Intern Spotlight

Meet Lindsey Kollmer: Connecticut River Estuary Aquatic Invasive Plant Steward Intern

Photo by: Dorothy R. Hart (www.ahartseyephotography.zenfolio.com

Hello! My name is Lindsey Kollmer and I am honored and excited to be the Connecticut River Estuary Aquatic Invasive Plant Steward Intern for the summer of 2020. I am a rising Junior at UConn currently pursuing a double major of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology and Molecular & Cellular Biology. I am a member of the Soil and Water Conservation Society at UConn and enjoy crocheting comfort objects for babies in the NICU as a part of the Knit for NICU club.

As part of my internship this summer I am focusing on protecting the lower CT River from two aquatic invasive species in the CT River Estuary: Water Chestnut and Hydrilla. I am working to raise public awareness about these plants and how destructive they can be to the local ecology, public enjoyment, and economy of the river. After just a short time learning about these plants, I am alarmed at the destruction they bring (and their potential for a lot more!). This ignited even more motivation in me to help inform people about the simple ways they can prevent the spread of aquatic invasives to protect our valuable resources and favorite outdoor places.

To enrich my internship experience, I am volunteering with the Friends of Whalebone Cove to “paddle and pull” or hand-pull Water Chestnut from local coves off the river. It is so rewarding to see the difference in a location before and after pulling Water Chestnut. (Catch me on the UConn Extension Instagram at a Water Chestnut pulling event!)

I am so lucky to be making a difference so close to home and to be working with such knowledgeable mentors from CT Sea Grant, Judy Preston, and Nancy Balcom. Every day I am learning something new and cannot wait to continue my internship journey!

Meet Erin Korowotny: New Haven County 4-H Intern

Erin Korowotny

Hello everyone! My name is Erin Korowotny and I am very excited to be the intern for New Haven County 4-H this summer! I am a rising senior in UConn CAHNR, studying Agriculture and Natural Resources. Currently, I serve as the Treasurer of the UConn Agriculture Advocacy Club. After graduation, I hope to pursue a career in either Extension education, or become a high school agriculture teacher. I was an avid FFA member in my 4 years of high school, but never got involved in 4-H, so I am excited to learn more about what it has to offer to its members. This summer I am working on virtual ways for our 4-H members to celebrate their annual fair and their accomplishments, as well as activities that can be done from home to keep members engaged and busy.
To see more of what I’m doing with New Haven County 4-H, check out our new Instagram page: middlesexnewhaven4hfair

Meet Ryan Morais: Vegetable Entomology Intern

Ryan MoraisI am a Senior undergrad environmental engineering major and ecology and evolutionary biology minor with a passion for entomology. This summer I will be working as a vegetable entomology intern through UConn’s Extension Internship Program. I work closely with Professor Legrand to develop an informational entomology website and outreach educational materials. Other than web development,  I am creating informational and fun content for Bug Week, developing a social media presence for the IPM entomology lab, as well as collecting and rearing various insects. Through this internship, I am excited to continue learning about entomology and the various aspects of integrated pest management.     

Meet Autumn Blasi: UConn EFNEP Intern

Autumn BlasiHi! My name is Autumn Blasi, and I’m one of the summer interns with UConn CAHNR Extension. I’m currently working in clinical and community nutrition with organizations like the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP), and the Human Resource Agencies (HRA) of Bristol and New Britain. At UConn, I major in Nutritional Sciences, with a concentration in the Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD), and have a minor in Food Science. Also at UConn, I’ve been involved with various volunteer programs. I have been a member of both the Boston Understanding Homelessness and the New Haven Urban Food Insecurity alternative break trips, in addition to working with SOS Food Recovery. This involvement in volunteer work has greatly influenced my outlook on health and nutrition, as I have had the opportunity to learn first hand how limited resource populations are impacted by food insecurity. Beyond volunteer work, I’m also a peer educator for UConn Students Helping to Achieve Positive Esteem (SHAPE), and will be the secretary of UConn Nutrition Club beginning this fall. Currently, I also work as a dietary aide at Foxhill Center, a nursing home and rehabilitation facility.

Thanks to this experience, I have been able to begin my internship with a diverse background in food and nutrition subjects. Currently, I am helping to co-create and teach a summer nutrition education course through HRA. Additionally, I’m working on recipe and meal kit development, and have been attending clinical nutrition webinars. As the summer progresses, I hope to do more with clinical nutrition, and look forward to continuing my work with my amazing internship supervisors. Through this experience, I’ve already learned so much, and have found new ways to connect with those experiencing food insecurity. If you would like to learn more or support those experiencing food insecurity, check out the UConn EFNEP web page, or contact your local food pantry!

UConn EFNEP Website: https://efnep.uconn.edu/

Meet Will Carta: CLEAR Intern

Will CartaMy name is Will Carta and I am interning with CLEAR through UConn CAHNR Extension. I am going to be a senior at UConn and I am majoring in Natural Resources with a concentration in Water Resources and Climate. Before transferring to UConn I spent two and a half years at Manchester Community College. I love fitness, fishing, and playing basketball with friends whenever I get the chance. I am currently working on updating CLEAR’s “State of Low Impact Development in Connecticut“ story map. Many of the links to various regulations throughout this story map are out of date, which I am in the process of updating. I have found that many of the towns that did not have a specific document for their Stormwater Management Plan when the story map was first created, now have one. This is great to see because it shows that more and more towns in Connecticut are acknowledging the importance of Stormwater Management as well as Low Impact Development and putting out regulations to deal with it. Along with the LID Story map, I will also be working on updating UConn’s Virtual Green Stormwater Infrastructure Campus Tour. This virtual tour highlights the University’s leadership role in addressing the impacts of stormwater runoff on water quality.

Learn more about the State of Low Impact Development in Connecticut at http://s.uconn.edu/stateoflid and the Virtual Green Stormwater Infrastructure Campus Tour at http://s.uconn.edu/gsitour

Meet Megan Davenport: Hartford County 4-H Intern

Meg DavenportHi everyone! My name is Megan Davenport and I am Hartford County’s 4-H Intern this summer! I am currently a junior at UConn in Storrs, CT and am double majoring in Animal Science (ANSC) and Agriculture and Natural Resources (AGNR) and minoring in Agriculture Outreach and Learning. At UConn, I am heavily involved in the Dairy Club and the Block and Bridle Livestock Club and enjoy introducing UConn students and community members to the agricultural operations on campus. Before UConn, I was a proud 4-H member for 8 years where I showed dairy cattle for my project and I also served as a State FFA Officer among other leadership roles through my extensive involvement with FFA. Through all of my time in FFA, 4-H and my extensive experience in the dairy industry, I realized my true calling lies in the education and communication of agricultural operations and programs. I am excited to educate youth about agriscience and to inspire them to pursue their passions and make a positive impact in their community.
Due to COVID-19 and the virtual transition of 4-H programs, I will be finding creative ways to connect, engage with and educate 4-H members about the world of 4-H and agriculture online. This summer I will be focusing on social media engagement with 4-H youth and community members as well as creating educational videos for UConn 4-H members to utilize on topics such as but not limited to… animal restraint, dairy fitting and topline clipping, dairy judging, milking procedures, giving oral reasons, leadership skills, resume building and professional networking. Tune in on our various social media accounts (@uconnhartfordcounty4h) for our “Fun Fact Fridays” and “Mindful Mondays” and be sure to check out these educational videos on the UConn Extension YouTube channel!

Meet Sara Tomis: New London County 4- H Intern

Greetings! My name is Sara Tomis and I am working as an intern for the New London County 4-H Office. I am majoring in Agriculture and Natural Resources (AGNR) at the University of Connecticut, and I intend to pursue a Master’s Degree in Agricultural Education upon the completion of my undergraduate degree. I aspire to combine my passion for animal science and horticulture with my passion for outreach to develop a successful career in agricultural education.

I am involved in FFA as a member of the CT State Association Executive Committee, and I currently serve as a board member on the New London County Agricultural Extension Council. In addition to my internship in the New London County 4-H office, I work as a social media specialist in UConn CAHNR Extension and assist in UConn social media outreach for the National Healthy Homes Partnership. This past spring, I had the pleasure of drafting and speaking in an #AskUConnExtension video detailing healthy hygiene when interacting with animals. This opportunity enabled me to expand on my writing skills, content delivery skills, and impact while spreading a message that is close to my heart.

This summer, I am assisting in the delivery and preparation of our virtual 4-H Summer Library Program. I am working to tie agricultural concepts into our program content to increase agricultural awareness in New London County youth. Additionally, I am assisting in the facilitation of the UConn 4-H Ozobot Club, which brings 4-Hers together from across our state to learn about robotics and technology. I am also working to prepare our New London County Virtual Exhibition which will take the place of our traditional fair and highlight proficiency, knowledge, and growth in New London County 4-Hers. I am excited to be working to produce accessible education and growth opportunities for youth in my community!

Meet Nikki Santillo: New Haven County Farmer’s Market Intern

Hello, my name is Nikki Santillo. I am interning with the New Haven County farmer’s market. I am a rising junior majoring in Nutritional Sciences with a minor in Food Science. In the fall semester, I was able to connect with an after school program the nutrition club supported. I helped inform the children about healthy decision making while preparing nutritious snacks. I hope to return and be a full time participant in the Nutrition Club this coming year.

My role with the New Haven County farmer’s market is to educate farmer’s market attendees about healthy, affordable recipes to create using the produce at the market. I am generating social media posts that are available to the public on UConn Extension’s multiple social media platforms. My goal is to explain how fruits and vegetables are important for our health and can be tailored to the individual’s taste. My first recipe, cauliflower fried rice, focuses on how vegetables can be used to increase the nutrient density of a typical dish. I enjoy finding new and healthy substitutions using fresh foods.

The Meriden farmer’s market opens July 11th and is held every Saturday up until October 17th. I encourage everyone nearby to go and support local farmers while also developing a healthy lifestyle.

Meet Carl Johnson: Plant Diagnostic & Horticulture Intern

Hello! My name is Carl Johnson I am the Plant diagnostic & Horticulture intern at the UConn Plant Diagnostic Lab. I am a graduate of the Ratcliffe Hicks plant science program(RHSA) and am going into my senior year as a Sustainable Plant and Soil Systems (SPSS) major. Before enrolling in UConn I worked as a grower at Logee’s greenhouse in Danielson, CT. I am also the student worker in the Floriculture greenhouse on campus and have spent several semesters working as a lab assistant for the Lubell-Brand lab in the Plant Science department at UConn. I am the President of the UConn Horticulture Club and an avid plant collector and horticulturalist.

This summer I will be completing my internship online under the supervision of Abby Beissinger and the team of professionals at the UConn Home and Garden Education Center (HGEC). My projects this summer will include adding to the already extensive collection of educational resources and fact sheets for the diagnostic lab and the HGEC. I will also be assisting with plant ID in addition to plant pest and disease diagnosis, a service the diagnostic lab provides to the community and nurseries across the state. I will also be helping compile the monthly Plant Diagnostic Report for the UConn Plant Diagnostic Lab, Home & Garden Education Center, and Extension Master Gardener Clinics. I’m excited to be a part of such an important branch of UConn extension and am grateful to have this opportunity to work with such knowledgeable people.