UConn Extension

Vegetable Production Certificate Course

vegetable production flyervegetable production flyer
We’re offering a Vegetable Production Certificate Course, beginning on March 12th. It’s a hybrid format, online and in-person for new and beginning farmers. This year only, we have a special introductory fee of $100 or $150 depending on the course option you choose.

This vegetable production course is designed to benefit beginner vegetable producers who have 0-3 years of vegetable growing experience or no formal training in agriculture. The participants will learn answers to the basic questions about farm business planning, planning and preparing for vegetable farm, warm and cool-season vegetable production techniques, season extension, identification of biotic and abiotic issues, and marketing.

The course description is available at http://bit.ly/Vegetables2020 and online registration is at http://bit.ly/ExtensionStore. Registration is due by 5 PM on March 2nd.

One-On-One Agricultural Advising Sessions

one on one agricultural advising with UConn Extension

The UConn Extension RMA program has offered one-on-one advising sessions for several years. Due to the popularity of this program, we are offering 3 days this winter for you to meet in a private session with an advisor. We are offering a wide array of topics to choose from. The brochure has the full schedule.

Contact MacKenzie White at mackenzie.white@uconn.edu or at 860-875-3331 to register.

Job Opening: Extension Educator, Diversified Livestock

Job Opening: 

The College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources (CAHNR) at the University of Connecticut contributes to a sustainable future through scientific discovery, innovation, and community engagement. CAHNR’s accomplishments result in safe, sustainable and secure plant and animal production systems, healthier individuals and communities, greater protection and conservation of our environment and natural resources, balanced growth of the economy, and resilient local and global communities. We epitomize the role of a land-grant university, which is to develop knowledge and disseminate it through the three academic functions of teaching, research, and outreach. In so doing, we improve the lives of citizens of our state, region and country.

The Department of Extension is seeking applicants for a full-time,  non-tenure track Assistant/Associate Extension Educator, primarily based at the Windham County Extension Office in Brooklyn, CT (75% Extension), with teaching responsibilities (25%) at the UConn Storrs Campus.  Position level/rank will be commensurate with experience working with Extension and/or teaching livestock production.  Anticipated start date is July 2020.

This is a joint appointment between the Department of Extension and Department of Animal Science with administrative responsibility in the Department of Extension. The successful candidate is expected to establish an externally funded Extension program that meets critical needs and builds the knowledge base with multidisciplinary, collaborative opportunities in livestock production.  Livestock species shall include but are not limited to beef, sheep, swine, goats and poultry. Faculty member will assess clientele problems and needs for Extension programs, and is expected to partner with other disciplines, programs, agencies, organizations and groups. Integrated programs may address basic and/or applied issues relative to livestock production including but not limited to animal health and nutrition, food safety and nutrient management.  This position will extend the reach of UConn Extension by integrating distance learning technology into program delivery through computer applications, web pages, electronic mailings, multimedia, and emerging technologies. This will be accomplished by utilizing innovative approaches to deliver timely, evidence-based solutions for livestock-related issues to diverse clientele. 

The candidate will also teach one course per semester in the Department of Animal Science (e.g. Livestock Management and Livestock and Carcass Evaluation). The incumbent is expected to effectively support and work across Extension and Animal Science teams, especially in applied research in the candidate’s area of expertise.  The successful candidate is expected to work with other faculty members in a multidisciplinary team environment, develop a diverse portfolio of educational materials for Extension clients and scholarly materials for professional peers.   To fulfill the extension mission, the successful candidate will perform other appropriate duties as needed or assigned. 

MINIMUM QUALIFICATIONS

  • An earned PhD in animal science or closely related field required.
  • Three years’ experience working with and teaching livestock production in Extension and/or informal classroom settings.
  • Candidates must have a significant and demonstrated experience in the field of livestock production.
  • Experience in scholarship and grantsmanship.
  • Candidates must possess strong skills in leadership, written and verbal communication, and interpersonal relations.
  • Personal transportation and a driver’s license are required; mileage allowance is provided for Extension related travel.Evening and weekend work may be required.

PREFERRED QUALIFICATIONS

  • Experience with Extension and the land-grant university system.
  • Demonstrated applied research interests associated with livestock production.
  • Demonstrated experience with enhancing diversity in educational program delivery and participation.

APPOINTMENT TERMS

This is a full-time position with generous benefits package. For more information on benefits, go to:  http://www.hr.uconn.edu/benefits/index.html. Starting salary for this position will be commensurate with training and experience.  This is an 11-month per year non-tenure track faculty position. 

TO APPLY

Select “Apply Now” to be redirected to Academic Jobs Online to complete your application.  Applicants should submit a letter of application that addresses qualifications identified in the advertisement, a resumewriting sample, and a list of three references with contact information. Please demonstrate through your application materials how you meet the minimum qualifications and any preferred qualifications for this position.

Please reference Search #2020237 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 # 2020237)

This position will be filled subject to budgetary approval.

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 University community. As an Affirmative Action/Equal Employment Opportunity employer, UConn encourages applications from women, veterans, people with disabilities and members of traditionally underrepresented populations.

Where can we get healthy food? #AskUConnExtension

Where can we get healthy food? Dr. German Cutz, one of our Extension educators, discusses urban agriculture as one option as we use innovative technology and new methods to grow food for our families and communities.

vegetables with two hands picking some up and question: Where can we get healthy food?

#AskUConnExtension

Video: Mike Zaritheny

Holiday Eating Survival Guide

a plate of chocolate covered pretzels with festive sprinkles on them
Photo: Air Force Academy

Choose:

  • Lower calorie appetizers- vegetables, or fruit
  • Avoid lots of cheese, and fried foods
  • Smaller plates and tall skinny glasses

Know your limits:

  • Eat before you go to a party or out holiday shopping
  • Make a healthy food for the party
  • Have a plan for healthy eating… 5 small appetizers and 2 drinks
  • 2 mixed drinks can have almost 500 calories and depending on the appetizers, it can run as high as 230 calories per appetizer
  • Indulge in a holiday treat closer to bedtime, you will tend to eat less than if you had it during the day
  • Be mindful of eating – slow down and pay attention
  • Carry hard candy mints to change the flavor of your palate or brush your teeth to signal yourself to stop eating

Start a new tradition:

  • Instead of giving cookies or chocolate try making soup mixes or salsa as gifts
  • Make a non-food craft as a holiday activity
  • Try walking, ice skating or sledding to enjoy the season
  • Try reducing fat and sugar in your holiday baking by substituting with applesauce

Article by Heather Pease, Extension educator, UConn EFNEP

What do labels really mean? Organic, Natural, Cage-Free…

organic food labelWhat do labels really mean? Organic, Natural, Cage-Free, Grass-Fed, Pasture-Raised and Local

You have probably seen these terms on food labels and in the news, but what do they really mean?  And how important is buying organic and natural foods when it comes to healthy eating.  Some terms are helpful and others are misleading. So, let’s look at some of these terms to see what they really mean.

  1. Natural

The term “natural” broadly means minimally processed and free of synthetic dyes, coloring, flavorings and preservatives.  These foods can still contain such ingredients as high fructose corn syrup and genetically modified organisms (GMO’s).  Natural is largely unregulated by the USDA for most foods except meat, poultry and egg products. Foods containing meat, poultry, or eggs must be minimally processed and free of artificial ingredients in order to be labeled “natural”. However these animals may be given antibiotics, growth hormone, and fed GMO feed.

  1. Organic

Organic claims on food products are regulated by the USDA.  Organic foods must be produced without the use of most conventional pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, irradiation, or genetic engineering.  These foods are also produced using methods that promote the conservation of our natural resources.

Organic meat, poultry, eggs and dairy products come from animals that are raised without the use of antibiotics or growth hormones.  These animals also must be raised in living conditions that encourage natural behaviors such as the ability to graze on pastures and are fed 100% organic feed.   This makes it less likely that these animals will carry disease or create antibiotic –resistant strains of bacteria.

Organic crops must be grown in safe soil, have no modifications and must remain separate from conventionally grown crops.  Farmers are not allowed to use synthetic pesticides, bioengineered genes (GMOs), petroleum-based fertilizers and sewage sludge –based fertilizers.  The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is a non-profit organization that provides and annual list called the “dirty dozen”.  The list names 12 fruits and vegetables found to be highest in pesticide residues based on laboratory tests from the USDA.  The dirty dozen currently includes apples, celery, tomatoes, peaches, strawberries, imported nectarines, grapes, spinach, kale, pears, cherries, and potatoes. However, 2016 FDA residue findings suggest, particularly for domestically produced foods, that pesticide applications generally demonstrate compliance with legal and established agricultural practices.   The majority of samples tested contained no detectable pesticide residues while any detected residues were typically present at levels far below the tolerance levels.  This testing was conducted on produce that was not labeled organic.

In the United States there are 3 levels of organic claims:

  • 100 –percent Organic. Products that are completely organic or made of only organic ingredients qualify for this claim and a USDA Organic seal.
  • Products in which at least 95 percent of its ingredients are organic qualify for this claim and a USDA Organic seal.
  • Made with Organic ingredients. These are food products in which at least 70 percent of ingredients are certified organic. The USDA Organic seal cannot be used but “made with organic ingredients” may appear on its packaging.
  1. Grass –fed and grass- finished or 100% grass-fed.

If an animal is grass- fed and grass-finished then their feed was composed entirely of grass, legumes, and green vegetation up until the animal was slaughtered.  However, this label does not address the use of antibiotics, hormones, or pesticides.  USDA defines “grass fed” as it applies to labeling but does not regulate it in any way.  So when shopping for meat, you need to make sure you are getting 100% Organic, Grass-Fed meat.  Grass-fed beef is leaner and has been shown to have healthier omega-3 fatty acids.

  1. Cage –Free

This term simply indicates that animals were not kept in cages.  They are still in an enclosed facility, but with unlimited access to food and fresh water.  The facility; however; could be very small and crowded with little room to move about.  This health claim does not mean that animals were free to roam in pastures or that they had access to the outdoors.  Many cage-free claims are not certified, making it a misleading label.

  1. Free- Range

USDA has approved this term for animals that were raised in a sheltered facility with unlimited access to food, water, and access to the outdoors.  It does not indicate that the animal went outside in its lifetime, only that there was a door to the outside.  The term does not specify the outdoor conditions, but pastures are permitted to be fenced and covered in netting.

  1. Pasture – Raised

USDA has not developed a definition for this term yet; however; many farmers use it to distinguish themselves from “free range” farms.  Animals are free to roam outdoors with unlimited access to food, fresh water, and indoor shelter in case of bad weather.  This differs from “free range” in that pasture-raised animals spend more time outdoors than indoors.  This is the most ideal label to look for when choosing chicken and eggs.  Often these animals are not given growth hormone or antibiotics, but you need to ask to be 100% sure.

  1. Locally Grown

What is local food?  Unlike organic standards, there is no specific definition.  Generally local food means food that was grown close to home.  This could be in your own garden, your local community, your state, or your region.  People buy locally for the financial benefits, less transportation of the food and freshness of the food.  Small local farmers often use organic methods, but sometimes cannot afford to become certified organic. Visit a farmers market and talk to the farmers.  Find out how they produce the fruits and vegetables they sell.

In summary, it is important to look at claims on the foods that you buy to be sure you are getting what you want.  Be aware of the differences in labels so that you know what you are buying, particularly if it costs you more than conventional foods.

References

Council for Agricultural Science and Technology (CAST) 2019. Interpreting Pesticide Residues in Food. Issue Paper 66. CAST. Ames, Iowa.   www.cast-science.org

http://fnic.nal.usda.gov/food-labeling/organic-foods

http://eatright.org/.

http://www.helpguide.org/life/organic_foods_pesticides

http://eatlocalgrown.com/article/12735  – what do-organic-natural-cage-free

 

Article by Sherry Gray, UConn Extension Educator

Updated: 11/13/19

Survey for Poultry Producers

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

The University of Connecticut is collaborating with 14 multi-state institutions to put together a USDA grant on Agriculture and Food Research Initiatives titled: Systems-based integrated program for enhancing the sustainability of antibiotic-restricted poultry production.

Our focus is on sustainable poultry production and we are dedicated to help small, medium and large poultry farmers, processors and industry personnel to increase profitability, reduce input costs, increase productivity, and reduce losses due to environmental and biological stresses, including pests and diseases. In addition, this grant would help develop tools to enhance rural prosperity and health by ensuring access to affordable, safe and nutritious poultry products to sustain healthy lifestyles. 

The long-term objective of our project will ensure the sustainability of antibiotic-restricted broiler production by enhancing bird, human and environmental health, and ultimately increasing consumer acceptability and economic returns to farmers.  

We are using this survey questionnaire to gather information that will help us assess your needs for poultry research, education and outreach in the region. We would like inputs from all personnel involved with poultry production and processing such that our resources can better serve your needs in future.

We understand your time is valuable, the questionnaire should take only 3-5 minutes to complete.

Thank you

University of Connecticut Team

 

Please take the survey at bit.ly/PoultrySurvey

Students Receive Change Grant for CT Environmental Action Day

Submitted by Maggi Anstett, Madeline Williams, and Margaret Sanders

 

logo for UConn Co-op Legacy Fellow Change GrantStacey Stearns, Marc Cournoyer, and Jennifer Cushman wanted to create a sub-committee to develop digital kits for middle school students for Connecticut Environmental Action Day, so they introduced the Change Grant opportunity to Maggi Anstett, Madeline Williams, and Margaret Sanders. The Change Grant is part of the UConn Co-op Legacy Fellowship program run by the Office of Undergraduate Research. The UConn Co-op Legacy Fellowship – Change Grants provide undergraduates the opportunity to engage in projects that make an impact and represent the UConn Co-op’s commitment to public engagement, innovative entrepreneurship, and social impact. Undergraduates in all majors can apply for up to $2,000 in funding to support community service, research, advocacy, or social innovation projects. Together Maggi, Madeline, and Margaret were eager to complete the Change Grant application. They evaluated the contents of the application and each took a section to tackle. They completed the application within a week and shortly after they got accepted for the Grant. The Change Grant will provide up to $2,000 as previously stated, however they are still creating their budget, so they can optimize all the money.

The goal of their Change Grant project is to educate young students in Connecticut on how to live an environmentally friendly life, on the importance of the environment, and how to create environmental action in their home, school, and community. As we know, the world is currently facing a climate crisis and we all face potentially life-altering changes as a result of this. Many young students are not aware of the impact our environment has on our everyday lives and therefore do not make active decisions to be environmentally friendly.

Maggi, Madeline, and Margaret hope to educate middle school students on these important topics and to create an annual day that focuses on educating them on our current climate. Additionally, they will assemble digital kits that will be distributed to middle schools in Connecticut, broadening the impact of the program. These kits will include educational materials, along with digital tools that schoolteachers can utilize to continue the education we begin. They are currently thinking about giving the digital kits to 4 schools in each county in Connecticut, thus totaling 32 different middle schools throughout the state. The main reasoning behind doing the digital kits is to reach an audience who cannot be a part of Connecticut Environmental Action Day (CEAD), a one-day event on the UConn-Storrs campus. CEAD is a program of UConn Extension that was dormant for many years before being revitalized with the help of UConn undergraduate students last year. Last year CEAD had one hundred middle school participants from three schools. However, it must reach more students to create a larger and lasting impact. CEAD uses the hashtag #ExtendTheChange to encourage social interaction and influence on associated environmental action. Prioritizing accessibility to all students’ shows that this is important, and them being invested in their future on this planet is also important.

Spend Family Time Outdoors Exploring Nature

person walking on a bridge with colorful fall leaves around them
As the holiday season quickly approaches, time with family and friends is important to many of us. In honor of this past National Take a Hike Day (it was November 17th), try getting in your quality time with some fresh air this weekend! Take advantage of a local trail or path to get the blood flowing after a big meal. Your friends and family with thank you for burning off the extra calories!
 
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.