Hello my name is Zachary Duda and I am excited to be an intern this summer with Litchfield County 4-H! I am currently a senior pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Connecticut. At UConn I serve as the President of the UConn Agricultural Advocacy Club and am active with the UConn FFA Alumni. My agricultural experience is broad having jobs in areas such as nursery and landscaping, forage crop production, and dairy science. As a former FFA member I was able to learn the value of hands-on applications and want to bring agriculture to the younger generation of agriculturalists in Connecticut.
This summer I will be working on a series of virtual lessons on all aspects of the agricultural industry as well as some leadership skills and techniques. The topics include tractor safety, weaning cattle, nutrition labels and food packaging, potting plants, quick cooking recipes, and many more. I hope that these lessons will provide younger learners with a platform to build off of so that they may enter the field of agriculture with ample knowledge and a set of skills that will benefit them for years to come.
I am eager to learn more about 4-H and the extension system as I believe it serves the state well in multiple aspects of community and overall well being. I look forward to being part of the great things 4-H has done for countless individuals over the years.
A little bit about myself, I am a sophomore at UConn studying environmental science with a minor in communication. I was an intern with UConn Extension during the summer of 2019 and I worked with other extension educators and 4-H educators. My experience with UConn Extension has allowed me to gain valuable field experiences at Auer Farm, the 4-H Hartford County Fair, and other 4-H sites in CT. I’ve been really lucky to have had opportunities working with many diverse groups of youth and adults in order to both teach others and learn about their experiences with the environment. I especially loved working with CT youth at Auer Farm, and being able to teach students who didn’t have much experience with rural ecosystems about the animals on a farm.
During the academic school year of 2019-2020, I was a grant recipient for the UConn Co-op Legacy Fellowship Change Grant. With this grant, I worked with two fellow UConn undergraduate students to create environmental education curriculum kits that we hoped to distribute to middle school educators all over Connecticut. We prepared an online and in-class curriculum using existing 4-H educational materials on climate change education, and planned to distribute these and kits to CT middle schools before schools were closed down this spring. This effort was done in paralleled with Connecticut Environmental Action Day. From this experience, I was able to learn more about what goes into creating environmental educational content, and was able to further my experience working with extension educators.
My interests in the environment are still growing and changing daily. A fun fact about myself is that I had the opportunity to attend a short UConn study abroad experience before I began interning for UConn Extension. Unfortunately, it did not happen due to the pandemic, but we would have traveled to South Africa to study African field ecology. With this, I’d hoped to be able to see ecosystems that I normally wouldn’t be exposed to, and learn about what conservation means to different people around the world. This trip will not be happening this year but will be next year, and I hope to be able to still gain these unique experiences. Next year, I would love to be able to use some of the knowledge about conservation that I will have learned this summer and apply it to what I will be learning abroad.
This summer, I am very excited to learn how to provide environmental education in many ways, including online. Learning how to utilize resources online to deliver similar content that would have been used in hands-on field experiences will be interesting and thought-provoking. I look forward to improving my skills with mapping technologies, such as GPS and GIS. Overall, I look forward to being able to apply all of the natural resources knowledge that I can to other aspects of my life in order to promote conservation and sustainability.
UConn 4-H and Partners Move Over 78,000 Pounds of Dairy Products to Support Connecticut Communities
UConn 4-H, the youth development program of Extension in the UConn College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources has moved 78,894 pounds of dairy products to date – the equivalent of six full-size elephants – during Operation Community Impact. 4-H members and volunteers are working with community partners and the UConn Extension Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP). Deliveries of dairy products were made to 96 food pantries in 57 towns statewide. The effort has involved 88 Extension families that donated their time to help unload and deliver the dairy products.
The most recent donation, 33 pallets of ice cream, was received last week from H.P. Hood in Suffield. “We are glad to partner with a wonderful organization such as 4-H and UConn Extension to provide assistance to local Connecticut communities when we can,” says Megan Uricchio of H.P. Hood, and an alumni of UConn 4-H Hartford County.
Milk donations were received from Dairy Farmers of America through their local facility, Guida’s Dairy. Agri-Mark Cooperative and Cabot Creamery donated yogurt and sour cream. All of these products were previously distributed to facilities statewide. Fluid milk donations totaled 8,640 gallons – that is more than the amount needed to fill an 18-foot round swimming pool.
The Freshplace food pantry in Hartford County stated: “Our Freshplace food pantry serves 100 individuals and families in the North end of Hartford – the poorest neighborhoods in Hartford. Most of our participants do not have access to a grocery store and depend on small bodegas that have a very limited supply of dairy products, fresh veggies, etc. This has become a much larger problem due to the current COVID situation. The delivery of the generous donation of milk will help not only our Freshplace participants but many of our other clients who are having a very hard time obtaining food. We have expanded our Freshplace services beyond our Freshplace members to encompass all Chrysalis Center clients in need of food. The milk is an incredible addition to our daily deliveries! Thanks so much – this definitely shows that we are all in this together!”
A Fairfield County food pantry that serves 115 families said, “The families that our pantry serves are in significant crisis right now. They are relying on the food pantry for all of their food/meals. Typically, we are very limited in the amounts of dairy products we are able to receive and distribute. The milk, yogurt and sour cream has been a blessing – and has made a real impact. Families are now able to add this to their meals, providing a more balanced, nutritional meal and promoting overall health and well-being. THANK YOU!”
Community service is a key component of the 4-H civic engagement mission. This project provides UConn 4-H members the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of consumers and dairy producers. Operation Community Impact would not be possible without the efforts of many community partners, volunteers, food pantries and businesses statewide that the project is serving. We extend our heartfelt appreciation to everyone helping to connect those in need with the milk and dairy donations. We created this short video to thank our dairy donors:https://bit.ly/DairyCollaborations.
UConn 4-H is the youth development program of UConn Extension. 4-H is a community of over 6 million young people across America who are learning Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM), leadership, citizenship and life skills through their 4-H project work. 4-H provides youth with the opportunity to develop lifelong skills including civic engagement and healthy living. Learn more and enroll your child in the UConn 4-H program athttp://4-H.uconn.edu/.
UConn Extension has collaborated with our partners, communities and stakeholders for over 100 years. We are proud to serve all 169 cities and towns in Connecticut. The worldwide pandemic involving COVID-19 (coronavirus) has produced unprecedented challenges in the UConn community and around the world. Our services continue during this challenging time. All of our educators are working and serving their audiences.
Extension professionals and trained volunteers engage the state’s diverse population to make informed choices and better decisions. The partnerships enrich our lives and our environment. TheHighlights of Extension annual reportshowcases program achievements from the past year.
Our Extension faculty and staff are effectively responding to the new challenges as well. They are utilizing technology and mobilizing resources to help families, communities, businesses, farmers, and other stakeholders. For example, our extension specialists and 4-H volunteers are helping distribute thousands of gallons of dairy products weekly to families in need throughout the state. There are many other examples of how the CAHNR family is responding to help our communities.
Extension programs address the full range of issues set forth in CAHNR’s strategic initiatives:
Ensuring a vibrant and sustainable agricultural industry and food supply
Enhancing health and well-being locally, nationally, and globally
Designing sustainable landscapes across urban-rural interfaces
Advancing adaptation and resilience in a changing climate
UConn 4-H, the youth development program of Extension in the College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources is organizing Operation Community Impact. This afternoon, 4-H members and volunteers are working with community partners and the UConn Extension Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) to deliver 7,200 half-gallons of milk donated by Dairy Farmers of America (DFA) through their local facility, Guida’s Dairy in New Britain.
Operation Community Impact has two primary goals: to address community food insecurity issues and to reduce the amount of surplus milk that is being discarded due to the COVID-19 crisis. Background information on the project includes:
Because 30% of the fluid milk usually gets sold to restaurants, schools and institutions that are now closed; therefore, there is a huge surplus of fluid milk on the market that cannot be expeditiously processed into more shelf stable products like dried milk and butter.
The price of milk for the farmers have dropped from $19.00 per hundred pounds to $13.00 per hundred pounds because of this surplus.
Cows continue to produce milk at the same rate. As a result, hundreds of dairy farms across the country are now forced to dump their milk because the dairy plants have such a surplus, they have no room at the plants to store and process the milk because of the drop off in demand.
Meanwhile, food pantries are in desperate need of more food to help provide nourishment for the increasing number of individuals with food insecurity, due to the pandemic and more people losing their jobs.
DFA has generously agreed to donate 15 pallets of half-gallons of whole milk on Monday, May 4th, equaling 7,200 half-gallons, to be shared with food pantries across the state. UConn 4-H members and volunteers are distributing the milk in Litchfield County, Fairfield County, Hartford County, New London County, Tolland County and Windham County.
“DFA Northeast farm families are pleased to donate milk processed at our Guida’s facility to provide nutritious dairy for family tables across Connecticut,” says Jennifer Huson of Dairy Farmers of America.
UConn 4-H and EFNEP educators are connecting with local food pantries in each county to deliver the milk. 4-H members and volunteers, Extension educators, and EFNEP program partners deliver the milk from a central drop off location in each county. Other businesses and partners are donating refrigerated trucks and space to assist with Operation Community Impact.
“I am thrilled to be able to help coordinate this effort because I know firsthand how hard all farmers work to produce food for the rest of us,” says Bill Davenport, the UConn Extension educator coordinating Operation Community Impact, and the Litchfield County 4-H coordinator.
“When I heard about dumping milk because of the supply issue due to the school and restaurant closures, I decided we need to try to get some of this milk out of the surplus to help farmers stay in business and into the hands of families who are food insecure,” Bill says. “It makes no sense that we are dumping milk while there are people who desperately need food. Over 1,200 truckloads of milk are being dumped each day across the country so I decided to involve our amazing 4-H youth and parents to help connect the dots since the distribution of the milk is where the system is falling apart and need help. I hope that our actions will increase awareness of the issue and encourage others to help do the same across Connecticut and the region so that we can help move more milk out of the surplus and into the refrigerators of people who desperately need it.”
This is the third UConn 4-H dairy product distribution effort in two weeks. At the end of this effort, they will have helped secure donations and distributed 8,640 half-gallons of fresh milk and over 28,000 pounds of yogurt and sour cream from the dairy surplus inventory to families across Connecticut. The yogurt and sour cream were donated by the Agri-Mark Cooperative and Cabot.
“Hartford County 4-H is excited to deliver this fresh milk to individuals and families throughout Hartford County. The actions of our 4-H members and volunteers, truly exemplify the words of the 4-H pledge “hands to larger service,” states Jen Cushman, a UConn Extension educator and coordinator of Hartford County 4-H.
Community service is a key component of civic engagement in 4-H. This project provides 4-H members the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of consumers and dairy producers. We hope to secure more donations of milk and other dairy products so we can continue this effort over the next few weeks, or as long as it is needed. Bill Davenport, Litchfield County 4-H UConn Extension Educator, who grew up on a dairy farm in Litchfield and owns dairy cows in his brother’s herd in Ancram, New York, came up with the idea after learning about the milk surplus and that some farms had to dump their milk due to the challenges in the supply chain during the pandemic. Bill spearheaded this effort by securing the donations.
Operation Community Impact would not be possible without the efforts of many community partners, volunteers, food pantries and businesses in each of the six counties that the project is serving. We extend our heartfelt appreciation to everyone helping to connect those in need with the milk and dairy donations.
About Dairy Farmers of America
Dairy Farmers of America is a national, farmer-owned dairy cooperative focusing on quality, innovation and the future of family dairies. While supporting and serving more than 13,000 family farmers, DFA works with some of the world’s largest food companies to develop ingredients that satisfy their customers’ cravings while staying committed to social responsibility and ethical farming. For more information, please visit dfamilk.com.
About Guida’s Dairy
Since 1886, Guida’s Dairy has been providing high-quality dairy products to consumers in Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Northern New Jersey, New York City, Long Island and eastern New York. In 2012, the company became a part of Dairy Farmers of America (DFA), a national, farmer-owned cooperative, based in Kansas City, Kan. Guida’s Dairy offers an extensive line of products, including fluid milk, cream, ice cream mixes, fruit drinks, orange juice and a variety of other dairy products. For more information about Guida’s Dairy and our products, visit guidas.com.
About UConn 4-H
4-H is a national program with six million youth participating in various project areas who learn life skills, supervised by over 500,000 volunteer leaders. UConn 4-H serves over 17,000 Connecticut youth each year.
The 4-H program is organized into four program areas including Agriculture, Civic Engagement, Healthy Living and STEM. These themes all overlap throughout the 4-H experience, with emphasis placed on creating well-rounded individuals. 4-H is the youth development program offered through the UConn Extension system within the UConn College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources. The purpose of UConn as Connecticut’s land grant university is to provide the citizens of Connecticut with educational opportunities through teaching, research and extension programming. For more information about 4-H and how to join visit 4-H.uconn.edu.
Today’s Drop Off Locations
Hartford County: Hartford County’s allotment of 1,368 half-gallons to over 21 food pantries throughout Hartford County, on the afternoon of Monday, May 4, 2020 at approximately 1 PM at the Windsor Park and Ride (just of rt. 291/91) where it will be offloaded into waiting vehicles owned by 4-H member families. Those vehicles will each then drive directly to their designated food pantry and safely deliver the milk to be handed out to food pantries. Contact: Jennifer.Cushman@uconn.edu or 860-409-9074.
Litchfield County: 1 PM at Litchfield Community Center – 421 Bantam Rd, Litchfield, CT 06759 – Contact William.Davenport@uconn.edu or cell number: 860-459-6753
OurUConn 4-Hprogram coordinated with dairy cooperatives, 4-H members and volunteers, and theUConn Extension Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program- EFNEPto have dairy products donated and delivered to food pantries statewide. These products are helping feed families in need throughout the state. We’ve had two days of dairy donations and deliveries and our efforts will continue.
To date, our team has delivered 1440 half gallons of milk (720 gallons) and 28,000 pounds of yogurt and sour cream so far, and another 7,200 half gallons Monday (3,600 gallons).
Litchfield County 4-H to Help Distribute Yogurt and Sour Cream to Families in Need
Because 30% of the fluid milk gets sold to restaurants, schools and institutions that are now closed, there is a huge surplus of fluid milk on the market now that cannot be further processed into more shelf stable products like dried milk and butter fast enough.
The price of milk for the farmers have dropped from $19.00 per hundred pounds to $13.00 per hundred pounds because of this.
Hundreds of dairy farms across the country are now forced to dump their milk because the dairy plants have such a surplus they have no room at the plants to store and process the milk because of the drop off in demand due to the closures. There are over 1,200 truckloads of milk being dumped every day across the country.
Some farms have no choice but to dump the milk that is in their bulk tanks that cannot be picked up by the processing plants in time, because they have to make room for the next milking of their cows.
Meanwhile, food pantries are in desperate need of more food to help provide nourishment for the increasing number of food insecure people, due to the pandemic and more people losing their jobs.
The farm families who own Cabot Creamery Cooperative have generously donated over 23,000 pounds of yogurt and sour cream to the Litchfield County 4-H. On Wednesday, April 29, 2020, pallets of sour cream and yogurt will be delivered to Litchfield High School, Danbury High School and Gemma E. Moran United Way/Labor Food Bank in New London. 4-H members from Litchfield and Fairfield Counties along with volunteers from Litchfield Community Center will be safely distributing the dairy products to local food pantries, homeless shelters and families in need throughout Litchfield County and elsewhere that same day. At the end of this effort, they will have moved 11,000 pounds of sour cream and 12,600 pounds of yogurt from the surplus inventory into the kitchens of families in need.
Litchfield County 4-H, the youth development component of UConn Extension, had already chosen their 2020 theme for the year, which is Operation Community Impact, with an emphasis on food insecurity in January. By coordinating this activity, 4-H members are able to see firsthand how important the community service efforts of 4-H is in order to can make a difference in the lives of others. They hope to secure more donations of milk and other dairy products to continue this effort over the next few weeks for as long as needed. Bill Davenport, Litchfield County 4-H UConn Extension Educator, who grew up on a dairy farm in Litchfield and owns dairy cows in his brother’s herd in Ancram, New York, came up with the idea after learning about the milk surplus and some farms having to dump their milk because of the pandemic.
He organized this effort from securing the donation to organizing the deliveries to Litchfield, Danbury and New London counties as well as assembling the volunteer drivers to the food pantries. He also credits the following individuals without whose help this effort would not be possible: Cabot Creamery and Agri-Mark Milk Cooperative for their generous donation of yogurt and sour cream; Lisa Hagemen of the Community Kitchen of Torrington, Inc., Kathy Minck of Food Rescue, and Berta Andrulis Mette of the Litchfield Community Center for helping connect with the local food pantries and assembling the list of the product orders; Superintendent Chris Leone and Litchfield High School for use of their loading dock and parking lot for distribution, and the Litchfield County UConn 4-H members, parents and volunteers who continually rise to the challenge of community service and helping others in need.
“I am excited to be able to help get some of the surplus dairy products that were packaged for sale to the schools and restaurants that are no longer open out of storage and into the hands of families who are food insecure,” says Bill Davenport. “It makes no sense that farmers are dumping milk while there are people who desperately need food. If we can help move some dairy products out of the surplus storage, the dairy plants can then have more room to accept more milk from the farmers so that we can slow down the wasteful dumping of milk at the farms, while helping to keep the dairy farmers in business. And, as always, I am grateful that our amazing 4-H youth and parents are thrilled to help connect the dots and support the distribution of displaced dairy products. I hope that our actions will increase awareness of the issue and encourage others to help do the same across Connecticut and the region so that we can help move more milk and dairy products out of the surplus and into the refrigerators of people who desperately need it.”
“Farmers work each and every day to provide, nurture and embrace the production of healthy food while taking care of our employees, communities, animals, and our environment,” says Cricket Jacquier of Laurelbrook Farm, LLC and Chairman of the Agri-Mark Cooperative. “Our farmers who own Cabot Creamery, a Certified B Corp, are proud to help provide nutritious dairy products to those in need and it is just another example of our deep commitment to our communities.”
About Cabot Creamery and Agri-Mark Cooperative
Cabot Creamery Co-operative has been in continuous operation in Vermont since 1919, and makes a full line of cheeses, Greek yogurt, sour cream, cottage cheese and butter. Widely known as makers of “The World’s Best Cheddar,” Cabot is owned by the 800 dairy farm families of Agri-Mark, the Northeast’s premier dairy cooperative, with farms located throughout New England and upstate New York. For more information, visit: http://www.cabotcheese.coop
Cabot Creamery Co-operative is the world’s first cheese maker and dairy cooperative to achieve B Corporation Certification
About UConn 4-H
4-H is a national program with six million youth participating in various project areas who learn life skills, supervised by over 500,000 volunteer leaders. Litchfield County has 26 active 4-H clubs with over 400 active members in those clubs. Project areas include but are not limited to beef cattle, canine, crafts, dairy cattle, dairy goats, equine, community nutrition, food safety, food preparation skills, horticulture, mechanics, oxen, poultry, robotics, sewing, sheep, small animals, STEM, and swine.
The 4-H program is organized into four program areas including Agriculture, Civic Engagement, Healthy Living and STEM. These themes all overlap throughout the 4-H experience, with emphasis placed on creating well-rounded individuals. 4-H is the youth development program offered through the UConn Extension system. The purpose of UConn as Connecticut’s land grant university is to provide the citizens of Connecticut with educational opportunities through teaching, research and extension programming. For more information about 4-H and how to join, please contact Bill Davenport, Litchfield County Extension 4-H Educator, at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 860-626-6854.
Thank you, volunteers! It’s National Volunteer Week, and we want to thank all of our volunteers who help us provide programs in all 169 Connecticut municipalities. Last year, our volunteers donated 207,887 hours valued at $5.3 million to Extension programs, a 25% increase over 2018.
Our volunteers shifted to virtual programming with us when COVID-19 arrived and continue to serve our communities. This week and every week, we appreciate your contributions to our Extension programs. Learn more about our volunteer opportunities at https://cahnr.uconn.edu/extension/volunteer/.