Health

It’s Spring – Head Outside!

picture of a bridge on a trail that says let's be adventurers

Finally the weather is getting warmer and we can wake up from our winter hibernation. With milder temperatures, heading outside is a great plan. We are fortunate to live in Connecticut and have access to many beautiful parks, beaches and trails.  Here are some moderate to vigorous activities to get us started in the right direction for the Spring season. Hope to see you out there!

https://www.eatright.org/fitness/exercise/workout-ideas/spring-into-action

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

Join UConn for a Panel Presentation on GMOs

UConn’s College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources is offering two events on the science of GMOs next week that we welcome you to attend.

GMO 2.0: Science, Society and the Future is on Wednesday, April 24th in the UConn Student Union Theater on the Storrs Campus at 7 PM.

The panel features four experts that have research connections to GMOs, and will be moderated by Dean Indrajeet Chaubey from the UConn College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources. Panel topics include the risks and benefits of genetically engineered crops; ethical, legal, and social implications of GMOs; CRISPR and other GMO technologies; and the future of GMOs and big agriculture. It’s open to anyone interested in attending.

The goal of the panel presentation is to provide science-based, and unbiased information on GMOs, and the misinformation around them. The panelists will present information in a non-science format for those unfamiliar with the terminology and nuances of the subjects.

GMOs: Answering Difficult Questions from your Customers is being held on Thursday, April 25th at 7 PM at the Tolland County Extension Center, 24 Hyde Avenue, in Vernon.

This presentation is specifically for farmers, but all are welcome to attend. Dr. Paul Vincelli from the University of Kentucky will give a presentation on the risks and benefits of GMOs, and answering questions about GMOs. His presentation will be followed by a question and answer session.

Both events are free for anyone to attend, but registration is requested for planning purposes. For more information on the events, or to register please visit https://gmo.uconn.edu/events/ or call 860-486-9228.

Job Opportunity: Visiting Assistant Extension Educator

Extension word mark

University of Connecticut – Connecticut Trail Census – Visiting Assistant Extension Educator, Anticipated

Position Type: Non-tenure-track faculty

Position location to be determined.

Read the job description below online at

https://academicjobsonline.org/ajo/jobs/13540

 

The College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources, Department of Extension is seeking to fill an anticipated position opening for a Visiting Assistant Extension Educator to serve as Project Coordinator for the Connecticut Trail Census.  The Connecticut Trail Census is a volunteer-based data collection and education program on multi-use trails in Connecticut that encourages data informed decision-making & promotes resident participation in trail monitoring & advocacy.  The Trail Census includes trail use counts recorded by infrared pedestrian counters, trail user intercept surveys administered by trained volunteers, and public education programs.  The project is statewide and serves community leaders and decision makers including local elected officials, planners, economic development professionals, trail advocates, trail maintenance professionals, environmental, health and outdoor activity advocates, as well as the general public. The Census was developed as a partnership program between the University of Connecticut, the Connecticut Greenways Council, the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, the Naugatuck Valley Council of Governments and local trail advocacy organizations. More information can be found at https://cttrailcensus.uconn.edu/.

Job duties include developing, conducting and evaluating programs related to trails, outdoor recreation, community health, planning, and active transportation to meet the goals of the Trail Census and working closely with the Project Advisory Committee to oversee all aspects of the project including planning, fundraising, data analysis and communication, community outreach, budgeting, administration, evaluating and reporting, and oversight of project staff, volunteers, and interns as needed.  The Coordinator will design, deliver and teach culturally relevant community-based educational programs through a variety of methods. 

The Coordinator will work closely with a wide variety of UConn and external statewide project partners involved in trails related programs and projects.  The Coordinator will be expected to be actively involved in grant writing, and to develop a diverse portfolio of educational materials for Extension clients and scholarly materials for professional peers. The successful candidate will be comfortable being the public face of the program, and be able to effectively convey aspects of the program at meetings and public speaking engagements, and by authoring articles and reports. The successful candidate must have reliable transportation with the ability to travel extensively throughout Connecticut to meet with partners and oversee program equipment and functions.  Mileage reimbursement will be provided.

MINIMUM QUALIFICATIONS

•          Master’s Degree in the field of community development, urban and community studies, natural resources, geography, community planning, public health, outdoor recreation, or related field.

•          Demonstrated experience researching and writing managing, or administering grants

•          Demonstrated experience managing programs including budgeting, reporting and evaluation

•          Excellent written and verbal communication skills

•          Experience developing and teaching education programs for diverse audiences

•          Proficiency with Microsoft Excel, Word, and PowerPoint

•          Personal transportation and the ability to travel extensively throughout Connecticut required.

•          Ability to work occasional evening or weekend hours.

PREFERRED QUALIFICATIONS

•          Demonstrated interest in trails, non-motorized transportation, public health, recreation, or sustainability

•          Experience developing, managing or promoting trails or experience with trail oriented volunteer and advocacy organizations

•          Experience managing staff, interns and volunteers

•          An understanding of non-motorized traffic count and analysis techniques

•          Experience with survey design and implementation

•          Familiarity with grants or funding sources related to trails, health, and natural resources

•          An understanding of data management and statistical analysis and related analysis and visualization software such as SPSS, STATA, and Tableau

•          Familiarity with the Cooperative Extension System and the land-grant university system.

•          Experience with ESRI/ArcGIS, Qualtrics, Photoshop, Illustrator, or InDesign, WordPress or social media management

APPOINTMENT TERMS

This is an anticipated full-time (100%) non-tenure track, 11-month position opening contingent on available funding. This position is grant-funded and has an end-date that is subject to annual re-appointments contingent upon satisfactory performance and funding availability. This position includes an outstanding full benefits package including employee and dependent tuition reimbursement at UConn. Salary will be commensurate with successful candidate’s background and experience. This position is anticipated to start Spring 2019.

TO APPLY

Select “Apply Now” to be redirected to Academic Jobs Online to apply. Applicants should submit a letter of application that addresses qualifications identified in the advertisement, a resume or curriculum vita, writing sample, and a list of three references with contact information. Please demonstrate through your written application materials how you meet the minimum qualifications and any of the preferred/desirable qualifications you may also have.

Please reference Search #2019478 in your application submittal.   Screening will begin immediately and will continue until a suitable candidate is found.  Preference will be given to candidates that apply within the first three weeks. 

Employment of the successful candidate will be contingent upon the successful completion of a pre-employment criminal background check.  (Search # 2019478)

All employees are subject to adherence to the State Code of Ethics, which may be found at http://www.ct.gov/ethics/site/default.asp.

___________________________________________________________________

The University of Connecticut is committed to building and supporting a multicultural and diverse community of students, faculty, and staff. The diversity of students, faculty, and staff continues to increase, as does the number of honors students, valedictorians and salutatorians who consistently make UConn their top choice. More than 100 research centers and institutes serve the University’s teaching, research, diversity, and outreach missions, leading to UConn’s ranking as one of the nation’s top research universities. UConn’s faculty and staff are the critical link to fostering and expanding our vibrant, multicultural, and diverse community. As an Affirmative Action/Equal Employment Opportunity employer, UConn encourages applications from women, veterans, people with disabilities, and members of traditionally underrepresented populations.


Application Materials Required:

·         Curriculum Vitae

·         Letter of Application

·         Writing Sample

·         Three References (no actual letters, just names and email addresses help popup

Further Info:

http://www.extension.uconn.edu/

Join Us for #UConnGives

UConn Gives logo

UConn Gives is BACK for year two. And we need your help to grow our programs, and continue serving Connecticut communities. Put your paws in by supporting UConn 4-H, the UConn Extension Master Gardener Program, the 4-H Sports and Nutrition program, or the Natural Resources Conservation Academy on March 27-28, 2019. 

Extension program collage

All four of these programs work in communities statewide, and we need your help to increase their impact. Please consider donating $1 (or more) to the program(s) of your choice.

#AllPawsIn

Take the Climate Change Challenge with UConn Extension

CEAD imageConnecticut Environmental Action Day (CEAD) is a one-day conference that seeks to inspire students to take the #ClimateChangeChallenge and then post their actions using #ExtendtheChange to encourage friends and families to do the same. CEAD is sponsored by UConn Extension with our partners from UConn’s Department of Marketing, Department of Anthropology, and UConn PIRG.

The goals of Environmental Action Day are:

  • Increase students’ understanding of the environment and natural resources.
  • To foster students’ capacity to become environmentally responsible citizen by increasing their understanding of principles governing individual and collective action.
  • To provide students with access and educational opportunities from UConn.

CEAD is on Friday, March 29th in the Student Union at the UConn Storrs Campus and features workshops for middle school students, and a climate change challenge for UConn students. Approximately 100 middle school students from Coventry, Ellington, and Mansfield are attending. Each middle school student will attend two workshops in the morning. During the afternoon, they will reconvene in small groups facilitated by UConn students to commit to environmental action in their communities that will reduce climate change.

UConn students are invited to join CEAD at the Student Union and sign the action pledge to extend the change. Students are also encouraged to share their climate change challenge actions on their social media accounts, using the hashtag, #ExtendtheChange.

Suggested climate change actions anyone can pledge include:

  • Reuse and recycle
  • Ban the bag (plastic)
  • Conserve energy (turn off lights!)
  • Use public transportation, walk, or bike
  • Eat locally
  • Plant a garden
  • Plant trees, green roofs and other vegetation
  • Inform and educate others

Those not on the UConn campus can join us in the #ClimateChangeChallenge by taking the pledge at http://bit.ly/CCC_UConn to help #ExtendtheChange. For more information on CEAD visit http://extension.uconn.edu/ead.php or email Marc.Cournoyer@uconn.edu.

UConn Extension is on a collaborative journey. We co-create knowledge with farmers, families, students, communities, and businesses. We educate. We convene groups to help solve problems in the areas of food, health, and sustainability. Join us.

National Nutrition Month; a time to celebrate school food!

Kale Yeah child at schoolWhen you think “local food” do you also think “school food”? You should. About 25% of food served by Hartford Public Schools is local.

This helps the local economy, and bolsters hometown pride. Lonnie Burt, Senior Director of Child Nutrition for Hartford Public Schools explains that, “Purchasing local products is important on so many levels; it has a positive impact on our community and the residents.”

Knox Inc, a community organization and farm in Hartford, sells vegetables like bok choy, collard greens and fresh cilantro directly to Hartford Public Schools. Brunella Ibarrola, Assistant Director of Nutrition Support for Hartford Public Schools Food and Child Nutrition Services, shares that students are thrilled when they see “Hartford grown” on the menu. “When students become aware that a vegetable has been grown right in Hartford by Knox’s Incubator Farmer program, they become really excited and proud of their city!”

Local food purchasing requires building relationships and UConn Extension’s Put Local on Your Tray program is a matchmaker for many of these connections. The Tray Program helps Connecticut school districts serve and celebrate locally grown products.

“Schools want to increase their farm to school programming, which is where we come in; and when we are able to establish a partnership between a school and a farm, it benefits the larger community” says Molly Deegan, Put Local on Your Tray Coordinator.

Besides the benefits for the community, the students are learning valuable lessons in the cafeteria – a space that is sometimes overlooked as part of the learning environment in a school. Using local products allows “students [to] gain knowledge about local farmers and their products which are grown in their community” shares Maureen Nuzzo, Director of Food Services, Old Saybrook Public Schools. Old Saybrook is one of 59 school districts serving nearly 300 schools that have taken the pledge to source and serve local foods. Programming which highlights local foods, gets students involved in, and excited about, school lunches and nutrition. With National Nutrition Month in March, it’s a great time to celebrate local food and that’s just what UConn Extension’s Put Local On Your Tray program is all about.

When Maggie Dreher, Director of Nutrition Services for Avon Public Schools, Canton Public Schools, & Regional School District #10 served local kale from Sub Edge Farm (the first of many local produce items) she had no idea that just months later she would be hosting a district-wide event that put the farm on display. On March 21st, Maggie will be hosting a Jr. Chef competition featuring two teams per school district (6 total) where they will be challenged with a “chopped style mystery box,” where local produce from Sub Edge farm will be featured.

Through a combination of technical assistance and promotional materials, the Tray team works with schools to build a culture of health in the cafeteria, celebrate school nutrition programs, and support local agriculture. Put Local On Your Tray is a project of UConn Extension, in partnership with the CT State Department of Education, FoodCorps Connecticut, and New England Dairy & Food Council (NEDFC).

National Nutrition Month – Smooth Chai Latte

smooth chai latte

Do you practice yoga? Do you have a favorite herbal tea? As part of #NNM, self-care is a big part of “being well” and making sure you’re taking care of the [mental] part of you. Helping yourself to wind down may lower stress levels- even if it’s that morning cup of tea that you absolutely need in order for your day to start off right. So, we ask-What do you do for #selfcare?

 

Here’s a new recipe to try to help you relax!

National Nutrition Month – Recipe of the Week

overnight oats recipeDid you know that buying frozen fruits and vegetables versus fresh have extra benefits? Frozen fruits and vegetables may be less expensive and can stretch your food dollars when fresh produce is not “in season” in your area. Frozen fruits and vegetables are frozen at the peak of their ripeness so their nutrients are available just as if they were fresh. Frozen produce is not limited to one season so you can buy all year round!

Wednesday was National Frozen Food Day, our recipe of the week features frozen fruit of your choice in our Build Your Own Overnight Oats recipe! All you have to do is pick one of the following ingredients, shake well or leave in layers, and stick them in the fridge before bed! Easy enough, right?

Here’s a tip: prepare the overnight oats in a Mason jar. No extra dishes required! Enjoy!

GMO Working Group Hosting April Events

GMO panel flyerThe CAHNR GMO Working Group is hosting GMO 2.0: Science, Society and the Future, a panel presentation on Wednesday, April 24th at 7 PM in the Student Union Theater. Please save the date and make plans to join us. The event is free and anyone is welcome to attend.

The panel is moderated by Dean Indrajeet Chaubey. Speakers include: Paul Vincelli from the University of Kentucky, Robert C. Bird from the School of Business, Yi Li from the Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture, and Gerry Berkowitz from the Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture. 

A second event, GMOs: Answering Difficult Questions from your Customers is specifically for farmers, but all are welcome to attend. Dr. Paul Vincelli from the University of Kentucky will give a presentation, followed by a question and answer session. The event is Thursday, April 25th at 7 PM at the Tolland County Extension Center in Vernon.

More information on both events is available at https://gmo.uconn.edu/events/.

Mental Health & Farm Stress

red barn with fence around it
Photo: Pexels

Farming is both a risky and dangerous business. From the hazardous nature of the seemingly regular day-to-day tasks to the volatile and unforgiving markets on which many farms rely for income, farmers have no shortage of stress. Add in unpredictable weather and crop yields and you have the makings of what the USDA, OSHA, and other organizations call one of the most hazardous professions in the U.S. (UA Extension, 2016). And yet we fail to see farming make it to CNBC’s list of the most stressful jobs in America. Why is that? In recent years, there has been a push to make mental health and stress management on farms more of a priority. Iowa State University’s Extension and Outreach has published their 2019 Farm Stress Resource Packet, which is filled with information on the stressful nature of farming, management strategies, and resources to help during difficult times. The below article by Larry Tranel is taken from ISU’s publication and offers farmer’s ways to deal with farm and family stress.

 

A “PRIMER” of Farm Stress Resiliency

Farming is dangerous and stressful, no doubt. Farmers have varying degrees of resiliency to deal with the physical and mental dangers of farming, leading to varying stress levels. The integrated blend of family, farming and nature can cause unique situations of stress in farm families. Stress is normal and can be healthy as it might push us to do things that can promote growth in us. But too much acute stress or piled up chronic stress can make it difficult to:

•   Concentrate, remember and process information.

•   Organize, calculate and make decisions

•   Sleep, relax and breathe properly

•   Communicate, share and bond as a family.

Stress can become a source of conflict but can also help families grow together as many farm families are strong because they had gone through a tough time together. Too much stress can lead to anxiety, doubt, depression and hopelessness. Overcoming stress overload by developing skills can help families have more resiliency to farm stress.

Resiliency can be a learned, life skill. It is a person’s ability to deal with stress, using skills, to better cope and possibly even overcome the root causes or maybe just its effects. Since stress reduction techniques are a learned skill, the aim of this paper is to assist farmers and those working with them with a “PRIMER” acronym tool to better deal with farm stress. The tool is a six-step process outlined below. The “PRIMER” Tool will then be detailed along with skills and goals that pertain to each step.

Perception – Our Thoughts under Stress

Reality – Our Environment in Stress

Identify – Our Emotions with Stress

Manage – Our Reaction to Stress

Extend – Our Communication of Stress

Resources – Our Support for Stress

“Chronic farm stress can weaken a person’s spirit, appetite, physical stamina, focus, relationships, decision-making ability and dampen happiness and satisfaction in time. Life skills can help deal with it.”

Perception is heavily related to the image or picture we have in our minds of whatever situation, coupled with any meaning or attitude attached to that image or picture. An occurrence might happen to two people and one might very positively perceive it and the other very negatively with a wide range of other “perceptions” in between.

Reality is a sum of a person’s internal capacity and external environment to understand the situation surrounding stress or a crisis event. Some situations take families by surprise or are beyond their control. If life events come too soon, are delayed or fail to materialize, the health, happiness, and well-being may be affected (Schlossberg, et. al., 1996). Intensified emotionality and/or behavioral disorganization in families and their members are likely to occur as a result (Toberto, 1991). Another crucial variable in dealing with the unexpected is family development and environmental fit (Eccles et. al., 1993).

Identify emotions of stress related circumstances. Emotions are often so intertwined and often mangled that identifying the underlying causes or emotion is not easy. For instance, an exhibit of anger, a secondary emotion, often is expressed due to another emotion. Anxiety and depression often have a root cause. Once we realize our perception and the reality of the situation, we look inward to identify causes so as not to transfer negative emotions to or onto others.

Manage through stress knowing all situations have some hope, alternatives or options. Identify what can be controlled and accept what is beyond control without blaming oneself. Understand that lack of clarity of future can induce stress as it brings worry, confusion, conflict and even shame (Boss). Assess stress symptoms–heart rate, shallow breathing, headaches, anxiety, outbursts, lack of focus and hope to name a few—to know stress levels.

Extend oneself to others as social isolation and loneliness can further add to stress. Those in family environments are best helped by family members, but introverted males often do not extend their thoughts and feelings readily to allow for healthy family support. Guilt, shame and social stigma often inhibit extending to others for help, as well.

Resources are important in life. Families that are able to make positive meaning of their stressors and use effective coping strategies as well as internal and external resources are more likely to adapt as well (Xu, 2007). This applies to individuals, too! Internal resources and coping strategies were shared in previous sections. External resource needs tend to focus on things that help develop skills in:

1) Interpersonal Communication—everyone has their own beliefs, feelings, needs and agenda to be shared. Knowing healthy/ideal versus unhealthy/common behaviors can separate success and failure in overcoming stress/conflict.

2) Family and Community Support—immediate and intergenerational families, and intertwined communities can be a source of both stress and strength—attend to self- help and other resources, and other people’s needs as family and community support is a two-way street.

3) Problem Solving Techniques—use processes to: define the problem/stress; consider pros and cons to alternatives; select a plan; take action steps; identify resources; and use group/family meetings. Be “proactive” in problem solving.

4) Goal Setting—Make them SMART—Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-Based.

 

For more information on farm stress and management please visit the following links or contact your local extension office.

•   Helping Farmers Cope with Stress

•   Farming: America’s Most Stressful Job?

•   Agricultural Producers and Stress: When Do You Need a Counselor

Farm and Ranch Family Stress and Depression: A Checklist and Guide for Making Referrals