UConn Extension

GMO 2.0: Science, Society and the Future

GMO panel flyer

GMO 2.0: Science, Society and the Future

Wednesday, April 24th

7 PM, UConn Student Union Theater, Storrs, CT

Finding understandable science-based information on GMOs is challenging for the public. Our project goal is to bridge the information gap surrounding GMOs with farmers and the general public.

Moderator: Dean Indrajeet Chaubey, UConn CAHNR

Speakers:

  • Paul Vincelli, Extension Professor & Provost Distinguished Service Professor, Department of Plant Pathology, University of Kentucky (focus area: overview of risks and benefits of genetically engineered crops)
  • Robert C. Bird, Professor of Business Law and Eversource Energy Chair in Business Ethics, UConn School of Business (focus area: Ethical/Legal/Social Implications of GMOs)
  • Yi Li, Professor, Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture, UConn CAHNR, (focus area: GMO technologies/CRISPR)
  • Gerry Berkowitz, Professor, Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture, UConn CAHNR (focus area: GMOs and big agriculture in the US?)

Download the flyer.pdf.

The event is free, but RSVPs are appreciated.

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/

Poultry Care Video Series

Do you own chickens? Our poultry care video series with retired Extension Educator Dr. Mike Darre can answer your questions. There are 10 videos, topic include: how to hold your birds, how to inspect your birds, determining if your chicken is a good layer, watering systems, nest boxes, feeding, housing and heating, bird litter, housing, and the egg cleaning and quality check. You can watch the entire series on our YouTube channel.

Spotlight – Soil Degradation

One of the most pressing resource related issues around the world is the continual reduction in the percentage of arable land. Currently, 37% of land worldwide is considered agricultural, only 10% is deemed arable, or plowable, and suitable for crop production (World Bank Group, 2015). The shrinking percentage of suitable farm land is a direct result of soil degradation, which is attributed to tillage practices and the use of agrochemicals in intensive agriculture. Overgrazing of rangelands, natural occurrences such as wildfires, and non-agricultural human activities such as road salt applications also contribute to the degradation of soils, making mediation efforts cumbersome. Although the degradation of soils is a multifaceted process with a range of negative effects, effects tend to be closely tied with one another making the process as a whole degenerative.
 

The current intensive agricultural systems in place throughout the world aim to maximize production through increased inputs, such as labor and agrochemicals, while reducing waiting periods between crops. Large-scale annual crop production relies primarily on conventional tillage methods such as the moldboard plow, an implement that cuts a furrow slice of soil (around 8 inches in depth). The furrow slice is lifted, flipped, and dropped back down, inverting the soil profile. Simultaneously, this implement forms a hardpan layer of compacted soil beneath the disturbed portion. Both the inversions and hardpans negatively impact the soil’s structure. A compromised soil structure carries its own concerns and at the same time predicates multiple downstream effects.

A soil’s structure refers to the arrangement of fine soil articles into groups called aggregates. Many soil activities such as water movement, heat transfer, and aeration are directly impacted by the formation and arrangement of aggregates which results from a range of slow biological, physical and chemical processes. Aggregates are delicate and become destroyed in frequently disturbed soils such as those in annual cropping systems. Destruction of aggregates increases the bulk density of a soil. As bulk density increases water infiltration, water holding capacity, aeration, and root penetration decrease, making it more difficult for crops to access resources essential for growth.

The regular application of agrochemicals in cropping systems further diminishes the health of soil. Agrochemicals include herbicides, pesticides, fertilizers, and other soil amendments. One of the main concerns with the addition of these chemicals is their interaction with soil organisms. Soil macro- and microorganisms include bacteria, fungi, and earthworms; all contribute to a healthy plant rhizosphere and provide a range of benefits within cropping systems. These organisms are very sensitive to variation in their environment such as changes in pH, salinity, and the carbon:nitrogen ratio. These inputs represent rapid cyclic environmental shifts to which soil organisms cannot acclimate or adapt to. Instead, the diversity of soil organism diversity is diminished.

Soil organisms play a range of roles in the development and maintenance of a healthy soil profile, which in turn affects the growth and development of crops. Microorganisms such as bacteria fix nitrogen, making the largely inaccessible pool of atmospheric nitrogen available for plant uptake. Fungi, like mycorrhizae, form mutualistic associations with plant roots, extending their network of nutrient and water uptake. Larger organisms such as earthworms help to form soil aggregates by creating macropores and producing worm castings. Many insects also contribute to the formation of soil aggregates as well as help reduce the weed seedbank via predation. Healthy, natural soil systems are engineered by a consortium of organisms and by design are able to provide the needs of plants. However, in some cropping systems, this level of provision is deemed inadequate, prompting the need for agrochemicals and at the same time impacting the functionality of the soil.

Soil degradation is not limited to artificial systems. There are several factors, both natural and human induced, contributing to the percentage of degraded land around the world, outside of agricultural systems. Wild fires, which occur regularly in arid regions, burn vegetation which help to hold soils in place. Climate change, combined with lack of management in fire-prone areas, has dramatically increased the frequency and intensity of these fires, increasing the potential erosion. Mismanagement and overgrazing of rangelands in dry regions also diminishes soil-stabilizing vegetation, creating the same potential for erosion. In more temperate regions, road salt application during the winter months has become cause for concern as these salts become distributed into the ecosystems affecting both soil structure and soil organisms.

The effects of soil degradation are not discrete, often tied to each other in a continuum in which some agricultural practices initiate a predictable sequence of events that ultimately leads to diminished soil health. Conventional tillage methods and the use of agrochemicals seem to be the catalytic events for such series of events in annual cropping systems; affecting soil structure, organic matter content, and the health of soil organisms. These in turn compromise the functionality of soils as the medium for crop growth and development. There is wealth of information on alternative practices that aim to reduce the impact of agriculture on soil health. For more information on soil conservation and alternative agricultural practices please visit the UConn Extension website or contact your local extension office.

Despite the evidence supporting the continual degradation of soils due to agricultural activities, there is little consideration for the viability of suggested remediation practices in regard to the effects on food production, farmers and the agriculture industry as a whole. Reducing tillage and agrochemical input is not a solution for many agricultural systems as some crops simply do not perform well in no till systems, while reduced agrochemical input would greatly compromise crop yields. Considering the importance of agriculture to society at large, farmers, who may be the most hardworking and underpaid individuals in the world, utilize available options to maintain soil health while still maintaining a productive and economically feasible operation.

From the farmers perspective, this is often represented by tradeoffs. Farmers are not ignorant to the concept of soil degradation or the importance of soil health. In fact, they understand the impact of these much better than anyone else. Operations which use agrochemicals and employ conventional tillage methods still take steps to maintain soil health. Many of these cropping systems utilize conservation practices such as the incorporation of cover crops or selection of organic agrochemical alternatives. Elizabeth Creech of NRCS (Natural Resources Conservation Service) wrote an informative piece entitled “The Dollars and Cents of Soil Health: A Farmer’s Perspective” which depicts many of the challenges farmers face when it comes to maintaining soil health. For more information please follow this link: https://www.usda.gov/media/blog/2018/03/12/dollars-and-cents-soil-health-farmers-perspective.

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 – 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!