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Extension/Outreach Projects

Agriculture

Outreach Project

The goal of this project is to adapt UMass Extension produce safety training materials for vegetable and fruit growers to address the requirements of the Food Safety Modernization Act’s Produce Rule, and to work with other agricultural organizations around the state to broaden the audience for training delivery. In the long term, we aim to establish a training program and curriculum that continues to meet and respond to the needs of MA produce growers by supporting and encouraging a culture of on-farm food safety.

Outreach Project

Each year we meet with an advisory panel of conventional and organic growers from across Massachusetts to identify crop and pest management trials of greatest concern to the farming community.  We then contact grower organizations such as the New England Vegetable and Berry Growers Association and commercial seed and crop protection companies to sponsor trials and treatments that target the pest management concerns of our stakeholders.

Outreach Project

Our Project goal is to deliver effective and timely IPM information and recommendations to MA vegetable and fruit growers that enable these specialty crop growers to achieve increased profitability while reducing adverse risks to human health and the environment.

Outreach Project

This project will address the need for a scouting and pest advisory network that spans the range of climate zones from north to south in New England and is responsive to seasonal fluctuations in weather and crop conditions. Using field walks and weekly scouting visits at sentinel farms in Vermont, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, we will provide growers with hands-on training in IPM methods for key pests and/or diseases in vegetable and fruit crops.

Outreach Project

Preserving and improving soil health/quality/resiliency continues to be an area of strong interest and concern for MA land stewards. Not unique to MA, this concern has been echoed across the region and nationally leading NRCS to emphasize soil health awareness as a continued priority with a special emphasis on cover cropping.

NIFA Planned Extension Initiative

The objectives of this project are to conduct research and extension outreach to reduce feed and fertilizer purchase, increase farmers income and demonstrate best management practices to reduce non-point source pollution related to agriculture and equine operations.

Outreach Project

Over 75 named and numbered peach/nectarine and plum varieties/selections are under casual evaluation and demonstration at the UMass Cold Spring Orchard. Most of them are varieties/selection from the Fruit Acres/Stellar, Paul Friday/Flaming Fury, and Rutgers/Adams County Nursery breeding and variety introduction programs. Data/observations collected includes flowering, yield, fruit quality (size, color, firmness, brix, maturity, and taste/consumer acceptance), and pest susceptibility. Results/variety recommendations are available to growers at meetings and personal consultation/visits to UMass Orchard.

NIFA Planned Extension Initiative

The University of Massachusetts Amherst recognizes the importance of reliable and prompt diagnosis of plant problems for the turf, floriculture, vegetable, nursery, urban forestry and landscape industries. We serve farmers, horticulturists, landscape contractors, turf managers, arborists, nurseries, and others in agriculture and the green industries.  The lab also assesses ticks for Lyme disease as a service to the public.

NIFA Planned Extension Initiative

The University of Massachusetts Soil and Plant Tissue Testing Laboratory offers accurate and affordable analytical testing of soil, plant tissue, compost, and soilless greenhouse media.

NIFA Planned Extension Initiative

The goal of the UMass Extension Sustainable Cranberry Project is to provide cranberry growers with pertinent and timely information so they may sustain their operations in Southeastern Massachusetts.

NIFA Planned Extension Initiative

UMass Extension provides farmers with access to current research information on new and alternative species and varieties, advanced horticultural management techniques, marketing and business management strategies, pest-ecology, and pest-management procedures

NIFA Planned Extension Initiative

Through diverse methods the vegetable team will educate growers about environmentally and economically sound crop and pest management practices, invasive pests, changing pest conditions, innovative practices. Field based projects will assist growers to test and use new practices. Numerous educational programs and publications will reach over 1,000 growers. Specific new practices include biological control of two key pests (Mexican bean beetle in beans, European corn borer in peppers and corn), mitigation of soil borne diseases with cover crops and reduced tillage; using social media as well as newsletters and website for pest alerts; scouting networks for sweet corn pests, late blight, and other pests; educational programs throughout the year including the New England Vegetable and Fruit Conference; release of the new edition of the New England Vegetable Management Guide.

Outreach Project

Lack of knowledge regarding Resistance Management (RM) and pesticide Modes of Action (MoA) was identified by providers as a hindrance to their ability to educate growers on these topics.  Most (>80%) extension specialists surveyed have never attended formal classes on RM and MoA during their academic or professional careers.  The project will address this need by conducting 4 webinars, providing Moodle resources, and producing a PowerPoint teaching module and accompanying video. The webinars will provide interactive, educational forums that focus on the basic principles of RM and MoA while also highlighting areas of special concern for Northeastern agriculture. Augmenting the training with the Moodle platform will allow attendees to confirm their common ground of understanding and knowledge, from which they can then extend to the grower community.  To ensure that a unified approach to RM is taught across the region, participants will be provided with a core module that will serve as the “seed” by which they can then develop a presentation that is tailored to the particular needs of any specific commodity group. 

Home Lawn & Garden

NIFA Planned Extension Initiative

The Pesticide Education Project works closely with the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources to educate pesticide users about safe application, state regulation and proper use of pesticides in Massachusetts.

Nutrition

Outreach Project

The Massachusetts Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) is part of a national effort to improve the nutrition and health of low-income families with young children.

Outreach Project

http://www.umass.edu/safefoodfarm2kid/Good nutrition is important for growing children. Incorporating fresh fruits and vegetables at an early age is the best way to develop healthy eating habits that will last for a lifetime.  However, young children are at a greater risk for food borne illness if fresh produce is not handled properly.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, plant based food products were responsible for approximately 46% of all foodborne illnesses from 1998 – 2008. Through a USDA NIFA grant, the project investigators identified the produce-handling practices, attitudes, and knowledge of early childcare educators and foodservice staff in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.  Nearly half the centers assessed used some combination of farm visits, planting gardens, serving local produce, holding taste tests or conducting nutrition education.  Only 63%, however, reported that children always wash hands after picking garden foods; and only 50% used clean containers to harvest fruits and vegetables.  These results were used to develop and implement a food safety curriculum in two formats:  an interactive online program as well as in-person workshops.

Outreach Project

The School Meals Accountability and Responsibility Training Tools (SMARTTs) project was developed by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (MA DESE) in collaboration with the University of Massachusetts (UMass) Extension Nutrition Education Program (NEP) and Labor Management Workplace Education Program (LMWEP) with funding from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) to improve and increase:

Responsibility - Through training of Local Educational Agency (LEA) administrative personnel in application, certification, verification, meal counting and meal claiming procedures.

Accountability - With technology improvements, which demonstrate an ability to address administrative errors through the use of targeted monitoring and increased training in error-prone LEAs.

Oversight and training activities focused on the nutritional quality of the meals.

NIFA Planned Extension Initiative

The UMass Extension SNAP-Ed program is part of a national nutrition education effort funded through the US Department of Agriculture's Supplemental Assistance Program (SNAP). The overarching goal of SNAP-Ed is to provide nutrition education programs and activities that help adults and youth eligible for SNAP to establish healthy eating habits and physically active lifestyles.

Commercial Horticulture

Outreach Project

Few athletic field studies have been conducted to relate actual field conditions as well as maintenance practices to reported injuries.  The aim of this study was to determine the level of use that an athletic field will sustain before field conditions begin to affect the playability and safety of the field.

NIFA Planned Extension Initiative

The University of Massachusetts Amherst recognizes the importance of reliable and prompt diagnosis of plant problems for the turf, floriculture, vegetable, nursery, urban forestry and landscape industries. We serve farmers, horticulturists, landscape contractors, turf managers, arborists, nurseries, and others in agriculture and the green industries.  The lab also assesses ticks for Lyme disease as a service to the public.

Outreach Project

Video 2 of 3

Best Management Practices are commonly implemented on golf courses to minimize the movement of pesticides and nutrients. One such practice is the use of vegetative filter strips (VFS) to intercept runoff and help protect the quality of groundwater and adjacent surface water. Research at UMass is ongoing to identify the best-suited plant material and most appropriate planting techniques to ensure effective vegetative filter strips.

Outreach Project

Video 1 of 3

One of the key missions of the UMass Extension Turf Program is to promote natural resource protection through responsible turf management. The following featured videos profile current UMass research for which the primary focus is the conservation and protection of one of our most precious natural resources: water.

Outreach Project

Video 3 of 3

Lawn and recreational turf can require significant amounts of irrigation to maintain turf function and use. Practices that lower water requirements are especially important as water restrictions and demand for water increase. Scheduling irrigation according to actual turfgrass water use rates (ET) reduces waste by replacing only the amount of water lost from the rootzone to turfgrass use. Reference ET values obtained from weather stations must be adjusted using crop coefficients (Kc values) to achieve a more accurate estimate of actual turf ET. This research seeks to address the current lack of ET data and Kc values specific for climatic conditions and management of recreational turf typical of New England.

NIFA Planned Extension Initiative

The University of Massachusetts Soil and Plant Tissue Testing Laboratory offers accurate and affordable analytical testing of soil, plant tissue, compost, and soilless greenhouse media.

NIFA Planned Extension Initiative

The goal of the UMass Extension Sustainable Cranberry Project is to provide cranberry growers with pertinent and timely information so they may sustain their operations in Southeastern Massachusetts.

NIFA Planned Extension Initiative

The Sustainable Greenhouse Management project will undertake applied research and educational opportunities to address key problems and opportunities facing the industry and the public.

NIFA Planned Extension Initiative

 To foster and prolong the growth of the industry in Massachusetts, the Sustainable Landscape Management and Nursery Production project teaches integrated pest management practices and environmental stewardship strategies to municipal and private landscape professionals, nursery growers and home gardeners.

NIFA Planned Extension Initiative

The UMass Extension Sustainable Turf Management Project helps turf managers and other interested individuals, organizations and communities meet turf management challenges by providing research based information disseminated through a comprehensive array of workshops, courses, newsletters, websites, educational presentations, field days, and site consultations.

Community & Economic Vitality

NIFA Planned Extension Initiative

The 4-H Sustainable Communities Project will engage young people in the city of Springfield in the out of school time hours to provide educational enrichment and promote life skills development. An area of national and local need that has been identified by the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges, National 4-H Council and UMass Extension 4-H is Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math education (STEM).

NIFA Planned Extension Initiative

The aim of this collaboration between the UMass College of Natural Sciences and the Massachusetts Envirothon is to encourage high school age young people to develop the science literacy, citizen skills, and knowledge of routes to further education and careers that will allow them to participate responsibly and effectively in natural resource conservation and land use decisions in Massachusetts communities.

Outreach Project

This research project will examine the factors that influence how lower-income individuals and households make a variety of energy-related decisions, including consumption behaviors and sourcing choices.

Outreach Project

The Massachusetts Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) is part of a national effort to improve the nutrition and health of low-income families with young children.

NIFA Planned Extension Initiative

The UMass Extension SNAP-Ed program is part of a national nutrition education effort funded through the US Department of Agriculture's Supplemental Assistance Program (SNAP). The overarching goal of SNAP-Ed is to provide nutrition education programs and activities that help adults and youth eligible for SNAP to establish healthy eating habits and physically active lifestyles.

Environmental Conservation

NIFA Planned Extension Initiative

The Building Energy Extension Program conveys current energy efficiency, renewable energy, and building science information to stakeholders including those in the building trades, design professionals, state government agencies, and building owners and occupants through workshops, web publication, and consulting. Applied research in building energy systems and is conducted to respond to perceived stakeholder need.

NIFA Planned Extension Initiative

The Citizen Planner Training Collaborative (CPTC) provides local planning and zoning officials with up-to-date learning tools to make effective decisions regarding their communities' current and future land use.

NIFA Planned Extension Initiative

The aim of this collaboration between the UMass College of Natural Sciences and the Massachusetts Envirothon is to encourage high school age young people to develop the science literacy, citizen skills, and knowledge of routes to further education and careers that will allow them to participate responsibly and effectively in natural resource conservation and land use decisions in Massachusetts communities.

Outreach Project

This research project will examine the factors that influence how lower-income individuals and households make a variety of energy-related decisions, including consumption behaviors and sourcing choices.

NIFA Planned Extension Initiative

Wildlife Conservation engages in applied research and provides information, educational materials and programs based on current research to promote wildlife conservation including efforts to better understand the impacts of roads and highways on wildlife and ecosystems and to develop and evaluate techniques for mitigating those impacts.

NIFA Planned Extension Initiative

Family forest lands provide tremendous amounts of wood products and ecosystem services in the U.S, particularly in the northeast where 52% of the land is held by family forest owners (FFOs). Due to an aging landowner population, in the coming years, almost half of the FFOs in the U.S. will be deciding the future of their land (i.e., convert to another use, parcelize, conserve). These decisions will be the most important determinants of the viability of working forests, because forest cover loss and parcel size reductions eliminate or lessen forest management opportunities. Stabilizing the forest land base by stemming the tide of conversion and parcelization is critical to ensuring a future of viable and competitive working forested landscapes.

Outreach Project

Video 1 of 3

One of the key missions of the UMass Extension Turf Program is to promote natural resource protection through responsible turf management. The following featured videos profile current UMass research for which the primary focus is the conservation and protection of one of our most precious natural resources: water.

Youth Development and 4-H

NIFA Planned Extension Initiative

The 4-H Military Project connects children ages 5-18 with educational, recreational and social activities before, during and after the deployment of a parent.  The project provides direct assistance to military children and families and educates the broader community on the effects of deployment on children to ensure that all Massachusetts military youth are safe, healthy, and supported.

NIFA Planned Extension Initiative

Since 1919, the Massachusetts 4-H Program has provided support, resources and educational opportunities to Massachusetts youth. The mission of Massachusetts 4-H is to prepare youth to become independent and contributing members of society by providing them with the tools they need to be successful.

NIFA Planned Extension Initiative

The 4-H Sustainable Communities Project will engage young people in the city of Springfield in the out of school time hours to provide educational enrichment and promote life skills development. An area of national and local need that has been identified by the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges, National 4-H Council and UMass Extension 4-H is Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math education (STEM).

NIFA Planned Extension Initiative

The 4-H Tech Wizards program is designed to expose youth to technology, help them understand how to better utilize it, have some experiences with it and learn about different possible careers that involve technology.  

Energy

NIFA Planned Extension Initiative

The Building Energy Extension Program conveys current energy efficiency, renewable energy, and building science information to stakeholders including those in the building trades, design professionals, state government agencies, and building owners and occupants through workshops, web publication, and consulting. Applied research in building energy systems and is conducted to respond to perceived stakeholder need.

Outreach Project

This research project will examine the factors that influence how lower-income individuals and households make a variety of energy-related decisions, including consumption behaviors and sourcing choices.

Outreach Project

UMass Clean Energy Extension is coordinating with DOER and the State Geologist Stephen Mabee and Five College Professor Michael Rhodes, Department of Geosciences, to conduct geological explorations to identify potential near surface bedrock for direct geothermal heating in Massachusetts.

Outreach Project

The Clean Energy Extension has reached out to MassDEP and received its public database of over 7000 boiler and turbines permitted across its four state regions.  The extension will use this database to develop a GIS depiction and analysis of the boilers to target businesses and institutions for CHP, renewable thermal, and district energy opportunities.

Outreach Project

To investigate the potential for large-scale energy storage in the Massachusetts electrical supply as the penetration of non-dispatchable renewable energy sources increases.

Outreach Project

To study potential for sequestration of forest carbon in agricultural soils in Massachusetts, based on availability of woody biomass, availability of suitable soils for biochar application, commercially available pyrolysis technology, and estimated biochar production cost.

Outreach Project

To further develop the Smart Solar concept in which solar electric systems are made capable of self-regulating their power output based on the needs of the larger grid, resulting in greater solar penetration and increased grid stability.

NIFA Planned Extension Initiative

The Sustainable Greenhouse Management project will undertake applied research and educational opportunities to address key problems and opportunities facing the industry and the public.

Water

Outreach Project

Video 2 of 3

Best Management Practices are commonly implemented on golf courses to minimize the movement of pesticides and nutrients. One such practice is the use of vegetative filter strips (VFS) to intercept runoff and help protect the quality of groundwater and adjacent surface water. Research at UMass is ongoing to identify the best-suited plant material and most appropriate planting techniques to ensure effective vegetative filter strips.

Outreach Project

Video 1 of 3

One of the key missions of the UMass Extension Turf Program is to promote natural resource protection through responsible turf management. The following featured videos profile current UMass research for which the primary focus is the conservation and protection of one of our most precious natural resources: water.

Outreach Project

Video 3 of 3

Lawn and recreational turf can require significant amounts of irrigation to maintain turf function and use. Practices that lower water requirements are especially important as water restrictions and demand for water increase. Scheduling irrigation according to actual turfgrass water use rates (ET) reduces waste by replacing only the amount of water lost from the rootzone to turfgrass use. Reference ET values obtained from weather stations must be adjusted using crop coefficients (Kc values) to achieve a more accurate estimate of actual turf ET. This research seeks to address the current lack of ET data and Kc values specific for climatic conditions and management of recreational turf typical of New England.