UConn Extension Interns Tie Research to Real Life

Each year, UConn students apply and compete for paid internship opportunities with UConn Extension, whose mission is to connect the power of UConn research to local issues by creating practical, science-based answers to complex problems. This summer, 13 students are tying research to real life in our UConn Extension offices across the state.

Santiago Palaez Mosquera, a junior majoring in natural resources and the environment, is helping Extension educator Vickie Wallace in Norwich develop a sustainable certificate program for various sectors of the green industry. These include golf, sports turf, and nursery/garden center and landscape industry sectors that serve to promote and foster green, sustainable education. “I work statewide in sustainable turf and landscape,” Vickie says. “I serve as a bridge, answering questions and bringing pertinent research to the practitioners. The sustainable certificate program will build on the research and outreach of the turf program.”

John McDonald, a psychology major in his junior year at UConn, works with Laura Brown, Extension Community and Economic Development Educator in the Bethel office. This summer, John is helping with several emerging research pieces around the Community First Impressions program and the emerging development of a state multi-user trails study.

As a graduate student in agriculture and resource economics, Nadege Kenfack already has experience researching a variety of issues. Nadege is working with Extension educator Jiff Martin in Vernon to further develop strategies to increase local food consumption, with a particular interest in Community Supported Agriculture (CSAs) and buy local campaigns.

Joanna Slemp is a junior majoring in resource economics, and is developing online learning modules for the ornamental and turf programs at the West Hartford office. Joanna and mentor Candace Bartholomew are building the design and arrangement of content, graphic interfaces and other necessary technical pieces of the Online Learning Modules.

Kerrin Kinnear in our Haddam office. Dave Dickson photo.

The UConn Extension Center for Land Use Education and Research (CLEAR) is based in Haddam and provides information, education and assistance to land use decision makers, in support of balancing growth and natural resource protection. Kerrin Kinnear, a junior in majoring in environmental studies, is working with Dave Dickson this summer on low impact storm water regulations. Kerrin is working with town staff on the adoption and implementation of low impact storm water regulations. She is interviewing key town staff in other towns that have begun to adopt LID-friendly storm water regulations to get a sense of the drivers behind the regulations, factors affecting LID implementation and the impact of the regulations.

“Interning at CLEAR has shown me how sustainability concepts I learn about in the classroom come to life in real world applications,” Kerrin says. “Through speaking with community planners across the state, I have gained insight into the real motives behind current environmental initiatives, as well as the obstacles towns face in implementing low impact development in the field.”

The UConn Extension 4-H youth program prepares youth to meet the needs of a global economy, while learning new skills, meeting new friends, and discovering new things about themselves and the world through UConn’s research-driven programs. In 2014, 20,180 youth participated in UConn Extension 4-H programs. By teaching young people that science can be fun, we build on a century of knowledge that early STEM exposure opens doors for youth to explore and directs them to think of careers in these fields. UConn 4-H is preparing the next generation of scientists, engineers and technology experts; and six of our interns are working with 4-H programs this summer.

In our Torrington office, Yoon-Young Choi, a graduate student in agricultural and resource economics, is building off of her studies to serve as the 4-H Youth Development Program Research, Assessment and Evaluation intern. Under the direction of Laura Marek, Yoon is researching current 4-H youth development program evaluation models, collecting data to be used for evaluating several aspects of the UConn 4-H Program, and working in conjunction with state 4-H staff in writing up results of the evaluation.

Joanna Murawski, a graduate student in health promotion, is also working in the Norwich office this summer with Pamela Gray and 4-H education. Joanna is providing outreach through the delivery of 4-H programs, assisting in the preparation and duties of the New London County 4-H Fair, assisting in 4-H promotion through social media, and managing administrative duties as required by the 4-H program.  In West Hartford, Rebecca Masse, a junior majoring in agriculture and natural resources is serving as the Hartford County 4-H program assistant and working on a variety of unique and innovative initiatives under the guidance of Laura Marek.

As a senior majoring in Animal Science, the 4-H Equine and County Fair Program internship with Emily Alger in Haddam is a natural fit for Delaney Patterson. Delaney is working with the State 4-H Horse Program and the Middlesex & New Haven County 4-H Fair Program. A second intern will also be influencing the outcome of the Middlesex & New Haven County 4-H Fair. Erinn Hines is a UConn sophomore majoring in Human Development and Family Studies and is working with Margaret Grillo, in the North Haven office. Erinn is also helping to launch the Discover Science through 4-H Program, and improving the office’s social media footprint.

As a mechanical engineering major, Howard Ho, a freshman, brings a vital skill set to his internship with Dr. German Cutz in Bethel. Howard’s work focuses on developing lesson plans for and teaching the 4-H Robotics and Technology Program to groups of Lego robotics students. Up to 60 participants are expected in this summer’s program.

Holly Lewis is an allied health science major in her sophomore year at UConn. She is working in the Brooklyn office with Marc Cournoyer on 4-H Education and the Pasture and Livestock Data Program. 4-H youth programs in gardening, STEM mini camps, and county fair activities are included in Holly’s projects. She is also travelling to local livestock farms, sampling for pasture quality and collecting livestock yield data.

As the 4-H Fair intern in Tolland County, nutritional sciences junior Alix Moriarty is working with Maryann Fusco in the Vernon office to insure the success of the 74th Tolland County 4-H Fair, which is a yearlong project of the teen Fairboard. Alix also works with Maryann on STEM programs like junk drawer robotics, science in the kitchen, and lost in the woods. “Youth can become an engineer with things from around the house,” Alix says. “We construct tooth brush eco-bots, marshmallow launching trebuchets, and a mechanical arm. Through 4-H STEM programs, youth discover how to think like a scientist, communicate like an engineer, and build like a technician.”

For more information on UConn Extension, please visit our website at www.extension.uconn.edu. Extension internships are facilitated through the UConn Center for Career Development. If you would like guidance on how your organization can establish an internship program with UConn students please email your inquiry to internships@uconn.edu.