There are more than a hundred UConn Extension specialists working throughout Connecticut. These educators are teaching and training in local communities, sharing their wealth of knowledge with residents through a variety of programs. These instructional activities will now be more visible and easier to find with the creation of an online extension course catalog.
The new catalog was proposed by Michael O’Neill, associate dean for outreach and public engagement, in order to raise the profile of extension activities. Prior to the launch of the website, there was no single source that listed and described all of the courses that UConn Extension hosts.
“In this digital age, we need a mechanism for citizens and businesses to access the excellent programs we offer through UConn Extension,” says O’Neill. “I believe that this online catalog is a valuable first step in that direction.”
Extension classes address a wide range of topics, including issues related to agriculture and food systems, the green industry, families and community development, land use and water, nutrition and wellness as well as numerous 4-H activities. The website uses these groupings and an A to Z listing so finding offerings is simple and straightforward. Each program links to a page with information on the objectives, goals, components, intended audience, the time of year and how often programs run and a link to the each program’s website, which provides shares additional information.
Stacey Stearns, an extension agriculture program specialist, and Katy Davis, an undergraduate majoring in agricultural and natural resources and agricultural education, amassed the listings and created the individualized informational pages for the offerings. The College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources web team in the Office of Communications created the website. The CAHNR web team consists of Patsy Evans, marketing/publicity administrator; Kevin Noonan, graphic designer/illustrator; and Nick Hanna, computer programmer/analyst. Hanna also created a form for faculty and staff to submit new courses or edit current entries to ensure the listings are up-to-date and accurate.
“The course catalog is a working document, and it will be updated as programs evolve and change,” Stearns says. “Extension offers a wide array of programs, and the catalog allows our students and program participants to browse all of our course options in one location.”
The course catalog is part of a larger effort by Mike O’Neill to increase the visibility, accessibility and quality of extension activities. He recently hired Miriah Russo Kelly, an evaluation specialist, to collaborate with extension instructors to enhance program planning and impact assessment.
“Dr. Kelly is transforming our ability to demonstrate the impact of our work. She is strengthening the culture of evaluation in research and extension programs across the College,” says O’Neill.