Community

February is Heart Health Month – Hit the Trails for Your Heart

people walking on a shaded, snowy trail in the winter
Photo: Virginia Raff, Shoreline Greenway

February is heart health month – to raise awareness about heart disease and how people can prevent it. Walking is one easy way to increase physical fitness. Every step counts. Most adults should try for at least 150 minutes (2.5 hours) a week of moderate intensity activity. 30 minutes of brisk walking on at least five days a week is one way to meet this goal. Break it up in 10 minute segments – before , during and after work is an easy way to do this. Or do 30 minutes before or after work by walking in your neighborhood or on a walking trail. Know your maximum and target heart rate by checking the American Heart Association webpage at www.heart.org. You can learn tips for walking to improve your heart health! Find more information at: www.heart.org.

 
This message is brought to you by the UConn Extension PATHS team – People Active on Trails for Health and Sustainability. We are extension educators in health education and community development committed to implementing a social ecological approach to health education as well as understanding and promoting the benefits of trails and natural resources for health.

My 4-H Story: Chelsea Weimer

Chelsea at the 4-H fair Chelsea with her dog Chelsea with her dog

The term “4-H” was an organization that I had heard about for many years.  I knew the name, but I didn’t really know what it was. Around five years ago my mom saw an advertisement for a 4-H club called Bad to the Bone.  This club showed dogs. I decided to go to a meeting and at least see what it was about. I went, and from then on, I have been all about 4-H. Two years after I started 4-H I made a hard decision to switch to another club, Great Goats and More.  This is where my 4-H journey really started.

In this club I was exposed to so much more and I got to know about all the other events in 4-H, such as the Food and Nutrition show, public speaking, and state-wide events.  I knew that other clubs were organized differently than ours was, but I soon realized the clubs had a president and other officers. I was not new to Robert’s rules as I was in the National Junior Honor Society at my school.  These last few years that I have been in 4-H have impacted my life very much. I always knew that I had leadership qualities, but I have gained more leadership qualities, I have built lifelong friendships, I have had so much fun, and made so many lifelong memories.  I can speak in front of people. I speak clearly and loudly. I have grown as a person, I am more confident.

In 4-H you are given many chances to lead a group.  These opportunities have improved my leadership abilities a lot.  I can use what I have learned and experienced not only in 4-H but also in my life.  I have used what I learned in 4-H to be a better leader. I learned to listen to people.  Since my leadership and citizenship abilities have grown I have been elected to positions that I know I would not have reached otherwise.  I have learned to reach out to the quiet members and get them involved in making club decisions. I have also been able to go to programs I never thought possible like the Teen Leadership Forum.  The only problem was that I wanted to grow my leadership abilities but there were not many more events in my state I was interested in where I could do this. So, I thought back and realized I could apply for this trip.  Although I consider myself a pretty good leader there are things that I could improve. I need to work on delegating jobs. I normally get very stressed out when I plan larger events. I have realized that when I delegate jobs my stress level reduces.  I used to be not very good about listening to other’s opinions and acting on them. Through a lot of practice I have gotten much better at this.

When I first joined Great Goats and More I knew that I wanted to be an officer.  I knew that I could not do that right away. I needed to prove to my new club that I could do it.  So, I set little goals like attending all meetings, volunteering for different activities, volunteering for different games, helping the younger kids get involved and attending other 4-H events.  By reaching those goals I was elected vice president in that club and secretary in Canine Commanders.

4-H has impacted my life in many ways.  I have learned to speak out, voice my opinion, to acknowledge every person has a different personality and to work among them.  I have also learned to show my dog, better take care of my dog, and I have learned many things about other animals that I did not know.  Before I started 4-H, I was not someone who always spoke out and expressed their opinion. I only did this sometimes; now I express my opinion whenever I think it is necessary or helpful.  I also do this very kindly. I also learned that everyone has a different personality and sometimes people clash because of this. Through 4-H, I have learned to lead meetings and events successfully without a clash breaking out.  Five years ago, I knew that showing dogs existed, but I never really thought that I could do it. When I started 4-H I learned to show my dog. Together my dog, Petey and I have placed multiple events, and even went to the Big E! Through showing my dog, I have learned to better take care of him such as trimming the fur under his paws and brushing his teeth more often.  Since I started to go to Great Goats and More meetings I have learned that yak fur is called fiber and how to show rabbits.

The skills, knowledge, and leadership that I learn in 4-H will and have benefitted me and others.  I have learned several skills. One being to take better care of animals especially dogs. I am more responsible in feeding, exercising and grooming my dog.  When I have a family, I will be able to take extremely good care of the family pets and teach the other members to do so as well. I have gained a lot of knowledge in 4-H.  I have learned how to be respectful towards others, listen to others and I have learned from my leaders how to handle the different personalities people have. I have also learned that staying true to your values and morals is extremely important.  If people don’t like you or don’t appreciate you for these morals than that’s okay. I have become a leader, not a follower. I can make decisions for myself and not give in to peer pressure. As a leader, I have learned that every situation varies and must be handled differently.   This has helped to prepare me for different experiences that I may come to in my life outside of 4-H.

Overall in the last four to five years; 4-H has been a large part of my life.  I would not be the person I am today and would not be the person I will be tomorrow.  4-H has affected every aspect of my life from my personality, morals, friends, decisions and everything else.

By Chelsea Weimer

New Training! Intro to ArcGIS Online & Storymaps

The CLEAR Geospatial Training Program (GTP) has just launched a brand new workshop! It is called Introduction to ArcGIS Online and Esri Story Maps and includes presentations, demos, hands-on exploration and hands-on exercises. The morning of the day-long workshop covers ArcGIS Online and the web map in particular. Topics include:

  • Introduction to GIS and ArcGIS Online
  • The ArcGIS Online Web Map
    • Getting started
    • Adding and working with data in the web map
    • Sharing and printing

The afternoon of the workshop is all about Story Maps. Topics include:

  • What is a Story Map
  • How Story Maps work
  • Building a Story Map Journal
  • Building a Story Map Tour

By the end of the day, students create a Story Map Journal called The Connecticut Valley Railroad: Then and Now. It is about the history of the railroad whose tracks and historic stations exist in the backyard of the Middlesex County Extension Center in Haddam where the workshop is held. The Story Map Tour, Stations of the Historic Connecticut Valley Railway, is a tour of a few of the historic stations along the railroad. Read more…

‘New normal’ of flooded roads presents complex challenges

Story and photos by Judy Benson

climate adaptation workshopWith frequent downpours flooding many of the state’s coastal roads throughout the fall and into January – including the previous day – the workshop could hardly have had more relevance and timeliness.

“I spent yesterday dealing with countless calls to my office from people saying they couldn’t get to their houses because of flooding,” said Steve Johnson, acting assistant public works director, open space and natural resource agent for Milford. “This is getting to be the new normal. Yesterday I also watched a school bus drive through two feet of water to get the kids home.”

Johnson was one of the speakers at the Climate Adaptation Academyworkshop on Jan. 25 on road flooding. A capacity crowd of more than 80 municipal public works, planning and engineering officials from throughout coastal Connecticut came to the Middlesex County Extension Center in Haddam to spend the day learning about legal, environmental and practical approaches and challenges to “a problem with no easy answers,” said Juliana Barrett, coastal habitat specialist at Connecticut Sea Grant, during opening remarks. Co-sponsored by Sea Grant, UConn CLEAR and UConn Extension, the workshop is the third in a series focusing on the local ramifications of climate change and how towns can learn to cope.

Caught between the encroaching waters and dry land are salt marshes and roadways through low-lying coastal communities. Finding ways so that both can continue to exist on the Connecticut shoreline will be one of the main tasks of coastal town officials for the coming decades, Kozak said.Setting the stage for the issue at hand was David Kozak, senior coastal planner in the Land and Water Resources Division of the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. Ocean waters have been creeping onto land at accelerating rates over the past 50 years, and sea levels are projected to rise another 20 inches by 2050 and about four feet by 2100, he said. “Sunny day flooding,” when roads become submerged by high tides rather than heavy rains and storm surge, is becoming more common, he added.

Read more…

My 4-H Story: Samantha Smith

Samantha Smith with chicken

4-H has impacted my life by teaching me that even in the hard times you should hold onto your project and never let go.  4-H has also taught me how to do math. 4-H has helped me with my spelling. Through my 4-H years I have learned a lot. I have learned patience while working with my animals.  It has helped me with setting and reaching my goals. It has made it so I know how to set goals that I can reach in a set time. The rewards that I have gotten out of my 4-H years are knowing how to deal with all sorts of different people.  I have also learned a lot from being president in my club. I have learned how to deal with adults and how to talk respectfully to them. I have learned that people like to have fun and I want to better learn how to incorporate more fun into our meetings to hopefully keep everyone involved.  The rewards I got from my citizenship and leadership opportunities are wisdom, understanding, and knowledge on how to deal with all sorts of people. I think I need more experience in being a leader to expound on my leadership skills. Some of the problems that I have experienced from these experiences are trying to keep the other members of my club interested in the meetings and getting people to come to the bake sales and the community services that the club does.  I hope that by going on this trip I can learn how to better myself in these areas so the club will be more profitable for our community. I hope that the experiences I have had in 4-H and the ones to come will help me with getting in to the college that I want to go to, and I hope they will help me get a job when I am ready to get one. Sure not all my 4-H experiences have been good ones, but I have learned from all of them. I hope to learn from the ones I get in the future.

By Samantha Smith

Applications Open for FoodCorps CT

FoodCorps service member banner photo

Are you ready to #serveupchange in your community? Apply now for a year of service with FoodCorps Connecticut! The deadline is March 15, but aim to submit early: we’re reviewing applications on a rolling basis. Go to http://foodcorps.org/apply to apply yourself (or share this post with a leader who shares our passion for healthy food in schools!)

CT Trail Census Receives Grant

Naugatuck Greenway
Naugatuck Greenway

Our Connecticut Trail Census program recently received $206,049.50 in grant funding from the Department of Energy & Environmental Protection (DEEP) Trails & Greenways Program and the Connecticut Greenways Council. UConn Extension’s Connecticut Trail Census is a statewide volunteer-based data collection and education program implemented as a pilot from 2016-2018 on 16 multi-use (bicycle, pedestrian, equestrian) trail sites across the state.

My 4-H Story: Olivia Hall

When I joined 4-H 5 years ago, I thought that I would just be learning about animals.  I had no idea that I would learn leadership, citizenship and public speaking skills that I would apply to many situations both in and out of 4-H.  I never imagined that when I joined 4-H, I would meet some of the best people in the world that would help me to grow as a leader in my community.

Through 4-H, I have set many goals related to my project and my community.  I used to think that because I had a goal, I had to achieve it, even if it was a minor goal.  4-H has taught me that I didn’t have to achieve my goal; as long as I tried my hardest, I was still achieving something, even if it wasn’t what I hoped for.  I would achieve the ability to say “Congratulations” to someone when they won the prize that I set as my goal. I would achieve the ability to say “I’ll try again next year”, when I didn’t get voted into the officer position that I hoped for.  Through 4-H I learned that no matter what I set as my goal, I will attain something.

Throughout my 4-H career, I have had many rewarding experiences, such as becoming involved in my community.  Through my club, I have raised funds for the Torrington Police Department for a K-9 bullet-proof vest. I have also assisted my club in raising money so that a veteran was able to get a service dog.  We also raised money for a shade awning at a local pound. It has been very rewarding to see a change in my community that I helped to facilitate. Another rewarding 4-H experience was when I ran for a leadership position on my county’s Fair Association committee.  I ran for the position of publicity chair, and was elected! I am enjoying having a role in planning and promoting this year’s 4-H fair. This has enabled me to meet people and network in my community.

After becoming active in my community, my biggest challenge has been the realization that 4-H is not widely known.  While venturing out into my community, I have had the opportunity to educate people about 4-H. By participating in the Litchfield County Ad Campaign, I have raised funds and helped raise awareness about 4-H and the opportunities that it provides to youth.

By Olivia Hall

School of Business Partnership Strengthens Extension

School of Business marketing students on an educational hike in the UConn Forest with Dr. Mike Dietz

Extension brings the research of the land-grant university to communities statewide. Other departments at UConn are helping Extension grow and impact new audiences with the research and resources they produce. We have built a partnership with the Department of Marketing in the School of Business that has transformed the marketing initiatives of UConn Extension, and strengthened our brand.

Our partnership started with a branding workshop presented by Robin Coulter, Professor and Head of the Department of Marketing. Jane Gu, Associate Professor of Marketing conducted a follow up workshop on digital marketing.

Extension educators completed an exercise on the importance of their programs prior to the fall 2017 Extension meeting. Responses were used to create a new mission statement for UConn Extension: UConn Extension is on a collaborative journey. We co-create knowledge with farmers, families, communities, and businesses. We educate. We convene groups to help solve problems. Join us.

Summer interns in 2017 and 2018 have expanded our marketing capacity by developing initiatives and campaigns to increase awareness of Extension, building off of the previous work. Groups of digital marketing students in the School of Business chose Extension as their class project for the spring 2018 semester. Students in the undergraduate class focused on marketing UConn 4-H. The MBA students created a lifelong learning campaign for Extension that ties multiple program areas together.

The scope of work accomplished in a one semester course can be limited. Faculty in the Department of Marketing shifted the honors thesis for senior marketing students into a yearlong project with Extension. The class conducted research in the fall 2018 semester, and is currently developing and implementing a campaign to market Extension to UConn students.

Our partnership with the Department of Marketing has allowed us to increase the impact of UConn Extension, and raise awareness of the programs and opportunities available. Audiences that we are reaching were previously unfamiliar with Extension. We appreciate the opportunities that our partners in the School of Business provide to market Extension and grow our impact across Connecticut.

By Stacey Stearns

Job Openings with UConn Extension

food, health and sustainability venn diagram

We have jobs open at Jobs.UConn.edu – an Assistant Extension Educator with UConn 4-H based in Torrington, an Assistant Extension Educator in the Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture, and a Research Assistant 2 – Connecticut Farm To School Specialist based in Vernon. All positions will have statewide responsibilities. Apply today, applications are being reviewed on a rolling basis.