youth development

UConn 4-H Escape Moves to the Next Level

group of girls wearing masks with their screen that says Escape RoomThe UConn 4-H program introduced escape rooms in 2019 as a tool for teaching concepts and content to youth in a fun and interactive manner. This saw great success among audiences of all ages and was repeated a second time in early 2020. Then March 2020 introduced the pandemic and shuttered all in-person 4-H programming. This necessitated the need to switch gears and discover new ways to reach young people in non-traditional formats.

Thus, the 4-H Escapes digital breakout website begun. There was a desire to replicate the success of these in-person breakout activities into a format that could be delivered in the new digital environment everyone suddenly found themselves living in. We designed the first digital escape room activity titled The Secret Clover Stash in the summer of 2020. This first escape room was very rudimentary in its presentation due to limited knowledge by designers at the time. Over the course of the summer new skills were learned and more sophisticated ways to present the content was developed. Using Google Drive software such as Sites, Slides, Forms and Docs, designers crafted immersive, educational experiences for youth using video game design concepts. Similar to the live escape rooms, this digital model challenged participants to solve a series of puzzles to unlock doors to delve deeper into the experience until they reach their ultimate goal.

From the beginning, the desire of the design team was to develop a series of digital breakout experiences on a variety of topics. Many teachers from around the country have used this format to create fun and interactive learning opportunities for their students. However, there was nothing that directly focused on 4-H themed topics. Therefore UConn Extension 4-H educators Marc Cournoyer and Emily Alger began creating content that would fill this void. The Secret Clover Stash was the first but not the last. Since its start in the spring of 2020 the 4-H Escape website now houses a total of seven separate digital breakout activities with more added regularly.

This led to additional partnerships within UConn, as well as with outside educators from other institutions around the country. In the spring of 2021, Michael Puglisi from the UConn Department of Nutritional Sciences inquired on ways to potentially partner some of his students with the design team. Like 4-H, the EFNEP program was in search of innovative ways to deliver educational content to their youth audiences throughout the state. 4-H educators partnered with nutritional sciences undergraduate students to give them the tools to create additional content they would be able to deliver electronically to their audiences. This was a win for everyone, since now EFNEP had new resources and the 4-H Escapes website benefited from the additional content available to their growing audiences.

The summer of 2021 saw the addition of undergraduate Colleen Brady to the design team as part of her summer internship with the Windham County 4-H STEM program. Colleen quickly became a valuable asset to the team designing five new digital breakout activities during the summer months. She is now serving as a peer mentor to the next batch of nutrition students who are interested in becoming content designers.

The growth of the 4-H Escape project goes beyond UConn as partnerships have been developed with 4-H educators throughout the country. This includes universities such as Michigan State, Virginia Tech, the University of Wisconsin. The most recent partner is a 4-H educator from Hawaii who was interested in replicated The Secret Clover Quest to use with her 4-H members throughout the state.

There is also a proposal to design a 4-H horse themed digital breakout in partnership with Dr. Jen Nadeau of the UConn Department of Animal Science to be presented in the spring of 2022 at a national level conference.  This will provide the design team with additional opportunities to share what they have created and the various ways this technology can be replicated and used throughout the country.

The greatest value is that this resource is not limited by geographic borders or space limitations.  Anyone can participate from anywhere.  For more information of the program contact Marc Cournoyer at marc.cournoyer@uconn.edu or 860-774-9600.  All digital breakout activities can be found at https://4-h-escape.extension.uconn.edu/.

UConn 4-H is the youth development program of UConn CAHNR Extension. 4-H is a community of over 6 million young people across America who are learning Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM), leadership, citizenship and life skills through their 4-H project work. 4-H provides youth with the opportunity to develop lifelong skills including civic engagement and healthy living. Learn more and enroll your child in the UConn 4-H program at http://4-H.uconn.edu/.

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.

Article by Marc Cournoyer

4-H Mentoring Continues Serving Youth 

Antwon with his 4-H mentoring awardsYouth in Waterbury continued benefitting from the 4-H Mentoring project during the pandemic. The 4-H Mentoring Project is a prevention program where youth gain knowledge, build character, and develop life skills. It is a fun learning environment that helps them become self-directing, productive members of society.  

Approximately 45 youth ages nine through 14 participate annually. Mentoring is a proven strategy for helping at-risk youth achieve a better future. They are more likely to succeed with the extra support of a caring, consistent adult mentor. 

The program increases their interpersonal skills and strengthens family bonds through the 12-month mentoring program. The three project components, mentoring, 4-H activities, and family nights, all contribute to positive impacts.  

The 4-H Mentoring Project provides youth and their families opportunities to broaden their horizons with positive involvement in all that UConn 4-H offers. It’s a win–win for both agencies we partner with, and for youth and their families. 

By Edith Valiquette 

Part-Time Positions on Biotechnology Grant Project

youth with DNA strand

UConn Extension has two part-time positions open on a biotechnology grant project. These positions are both four-year appointments through the grant period.

The grant will create 4-H clubs focused on teaching teen members about biotechnology and encouraging them to pursue it as a career. Cohorts of 4-H youth will work with the UConn and NMSU teams to learn about biotechnology and create games about biotechnology careers.

The outreach effort will target high school-aged youth already in 4-H youth development programs in Connecticut and the surrounding area. The researchers will prioritize working with communities currently underrepresented in STEM fields.

The project will provide participants and their families with informal education in food and agricultural sciences, teaching them about potential careers in biotechnology, including gene editing.

Using a game-based learning approach, participants will learn about the safe use of biotechnology for agriculture and career opportunities in this field. The UConn team is partnering with the New Mexico State University Learning Games Lab to develop these educational games, and the youth will be involved throughout the process.

Participants will develop outreach materials to communicate science-based information about biotechnology to their peers and adult audiences. This effort will help build public trust in these methods. A multimedia dissemination approach will make use of diverse tools such as YouTube, social media, a website, seminars, and workshops. Learn more about the grant.

Online 4-H Record Book using ZSuite

Have you started your 4-H record book for 2021-2022? This year you can record keep on your mobile device or computer through ZSuite, use printed sheets, and handwrite or download and type into the sheets.
Please check with your club leader or local 4-H Office for more information on how record sheets will be reviewed for project entry at fair.

Learn how to use ZSuite for record keeping by watching this video s.uconn.edu/4-hrecord

Faces of Extension: Bill Davenport

Bill DavenportBill Davenport quote

Meet Bill Davenport, our UConn 4-H Litchfield County Educator. “After growing up as an active UConn 4-H member, my ultimate career goal was to become a UConn 4-H Educator so I could help provide 4-H youth with the life-changing experiences, skills and friendships I received from my own 4-H experience. I am thrilled to finally reach my goal of being the Litchfield County UConn 4-H Educator!”

Job Openings in Farmington and Bethel

woman raising her hand in a classroom surrounded by other people
We’re hiring! Extension has two positions open:
  • Assistant/Associate Cooperative Extension Educator (UConn 4-H educator based in our Bethel office)
  • Educational Program Assistant 1, Hartford County Extension (75% part-time position located in Hartford).
 

Educational Program Assistant (75% Position)

JOB SUMMARY

The UConn Extension Center located in Farmington, CT is seeking applications for one Educational Program Assistant 1, part-time position (75%).  The position is responsible for supporting and helping implement high-quality, comprehensive, Extension programming at different program sites throughout the region, with specific support to Forest Resources, EFNEP, Master Gardener, and 4-H programs.  The Educational Program Assistant will report to the Center Coordinator to prioritize programmatic work assignments.

DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES 

Include but are not limited to:

  • Assists and provides support to Extension Educators working with programs that may include but not be limited to Forest Resources, EFNEP, Master Gardener, and 4-H programs.
  • Assists in developing educational programs, recruiting, explaining, and providing program information and processes to Extension volunteers and participants.
  • Works with and helps develop and refine program databases using programs such as Excel and Access, to extrapolate relevant data sets, maintain program enrollments, membership, and volunteer records, and provide program reports to the Extension educators as required.
  • Maintains accurate records on each program and assembles databases and prepares statistical and/or historical reports for Extension educators/Program Coordinators based on program outcomes.
  • Performs office support functions in support of educational programs; processes paperwork, records, and files that may be computerized.
  • Supports Extension Educators/Program Coordinators in implementing and providing off-site educational activities in the community to improve practical understanding and accomplish program goals.
  • Provides assistance in assembling, arranging, organizing, and dismantling program event and activity set-ups and arrangements at various locations and venues, i.e. classrooms, fairgrounds, community centers, etc.
  • Supports media relations activities for various programs; works with others to write and edit program and promotional materials for hard and soft copy publications and social media platforms.
  • Assists Extension Educators/Program Coordinators in assessing clients’ capacity to participate in programs and helping to incorporate related knowledge into program activities for greatest learning opportunities.
  • Assists Extension Educators/Program Coordinators in developing and implementing programs to enhance learning and provide appropriate content-based experiences to accomplish program goals.
  • Under supervision, provides educational training and conducts related support services on an ongoing basis, and assists in resolving problems in assigned area of responsibility.
  • Assists with increasing community collaborations with partner groups.

MINIMUM QUALIFICATIONS   

  • Bachelor’s degree in a related field and up to one year of related experience; or an Associate’s degree and two to three years of related experience; or three to four years of profession-based experience in agriculture, food systems, education, 4-H, or related fields.
  • Demonstrated written and verbal communication skills and the ability to work effectively with communication technologies and the media.
  • Proficiency in Microsoft Office Suite including Excel and Access and other database activities.
  • Demonstrated sensitivity towards diverse youth, families, and volunteer clientele to be served.
  • Demonstrated experience providing organizational support in a team environment.
  • Knowledge and familiarity with the Cooperative Extension System.
  • Must be able to regularly lift, carry, load, unload, and transport equipment, supplies, and/or program materials for educational events and workshops such as laptops, projectors, tables, chairs, displays, paper media, etc.
  • Must be willing and able to work flexible and irregular hours, including occasional nights and weekends to help conduct programs at off-site locations.
  • Must have reliable transportation to meet in-state travel requirements (mileage allowance provided).

PREFERRED QUALIFICATIONS 

  • Demonstrated success in public relations utilizing electronic, social, and print media and platforms such as Cushy/Aurora.
  • Experience working with large databases, and generating reports including 4-H online registration.
  • Experience participating with collaborative community partnerships.
  • Experience working with UConn administrative processes.
  • Experience with STEM (Science, Technology. Engineering, and Mathematics) technology.
  • Bilingual Spanish and English

Physical Requirements

Incumbents must possess the ability to perform the required duties set forth above.

APPOINTMENT TERMS

The position is located at the Hartford County Extension Center in Farmington, CT, however, regular travel within the region will be required. Occasional in-state travel to other UConn campuses, including Storrs, may be required in support of program needs. This part-time position includes an outstanding full benefits package. Salary will be commensurate with successful candidate’s backgrounds and experiences.

TERMS AND CONDITIONS OF EMPLOYMENT

Employment at the University of Connecticut is contingent upon the successful candidate’s compliance with the University’s Mandatory Workforce COVID-19 Vaccination Policy.  This Policy states that all workforce members are required to have or obtain a Covid-19 vaccination as a term and condition of employment at UConn, unless an exemption or deferral has been approved.

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

TO APPLY

Please apply online at https://hr.uconn.edu/jobs, Staff Positions, Search #495676 to upload a resume, cover letter, and contact information for three (3) professional references.

This job posting is scheduled to be removed at 11:55 p.m. Eastern time on October 30, 2021.

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.

Advertised: Sep 30 2021 Eastern Daylight Time
Applications close: Oct 30 2021 Eastern Daylight Time


Assistant/Associate Extension Educator

INTRODUCTION

The Department of Extension is seeking applicants for a full-time (11-month), non-tenure track Assistant/Associate Extension Educator, primarily based at the Fairfield County Extension Office in Bethel, CT.  Extension Educators are community-based faculty who make a difference in communities by connecting community needs with university resources. Position level/rank will be commensurate with experience working with Extension.  The anticipated start date is January 2022.

The successful candidate shall create an active 4-H youth development program with a focus on STEM, food, and agricultural literacy.  The program of work shall meet critical needs in the heavily urban southwest region of the state and build the community knowledge base through a multidisciplinary, collaborative program especially in diverse, underserved communities. State and multi-state programming are also expected.  Work will be accomplished by utilizing innovative approaches to deliver timely, evidence-based solutions for participants to significantly increase youth and adult volunteers’ understanding of how food, agriculture, and STEM activities improve their communities. This position may work closely with Agri-Science programs to transition K-8 youth into high school agriculture/aquaculture science programs and other related workforce and career development programming such as MANRRS (Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences).  In addition to community-based learning, this position will extend the reach of UConn Extension by integrating distance-learning technology into program delivery through computer applications, web pages, electronic mailings, multimedia, and emerging technologies.  This 4-H Extension educator is a vital member of the UConn 4-H Youth Development Team and reports to the Head, Department of Extension.  For more information about the University of Connecticut 4-H Extension Program, see http://www.4-h.uconn.edu/

The College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources (CAHNR) at the University of Connecticut contributes to a sustainable future through scientific discovery, innovation, and community engagement. CAHNR’s accomplishments result in safe, sustainable, and secure plant and animal production systems, healthier individuals and communities, greater protection and conservation of our environment and natural resources, balanced growth of the economy, and resilient local and global communities. We epitomize the role of a land-grant university to develop knowledge and disseminate it through the three academic functions of teaching, research, and outreach. In so doing, we improve the lives of citizens of our state, region, and country.

Founded in 1881, UConn is a Land Grant and Sea Grant institution and member of the Space Grant Consortium. It is the state’s flagship institution of higher education and includes a main campus in Storrs, CT, four regional campuses throughout the state, and 13 Schools and Colleges, including a Law School in Hartford, and Medical and Dental Schools at the UConn Health campus in Farmington. The University has approximately 10,000 faculty and staff and 32,000 students, including nearly 24,000 undergraduates and over 8,000 graduate and professional students. UConn is a Carnegie Foundation R1 (highest research activity) institution, among the top 25 public universities in the nation. Through research, teaching, service, and outreach, UConn embraces diversity and cultivates leadership, integrity, and engaged citizenship in its students, faculty, staff, and alumni. UConn promotes the health and well-being of citizens by enhancing the social, economic, cultural, and natural environments of the state and beyond. The University serves as a beacon of academic and research excellence as well as a center for innovation and social service to communities. UConn is a leader in many scholarly, research, and innovation areas. Today, the path forward includes exciting opportunities and notable challenges. Record numbers of undergraduate applications and support for student success have enabled the University to become extraordinarily selective.

DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES 

Include but are not limited to

  • Develops and implements an active outreach and applied-research program on cutting-edge 4-H STEM, food, and agricultural literacy-related activities that foster state, regional, and national recognition.
  • Works with other faculty and staff and partner organizations in a multidisciplinary team environment to create and deliver age-appropriate program materials. Sets up program sites and meeting rooms for the presentation of programs that involve transporting, lifting, and moving boxes of educational and/or program materials as well as tables, chairs, etc., as needed.
  • Create partnerships with other agencies and organizations and actively seek out grants and funding sources to support innovative community programs and outreach efforts.
  • Advances CAHNR’s commitment to equity and inclusion by 1) considering sources of bias and structural inequity based on race, ethnicity, disability, gender, and sexual orientation, and when appropriate, 2) implementing programs that address the burden these injustices impose on members of the community and residents of the state.
  • Evaluate county and designated state 4-H youth development program accomplishments, outcomes, impacts, and create scholarly materials from findings through Cooperative Extension publications and high-impact professional journals.
  • Develop a diverse portfolio of educational materials for Extension stakeholders, clients, and professional peers.
  • Uses assessment techniques to identify local needs and ensure cultural relevancy and appropriateness of 4-H programs and initiatives.
  • Develop and implement adult and youth volunteer programs including recruitment, training, management, evaluation, and recognition.
  • Increase program visibility via face-to-face and electronic communication – including websites and social media.
  • Design training opportunities and expand contact with adult volunteers and teens to help them assume leadership, management, education, and information delivery roles in support of the 4-H program through a variety of digital platforms and avenues of communication.
  • Advise and guide the work of county-based 4-H youth and volunteer committees, including but not limited to evaluation events such as 4-H fairs, food, STEM, and others.
  • Manages and executes multiple tasks with little supervision, meeting strict deadlines.
  • Works with sensitive information and maintains confidentiality.
  • Participate in regular 4-H team and Department of Extension meetings.
  • Compile data and prepare required reports.
  • Supervise program staff, students, and others as assigned to further program activities, which includes program site locations throughout the southwest region of the state.
  • Perform related duties as assigned and/or required.

MINIMUM QUALIFICATIONS

  • An earned Master’s and Bachelor’s degree in food or agricultural sciences, education, or related field.
  • At least three years of professional experience working with youth development programs including the areas of food and/or agricultural literacy.
  • For the Associate position level, candidates must have at least five years of experience as an Assistant Extension Educator or the academic equivalent and provide evidence of appropriate outreach and applied research.
  • Experience in grantsmanship and publication of Extension reports, peer-reviewed articles, or electronic media that communicate program results.
  • At least three years of experience in managing or working with volunteers.
  • Experience in program coordination and facilitation, including organization, delivery, and evaluation.
  • Demonstrated use of the latest research-based and experiential learning-based information and tools to demonstrate creativity, ability to think systematically, willingness, and ability to incorporate innovative solutions.
  • Demonstrated ability to work cohesively with diverse audiences including youth, adults, volunteers, and other groups.
  • Demonstrated skills in collaboration and developing partnerships with other professionals and organizations to accomplish team goals.
  • Excellent communications skills, including writing, listening, public speaking, and presentation skills.
  • Computer literacy, including working knowledge of Microsoft Office Suite.
  • Must be willing and able to work occasional evening and weekend hours.
  • Must have reliable transportation and a valid driver’s license.
  • Must possess the adequate physical strength, stamina, agility, and fitness to perform the required duties.

PREFERRED QUALIFICATIONS

  • Earned Ph.D. in the field of food or agricultural sciences, education, or closely related field.
  • Experience with integrated Extension programs and the land-grant university system.
  • Demonstrated applied research interests associated with STEM programming.
  • Demonstrated experience with enhancing diversity and inclusion in educational program development and implementation.
  • Experience in leading a large multi-disciplinary, multi-functional grant-funded project.

PHYSICAL REQUIREMENTS

Must possess the adequate physical strength, stamina, agility, and fitness to perform the required duties.

APPOINTMENT TERMS  

This is a full-time 11-month, non-tenure track faculty position with a generous benefits package. For more information on benefits, go to:  https://hr.uconn.edu/employee-benefits-overview/.  Starting salary and position rank for this position will be commensurate with training and experience.

TERMS AND CONDITIONS OF EMPLOYMENT

Employment at the University of Connecticut is contingent upon the successful candidate’s compliance with the University’s Mandatory Workforce COVID-19 Vaccination Policy.  This Policy states that all workforce members are required to have or obtain a Covid-19 vaccination as a term and condition of employment at UConn, unless an exemption or deferral has been approved.

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

TO APPLY

Please apply online to Academic Jobs Online https://academicjobsonline.org/ajo/jobs/18891 and submit the following application materials:

  • A cover letter that addresses qualifications identified in the advertisement,
  • Curriculum vitae,
  • Commitment to diversity statement (including broadening participation, integrating multicultural experiences in instruction and research and pedagogical techniques to meet the needs of diverse learning styles, etc.);
  • Writing sample to reflect an initiative you would implement in Extension Programming;
  • Contact information for three (3) letters of reference.

Please demonstrate through your written application materials how you meet the minimum qualifications and any of the preferred/desirable qualifications.

At the University of Connecticut, our commitment to excellence is complemented by our commitment to building a culturally diverse community.

This job will be filled subject to budgetary approval.

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.

UConn 4-H’er Selected as Runner Up for National 4-H Award

Olivia HallNational 4-H Council announced that Olivia Hall of Litchfield County is a runner up for the 2022 4-H Youth in Action Award for Healthy Living. Hall is recognized nationally for her commitment to addressing food insecurity in her community and surrounding areas.

Already aware of the food insecurity issues in her community, Hall noticed how the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated these needs further. School and business closures caused dairy farmers to dump their now-excessive milk supplies. The resourcefulness and leadership skills gained through 4-H helped motivate Hall to create “Operation Community Impact,” a bi-weekly milk delivery service to food insecure families in her county and across her state. She has taken on the responsibility of recruiting volunteers, loading and delivering pallets of dairy products, and raising money to continue supporting this project further.

Still planning to continue her project from college, Hall is a freshman at University of New Haven studying Criminal Justice.

The 4-H Youth in Action Awards began in 2010 to recognize 4-H’ers who have overcome challenges and used the knowledge they gained in 4-H to create a lasting impact in their community. To learn more about the 4-H Youth in Action program and the 2022 runners up, please visit http://4-H.org/YouthInAction.

About 4-H Nationally
4-H, the nation’s largest youth development organization, grows confident young people who are empowered for life today and prepared for career tomorrow. 4-H programs empower nearly six million young people across the U.S. through experiences that develop critical life skills. 4-H is the youth development program of our nation’s Cooperative Extension System and USDA, and serves every county and parish in the U.S. through a network of 110 public universities and more than 3,000 local Extension offices. Globally, 4-H collaborates with independent programs to empower one million youth in 50 countries. The research-backed 4-H experience grows young people who are four times more likely to contribute to their communities; two times more likely to make healthier choices; two times more likely to be civically active; and two times more likely to participate in STEM programs.

Learn more about 4-H at www.4-H.org, find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/4-H and on Twitter at https://twitter.com/4H.

About UConn 4-H

UConn 4-H is the youth development program of UConn CAHNR Extension. 4-H is a community of over 6 million young people across America who are learning Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM), leadership, citizenship and life skills through their 4-H project work. 4-H provides youth with the opportunity to develop lifelong skills including civic engagement and healthy living. Learn more and enroll your child in the UConn 4-H program at s.uconn.edu/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.

Tackling Food & Justice, Youth Style!

youth food justice zoom event powerpoint and participantsOn Wednesday, August 18th, The CT Farm to School Collaborative partnered with The CT Youth Food Program Alliance to host a virtual event, for youth, by youth!

The virtual event included a career panel, and mini-workshops, that were hosted by the following Youth MCs, Sayaada Arouna of Grow Hartford Youth Program, Melyssa Cristino of Grow Windham, and FoodCorps CT Alumni, Ms.Vetiveah Harrsion.

Thank you to our CT Farm to School Youth Planning Committee Interns, Darlenne Cazarin, Common Ground High School Alum, Treyvion Taylor of Nonprofit Accountability Group, Fatima Santos of Stamford Public Schools, and adult lead planner, Ally Staab FoodCorps CT Alumni.

This event was created with the intention to expand opportunities for youth in CT farm to school.  What better way than to engage youth in educationally fun workshops related to nutrition, food justice, careers, and farm life. Local CT community leaders were our workshop facilitators and career panelists.

At the end of the event, students were sent a Certificate of Contribution, and Grow Kits from UConn Extension’s Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP). Students also were invited to become youth participants in UConn’s EFNEP Program.

Job Opening: Assistant/Associate Cooperative Extension Educator Urban 4-H

banner of Extension programs

Job Opening: Assistant/Associate Cooperative Extension Educator Urban 4-H

UConn Extension is seeking applicants for a full-time (11-month), non-tenure track Assistant/Associate Extension Educator, primarily based at the Fairfield County Extension Office in Bethel, CT. Extension Educators are community-based faculty who make a difference in communities by connecting community needs with university resources. Position level/rank will be commensurate with experience working with Extension. The successful candidate shall create an active 4-H youth development program with a focus on STEM, food, and agricultural literacy.

More information and application instructions are available at s.uconn.edu/urban4-hposition

#jobs #uconn #youthdevelopment #4h #agriculture #food

Dr. Larry Pennington: 23 Years of Volunteering to the UConn 4-H Program

Volunteers are the backbone of the UConn 4-H program and are who keep the program vibrant. “Volunteer helps grow true leaders” Dr. Larry Penington of the First Town Veterinary Science 4-H Club of Hartford County 4-H has volunteered 23 years of service to this program. An interview was conducted with him and below are his responses… 

Emily Syme: How did you learn about this Extension volunteer program? 

Larry PenningtonDr. Larry Pennington: I have been familiar with the extension program and 4-H dating back to my youth in the early 60’s. I grew up as a 4-Her and at age 8, I even had a grand champion pig at my first county fair in Ohio. I was never lucky enough to pull that off again, but I was so appreciative of the wonderful learning experiences like that as a youngster. I have 4-H to thank for help shaping me ever since and to evolve into the person that I am today. Fast forward to 1998, I was introduced to UConn 4-H and the UConn Extension system for the first time. I had been a small animal practicing veterinarian in Windsor, and was challenged by a friend to start up a veterinary science 4-H club and introduce young people to what my profession had to offer. This was an opportunity to give back to the community after I received so much while growing up. Hence, “The First Town Veterinary Science 4-H Club“ got its start that year. We have flourished every year since; something that’s been one of the most fulfilling things I have accomplished in my life.

ES: What do you do in your role as an Extension volunteer?

LP: As a volunteer, I am all of the following: a leader, a teacher, a coordinator, and best of all, a very proud advisor to many young people. As a volunteer I have put in countless hours with my organization to help it grow and become the educational tool that it is.

ES: Why do you volunteer your time to this Extension program? 

LP: I am often asked that question on why I do it. My emphatic response is always that I do it “for the kids!” Being a parent myself, they really do matter, and being able to guide them and to show them the way, is so gratifying and heartwarming. Just to know that I played a small role in their lives as they grew up, is so comforting and gives me great pride.

ES: How does volunteering with the Extension program benefit you? 

LP: Volunteering through 4-H has allowed me to maintain a connection with young people and to stay relevant. It keeps me young and allows me to be a kid amongst kids, like Peter Pan who never wanted to grow up. At my age, 4-H has been my fountain of youth, where I can make a difference with young people. I hope that their parents see me as a good role model, and in setting a good example of what a warm and caring veterinarian should be.

ES: How do you feel like your volunteer work is making an impact? 

LP: I have always tried to make a positive impact on kid’s lives. I show them through their love for their pets in how to be caring and compassionate to all. We have performed many community service projects over the years and have been impactful to senior citizens in nursing homes through our pets, provided low cost Rabies Vaccination Clinics locally, and partnered with Fidelco  Guide Dogs. What better way to give back to the community!

ES: What is your favorite memory with this Extension program?

LP: My favorite memory in 4-H was our club’s involvement in the Dog Walk in Windsor at an area park. Over a seven year stretch starting 20 years ago and with the help of the surrounding community, our club orchestrated an annual event that brought together many dog lovers. The kids “lived it, ran it and owned it”, and got to see two rescue dogs go into service work with our most famous being, Chance. He was a highly trained Golden Retriever that assisted a local lady that was wheelchair bound. Our club got a lot of wonderful media coverage with the success of our Dog Walk and Chance. More importantly, it’s what the kids took away from that experience.

ES: Do you have any advice for new and current Extension volunteers?

LP: My advice to anyone wishing to volunteer is to follow your heart. Take a leap of faith and get involved with our youth through 4-H. After all, they are our future!

It’s been said that the more we give, the happier we feel. Volunteering increases self-confidence. You are doing good for others and the community, which provides a natural sense of accomplishment. Your role as a volunteer can give you a sense of pride and identity, as it has with me.

UConn 4-H is the youth development program of UConn CAHNR Extension. 4-H is a community of over 6 million young people across America who are learning Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM), leadership, citizenship and life skills through their 4-H project work. 4-H provides youth with the opportunity to develop lifelong skills including civic engagement and healthy living. Learn more and enroll your child in the UConn 4-H program at http://4-H.uconn.edu/

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. Learn more about our volunteer programs at s.uconn.edu/volunteers.

Interview edited for space and clarity.

Article by Emily Syme