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.
Connecticut has faced challenges related to sustainable landscapes, food and agriculture, health, and the climate for generations. As problems are solved, new issues arise. UConn Extension educators work in all 169 cities and towns of Connecticut to help solve the problems that our residents, communities, and state face. Connecting people with agriculture, the natural environment, and healthy lifestyles are critical components to a sustainable future. Extension works collaboratively with our partners and stakeholders to find solutions that improve our communities for the next generation.
Connecting Generations for Conservation
The Cheshire Land Trust’s largest conservation property, Ives Farm, is a working 164-acre farm along the Quinnipiac River that includes picturesque public hiking trails through 80 acres of woodlands with mature stands of oak, mixed hardwoods, and old field cedars. In recent years, the trails became overgrown, impassable in spots and largely unused.
A Cheshire Land Trust volunteer sought to restore the trails and enlisted the help of a Lyman Hall High School student to get it done. Together they organized trail stewardship days to clear and clean the trails, used smartphones and a 360-degree camera to map them, and created an interactive website to educate the public about the trails and encourage their use. The property is now one of the land trust’s most popular for recreational use and education about the value of conservation.
This is just one of over 64 local conservation projects that have been undertaken throughout the state by intergenerational (adult plus teen) teams in the Conservation Training Partnerships (CTP) Program, a multi-departmental and multi-college effort at UConn that is funded by the National Science Foundation. Extension educators from the UConn Center for Land Use Education and Research’s (CLEAR) Geospatial Training Program collaborate with faculty from the Department of Natural Resources and the Environment (NRE) and the Neag School of Education to create a unique intergenerational learning experience with innovative technology and conservation science to enhance community engagement in environmental issues.
Through the CTP, enthusiastic teens and knowledgeable local conservation leaders team up to form intergenerational teams, attend a two day workshop to build their skills, and then apply these skills to address local environmental issues. Many of the tools that the teams learn to use in the course of the workshop are free and accessible smartphone applications that marry mapping and ecological field data collection, the operation of which are taught by Extension’s Cary Chadwick and Dave Dickson.
The teams then plan and implement a local conservation project, with the guidance and help of project faculty from NRE, Extension and Neag. Issues addressed include water quality, recreational access, invasive species identification and removal, and biodiversity.
Within these broad categories, local projects have spanned a wide range including stream sampling, green infrastructure, grazing management plans, interpretive nature trails, wildlife monitoring, and more.
The program is truly one with multiple benefits. Local organizations and leaders get help in completing long-delayed “someday” projects, both participants learn about smartphone mapping tools and other technologies, and youth become more engaged in conservation science and action. “It is so inspiring to see local conservation leaders share their passion for the environment with the next generation of leaders and to see teens share their enthusiasm and technological skills to solve local challenges,” says Geospatial Extension Educator Chadwick.
John Volin, Vice Provost for Academic Affairs, NRE Professor and the Principal Investigator of the project, says, “It’s gratifying to think about all the local conservation projects we’ve jump-started throughout the state.”
Article by David Dickson
Extension 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. Our educational specialists are ready to work with you and your community.
Extension programs cover the full spectrum of topics aligned to the CAHNR 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
Programs delivered by Extension reach individuals, communities, and businesses in each of the 169 municipalities across the state (see map). The “by the Numbers 2019” highlights some of our key impacts from these initiatives.
UConn Extension has collaborated with our partners, communities and stakeholders for over 100 years. We are proud to serve all 169 cities and towns in Connecticut. The worldwide pandemic involving COVID-19 (coronavirus) has produced unprecedented challenges in the UConn community and around the world. Our services continue during this challenging time.
We are still delivering the science-based information you need. We are ready to answer your questions. Consult with us by email or on the phone. All of our educators are working and ready to serve you. Ask us a question online.
We are developing virtual programs to offset canceled in-person learning opportunities. Our educators are writing and updating fact sheets and other information. You have access to educational materials on our YouTube channel. We are growing our suite of online resources every day to meet the needs of our communities and stakeholders.
Resources for all audiences includes:
- Food safety and cooking
- Hand washing and sanitizers
- Infection prevention
- Financial advice
- Listings of open farms/farmers’ markets and school emergency meal distribution
Parents and families with children out of school can use the resources from our UConn 4-H program to provide new educational activities for youth. Activities available will keep youth engaged and learning and are appropriate for a variety of age groups.
A list of resources has been collected for Connecticut businesses. It is a clearinghouse of resources, and not an official site. Business owners can connect to the state resources we provide for official and legal advice.
Agricultural producers are still working on farms, in greenhouses and along the coast in Long Island Sound during the COVID-19 outbreak. Extension educators have developed resources for specific agricultural sectors, including fruit and vegetable farms, aquaculture, and nursery and landscape professionals. Links to important updates from the Connecticut Department of Agriculture also are available.
Our Extension educators are updating and adding resources regularly. Please visit http://bit.ly/COVID-19-Extension.
We are also ready to answer your other questions, including:
- How do I get my water tested?
- What is wrong with my plant?
- Can I eat healthy on a budget?
- How does my son/daughter join 4-H?
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.
We are here. We are ready to serve you.
Congratulations Vicki Wallace! Vicki, one of our Extension educators, was honored with the Dr. William H. Daniel Award at the STMA – Sports Turf Managers Association 2020 Conference. This prestigious award recognizes educators who have made significant contribution to the sports turf industry through research, teaching, or extension outreach.
Vickie Wallace is an Extension Educator and Program Director of UConn’s Sustainable Turf and Landscape Program. Ms. Wallace is part of a team of Extension specialists that provides Integrated Pest Management (IPM) education for CT landscape professionals and homeowners. One focus of Ms. Wallace’s program is the training of municipal and school grounds managers who maintain safe athletic fields and grounds without the use of pesticides, which are banned on school grounds in CT. In June, 75 turf managers and landscaping professionals took part in a 2-day Municipal Turf and School Grounds Managers Academy.
Ms. Wallace has also co-organized several other Extension programs, including both a School IPM and a Native Plants & Pollinators workshop. She has written and disseminated numerous educational articles on many topics, including Water Conservation in CT Landscapes, Deer Resistant Plants, Sustainable Landscaping, Designing and Maintaining Meadows, and Using Weather Stations for Athletic Field Maintenance. She has spoken at multiple regional and national conferences, including at this month’s New England Grows conference in Boston, MA. Additionally, she is developing a new UConn Extension website focused on Sustainable Landscaping.
Ms. Wallace is also co-leader on a research project, funded by the Northeast Regional Turfgrass Foundation and Northeast Sports Turf Managers Association, evaluating turfgrass species and overseeding rates as part of an athletic turf care program.
Dr. Carl Salsedo, UConn Extension Educator for Sustainable and Environmental Horticulture has been encouraging Connecticut residents to practice sustainable landscapes for years. Salsedo encourages everyone to practice sustainable landscaping as Connecticut residents look towards spring and warmer weather.
“I’ve been gardening sustainably at home in Burlington since before it was trendy,” Salsedo notes. “I use native plants and reduce the maintenance and inputs including fertilizer and water. I had to adapt some of my plant choices to the garden site and different microclimates. My plants are all boilerplate – low maintenance conifers, perennials and broadleaf plants that are easy to grow and maintain.
Can you give some examples of native plants from your garden or that people should try?
Shrubs such as northern bayberry (Morella pensylvanica), mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia) and winterberry holly (Ilex verticillata) require very little care.
Sustainability has an array of definitions. Salsedo has five main principles for maintaining a sustainable landscape:
– Develop a sustainable lawn that doesn’t rely on chemicals and nutritional additives. Weeds are okay.
– Use primarily native plants: alternatives to traditional choices.
– Foster a healthy environment utilizing drought tolerant and low maintenance grasses.
– A bio-diverse garden and landscape supports a wide variety of life.
– Recycle your leaves and grass clippings, use them as mulch or compost them in your gardens.
“If you do only one thing at home, recycle your leaves and grass clippings,” Salsedo states. “I use as much as 100 yards of fallen leaves as mulch in my gardens.” Some of these leaves come from a local landscaper who augments my supply.
“Through my work with UConn Extension, we have many resources available for people interested in sustainable practices in suburban landscapes,” Salsedo adds. He teaches the class, Fundamentals of Horticulture 1100 at the UConn Greater Hartford Campus. Salsedo also has a series on Connecticut Public Television (CPTV) called Gardening with Nature and a companion website at www.cptv.org keyword gardening. This past year CPTV and the Connecticut Public Broadcasting media lab created an interactive i-book for the Gardening with Natureseries that can be accessed at: (https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/gardening-with-nature/id679242172?mt=11.
What other resources are available or other upcoming programs are you working on?
I have fact sheets I’ve written and a lot of information is on the CPTV website. I give a lot of talks and am a member of the UConn Extension Connecticut School IPM Coalition team that works on sustainability issues on K-8 school grounds.
For more information about Sustainable Landscapes please contact Dr. Carl Salsedo at 860-570-9060 or firstname.lastname@example.org