Tolland county

Learning by Doing with Heather Wirth, Extension Intern

My name is Heather Wirth, and I am excited to be an intern this summer through UConn Extension. I am working with UConn 4-H – Tolland County to plan this year’s edition of 4-H Food Revolution. My job is to create a curriculum for a four day youth summer program as well as recruiting participants. During this program youth ages seven to eleven are given the opportunity to experience hands-on learning by partaking in STEM activities relating to preparation of food, gardening, and sustainable living. This program is an important enrichment opportunity for children during the summer, and it creates a foundation for healthy living habits as well as awareness of ecological topics. Food Revolution is a fun way to connect with youth about important environmental matters and to get them out in the field to experience exciting topics.The Food Revolution program also includes lessons and activities to get children started on a Junior Master Gardener certification. I hope to make an impact on the youth of my community by providing an exciting program that sparks curiosity and lifelong learning. 

During this internship, I am working on general recruitment of new members for Tolland County 4-H. By utilizing community based outreach, my goal is to spread awareness about getting involved in 4-H in order to bring in new adult volunteers as well as more youth participants. There are a vast array of ways for people to get involved and I would like to show those who are interested that they can bring valuable knowledge and skills to the 4-H community. I would like to implement educational sessions and resources (such as brochures and social media posts) to a broad audience to spur the interest of newcomers to the organization. Another major component of my internship program is to facilitate the Tolland County 4-H Fair in August. In preparation for the event I will serve as a resource for the youth participants, assist the fair board, and conduct general organization.   

Stephen Gustafson Names Northeast 4-H Volunteer of the Year

Steve Gustafson playing soccerCongratulations to Stephen Gustafson, Tolland County 4-H Volunteer, who has been selected by National 4-H Council to receive the Northeast Volunteer of the Year award for 2020. Steve helped create and is the leader of the Paca Pals 4-H club. The Paca Pals are an alpaca club. The club meets at the Round Hill alpaca farm monthly. At the meetings the youth conduct a business meeting, learn about alpaca care and showmanship, and plan their yearly calendar. Their calendar is youth driven and is for activities, competitions and community outreach. Steve empowers the club members to take on meaningful leadership roles in the club and their community. He works equally well with youth members and adult stakeholders. Steve looks for opportunities beyond the farm where the youth can learn and grow.

Off the alpaca farm, Steve found a place for the youth to learn and grow in the Tolland Agriculture Center (TAC) 4-H Children’s Garden. The garden was established in 2002 and has been maintained by the 4-H club program for many years. A neighbor on the TAC property is the Creative Living Community of Connecticut (CLCC) Greenhouse and vocational program. The CLCC greenhouse sits right next to the 4-H Children’s garden. The work of CLCC, to create opportunities for people with and without disabilities to work and learn together, is a wonderful match with the work of 4-H. The garden and greenhouse being neighbors has enabled the CLCC farmers to work outside in the garden in the summer with the 4-H program. Steve has been instrumental in fostering this partnership. He is able to coordinate between the two groups because of his volunteer work with both. The 4-H youth and CLCC farmers are both learning valuable vocation and life skills. The UConn 4-H Program is honored to announce this well-deserved recognition for Steve.

Job Opening: Tolland County Master Gardener Coordinator

pink roses in a natural garden in West Hartford
Roses in a garden in West Hartford. Photo: Max Pixel
The UConn Extension Master Gardener Program is seeking applications for the position of Master Gardener Tolland County Program Coordinator. This is a 16‐hour‐per‐week position and is a temporary, six‐month appointment. Renewal is optional pending coordinator review and availability of program funding.