UConn Extension

Trail Use: Leave No Trace

trail users on a trail in Connecticut, people walking way into the woods
Photo: Virginia Raff

Connecticut has a wealth of trails for us to enjoy, from state parks and forests to local land trusts. As you’re out there enjoying the trails, it’s key to practice the principles of Leave No Trace.

The seven principles of the Leave No Trace program are:

1. Plan Ahead and Prepare
2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces

3. Dispose of Waste Properly
4. Leave What You Find
5. Minimize Campfire Impacts
6. Respect Wildlife
7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors

For more information on these principles and other resources visit LNT.org.

For more information on trail etiquette, download our brochure.

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.

Beware of Volcano Mulch

volcano mulch around a tree in Storrs, Connecticut is damaging the bark and the tree
Volcano mulch on a tree. Photo: Stacey Stearns

In three short decades, volcano mulch has become one of the greatest threats to newly planted and young trees and shrubs. If unchecked, the significant monetary and human investment in greenscapes will result in more and more dead and dying trees.

Volcano mulch is the over-mulching of plant material, notably trees and shrubs. Mulch plays an important role in protecting plant material from irreversible lawnmower and weed whacker damage as well as providing for some control over weed competition and soil water retention. Seemingly, rings of mulch have also become landscape design features.

While deadly, the problem is simple; people are placing heaps and heaps of mulch around trees and shrubs and right next to the thin, vulnerable bark. The fact is you do not need more than 2-3 inches of mulch in depth for the desired purposes. Mulch should not come closer than 2-3 inches from the plant.  Yet people are piling mulch 6 inches or more, and right on the trunks of the trees, causing damage to life sustaining cambium (the live tissue just below the bark). Beware of volcano mulch in your yard.

Article by Robert Ricard, Ph.D.

Trail Etiquette 101

bicycle on trailHeaded out on the trails? Trail safety and etiquette is vital on our trails for all users, including bicyclists, hikers, and equestrians. Be courteous to other trail users. Here are some simple steps to follow.

What does “Yield” mean?

Yielding means slow down, establish communication, be prepared to stop if necessary, and pass in a safe and friendly manner.

All Trail Users

  • Avoid Wet Trails. Minimize trail erosion and ecological impact around wet trails by walking/ biking/riding through the center of the trail, even if muddy, to keep the trail narrow.
  • Stay on the Trail. Do not go off trail (even to pass), create new trails, or cut switchbacks. Narrow trails mean less environmental impact and happier critters.
  • Respect. If you offer respect, you are more likely to receive it. All user groups have rights and responsibilities to our trails, and to each other.
  • Don’t Block the Trail. When taking a break, move to the side of the trail.
  • Smile. Greet. Nod. Every user on the trail is a fellow nature lover. Be friendly and expect to see other folks around every corner.
  • Travel on the right side of the trail, and pass on the left.
  • Remain Attentive. If you wear headphones, keep the volume down, or only wear one earpiece so you can hear other trail users.
  • Expect the Unexpected. Humans and animals can be unpredictable.

For Walkers, Hikers, Runners

  • Keep dogs on a short leash. Other trail users may be frightened by dogs or be unsure how to pass safely.
  • Dog poop on the trail is a major complaint among other trail users. Clean up after your dog, and take the waste home to dispose it. UConn Extension educator Dave Dickson explains why it’s important to scoop poop: http://s.uconn.edu/4gg.
  • Yield to equestrians.

For Bicyclists

  • You move fast – and many other trail users will be startled, especially if you approach from behind. Greet other trail users early to alert them of your presence.
  • Anticipate other trail users around blind corners.
  • Yield to hikers and equestrians.

For Equestrians

  • Communicate your needs. Most people aren’t familiar with horses and are intimidated by them – let other trail users know what will help make the situation safer for everyone.
  • Slow down to a walk to pass other trail users.
  • Clean up any manure your horse may leave at trail heads and on trails whenever possible.

Download the brochure: http://bit.ly/TrailEtq 

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.

Is Your Well Water Contaminated?

faucet with running water
Photo: Kara Bonsack

Is your well water contaminated with road salt? Dr. Mike Dietz of the Connecticut Institute of Water Resources talked to NBC Connecticut last week about how we can reduce contamination.

“‘This is a worldwide problem. It’s a really big problem in the United States because the amount of salt that we’ve been applying has been increasing dramatically over the past few decades,’ he said.

Dietz says the only solution is to apply less salt. Over the winter, a UConn pilot program showed encouraging results, and saved the university $300,000.”

Read the full story:

Reflecting on an Extension Internship

By Kelly Finn

UConn student Kelly Finn, who interned with Extension, stands in front of the Central Bank in Senegal while there as a Boren Scholar.
Kelly Finn in front of the central bank in Senegal.

Coming out of my 2017 marketing internship with UConn Extension, I possessed a newfound quality of discipline and relationship-building that I had honed over the three month experience with Stacey Stearns. Almost two years later, I have been able to employ such skills in my current experience as a Boren Scholar in which I am a student, professional, and volunteer.

Last April, I was nationally selected as one of 250 from a pool of over 1500 applicants to receive the US Government Boren Scholarship: a fellowship that enables qualified students to engage in intensive study-abroad. I am now nearing the end of my year long experience with the Boren, having gotten the opportunity to do a domestic summer program at the University of Florida before going abroad, and of course my nine-month experience abroad in Senegal, which will be coming to end an end this May.

The Boren has been heavily academic, including critical study of international relations, advanced language in both French and Wolof (a native West African language), amplified by my own personal choice to enroll in online American classes to keep up with credit requirements in completing my triple-degree venture in receiving Finance, Resource Economics, and French Honors degrees at the end of my UConn experience. While it has not been easy, I’ve found that my discipline in being goal-oriented and determined has encouraged me to get my work done efficiently while embracing new learning content, just as I had as an Extension intern.

On top of academics, I have further challenged myself to upkeep my professional development in maintaining contact with my career aspirations and experience by leveraging my relationship-building skills in internship pursuits.

I knew at the start of my Boren that I wanted to get involved in a professional capacity in addition to my studies during the program. After countless hours of research in organizations and opportunities in Senegal, I made sure to leverage networking platforms and use relationship-building skills to secure an internship. Not only was I accepted for a professional internship at the headquarters of the Central Bank of West African States in Dakar, but I also became a volunteer intern at the Senegalese office of an American organization that I had been involved with as a high school student in the States.

Thinking back to my days as an Extension intern, I remember how important taking initiative and applying relationship-building skills were. At Extension, all of the projects necessitated cross-departmental communication, and strength in relationship-building to move ideas forward and make tangible progress. Those same skills have evidently assisted me in the process of finding awesome, relevant involvements internationally that has ultimately enriched my Boren experience in Senegal.

Going forward, I will continue to apply what I’ve learned as an UConn Extension intern to my everyday life in academic and professional areas and beyond as I have as a Boren scholar. Extension equipped me with the tools and incredible support by the staff and CAHNR to work effectively to make change while also cultivating a learning environment I clearly profited from. The discipline and relationship-building skills I had gained in the process continue to be put to great use in all the new and challenging experiences I encounter as I continue to grow.

Risk Management Technology: Drones in Agriculture?

Risk Management Technology: Drones in Agriculture?

Article by Evan Lentz

Drones have had a long-standing history in the both the military and hobbyist circles. Recently, there has been a resurgence of drones into general consumer markets which has stimulated an interest in their utility in a range of applications. As such, it should be no surprise that drones have found their way into the world of agriculture. At this year’s annual USDA iPiPE Summit, four undergraduate students from Rutgers University presented their findings on three separate summer long studies, each demonstrating an application for the use of drones in agriculture. All four students work under the guidance of Dr. Peter Oudemans and focused on small fruit crops such as blueberries and cranberries. Below you will find a synopsis of each of the studies and a link to their full findings.

 

Use of Drone Imaging for Assessing Weed Control and Disease Pressure in Highbush Blueberry

Objective:

  • This study was conducted to evaluate the efficacy of drone imagery for weed detection in highbush blueberry crops.

Conclusions:

  • Multiple sensor types can be utilized with drones to detect and monitor weed growth effectively.
  • The drone technology can cover more ground faster than any of the other weed detection methods tested.

 

Use of Drone Imaging for Detecting Fairy Ring Disease in New Jersey Cranberry Beds

Objective:

  • This study was conducted to evaluate the efficacy of drone imagery for fairy ring detection in New Jersey Cranberry beds. Another goal for this study was determining the smallest recognizable fairy ring detectable with the technology.

Conclusions:

  • The drones provided viable, reliable, and highly cost-effective means to assess the degree of fairy ring growth inside cranberry beds.
  • The system is especially cost-effective when compared to the cost of other available options, namely, helicopter flights and satellite images.
  • Shows promise for detection and monitoring of other diseases as well.

Use of Drone Imaging for Detecting Stem Blight in Highbush Blueberries

Objective:

  • This study was conducted to evaluate the efficacy of drone imagery for detecting potential causes of yield loss in highbush blueberry crops. The imagery captured was analyzed for unusual patterns within the rows.

Conclusions:

  • Autonomous flight planning and image software allow the drones to cove large areas quickly and produce high resolution maps
  • RGB sensors on the drones can be utilized to detect problematic areas within the field. Other sensors provided a more defined classification.

 

Although these three drone applications were specific to small fruit crops, the results show that these methods may prove useful in detecting and monitoring pests and diseases in a range of other crop groups. For more information on the studies themselves, follow the links to the full study presentations at http://ed.ipipe.org/publications. Special thanks to USDA iPiPE and the students who conducted the research: D. Jones, D. Nuhn, M. Mars, and J. Armitage.

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 

Further Info:

http://www.extension.uconn.edu/