EFNEP Baby Food Making Class

zoom screenUConn EFNEP hosted a baby food-making class which was a success!  9 parents register and picked up baby food-making kits. Three mothers with infants attended consistently, for one mother English was a second language, and another mother was from a family of 7 with her youngest just 7 months.  They discussed how to make homemade baby food, food safety and the kitchen tools necessary for preparing baby food at home. They cooked together to prepare homemade turkey puree and homemade applesauce. They discussed important resources for families like local food pantries as well as the WIC and SNAP programs, eligibility and how to apply.  During the initial discussion a great video was shown from The University of Maine Cooperative Extension on How to Make Home Made Baby Food and encouraged the mothers to come back to it if they needed a refresherhttps://youtu.be/cili44BebXY  A nice discussion was had about preparing homemade baby food and safely introducing complementary foods as well as allergen foods.

One participant said There were so many tools provided in this workshop that I will use moving forward. I will use the recipes that were shared in class and also the recipes that were given in the recipe book provided. I am more confident in the food I choose to give my baby and how to prepare it. I also learned the rules for storing food and keeping the temperatures safe for my baby.” 

Baby food and feeding infants have become a topic of interest recently. Politico posted an article about the recall of formula from brands Similac, Alimentum and EleCare.”Infant formula, it should be noted, is one of the most regulated food products in the U.S. Formula plants are inspected annually, which is much more frequent than a typical food facility. Still, inspectors uncovered several issues, including lapses in basic plant sanitation and handwashing ( see eFoodAlert here for more details) https://efoodalert.com/2022/02/20/cronobacter-and-powdered-infant-formula/


Advancing 4-H Careers in Food and Agriculture via Biotechnology and STEM (FANE) Job Openings

Job opening! UConn Extension Hartford County is looking for a program assistant to work under the direction of the FANE Grant Team. For full consideration, please submit a cover letterresume, and the names and contact information for three professional references to Jen Cushman,(Jennifer.cushman@uconn.edu), with the email subject FANE Coordinator Position.

More information can be found at https://hr.uconn.edu/special-payroll-employment-opportunities/

Apply for Program Assistant Job

The Office of Outreach and Engagement is searching for a Program Assistant. Apply at https://jobs.hr.uconn.edu/cw/en-us/job/496104/assistant-to-the-director-of-outreach-and-engagement-administrative-program-support-2 The job centrally oversees and supports public engagement initiatives at UConn through outreach, community-based learning, engaged scholarship, and grant development. O&E strengthens UConn’s activities in particular fields of regional engagement and fosters collaboration with the University’s academic divisions to stimulate the development of UConn’s community-based efforts.

Working under the direction of the Director of Outreach and Engagement, the Outreach and Engagement Assistant will provide overall office management, support grant, anproject development and execution, lead executive communication and media relations with internal and external partners, and support other administrative priorities. Successful candidates are expected to possess an advanced level of organizational, communication, and problem-solving skills. This is a public-facing position expected to maintain positive public relations, serve as an essential point of contact for the office, and exhibit discretion, sound judgment, and acumen in obtaining and providing information. The candidate will work with sensitive data collected with the community and the University.

CT Dairy Anaerobic Digester Panel Discussion

CT Dairy Anaerobic Digester Panel Discussion is occurring on Thursday, February 17th from 2:00-4:00 pm EST.
Most everyone is aware that CT has 2 active anaerobic digesters operating on dairy farms. What you may not realize is that several other dairy-based anaerobic digesters are also being developed. This panel discussion will provide an opportunity for attendees to hear from representatives of several of these farms who have agreed to share some of the details of their projects.
*Jim Smith from Cushman Farm in Franklin will discuss their plans for a multiple farm regional digester project with plans to create pipeline-quality RNG for injection into a nearby gas transmission line.
*Seth Bahler from Oakridge Dairy in Ellington will discuss their farm’s plan to create pipeline-quality RNG for use as a diesel replacement transportation fuel.
*Bill Rees will represent Fairvue Farms in Woodstock to discuss their plans to create pipeline-quality RNG for injection into an existing natural gas line near that farm.
This panel discussion will be a virtual meeting hosted by UConn Extension via Webex and will be a free event. We do ask that attendees preregister for the event.
To register please complete the short form at the link below….

2022 CT Sea Grant Fellowship for Underrepresented Undergraduates Announced

The goal of the Connecticut Sea Grant (CTSG) Undergraduate Research Fellowship is to broaden participation of underrepresented/underserved students in marine and coastal professions by providing early career experience, training and mentorship to the next generation of scientists, decision makers, and marine industry professionals.

The application deadline is March 14, 2022. Fellowship selections will be announced in mid-April. The fellowships will start on May 30 and end on Aug. 19.

The program will fund research fellowships for up to two undergraduate students who represent the human social diversity of the communities of Connecticut. Underrepresented minorities and socioeconomically disadvantaged students as well as students of color, indigenous students, U.S. military veterans, members of the LGBTQ community and students with disabilities are encouraged to seek a Proposed Project Mentor with whom to apply for this opportunity.

Up to two fellowships, each with a $5,000 stipend, will be offered this summer to enable selected students to conduct independent research under the guidance of a Proposed Project Mentor. The application process requires submission of a mentor-proposed natural or social science-based research project and a student nomination for the research fellowship. The project must be completed over the summer, and be focused on a coastal, marine or watershed issue relevant to the Connecticut Sea Grant Strategic Plan for 2018-2023, which can be accessed at: https://seagrant.uconn.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/1985/2020/11/CTSG-strategic-plan-2018-2023-final_optimized.pdf.

With this call, CTSG solicits project proposals and student nominees from Proposed Project Mentors affiliated with a Connecticut-based college, university, or non-profit educational/research institution. The Proposed Project Mentor will be responsible for providing the nominated student with resources, guidance and mentoring to undertake a meaningful natural or social science-based or policy-related fellowship project. Prospective Proposed Project Mentors should nominate students from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups, individuals with disabilities, and/or individuals from economically or educationally disadvantaged backgrounds. Student Nominees must have completed at least one year at an accredited two- or four-year university or college in Connecticut and submit a statement of interest as part of the application process.

More information on applications and eligibility and responsibilities for mentors and applicants can be found here (pdf version) and here (Word version) or by contacting:

Dr. Syma A. Ebbin, research coordinator, CTSG College Program: syma.ebbin@uconn.edu.

New Haven artist chosen for 2021 CTSG Arts Support Award

Joseph Smolinski works on a sea coal mosaic in his New Haven studio. Photo: Jessica Smolinski
Joseph Smolinski works on a sea coal mosaic in his New Haven studio. Photo: Jessica Smolinski

Beachcombing with his wife and two children led New Haven artist Joseph Smolinski to the source of inspiration and raw materials for works he will create for Connecticut Sea Grant’s 2021 Arts Support Award Program that reflect on the human impacts of climate change.

His project, titled “Carbon Adrift: Sea Coal in the Long Island Sound” was chosen for the annual arts award program now in its 12th year. It awards $1,000 annually to artists to create works relevant to coastal and marine environments and Connecticut Sea Grant themes and who are expected to display their works widely.

“The older I get, the more I realize that creativity comes from things like leisure time, when you’re not trying to make art,” said Smolinski, chairman of the Department of Art and Design at the University of New Haven. “My family spends a lot of time on the shore exploring, and we started finding these dark rocks and I started wondering, ‘Are they natural or anthropogenic?’”

Those dark rocks turned out to be sea coal, both dislodged from coal deposits by natural forces and mined pieces that probably fell off barges and cargo ships.

“At every beach I’ve been to on Long Island Sound I’ve found them, from pieces as small as grains of sand to some as big as a hand, four to five inches across,” said Smolinski.

Joseph Smolinski holds one of the pieces of sea coal found on a Long Island Sound beach.
Joseph Smolinski holds one of the pieces of sea coal found on a Long Island Sound beach. Photo: Jessica Smolinski

He began reflecting on the processes that transformed plant matter into sea coal over millennium, and the use of coal as a fuel source by modern humans that contributes to climate change now threatening the planet. That evolved into the idea of using sea coal to make art that speaks both to its history in geological time scales, and to the impacts of the rapid consumption of fossil fuels by humans. The result will be mosaics of intricately patterned pieces of sea coal fixed to wood panels that Smolinski described as “images of the setting sun over Long Island Sound” that are intended to depict the sun as “the energy source that gives coal its anthropogenic value.”

In a complementary project that will be created for the project titled “Open Water,” Smolinski will use images of sunsets over the open waters of the Sound and the Atlantic Ocean onto which water is sprayed, then various pigments applied. By pairing the monochromatic mosaics with the “highly colorful and energetic nautical renderings” of the seascapes, Smolinski hopes to call attention to the future of the world ocean and its central role in human survival. He also hopes to develop a website for schools and environmental groups with information from his research about sea coal and the works created for his project. The various works will be created over the next year.

The independent review panel for the arts award said Smolinski’s project stood out for its “strong conceptual relationship between humans’ effect on the environment and artwork.” The panel also noted that the work addressed issues of materiality associated with environmental issues, eloquently evoking the transformation of materials such as coal through time.

“The submissions that we receive in response to the Connecticut Sea Grant Arts Support Awards program continue to amaze me with their varied aesthetic interpretations of Sea Grant’s mission,” said Syma Ebbin, CT Sea Grant research coordinator. “In addition to the creation of several art pieces, Joseph’s proposal will generate significant research and potentially will yield an educational website, gallery exhibitions, and a series of lectures to provide access to the art and science behind the art to local schools and the diverse communities within Connecticut.”

More information: Judy Benson, CT Sea Grant communications coordinator: judy.benson@uconn.edu; (860) 287-6426

One of the seascapes created for the "Open Water" series by Joseph Smolinski.
One of the seascapes created for the “Open Water” series by Joseph Smolinski. Photo: Jessica Smolinski

CT Sea Grant Post

3 Helpful Tips for Encountering a Horse on a Trail

It’s that time of the year again! With the weather warming up it’s the perfect time to get out and enjoy hiking trails both locally and globally.

Just like drivers share the roads with runners and bikers, trails are enjoyed by pedestrians, dogs, and people on horseback. Keeping this in mind, here are a few helpful tips for encountering a horse on a trail!

picture of people riding horses with text

picture of people riding horses with text

This message is brought to you by the UConn Extension PATHS team – People Active on Trails for Health and Sustainability. We are an interdisciplinary team of University of Connecticut extension educators, faculty, and staff committed to understanding and promoting the benefits of trails and natural resources for health, community & economic development and implementing a social ecological approach to health education.