/bug-kits/ for a wide variety of crafts and treats. 
  • Planning to create a pollinator garden? We have added a “Native Plants for Pollinators” section to help you choose plants for your garden. 
  • The Connecticut Science Center will be buzzing with programs to celebrate Bug Month from Monday, July 21 through Sunday, July 27. Spend time in the tropical Butterfly Encounter, participate in bug-themed Live Science programming, hear a bug themed story during Story Time, and be sure to explore what is flying around the Rooftop Garden. 
  • We’re having our photo contest this year with three categories: junior, senior, and professional. Learn more at: http://bugs.uconn.edu/photo-contest/.

Bug Month is one example of UConn Extension’s mission in bringing UConn’s research out to the citizens of the state by addressing insects and their relatives. For more information on Bug Month, please visit our website at https://bugs.uconn.edu/, email bugweek@uconn.edu or call 860-486-9228.

UConn Extension has more than 100 years’ experience strengthening communities in Connecticut and beyond. Extension programs address the full range of issues set forth in the College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources 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. 

Volunteer Spotlight: Dr. Lynn Keller

UConn CAHNR Extension typically holds Bug Week in July; however, this year Extension has designated July as Bug Month. The UConn Extension Master Gardeners and Master Gardener interns participate. Bug Month is an educational outreach activity that promotes insects in the environment (bugs.uconn.edu/). Volunteers like Dr. Lynn Keller make this educational event fun and successful. In order to become a Master Gardener people need to attend and complete the Master Gardener program that includes coursework, office hours, and community service. The training allows them to become knowledgeable about various gardening topics.

Lynn Keller in her gardenLynn heard about the UConn Extension Master Gardener program many years ago and completed the program in 2019. She learned about a volunteer opportunity to assist with Bug Week from Gail Reynolds, the Middlesex County Master Gardener program coordinator. Lynn enjoyed her entomology (study of insects) classes in college while studying to be a veterinarian. She also enjoyed the entomology class offered by the Master Gardener program and felt like it would be a good fit for her interests.

As a volunteer, Lynn works with various program leaders to coordinate dates and events during Bug Month in July. These activities include bug kits for youth, photo contests, and educational activities. Part of her role includes finding new leaders for these programs and ensuring they have the proper resources as well as creating content for the Bug Month website (bugs.uconn.edu/). New programs are suggested every year, and Lynn works with the team to implement them in addition to fundraising and finding sponsors. She also promotes Bug Month by writing articles and participating in local radio shows.

Bug Month is designed for family participation, and Lynn enjoys educating families on the importance of insects in our lives. She says, “If we didn’t have insects, we wouldn’t have pollination, which would result in missing out on many of our favorite foods.” Her volunteer work is making an impact because adults and children are learning more about the “integral role that insects play in the food web and in our environment.” She also notes that this program provides suggestions for simple steps families can take to improve beneficial insect habitats in their yards and communities.

One of Lynn’s favorite memories from her time as an Extension volunteer is at Bug Week events in 2019. Many children attended the event at the Tolland Agricultural Center and were excited to participate in the fun activities. Lynn enjoyed seeing the children’s enthusiasm while they were looking at bugs under a microscope and learning about them. She also enjoys continuing her education on native plants and insects which allows her to share this information with family and friends. Her advice to new volunteers is to find an opportunity that you are passionate about and use that passion to make a positive difference in our communities.

The UConn Extension Master Gardener Program started in 1978 and consists of horticulture training and an outreach component that focuses on the community at large. Master Gardeners devote thousands of hours to organized community outreach projects each year. The Master Gardener program also offers Garden Master Classes for our volunteers and interested members of the general public. More information on the program and classes are available at mastergardener.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. Learn more about our volunteer programs at s.uconn.edu/volunteers.

Article by Emily Syme

Job Openings: Educational Program Assistants

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Search #: 495338

Educational Program Assistant 1, Tolland County Extension

Search #: 495338
Work type: Full-time
Location: Tolland County Extension Ctr
Categories: Academic Programs and Services

JOB SUMMARY

The UConn Extension Center located in Vernon, CT is seeking applications for two (2) Educational Program Assistant 1 positions – one full-time position and one part-time position (75%).  These positions are responsible for supporting and helping implement high-quality, comprehensive, Extension programming at different program sites throughout the region, with specific support to Farm Business Planning, Beginning Farmer, Food Systems, Food Safety, Vegetable, Master Gardener, and 4-H programs.  The Educational Program Assistants will report to the Center Coordinator to prioritize programmatic work assignments.

DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES 

  • Assists and provides programmatic support to Extension Educators
  • Assists in developing educational programs
  • Coordinates recruitment and orientation for Extension volunteers and participants
  • Assists with development and maintenance of program databases using programs such as Excel and Access
  • Maintains accurate records on each program, assembles databases, and prepares statistical and/or historical reports
  • Performs administrative functions in support of educational programs
  • Supports Extension Educators/Program Coordinators in implementing and providing off-site educational activities in the community
  • Provides assistance in assembling, arranging, organizing, and dismantling program event and activity set-ups and arrangements at various locations and venues, i.e. classrooms, fairgrounds, community centers, etc.
  • Supports media relations activities for various programs; assists with promotional material for Extension programs
  • Assists Extension Educators/Program Coordinators in developing and implementing programs to enhance learning and provide appropriate content based experiences to accomplish program goals
  • Under supervision, provides educational training and conducts related support services on an ongoing basis, and assists in resolving problems in assigned area of responsibility
  • Assists with increasing community collaborations with partner groups
  • Performs other related duties as required

MINIMUM QUALIFICATIONS   

  • Bachelor’s degree in a related field and up to one year of related experience or an Associates degree and two to three years of related experience; or five or more years of profession-based experience in agriculture, food systems, education, 4-H, or related fields.
  • Demonstrated written and verbal communication skills and the ability to work effectively with communication technologies and the media.
  • Proficiency in Microsoft Office Suite including Excel and Access
  • Demonstrated sensitivity towards diverse youth, families, and volunteer clientele to be served.
  • Demonstrated experience providing organizational support in a team environment.
  • Knowledge and familiarity with the Cooperative Extension System.
  • Must be able to regularly lift, carry, load, unload, and transport equipment, supplies, and/or program materials for educational events and workshops such as laptops, projectors, tables, chairs, displays, paper media, etc.
  • Must be willing and able to work flexible and irregular hours, including occasional nights and weekends to help conduct programs at off-site locations.
  • Must have reliable transportation to meet in-state travel requirements (mileage allowance provided).

PREFERRED QUALIFICATIONS 

  • Demonstrated success in public relations utilizing electronic, social, and print media and platforms such as Cushy and Aurora.
  • Experience working with large databases, and generating reports including 4-H Online.
  • Experience participating with collaborative community partnerships.
  • Experience working with UConn administrative processes.
  • Experience with STEM (Science, Technology. Engineering, and Mathematics) technology.
  • Bilingual Spanish and English

Physical Requirements

Incumbents must possess the ability to perform the required duties set forth above.

APPOINTMENT TERMS

Both positions are located at the Tolland County Extension Center in Vernon, CT, however, regular travel within the region will be required. Occasional in-state travel to other UConn campuses, including Storrs, may be required in support of program needs. These positions include an outstanding full benefits package. Salary will be commensurate with the successful candidate’s background and work experience.

TO APPLY

Please apply online at https://hr.uconn.edu/jobs, Staff Positions, Search #495338 to upload a resume, cover letter, and contact information for three (3) professional references. ** Please indicate in your cover letter if you wish to be considered for the full-time or part-time (75%) position, or both.**

Employment of the successful candidates is contingent upon the successful completion of a pre-employment criminal background check.

This job posting is scheduled to be removed at 11:55 p.m. Eastern time on June 22, 2021.

All employees are subject to adherence to the State Code of Ethics which may be found at http://www.ct.gov/ethics/site/default.asp.

The University of Connecticut is committed to building and supporting a multicultural and diverse community of students, faculty and staff. The diversity of students, faculty and staff continues to increase, as does the number of honors students, valedictorians and salutatorians who consistently make UConn their top choice. More than 100 research centers and institutes serve the University’s teaching, research, diversity, and outreach missions, leading to UConn’s ranking as one of the nation’s top research universities. UConn’s faculty and staff are the critical link to fostering and expanding our vibrant, multicultural and diverse University community. As an Affirmative Action/Equal Employment Opportunity employer, UConn encourages applications from women, veterans, people with disabilities and members of traditionally underrepresented populations.

Advertised: Jun 08 2021 Eastern Daylight Time
Applications close: Jun 22 2021 Eastern Daylight Time

CAES Announces the Finding of the Box Tree Moth in Connecticut

Box Tree Moth
Larva of a box tree moth found in Connecticut. Photo Credit: Dr. Victoria Smith, CAES

The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station (CAES) in cooperation with USDA U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), Plant Protection and Quarantine (PPQ) announce the detection of the box tree moth, Cydalima perspectalis (Walker), at a single retail nursery in Connecticut on boxwood imported from a nursery in Ontario, Canada. As of May 27, 2021, APHIS had confirmed the presence of box tree moth in three facilities in Michigan, one in Connecticut, and one in South Carolina. On May 26, 2021, APHIS issued a Federal Order to halt the importation of all host plants from Canada, including boxwood (Buxus species), Euonymus (Euonymus species), and holly (Ilex species).

The box tree moth is native to East Asia and has become a serious invasive pest in Europe, where it continues to spread. In 2018, it was found in the Toronto area of Canada. The caterpillars feed mostly on boxwood and heavy infestations can defoliate host plants. Once the leaves are gone, larvae consume the bark, leading to girdling and plant death.

If you bought a boxwood plant within the last few months, please inspect it for signs of the box tree moth. Box tree moth symptoms include green-black frass and silk threads on the host plant. The caterpillars are very cryptic and it is easier to look for the shiny abundant webbing or pupae. The box tree moth is a federally actionable/reportable pest, so please refer any findings to The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station at: CAES.StateEntomologist@ct.gov and include a photograph and location.

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!”

ACE C & A Awards – UConn 2021

We would like to congratulate all of the UConn Extension team members who received awards from the Association for Communication Excellence (ACE)! Thank you for your hard work and continued efforts.

All award recipients will be recognized at the ACE virtual conference in June.

 

Rising Star Award

  • Recipient: Stacey Stearns

C & A Awards

  • Gold – Ask UConn Extension – Marketing Campaign – Budget Under $1000

                       Team: Stacey Stearns, Kara Bonsack, Ivette Lopez, Zachary Duda

 

  • Silver – What is UConn Extension Video – Electronic Media, Video 5 – Educational Video

                          Team: Stacey Stearns, Mike Zaritheny, Meredith Zaritheny, Zachary Duda

 

  • Silver – On the Trail and Walk With Me Podcast – Electronic Media, Audio 2 – Podcasts
                    Neva Taylor

 

  • Silver – Annual Extension Impact Sheet – Publishing 5 – Promotional Publications

                         Team: Stacey Stearns, Kara Bonsack, Ivette Lopez

 

  • Silver – Fall-Winter 2020-21 Issue of Wrack Lines (CT Sea Grant) – Diversity

                          Judy Benson

 

  • Bronze – On the Trail and Walk With Me Podcast – Diversity 5 – Electronic Media

                             Neva Taylor

 

  • Bronze – Spring-Summer 2020 Issue of Wrack Lines (CT Sea Grant) – Writing
                      Judy Benson

 

CT trail census logoSea Grant logoExtension word mark

What are those paper envelopes in my Mother’s Day hanging baskets?

hanging basket plant with sachetsThese small paper “envelopes” are slow release “sachets” that contain beneficial predatory mites that attack young thrips larvae.  (Thrips are very small insects (1-2 mm.  long) with narrow bodies and fringed wings. As they feed they can deform flowers, leaves and shoots. Thrips are primarily a greenhouse pest and not a major pest in the home garden.)

More greenhouse growers are using biological controls to manage thrips. These sachets for the hanging baskets consist of bran, whitish food storage mites (that feed upon the bran) that are a food source for the small beneficial predatory mite Neoseilus (Amblyseiuscucumeris commonly referred to as “cucumeris”.  Cucumeris is a beige predatory mite (less than 1 mm. long) that attacks thrips larvae on the leaves and flowers. They pierce the thrips larvae and suck out their contents, killing them. The sachets serve as a breeding system or “nursery” for the beneficial predatory mites which then emerge from the sachets over a 4 week period.

Slow release sachets are now available as mini-sachets for individual hanging baskets. They are best placed in the plant canopy so they are protected from bright sunlight. If the mini-sachets are placed in bright sunlight, high temperatures and low relative humidity adversely affects the reproduction of the predatory mites. The small mites do not travel far and cannot fly, so a sachet is placed in each hanging basket.

The moral of the story – leave the envelope in your hanging basket, and enjoy the flowers!   

(By the way, they do not contain fertilizer.)