4-H youth

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.”

UConn Extension Gives Back

UConn Extension has a long history of delivering high-quality educational experiences to the citizens of Connecticut. These programs enhance the wellbeing of families, communities, and businesses across the state. Extension faculty and staff plan and implement programs, and feel a deep sense of pride and commitment to extending knowledge, and very often, changing lives in the process.

Many Extension employees and retirees feel strongly about the need to give back to the organization that gave them their livelihood. Two of UConn Extension’s generous donors, one a current employee and the other retired, explain why they give back, and what it means to see their contributions enhance the lives of others.

Nancy Bull
Nancy Bull

Nancy Bull, Extension Professor

“Why give? Giving was part of my growing up as I watched my parents involved with my dad’s students and my mom’s social organizations. When I started in Extension, I saw how much 4-H volunteers gave of their time and talents, and how unselfish they were. While we did not always agree on how to do something, or why we should do so, had it not been for the volunteers involved in the 4-H and county fair programs, there would have not been the opportunity for so many youth to learn and grow.

It is the give and take between and among our engaged volunteers that is humbling for me. Giving of time is not always possible, and so at times I have chosen to give money. I have seen what our Connecticut volunteers can do with donated funds given by others, and what a difference those funds can make.

Over the decades of being involved with 4-H I have watched volunteers who had very little in material goods, give
of their time over and over again, even when their opinions were not always in line with mine. As we watch youth grow and evolve, I can see the next generation of volunteers emerging. Hopefully a few dollars here or there will make their roles and responsibilities a little easier, and the load a little lighter.”

Carole Eller, Retired Extension Educator

“I began working for Cooperative Extension with the 4-H Youth Development Program when I was in college. For two summers I was the water- front Director at Nassau County 4-H Camp. It was there I learned that women didn’t need to be Home Economists to be educators. My first job was in Niagara County, NY. Here, I was able to do wonderful things for low-income girls. I got people to donate money that allowed girls in the summer program to be taken to dinner at an up-scale restaurant, a first experience, and high school students to attend a concert and summer stock performance. I could see the importance of private donations to the lives of 4-Hers.

I was non-traditional in many ways. 4-H was not all cows and cooking. I worked in New Jersey, and then came to Connecticut in the mid 1970’s. First, working in Windham County and then Tolland. At about this time, Elsie Trabue, a former secretary in the state office died and left a trust fund with the university for 4-H. This money had few, if any strings attached, and it provided funds for rich experiences for kids. She set an example for me. I want all children to have the experiences of a 4-H program, not necessarily in a specific project area, but citizenship, leadership, science and technology. I hope that my contributions help future Extension Educators have the resources to keep reaching out and expanding kids horizons, making the world exciting in positive ways.”

As we look to the future of Extension and the ability to provide innovative programming that impacts families and communities across the state, support is needed more than ever.

To make a donation, visit the UConn Extension Online Giving Page at s.uconn.edu/extension

Article by Nancy Wilhelm

4-H in Vernon Afterschool Program

youth members work on an afterschool project while a mentor observesThe 4-H in Vernon Afterschool Program was started in 2014 as a partnership between UConn Extension Tolland County 4-H and UConn Community Outreach (CO) Program. The 4-H in Vernon Afterschool Program is an enrichment opportunity where UConn CO student volunteers work with local area elementary school students in a fun and informal education setting, engaging in hands-on experiential learning activities in STEM and Healthy Living.

The 4-H in Vernon program meets on Monday, Wednesday and Friday in three elementary afterschool programs, presently run by the Vernon Department of Parks and Recreation. Coordinating all these partnerships and overseeing the program is the job of the UConn CO student leader.

For the last two semesters, Muhammad Shahzad has served as the UConn CO student leader for the 4-H Program.

Muhammad is responsible for coordinating between program and community partners as well as recruiting volunteers and implementing the program. He provides experience, motivation and opportunities for reflection for the collegiate volunteers, while striving to help meet the needs of the community.

Article by Maryann Fusco

Support 4-H Through Your Local Tractor Supply and JOANN Stores

paper clover graphic

Tractor Supply and JOANN stores across the country are supporting 4-H this spring through their Clovers for Kids and Paper Clover campaigns.  From March 1st to April 30th JOANN Stores nationwide will ask their customers to donate towards the 4-H Program through their Clovers for Kids Campaign which is in its second year of operation.  Both $1 and $4 donations are available.  Purchase of a $4 donation comes with a $4 off a future purchase coupon.  In addition, JOANN wants to support individual 4-H’ers involvement by providing a rewards card for 4-H members, leaders, staff and parents.  The rewards card gives holders 15% off JOANN graphictheir purchase every day.

Since it began in 2010, the partnership between Tractor Supply and 4-H has generated more than $11,000,000 nationwide in essential funding.  The spring promotion will commence on March 27 and run through April 7.  Tractor Supply customers can participate in the 2019 spring campaign by purchasing paper clovers for $1 or more at checkout.

In Connecticut Tractor Supply funds provide exciting opportunities for 4-H members to attend national 4-H leadership conferences such as National 4-H Congress and Citizenship Washington Focus.  Over 50 youth will benefit from these funds this year.  The JoAnn’s campaign provides support for the 4-H Expressive Arts Day along with other 4-H activities.  Visit your local Tractor Supply and JOANN stores this spring to ensure more kids get the chance to participate in hands-on 4-H programs.