UConn Extension

Meet Meg Sanders: Environmental Education Intern

Meg SandersHello everyone, my name is Meg Sanders, and I am a UConn Extension Environmental Education intern with the Natural Resources Conservation Academy for summer 2020.

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.

Original Post: https://blog.nrca.uconn.edu/2020/06/09/meet-meg-new-ee-intern/

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/.

COVID-19 Trail Impact Report: April-May 2020

CT trail census logoCONNECTICUT TRAIL CENSUS RELEASES 

COVID-19 TRAIL IMPACT REPORT FOR APRIL-MAY 2020 

We are pleased to release the latest data on how several of the state’s most popular multi-use trails are being impacted by COVID-19. The new report documents trail use during April-May 2020 at 12 sites on multi-use trails in Connecticut, and compares use with the same period in 2019, as one indication of the changes in trail use occurring simultaneously with the outbreak of COVID-19. “The trend of increased trail use occurring simultaneously with the March outbreak of COVID-19 is continuing,” observed Charles Tracy, Coordinator for the Trail Census, “The Trail Census team wanted to share these initial findings as soon as the data was available.” Overall, three quarters of the trails participating in this study recorded an increase of greater than 50%, compared to April-May 2019.

The report released today is part of an ongoing trail research project conducted by the Connecticut Trail Census. Other Trail Census projects include “On the Trail” a new weekly podcast; organizing a multi-state conference on bicycle and pedestrian data collection; a new data visualization portal; and work on creating a statewide trails website.

The Connecticut Trail Census is a statewide volunteer-based data collection and education program. The program collects information about trail use through trail use counts recorded by infrared counters and user intercept surveys administered by trained volunteers. The goal is to develop an accurate picture of who uses trails in Connecticut, and to advance and inform new trail policy, design and construction throughout the state. 

Initiated in 2017 as a partnership between UConn Extension, Naugatuck Valley Council of Governments, Connecticut Greenways Council, and local trails advocacy organizations, the Trail Census has expanded to over 20 data collection sites on trails across the state. The program receives funding from the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Recreational Trails Program. For more information, visit www.cttrailcensus.uconn.edu   

Link: COVID-19 Trail Impact Report: April-May 2020

Survey Impacts of COVID-19 on Agricultural Producers

Angus beef cattle crazing on horsebarn hill at UConn

Agricultural Producers: You are invited to participate in a research study. UConn Extension has many educational programs for agricultural producers. You may or may not have participated in these in the past. We are surveying agricultural producers to determine the impacts of COVID-19 on your agricultural business and what educational programs you need from UConn Extension and our partners because of COVID-19.

This study should take five minutes of your time. Your participation will be anonymous. The full information sheet and link to the survey is available at: https://bit.ly/AgCOVID_June

UConn Extension Hand Sanitizer Distribution

Dept of Ag logoThe CT Department of Agriculture secured a limited amount of free hand sanitizer from FEMA through a donation from Exxon. The CT Department of Agriculture has been working to distribute to farmers markets via the Hartford Regional Market. They have given part of the donation to UConn Extension to disperse to on-farm markets/CSA’s and PYO operationsIt is on a first come first serve basis and will be available for pick up at designated Extension Centers in gallon jugs with a maximum of 3 gallons per farm operation. You may only sign up for one time slot at one location. Please contact MacKenzie White at Mackenzie.white@uconn.edu with any specific questions.

Please use this link to sign up for a time slot to pick up your free hand sanitizer.

https://www.signupgenius.com/go/904054caeaf2fa5f49-uconn

UConn 4-H and Partners Move Over 78,000 Pounds of Dairy Products

UConn 4-H volunteer carrying Cabot productsUConn 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 at http://4-H.uconn.edu/.

Highlights of Extension

Highlights of Extension spread of images and articlesUConn 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. The Highlights of Extension annual report showcases 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

The Highlights of Extension annual report is available online at https://bit.ly/ExtensionHighlights and we invite you to learn more about CAHNR Extension at https://cahnr.uconn.edu/extension/.

Garden Centers are Open Statewide

greenhouse flowers
Photo: Leanne Pundt

Is it time to get outside and work on your garden? Or are you looking for the perfect gift for mom this weekend? There are garden centers with curbside pickup and online ordering available throughout the state.

 
Find a garden center near you and the services offered at: https://greenhouse.uconn.edu/2020gardencenters/
 
And, don’t be alarmed if you see a small envelope in your plant. These small paper “envelopes” are slow release “mini-sachets” that are a breeding system or “nursery” for beneficial predatory mites that emerge from the sachets over a 4 to 6-week period.
 
The beneficial predatory mites attack a very small insect, thrips, may distort and damage flowers. Thrips are primarily a greenhouse pest and are not a pest in your home garden. To provide you with attractive flowers, growers place these mini sachets in your baskets to prevent any damage to the flowers.

These nursery sachets consist of bran and food storage mites (that feed upon the bran) that are a food source for the small predatory mite Neoseilus (Amblyseiuscucumeris commonly referred to as “cucumeris”.   Cucumeris is a small, tan predatory mite (less than 1 mm. long) that attacks thrips larvae found on the leaves and in the flowers. They pierce the thrips and suck them dry, killing them.  These predatory mites do not travel far and cannot fly, so growers place a mini-sachet in each hanging basket.

The moral of the story – leave the envelope in your hanging basket, and enjoy the flowers!

Article by Leanne Pundt

Home With Chickens: Enhance Your Poultry Skills With Us

rooster at UConn facility
White leghorn roosters with chickens at the Poultry Uniton Jan. 27, 2017. (Peter Morenus/UConn Photo)

Chickens are increasing in popularity with many residents, and for good reason. Owning poultry provides a source of fresh eggs, and is fun. At some point, you may have questions while you are home with chickens

UConn Extension, part of the UConn College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources has a suite of resources for poultry owners. Videos, fact sheets and advice from our educators can help new chicken owners or seasoned poultry professionals enhance your skills and improve the health and wellbeing of your chickens.

Our poultry care video series with retired Extension Educator Dr. Mike Darre from the UConn Department of Animal Science can answer many of your questions. There are 10 videos:

  • 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
  • Egg cleaning and quality check.

Watch the entire series on our YouTube channel at https://bit.ly/HomeWithChickens.

Fact sheets on small flock management and poultry health issues are available at http://bit.ly/UConnPoultry. Links to other poultry resources are available on this site as well. Information covered includes breeds of chickens, coop designs, scaling up egg production, managing guinea fowl, and cleaning and disinfecting your poultry house, among others.

If you still have question, you can submit them online and one of our Extension Specialists will provide you with answers and additional resources. Submit your question at: https://bit.ly/AskUConnYourQuestions. You can also share your experiences and photos of your flock on social media with our hashtag, #HomeWithChickens.

UConn CAHNR Extension has more than 100 years’ experience strengthening communities in Connecticut and beyond. 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.

Programs delivered by Extension reach individuals, communities, and businesses in each of Connecticut’s 169 municipalities.

Operation Community Impact: 4-H Helps Distribute Milk Statewide

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

New London County: Approximately 1 PM at New London County 4-H Camp – contact Pamela.Gray@uconn.edu 

Tolland/Windham Counties: Approximately 1 PM at Foodshare in Bloomfield – contact Maryann.Fusco@uconn.edu

Fairfield County: Approximately 1 PM at Bethel – contact Edith.Valiquette@uconn.edu