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Educator Spotlight: Faye Griffiths-Smith

Financial Education Program Helps Participants Improve Their Lives

Managing family and personal finances well is a common challenge. Findings from recent studies show cause for concern regarding Americans’ financial practices. According to the 2018 FINRA Financial Capability Study, nationally:

  • 46% of individuals lack a rainy-day fund,
  • 34% of individuals can answer four or five questions on a basic five-question financial literacy quiz correctly,
  • 35% of individuals with credit cards paid only the minimum on their credit cards during some months in the last year, and
  • 19% of individuals reported that over the past year, their household spent more than their income.

UConn Extension’s financial education program provides workshops, professional development sessions, events, and resources to help Connecticut citizens improve their lives. Participants receive relevant, research-based information and tools to encourage them to adopt sound financial management practices.

Faye and colleagues from Connecticut Saves Week standing in front of banner
Faye Griffiths-Smith, third from right, and colleagues celebrate Connecticut Saves Week. Photo courtesy of Sydney Putnam.

“Shortly after I was hired, I conducted a needs assessment. Money management was the topic respondents indicated as most important to address,” says Faye Griffiths-Smith, UConn Extension’s family economics and resource management educator. “Today, there is increased recognition that financial capability has a strong impact on one’s ability to achieve economic stability and move toward financial security.”

The Extension Financial Education Program reaches adults and young people. One focus area is reaching people living on limited incomes, those making life transitions such as entering or returning to the workforce, or others experiencing financial challenges. Recent participants included veterans, senior center residents, adult education students, teens, summer youth employment students, and college students. “Reaching teens, college students, and other young adults at a point when they are likely to start facing important financial decisions is exciting because the information is highly relevant for them and many recognize it is important,” Faye says. “Engaging learning activities are a great way for them to experience their future financial lives.”

“As the incoming President of the Connecticut Jump$tart Coalition (www.jumpstart.org/connecticut) promoting financial literacy for youth, I look forward to working with teachers, other professionals, and volunteers from many organizations across the state on ways to increase the financial knowledge of our young people,” Faye says.

Strength in Numbers

The UConn Extension Financial Education Program collaborates with agencies and organizations to enhance the financial capability and economic security of Connecticut citizens. Collaborations are key to reaching diverse audiences that might otherwise be unaware of available resources. Complex financial products and services make it harder for people to be aware of all their options. Training agency and organization professionals is another way to expand the impact of Extension’s financial education and information. These staff reach their clients or students with information as financial topics and concerns arise.

Faye has provided financial empowerment training for hundreds of social service agency staff through Your Money, Your Goals, a program developed by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

“Through collaboration with United Way of Greater Waterbury, I’ve also had the opportunity to provide financial coaching training and technical assistance for volunteers who work with agency client  requesting this assistance,” Faye shares. Being a financial educator involves more than performing financial calculations and staying current on the myriad of products and services available as well as the impact of legislative changes on our finances. It gets to the heart of what people believe is important about how they live. It involves listening, learning about their situations, and guiding them in identifying their options while addressing financial decisions they face.

Article by Stacey Stearns

Connecticut Trails Day 2020 Is..Every Day!

If gorgeous weather isn’t enough incentive to get you outdoors, gear up for a DIY Trails Day Experience – any day!  Check out the over 200 trails and properties you can visit around the state, coordinated by the Connecticut Forest and Parks Association. Click HERE for info on enjoying the outdoors safely and responsibly during this health crisis. New to hiking, click HERE for tips on hike safety and planning.

This message is brought to you by the UConn Extension PATHS team – People Active on Trails for Health and SustainabilityWe 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.

Celebrate National Pollinator Week!

This week highlights the crucial role of pollinators in our food supply, crop success and persistence of the plants we admire. Pollinator activity is needed for the reproduction of over 85% of the world’s flowering plants including  over 1,200 crop plants. We can take time to learn more about pollinators and reflect on the need to celebrate and protect them every day.  Most pollinator species are insects and many of them continue to face significant conservation challenges. Reports indicate significant declines in 28% of North American bumble bee species and 19% of U.S. butterflies species are at risk of extinction. So lend them a hand by planting a pollinator garden or creating nesting sites for native bees.  

To learn more about pollinators and how to protect them visit this website: https://portal.ct.gov/DEEP/Wildlife/Learn-About-Wildlife/Pollinators-in-Connecticut

For fun family activities for this week you can visit   https://www.pollinator.org/pollinator-week#pw-activities

Meet Neva Taylor: Extension Intern and Podcast Host

girl taking a selfie Hi! My name is Neva Taylor and I am one of the summer interns with the CT Trail Census and UConn CAHNR Extension. At UConn, I am a double major in Urban and Community Studies (UCS) and Sociology, and in the Master’s in Public Policy (MPP) fast track program. At UConn I am on the women’s rugby team and the triathlon team; because of COVID I have switched to mainly running, running my first virtual half marathon back in May. Other than sports, I also am involved with the Big Brother Big Sister mentoring program where I have a “little sister” at a local elementary school. I also had my own radio show last semester called Woman of the Week (WOW) where I highlighted different amazing women out there doing amazing things each week.
Thanks to my broadcasting experience, I am starting a new podcast for the CT Trail Census called “On the Trail”. On the podcast we will cover a broad array of topics both on and off the beaten path about all things having to do with nature, trails, and the outdoors. Last week’s episode was all about finding the right trail for you and what resources (apps and websites) can help you along the way. In the coming weeks we will be discussing issues like youth engagement, trail maintenance, representation and inclusivity in the outdoors community, and much more. My hopes for this podcast are that people can get in tune with nature in their backyards and communities and learn new things that they may have never thought to question. Each episode launches every Friday at 12pm so I hope you’ll join us “On the Trail!”

Learn more about the Connecticut Trail Census at https://cttrailcensus.uconn.edu/ and the
podcast at https://uconnextension.podbean.com/.

COVID-19 Trail Impact Report: April-May 2020

CT trail census logoCONNECTICUT TRAIL CENSUS RELEASES 

COVID-19 TRAIL IMPACT REPORT FOR APRIL-MAY 2020 

We are pleased to release the latest data on how several of the state’s most popular multi-use trails are being impacted by COVID-19. The new report documents trail use during April-May 2020 at 12 sites on multi-use trails in Connecticut, and compares use with the same period in 2019, as one indication of the changes in trail use occurring simultaneously with the outbreak of COVID-19. “The trend of increased trail use occurring simultaneously with the March outbreak of COVID-19 is continuing,” observed Charles Tracy, Coordinator for the Trail Census, “The Trail Census team wanted to share these initial findings as soon as the data was available.” Overall, three quarters of the trails participating in this study recorded an increase of greater than 50%, compared to April-May 2019.

The report released today is part of an ongoing trail research project conducted by the Connecticut Trail Census. Other Trail Census projects include “On the Trail” a new weekly podcast; organizing a multi-state conference on bicycle and pedestrian data collection; a new data visualization portal; and work on creating a statewide trails website.

The Connecticut Trail Census is a statewide volunteer-based data collection and education program. The program collects information about trail use through trail use counts recorded by infrared counters and user intercept surveys administered by trained volunteers. The goal is to develop an accurate picture of who uses trails in Connecticut, and to advance and inform new trail policy, design and construction throughout the state. 

Initiated in 2017 as a partnership between UConn Extension, Naugatuck Valley Council of Governments, Connecticut Greenways Council, and local trails advocacy organizations, the Trail Census has expanded to over 20 data collection sites on trails across the state. The program receives funding from the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Recreational Trails Program. For more information, visit www.cttrailcensus.uconn.edu   

Link: COVID-19 Trail Impact Report: April-May 2020

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

How to Make a Strawberry Kale Smoothie with Molly Basak-Smith

Molly Basak-Smith of our UConn Extension Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) walks through how to make a strawberry kale smoothie as part of our Slurpie challenge with the Put Local On Your Tray program. Make your own smoothie at home and join us in the Great Smoothie Slurp!

 

Mental Health Resources / Recursos Para Su Salud Conductual

stress spelled out with scrabble piecesThe COVID-19 virus has struck the nation unexpectedly. We recognize that taking care of your behavioral health during a pandemic can be a challenge. Worrying about your health and the health of your loved ones can cause extreme stress, fear, and anxiety.

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services has provided many Mental Health Resources that include information and tips on how to take care of your behavioral health. Resources also include information and tips for caregivers, parents, and teachers on how to help children. 

For more resources visit:

https://store.samhsa.gov/

 

La pandemia de COVID-19 ha golpeado a la nación inesperadamente. Reconocemos que cuidar su salud conductual durante una pandemia puede ser un desafío. Preocuparse por su salud y la salud de sus seres queridos puede causar estrés, miedo, y ansiedad.

El Departamento de Salud Y Servicios Humanos de EE. UU. ha proporcionada muchos recursos que incluyen información y consejos en cómo cuidar su salud conductual. Los recursos también incluyen información y consejos para cuidadores, padres y maestros sobre cómo ayudar a los niños.

 Para más recursos visite:

https://store.samhsa.gov/

 

 

Thames River Quests are fun for anytime this summer

Developing buds on bloodroot with its first flowerThe Thames River Heritage Park and Connecticut Sea Grant are inviting people to solve a word puzzle while exploring historic sites in New London and Groton by completing one or more of the four Thames River Quests any time this summer.

Those who complete the quests can enter a prize drawing for heritage park T-shirts and water taxi tickets.

The quests have been offered as part of Connecticut Trails Day events on the first weekend in June in 2018 and 2019. This year, instead of group gatherings, Trails Day hosts are promoting activities that can be done at any time.

“The quests offer families a safe and affordable opportunity to enjoy being outdoors on a pursuit that is both fun and educational,” said Marian Galbraith, president of the Thames River Heritage Park Board of Directors.

The Thames River Quests are treasure-hunt style tours of four park sites: Fort Trumbull State Park and the downtown Waterfront Park in New London; and Fort Griswold Battlefield State Park and Thames Street in Groton.

Participants follow clues to solve a word puzzle that leads to a special location where the quest ends. At the ending spot, people are asked to take a photo and email it to: info@thamesriverheritagepark.org to be entered into the drawing. Winners will be randomly selected throughout the summer.

Photos of the winners will be posted on the Thames River Heritage Park’s Facebook page. In addition to the Thames River Heritage Park and Connecticut Sea Grant, the Thames River Quest is also sponsored by The Day Publishing Co.

Directions for the four quests can be found at: https://www.thamesriverheritagepark.org/quests/

“We enjoy partnering with the Thames River Heritage Park and The Day to highlight the maritime heritage and history of the Thames River region through this interactive quest,” said Nancy Balcom, associate director of Connecticut Sea Grant.

Original Post:

https://seagrant.uconn.edu/2020/05/21/thames-river-quests-are-fun-for-anytime-this-summer/