Health

Enhancing health and well-being locally, nationally, and globally

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

Seafood Consumption is Increasing

cover of Connecticut seafood survey publicationHuman demand for seafood is rising, but the world ocean can only provide a limited share of what we consume. Over the last 50 years, the average annual growth in seafood production exceeded that of all other types of terrestrial animal production. In 2018, global seafood production was estimated at an all-time high of 178.8 million metric tons, with farmed seafood representing nearly half of the total of all seafood produced.

With capture fisheries production nearly stagnant, aquaculture has been rapidly expanding to meet the needs of a growing population. A new report includes findings from a survey of Connecticut residents about their seafood related consumption, knowledge, behaviors and preferences.

The purpose of the study was to collect data to inform the development of public engagement programs on Connecticut wild and farmed seafood industries and seafood products. Further, the study generated new data useful to seafood producers on consumer willingness to pay for locally farmed products. The report is available at seagrant.uconn.edu.

Article by Tessa Getchis

Genetic Engineering Professional Development

teachers in laboratory with Dr. Gerry Berkowitz learning about DNA and GMO ]The American public is growing increasingly skeptical about the safety of genetically modified (GM) foods. Despite consensus in the scientific community that foods containing GM ingredients are safe, nearly half of Americans believe otherwise. Younger adults are also more likely to regard GM foods a health risk.

In order to address misunderstandings about GM foods and provide information about the applications of genetic engineering in agriculture and other fields, a team is developing a program to enhance science literacy for educators and young adults. The team is collaborating to create a standards-based curriculum and laboratory-based professional development for secondary school teachers on genetic engineering. The project aims to build the knowledge and confidence of educators and provide them with materials to deliver lessons related to genetic engineering in their classrooms.

High school teachers will participate in training at the Storrs campus, where they will utilize laboratory resources and build connections with academia and industry professionals. The networking opportunity will also allow educators to share career opportunities in the field of genetics with students. In addition to the professional development workshop, the program will prepare simpler exercises that can be taught outside of classroom and without the resources of a lab setting, such as during 4-H youth activities, to introduce scientific concepts.

Read the full article at http://bit.ly/UConn_PDSTEP.

Article by Jason M. Sheldon

UConn 4-H Computer Science Pathways

Bridging the Gap Between Scientists and Communities

4-H clover4-H knows talent is everywhere, but opportunity is not. Building youth equity and closing opportunity gaps by connecting youth curriculum, lesson plans, technology and training is the focus of the UConn CAHNR Extension Computer Science (CS) Pathways program.

Computer science and technology are not just transforming jobs and economies in cities, they are equally important to rural communities and within the agriculture sector. UConn 4-H received the 2019-2020 Growing a Computer Science Pathway – Launchers for America’s Youth grant presented by National 4-H Council as part of a $6 million grant from Google.org. 4-H and Google are bringing computer science education to the 4-H system with the goal of creating equitable access to these life-changing skills for kids and teens everywhere. 4-H works wherever the youth are with a focus on rural youth and populations that traditionally have limited access to computer science education.

In Connecticut, whether through a military program developing a lighting system for a henhouse, a small town community club using e-textiles in a sewing project or an urban afterschool program using code to make robots run more efficiently, the 4-H approach is flexible to help students see the range of ways computer science can connect the things they care about. Computer science skills, like analytical thinking, resilience and creativity, are some of the most sought-after skills in today’s job market.

The 4-H Computer Science Pathways Program represents an opportunity for young people of all backgrounds to create, not just consume technology, while also fulfilling a critical workforce need. UConn 4-H brings over 100 years of transformational educational experiences that build successful youth-adult partnerships in our communities. The UConn 4-H Computer Science Pathways Program is using the grant to continue building on our success delivering computer science education to communities in four primary ways:

1. Creating mobile learning libraries and laboratories

Also known as mobile labs, these are self-contained traveling classrooms used to teach new skills and ways of thinking that bring all of our young people access to opportunity and help them innovate. We teach youth technical computer science skills such as coding, and essential life skills including computational thinking, teamwork, and problem solving. The mobile labs have digital and unplugged activities. Digital activities do not require internet access. “Unplugged” activities are used on their own or as part of other programs, including the healthy living program, civic engagement program or STEM programs. Educators and 4-H club leaders receive essential and support training with the mobile labs.

2. Providing comprehensive, statewide, professional development

Teens as Teachers: Teens learn the fundamentals of teaching diverse audiences. These skills benefit many subject areas, not just computer science. Youth-Adult Partnerships: This training teaches the fundamentals of youth-adult partnerships and strategies for success. These partnerships were part of the original design of 4-H programs and are a core value today.

Growing Computer Science Pathways: This face-to-face training teaches the fundamental theories of computer science program delivery and introduces the lesson plans, curriculum and supplies needed.

Growing Computer Science Pathways Digital and Unplugged: Hands-on learning.

Principles for effectively delivering digital and unplugged activities for youth of all ages is provided in this training  Unplugged activities teach computational thinking, problem solving and the basics of coding without needing digital technology.

3. Creating and facilitating teen mentoring, teen-led programming and youth-adult partnerships

We teach volunteer and teen training programs. In these workshops participants learn the importance of, and strategies for, giving youth authentic and meaningful engagement opportunities. These opportunities, in programs, and in their communities, help youth find their voice. Youth see that they can exert influence and develop decision-making authority.

4. Leveraging the National 4-H Council’s and Google’s computer science expertise and resources

Community educators receive the skills and resources they need to deliver cutting-edge computer science programming through this collaboration. Youth computer science programming from 4-H fits community’s needs, while fostering leadership, confidence, and life skills.

There is a tremendous need for young people to create technology, not just consume it. By bringing our organizations together, we are combining the reach and expertise of the nation’s largest youth development organization, 4-H, with the power of Google’s computer science educational programs and volunteers.

Visit 4-H.uconn.edu for more information on the Computer Science Pathways Program.

Article by Maryann Fusco-Rollins

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/.

How do I get a tick tested?

Ticks carry many diseases that affect humans and animals. The Connecticut Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory in the Department of Pathobiology and Veterinary Science at UConn’s College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources offers tick testing. The steps to submit a tick are outlined in this video and you can visit https://bit.ly/UConnTickTesting to download the submission form.

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/