Education

Solid Ground Farmer Trainings in January

The following Solid Ground Farmer Trainings are scheduled for January.

BF 106: Vegetable Production for Small Scale Farming – January 5th

BF 240: Pesticide Safety for Conventional & Organic Producers – January 9th

BF 270: Welding Basics for Agriculture – January 12th – FULL

BF 110: Growing Crops in Low, High and Movable Tunnels – January 26th

All classes are free, but registration is requested. Email Charlotte.Ross@uconn.edu for more information.

Stormwater Corps: Looking for Green Stormwater Opportunities

stormwater corps collage
If you were out and about in the towns of North Haven, Milford, Hamden, West Haven or Cheshire this summer, you may have seen a team of four young adults writing on clipboards, snapping pictures of parking lots, laying their phones down on the sidewalk, and peering down into storm drains. These four intrepid UConn undergrads, nicknamed the Stormwater Corps, were evaluating opportunities for “disconnecting” stormwater through the use of green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) practices such as rain gardens, bioswales, and pervious pavements. Such practices help to infiltrate stormwater runoff into the ground, reducing flooding and water pollution. The students, trained by CLEAR’s water (NEMO) team, were tasked with using a combination of online mapping technology and good old-fashioned field work to look for “low-hanging fruit”­­-sites in each town where green stormwater practices were likely to be most feasible, have the greatest impact, and be cost-effective. Their findings were compiled into town reports complete with aerial photos and stormwater reduction estimates, and presented by the team to key municipal staff in each town with an emphasis on the “top five” potential sites. The Stormwater Corps project, supported by a grant from the Long Island Sound Futures Fund of theNational Fish and Wildlife Foundation, includes funds for each of the five towns to put toward construction of their top priority GSI practice. CLEAR’s long-range goal is to combine a semester-long stormwater/GSI class with the work with the towns, forming a fully realized third “Corps” program to add to the Climate Corps and Brownfields Corps.
Questions should be directed to:
Michael Dietz
NEMO Program Co-Director 

michael.dietz@uconn.edu  or (860) 345-5225

My 4-H Story: Elizabeth Hall

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

Chicken Questions?

Do you own chickens? Our poultry care video series with retired Extension Educator Dr. Mike Darre can answer your questions. There are 10 videos, topic include: how to hold your birds, how to inspect your birds, determining if your chicken is a good layer, watering systems, nest boxes, feeding, housing and heating, bird litter, housing, and the egg cleaning and quality check. You can watch the entire series on our YouTube channel.

 

My 4-H Story: Chloe Smith

I Found Myself at 4-H Camp

Chloe Smith Chloe Smith Chloe Smith

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

Pre-Register for Vegetable and Small Fruit Growers’ Conference

vegetable conference banner photo

SOUTH WINDSOR, CT – UConn Extension’s 2019 Vegetable & Small Fruit Growers’ Conference will be taking place on Monday, January 7th, 2019. The conference will be held at Maneeley’s Conference Center on 65 Rye Street in South Windsor.

The day will include 9 educational sessions, an extensive trade show with over 30 exhibitors, and plenty of time for networking. Session topics range from Farm Labor to High Tunnel Production including Growing Brambles, Growing Strawberries and Tomato Nutrient Management. Other highlights include a Cut Flower Production session that will give us a taste of the following full day workshop on January 8thin East Windsor. A farmer panel that will discuss Marketing, specifically POS (point of sale) Systems will round out the event. Three pesticide re-certification credits will be available for licensed applicators.

This event is organized by UConn Extension, Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station and the Connecticut Vegetable & Berry Growers’ Alliance. The steering committee uses evaluations from previous years to produce a fruitful program, gathering the best speakers from within our region and across the country to fulfill the requests and meet the needs of Connecticut growers.

This day will not only be great for learning, but also for networking with other growers, Extension educators and industry representatives. We hope you take the time to gather plenty of ideas and knowledge to take home with you to practice on your own farms and improve your farm businesses.

Pre-registration to attend the conference is $40. The pre-registration includes the trade show, continental breakfast, coffee, and lunch. The pre-registration fee for students (high school or college) is $18 (must show valid ID). Pre-registration must be received by January 2nd, 2019). After the deadline and at the door is $60 per person. The registration form, additional information and other upcoming events can be found at http://ipm.uconn.edu/under events.

This institution is an affirmative action/ equal employment opportunity employer and program provider. Contact us 3 weeks in advance for special accommodations.

Preventing Early Childhood Obesity

UConn Allied Health Sciences community outreach program
Lindsey Fenn working with a group of children and their parents.

Preventing obesity in early childhood is a critical issue being addressed by a multi-disciplinary team from UConn. It’s one of three complementary projects led by faculty in Allied Health Sciences, and is funded by a grant from the Child Health and Development Institute of Connecticut. The project focuses on preventing obesity in early childhood by offering parents of economic disadvantage simple and feasible feeding practices to develop healthier food preferences for their children. Valerie Duffy, PhD, RD, and Jennifer Harris, PhD, MBA from Allied Health Sciences and the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity are the co-PIs.

Lindsay Fenn, RD, is a masters’ student in Health Promotion Sciences in Allied Health Sciences, and has conducted nutrition outreach education with family resources centers in East Hartford. Fenn conducts outreach education for three different schools, although the majority of her time is spent with Early Childhood Learning Center at Hockanum School. There are multiple partners in East Hartford that the team works with to reach audiences and broaden their impact. These include the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) centers, the Hunger Action Team, and Foodshare mobile sites.

“I ran workshops for parents on picky eating and eating healthy in general, mainly with preschool ages,” says Fenn. Each workshop is approximately one hour. She begins by working with the parents, while the children have supervised play time. Next, there is a workshop for the kids, and parents are encouraged to be involved in this segment, cooking with their kids.

UConn student Lindsey Fenn works in the community for her internship with the UConn Allied Health Sciences program.
Lindsey Fenn (far right) with a mother and child at a community outreach program.

“Programs for kids are interactive, for example, we had them make banana snowmen with pretzels for the arms and carrots for the nose. We get the kids involved so they will eat healthy foods and try new things,” Fenn adds.

Part of the project at Hockanum included a Farm to School program where they built a garden, and took the classrooms outside, planted seeds, and then volunteers weeded the gardens over the summer. Lindsay attends the community dinners at a local church, and covered nutrition topics with the participants at the dinner. She is currently working with the Mayberry Elementary School and focusing on healthy eating around the holidays.

The grant through the Child Health and Development Institute began last year, and is building off of the relationships Fenn and the Allied Health Sciences team have built in East Hartford. “Our research question is to determine if parents are following the guidelines for feeding children ages 12-36 months,” Fenn says. “We also want to determine what the knowledge gaps are for these parents.”

The team at Allied Health Sciences are using a survey and other research to fill the knowledge gaps for parents of young children. The survey was created with input from multiple stakeholders. Staff at the family resource centers were involved in developing the survey to make sure it was a good fit for the populations served. For example, the survey was administered online with pictures to reinforce concepts. Fenn conducted the survey at the East Hartford WIC program, a daycare center, and the library, and had 134 parents participate.

“Our goal is to communicate consistently with parents in East Hartford,” Harris states. “We want to help them identify one or two behaviors that could be addressed with better communication, and that they are willing to change. These may be reducing sugary drinks, replacing snacks with healthier ones, practicing responsive eating, or adding variety to fruits and vegetables.”

The team focuses on two or three changes that a parent can make in their child’s nutrition. Follow up emails with participants build off of the previous work of the messaging campaign. Dr. Molly Waring is another Allied Health team member with expertise in social media as a communication tool. Social media platforms can be used for peer support after the initial communication from the Allied Health Sciences team members.

Initial analysis shows the results are supported by previous research. There is a lack of vegetable diversity and variety in children’s diets. Numerous parents cited that they are serving their children sugar sweetened beverages.

The next phase of the team’s research is convening focus groups at WIC and Hockanum in January and February that will talk about the main areas and gaps in knowledge that the research identified. Results are being shared with stakeholders so that they can also tailor their nutrition education messages to help parents decrease sugar-sweetened beverages and increase vegetable variety.

“I’ve gotten to know the different families, and received positive feedback about the workshops,” Fenn concludes. “It’s rewarding to interact with people, and see parents again after you’ve worked with them. They appreciate our work and say that we’ve helped them make positive changes.”

The grant is only for the project in East Hartford, however Duffy and Harris are developing a proof of concept through this project so that East Hartford can be a pilot for other communities to use communication in preventing early childhood obesity.

By Stacey Stearns

Holiday Food Shopping on a Budget

grocery store shopping cart filled with food
Photo: Flickr, Phil Gold

It is that crazy, stressful expensive time of year.  But planning for that holiday meal shouldn’t be on that list.  Here are a few steps to help ease the process and cost:

  1. Clean out the refrigerator and freezer of unneeded or wanted items. This will make room for items for the big meal.  Also it will let you know which items you already have and don’t need to purchase.
  2. Go through the pantry to double check items you may need for baking (flour, sugar, baking soda or powder) or additions to the main meal.
  3. Look through the grocery store flyers either in the paper on online. This will help to plan what you will make for your meal. For example turkey is at its lowest price around Thanksgiving, beef and pork roasts in December, and ham around Easter. The store flyer may have a coupon for more discounts.
  4. Have a good idea how much money you have budgeted for this meal, some adjustments can be made by the number of people attending. If you can’t swing a big meal keep it small and invite others over for dessert. Another way to reduce cost is to have guests bring side dishes and desserts. It really takes the financial burden off the host and everyone feels more involved in the meal.
  5. Keep your menu seasonal! Vegetables and fruits that are in the holiday’s season are the best choice to stay on budget.
  6. Finally stick to your shopping list and your plan. If you have questions about how much meat you will need for each guest talk to the store butcher, he/she will help you stay on budget.

For more resources, including recipes, visit https://efnep.uconn.edu.

By Erica Benvenuti

Lifelong Learning with CLIR Begins Again in January

CLIR speakerThe Center for Learning in Retirement, otherwise known as CLIR, is one of the many programs offered through the University of Connecticut (UConn) Extension, part of the College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources. CLIR is a lifelong learning program that provides meaningful and serious intellectual activities for adults of retirement age. Individuals from all walks of life are welcome and there is no educational requirement, just a desire for learning.

Each CLIR class is approximately 1.5 hours long and held in Vernon Cottage on the UConn Depot campus. CLIR covers a wide range of topics including agriculture, technology, psychology, culture, and so much more. It is not too late to register for one of the many classes available during the spring semester that starts in January. The fee for each semester is $20 and there is no limit on the number of classes you can attend. Interested participants are also welcome to attend two free classes before deciding to join CLIR.

Michael Adams, a professor from Eastern Connecticut State University, will be teaching a course January 3rd on close up and macrophotography. On January 15th the President and Secretary of Windham County National Alliance of Mental Illness will be teaching a class on Mental Health Awareness. Cameron Faustman, the Interim Dean of the College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources, will be teaching a class on Food Insecurity on March 13th.

Interested in learning more and seeing what other classes CLIR has to offer? Visit clir.uconn.edu, email marilyn.diaz@uconn.edu to get on our email list, or call us at (860)570-9012. We look forward to seeing you soon!

 

We Want You to Volunteer with UConn 4-H

Garret helping a younger 4-H member
Garret works with a younger 4-H member at the Middlesex-New Haven 4-H Fair. Photo: Kara Bonsack

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