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Archive for the ‘Health’ Category

Physical therapy program provides care to migrant farmers at health clinics

Students and faculty from the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) Program in the College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources (CAHNR) have been volunteering since 2008 to help bring health care to Connecticut’s migrant and seasonal farm workers, a medically underserved population.

Photo credit: Yasmeen Alsaqri

Every year thousands of migrant agricultural laborers journey to Connecticut to work at the state’s farms, orchards, nurseries and greenhouses. These temporary farm workers help plant, grow, harvest and produce a wide range of the state’s labor-intensive agricultural commodities, including tobacco, ornamental flowers and plants, fruits and vegetables, and poultry and dairy goods, supporting the state’s $4 billion agricultural industry. Most seasonal workers arrive from Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean islands and other states with large agricultural operations, such as California, Florida and Texas. For the past twenty years, farmers in the Northeast have reported hiring more migrant employees as the ability to find local, native workers has declined. It is estimated that over 7,000 seasonal farm workers are employed in the state. They are predominately male, widely varying in age from teenagers to the elderly; some workers are in their sixties and seventies. Without this workforce, Connecticut agricultural producers face labor shortages that would put businesses at risk.

Migrant workers face a number of challenges. Most do not have health insurance or are underinsured and are largely ineligible for Medicaid or Social Security benefits for medical care even though they pay into these programs. They typically receive housing in barracks provided by farms or share small apartments with several of their co-workers. Transportation is often by carpool or buses that bring workers to and from the farm. These obstacles mean that migrant farm workers are unable to easily access or afford health care, medical assistance and medications.

To provide care to these workers, UConn and the Connecticut Area Health Education Center (AHEC) established the UConn Migrant Farm Worker Clinics (MFWC) in 1997. MFWC are a mobile service that partner with local farms to provide free health consultations and medical aid to this underserved population. The clinics are staffed entirely by student volunteers and medically licensed professionals who mostly hail from the UConn but also from a number of college programs and private practices, including members of the DPT Program. (more…)

CAHNR in the news

newspaper readersWTNH aired a video about the Connecticut Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory’s tick testing. Technical Assistant Maureen Sims and Holly McGinnis were shown doing their work. The video also included footage of Associate Extension Professor Tom Worthley from the Department of Extension in Middlesex County. He described how a large amount of ticks crawled onto and bit workers doing research among invasive Japanese barberry plants.

Newtown Bee quoted Donna Ellis about weevils for the control of the invasive mile-a-minute vine. Ellis is a senior cooperative extension educator in plant science and landscape architecture. The weevils are being used in Newtown, Connecticut.

UConn Today ran an article about a new database that helps connect media representatives to UConn experts in the field. People on the list will also write for The Conversation, an academic news operation. Experts from CAHNR include Professor Douglas Casa, Professor Valerie Duffy, Assistant Professor Paulo Verardi and Distinguished Professor Linda Pescatello. Casa and Pescatello are from kinesiology, Duffy is from allied health and Verardi is from pathobiology. (more…)

Meet undergraduate student Eric Burfeind


Eric Burfeind

Eric Burfeind is a senior studying allied health sciences (AHS), with a goal of becoming a physician’s assistant. Eric came to UConn with no clear career goal in mind. However, he found his way to the medical field through his AHS major. Eric provides an admirable example of a well-rounded student, through his participation in study abroad, internships and sports. Read more about Eric’s experiences during his time at UConn.

What attracted you to UConn? I was initially attracted to UConn by the sports programs and the AHS major. I enjoy being at a big school like UConn, but I also like how there is still a rural feel. I’m from the other side of Connecticut, so UConn allowed me to be far enough from home, without leaving the state. UConn is also a great value for in-state students, which is helping me to save up money for graduate school.

Why did you choose your major? When I was applying to UConn, the College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources did not yet have “health” in its name. I accidentally came upon the AHS major and found it intriguing that it was part of an agricultural college. The major sounded more interesting than physiology and neurobiology or biology. So, I thought I would give it a try. I enjoy the classes because they teach you how to relate to patients more than the cellular and molecular classes do. I had a great experience with all the professors and the advising center. (more…)

CAHNR in the news

newsprintUConn Magazine reported on the Skype a Scientist project where experts are paired with schools. It listed natural resources and the environment graduate student Mauri Liberati as holding nine sessions with one school.

Wallet Hub asked John Bovay questions about how foodies can save money and how policy changes can improve the local food scene in a “Best Foodie Cities in America” article. Bovay is an assistant professor in agricultural and resource economics.

UConn Magazine featured Horsebarn Hill as the premiere Storrs campus bird-watching site.

Associated Press referred to a UConn study that found highest concentrations of bears in Connecticut are not in the most remote areas. (more…)

Food safety website provides answers for consumers and producers

Diane Hirsch

Diane Hirsch

Storms like hurricanes Harvey and Irma can create a public health nightmare, leading to safety issues of all kinds, including food safety concerns. How long will food remain safe to eat if your refrigerator fails? How do you disinfect your kitchen? Is produce safe to eat? Find the answers to most food safety questions for consumers, home cooks, farmers, growers, and processors, at the UConn College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources’ food safety website,

For more than twenty years, Diane Wright Hirsch of UConn Extension has served as the College’s food safety extension specialist, working with producers and consumers alike.

“It can be difficult for the various food industries in Connecticut to find the resources they need,” says Hirsch. “Oftentimes they would call me and say they don’t know where to begin. I wanted the website to provide a one-stop shop for them.”

In addition, she says, “Consumers may try to address a food safety question using their favorite search engine, and discover inaccurate information,” she says. “Everything on our website is science based.”