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.
4-H has, in a sentence, taught me how to be myself and to tap into my full potential. I was once a quiet kid who desperately wanted to speak out and have an impact but didn’t know how. Now, I am a determined, confident young adult who can be heard the minute I walk into a room. I’ve come to realize that I love management and situations that involve directing or engaging others, especially to the goal of helping someone or having a positive impact. My management skills have been built up through 4-H, during the many situations wherein I was responsible for leading a group. Leading camp activities has taught me quite a bit about flexibility in particular, as last-minute situations that need quick thinking to fix come up often at camp.
I attribute many of my successes thus far in life to 4-H. This fall, I will be attending Yale University, and am certain that the time I spent with 4-H over the last several years contributed directly to my acceptance to that prestigious institution. Indirectly, 4-H has made me the person that I am today, a person who can and will accomplish great things.
4-H has been a positive constant in my life, always there to remind me to smile. 4-H is one of the reasons that I am such a bright, shining force, dedicated to making everyone around me feel better about themselves and others. I am passionate about self-love, especially among young people, and my 4-H experience – going to camp, meeting a wide variety of new people, discovering myself – is the reason that I can have such confidence. 4-H not only allowed me to see how widespread self-confidence issues are among teenagers and children by putting me in a situation where I became very close to so many kids, it also showed me that I was worthy of growing and becoming more self-assured.
My mother has been sending children to 4-H camp for twenty years. I’ve attended for eleven years, and my siblings attended before me. Every member of my family knows and sees the growth of children who experience 4-H. Many of my relatives cannot believe how much I have changed in the last few years alone, and I always attribute it to 4-H. As someone who wishes to someday work in public service, I know that the leadership, management and problem-solving skills that I have attained through my 4-H club will define me as an adult. I cannot begin to express how grateful I am to 4-H for making me the person I am today, or how certain I am that I want to continue being an active participant in 4-H for as long as possible.
By Maria Grillo
Do you enjoy working with children? Want to share your time and talents with young people in the community? Like to have fun, learn new skills and make a difference? Then being a 4-H volunteer is for you!
4-H volunteers play a significant role in helping youth to reach their potential. As a volunteer, you will help youth in your group learn leadership, citizenship and life skills through projects and activities. If you have a hobby or interest you would like to share with young people such as photography, leadership, animals, plants, fishing, drama, community service, computers and technology, woodworking, fashion design, arts and crafts, rocketry and more, consider becoming a 4-H volunteer.
Start volunteering today by going to https://bit.ly/2Oj4TkU
For the past eight years 4-H has taught me many things that I probably would not have learned without it. I have experienced how the association for the fair works over the past few years. I learned that without it, the fair would not happen. Every one of the officers has their own role and has to stick to doing what they have pledged to do over the year in office such as sticking to their specific agenda and timeline, writing officer reports, and attending meetings. I have learned a lot from helping at my brother’s school and how much effort it takes for some of the kids to do something that may be easy for us to do. It has taught me patience, tolerance, and compassion.
From 4-H, I have made certain goals that I probably would not have set without it. For example, I would not have knitted certain projects if I did not set the goal to make something for 4-H. It pushed me to knit something more difficult. I set a goal to learn how to canter off of the lunge line. This is something that I was not keen to when I started but made it a goal for 4-H. I have also set a goal to either do public speaking, expressive arts, or even both. I learned that setting goals will help you achieve something more than if you just think about it.
From my leadership roles, I love seeing what I can do for other people whether it is making them smile or helping them do something that they need help with. After helping someone, I feel glad that I made a difference. In Home Arts, I enjoy being a part of transforming the building from an empty barn to a barn full of wonderful projects displayed on tables, organized by category, covered with green and purple table cloths.
I have found that it is difficult for everyone in the meeting to agree on something. Being a new coordinator, I was told that it would be my ultimate decision but still found it a little difficult to negotiate with people who had very strong opinions. Also, when it is clean-up time for the end of the fair, a lot of people helped out during the first helf hour to an hour but after that, they did not help as much to clean up the tables and other things that had to be put away for the barn to be cleaned. Something else that is difficult is not having people show up to the barn when they committed to help out during the weekend.
I need to learn to voice my opinion. Most of the time, I have the right answer or right question, but I do not tell it. This is something that I have been working on so I do not let something pass over if either I do not agree with it or have a question about something. Something else that I need to learn is to feel comfortable in a group of people that I do not know. I am a shy person and do not speak up when I do not know who someone is. In order to be a leader, people have to know what you want from them. You have to be able to handle criticism and understand someone else’s perspective.
From this past year of being the coordinator, I have been a lot better about speaking up and voicing my opinion. While I was on CWF, I learned how to come out of my shell and not always need to feel that I need to be quiet or not speak up. This trip has made me the most outgoing I have ever been in my life. It was an experience that I would never be able to take back nor would I want to. I made a great bond with my county extension leader and have been able to talk with confidence I have never experienced before this trip.
The leadership abilities that I learn in 4-H will help me in the future because I will know how to lead something in the correct way and not in a rude or disrespectful way. Everything that I learn in 4-H will help me with many things in the future such as: goal setting, short and long term goals, discussing different opinions and coming to a consensus. I will know how to mentor someone in the future as others have mentored me. 4-H has also helped me to become curious and try new things. This a great way to come out of your comfort zone.
By Hannah Platt
How can the next generation of environmental professionals be prepared to deal a problem that big?
One answer could be found this fall in the Climate Corps class taught at the University of Connecticut by Sea Grant’s Juliana Barrett and Bruce Hyde, land use academy director at UConn CLEAR (Center for Land Use Education & Research). Now in its second year, the course invites students to tackle this global challenge on local scales, methodically breaking it down into more manageable parts.
Story and photos by Judy Benson
Master Gardener County Coordinator New Haven County
The UConn Extension Master Gardener Program is seeking applications for the position of Master Gardener New Haven 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.
Responsibilities include but are not limited to: provide leadership for the base county Master Gardener program. Successful candidate will coordinate staffing of program mentors, volunteers and interns; coordinate and assist with annual classroom portion of the program; work with UConn Extension center/ county‐based faculty and staff, as well as university‐based faculty and staff as needed. Will also need to work with allied community groups and Extension partners such as the CT Master Gardener Association and Extension Councils; train and supervise interns in the Extension center when classroom teaching is completed; arrange and conduct Advanced Master Gardener classes each year; create, develop and coordinate outreach programs and projects in the county. They will prepare annual reports on program activities, impacts, incomes, outcomes (number of clientele contacts); and communicate effectively with the state coordinator, other county coordinators, center coordinators and support staff.
Preference will be given to candidates who are Certified Master Gardeners, or with a degree in horticulture, botany, biology or equivalent experience. Interested applicants should possess strong organizational, communication and interpersonal skills and be able to show initiative. They should be able to demonstrate experience in working collaboratively as well as independently, and be willing to work flexible hours including some evenings and weekends. Must be familiar with Microsoft Office. Volunteer experience is desired. Monthly reports shall be communicated to the state coordinator and topical information may be shared with others as requested.
Submit letter of application, resume and names of three references to:
Sarah Bailey, State Extension Master Gardener Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org Please put Master Gardener Coordinator Position in the subject line.
If you are unable to use email, you may send it to:
State Extension Master Gardener Coordinator University of Connecticut Extension
270 Farmington Ave, Suite 262
Farmington, CT 06032
Screening will begin immediately.
Technology is ubiquitous, and a team of researchers at UConn are harnessing our everyday technology to address obesity issues in children and young adults (Poulin & Peng, 2018). Social media and text messages are a common communication tool among multiple populations, and can positively influence behavior change in health and nutrition (Hsu, M.S.H., Rouf, A., & Allman-Farinelli, M., 2018; Tu, A.W., Watts, A.W., Chanoine, J.P., Panagiotopoulos, C., Geller, J., Brant, R., et al., 2017; Pew Research Center, 2015 & 2018).
Tailored messages for health promotion and obesity prevention using e-health and m-health is supported through Hatch funding from the Storrs Agricultural Experiment Station in UConn’s College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources. The inter-disciplinary team includes faculty and staff from Allied Health Sciences, the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, Communication, Windsor Public Schools, Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, UConn Student Health Services, and the Windsor Hunger Action Team.
The team is implementing three connected studies to harness technology and deliver tailored nutrition and health messages to middle school students, adolescents, and young adults to improve diet quality for obesity prevention. Partnerships with the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center and Windsor Public Schools reach children. Young adults are included through the study with UConn Student Health Services. Each of the three studies is using quantitative and qualitative research methods.
Valerie Duffy, PhD RD, Professor and Director of the Graduate Program in Allied Health Sciences is the principal investigator. “It’s more meaningful if you tailor messages to someone on health promotion,” Duffy says. “Our goal is to prime the pump and nudge people toward better diet and lifestyle behaviors. The messages were developed with input from those in the age group being served, and the algorithm tailors the messages to the individual’s responses.”
The tailored messages will have short-term and intermediate-term impacts. The child and parent will receive text or email messages on improving diet healthiness of children based on their online responses. Intermediate-term impacts will again be tailored to individual responses and delivered by email, text and social media with the goals of improving diet healthiness, and school meal consumption over the school year.
Heidi Karner is graduating in May of 2019 with her masters’ degree in Health Promotion Sciences from the Department of Allied Health Sciences. She works with the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed) and the tailored messages project.
When she was an undergraduate in the dietetics program, completing a 4-week supervised practice rotation in Windsor, Karner saw a need in the community that wasn’t being met. This led her to pull together a collaborative team including the Windsor Schools, the Windsor Hunger Action Team, and the University to prepare and successfully obtain a seed grant from Foodshare. “The school food service director wanted to increase breakfast participation at Sage Park Middle School, and received $5,000 to start the project. We also tested breakfast items with the students, and many of our vendors donated products.”
The goals for the message program at Sage Park Middle School are to increase fruit and vegetable consumption, increase
breakfast program participation, and decrease food insecurity in middle school students. These goals were identified as problem areas by the middle school staff and the Hunger Action Team.
The collaborative team is working on a quantitative and qualitative approach to develop the message program. In the quantitative phase, 200 students completed an internet-based survey on what foods and activities they like or dislike and their attitudes and believes. The students completed the survey on Chromebooks available to each student at school. The students received messages tailored to their responses. From initial analysis of this quantitative phase, the tailored messages were well received by students — 78% agreed that they learned new information, 86% reported the messages were helpful, and 73% would like to receive more messages in the future.
In the qualitative phase, the complete findings of the quantitative survey will be shared with the stakeholders. The feedback will identify priority areas where student behaviors differ from recommendations. Feelings and feedback from students will be obtained through focus groups.
This feedback is being used to create a fun and interactive computer game to embed on the website. The Department of Communication at UConn is collaborating on the computer game, and it will be piloted with the middle school students.
“We’re trying to change the culture in the school and community about food and health,” Karner says. “I’m always asking what is relevant to the students, and what do they want.”
It all connects back to understanding the population being served, their health behaviors, and preferences. “It’s not just about hunger, but nutrition too,” Karner adds. “We focus on the quality of the foods.” Although Karner is graduating, this is a continuing project that will be refined and passed along to other graduate students to champions, continued collaboration with stakeholders and sharing best practices without other school systems.
Hsu, M.S.H., Rouf, A., & Allman-Farinelli, M. (2018). Effectiveness and behavioral mechanisms of social media interventions for positive nutrition behaviors in adolescents: A systematic review. Journal of Adolescent Health, 63(5), 531-545. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jadohealth.2018.06.009.
Pew Research Center. Social Media Fact Sheet. Internet and Technology2018.
Pew Research Center. Teens, Social Media & Technology Overview 2015. Internet & Technology, 2015.
Poulin, S. M. & Peng, J. (2018). Connecticut Childhood Obesity Report, 2018. Hartford, CT: Connecticut Department of Public Health.
Tu, A. W., Watts, A. W., Chanoine, J. P., Panagiotopoulos, C., Geller, J., Brant, R., et al. Does parental and adolescent participation in an e-health lifestyle modification intervention improves weight outcomes? BMC Public Health. 2017,17:352.
Seven years ago, a friend of mine suggested that I join her 4-H group. Eventually, I was convinced and decided I would try joining the group and “test the waters” so to speak, in order to decide if I wanted to be a part of it permanently. To be honest, I didn’t go in knowing much about it or having very high expectations. I didn’t know if I would want to officially join, if I would event like the people in it, and I definitely didn’t know it would change my life.
I never would have imagined what an impact this program would have on me. I grew up afraid of my own shadow and I don’t think I said a word at the first meeting I went to. My silence didn’t last long. Since I’ve been in 4-H I have done things I never would have and come further than I could have ever imagined. It might sound cliche, but I don’t think I would be where I am today without my club. My group is nothing short of extraordinary. Small but mighty I believe is the expression. We might not be big but I have never seen any club as united and driven as ours. I have worked my way to being confident in myself to the point of leading our group as President for the second time. I have also been secretary, treasurer, and have extended my reach to Fairfield County 4-H Teen Fair Board as the member and then chair of the Workshops Committee. There isn’t a person in the program that I don’t absolutely adore.
The setting that 4-H provides is unparalleled. I have learned how to set goals and work towards achieving them each day. 4-H has taught me not only to be a good friend, role model, and citizen, but also to speak up for myself and not give up on anything. It seems like once I got the confidence to speak up through 4-H the floodgates opened. Today, in addition to 4-H, I am a part of my school’s Writing Center as a tutor, Art Club, Debate Club, Key Club, Big Brother/Big Sister, Spanish Honor Society, and National Honor Society. I have become not only proud of my accomplishments but proud of who I have become. Not only do I excel academically but I tutor and help others do the same. 4-H has made me more motivated, conscientious, driven and generally confident in myself. I tell others all the time that without this organization, I would still be sitting in the back of a classroom trying not to be seen.
These leadership experiences that I have acquired through 4-H have made it more likely for me to have a greater purpose in the future. I no longer picture my future as being one in which I will work under someone else’s thumb. BY leading a committee on the Fair Board and even heading my entire club, I have become a new person. I know how to organize projects, speak up and represent myself and others well, as well as speak tactfully while still communicating a message. I have even transferred the leadership skills. I have learned from 4-H to other areas of my life. I lead discussion in class, represent a side in debates, and have event become a tutor in my school’s Writing Center, helping kids who are often older than me with their assignments. I have been an editor for a school newspaper and yearbook, and participate in clubs where I contribute heavily to committees and discussion. Without 4-H I don’t think I would know how to be an effective leader and example for others.
Public Speaking was horrifying to me. I couldn’t even fathom how I would possibly be able to stand up in front of twenty people and speak. I was sure that I couldn’t do it. Even in classes at school when my grade was on the line I panicked if I had to speak. Today, I can proudly say that I have been in the public speaking honor group four times. Not only is this a huge honor that proved to others I was capable, but it proved to me that I could do anything I set my mind to. My latest speech was about introverted confidence and how you really don’t need to be loud and forceful to be thought of as confident. I have been invited to present this speech to another 4-H group because it might help others to believe in themselves just a little bit more. I have never been more proud of a presentation that that one. I was thrilled to be able to advocate for the club that I believe gave me a voice.
I always knew that community service was important. I genuinely care about others and my parents constantly told me how important it was to care about something bigger than myself. The problem was, I was scared to even go help out at events by myself. Then, 4-H came along and made me go with my club and help someone else. We did the Rake N’Bake and cleaned up leaves in the yard of an elderly person and I will never forget the smile that we got from the recipient of this small act of kindness. Later we handmade dog bandanas to sell and raise money for a local animal shelter. I remember thinking that all I wanted to do was keep helping and finding new causes to support. Before I knew it, I was taking on leadership roles within community service even without my club. I became a counselor for the Brookfield Vacation Bible School and had thirteen kindergarten kids to take care of and be responsible for. I cannot explain the feeling of seeing the smiles on their faces when I danced with them or let them throw water balloons at me. I would have given anything to see those smiles, even if it meant a thousand piggy back rides. Since 4-H game me some courage I began to talk more in class and participate, which got me recruited for the Writing Center. I began to tutor and at times had five students waiting in line for help on essays. The feeling is inexplicable when you know that you are helping someone achieve their own goals. Community service is what I love to do because I can be proud of the difference I make.
As a result of my leadership experiences I have run into some problems. While I have learned to stand up for myself and have a bigger voice, this comes at a price. The more we involve ourselves the more we interact with others in good and bad ways. I have had to fight for leadership positions against friends and sometimes have felt the burden of knowing that I deprived someone else of something they really wanted. I have also unfortunately run into more competition with these friends. When everyone wants to be heard and feel important in a club or class, it is truly a hard task for me to separate feelings and my own desires. Sometimes I feel the need to back down to avoid crossing a friend. However, 4-H has also taught me that I deserve to achieve anything I have earned just as much as anyone else. Real friends won’t risk the relationship for a title. During community service, I have run into problems with emotions I feel when I hear of other’s intentions during an activity. I have listened to others speak of how they need community service hours and don’t actually want to be doing the task at hand. This truly makes me sad and is a big problem for me. I feel like I don’t want to be working side by side with people who have no desire to be helping someone else. Nevertheless, my outlook on this situation is simply to show these people the joys of citizenship and change their perspective on lending a helping hand. Regardless of the problems I have faced due to my leadership and citizenship experiences, I have learned to focus on myself and if I am doing what I believe and know is the right thing to do.
There are many things that I can still learn to improve my leadership abilities and myself in general. I think the biggest thing for me to remember is to always be learning and bettering myself. The 4-H slogan is “learn by doing” and I definitely live by it. Even in my classes, there is always something more to learn and strive to understand. 4-H has taught me that I should always try to be the best I can be and do what is right for me. I can still be a better speaker and work on this important skill. I can also work on becoming even more confident. Although 4-H has made my confidence sky rocket from where it once was, I think I still have timid tendencies that could be reduced to make me an even stronger leader. Regardless of the lessons I still have to learn, the value of learning and developing is an extremely important life lesson that I might not have learned had I not joined my club.
In the future I have big dreams for myself. I want to go to a good college and hopefully have a career in the science or math field. The skills I have learned in 4-H will be invaluable when I move on to the next phase of my life. Since having leadership roles in my club and fair board, I am not afraid to speak up and manage a group. I know how to hear everyone’s ideas and be open to those that are different than mine. I have also been taught how to make a schedule and stick to it, as well as run a proper meeting and an organized event. These skills will help me get into a good college, get a good job, and get promotions in the future. I am so excited for everything that I can now strive for, and I have to thank 4-H for giving me the courage I desperately needed. Also, in the future I want to focus on always looking to better someone else’s life. I never want community service to be less of a priority and I want my future kids to have these same values. Citizenship will never cease to be important to me. The experiences I have had in 4-H and the opportunities my club pushed me to take have shaped the person I am today and will continue to shape my future.
When I joined 4-H seven years ago I learned that it is a “global network of youth organizations” looking to help kids reach their potential. This is not what it is to me. 4-H has become a second family for me, a motivator, a brighter future, and a more amazing experience than I could have even imagined. I have truly “learned by doing” and I now know how to be myself, to lead, to be a role model, and to dream big because now I know nothing is out of reach. I believe in 4-H and everything it stands for and I am so appreciative of the opportunities it creates for myself and so many others. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that this program is nothing short of life-changing.
By Hailey Osika
To some people my 4-H story might seem dull, but to me it has been an exciting adventure! 4-H has taught me responsibility and how my actions can positively affect my community. I have also learned leadership and citizenship skills that I have been able to incorporate into activities outside of 4-H.
Setting goals in my project area has encouraged me to always strive to make the best better. I have also come to realize that setting the goal is what is important, not necessarily the attainment. I have found that it is important to rise to the challenge of pursuing my goals whether I attain them or not. For example, I set a goal last year to earn my CGC (Canine Good Citizen) Title with my dog, participate in local 4-H dog shows, and show my dog at the Big E. I accomplished earning my CGC title with my dog and showing in local 4-H dog shows. I decided not to show my dog at the Big E because I knew she wasn’t ready. Not attaining that part of my goal has taught me to be proud of my accomplishments and learn from my mistakes.
By participating in my community I have been able to share my enthusiasm for 4-H with many youth. I was invited to visit an afterschool 4-H Explorer club and talk to the members about my 4-H dog project. At the afterschool 4-H Explorer club I brought my dog and did a few demonstrations of what I do in 4-H. I found it rewarding to see how much the kids enjoyed asking questions about 4-H and playing with my dog. I am glad that I can share my passion for dogs and 4-H with the public.
4-H has given me the ability to become a leader and problem-solver. These are skills that will benefit me my entire life. I want to give back to 4-H by empowering other youth. I want to share with them the strengths and opportunities that I have been fortunate enough to gain through 4-H. I look forward to future years in 4-H in which I can perfect my citizenship and leadership skills to benefit my club, my community, my country and my world.
By Elizabeth Hall
I Found Myself at 4-H Camp
It’s not very often that someone reflects on defining moments in their life but when I take a moment to reflect on my life so far, the biggest influence that comes to mind is the eight years I’ve spent in the 4-H program and how the 4-H program has shaped who I am, and also helped me understand who I want to be.
I started going to 4-H camp when I was 8 years old. When most people think of 4-H camp, they immediately think of farming but our camp is the only 4-H camp in the area that is not agriculturally based, it is centered around leadership. When I was a younger camper, I did not necessarily understand what being a leadership camp meant but I knew I respected and looked up to the teens in our camp and hoped to someday become one of them and achieve that same respect and level of impact.
In the summer before 9th grade, I became part of the Teen Leader program, which was mainly focused on leadership. We did a lot of team building within the program and I started to take on a lot more responsibility with younger campers. The following year I got promoted to a junior staff, which is another leadership-based program.
In the fall of my freshman year of high school, I became a member of the Connecticut 4-H Teen Ambassador Program. This program consists of teens from all over Connecticut and even a few out of state. Within the Connecticut Teen Ambassador Program, we meet once or twice a month to do community service projects, discuss important current issues and figure out new ways to help around our community and within our 4-H programs.
During this time, I was also learning to engage a group or speak to a crowd. Sitting in a group of 50 or so teens we would pass around a microphone and share something, literally anything about ourselves. One person would say they got their driver’s license or aced a test and the next person would say that their socks didn’t match. I didn’t realize it at the time but this was a leadership exercise focused on confidence and the ability to speak to a crowd, to reach an audience. This confidence was something that helped me realize I want to work with children and help them develop their natural abilities.
I have helped plan a teen leader weekend conference with other teens from around New England. I’ve developed my public speaking skills by giving presentations about the New London County 4-H Camp and Teen Ambassador program at the Big E. I’ve gotten to experience once in a lifetime experiences.
In 2017, I was selected as one of the forty-three delegates to represent Connecticut at the annual Washington Focus trip in D.C. On this trip I was able to meet so many different people from across the United States while developing my communication, leadership and citizenship skills. I’ve learned so many skills and learned what I love to do, and I love working with people, especially kids.
Through all my work with the 4-H program I have gained more of a leadership role, it has made me realize I want to pursue a career in education of young children. I strive to be someone that kids can look up to.
As I end my 4-H story, I reflect on how grateful I am that I became part of the 4-H Program and now have the privilege to be in a leadership role to give back to children as they start their own 4-H story.
By Chloe Smith