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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

Urban Agriculture Community Advisory Board

Attention New Haven Residents:
Do you want to create an environment that supports all residents so that they can benefit from urban agriculture and its positive impacts on health, social, economic and environmental?
Apply to the Urban Agriculture Community Advisory Council and help create a community-led vision and a plan for urban agriculture in New Haven! To learn more and to apply, visit: bit.ly/nhvagcab. High or official experience in urban agriculture and food systems are not required to participate!
Urban Agriculture Advisory Board Flyer with picture of garden, people gardening and a woman picking out a pumpkin

Extension Services

Connecticut Environmental Conditions Online (CT ECO)

CT ECO is a mapping website that contains environmental and natural resource geographic information for Connecticut. The site encourages, supports, and promotes informed land use and development decisions in Connecticut by providing local, state and federal agencies, and the general public with convenient access to the most up-to-date and complete natural resource information available statewide.

CT ECO’s interactive map viewers contain, among other things, Connecticut’s environmental and natural resources such as protected open space, farmland soils, wetland soils, aquifer protection areas, water quality classifications, and drainage basins. Each can be viewed separately or in conjunction with other environmental and natural resource information. In addition, CT ECO includes many high-resolution aerial imagery datasets as well as statewide elevation and topical viewers like stormwater management, aquaculture, and the Long Island Sound Blue Plan.

Services available include map viewers, a pdf map catalog, map and image services, informational guides about map layers, and data download. CT ECO is the collaborative work of the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) and our Center for Land Use Education and Research (CLEAR).

cteco.uconn.edu

Connecticut Institute of Water Resources (CT IWR)

CT IWR’s mission is to collaborate with and serve all colleges and universities in the state to resolve state and regional water related problems and provide a strong connection between water resource managers and the academic community, in addition to sharing the results of water resources research and other information with the general public.

The second responsibility is to cooperate closely with other colleges and universities in Connecticut that have demonstrated capabilities for research information dissemination, and graduate training in order to develop a statewide program designed to resolve state and regional water and related land problems.

Services available include water resources for residents, newsletters, seminars, research updates, and additional information. CT IWR is located within UConn’s Department of Natural Resources and the Environment.

ctiwr.uconn.edu

Connecticut Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory (CVMDL)

CVMDL is on the front lines of diagnostic testing and extension outreach to keep animals healthy and people safe. Clients include those within the state, region, and across the country. The laboratory offers diagnostic testing and pathology services, including bacterial and fungal culture, molecular diagnostics, tick testing, necropsy, biopsy, disease surveillance, and mastitis testing.

CVMDL is accredited by the American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians – the only veterinary diagnostic laboratory in New England with this accreditation. This certifies our quality and competence through a rigorous Quality Management System.

cvmdl.uconn.edu 

Home & Garden Education Center

The UConn Home & Garden Education Center accepts requests for assistance or information on horticultural topics and garden and household pests from individuals throughout Connecticut, as well as solicitations from out-of-state and, occasionally, international clients. Inquiries come from both commercial and residential sources. The Center is the Northeast Regional First Responder to the Extension Foundation’s ‘Ask the Expert’ questions.

Our services include answering gardening questions via phone and email, a monthly horticultural email newsletter, fact sheets, and articles.

ladybug.uconn.edu

Master Gardener Program

The UConn Extension Master Gardener Program is an educational outreach program consists of horticulture training and outreach to the community at large. Master Gardeners are enthusiastic, willing to learn and share their knowledge and training with others. What sets them apart from other home gardeners is their special horticultural training. In exchange for this training, Master Gardeners commit time as volunteers working through their local UConn Extension Center and the Bartlett Arboretum in Stamford to provide horticultural-related information to the community.

Our services include Master Gardener certification, Advanced Master Gardener certification, Garden Master classes (open to anyone), signature projects in Connecticut communities, school garden resources, and horticultural advice.

mastergardener.uconn.edu

Plant Diagnostic Laboratory

The UConn Plant Diagnostic Laboratory diagnoses plant problems including diseases, insect pests and abiotic causes. Techniques used for diagnosis include visual inspection, digital images, microscopy, incubation, baiting, culture, nematode services, and serological tests. When needed, soil or tissue analysis is recommended through the UConn Soil Testing Laboratory to supplement these analyses.

The lab is a member of the National Plant Diagnostic Network (NPDN). NPDN works to prevent the introduction and spread of non-native plant pests and pathogens that have the potential to cause significant damage to plants in agriculture, the green industry, landscapes and natural settings. NPDN-affiliated diagnosticians and others receive training and information on pest and pathogen identification and pest alerts.

plant.lab.uconn.edu

Soil Nutrient Analysis Laboratory

The Soil Nutrient Analysis Laboratory has been serving the farmers, greenhouse growers and residents of Connecticut for over 70 years. Our first objective is to provide an inexpensive means for both agricultural producers and homeowners to test their soil fertility and receive environmentally sound limestone and fertilizer recommendations. The second major objective of the laboratory is education. Through our analyses as well as outreach efforts, clients and the public are being informed about wise soil management and fertility practices.

Our services include soil analysis, nitrogen testing, green house media, and plant analysis. We process about 14,000 soil samples annually for major and minor plant nutrients, lead, and pH. Test results provide limestone and fertilizer recommendations based on university research and field studies.

soiltest.uconn.edu

Turf Diagnostic Laboratory

The UConn Turfgrass Disease Diagnostic Center serves golf courses, athletic field, and landscape turfgrass professionals throughout New England.

Turfgrass disease epidemics have the potential to severely impact widespread turf areas, compromising the functional utility of the area. Proper identification of biotic or abiotic causes of turf decline is essential to implementing effective control and remediation strategies.

Our service provides rapid diagnosis (≤ 24 hours of receiving samples) in a written report including color photos and recommendations. 89% of patrons report that recommendations are “Extremely Effective” or “Very Effective” in helping affected turfgrasses recover.

cahnr.uconn.edu/turflab/

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.

Job Opening: Evaluation Specialist/Academic Assistant II

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

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

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

Read more information, including application instructions – search 495055.

UConn EFNEP Celebrates National Nutrition Month

vegetables on a white dinner plateMarch is National Nutrition Month! This past year has proven that nutrition and health are more important to all of us than ever. The Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) is UConn Extension’s outreach nutrition program in the College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources (CAHNR). Since EFNEP’s inception as a USDA demonstration program in 1968, community educators work with low-income, limited resource families with children to learn how to food shop, prepare and eat more healthily as well as increase physical activity.

National Nutrition Month is a natural connection for EFNEP’s year round healthy lifestyle education. Designated in 1973 by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, this promotion began as a weeklong campaign to promote the profession as well as to communicate nutrition messages to the public. As a result of growing consumer interest, there was a transition to month long event in 1980. Each year a theme is chosen to embody health through nutrition and physical activity.

This year’s theme is Personalize Your Plate because everyone is unique in regard to body type, goals, cultural background, taste preferences and experiences. During this unprecedented past year, EFNEP has pivoted along with the rest of the world to social media for connection and engagement with friends, family and acquaintances. Through the EFNEP Facebook page and Extension Instagram and website, messages have included recipes, video short talks and cooking demonstrations to highlight how to Personalize Your Plate. Join us on social media and our websites to learn more about nutrition and healthy lifestyle education.

National Nutrition Month Video Topics:

March is National Nutrition Month: English https://youtu.be/b-nDAgkU9ks
                                                        Spanish https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2GpfOweLl-s
What is EFNEP: English https://youtu.be/9NeSq0Tk2es
                           Spanish https://youtu.be/fRh7QoiyX3Q
                           Spanish https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UGE3HrSJ30Y&feature=youtu.be

Article by Umekia R. Taylor, MS, RDN, CDN; UConn Educator/EFNEP Supervisor

Reference

Denny S. National nutrition month: a brief history. J Am Diet Assoc. 2006;106 (3):365-366.

All Paws In – Join Us for UConn Gives

UConn Gives All Paws In logo

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

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

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

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

Undergraduate Summer Internships with UConn Extension

photos of three of the summer interns

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

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

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

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

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

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

Applications are due April 5th, 2021

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