poultry

Avian Influenza Frequently Asked Questions

This information is courtesy of the Connecticut Department of Agriculture.

What Is Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI)? 

Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) is an extremely infectious viral disease that occurs naturally in wild birds and can spread to domestic birds. 

The virus has led to the disposal of about 48 million poultry in 21 Western and Midwestern states since December of 2014. 

No confirmed cases have occurred since June. The virus has not been detected in the Northeast or Connecticut, but there is concern that it may spread to the Northeast during the fall or spring wild bird migration. 

Is there a public health risk? 

The federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC) consider the risk to people to be low, and no human infections have been detected. 

The risk to the food supply and consumers is also low, and controls are in place to preclude poultry and eggs from affected flocks from entering the food system. Poultry and eggs that are properly handled and cooked are safe to eat. 

What kind of birds can the virus affect? 

The virus can infect chickens, turkeys, pheasants, quail, ducks, geese and guinea fowl, as well as a wide variety of wild birds. 

How many poultry are there in Connecticut? 

There are an estimated 5 million poultry housed on approximately 240 farms in Connecticut. The state is also home to numerous people who own a small number of poultry for exhibition, meat and egg production. 

What is the state doing to reduce the risk of the virus spreading here? 

The state Department of Agriculture and other state and federal agencies have created a task force that is preparing for a potential incident of HPAI in Connecticut, and is ready to implement a response plan if necessary. 

The task force includes the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) – which is responsible for monitoring the wild bird population – the Department of Public Health, the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection, and the Connecticut Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory. 

The emergency response plan follows these five basic steps: 

Quarantine – restricting movement of poultry and poultry-moving equipment into and out of the control area. 

Eradicate – depopulate the affected flock(s). 

Monitor region – testing wild and domestic birds in a broad area around the quarantine area. 

Disinfect – kills the virus in the affected flock locations. 

Test – confirm that the poultry farm is free of HPAI. 

The task force is also in active, ongoing communication with neighboring states and the U.S Dept. Of Agriculture (USDA) to prepare for the detection of HPAI in Connecticut. 

The USDA has experience with the previous three HPAI outbreaks in commercial poultry in the U.S., in 1924, 1983 and 2004. No human illnesses were associated with those incidents, or the current one. 

The agriculture department has been conducting outreach about HPAI for several years. 

The agency is now working with poultry owners to prepare for a potential incident, and is urging them to register their birds with the state. 

How is the virus spread? 

It is typically spread to poultry from direct contact with wild birds or a contaminated environment. Once established in a domestic poultry flock, it can spread rapidly. 

It is also spread by the movement of infected poultry, contaminated poultry equipment, and people who can transfer the virus between farms on their shoes and clothing. 

What should poultry owners do to reduce the risk of its spread? 

Eliminate opportunities for domestic birds to interact with wild birds. Owners of birds should avoid visiting other farms, homes or facilities that also have birds. 

Those who must visit another premises with poultry should practice strict bio-security measures, such as wearing clean clothes and shoes, and keeping vehicles clean and free of dirt, manure and other organic material. 

In addition, knowing the signs to look for and monitoring the health of birds on a regular basis is very important. 

Signs to look for include: 

 Unusual, high mortality of birds 

 Nasal discharge 

 Respiratory distress 

 Swelling around the head, eyes and neck 

 Decreased consumption of food and water 

 A drop in egg production 

Poultry owners are being urged to register their birds or flocks with the state, and can do so by going to the homepage of the Dept. of Agriculture’s website: CTGrown.gov. 

Poultry owners may also call the Dept. of Agriculture at 860-713-2504. 

Who can I contact to register my flock or if I suspect my poultry are infected? 

Poultry owners may call the state Department of Agriculture at 860-713-2504, or the USDA’s toll-free number at 1-866-536-7593. 

Who can I contact if I find a dead wild bird that I suspect may be carrying the virus? 

Any concerns about wild birds should be forwarded to the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection’s Wildlife Division at 860-424-3011, or by clicking on www.cfwwildbirdmortalityreporting.ct.gov/ 

Job Opening: Temporary University Specialist – Poultry Extension

rooster at UConn facility
White leghorn roosters with chickens at the Poultry Uniton Jan. 27, 2017. (Peter Morenus/UConn Photo)

Temporary University SpecialistDepartment of ExtensionTolland County Office

UConn Extension at the College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources is looking to hire a Temporary University Specialist. The position would report to Dr. Indu Upadhyaya whom manages the coordination of a USDA-SAS grant. The candidate will assist with carrying out Poultry Extension Programs with respect to the grant in the state.

DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES

  • Prepare outreach material including educational exhibits, fact sheets, web sites, videos, podcasts, phone apps.
  • Collect data from on-farm demonstrations and workshops and analyze using statistical software such as SAS.
  • Collaborates with community agencies to establish partnerships.
  • Administers evaluation tools and conducts needs assessments.
  • Writes reports as directed.
  • Serves as contact with the community and provides for informational needs such as publications, project program materials and educational opportunities.
  • May serve as project liaison for the Poultry Extension Program at UConn.
  • Assist with managing the UConn-SAS project website.
  • Participates in staff meetings and in-service training.
  • Performs related duties as required.

MINIMUM QUALIFICATIONS

  • Bachelor’s degree in Animal Science or related fields.
  • Strong background in poultry sciences, with knowledge of statistics, programming, and basic graphic design.
  • Strong interpersonal skills.
  • Good written and oral communication skills.

APPOINTMENT TERMS

The initial term is a six-month appointment with the opportunity to continue for the duration of the grant. The position is based at the UConn Extension office at Tolland County Agricultural Center in Vernon, CT. Due to the special nature of this appointment, there is no guarantee of continuing your service beyond the specified end date. Salary will be commensurate with qualifications and experience.

TO APPLY

For full consideration, please submit a cover letter, a resume, and the names and contact information for three professional references to indu.upadhyaya@uconn.edu.

Employment of the successful candidate is contingent upon the successful completion of a pre-employment criminal background check.

All employees are subject to adherence to the State Code of Ethics which may be found at http://www.ct.gov/ethics/site/default.asp.

The University of Connecticut is committed to building and supporting a multicultural and diverse community of students, faculty and staff. The diversity of students, faculty and staff continues to increase, as does the number of honors students, valedictorians and salutatorians who consistently make UConn their top choice. More than 100 research centers and institutes serve the University’s teaching, research, diversity and outreach missions, leading to UConn’s ranking as one of the nation’s top research universities. UConn’s faculty and staff are the critical link to fostering and expanding our vibrant, multicultural and diverse University community. As an Affirmative Action/Equal Employment Opportunity employer, UConn encourages applications from women, veterans, people with disabilities and members of traditionally underrepresented populations.

(HR22-25)

Educator Spotlight: Indu Upadhyaya

Supporting Farmers, Businesses, Students and Communities

Indu
Photo: Kevin Noonan

With positive vision and great ambition, Indu Upadhyaya joined UConn’s College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources in June 2019 as an Assistant Extension Food Safety Educator. Indu obtained her Bachelor of Veterinary Science and Animal Husbandry (equivalent to DVM) and a Master’s degree in Veterinary Biochemistry from Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Veterinary Education and Research in Pondicherry, India.

After working as a practicing veterinarian in India for a year, she joined UConn to pursue her PhD from the Department of Animal Science focusing on poultry microbiology and safety.

After completing her PhD, Indu moved to the University of Arkansas Center of Excellence for Poultry Science, Fayetteville, Arkansas as a postdoctoral associate, working in collaboration with the USDA-ARS Poultry Production and Product Safety Research Unit.

Before returning to UConn as a faculty member, Indu worked as an Assistant Professor in the School of Agriculture at Tennessee Tech University for one year, where she led a collaborative research program in poultry and fresh produce safety. She also taught two upper-level undergraduate courses in poultry science and facilitated several outreach activities and recruitment drives in Tennessee.

“As I approach completion of two years in my current role, I feel respected and valued in my department and in the college community.” Indu says. “The majority of my work so far has focused on training Connecticut’s growers and producers to comply with the Produce Safety Rule (PSR), a part of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) that went into effect in 2016. I am also leading outreach efforts in several USDA, NE-SARE and CPS grants and look forward to contributing to them.”

Indu has conducted other trainings including Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP) training for meat and poultry producers. These provide the framework for monitoring the total food system, from harvesting to consumption, to reduce the risk of foodborne illness.

Indu is working alongside extension educators in the Northeast to conduct successful trainings for producers and growers. Working closely with Diane Hirsch, an Emeritus Extension Educator for Food Safety, has made for a smooth transition. With 2020 throwing curveballs for many of us, it did not dampen UConn Extension training programs including Food Safety.

“We have successfully completed multiple farmer trainings using remote learning,” Indu says. “This includes the Produce Safety Alliance Grower training (three courses with 52 trainees) and a, three-day, Meat and Poultry HACCP training (17 participants). I have also continued farm visits during the pandemic following CDC guidelines. Various online platforms have helped me to serve the Connecticut community by remote consultation on various food safety and handling practices.”

Indu has been awarded a Hatch-Multistate Hatch grant as lead PI for mitigating the food safety risks associated with fresh produce production and is a co-PI on several USDA-NIFA, and Northeast Sustainable Agriculture and Research Education grants.

However, the biggest highlight for her in collaboration with UConn CAHNR colleagues, is a $10 million federal grant to improve sustainable poultry production globally. The USDA-NIFA funded project is developing an integrated and sustainable program for enhancing the viability of antibiotic-restricted broiler production in the poultry industry. The project launched in September of 2020 and focuses on a systems approach integrating bird health, human health, and environmental remediations to improve the sustainability of antibiotic restricted poultry production.

As a critical element in this grant, Indu is focusing on poultry outreach for both consumers and stakeholders to educate them on interventions and sustainable methods of production. She will conduct workshops, train-the-trainer programs and on-farm demonstrations to disseminate the results of the research objectives, so the stakeholders can implement more sustainable production practices.

“While our communities face ever evolving and serious challenges due to the ongoing pandemic, associated financial difficulties and health risks, I will continue to support farmers, small business owners, students and other members of the community through research, trainings and consultation in the state, region and nationally.”

Article by MacKenzie White

Joe Emenheiser Joins UConn Extension as Diversified Livestock Educator

Joe EmenheiserUConn Extension is pleased to welcome Dr. Joe Emenheiser as our new statewide Livestock Extension Educator. Joe was raised in PA on a small family farm and got his start in the livestock industry with market lambs in 4-H. He built his own flock by shearing sheep and went on to attend Oklahoma State University and graduate with a degree in animal science. He was on the Reserve National Champion Meats and Livestock Judging teams at OSU, and then went to Virginia Tech where he received his MS in quantitative genetics and PhD in beef production systems.
Joe’s interest in meat quality improvement and carcass evaluation led him to work in both the livestock industry and in academia. He comes to us from the University of Vermont where he taught in the Department of Animal and Veterinary Sciences and was formerly the state Extension Livestock Specialist. He has also taught at the Vermont Technical College. Joe has developed his own flock of Suffolk and he serves on the Breed Improvement Committee of the United Suffolk Sheep Association. He will be working with diversified livestock producers statewide focusing on livestock and meat production systems and economic development.
Joe will be based in Brooklyn at the Windham Extension office. He will also be teaching one course a semester in the Department of Animal Science, including Livestock Management and Livestock and Carcass Evaluation.

Home With Chickens: Enhance Your Poultry Skills With Us

rooster at UConn facility
White leghorn roosters with chickens at the Poultry Uniton Jan. 27, 2017. (Peter Morenus/UConn Photo)

Chickens are increasing in popularity with many residents, and for good reason. Owning poultry provides a source of fresh eggs, and is fun. At some point, you may have questions while you are home with chickens

UConn Extension, part of the UConn College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources has a suite of resources for poultry owners. Videos, fact sheets and advice from our educators can help new chicken owners or seasoned poultry professionals enhance your skills and improve the health and wellbeing of your chickens.

Our poultry care video series with retired Extension Educator Dr. Mike Darre from the UConn Department of Animal Science can answer many of your questions. There are 10 videos:

  • How to hold your birds,
  • How to inspect your birds,
    Determining if your chicken is a good layer,
  • Watering systems,
  • Nest boxes,
  • Feeding,
  • Housing and heating,
  • Bird litter, housing, and
  • Egg cleaning and quality check.

Watch the entire series on our YouTube channel at https://bit.ly/HomeWithChickens.

Fact sheets on small flock management and poultry health issues are available at http://bit.ly/UConnPoultry. Links to other poultry resources are available on this site as well. Information covered includes breeds of chickens, coop designs, scaling up egg production, managing guinea fowl, and cleaning and disinfecting your poultry house, among others.

If you still have question, you can submit them online and one of our Extension Specialists will provide you with answers and additional resources. Submit your question at: https://bit.ly/AskUConnYourQuestions. You can also share your experiences and photos of your flock on social media with our hashtag, #HomeWithChickens.

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.

Survey for Poultry Producers

rooster at UConn facility
White leghorn roosters with chickens at the Poultry Uniton Jan. 27, 2017. (Peter Morenus/UConn Photo)

The University of Connecticut is collaborating with 14 multi-state institutions to put together a USDA grant on Agriculture and Food Research Initiatives titled: Systems-based integrated program for enhancing the sustainability of antibiotic-restricted poultry production.

Our focus is on sustainable poultry production and we are dedicated to help small, medium and large poultry farmers, processors and industry personnel to increase profitability, reduce input costs, increase productivity, and reduce losses due to environmental and biological stresses, including pests and diseases. In addition, this grant would help develop tools to enhance rural prosperity and health by ensuring access to affordable, safe and nutritious poultry products to sustain healthy lifestyles. 

The long-term objective of our project will ensure the sustainability of antibiotic-restricted broiler production by enhancing bird, human and environmental health, and ultimately increasing consumer acceptability and economic returns to farmers.  

We are using this survey questionnaire to gather information that will help us assess your needs for poultry research, education and outreach in the region. We would like inputs from all personnel involved with poultry production and processing such that our resources can better serve your needs in future.

We understand your time is valuable, the questionnaire should take only 3-5 minutes to complete.

Thank you

University of Connecticut Team

 

Please take the survey at bit.ly/PoultrySurvey

Meet Indu Upadhyaya: Food Safety Specialist

This article was originally published on Naturally.UConn.edu

Indu
Photo: Kevin Noonan

Where did you get your degrees? I received a bachelor of veterinary science and animal husbandry (equivalent to DVM) and a master’s degree in veterinary biochemistry from Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Veterinary Education and Research in Pondicherry. I completed my PhD from UConn in animal science with a focus on food safety and microbiology. (Editor’s note: Her graduate student profile is on this blog.)

What did you do before you came to UConn? Before I joined UConn, I worked as an Assistant Professor in the School of Agriculture at Tennessee Tech University for one year. I was involved with developing a research program on poultry and fresh produce safety, including writing grants and collaborating with other faculty from various disciplines. I also taught two upper level undergraduate courses and worked on several food safety outreach and recruitment activities in Tennessee.

What will your work here at UConn focus on? I plan to work with Connecticut poultry processors and fresh produce growers to promote food safety through dissemination of relevant research findings and associated trainings. I have visited various extension offices in Connecticut and the UConn campuses to begin to learn about food safety education requirements in the state.

For the first six months, I will concentrate on training Connecticut’s growers and producers to comply with the new Produce Safety Rule (PSR), which is part of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).

I will conduct other trainings, such as Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP) training for meat and poultry producers. Connecticut does most of its training sessions in early spring and late fall, but other New England states do their trainings at different times. This provides plenty of options for growers and producers who can attend training anywhere in the region.

In addition, I understand and appreciate that this is a New England effort, therefore, I will be meeting and working alongside extension educators in the region from other states to introduce myself.

Moreover, I enjoy writing grants and would focus on applying to agencies that promote food safety outreach. I believe this would add to a strong food safety research program here at UConn.

Name one aspect of your work that you really like. I love meeting new people, talking to them and making connections. I believe its important to learn about the challenges that poultry processors, fresh produce growers, stakeholders, farmers and workers face to comply with food safety regulations.  I want to know their concerns and help find solutions to their food safety issues. I think this aspect of my role blends well with my personality.

Is there anything else you would like us to know about you? I have a 2-year-old daughter, and I love spending time with her. Also, I am a die-hard tennis fan, and I am glad that Flushing Meadows, NY (venue for the US Open Grand Slam) is nearby.

Chicken Questions?

Do you own chickens? Our poultry care video series with retired Extension Educator Dr. Mike Darre can answer your questions. There are 10 videos, topic include: how to hold your birds, how to inspect your birds, determining if your chicken is a good layer, watering systems, nest boxes, feeding, housing and heating, bird litter, housing, and the egg cleaning and quality check. You can watch the entire series on our YouTube channel.

 

Basic Management of Small Poultry Flocks

By Michael J. Darre, Ph.D., P.A.S.

rooster at UConn facility
White leghorn roosters with chickens at the Poultry Uniton Jan. 27, 2017. (Peter Morenus/UConn Photo)

There are several basic needs that need to be provided for poultry. These are feed, water, fresh air, light, darkness, proper thermal environment, protection (from the elements, predators, injury and theft) and proper space. Proper housing and equipment will take care of many of these items. Poultry and other animals function normally when they exist in harmonious balance with the other living forms and the physical and chemical factors in their environment. Therefore, it is the role of the poultry owner to properly manage the animals in their care.

HOUSING

Poultry require a dry, draft free environment. Depending upon the number of birds to be housed, almost any type of building that provides controlled ventilation, such as windows and doors, can be used. Birds should be reared in high, well drained areas. The windows of the coop and, outside run should face south to allow maximum exposure to the sun throughout the year. This helps with warmth in the winter and dryness during the rest of the year.

If you are building new, consider a concrete floor and starting your walls with two concrete blocks. This will prevent rodents, snakes and other predators from digging under the walls and floors for entrance into the coop. If you use plywood for floor construction, consider using two layers of 3/4″ CDX plywood, with a layer of 1/4″ or 1/8″ galvanized wire mesh between the layers, then raise the floor off the ground with posts or 6″ x 6″ runners. Using runners allows you to move the coop as needed. Being off the ground also helps prevent rot and moisture in the coop. All this helps prevent predators from chewing through the floor. Some have found that using the double layer of plywood with wire mesh and insulation between the layers helps keep the coop warmer in the winter. Windows should also be covered with wire mesh to keep wild birds and other predators out. For summer, a wire mesh screen door helps keep the coop cooler at night.

Ventilation provides comfort for the birds by removing moisture, ammonia and other gases; provides an exchange of air and helps control the temperature of the pen. You can use natural or gravity fed ventilation with windows, flues and slats. Or you can use forced air ventilation if you have a larger number of birds. In a small coop (less than 150 sq ft of floor space) you can use a bathroom fan in the ceiling and slats in the walls or windows to remove excess moisture in the winter, much as it does in your home. It is important to remove excess moisture and ammonia from the coop, especially in cold weather when ventilation is at a minimum.

For predator protection, keep your birds confined with fence and covered runs. Outside run fencing should be buried at least 12″ to 18″with an 6″ to 8″ “L” or “J” to the outside, backfilled with rocks and soil to prevent digging predators. To prevent problems with flying predators, cover your outside runs with mesh wire or netting. A 3-4 ft. grid over the pen made from bailing twine has also proven effective against flying predators. A good outside run can be made by digging 12-18” with a slight slopeaway from the coop, and laying plastic sheetingdown (if you don’t have good drainage) with a drain pipe at the end to catch runoff. Add 4-6” of sand, cover with 1⁄4” wire mesh, add 4-6” of coarse gavel, cover with 1/4” wire mesh and topwith 4-6” of pea-gravel. Put a barrier around therun of 2×6” to keep the gravel in place. Or youcan use a good ground cover of millet, broomcorn, sorghum or other tall leafy vegetation which provides hiding space for the birds.

Space:

Birds need adequate space for feeding, exercise, breeding, nesting and roosting.

Minimum Space Requirements

poultry space requirements by type of bird

Roosts: Provide chickens with 6-10 inches of roost space per bird. Round roosts are the best, and a tree branch of about 1″ to 1.5″ in diameter works well. Meat birds and waterfowl do not require roosts.

Nests: It is best to provide one nest box for each 4-5 females in the flock. 12-14” cubeswith front open with perching space for the birds to stand on while entering the nest.

Floor material: Litter floors of wood shavings is the best. Wood has an excellent capacity to absorb moisture and then re- release it into the air. Whatever you use, keep it clean and dry.

FEED AND WATER

Birds need free access to fresh feed. Feeders can be made of wood, metal, or plastic, but it is important to provide about 2-3 linear inches of feeder space per bird and up to 6″ for meat type birds and turkeys. They should be adjustable in height so the lip of the feeder will be at the level of the back of the bird when standing. Keep troughs only half full to prevent feed wastage.

Fresh water should always be available to your birds, inside or outside. If using an open waterer keeping the lip of the waterer level with the back of the bird is essential. For winter watering, metal waterers can be placed on low temp heaters, keeping the

water at about 50oF. However, nipple waters are the best, since the birds cannot produce suction in their mouth. I recommend them over any open watering system. Use of a fish tank heater in buckets used for nipple waterers helps prevent freezing in the winter.

Commercial poultry feeds have been specially formulated for the type and age of your birds and are the best source of nutrition for your birds. For egg layers, a 14 or 16% CP laying mash or crumbles can be fed from the first egg until out of production. Chicks should be fed a 18-23% CP medicated starter, unless they received cocci-vac, then use a non-medicated starter feed, for six weeks. Then put on a 16-18% CP layer grower feed till 15 weeks or first egg, then on to the layer feed. Broilers should be feed a broiler starter (21-23% CP) feed for 3 weeks, and a 18-20% CP grower/ finisher till market.

LIGHT

Poultry require artificial lighting to maintain egg production during the short days of winter. Poultry are long-day breeders and we normally provide laying hens about 16 hrs of light per day throughout the year. Light timers set to come on at 5 am and off at 9 pm will supply the hours required. Low wattage CFL, LED or Incandescent lamps that supply about 1 foot candle of light at bird level is adequate. Use a 2700K lamp.

Never decrease the hours of light on laying hens or increase the hours of light on a growing bird.

BROODING

Raising and brooding baby chicks requires special care. Chicks need to be reared in isolation for disease prevention. They should be reared in a clean, disinfected environment. Baby chicks cannot properly regulate their body temperature for a few days after hatching and require a heat source. Heat lamps, brooder stoves, hovers and infrared heaters work well. A brooder guard, a ring of cardboard or plastic at least 18″ high on the floor circling the heat source keeps the chicks from getting too far from the heat and reduces drafts. Watch the birds, if they huddle under the heat source, they are too cool, if off to one side, a draft, if spread evenly, just right. For newly hatched birds is it best to provide them with water for the first couple of hours before giving them solid feed. This helps clean out their excretory system. If you get chicks from a distant hatchery through the mail, then give them a 5% sugar water solution for the first few hours to boost their energy level.

DISEASE MANAGEMENT

Refer to UConn Poultry Pages for more detailed information on health and diseases of poultry.

Download a copy of this article as a PDF.

Jessica LaRosa: 4-H Alumni Spotlight

Jessica LaRosa holding one of her Herefords at the 4-H fairThe UConn 4-H program fostered a passion for animals in Jessica LaRosa of East Windsor. While in 4-H, Jessica discovered she loved teaching the public and others about agriculture. “My passion for both animals and teaching other about agriculture is what led me to find my major at UConn,” Jessica says.

Jessica joined the Merry Mooers 4-H Dairy Club in Hartford County when she was 10 years old. During her 4-H career she was also active with Hemlock Knoll 4-H, First Town Veterinary Science, and Granby 4-H. Her projects included poultry, dairy goats, rabbits, swine, beef, and veterinary science. She gained leadership experience as a club officer, and serving on the officer team of the Hartford County 4-H Fair Association. Jessica represented UConn 4-H at National 4-H Dairy Conference, the National 4-H Conference, and Citizenship Washington Focus.

“I applied to UConn because the campus felt like home to me due to the number of 4-H events that I attended on the Storrs campus,” Jessica says. “4-H influenced my choice in university and major.” UConn 4-H hosts numerous events throughout the year on the Storrs and the Greater Hartford campuses. Jessica was one of many 4-H members to attend 4-H Dairy and Beef Day, Goat Day, and the New England 4-H Poultry Show on the UConn Storrs campus.

Jessica is currently a sophomore in the Ratcliffe Hicks two-year program, graduating in May of 2018, and transferring to the bachelor’s degree program with a major in Agriculture and Natural Resources. Her expected graduation date is May 2020. She plans to apply to the Teacher Certification Program for College Graduates in the Neag School of Education at UConn and earn her master’s degree in Agriculture Education in May 2021. Jessica plans on becoming a high school agriculture teacher, and staying involved with 4-H by serving as a volunteer.

“The most rewarding part about 4-H for me was being able to get hands-on agriculture experience starting at a young age, and being able to network with both other 4-Hers, along with professionals in various industries of agriculture,” Jessica reflects thoughtfully. “I know those friendships will last a lifetime, and the professionals I have met will be helpful resources to me in the future.”

Jessica cites her 4-H experience as forming a baseline for what she is learning in her courses at UConn. Her background knowledge in animal science has made it easier to learn the detailed information in the courses she is taking.

“4-H has left a lasting impact on my life, and has shaped me into the person that I am today,” Jessica concludes. “For example, I had the opportunity to visit Washington D.C. for the National 4-H Conference, and presented on backyard farming with my roundtable group to the USDA National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA).”

Article by: Stacey Stearns