NIFA Impacts

Extension Impacts – 2020

cover of 2020 Extension impact flyerExtension is a part of UConn’s College of Agriculture, Health, and Natural Resources (CAHNR). We have over 100 years of experience strengthening communities in Connecticut and beyond. 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

Rising to the Challenge

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, podcasts, WebEx meetings, and YouTube videos. Our educators created and released 318 new videos on YouTube in 2020. These videos reached 305,200 people and had 39,501 viewers that watched 1,200 hours of Extension instruction.

Programs delivered by Extension reach individuals, communities, and businesses in each of the 169 municipalities across the state (see map on last page). The By the Numbers 2020 highlights some of our key impacts from these initiatives.

Engaging Communities with UConn PEP

The University of Connecticut People Empowering People (UConn PEP) is a personal and family development program with a strong community focus. Retired UConn Extension educator Cherry Czuba started the program in 1996 with a USDA State Strengthening grant to the Department of Extension in the College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources. Building upon individual strengths the program encourages growth in communication, goal setting, problem solving, parent and family relationships and community involvement. While participating in the UConn PEP program, participants set goals, develop relationships and make connections. They also find their voice, share stories, and begin to believe they can make a difference.

family at PEP
A family at a 2016 PEP program.

UConn PEP expanded to other states, including Michigan, California, and Missouri. Connections were made with professors in South Africa and Egypt to establish the program in universities in those countries. The broad reach of the program continues with Massachusetts, Vermont, and Florida actively teaching PEP programs in 2016.

PEP participants realize their leadership potential and invest in themselves, their families and their communities. The program continues to grow through support from our partner organizations, including school districts, nonprofit organizations and faith-based communities. Funding for the programs comes from the state and local government, foundations, and local businesses.

Questionnaires are administered to all participants before programming begins and after it finishes in partnership with the Center for Applied Research in Human Development (CARHD) at the University of Connecticut. The pre-test questionnaires contain close-ended questions to measure self-assertive efficacy, sense of mastery, parental satisfaction, family problem-solving communication, and community engagement. The post-test questionnaires include the same questions as the pre-tests, as well as open-ended questions that asked participants about their overall satisfaction and feedback about the program.

Based on the data collected, CARHD assessed the effectiveness of the programs. Key findings from the analyses of the close-ended were that UConn PEP participants showed significant positive changes on self-assertive efficacy, sense of mastery, parental satisfaction, family problem- solving communication and community engagement.

Cherry Czuba
Cherry Czuba

The UConn PEP program has positively influenced communities across the state, as over 50 towns have had programs in the last twenty years. Participants enjoy the classes, the stories shared, the laughter, the trust within the group and the comfort in sharing and speaking with one another. The UConn PEP conversations empower participants to accomplish or obtain something. Every moment, every word, every tear, every laugh and every lesson becomes permanently ingrained in their minds and in their hearts.

For more information on the UConn PEP program visit http://pep.extension.uconn.edu or email cathleen.love@uconn.edu