youth development

Welcome Lindsey Brush to CT FANs IM!

Lindsey Brush

Lindsey is the new Program Assistant for the Connecticut Fitness and Nutrition Clubs In Motion. Lindsey is a recent graduate of the University of St. Joseph’s in West Hartford with a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics. Lindsey is also pursuing a certification as a personal trainer from National Academy of Sports Medicine. She has worked with community outreach including SNAP-ED, Boys and Girls Clubs, and telephonic health coaching. Lindsey brings a lot of energy and enthusiasm to our team.

Teen Mentors Attend National 4-H Congress

4-H Congress group
Photo caption:  Top Row: Kirsten Krause, Alea Pettengill, Susan Dearborn and Paul Rouleau. Bottom Row: Victoria Footit, Jessica Roberts, Ciara Broggy, Yanis Aracena

CT 4-H FANs IM Teen Mentors, and Danbury High School seniors, Ciara Broggy and Yanis Aracena, were selected to participate in the National 4-H Congress held in Atlanta, Georgia, November 27th through December 1, 2015. Both attendees were required to submit an application and attend an interview. While at the National 4-H Congress, they enjoyed many activities including lectures, a dinner dance, interactive workshops, a tour of the Atlanta History Center and Atlanta Aquarium, as well as collaborative projects with other 4-H participants that included community outreach.

Both students found the event to be life changing. “My experience at National 4-H Congress has allowed me to gain a better understanding of cultural diversity,” Ciara says. “Throughout the week I had the chance to meet and talk with other 4-Hers from throughout the United States, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico. I discovered that my focus on fitness, nutrition and gardening is very different from that of other 4-H participants. For example, I met 4-Hers who, participate in singing competitions, cattle showings and gymnastics. Despite these differences, we all still share a central bond within our 4-H community.”

Ciara and Yanis joined CT FANs IM as Teen Mentors at Shelter Rock Elementary School. They work with younger students in activities centered on fitness, nutrition and gardening.

“This opportunity has not only been a learning experience for the youth, but also myself,” Ciara says. “I have developed a deeper understanding about what it means to live a healthy lifestyle. The three branches of my 4-H program have become a part of my every day life. I strive to live a healthier lifestyle both physically and nutritionally. In addition, my leadership and speaking skills have increased dramatically through working with the youth. This has been a truly gratifying experience and has contributed largely to my self-confidence. I look forward to expanding my involvement in 4-H.”

Yanis agrees that her experience as a Teen Mentor has been an extremely valuable experience. “Working with CT FANs IM has helped me develop skills I did not have or was not confident in,” she says. “I feel much more confident with being able to speak in front of an audience, I have learned to enjoy working in a group, rather than by myself, and lastly I have gained valuable leadership skills. I hope to continue my involvement in 4-H.”

The students both plan to attend college. Ciara hopes to be accepted into UConn’s nursing program for the fall 2016 semester, while Yanis has not yet chosen a major, and is considering several colleges.

Cross Pollination Adventure for Hartford County 4-H

By Stacey Stearns

Costa Rica group
L-R, Marlene Mayes, Annette Fischel-Kessler, Carl Salsedo, Ellen Paine, Sam Kenworthy, (CIRENAS staff missing is Ariadna Sanchez-Gutierrez).

Hartford County 4-H members will have the unique opportunity to participate in a Cross Pollination Adventure this summer. They will partner with a Costa Rican outdoor education center as part of a Cooperative International Learning Experience. UConn Extension has partnered with CIRENAS (Centro de Investigación de Recursos Naturales y Sociales) in Costa Rica on a multi-year program to provide learning opportunities that include creating a sustainable habitat project at the 4-H Center at Auerfarm in Bloomfield.

“The ultimate goal is to increase the participants’ understanding of how the world’s habitats are interconnected. Working on this project will help each person appreciate that a single individual can play an active role in creating and maintaining healthy local and world ecosystems,” project coordinator Ellen Paine says enthusiastically. “For pollinators, especially ones that migrate like monarch butterflies and hummingbirds, we need to ensure appropriate habitat in the locals at both ends of their migration in order for the species to survive.”

Hartford County 4-H members between the ages of 14 and 19 will have the opportunity to apply in January 2016 for this experiential learning opportunity. The 10 selected 4-H members will spend time in Connecticut learning about biodiversity, permaculture, sustainable gardening, and pollinators such as Monarch butterfly and hummingbirds. Then, at the end of June, they will travel to Costa Rica on an award trip to spend an educational week at the CIRENAS center learning how and why Costa Rica plays a critical part in maintaining the health of Connecticut pollinators. They will explore the area’s flora and fauna, some familiar, some new, and via hands-on learning, gain experience in creating and maintaining permaculture gardens. During their time in Costa Rica, the Connecticut

4-H’ers will also participate in a home stay and work on a community service project in conjunction with the CIRENAS staff.

CIRENAS ocean view small
View from CIRENAS. Photo: Ellen Paine.

To complete their learning experience, participants will bring their expanded knowledge back to the 4-H Center at Auerfarm in Bloomfield. “Students will design the layout and plantings and construct a sustainable pollinator garden with a monarch and hummingbird focus. This garden will adjoin the Foodshare garden already at Auerfarm,” Ellen says.

In early November, project coordinator Ellen Paine, UConn Extension educator Carl Salsedo, and Marlene Mayes, a UConn Extension Master Gardener volunteer at Auerfarm, traveled to Costa Rica to coordinate with the partners at CIRENAS. Together, they collaborated to develop and coordinate the Connecticut and Costa Rican sections of the program curriculum, discuss how to integrate local community members into the experiences, and address logistical aspects of the program.

Carl expressed his “…hope that participation in this program will greatly expand the participants’ horizons and help them cultivate an understanding of their own place beside the plethora of creatures they will study”. Marlene goes on to add, “This is an awesome experience, and one that presents a unique chance to experience the profound connections between people and the environment.”

The CIRENAS campus sits on the lower Pacific coast of Costa Rica on the Nicoya Peninsula, and backs up to a Calestas-Ario national wildlife refuge, offering a full-range of relatively untouched ecosystems. The mission of CIRENAS is built around place based education, applied research, community integration, and innovation.

The project is funded by a grant made possible by a bequest left to Hartford County 4-H specifically for international activities. It is a collaborative project between UConn Extension, the 4-H Center at Auerfarm, and CIRENAS. UConn Extension partners include the 4-H program, the Master Gardener program, and our horticultural program. A secondary objective of the Cooperative International Learning Experience is to focus on water quality and usage. This project will be further developed as the partnership between UConn Extension and CIRENAS grows and strengthens.

Applications will be available through the Hartford County 4-H Office as of January 1, 2016. They will be due back to the program coordinator no later than February 6, 2016. Selection interviews will follow shortly thereafter. For more information or questions, email the project coordinator, Ellen Paine at (

Lynn & Marjorie Brown: Promoting & Supporting 4-H for a Lifetime

Lynn & Marjorie Brown: Promoting and Supporting 4-H for a Lifetime

By Nancy Wilhelm, Program Coordinator, 4-H Youth Development


Lynn-Marj BrownMarjorie and Lynn Brown have spent a lifetime promoting and supporting UConn Extension and the 4-H Program. Both grew up on farms in Iowa where they were 4-H members – Marjorie participated in home economics and poultry projects and Lynn in the dairy cattle project area. Their 4-H participation provided some exciting opportunities.   Lynn attended National 4-H Dairy Conference while Marjorie attended State 4-H Conservation Camp. It was not until their college years that they met at a Rural Young People’s dance in the late 1940’s. They have been together ever since, contributing countless hours of support to 4-H youth across Connecticut

After graduating from college with a degree in Agricultural Education, Lynn got a job teaching agriculture to veterans coming back from World War II. Six months later he was drafted into the army and served two years in the Korean War. Marjorie was a 4-H member until age 21. She attended Iowa State University as a Home Economics major and obtained her master’s degree in Home Management and Family Economics and worked for a short while for Iowa Extension. They were married on March 22, 1953.

Obtaining his doctorate in dairy nutrition, Lynn was hired as the University of Connecticut Extension Dairy Specialist in the 1960s, bringing the Brown’s to Connecticut. He has had an impact on hundreds of 4-H dairy project members, providing programs, training dairy judging teams, introducing and working with quiz bowl teams, promoting, selecting and chaperoning 4-Hers to the National 4-H Dairy Conference and coordinating the entire Connecticut 4-H Dairy Program at Eastern States Exposition where he served as Chairperson for the New England 4-H Dairy Show for over 25 years.

“Dr. Brown has always had so much patience. When I was on the CT 4-H Dairy Judging team, there were five teenage girls and Dr. Brown. His lessons on evaluating cows and giving oral reasons still help me as I work with 4-Hers. I remember driving to the national contest in Columbus Ohio in an old Plymouth Valiant stopping at farms and dairy judging along the way. Every morning he would set our departure time early since he had to maneuver our suitcases and pack them in the same very precise manner just to get our luggage to fit in the trunk. He taught us very important life skills, how to remember and visualize classes of cows and how to pack a trunk. I still use both today!” Bonnie Burr, UConn Extension Department Head

Lynn’s involvement didn’t stop with his retirement from UConn in 1994. He has served as Chair of the Tolland County Extension Council. He has been a member of the 4-H Farm Board of Directors for many years, actively working with the Farm Committee to oversee farm operations. He continues to serve as Chair of Farm City Day, and has essentially spent his entire life promoting and supporting agriculture, the dairy industry and 4-H youth.

Marjorie has been a 4-H leader in Tolland County for over 40 years, teaching family and consumer science project skills to countless youth. She has been a strong supporter of the consumer education project of wardrobe planning and worked on a State 4-H Fashion Revue Committee that developed the Smart Shopper Project. She has served as a volunteer judge, coordinator of fashion revue events and served on the planning committee for the 1983 Northeast Regional 4-H Volunteer Forum when it was hosted by Connecticut. Along with her work in 4-H, she has served as treasurer of the Tolland County Extension Council, served on the Tolland County 4-H Advisory Committee and on the Tolland County Agricultural Board of Directors. An excellent seamstress, at 84, she still invites youth and some former 4-H members to her home to sew.

“Marge took every opportunity to promote life skills with 4-Hers. Among other projects and activities, she developed a life skills quiz bowl that was held at the Tolland County 4-H Fair for many years. She believed that both boys and girls needed to know how to understand the needs of younger children, sew, select their clothes, and to prepare healthy foods. Her work was invaluable to both the Tolland County Extension Program as well as to statewide Extension programs.” Rosemarie Syme, Retired 4-H Extension Educator

When asked about the importance of 4-H and the impact it has on youth, both Lynn and Marjorie agree that it gives youth the chance to learn some important life skills like leadership development, public speaking, and also receive recognition for a job well done.

And for so many years, the Brown’s have played an important role in providing those life skills to youth across Connecticut.   Thank you Lynn and Marjorie for a job well done.

Hartford County Urban 4-H

jumping jacks  group stretching playing with Wii

The Hartford County Urban 4-H after school programs are free for children age 7-19. Youth enrolled in Urban 4-H receive effective hands on STEM related activities which include but not limited to: health and nutrition, science related activities, social skills, and work force readiness courses.

On May 26th at the Boys and Girls club in Hartford the group had our annual end of the year after school program wrap up celebration. On May 28th in Hartford at Thirman Milner School our wrap up celebration was held to conclude the 2015 afterschool program.

Learn more about the Hartford County Urban 4-H program by contacting LaShawn Christie-Francis at 860-570-9008 or