4-H Youth

Meet Zachary Duda: Litchfield County 4-H Intern

Zachary DudaHello my name is Zachary Duda and I am excited to be an intern this summer with Litchfield County 4-H! I am currently a senior pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Connecticut. At UConn I serve as the President of the UConn Agricultural Advocacy Club and am active with the UConn FFA Alumni. My agricultural experience is broad having jobs in areas such as nursery and landscaping, forage crop production, and dairy science. As a former FFA member I was able to learn the value of hands-on applications and want to bring agriculture to the younger generation of agriculturalists in Connecticut.

This summer I will be working on a series of virtual lessons on all aspects of the agricultural industry as well as some leadership skills and techniques. The topics include tractor safety, weaning cattle, nutrition labels and food packaging, potting plants, quick cooking recipes, and many more. I hope that these lessons will provide younger learners with a platform to build off of so that they may enter the field of agriculture with ample knowledge and a set of skills that will benefit them for years to come.

I am eager to learn more about 4-H and the extension system as I believe it serves the state well in multiple aspects of community and overall well being. I look forward to being part of the great things 4-H has done for countless individuals over the years.

Genetic Engineering Professional Development

teachers in laboratory with Dr. Gerry Berkowitz learning about DNA and GMO ]The American public is growing increasingly skeptical about the safety of genetically modified (GM) foods. Despite consensus in the scientific community that foods containing GM ingredients are safe, nearly half of Americans believe otherwise. Younger adults are also more likely to regard GM foods a health risk.

In order to address misunderstandings about GM foods and provide information about the applications of genetic engineering in agriculture and other fields, a team is developing a program to enhance science literacy for educators and young adults. The team is collaborating to create a standards-based curriculum and laboratory-based professional development for secondary school teachers on genetic engineering. The project aims to build the knowledge and confidence of educators and provide them with materials to deliver lessons related to genetic engineering in their classrooms.

High school teachers will participate in training at the Storrs campus, where they will utilize laboratory resources and build connections with academia and industry professionals. The networking opportunity will also allow educators to share career opportunities in the field of genetics with students. In addition to the professional development workshop, the program will prepare simpler exercises that can be taught outside of classroom and without the resources of a lab setting, such as during 4-H youth activities, to introduce scientific concepts.

Read the full article at http://bit.ly/UConn_PDSTEP.

Article by Jason M. Sheldon

Meet Meg Sanders: Environmental Education Intern

Meg SandersHello everyone, my name is Meg Sanders, and I am a UConn Extension Environmental Education intern with the Natural Resources Conservation Academy for summer 2020.

A little bit about myself, I am a sophomore at UConn studying environmental science with a minor in communication. I was an intern with UConn Extension during the summer of 2019 and I worked with other extension educators and 4-H educators. My experience with UConn Extension has allowed me to gain valuable field experiences at Auer Farm, the 4-H Hartford County Fair, and other 4-H sites in CT. I’ve been really lucky to have had opportunities working with many diverse groups of youth and adults in order to both teach others and learn about their experiences with the environment. I especially loved working with CT youth at Auer Farm, and being able to teach students who didn’t have much experience with rural ecosystems about the animals on a farm.

During the academic school year of 2019-2020, I was a grant recipient for the UConn Co-op Legacy Fellowship Change Grant. With this grant, I worked with two fellow UConn undergraduate students to create environmental education curriculum kits that we hoped to distribute to middle school educators all over Connecticut. We prepared an online and in-class curriculum using existing 4-H educational materials on climate change education, and planned to distribute these and kits to CT middle schools before schools were closed down this spring. This effort was done in paralleled with Connecticut Environmental Action Day. From this experience, I was able to learn more about what goes into creating environmental educational content, and was able to further my experience working with extension educators.

My interests in the environment are still growing and changing daily. A fun fact about myself is that I had the opportunity to attend a short UConn study abroad experience before I began interning for UConn Extension. Unfortunately, it did not happen due to the pandemic, but we would have traveled to South Africa to study African field ecology. With this, I’d hoped to be able to see ecosystems that I normally wouldn’t be exposed to, and learn about what conservation means to different people around the world. This trip will not be happening this year but will be next year, and I hope to be able to still gain these unique experiences. Next year, I would love to be able to use some of the knowledge about conservation that I will have learned this summer and apply it to what I will be learning abroad.

This summer, I am very excited to learn how to provide environmental education in many ways, including online. Learning how to utilize resources online to deliver similar content that would have been used in hands-on field experiences will be interesting and thought-provoking. I look forward to improving my skills with mapping technologies, such as GPS and GIS. Overall, I look forward to being able to apply all of the natural resources knowledge that I can to other aspects of my life in order to promote conservation and sustainability.

Original Post: https://blog.nrca.uconn.edu/2020/06/09/meet-meg-new-ee-intern/

UConn 4-H Computer Science Pathways

Bridging the Gap Between Scientists and Communities

4-H clover4-H knows talent is everywhere, but opportunity is not. Building youth equity and closing opportunity gaps by connecting youth curriculum, lesson plans, technology and training is the focus of the UConn CAHNR Extension Computer Science (CS) Pathways program.

Computer science and technology are not just transforming jobs and economies in cities, they are equally important to rural communities and within the agriculture sector. UConn 4-H received the 2019-2020 Growing a Computer Science Pathway – Launchers for America’s Youth grant presented by National 4-H Council as part of a $6 million grant from Google.org. 4-H and Google are bringing computer science education to the 4-H system with the goal of creating equitable access to these life-changing skills for kids and teens everywhere. 4-H works wherever the youth are with a focus on rural youth and populations that traditionally have limited access to computer science education.

In Connecticut, whether through a military program developing a lighting system for a henhouse, a small town community club using e-textiles in a sewing project or an urban afterschool program using code to make robots run more efficiently, the 4-H approach is flexible to help students see the range of ways computer science can connect the things they care about. Computer science skills, like analytical thinking, resilience and creativity, are some of the most sought-after skills in today’s job market.

The 4-H Computer Science Pathways Program represents an opportunity for young people of all backgrounds to create, not just consume technology, while also fulfilling a critical workforce need. UConn 4-H brings over 100 years of transformational educational experiences that build successful youth-adult partnerships in our communities. The UConn 4-H Computer Science Pathways Program is using the grant to continue building on our success delivering computer science education to communities in four primary ways:

1. Creating mobile learning libraries and laboratories

Also known as mobile labs, these are self-contained traveling classrooms used to teach new skills and ways of thinking that bring all of our young people access to opportunity and help them innovate. We teach youth technical computer science skills such as coding, and essential life skills including computational thinking, teamwork, and problem solving. The mobile labs have digital and unplugged activities. Digital activities do not require internet access. “Unplugged” activities are used on their own or as part of other programs, including the healthy living program, civic engagement program or STEM programs. Educators and 4-H club leaders receive essential and support training with the mobile labs.

2. Providing comprehensive, statewide, professional development

Teens as Teachers: Teens learn the fundamentals of teaching diverse audiences. These skills benefit many subject areas, not just computer science. Youth-Adult Partnerships: This training teaches the fundamentals of youth-adult partnerships and strategies for success. These partnerships were part of the original design of 4-H programs and are a core value today.

Growing Computer Science Pathways: This face-to-face training teaches the fundamental theories of computer science program delivery and introduces the lesson plans, curriculum and supplies needed.

Growing Computer Science Pathways Digital and Unplugged: Hands-on learning.

Principles for effectively delivering digital and unplugged activities for youth of all ages is provided in this training  Unplugged activities teach computational thinking, problem solving and the basics of coding without needing digital technology.

3. Creating and facilitating teen mentoring, teen-led programming and youth-adult partnerships

We teach volunteer and teen training programs. In these workshops participants learn the importance of, and strategies for, giving youth authentic and meaningful engagement opportunities. These opportunities, in programs, and in their communities, help youth find their voice. Youth see that they can exert influence and develop decision-making authority.

4. Leveraging the National 4-H Council’s and Google’s computer science expertise and resources

Community educators receive the skills and resources they need to deliver cutting-edge computer science programming through this collaboration. Youth computer science programming from 4-H fits community’s needs, while fostering leadership, confidence, and life skills.

There is a tremendous need for young people to create technology, not just consume it. By bringing our organizations together, we are combining the reach and expertise of the nation’s largest youth development organization, 4-H, with the power of Google’s computer science educational programs and volunteers.

Visit 4-H.uconn.edu for more information on the Computer Science Pathways Program.

Article by Maryann Fusco-Rollins

Partner Testimonials

boy eating from a bowl outside with another little boy behind himPartnerships are at the foundation of Extension’s work statewide in all 169 towns and cities of Connecticut. We integrate with agencies and non-profits in communities in a variety of ways.

“Our partnerships strengthen Extension, and in turn increase our statewide impact. Our innovative collaborations allow Extension and our partners to reach respective goals together.” ~ Mike O’Neill, Associate Dean and Associate Director, UConn Extension

“For the benefit of Connecticut farmers, the Connecticut Department of Agriculture collaborates with UConn Extension across many disciplines. From FSMA Produce Safety Rule education and outreach that expand market opportunities to Viability Grant funding of crucial research done by Extension educations, our strong partnership will help to sustain and foster innovation for agriculture in our state.” ~ Bryan Hurlburt, Commissioner, Department of Agriculture

“The Master Gardener Program has provided significant value to the Bartlett Arboretum for many years. We rely on Master Gardeners to support our community outreach in so many different ways. Examples of their contribution include Master Gardener availability in Plant Clinic from May through September of each year to address homeowner plant problems and issues. Master Gardeners conduct visitor tours of our gardens and our champion and notable trees. They provide Arboretum management with ideas for plants in our gardens. All of these activities enhance the visitor experience at the Bartlett Arboretum and further its mission.” ~ S. Jane von Trapp, CEO, Bartlett Arboretum and Gardens in Stamford

“The information and assistance provided by CLEAR has enabled our town to save resources while complying with the requirements of the MS4 Permit. The template for the stormwater management plan alone saved us a significant amount of money by allowing staff to complete an acceptable plan in a minimal amount of time.” ~Warren Disbrow, Assistant Town Engineer, East Hartford

“We are grateful to partner with SNAP-ED and EFNEP to ensure the people we serve not only have access to nutritious food but also have opportunities to participate in evidence-based nutrition education. In food insecurity programs we can bring healthy food, and a pantry shopping experience directly to schools, senior centers and other community-based organizations. Through partnerships with SNAP-ED and EFNEP clients can learn, sample healthy recipes and then apply new skills to shopping.” ~ Jaime S. Foster, PhD, RD

“The Connecticut Economic Development Association (CEDAS) found a great partner in UConn Extension as we rolled out the Best Practices in Economic Development and Land Use Program that really asks, ‘How do we do our jobs better?’ In economic development in Connecticut we face a fiercely competitive landscape for jobs and investment. How we compete as a state matters, but at the end of the day, a company locates in a community. We want our communities to be as well-prepared as possible, and that’s something that UConn Extension’s programs in Community & Economic Development is doing every day. CEDAS offered the3platform to create a set of standards and the UConn team helped add the details. More importantly, they were the support to our communities that wanted to get better. We can all want to do a better job at local economic development, but if3there’s not someone there coaching and mentoring us along we’re not going to get there. UConn Extension was the helping hand that truly pulled our communities through the process and in the end, raised our standards for economic development in Connecticut.” ~ Garret Sheehan, CEcD, President Connecticut Economic Development Association, President and CEO Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce

On the Trail Podcast

Cary Chadwick

Did you know that the CT Trail Census is starting a podcast? Well they are! It is called “On the Trail” and each week they focus on a different path having to do with trails and nature in Connecticut. This week’s episode features an interview with Cary Chadwick, a geospatial educator, about how to find the right trail for you. Check us out at https://uconnextension.podbean.com/ every Friday at 12pm!

Article by Neva Taylor

What is It?

Spotted Pine Sawyer BeetleWhat is it?

The Spotted Pine Sawyer Beetle. It is right on time with adults appearing in June. It’s look alike is the Asian Longhorn Beetle, but the adult stage for the ALB occurs during August, says Carol Quish from our UConn Home & Garden Education Center.

Ask us your question at: http://bit.ly/AskUConnExtension_form

Our colleagues at University of Maine Cooperative Extension have a fact sheet with more information: https://bit.ly/BeetleFactSheet

Photo: Bruce Shay

#AskUConnExtension

A Message to the CAHNR Community

banner of Extension programs

Dear Friends and Colleagues –

The events of the past few weeks have brought sadness and outrage to communities across our nation. The senseless killing of black men and women demonstrates that as a nation, we need to make further and strong progress toward our aspirations of a diverse and inclusive society.

The College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources remains steadfastly committed to our goals of creating and supporting a diverse and inclusive environment for us all. In these troubled times, we must stand tall in our beliefs and redouble our resolve to ensure that all members of our community feel safe and welcome. We will continue to take multiple steps to promote diversity and inclusion throughout our college and our communities.

On behalf of the college and in cooperation with our Committee on Diversity and Inclusion, I want to extend my heartfelt sympathy to all who have been impacted by these senseless acts. I know that you share my commitment to supporting all individuals in communities across our state, the nation, and the world.

Best regards on behalf of myself and the CAHNR Committee on Diversity and Inclusion,

Indrajeet Chaubey, Dean

CAHNR Committee on Diversity and Inclusion
Maria-Luz Fernandez, Nutritional Sciences, Chair
Sharon Gray, Extension
Miriah Kelly, Extension
Beth Lawrence, Natural Resources and Environment
Michael O’Neill, Associate Dean, ex-officio
Sara Putnam, Communications, ex-officio
Farhed Shah, Agricultural and Resource Economics
Ellen Shanley, Allied Health Science
Brandon Smith, Animal Science
Young Tang, Animal Science
Beth Taylor, Kinesiology
Huanzhong Wang, Plant Science and Landscape Architecture
Xiaohui Zhou, Pathobiology and Veterinary Sciences

UConn 4-H and Partners Move Over 78,000 Pounds of Dairy Products

UConn 4-H volunteer carrying Cabot productsUConn 4-H and Partners Move Over 78,000 Pounds of Dairy Products to Support Connecticut Communities

UConn 4-H, the youth development program of Extension in the UConn College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources has moved 78,894 pounds of dairy products to date – the equivalent of six full-size elephants – during Operation Community Impact. 4-H members and volunteers are working with community partners and the UConn Extension Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP). Deliveries of dairy products were made to 96 food pantries in 57 towns statewide. The effort has involved 88 Extension families that donated their time to help unload and deliver the dairy products.

The most recent donation, 33 pallets of ice cream, was received last week from H.P. Hood in Suffield. “We are glad to partner with a wonderful organization such as 4-H and UConn Extension to provide assistance to local Connecticut communities when we can,” says Megan Uricchio of H.P. Hood, and an alumni of UConn 4-H Hartford County.

Milk donations were received from Dairy Farmers of America through their local facility, Guida’s Dairy. Agri-Mark Cooperative and Cabot Creamery donated yogurt and sour cream. All of these products were previously distributed to facilities statewide. Fluid milk donations totaled 8,640 gallons – that is more than the amount needed to fill an 18-foot round swimming pool.

The Freshplace food pantry in Hartford County stated: “Our Freshplace food pantry serves 100 individuals and families in the North end of Hartford – the poorest neighborhoods in Hartford. Most of our participants do not have access to a grocery store and depend on small bodegas that have a very limited supply of dairy products, fresh veggies, etc. This has become a much larger problem due to the current COVID situation. The delivery of the generous donation of milk will help not only our Freshplace participants but many of our other clients who are having a very hard time obtaining food. We have expanded our Freshplace services beyond our Freshplace members to encompass all Chrysalis Center clients in need of food. The milk is an incredible addition to our daily deliveries! Thanks so much – this definitely shows that we are all in this together!”

A Fairfield County food pantry that serves 115 families said, “The families that our pantry serves are in significant crisis right now. They are relying on the food pantry for all of their food/meals. Typically, we are very limited in the amounts of dairy products we are able to receive and distribute. The milk, yogurt and sour cream has been a blessing – and has made a real impact. Families are now able to add this to their meals, providing a more balanced, nutritional meal and promoting overall health and well-being. THANK YOU!”

Community service is a key component of the 4-H civic engagement mission. This project provides UConn 4-H members the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of consumers and dairy producers. Operation Community Impact would not be possible without the efforts of many community partners, volunteers, food pantries and businesses statewide that the project is serving. We extend our heartfelt appreciation to everyone helping to connect those in need with the milk and dairy donations. We created this short video to thank our dairy donors: https://bit.ly/DairyCollaborations.

UConn 4-H is the youth development program of UConn 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/.