4-H youth

Ready, Set, Go! For a Healthier You!

Welcome any youth between the ages of 7 and 18 interested in challenging themselves to improve how they feel and how they feel about themselves.  Join us for the next 6 weeks in learning about ways to practice good habits, and getting rewarded for doing it.  We will be holding a weekly workshop on a variety of healthy living topics that will be followed by a week-long challenge related to that topic. Your participation will earn points towards fun prizes – the more workshops you attend and challenges you complete, the more prizes you will become eligible for. No charge to participate!! This activity is sponsored by an award from National 4-H Council and the Walmart Foundation.

Ready, Set, Go! For a Healthier You! – Weekly Topics

  • Let’s Get Moving – June 15th, 7 p.m. – Focus on physical fitness and making summer safety a breeze
  • What’s Cooking? – June 22nd, 7 p.m. – Summer fun in the kitchen
  • Lettuce Learn about Nutrition – June 29th, 7 p.m. – What’s on your plate?
  • Go Bag Go! – July 6th, 7 p.m. – Make a go-bag 
  • Ready to be Mindful – July 13th, 7 p.m. – Taking a closer look  
  • Hydration Station – July 20th, 7 p.m. – Getting bored with water?
  • 4-H Healthy Living Awards and Recognition Ceremony 

 Secure your place now – first workshop is next Tuesday, June 15.  Special offer to the first 50 registering – free 4-H zippered bag to be used for storing supplies in case of emergency.  Any questions, email Margaret.grillo@uconn.edu

Click Here to Register

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

Volunteer Spotlight: Dr. Larry Pennington  

Larry PenningtonUConn Extension is celebrating National Volunteer Week! Volunteers dedicate time to their communities, and we appreciate their contributions to make Extension programs successful. Dr. Larry Pennington is one of these people who embodies what a volunteer should be. He has volunteered his time for 23 years to UConn 4-H and his club, the First Town Veterinary Science 4-H Club. He enjoys volunteering his time and states, “just to know that I played a small role in their lives as they grew up, is so comforting and gives me great pride.”

Dr. Pennington started his 4-H club in 1998 with the goal of introducing young people to the veterinary science profession. He fills many roles as a volunteer working with youth. He is a leader, teacher, coordinator, and his favorite, a very proud advisor. He enjoys volunteering through 4-H because it has allowed him to stay connected with youth. Dr. Pennington is no stranger to  Extension’s 4-H program; he grew up participating in Ohio 4-H.

After two decades of service Dr. Pennington has truly made an impact on the lives of 4-Hers and the community. His4-H club members at a parade club has done numerous community service projects such as bringing pets to visit senior citizens in nursing homes and providing low-cost Rabies Vaccination Clinics locally. Dr. Pennington’s advice to Extension volunteers is to follow your heart. He also mentions the benefits of volunteering, including increased self-confidence and happiness. He states, “Your role as a volunteer can give you a sense of pride and identity, as it has with me.”

UConn 4-H is the youth development program of UConn CAHNR Extension. 4-H is a community of over 6 million young people across America who are learning Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM), leadership, citizenship and life skills through their 4-H project work. 4-H provides youth with the opportunity to develop lifelong skills including civic engagement and healthy living. Learn more and enroll your child in the UConn 4-H program at http://4-H.uconn.edu/

UConn CAHNR Extension has more than 100 years’ experience strengthening communities in Connecticut and beyond. Extension programs address the full range of issues set forth in CAHNR’s strategic initiatives:

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

Programs delivered by Extension reach individuals, communities, and businesses in each of Connecticut’s 169 municipalities. Learn more about our volunteer programs at s.uconn.edu/volunteers.

Article by Emily Syme

What is Extension – New Video Released

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

Litchfield County 4-H Names Public Speaking Winners

4-H cloverThe Litchfield County 4-H held their first annual County Public Speaking Contest recently with 12 talented 4-H members from throughout the county competing for the chance to represent the county at the State 4-H Public Speaking Contest at UConn in March. Ages of the participants ranged from 7 to 17 years old, and they chose to present a speech or do a visual presentation on a subject relating to their 4-H project or another area of interest to them. Topics ranged from poultry housing, equine therapy, the decline in the dairy industry, dog obedience and training, to goat milk, tractor use on a horse farm and preparing chocolate desserts, to name a few.

Public speaking is one of the many life skills that 4-H members learn as it is one of the most sought after “soft skills” in any industry or career path these members may pursue. Public speaking is the number one fear in the average adult, so these 4-H members begin to conquer that fear starting as early as age 7 in 4-H so that they become confident, outgoing and self-motivated young adults as they age out of 4-H once they turn 19.

Four of the contestants were selected as county winners and will compete at the State 4-H Public Speaking Contest in March at UConn. Owen Miller, from Torrington, a member from the Udder 4-H Dairy Goat Club, placed first in the Junior Speech division. Abigail Ceritello from Terryville, a member of the Busy Bunnies 4-H Club, placed first in the Junior demonstration division. Madeline Hall from Woodbury, a member in the Bethlehem Busy Stitchers 4-H club, placed first in the Senior demonstration division. Lillian Gura from Southington, a member of the Bits and Spurs 4-H Horse Club, placed first in the Senior Speech division.

4-H is a national program with six million youth participating in various project areas who learn life skills, supervised by over 500,000 volunteer leaders. Litchfield County has 26 active 4-H clubs with over 400 active members in those clubs. Project areas include but are not limited to beef cattle, canine, crafts, dairy cattle, dairy goats, equine, community nutrition, food safety, food preparation skills, horticulture, mechanics, oxen, poultry, robotics, sewing, sheep, small animals, STEM, and swine.

The 4-H program is organized into four program areas including Agriculture, Civic Engagement, Healthy Living and STEM. These themes all overlap throughout the 4-H experience, with emphasis placed on creating well-rounded individuals. 4-H is the youth development program offered through the UConn Extension system. The purpose of UConn as Connecticut’s land grant university is to provide the citizens of Connecticut with educational opportunities through teaching, research and extension programming. For more information about 4-H and how to join, please contact Bill Davenport, Litchfield County Extension 4-H Educator, at william.davenport@uconn.edu or at 860-626-6854.

4-H Program Teaches Finances to Military Youth

Reading Makes Sense Youth on the USS Constitution in Boston
Photo: Pamela Gray

A group of military affiliated youth recently wrapped up a six-week session of lessons about saving, spending, earning, and the value of a dollar, and their time. Following the Reading Makes Cents 4-H Afterschool Curriculum Guide, participants were able to inspect the hidden secrets of a dollar, learn about saving and spending, needs and wants, and budgeting and sharing (donating to those in need).

Each meeting was started with reading aloud a picture centered on the lessons for the day. The kids had a great time examining needs and wants through a fun experiential game where they decide what is actually necessary to spend money on. They ‘earned’ a week of minimum wage, and then were able to ‘shop’ some catalogs with prices listed – their money was more carefully spent when they considered the time it had taken them to earn it! They brainstormed options available for them to earn money (yard sale of their old toys, lemonade stands, chores for people), as well as ways they can give back to the community with their time instead of giving money.

The stories The Hard Times Jar and If You Made a Million were the clear favorites. A visit from a Navy Federal Credit Union representative helped them explore credit and investments through age-appropriate games and rounded out the experience by providing families with information on the options available through the bank for military affiliated youth. To round out the experience with some real living history, the participants visited Boston, visiting the USS Constitution (the oldest commissioned ship in the Navy) and the Paul Revere house, ‘paying’ for their trip with tokens earned at the classes for attendance and good behavior. Overall, the experience will hopefully produce some great financially wise futures!

Article and photo: Pamela Gray

Auerfarm Appoints Erica Fearn as Executive Director

Erica FearnThe Auerfarm 4-H Education Center in Bloomfield, Connecticut announces the appointment of Erica Prior Fearn, CAE, as its new Executive Director, beginning July 24.

Fearn succeeds Interim Executive Director Barbara G. DeMaio, who held the position since March.

“Auerfarm is thrilled to have an executive of Erica’s caliber lead our organization. Her experience at the CT Farm Bureau at both the state and nationals brings a wealth of talent to our organization. In addition, Erica’s 25-year involvement with Connecticut

4-H, both as a youth participant and now as leader, speaks volumes about her commitment and passion for agriculture and the environment, which are at the heart of everything we do at Auerfarm,” said Mark Weisman, chair of Auerfarm’s board of directors.

“I have always admired the mission and work of Auerfarm. It is an invaluable community resource for children, families and guests from across the region who want to learn about agriculture and the environment. I look forward to working with its very dedicated staff and volunteer force to further enrich the visitor experience and chart Auerfarm’s future,” said Fearn.

In addition to her work with the CT Farm Bureau, Fearn served as a consultant to several agricultural and environmental related non-profits.  Fearn has a BS in Animal Science from UConn and earned a certificate in Financial Success for Non- Profits from Cornell University.

Fearn is a resident of West Suffield, CT.

“We are very thankful to Barb DeMaio for serving as our Interim Director for the past several months. Her work was integral in maintaining Auerfarm’s level of excellence as a community resource,” said Mary Eberle, Auerfarm board member and chair of the recruitment committee. “We also thank Harvest Development Group for their assistance is recruiting both Erica and Barb to our organization,” said Eberle. “Harvest identified the type of leaders that we needed to continue Auerfarm’s heritage as a one-of-a-kind destination and experience.”