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Volunteer with Us

volunteers collect CT Trail Census data in 2017 on a multi-use trail
Volunteers collect data in 2017. Photo: Aaron Burris

As we celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day, many use this as a day of service. Extension values the service our volunteers contribute. In 2019, they volunteered 207,887 hours across all programs, valued at $5.3 million to our communities.

Volunteers contribute knowledge and experience to Extension, and expand our capacity to deliver programs in every municipality and town of Connecticut. UConn Extension volunteers are from a range of sectors including robotics, information technology, project management, and agriculture. 

Marlene Mayes, a volunteer with the Master Gardener program since 2004,

working in garden
Hartford County Master Gardener Coordinator Sarah Bailey and a Master Gardener volunteer work in Burgdorf. Photo: Chris Defrancesco.

coordinates the Foodshare Garden at the 4-H Education Center at Auerfarm in Bloomfield. Each summer, the garden has over 600 community volunteers, who grow 4,000 pounds of vegetables donated to Foodshare. “Everything is research-based, the greenhouse and garden are about teaching and getting people to grow in their own backyard,” Mayes states. 

We have volunteer opportunities for UConn students, and citizens throughout the state in several of our programs. Join us as a UConn Extension volunteer.

Vote for our Granby 4-H VEX Robotics Team

Granby 4-H VEX Robotics Team
Granby 4-H VEX Robotics Team
Please vote by 1 PM Sunday, January 19th! We need everyone’s help for our UConn 4-H Hartford County Granby 4-H VEX Robotics Team. They are tied for first – let’s help them win.
 
They entered a VEX Robotics Online Community Challenge. We are showcasing what 4-H and STEM looks like in CT to a national audience. We need your vote. Please vote for our video and spread the word. Voting closes Jan 19. Directions to vote are below.
 
Community Award Online Challenge sponsored by Google
 
1. Go to Community Award Online Website
 
2. Go to Login/Register. You will need to register with your Google or Facebook account.
3. Return to Community Award Online Challenge – open it up
4. Go to All Entries button on the right-hand side
5. Go to Page 5
6. Look for Entry Called “Reaching Out: Community and Beyond”
7. Hit the Thumbs Up Button
8. Log Out
 
Thank you for supporting our 4-H members!

#AskUConnExtension – How do I lose weight?

Our UConn Expanded Food and Education Program (EFNEP) educators are often answer questions from participants about weight loss. Heather Pease, one of our EFNEP educators, offers the following guidelines:

How do I lose weight?

fried chicken next to peppers and an apple
Fried chicken next to an apple and peppers on a white background. The photo was taken to illustrate healthy food versus unhealthy food.
Photo: UConn

The beginning of a new year turns our focus towards renewal and change. Many people will make a “new year’s resolution” such as losing weight.

Losing weight requires changing habits and behavior. Instead of losing –let’s put the focus on ADDING physical activity for stronger bodies and eating more nutrient dense foods that builds healthy bodies!

Smart goals” or specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely intentions can help you make a plan for success. If you want to lose weight in the new decade- ask yourself:

Specifically: How?

  • Track what you eat for a week – where can you make some changes?
  • Eat less calories and move more-
    • Add more:
    • Fruits and Vegetables are low in calories, and high in nutrients
    • Add more: moving!
  • Try a free food tracking app to figure out the quality and quantity of food you are eating.
    • It can also tell you how many calories are you eating? How many calories are you burning?

Measure: How will you measure your changes?

  • Use measuring cups and timers to help you identify how much you are eating and moving
  • Log your movement with your phone
  • Try a free app like google fit or apple health to help measure movement.

Attainable: What steps will take to lose weight

Try using your phone to schedule 3 minute movements every hour at work- That’s 24 minutes of movement- try walking in place or go for a walk

Realistic: It takes time and intention to make change

  • Try to do add on to something you already do that is a good habit- when you eat dinner use a smaller plate
  • Try to set a small goal of exercising for 10 minutes; set a reminder schedule it at the same time every day and it will soon catch on

Timely: Most goals have a deadline- when do you hope to achieve your goal- remember weight loss is about sustainability and health

  • With weight loss the TIME piece can be how much time it takes to lose weight (usually 1 -2 pounds a month and maintain your new habits.
  • Use time to help you ease into new habits, walk 20 minutes after work every day in my house instead of eating. It is important to look at present habits and make small intentional changes J
  • Focus on adding minutes and activities to increase your physical activity, stamina and strength

Article by Heather Pease

Holiday Plant Care

pink and cream poinsettias
Photo: Pamm Cooper

Did you receive a plant during this holiday season? Poinsettia, holiday cactus and rosemary trees are filling the shelves in greenhouses, grocery stores and even big box stores appealing to the giver to gift a plant lover on their list. While they are beautiful plants, they will need the correct care to keep them that way and in good health.

The familiar red foliage of the poinsettia plant are modified leaves called bracts. They surround the actual small, yellow flower at the center of the red bracts. Once the pollen from the flowers are shed, the bracts are dropped from the plant. Chose plants with little to no pollen for the bracts to be retained for a longer length of time. Plant breeders are developing different colored bracts, including variegated, offering many options than just red. Read more…

Article by Carol Quish of the UConn Home and Garden Center

Winter Riding Lessons at UConn Start January 8th

horse sticking its nose through the fence to greet a person
Photo: UConn

The Department of Animal Science is offering the Winter Riding Program beginning January 8th and registration is now open!  This would make a great gift for the equestrian on your list or yourself!  Space is limited so reserve your spot today! 

Please visit http://s.uconn.edu/uconnwinterriding for more information including registration forms.

Holiday Eating Survival Guide

a plate of chocolate covered pretzels with festive sprinkles on them
Photo: Air Force Academy

Choose:

  • Lower calorie appetizers- vegetables, or fruit
  • Avoid lots of cheese, and fried foods
  • Smaller plates and tall skinny glasses

Know your limits:

  • Eat before you go to a party or out holiday shopping
  • Make a healthy food for the party
  • Have a plan for healthy eating… 5 small appetizers and 2 drinks
  • 2 mixed drinks can have almost 500 calories and depending on the appetizers, it can run as high as 230 calories per appetizer
  • Indulge in a holiday treat closer to bedtime, you will tend to eat less than if you had it during the day
  • Be mindful of eating – slow down and pay attention
  • Carry hard candy mints to change the flavor of your palate or brush your teeth to signal yourself to stop eating

Start a new tradition:

  • Instead of giving cookies or chocolate try making soup mixes or salsa as gifts
  • Make a non-food craft as a holiday activity
  • Try walking, ice skating or sledding to enjoy the season
  • Try reducing fat and sugar in your holiday baking by substituting with applesauce

Article by Heather Pease, Extension educator, UConn EFNEP

UConn 4-H Military Partnership Hosts Barnyard Boogie

little boy holds rabbit

The UConn 4-H Military Partnership Project joined forces with the Subase Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP), Subase New London School Liaison Officer, University of Rhode Island 4-H, CT and RI National Guard CYP Coordinators, and New London County 4-H clubs for a “Barnyard Boogie” family sensory afternoon. Hosted by Horses Healing Humans, a partnering agency with VETSCT.ORG (Veteran Equine Therapeutic Services), local businesses, non-profits and Mental Health Professionals collaborated to make possible this free event for military-connected EFMP kids to meet kid-friendly barnyard ponies, goats, chickens, rabbits, sheep, and dogs. Over forty youth connected to the 4-H animals, many meeting a farm animal for the first time. Four 4-H clubs attended with animals in tow. This event will become an annual experience for our military families. Proud moment of the day involved one school-age boy, who, after much encouragement from his mom, tentatively reached out one finger to touch Trinket the sheep’s fleece. An expression of pure joy flooded his face, and he threw both arms over Trinket and buried his face in her fleece.

family meets the animals little girl holding a rabbit

Article by Pam Gray, New London County 4-H

Spend Family Time Outdoors Exploring Nature

person walking on a bridge with colorful fall leaves around them
As the holiday season quickly approaches, time with family and friends is important to many of us. In honor of this past National Take a Hike Day (it was November 17th), try getting in your quality time with some fresh air this weekend! Take advantage of a local trail or path to get the blood flowing after a big meal. Your friends and family with thank you for burning off the extra calories!
 
This message is brought to you by the UConn Extension PATHS team – People Active on Trails for Health and Sustainability. We are an interdisciplinary team of University of Connecticut extension educators, faculty, and staff committed to understanding and promoting the benefits of trails and natural resources for health, community & economic development and implementing a social ecological approach to health education.

Dress your Table with Connecticut Grown this Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving meal featuring Connecticut Grown foodsPreparations are underway in many homes for the Thanksgiving holiday. Governor Ned Lamont and Connecticut Department of Agriculture Commissioner Bryan P. Hurlburt would like to recognize the many hands that play a role in putting food on your table, including the more than 5,500 farm families in Connecticut.

“Connecticut farmers are an essential segment of our state’s economy—but also a critical component to the wonderful food that many of us gather around each Thanksgiving,” Governor Lamont said. “That is why, when preparing for this year’s Thanksgiving dinner, consider using Connecticut Grown products–from delicious turkey to incredible deserts and other beverages, Connecticut farmers provide families with affordable and nutritious food options. Make this year a true Connecticut Thanksgiving with Connecticut Grown.”

According to the National Turkey Federation, 46 million turkeys are eaten each Thanksgiving. Now is the time to place your order for a Connecticut Grown turkey. More than a dozen Connecticut turkey producers can be found at www.ctgrown.gov offering fresh or frozen, heritage or grass-fed, pastured raised birds. Nearly all of the ingredients for your appetizers, sides, beverages, and desserts can be found by stopping by a holiday farmers’ market, farm stand, farm winery, brewery, or your local grocery store that features products from neighboring farms.

“From a Connecticut Grown turkey to potatoes, winter squash, Brussel sprouts, root vegetables, cranberries, greens, cheese, milk, beer and wine, we can, and do, produce it here,” says Department of Agriculture Commissioner Bryan P. Hurlburt. “Farmers are the backbone of our nation and we are fortunate to have a diverse array of agriculture in Connecticut creating a bountiful harvest.”

If you are looking for ways to prepare your Connecticut Grown food, there are hundreds of recipes on our Pinterest board for you to try. We have you covered with traditional dishes, modern twists on a long-time favorites, and ideas for using up leftovers. Find those recipes, and more, by clicking here: https://www.pinterest.com/GrowCTAg/boards/

As you sit down with family and friends to celebrate all that you are thankful for, remember to thank a farmer.